Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 002 Seek until you find


Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 2

Subheading:  This page explores modern interpretations of the Gospel according to Thomas, an ancient text preserved in a Coptic translation at Nag Hammadi and Greek fragments at Oxyrhynchus. With no particular slant, this commentary gathers together quotations from various scholars in order to elucidate the meaning of the sayings, many of which are rightly described as “obscure.”

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FromEarly Christian Writings 

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By:
Horst Balz. (T87)
Bentley Layton. (T68)
Harold W Attridge. (T34)
Jean Doresse. (T81)
Robert Funk. (T71)

Our Ref:
ECST: 014.10.000.T34
ECST: 014.10.000.T68
ECST: 014.10.000.T71
ECST: 014.10.000.T81
ECST: 014.10.000.T87


Nag Hammadi Coptic Text

Gospel of Thomas Coptic Text

BLATZ1)4CM Translator ID: T87

(2) Jesus said: He who seeks, let him not cease seeking until he finds; and when he finds he will be troubled, and when he is troubled he will be amazed, and he will reign over the All.

LAYTON2)4CM Translator ID: T68

(2) Jesus said, “Let one who seeks not stop seeking until that person finds; and upon finding, the person will be disturbed; and being disturbed, will be astounded; and will reign over the entirety.”

DORESSE3)4CM Translator ID: T81

1 [2]. Jesus says: “Let him who seeks cease not to seek until he finds: when he finds he will be astonished; and when he is astonished he will wonder, and will reign over the universe!”

Funk’s Parallels4)4CM Translator ID: T71

POxy654 2
GThom 92:1
GThom 94
• Luke 11:9-13 KJV
• Matt 7:7-11 KJV
• Matt 21:18-22 KJV
• John 14:12-14 KJV
• John 15:16-17 KJV
• John 16:20-28 KJV
• Mark 11:20-25 KJV
GHeb 4a (Gospel to the Hebrews)
GHeb 4b (Gospel to the Hebrews)
DialSav (Dialogus Saluatoris)
DialSav 20 (Dialogus Saluatoris)
DialSav 79-80 (Dialogus Saluatoris)

Oxyrhynchus Greek Fragment

Gospel of Thomas Greek Text

DORESSE – Oxyrhynchus5)4CM Translator ID: T81

[Jesus says:] “Let him who see[ks] cease not [to seek until he] finds: when he finds, [he will wonder; and when he wond]ers, he will reign, and [reigning, he will have r]est!”

ATTRIDGE – Oxyrhynchus6)4CM Translator ID: T34

(2) [Jesus said], “Let him who seeks continue [seeking until] he finds. When he finds, [he will be amazed. And] when he becomes [amazed], he will rule. And [once he has ruled], he will [attain rest].”.

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer quotes two parallel passages in the Book of Thomas the Contender (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 68-69). The first: “[Fortunate is] the wise person who has [sought truth, and] when it has been found, has rested upon it for ever, and has not been afraid of those who wish to trouble the wise person.” (Book of Thomas 140,41 – 141,2) The second: “Watch and pray. . . . And when you pray, you will find rest. . . . For when you leave the pains and the passions of the body, you will receive rest from the Good One, and you will rule with the king, you united with him and he united with you, from now on, for ever and ever.”

Book of Thomas 145,8-16

A somewhat similar statement is found from Clement of Alexandria

“Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal.” 

Instructor, 1.6.26.1

Funk and Hoover write: “Thom 2:2-4 is a Gnostic expansion: the Gnostic quest leads to being disturbed, which causes one to marvel, and that ends in reigning. The Greek fragment of this same verse adds a fifth stage: the reign of the Gnostic results in ‘rest,’ which is the Gnostic catchword for salvation. Gnostic insight into the ‘real world,’ as opposed to the world of appearances, is what brings all this about. The term ‘rest’ is employed in the book of Revelation, on the other hand, for future salvation: those who die in the Lord ‘may rest from their labors’ (Rev 14:13).” 

The Five Gospels, p. 471

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “‘Rest’ is mentioned not in the Coptic text but in the Greek fragment; but ‘rest’ or ‘repose’ occurs in Sayings 51, 52, 60, 61, 86, and 90. It is found in the Gospel of the Hebrews (Clement of Alexandria, Strom., 2, 45, 5; 5, 96, 3), from which this saying is taken; presumably the author of Thomas changed the saying in order to lay emphasis on the idea of becoming a king. Compare 2 Timothy 2:11-12: ‘Trustworthy is the saying, “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we have endured, we shall reign with him.’ The difference, once more, is between the action of the Christian and the knowing of the Gnostic.” 

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 120

J. D. Crossan writes: “The restoration of the Greek text in Oxy P 654, of which only the first half of each line is extant, is relatively secure due to its citation by Clement of Alexandria (Fitzmyer, 1974:372-373; Hofius: 27; Marcovich: 56). In form it is a quadruple-stich saying climactically word-linked from one stich to the next: seeks/finds//finds/astounded//astounded/reign//reigned/rest (see Hennecke and Schneemelcher: 1.164).” 

In Fragments, pp. 99-100

J. D. Crossan writes: “On the other hand, the version in Gos. Thom. 2 breaks both the form and content of that Greek version: seeks/finds//finds/troubled//troubled/astonished// — / reign. The result is that the Coptic version climaxes with “rule” while the Greek text climaxes with “rest” (see Bammel, 1969). It is fairly certain that the Greek version is more original, but it is difficult to explain the Coptic deviation since ‘rest’ is one of Thomas’s major themes (Vielhauer, 1964:297). The best explanation is probably some form of misreading of his Greek original by the Coptic translator (see Marcovich: 57; or Menard, 1975:79).”

In Fragments, p. 100

References   [ + ]

1. 4CM Translator ID: T87
2. 4CM Translator ID: T68
3, 5. 4CM Translator ID: T81
4. 4CM Translator ID: T71
6. 4CM Translator ID: T34

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