INNER CIRCLE: Trolling The Disciples

INNER CIRCLE: Trolling The Disciples July 12, 2022

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Saying 12: “The disciples asked Jesus, “We know that you will leave us. Who will be our leader?” Jesus said to them: “Where you are, you are to go to James the Righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.”

 

Observant readers will most likely notice that this saying appears quite at odds with everything else we’ve read so far.

First of all, it doesn’t begin with “Jesus said..” as nearly every other saying from The Gospel of Thomas begins. That, in itself, isn’t reason enough to wonder about the authenticity of the saying, but it is peculiar.

The second reason some scholars question the origin of this saying is quite simply the response Jesus gives. Rather than say something like, “No one will be your leader because you already have the Kingdom of God within you…” or “The one who requires a leader or a teacher reveals that they are still in darkness…” or some other response which, like the other sayings in this collection, points to the wisdom and truth within all of us rather than to some other spiritual guru.

For these reasons, many scholars do not recognize this as a legitimate saying of Jesus. They argue that it is very likely that this saying was added later as a way to have Jesus name another person to replace him in the minds of his followers.

At first glance, this does appear to be more than a little out of place. For example, if, as in Saying 4, an old man can confidently ask a small child who is seven days old about his place in life, why would anyone need another leader to show them what’s next?

Or, if, as Jesus says in Saying 3 “…[when] we come to know ourselves [we] become known, and realize that we are the Sons of the Living Father…” , why would we need anyone to teach us anything other this simple truth of our Oneness with God?

Whoever inserted this little commercial for James the Righteous clearly did not understand the rest of what Jesus was teaching in the Gospel of Thomas to this point. Because, if he did, he would realize just how obvious the deception would be to everyone.

For example, when Jesus seeks to complement James the Righteous, here, by saying, “…for [his] sake heaven and earth came into being”, readers of Thomas’s Gospel cannot help but laugh out loud, knowing that both “heaven and earth” are illusions that Jesus only recently promised, as in Saying 10, would be burned with fire and exposed as false realities that distract us from the Kingdom of God.

Later sayings of Jesus in this same Gospel also contradict this suggestion that the disciples of Jesus require another leader or teacher to help them know the Truth.

The only way this saying could be taken as legitimate would be in more of an ironic sense.

For example, let us suppose Jesus’s disciples really did suggest to him that they knew he would soon leave them. In that case, he may have challenged their momentary ignorance or forgetfulness by playing along with their apparent misunderstanding of reality by suggesting that, in the event that they find themselves in need of some future guidance, they should probably seek out a teacher who is linked to the illusion of separation – “heaven and earth” – because, in that instance, they would be better off returning to their darkness.

Of course, Jesus could have responded to their question by reminding them that death is an illusion or repeated what he had just told them, in Saying 11, about how death will die and the heavens will disappear. Or, he could have told them that they do not require anyone to teach them once they realize what is right in front of their face, as he did in Saying 5. But, for some reason, Jesus didn’t do any of these things.

Perhaps, instead, Jesus gave them the answer they were expecting to hear, but in the process, he pointed out to them the foolishness of their question by recommending a teacher whose “wisdom” was as reliable as the heavens that will burn and the earth that will fade away.

Maybe this is an actual saying of Jesus that totally belongs here after all. When his disciples ask a stupid question – “What will we do when you become separated from us?” – Jesus responds with an equally stupid answer – “Go and find someone who believes in separation if you believe separation is real.”

Obviously, separation is not real. Jesus will not leave them. He will not die, and neither will we. The heavens and the earth will definitely pass away, but the reality of Oneness and the radical Gospel of Inclusion will never fade away.

Let those who have ears to hear pay close attention.

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Celebrate the beautiful uncertainty of everything!

Sola Mysterium, the new book by author Keith Giles, is now available in Print and on Kindle.

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Keith Giles is the author of the 7-part best-selling Jesus Un book series from Quoir Publishing. Keith is also the host of Second Cup with Keith [a new solo podcast available now on the Ethos Radio App, for Apple and Android and on Spotify; and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast, and the new Apostate’s Anonymous podcast with Matthew Distefano.

 


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