Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Pope and non-canonical sayings

Michael Peppard (Fordham University) has written a fun piece in the online Commonwealth Magazine on the Pope's recent reference to a non-canonical saying.  Take a look HERE.
Thanks to Fr. Imbelli for drawing our attention to the Pope’s homily from Easter Vigil (full text here). I am always enriched by Pope Benedict’s utilization of early Christian texts and traditions in his explication of Catholic faith and practice. The Vigil is the perfect time to recall the centrality of “illumination” (photismos) in the early Church. For contemporary listeners, ideas of illumination or enlightenment might sound more at home in Buddhism or even “new age” spirituality, but in fact, they were at the heart of early Christian initiation, especially in the east (Egypt, Palestine, and Syria). For example, when Cyril of Jerusalem describes those preparing for initiation, he often calls them “those about to be illuminated/enlightened” (photizomenoi). Moreover, the “light from light” image was so indispensable as a symbol of the idea of undiminished giving that it can rightly be thought of as the foundational image of Nicene Christology (cf. Jaroslav Pelikan’s little gem of a book, The Light of the World: A Basic Image in Early Christian Thought, 1962). 

But what caught my attention even more is the quotation of Jesus with which Fr. Imbelli’s excerpt concludes. The Pope said: “‘Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,’ as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said.” It’s true that this is one of the so-called agrapha from the early Church, things which early Christian writers said that Jesus said, but which the New Testament does not record. And it’s true that Origen said that Jesus said this, and Jesus certainly might have said this.

But another true way of reporting the quote would be: “‘Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,’ as Jesus is reported by the Gospel of Thomas to have said.” (It’s logion #82, for those interested.) MORE...


monkey king said...

Many of the respondents keep referring to GThom as a "Gnostic" gospel. GThom is not Gnostic! I agree with Elaine Pagels, "have you read it?" The Bible is not the last word on Y'shua. Sorry too, but Y'shua, even as Jesus, is not the property of the Christian community. He belongs to everyone. And in practice, we belong to Him.

Jay said...

This is a great article! How fun. Who would have guessed that the Pope would quote the Gospel of Thomas?