Friday, March 16, 2007

Gal. 3.28 and 2 Clement 12

In reading through 2 Clement, I found this intriguing passage:

2 Clement 12:1-6 - "1 Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of God. 2 For the Lord Himself, being asked by one when His kingdom would come, replied, "When two shall be one, and that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female." 3 Now, two are one when we speak the truth one to another, and there is unfeignedly one soul in two bodies. 4 And "that which is without as that which is within" meaneth this: He calls the soul "that which is within," and the body "that which is without." As, then, thy body is visible to sight, so also let thy soul be manifest by good works. 5 And "the male with the female, neither male nor female," this meaneth, that a brother seeing a sister should think nothing about her as of a female, nor she think anything about him as of a male. 6 If ye do these things, saith He, the kingdom of my Father shall come."

This text, part of the agrapha, seems to stand within a trajectory between Gal. 3.28/Col. 3.11 on the one hand and the gnostic conception of androgyny on the other hand. The author of 2 Clement interprets this saying essentially in an ethical sense with "speaking the truth to one another" and the "good works" of the soul. Yet the reference at the end to the "Kingdom of the Father" is clearly reminiscient of same phrase in the Gospel of Thomas. Given that 2 Clement has a background in Jewish Christianity, do we have here further evidence (hinted at in Gos Thom 12) for a Jewish Christian origin for Christian Gnosticism?


slaveofone said...

Good question... However, I think it misses the point to say this verse (found also in the Gospel of Thomas) is speaking of androgyny or gnosticism... Saying that would be like exegeting Yeshua as saying we need to re-enter the vagina when he speaks of being born again.

The GoT takes the saying out of context and uses it to its own purposes, but I still believe it is a valid saying of Yeshua's which speaks of the kingdom of Yahweh as a disolution of normal family and gender ties/relations... In Yahweh there is neither male nor female...and he who was not your brother or sister now is.

J. B. Hood said...


You might double-check the spelling and HTML on your label for this post.

Ben said...

When I read your post, I thought of Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium. It's not directly relevant but provides interesting background material to hellenistic gender issues. It speaks of the generation of the sexes by division of original double bodied humans. The desire of finding one's lost half, disolving the division, and becoming one again is the goal of relationships. Gender of your partner doesn't matter because they could be either male or female. The "one soul in two bodies" comment by Clement was what made me think of it.