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.”
FAIR USE NOTICE:
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material; the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. For purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
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!”].
(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].”
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.”
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.'”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”