Sunday, July 01, 2007

Corrupting the Tradition - Insights from Pursah's Thomas Kernel

Evidently, there is a deeper reason why in Chapter 7 of Your Immortal Reality Pursah discusses both the modern day corruptions of the Course and the traditional corruptions of Jesus' sayings in the Thomas Gospel and its evolution in the first four centuries, until it was buried and preserved, only to be rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945.

There are numerous angles of this "meta" message (latent content, versus overt content), to be considered here.

First, by the very fact of the providing the revised messages, (sayings), Pursah makes the point of demonstrating just how the corruptions happened, and for anyone who has had any exposure at all to historical text-critical research, the outcomes make a lot of sense, far beyond what one would ever have a hope of reconstructing via the text critical method, simply because the evidence is always patchy. Traditional historical text-criticism might have a problem accepting Pursah's authority in this context, but if that is not your problem, then Pursah's kernel of Thomas is altogether very plausible, because it eliminates a lot of internal contradictions, and it shows in a lot of ways a very likely path which the corruption of the tradition could have taken.

Some of the corrections Pursah offers are slight, and address shades of meaning, others really highlight major distortions, and provide us insight of how that process of distortion happened. Examples are Logia 6 & 14, which Pursah contracts into a single one, and the minute you read it, it makes a lot of sense, and you end up amazed at the embellishments in the Nag Hammadi version, where the second half of 6 and the
first half of 14 appear to be embellishments from a later date, which create an entirely different sayings, not to mention are a lot less coherent in that later form than in the form Pursah suggests as the original one.

Second, there are any number corrections which reflect minor interpretive embellishments both by adding words and by word choices. These are readily evident by a casual comparison of the Pursah-text to the Nag Hammadi-based translations into English.

Third there is the overall effect of demonstrating how different forces pulled a tradition in different directions, and to anyone who has done some reading about the history of early Christianity -- and I mean the first three centuries before the notion of Christianity proper was even explicitly defined at all -- this makes a lot of sense. Then, by juxtaposing the various recent "controversies" (in whose eyes?) surrounding the Course, this provides yet another level of looking at and understanding the forces that could pull such a tradition one way or another, and we should be most grateful that the Course was available to us in written form, and did not go through a generation of oral tradition before being put into book form. Even so it is amazing how much distortion is possible, given the unlimited amounts of ill will and distortion we all are capable of - if we want to put our belief in it.

Thus we realize that then as now the point simply is to focus either on listening and practicing this path, which will take different forms for all of us, though the content is the same, or somehow to compromise it by maintaining a separatist interpretation of this Course, not to mention separatist versions of the Course itself. The latter is how the ego ensures that it, not Jesus or the Holy Spirit, is in charge of our spiritual path, and we stay safely within the perimeter of the insane asylum of the ego, even if we may wander off to the outer edges of the property. Or to speak with Plato, it is the ego that keeps us locked in the cave, making sure we don't pay attention to the madman, who is telling us of the light outside.

Copyright, © 2007 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.
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