Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 043 Disciples should recognize Jesus in his sayings


Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 43

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

(43) His disciples said to him: Who are you, that you say these things to us? <Jesus said to them:> From what I say to you, do you not know who I am? But you have become like the Jews; for they love the tree (and) hate its fruit, and they love the fruit (and) hate the tree.

LAYTON2)4CM Translator ID: T68

(43) His disciples said to him, “Who are you, since you say these things to us?” <Jesus said to them>, “Do you (plur.) not understand who I am from the things I am saying to you? Rather, you have come to be like Jews. For they love the tree, and hate its fruit. And they love the fruit, and hate the tree.

DORESSE3)4CM Translator ID: T81

48 [43]. His disciples said to him: “Who art thou, who tellest us these things?” “By the things that I tell you, do you not recognise who I am? But you yourselves have become like the Jews: they like the tree and detest the fruit, they like the fruit and detest the tree!”

Funk’s Parallels4)4CM Translator ID: T71

• Luke 6:43-45 KJV
• Matt 7:15-20 KJV
• Matt 12:33 KJV


Scholarly Quotes

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “In this saying we have a highly artificial construction. It takes its point of departure from John 8:25, where the Jews ask Jesus who he is; they know neither him nor his Father (John 8:19). Thomas has transferred the question to the disciples so that Jesus can say that they are ‘like the Jews.’

The Jews do not understand that the nature of the tree is identical with that of the fruit (Matthew 7:16-20; Luke 6:43-44). And in both Matthew and Luke the discussion of trees and fruits is followed by a rebuke to those who call Jesus ‘Lord’ but do not obey him. It looks as if Thomas has consciously tried to make his meaning more mysterious than that reflected in the gospels.” 

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 156

F. F. Bruce writes: “This disciples’ question is like that of the Jews to Jesus in John 8.25; Jesus’s answer, with its implied insistence that tree and fruit are of the same kind (cf. Saying 45), may be derived from the saying in Matthew 7.16-20 and Luke 6.43 f. The anti-Jewish sentiment recognizable in several places throughout the Gospel of Thomas becomes quite explicit here.” 

Jesus and Christian Origens Outside the New Testament, p. 130

Funk and Hoover write: “This exchange between Jesus and his disciples is polemical, as the hostile question in v. 1 indicates. Jesus responds by comparing the disciples to Judeans. The figure of speech employed draws on a common proverb to the effect that there is no separating the fruit from the tree it grows on. A comparable figure of speech is employed in Thom 45:1-4 and its many parallels.” 

The Five Gospels, p. 497

Gerd Ludemann writes: “With an image corresponding to 45.1, in v. 3 Jesus compares the disciples with Jews who want to separate tree and fruit or fruit and tree. However, for the disciples it is a matter of knowing Jesus exclusively from his words (v. 2) as they are to be found in the Gospel of Thomas.”

Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 611

References   [ + ]

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

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