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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Gospel of Thomas at Oxyrhynchus

- Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt at Oxyrhynchus (from The Egypt Exploration Society)

The latest edition of Mark Goodacre's NT Pod is about the discovery in 1896 of the first bits of the gospel of Thomas at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt by Arthur Surridge Hunt and Bernard Pyne Grenfell, both fellows of Queen's College, Oxford ..... NT Pod 15: The Gospel of Thomas: First Glimpse

I found Mark's podcast very interesting, and I remembered reading and posting about the gospel of Thomas back in 2005 when I belonged to a group scripture blog. Here's one of my definitely unscholarly posts from then :) .....


Thomas saying #77

77 - Jesus said: I am the light that is over them all. I am the All; the All has come forth from me, and the All has attained unto me. Cleave a (piece of) wood: I am there. Raise up the stone, an ye shall find me there.

I must admit that I'm having a hard time understanding the sayings. I chose this one because I remember hearing it quoted in, of all places, the movie, Stigmata :-).

The story behind the movie is taken, in part, from the book, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield ... an ancient Aramaic manuscript is found in some Mayan ruins deep in the jungle of Peru, and is suppressed by the Catholic Church. In the movie, Stigmata, the manuscript is found instead in Brazil and is, apparently, the gospel of Thomas. The church tries to suppress its message, which is quoted as ... The Kingdom of God is inside/within you (and all about you), not in buildings/mansions of wood and stone. (When I am gone) Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift the/a stone and you will find me. ... it was feared everyone would go seriously Gnostic upon its revelation, and leave the church. In reality, of course, the Catholic Church hasn't tried to suppress the gospel of Thomas, though it hasn't been added to the canon either.

Does saying #77 mean what the movie-makers implied ... that Jesus meant we have no need of a church to be able to "find" him? I take it to not be so specifically anti-institution but instead to be about finding God in all things ...

"THE world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."
- God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins


Those interested can look at The Oxyrhynchus papyri / edited with translations and notes by Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt at Cornell University's Historical Monographs Collection online here

And here's a music video of the Oxyrhynchus hymn ... the earliest known manuscript of a Christian hymn to contain both lyrics and musical notation. It is found on Papyrus 1786 of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, now kept at the Papyrology Rooms of the Sackler Library, Oxford ....


Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks for the mention, Crystal, and for that great Youtube link re. the Oxyrhynchus Hymn. I'm blogging it straight away myself!

7:22 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks, Mark. I'm enjoying your podcasts a lot :)

8:34 PM  
Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

Great find!

9:21 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Stephen - nice to hear from you.

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

Excellent post. It inspired me today.

11:42 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dina - thanks :)

1:41 AM  

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