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Opposition of Spirit and Flesh

excerpts from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, 3rd cent. AD.
found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt
translated by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer

 

22. Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter the (Father's) kingdom."

They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (Father's) kingdom as babies?"

Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."

According to Gnostic thinking, the spirit (the inner) is imprisoned in the body (the outer).

Our body: gender, eyes, hands, feet, has to be replaced by the Spirit.

28. Jesus said, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty.

But meanwhile they are drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they will change their ways."

People are inebriated with earthly pleasures. They are blind to the inner reality of the spirit.
29. Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty."
Our beautiful inner spirit is caught in the ugly reality of body and matter.

79. A woman in the crowd said to him, "Lucky are the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you."

He said to [her], "Lucky are those who have heard the word of the Father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, 'Lucky are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk.'"

Spiritual people will understand that abstaining from sex is better than producing children.

80. Jesus said, "Whoever has come to know the world has discovered the body, and whoever has discovered the body, of that one the world is not worthy."

The material body is worthless compared to our inner spirit.

87. Jesus said, "How miserable is the body that depends on a body [= through sex], and how miserable is the soul that depends on these two [bodies]."

112. Jesus said, "Damn the flesh that depends on the soul. Damn the soul that depends on the flesh."

A spiritual person will distance himself/herself as much as possible from the body.

114. Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life."

Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."

Women embody sex and materiality. Their salvation lies in renouncing their sexuality.


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