Sunday, June 13, 2010

(5) The Light Shining Through

Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: frrom
me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood;
I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
[Nag Hammadi Library, Gospel of Thomas, para. 77.]

Comment: As a matter of introduction, we need provide a small
history that stands behind the above statement. In Egypt, during
the year 1945, an Egyptian peasant stumbled upon containers
in the desert. Cracking them open, he discovered "codexes"
which can be likened to ancient books. The peasant took these
old books home, kept them a secret, but eventually Egyptian
authorities got wind of this discovery.

Scholars quickly went to work on these ancient texts. They
believed that the jars (or containers) came from an ancient
monastery library that existed in Nag Hammadi--the region
where these books were discovered. Probably the monks
decided to hide these old codexes, because they contained
"other" gospels as well as additional theological material that
could be dangerous as heterodox documents. This occurred
some two or more centuries after Christ, and some of the
documents--but not all--were considered Gnostic writings
perceived as heretical in the eyes of Orthodox Christianity.

As for the Gospel of Thomas, scraps of this early writing had
been discovered from other sources; but with the Nag Hammadi
discovery, this particular gospel was far more available in its
entirety. As for the author of this gospel, it cannot be presumed
whether he was a member of the Gnostic sect or not. Regardless
this gospel is not a narrative, but rather a collection of Jesus'
sayings--many of which correspond to the stories in the Orthodox
gospels found in the New Testament.

But the above saying is not in the biblical gospels. It is different
and *exciting.* And it implies a variety of interpretations.

1. Panentheism: a belief system that implies that God exists in
every part of Nature. Going beyond pantheism, panentheism
implies the "the whole is in God." In other words, "God is everything
in the universe, but God is also greater than the universe."

2. Panpsychism: a view that the whole universe possesses a mind.

3. The Logos: In the biblical Gospel of John, the Logos is
described as the Word. As put, "In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with
God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without
him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and
that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but
the darkness has not understood it."

John--as well as the early Christian Fathers--believed that Jesus
was the "Incarnation of the Logos." But the concept of the Logos,
considered the Cosmic Plenum by even earlier ancient philosophers,
had the following meanings: 1. Order or Pattern. 2. Ratio or
Proportion 3. A Discourse, Articulation or Account. 4. Reason,
both in the sense of rationality and in the sense of an articulation
or the cause of something. 5. Principle or Cause. 6. A principle of
Mediation and Harmony between extremes.
AND EARLY CHRISTIAN SYMBOLISM, Quest Books, 1993, p. 38.]

Ruminating over this, I think the particular paragraph in the Gospel
of Thomas (cited above) is an amazing synopsis of incredibly
sophisticated thought.