Gospel of Thomas – Gnostic or Not?
We have seen throughout the Gospel of Thomas that the Father is the Source of all things—It is in everything. The Son is Jesus. He is symbolic of humanity and the people who recognise the soul within the flesh. We are as He is (Thomas 99). The Holy Spirit is the thing awakening, connecting, and intertwining us in an intimate relationship with the Father/Source. It is a profound connection. The Holy Spirit is the active energy linking the Source with Its Light in us, which humans call the soul. In Thomas 83 there is an emphasis on the image we expect to see. There is in fact no image of the Father/Source, since Its Light—the thing that constitutes what It is made of, is everywhere at the same time. It is hidden by the nature of where It is—It is ubiquitous. It has no physical comparison. It is between the fibres inside wood and under a rock at the same time (Thomas 77).
Why does Jesus refer to the Source as the Father? It is clear the heritage He was born into made it necessary for Jesus to speak in metaphors His contemporaries could associate with. The place in time Jesus entered into this realm was ordained by sequential celestial events, which enabled His Spirit to be thrust into this dimension. It was a time in human history the Spirit consciousness foresaw as the best opportunity for this Spirit to be recognised. Had these events not occurred in this way, His name would not have survived the ravages of time (Thomas 98). Jesus often used the term ‘Father’ when referring to god. This kind of language caused the Pharisees’ insecurities to grow. The Pharisees knew their God as Yahweh. While this god is seen as the patriarch of the Jewish nation, individuals would have been cautious in claiming a direct personal relationship. However, the use of the word Father was necessary for Jesus’ ministry. This name ensured His contemporaries knew He was referencing the prophets. Unfortunately, their idea of a saviour was akin to a warrior king, not a teacher and guide for the Soul. The use of the title Father is layered; it goes beyond the practical link to the Old Testament prophecies. This title holds some surprises when we analyse what it actually means. The meaning, in the context of Jesus’ teaching, is a symbol relating to spiritual inspiration. If we consider what Thomas 83 discloses, it follows that the Father is not a single entity. Nor does It behave as a father in the way we might experience a biological father. Jesus has told us, in Thomas 22, that humans should not consider themselves male or female if they are to successfully enter the Father’s Kingdom. Therefore, the Spirit is above the parameters of male or female. This clearly negates the idea of the Father as the patriarchal alpha male. This is the god most Christian churches revere. It is also the one they believe Jesus called His Father. The key to unlocking why Jesus chose ‘Father’, as the reference to the Source, is in the symbolic action of this Light. The Father’s Light enters a body so that this Light, or soul, may aggregate the substance of the Source, becoming an awakened Spirit. This is similar to the actions of a human father, one who traditionally offers genetic material and lineage. This was particularly true in Jesus’ time, hence this metaphor. The sperm cell determines the sex of the child and only forms a body once it is inside the egg cell. The sperm cell is like the soul, which reflects the action of the Father’s Light. The egg is like the body and this planet. In this way, these mechanisms mirror the actions of the spirit realm. The two become one, but upon death, humans become two (Thomas 11). They are joined with their true Father and Mother (Thomas 101). It is not unusual then, that some belief systems see the physical world, our planet Earth, as a mother goddess. The Earth creates the environment and provides a place for souls to inhabit, not unlike a womb. The important thing to consider, in the symbol of the Father, is that just as our physical father does not own us, nor does the Source. People are individual entities, which need to grow and make conscious decisions, awakening them from the sleep symptomatic of this realm. While we are individual entities, we are also a collective and a crucial part of the Father/Source. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, the sustaining link is made—without this, the human soul tastes death. Our inheritance from the Father/Source has enabled us to make intuitive decisions about what is right and wrong. As long as we do not harm others, our experiences in this life amount to lessons along the path to resurrection (the Soul coming to life as a Spirit).
For some faiths, the reason humans have been separated from the Father/Source is a matter of conjecture. The Gnostic Christians created complex mythologies to explain this separation. However, it is evident that these ideas are reflections of observable behaviours, common in humans. These stories vary, depending on the reference, but they generally have a common theme. The myth starts with a self-generated, invisible presence, which created emanations—‘Aeons’ (lesser consecutive derivatives of the first, each one less perfect than its predecessor)—to accompany it. One of these Aeons was Sophia (representing wisdom). She created Yaldabaoth, without the consent or union of the self-generated one. Gnostics believe that because of Sophia’s decision to create without the self-generated one, Yaldabaoth is an imperfect demiurge, evident in his pride, vengeance, and jealousy. To the Gnostic, he is also known as Yahweh, from the Old Testament. For Sophia to correct her error, she imparts wisdom to human beings. She also played on Yaldabaoth’s pride, convincing him to give humanity the breath of life, so that they could worship him—in his own image. As humans become rejoined to the self-generated one, Yaldabaoth diminishes and is eventually absorbed into the self-generated one. This skims the surface of the Gnostic thesis, which explains people’s dilemma in this realm. It illustrates how the early Christians, who tried to follow the secret teachings of Jesus, were limited by their understanding of the world and human nature. They were reliant on what they could observe and experience in the natural world. This is not dissimilar to the way the Ancient Greeks and Romans attributed Gods to all manners of daily life, such as drinking, fighting, and hunting. In some portrayals of Yaldabaoth, he is depicted with the head of a lion, which references Thomas 7. This demonstrates how the early Christians did not have a vocabulary that could unpack the metaphors Jesus conveyed, beyond their mythologies based on a primal heritage.
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