Monday, December 20, 2010

Dr. Seuss does Gnosticism

Colby Whittaker, a first year Duke Divinity student, composed this Dr. Seuss-inspired version of a Gnostic creation story:

One day the first principle was feeling a bit down,

his glumdiferous magnificence turned in a frown.

he pondered and thunk and he thunk and he thought

and oh what a surprise when he saw what he'd wrought

there in the light of his emanated glow,

sat the second principle, the barbelo!

The barbelo in its barbelo suit, with its barbelo spirit munching
spiritual barbelo fruit.

And that barbelo

in its barbelo suit,

with its barbelo thoughts and its barbelo fruit,

why it looked on ole dad with his emanated glow his splendiferous
magnifence and before you know

there came a loud pop, a gnarf and kabangs

And out of the ole Barbelo came 4 more things

And not any ole things

no not any would do

but the best and the brightest, the shiny and new.

First Logos and Life, for who doesn't need a buddy

Then Man and then Church that fuddy old duddy

and they came and they spread

oh they spread and they spread

but they looked around and you know what they said?

Our world is too small oh far far too small

For our father is so so great, so grand and so tall

his world must be sad, such a tiny little world

and so they thought and they thought and thought unfurled

they expanded and grew and then they knurled.

What is knurl I hear you ask?

Why a wonderful thing in which we all should bask.

For out of their knurling

their thinking and thought

their swirling and whirling

they found what they sought

10 little aeons all in a lot.

Well not all at once you must understand

They came out in pairs!

Like a 10 man band.

10 aeons sprung forth, all shiny and new,

and fresh out in the world, they knew and they grew,

and they knew and they grew as good aeons ought

and then, as you'd guess, they too had a thought!

With their 12 aeon friends 22 strong,

they thought and they thought all the day long.

They thought of great things, such marvelous things

spirit-God kings and androgynous rings,

and they thought and they sang

their beautiful song

they sang and it rang

till something went wrong.

Poor little Sophie

said its much too crowded

with all your spirit singing I've been quite out-louded!

And then as you see poor Sophie was outed.

For Sophie had passions what a terrible lot

For silence and thinking is what a good aeon thought.

But Sophie wanted more, oh so much, more

she looked at her Aeon-friends and said “What a bore!”

So she sought out First-Principle,

grand ole Abyss,

and strung up in her passions

she gave him a kiss.

But oh what a kiss and such a kiss to miss

For Abyss would be having with none of this

he sent rough old limit,

that crabbity sort

to sort all this out

all this huffing and snort.

So limit did his limit-y best

and Sophie was purified

and returned to the nest

she returned to the rest

of her Aeon-y friends

but as we know things

take turns and bends

Cause Sophie's desire was not easily undone

It said “I'm still here! I'll still have my fun!”

That desire, misshapen and lumpy and cross,

It looked at that world and gave it the toss.

It said “Forget you Spirits” I've had my fill

of your Aeon-y sounds,

of your Aeon-y rules

of limits and bounds

and with a great whabumph,

and a sickening slumph

why gross ole desire

made some crumph,

and that crumph

it had mass and growth

so Desire became Ii-al-da-both.

And Ialdaboth was a bit of a fool

a bit of a munchkin, a bit of a tool

He forgot all that spiritual, gnosticky junk

and out came some matter with a resounding plunk

And out of that plunk came the moon and the earth

the clouds and the sky and so matter gave birth!

It gave birth to it all

All you can see

The rocks and dolphins

the birds in the trees

But all was not right

Oh certainly not right

Because all that world

was sad without light

Not normal light that pale thin drink

but the light of the Spirits!

Their old thoughty-think!

But Ialdaboth when he messed it all up,

he accidentally brought some spiritual stuff!

He dragged some gnosticy thoughty-thinking souls

And those souls fell into meat-mattery holes.

Those souls became psychics and gnosticky sorts

forming all new secret spiritual cohorts.

Poor Abel who died right off the bat,

And Cain who might have had a hand in that.

But then came Seth, marvelous Seth,

cause inside his chest was the spiritual breath

And inside his heart was the spiritual stuff,

the wonderful mystical spiritual stuff,

the stuff of which theres never enough,

So the children of Seth learned to think a humdinger thought

and this secret they took and they went and they taught

they taught about Sophie and they taught about her weird child

And they told the stories of how he went wild.

They taught about how all this matter is bunk

and all about Ialdy the maker of junk.

But with their humdinger secrets safe in your head

you too could go back, or so they said.

Go back to the start, to the place they still miss,

back home with the Spirits and good ole Abyss.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Resurrection of what?

I have been reading a lot of secondary literature on resurrection lately, and I have noticed a confusing ambiguity in the language employed in these discussions: In the common phrase "resurrection of the X," X can refer either to the thing that undergoes the process of resurrection or to the thing that has undergone the process of resurrection (that is, either to the raw materials or to the end product).

Thus, for example, the phrase "resurrection of the flesh" can be taken to denote either a view affirming that dead corpses will exit their graves (even if they are transformed radically in the process) or the view that the end product of resurrection will have all the "fleshly" qualities associated with our current form of existence.

This ambiguity is frustrating, but I am not sure what to do about it. Any suggestions?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video interview of Douglas Campbell

Campbell is here talking about participation in Christ.

HT: Michael Gorman.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


My colleague Stephen Carlson has made a few insightful comments on the SBLGNT apparatus.

Here is another take on the Holmes edited volume: