Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 041 The person who has will receive

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 41

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

(41) Jesus said: He who has in his hand, to him shall be given; and he who has not, from him shall be taken even the little that he has.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(41) Jesus said, “The person who possesses will be given more. And the person who does not have will be deprived of even the little that that person has.”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

46 [41]. Jesus says: “To him who has in his hand, <more> will be given. But from him who has not, <even> the little he has will be taken away!”

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

• GThom 70
• Luke 8:18 KJV
• Luke 19:11-27 KJV
• Matt 13:10-13 KJV
• Matt 25:14-30 KJV
• Mark 4:24-25 KJV

Scholarly Quotes

Gerd Ludemann writes: “These verses have parallels in Mark 4.25 and Matt. 25.29/Luke 19.26 (= Q). Thomas diverges from them in two points:

(a) in v. 1 he reads ‘in his hand’ (cf. 9.1; 17; 21.10; 22.6; 35.1; 98.2) and

(b) in v. 2 ‘the little’. The saying is a common proverb. How it was read by Gnostics is shown for example by Gospel of Philip 105: ‘Is it not fitting for all who have all this also to know themselves? But some, if they do not know themselves, will not enjoy what they have. The others, who have come to know themselves, will enjoy them (= their possessions).'” 

Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 610

J. D. Crossan writes: “The addition of ‘in his hand’ may be redactional, since Thomas seems to have a particular liking for ‘hand’ (17, 21c, 22b, 35, 98; see Menard, 1975: 142). The other change is of more significance. The negative stich is again qualified: ‘even the little he has.’ It is also possible that Gos. Thom. 70 is a much more Gnostic version of this saying (Grant and Freedman: 147).”

In Fragments, p. 201

Funk and Hoover write: “This saying in Thomas betrays no dependence on the canonical gospels; it represents an independent tradition. The Q form is recorded by Luke at the conclusion of the parable of the money in trust (Luke 19:26): ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given; and from those who don’t have, even what they do have will be taken away.’

Mark has a slightly different version in Mark 4:25: ‘In fact, to those who have, are will be given, and from those who don’t have, even what they do have will be taken away!’

Thomas exhibits two minor additions: the words ‘in hand’ in the first line, and the phrase ‘the little’ in the last line are unique to Thomas. The additional words do not help clarify the original context of the saying, if indeed it is more than a general maxim that was universally applicable.” 

The Five Gospels, p. 496


1 4CM Translator ID: T87
2 4CM Translator ID: T68
3 4CM Translator ID: T81
4 4CM Translator ID: T71

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