Mystical Sayings of Yesu
Who recorded the Mystical Sayings?
According to the first lines of the book the author is a man by the name of Judas, who held the title Twin. According to Tradition this Judas person was from an Aramaic community where he first gained the title The Twin, which is ‘Thomas' in Aramaic. They thus knew him as Thomas Judas.Later years when the Greek speaking world came to know this Thomas Judas' work it was important for them to show that he was the one called The Twin. They added the Greek word for twin, didymos to his name and translations of his works call him Dydimus Judas Thomas.
Who is Judas Thomas?We know that Judas Thomas is the Apostle Thomas who walked with Yesu in Palestine. The Acts of Thomas that date from much later than the Mystical Sayings describes the same Thomas Judas called Dydimus, and his ministry in India. The Apostle Thomas was martyred in India and the earliest Church returned his remains to his country of birth.
What is the message of the Mystical Sayings?
The message of the Mystical Sayings is the message that Yesu brought humanity, and is the same teaching to which Church of the East has always adhered.The message is that spiritual perfection is within our reach, the Kingdom of God, heaven, is an ecstatic state of being which we can and must cultivate within. Yesu teaches that by returning to simplicity, humility and non-interference we can again gain that innocent perfection that we had in Paradise, this time however, unlike Adam and Eve, we have experienced life in the body and we will have the knowledge of both good and bad.The message of mysticism, humility, simplicity and non-interference as the Way to perfection, as the Way to becoming in Christ, is central not only to the Mystical Sayings but also to Acts of Yesu, Acts of Thomas, Book of Thomas, The Bhagavad Gita, Tao Teh Ching, Book of Wisdom, Song of Songs and other Scripture.
Two Yesu movements
Scholars discovered that directly after Yesu's ministry in Palestine ended two different streams, or schools of thought, moved among followers of Yesu. One movement was known as The Way, and followed the Mystical Sayings and its central teaching of mysticism, simplicity, humility, and non-interference. For this movement love was the higher form of knowledge and heaven was a state of being which each individual has to reach for in the Grace of God. Holy Wisdom, the Female aspect of God played an equally important role in this original movement. This movement followed the teaching that Yesu is an example to us of how to BE, and that for each devotee the ‘spirit' of Yesu will come to live in us - meaning that the Spirit will transform us to become like Yesu. Over time the mystical movement found a better reception in the East where St. Thomas ministered and from that ministry Church of the East resulted.The other school of thought became more popular in the West and was mostly advocated and popularised by the Greek speaking Jew, a Roman citizen - St. Paul of Tarsus. This movement had a different set of Sayings of Yesu which was unfortunately destroyed entirely and does not existent at all today, except in the Sayings used by authors of the 2nd century to write their Gospels. Scholars today call this lost set of Sayings ‘Q', which is an abbreviation for the French word for source. The only way in which they can guess the possible content of Q is to study the three Synoptic Gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke and to note which materials they have in common. We call this process Source Criticism. What the source critics has found is that after Q an early Gospel of Mark was written. Later in the second and third centuries three Gospels were written using the early Mark and Q as reference material. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke and the current revised edition of Mark is what we have today.Although many significant parallels between the earliest sources, Mystical Sayings of Yesu, Q and early Mark, exist, the differences are very significant. Western Christianity breaks with The Way in many central issues. In the West they believe that Yesu will one day come down from heaven to lead His true followers to victory over the negative forces of life. While this is essentially the same message of the eastern movement and the Mystical Sayings, the West understands this to be a physical return, and a physical warfare against the physical forces. In the West the Yesu movement was marked by meeting in remembrance of Yesu and waiting for Him to return to end the world.Another difference between the two movements is again a subtle one of some differences in emphasis, but over the two thousands years had caused significant changes. While Eastern sources of Yesu's teaching emphasise personal response, the Male and Female aspects of God and the metaphysical Way where we have to confront the demons (negative thought forms within and without), challenging culture, and draws from Songs of Songs, Book of Wisdom and ancient Eastern Traditions, and Yesu being our foremost Brother in the divine family and our Saviour – the West emphasises Hebrew Traditions, the Male aspect of God, Yesu as the only Son of God but being the fulness of God at the same time, that Mary was thus the mother of God, the idea of Yesu being the anointed one from God became very important to westerners and the title Christ and the name Christians became popular; waiting for the end of the world, and being religious and a good citizen marked the western movement.Furthermore, they mention Apostle Thomas only seven times in the Gospel of John and once only in the Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptic Tradition knows nothing about Thomas the Apostle but used the Mystical Sayings.
The title Christ does not appear in the Mystical Sayings, probably because the Messianic concept is strictly of Hebrew origin and the Anointed one of God (the other meaning of Christ or Messiah) play a lesser role in the eastern Way. Anointment is one of three aspects of Initiation in the East. Baptism follows it and immediately afterwards by sharing in the Mystery Meal. The emphasis on Yesu's suffering and the corresponding titles: Suffering Servant and Sacrificial Lamb of God is hardly ever found in the East. Yesu's crucifixion and resurrection play a minor role in the East since here they understand that Yesu partook in the crucifixion event willingly, that his powers of mastery over the physical and emotional were advanced enough not to have had to feel the pain, humility and suffering – which millions of people suffered in Phoenician and Roman crucifixion executions.Many different Yesu movements existed during the first three centuries. Johannine Christianity, for one, survived though it is much different from the Christianity of the Synoptic Tradition and that of Pauline Christianity. The political powers of Roman Empire's Church eradicated various Yesu movements which did not agree with the official Roman church. The eastern Way of Yesu survived only because it could hide in the outer corners of the world outside the Roman Empire.
Why do some people refer to the Mystical Sayings as a the Gospel of Thomas?It is a western tendency to refer to books about Yesu and His teaching as Gospels, which means Good News. This is a pleasing name for such books, and some Scriptures actually started by saying, ‘This is the good news about Yesu.'Some western scholars came to know about the existence of the Mystical Saying in the 3rd and 4th centuries and called the book ‘The Gospel of Thomas'. This is perhaps because they were accustomed to call such Scripture ‘Gospels according to someone'. There is however no evidence in the book that the author intends it to be called a Gospel. The title of the book is clearly written, ‘These are the mystical sayings which the Living Yesu spoke and Judas The Twin recorded.' We prefer to call the book, the Mystical Sayings of Yesu.
Are there other versions of the book available?
According to Tradition devotees and scholars translated Mystical Sayings of Yesu into Chinese, Syriac, Coptic (Egyptian) and Greek during the first two centuries CE. During the late 1800's and in 1945 a Coptic and a Greek version were found in Egypt. These can be traced back to the middle of the 2nd century. There are differences in the various translations, and, as with all Scripture translations, they colour the Truth according to the receiving community's norms, likes and dislikes, and by that by which the translators were motivated. We hold to our version as Authoritative version for the Srinigar Church of the East.
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