SDAF 2012 Spring Retreat an Unquestionable Success!

Spring Retreat #13.  Since you received our last Newsletter, more than 40 registrants enjoyed a very delightful retreat at Pine Spring Ranch with perfect spring weather.  John R. Jones, PhD, of the La Sierra University HMS Richards Divinity School took us on a fascinating 5-part journey through The "B" List:  Early Christian Writings That Didn't Make the Cut—and What They Tell Us about the Early Church.  (A brief summary of each presentation is provided below by SDAF Board Member Mary Proctor-Dehn.)  An inspirational Sabbath Vespers was provided by His Voice, a male chorus based in Riverside.  Diane McCary honed everyone's competitive game spirit before we watched Jon Dunham's heart-warming film, The Spirit of the Marathon.  Since Dr. Jones allowed the meetings to be recorded, downloadable mp3 files, as well as CDs, will soon be available for purchase online on this website. This is a first at a retreat--thank you Dr. Jones!  The next SDAF retreat is tentatively scheduled for 2014 and we'll keep you informed as it develops.

Presentation summaries:

  1. Dr. Jones provided an explication of the Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical logia (or “sayings-gospel”) comprised of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus, about half of which appear in the canonical Gospels and about half in the Gnostic tradition, which relates to, or possesses esoteric spiritual knowledge.  Neither the Gospel of Thomas refers to the divinity of Christ, nor does the Gospel of Mary and others.
  2. In his second lecture, Dr. Jones provided information on the Q (short for the German Quelle, or "source,”), a hypothetical collection of sayings of Jesus, assumed to be one of two written sources behind the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. The Q material is defined as the "common" material found in Matthew and Luke but not in their other written source, the Gospel of Mark. This ancient text was supposedly based on the oral tradition of the Early Church and contained logia or quotations from Jesus.  He then compared it to the Gospel of Judas.
  3. Dr. Jones’ third lecture concentrated on the Gospel of Judas, using it as an example of these Gnostic gospels, and accenting its focus on its “private,” secret, and mysterious tone. According to Judas, Jesus speaks with him privately, providing another version of Genesis, decoding a vision, and teaching him about cosmology, baptism, the Temple, the chaos of the underworld, and the destruction of the wicked. 
  4. The “Acts of Thecla” served as the principle topic of this lecture.   In chapters 5 & 6 of this apocryphal text, Paul proclaimed the word of God, concerning self-control and the resurrection.  His words echo those of Jesus’ given in the Beatitudes, mimicking the “Blessed are . . .” However, Paul’s version claims that not only the “pure in heart” will see God, but also those who have “kept the flesh clean.” 
  5. Dr. Jones’ final presentation was entitled “What does all this mean?” and reviewed the previous lectures, particularly the culminating in an insightful explication of the causes of de-canonization and the picture we have of Jesus as a result. 

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