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8. Thomas and the Platonists on Stability
In the previous chapter, I argued that the Thomasine expressions Ŀʼnġേ ĿʼnőŇ and ĹĿĻġōĿŅ
express the Platonist idea of oneness as perfection. An important detail, however, was left
unexplained, though it certainly deserves to be discussed in detail. Two of the sayings that deal with
oneness as perfection, Thomas 16:4 and 23:2, associate oneness with “standing”:
Thomas 16:4
Thomas 23:2
ġʼnőേŅĩĻġőƙĩേĩŃġŇĿʼnേĩʼnĿേͧĹĿĻġōĿŅ
ġʼnőേŅĩĻġőƙĩേĩŃġŇĿʼnേĩʼnĿേĿʼnġേĿʼnőŇ
And they will stand as solitary ones.
And they will stand as a single one.
In what follows, I argue that “standing” in these, as well as in a few other Thomasine sayings, denotes
the Platonist idea of divine stability; it is, therefore, no coincidence that these two metaphysical
concepts, stability and oneness, are brought together. I first discuss interpretations of Thomasine
“standing” by April D. DeConick, Michael Allen Williams, and Robert Murray, and argue that the
context of the Thomasine sayings that deal with “standing” does not support the proposals of these
scholars. I then discuss the multifold meanings of the expression őƙĩേĩŃġŇƑ in these sayings as well
as in their Greek Vorlagen. Finally, I discuss the Platonist parallels to the sayings that seem to refer
to “transcendental ‘standing.’”480
8.1. DeConick, Williams, and Murray on “Standing” in Thomas
Before I discuss different contexts in which the expression őƙĩേ ĩŃġŇƑ is used in Thomas, I
would like to offer a brief survey of scholarly opinions regarding Thomasine “standing.” First,
according to DeConick, “standing” in sayings 16, 18, and 23 refers to the attainment of angelic status
and participation in “the cultic service before God’s throne.”481 The angels are “described as those
who ‘stand’ before God” in a number Jewish apocalyptic texts (1 En. 39:12–13; 47:3; 68:4;482 2 En.
21:1; T. Ab. [recension A] 7:11; 8:1). The expression can also be applied to the righteous ones, who
thus assimilate to the condition of angels (Ascen. Isa. 9:9; 2 En. 21:3; 22:6–10).
Second, Williams has suggested that there was a connection between the practice of “standing
in one place, absorbed in prayer and contemplation”483 attested among Christian monks (see, e.g.,
Palladius, Hist. Laus. 43.2) and the “standing” in Thomas. Since the Syrian monks, according to
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (Hist. rel. 27.1), also practiced continual standing, it is possible that the
designation
, “covenanters,” could also mean “those who are characterized by the upright
480
I borrow this expression from Williams 1985, 74.
See DeConick 1996, 90; cf. Robbins 2013, 128–9.
482
DeConick and Robbins refer to 1 En. 68:2, which is clearly due to a misprint.
483
Williams 1985, 87.
481
114
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