Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sex change in the early church?

Since I finished my paper on the use of Isaiah 5 in Mark 12:1-12 and its parallel in Gospel of Thomas logia 65 and 66, I haven't really thought about GThom much, but seeing Brian LePort's review of Nicholas Perrin's book (which I reviewed also in Part 1 and Part 2) here and here and here, made me think about it again. For some reason, when I think of GThom, I think about logion 114 (the last saying in this book) which says:

Simon Peter said to them, 'Mary should leave us because women do not deserve life.' Jesus said, 'Look, in order to make her male, I myself will guide her, so that she too may become a living spirit - male, resembling you. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

That is just so odd! DeConick writes in her commentary:

The community appears to have settled on a metaphorical interpretation that served to maintain women within the community. Women could 'make' themselves 'male', thus 'resembling' the men in the community. J. Buckley thinks that this logion signals that salvation was a two-step process for women in the community, whereas only a one-step process for men. In my opinion, the gender refashioning for women would have stressed encratic behaviour, particularly celibacy and their refusal to bear children.

I don't know about you, but I'm glad I was born a male!


nearemmaus said...

Isn't it so odd how GofThomas is championed by Pagels and DeConick, both women? I know there are other issues at stake for these scholars. It just seems like GofThomas would not be a go-to gospel.

While I find the history of the GofThomas to be interesting I think the theology is even more interesting. I was reading the GofJudas this morning. In both of these gospels the focused upon disciple (Thomas & Judas) both fear being stoned by the other disciples. It makes you wonder if there is an intentional rejection of the proto-orthodox "apostolic" church by these sects.

Mike S. said...

Brian: That's a very good point! I didn't even think about that. No doubt the theology behind this book is very interesting to say the least... I haven't read through the whole commentary yet, but it's been very interesting so far (did you buy your copy yet? I remember you looking for something like this before). Also, where are you reading the Gospel of Judas (commentary, some translation, etc)? I'm interested in reading that one as well...