Saying #28 / C

28, Jesus said: I stood in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in the flesh. I found them all drunk, I found none among them thirsting; and my soul was afflicted for the sons of men, for they are blind in their heart and they do not see. For empty came they into the world, seeking also to depart empty from the world. But now they are drunk. When they have thrown off their wine, then will they repent.

Some points that struck me …

I appeared to them in the flesh …… this is a strangely un-gnostic thing to say, as elsewhere in Thomas, the flesh is said to be bad.

I found them all drunk ….. this part is very gnostic, though, according to Funk and Hoover. They write: “… the spiritual state of humanity, according to numerous gnostic texts, is stupefied with passion and drunkeness, blind to any spiritual understanding. The savior comes to awaken such persons to their true origins. This complex, accordingly, is a summary version of gnostic redeemer myths that depict the human condition and the possibility for salvation.”

Some commentators think that many of the sayings of Thomas were originally not gnostic, but were revised at a later date to gnostic standards – or some see it the other way round. Perhaps this saying is an example of the combined gnostic and non-gnostic elements.

As I read the saying, a sort of off-subject thing also came to mind … Dionysos. When people are drunk, they are in an altered state of consciousness – one which makes it hard to perceive reality as it truly is … Dionysos is almost the opposite to Jesus … he is the god of forgetfulness in wine, while Jesus wants to wake people up. Like the gnostics, the Orphics both identified the soul as separate from the body, and gave a reason for it being present in the body: it is being punished. Mystery cults :-).

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2 responses

  1. Good thinking, Crystal. You said, “as elsewhere in Thomas, the flesh is said to be bad.”Yes, the flesh is good and the flesh is bad; that’s a characteristic of metaphors.Likewise with the flesh: good and bad: supremely beautiful when Jesus appeared in the flesh. Bad when we preoccupy ourselves with it to the exclusion of the higher things of eternal life.It’s the same with drunk. Thomas uses drunk here for preoccupation with the flesh. But in Saying 13 your recall that he was very pleased with Thomas who was “drunk from the bubbling spring”. You have to look at the context to decide whether a metaphor (like flesh or drunk) is good or bad.

  2. This post and the comment by Larry helped me to understand this logion better. I had been questioning the use of the word drunk, which in other contexts (mystical poetry for example) is a blessed stated of being so in love and enamored with God that you feel high, kind of drunk. However in this logion, it seems to be drunk is the opposite: it is akin to being deply asleep, or at least it is to not see clearly. Context is essential.

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