Metalogos: The Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Truth
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The canonical Gospels clearly teach that the disciple per se is born of God rather than of human parents: ‘To all who received him,... he gave power to be generated children of God; who were born, not of ... the will of a human, but of God’ (Jn 1:12-13); ‘You are all Brothers and Sisters, and [so] call no man your father on earth, for you have but one Father, the celestial’ (Mt 23:8-9). And hence indeed the Savior's astonishing assertion in the Thomas Gospel: ‘My mother (the Virgin) bore me, but my true Mother (the Sacred Spirit) gave me the life’ (Th 101).
Furthermore and most importantly, with reference to the remainder of mankind (i.e. those who are not yet disciples), the canonical text states: ‘I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also,... so there shall be one flock, one shepherd;... to gather into One the children of God who are scattered abroad’ (Jn 10:16/11:52); and ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19).
This most fundamental messianic doctrine may be summarized as follows: The person instructed by the Logos, who thus comes to know himself (Th 3), thereby sees that he has in truth all along been an eternally begotten Son of God, born ‘from above’ (Greek ΑΝΩΘΕΝ, Jn 3:7-8+31). However, the vast multitudes of humankind are evidently unaware of being Children of the Most High, rather than children of local couples. Hence confusion and evil, and hence the need for evangelization (see T.P. Brown, ‘God and the Good’).
Let us now consider the following quite extraordinary entry in the Philip Gospel: ‘Adultery occurred first, then murder. And (Cain) was begotten in adultery, (for) he was the son of the serpent. Therefore he became a manslayer just like his other father, and he killed his brother.’ (Ph 46) Now, in whatever sense could it be said that Cain was born of the serpent?
We may first call to mind one of the traditionally most difficult canonical passages, from John's Gospel: ‘You [unbelievers] are of your Father the Devil;... he was a murderer from the origin;... he is a liar and the Father of Lies’ (Jn 8:44). Utilizing this important parallel, to say that Cain was born of the serpent, is to say that he was born of a lie. In what sense, then, was Cain born of an untruth?
Of consummate relevance here is the fact that ‘Cain’ in Hebrew signifies ‘product’:
Nyq: ‘fit together, fabricate, make artificially, forge’, Hebrew-Aramaic and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (#8544), by Francis Brown, S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, 1906; based upon Wilhelm Gesenius, Lexicon Manuale Hebraicum et Chaldaicum, 1833 (included in Biblio.29).
So in the Genesis account, by giving the name ‘Cain’ to the infant, the woman and the man were saying that the child was at least in part their own creation (‘I have produced a man with the help of Yahweh’, Gen 4:1)—rather than entirely the Lord's creation, merely produced thru them (‘You do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman’, Ecc 11:5). 1
And so they called themselves the parents of the child, rather than calling God its sole progenitor. Furthermore, in so doing they forgot that God is their own Parent as well. And thus in turn they claimed complete moral authority over the infant as well as over themselves—judging good and evil like gods, instead of letting God alone proclaim judgment (Gen 3:5, Mt 7:1-2).2
This then was the Fall, the ‘original transgression’ of humankind in the remotest past: accepting the misconception called human generation, instead of the reality of divine generation, down across the generations. ‘Whoever recognizes father and mother, shall be called the son of a harlot’ (Th 105). Which confusion Christ came to rectify, by proclaiming that all humankind are in truth Angels born of God and thus Brothers and Sisters, rather than mere children of humans (see Mt 12:46-50/18:10/23:9, Ph 64).
Philip 46 is thus a logion which seems genuinely to illumine and clarify not only the OT concept of Original Sin, but also the notoriously difficult passage at Jn 8:44.
1This same fundamental error is reflected in the common English expression ‘to give birth’—as if the woman were producing the child on her own, instead of receiving it from God. It would be better always to use the verb ‘to bear’.