Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 005 The obscure will become disclosed

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 5

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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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

BLATZ[1]4CM Translator ID: T87

(5) Jesus said: Recognize what is before you, and what is hidden from you will be revealed to you; for there is nothing hidden that will not be made manifest.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(5) Jesus said, “Recognize what is before your (sing.) face and what is obscure to you (sing.) will become disclosed unto you. For there is nothing obscure that will not become shown forth.”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

5 [5]. Jesus says: “Know what is before your face, and what is hidden from you will be revealed to you. For nothing hidden will fail to be revealed!”

Funk’s Parallels[4]4CM Translator ID: T71

POxy654 5
POxy 654 6:4
GThom 6:4
• Luke 8:16-17 KJV
• Luke 12:1-3 KJV
• Matt 10:26-33 KJV
• Mark 4:21-23 KJV
Oxyrhynchus Shroud

Oxyrhynchus Greek Fragment

Gospel of Thomas Greek Text

DORESSE – Oxyrhynchus[5]4CM Translator ID: T81

Jesus says: [“Know what is be]fore your face, and [what is hidden] from you will be revealed [to you. For there] is [nothing] hidden which [will] not be revealed, nor <anything> buried which [will not be raised up!”].

ATTRIDGE – Oxyrhynchus[6]4CM Translator ID: T34

(5) Jesus said, “[Recognize what is in] your (sg.) sight, and [that which is hidden] from you (sg.) will become plain [to you (sg.). For there is nothing] hidden which [will] not [become] manifest, nor buried that [will not be raised].”

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer quotes a parallel in a saying of Jesus from Manichaean Kephalaia LXV 163,26-29: “Understand what is in front of your face, and then what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.” 

The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 71

Funk gives the citation from the Oxyrhynchus Shroud inscription: “Jesus says, ‘Nothing has been buried that will not be raised.'” (New Gospel Parallels, v. 2., p. 107) Doresse gives the translation: “Jesus says: ‘There is nothing buried which shall not be raised up.'”

The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 356

Fitzmyer gives the Greek of the inscription found on the shroud discovered in Behnesa, “legei Ihsous: ouk estin teqamme non ho ouk egerqhsetai.” Joseph A. Fitzmyer says that the inscription “is dated Palaeo-graphically to the fifth or sixth century A.D.” 

Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament, p. 383

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “But it seems hard to believe that this is the sense here, where – as in the rest of Thomas – there is no mention of resurrection. Perhaps one might regard the inscription as an orthodox, or semi-orthodox, revision of the saying in Thomas.”

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 125

Jean Doresse writes: “In its Coptic edition, the work does contain Gnostic additions or corrections; but the work as a whole contains elements which are scarcely consonant with Gnosticism. There is, for example, the allusion to the resurrection of the body, in Saying 5 of the Greek edition – no doubt this is suppressed in the Coptic edition because it so blatantly scandalized the Gnostics who used the work.” 

The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 348

Funk and Hoover write of the saying “there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed” as follows: “The meaning assigned to the saying varies with the context in which it appears. In Mark 4:22 it refers to Mark’s theory about the enigmatic character of the parables. In Luke 12:2 and Thom 6:5 it cautions against hypocrisy or speaking falsely. In Matt 10:26, which is the parallel to Luke 12:2, cited about from Q, it enjoins the disciples to preach boldly. Luke also records a version in 8:17, which he has taken from Mark; it ins context in Luke 8, it legitimizes the mission of the Christian movement.” 

The Five Gospels, pp. 475-476

R. McL. Wilson writes: “Logion 5 calls for a somewhat fuller notice. Discussing a saying quoted by Clement of Alexandria from the Traditions of Matthias (QAUMASON TA MARONTA), Puech compares this logion in Thomas and remarks that it may perhaps derive from the Gospel of the Hebrews; in which case it would afford no proof of a Gnostic origin. More important is the point which emerges from a comparison with the Oxyrhynchus fragments: in POx 654, unfortunately fragmentary, the saying is slightly longer than in the Coptic.

After the words just quoted, both continue ‘For there is nothing hidden which will not be manifest,’ but the Greek alone has a further line, completing a parallelism, ‘and buried which . . .’. An inscription on a shroud, also found at Oxyrhynchus, reads ‘Jesus says, There is nothing buried which will not be raised,’ and on the basis of this Puech restores the text to include a reference to the resurrection. Other scholars had done the same before him, but without the support of the shround inscription. As a mere conjecture this restoration would have to be regarded as uncertain, but the shroud inscription, quite recently discovered, adds materially to its probability.

Now the saying is quoted in the shorter (Coptic) form in the Manichean Kephalai, and Puech argues that the reference to the resurrection has been excised by a Gnostic editor in whose theology the doctrine of the resurrection had no place. If this be so, we should have here an instance of a gnosticizing redaction of an originally more orthodox document.

Fitzmyer, following Bultmann and Jeremias, prefers to consider the longer version as a secondary expansion of the canonical saying, noting that the short version is the one found in our Gospels, but this is to raise a different question: which of the two forms represents the authentic words of Jesus. It is not entirely impossible that the short and canonical version is original, but has been expanded in POx 654, and that subsequently the reference to the resurrection has been removed by a Gnostic editor. Such an example may serve to indicate the complexity of the problems raised by the new document.”

Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 28-29


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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