Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apocryphote of the Day: 2-19-09

"He who seeks will find me in children from seven years onwards. For there I am found, who am hidden, in the fourteenth aeon."

Hippolytus of Rome, quoting from the Naassene's version of the Gospel of Thomas, Refutation 5.7,20

Commentary: I have no doubt that the Naassenes had their own version of the Gospel of Thomas. Much of their system is based on certain ideologies present in the Gospel of Thomas, such as the encratic lifestyle (=celibacy), and the primal hermaphodite Man as the original image of God and goal of human existence. They used altered versions of certain sayings in the Gospel of Thomas to support their own Gnostic ideologies and rituals. Fascinating how a Syrian encratic gospel of Jesus' sayings becomes adapted by a later Gnostic Christian group in Rome (?). Its use by these sorts of groups may be one of the reasons that it was not a favored gospel in Roman Christianity and did not manage to make the big "4".


Unknown said...

Wasn't the Gospel of John also claimed by Gnostic groups? Why did that get in and not GThomas?

Frank McCoy said...

In Heres (294), Philo states, "The infant from the day of its birth for the first seven years, that is through the age of childhood, possesses only the simplest elements of soul, a soul which closely resembles smooth wax and has not yet received any impression of good and evil, for such marks as it appears to receive are smoothed over and confused by its fluidity."
Here, we have the idea that a human soul is incomplete and fluid for its first seven years of existence.
Perhaps we have a very similar idea idea underlying this Naassene saying, i.e., the idea that a human soul is incomplete and not set for its first six years of existence.
In this case, the basic idea of this saying is that, once a child becomes seven, then its soul becomes complete and set and in such a complete and set soul, the fourteenth aeon is present and, since the speaker of the saying is present within this fourteenth aeon, this, in its turn, means that the speaker of the saying is present in such a soul as well.

pearl said...

Frank, I’m reminded of Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. Generally, around the age of seven we begin to see evidence of organized, logical thought at a concrete level, eventually becoming more abstract by ages 11-15:

Here is more of what Hippolytus had to say in his Refutation of All Heresies, Book V, Chapter II:

“But they assert that not only is there in favour of their doctrine, testimony to be drawn from the mysteries of the Assyrians, but also from those of the Phrygians concerning the happy nature--concealed, and yet at the same time disclosed--of things that have been, and are coming into existence, and moreover will be,- (a happy nature) which, (the Naassene) says, is the kingdom of heaven to be sought for within a man. And concerning this (nature) they hand down an explicit passage, occurring in the Gospel inscribed according to Thomas, expressing themselves thus: "He who seeks me, will find, me in children from seven years old; for there concealed, I shall in the fourteenth age be made manifest." This, however, is not (the teaching) of Christ, but of Hippocrates, who uses these words: "A child of seven years is half of a father." And so it is that these (heretics), placing the originative nature of the universe in causative seed, (and) having ascertained the (aphorism) of Hippocrates, that a child of seven years old is half of a father, say that in fourteen years, according to Thomas, he is manifested. This, with them, is the ineffable and mystical Logos.”