Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 054 The poor


Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 54

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

(54) Jesus said: Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.

LAYTON2)4CM Translator ID: T68

(54) Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor, for yours (plur.) is the kingdom of heavens.”

DORESSE3)4CM Translator ID: T81

59 [54]. Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor, for the Kingdom of heaven is yours!”

Funk’s Parallels4)4CM Translator ID: T71

• Luke 6:20 KJV
• Matt 5:3 KJV


Scholarly Quotes

R. McL. Wilson writes: “On logion 54: ‘Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven,’ Grant and Freedman say that it combines Luke vi. 20 with Matthew v. 3, but it may, perhaps, be doubted if Matthew comes into question at all. The only difference between Luke and Thomas lies in the use of the phrase ‘kingdom of heaven,’ and Thomas, as already noted, habitually avoids the name of God.

It is at least possible that Thomas here preserves the original form, which Luke has altered by substituting ‘God’ and Matthew interpreted by adding ‘in spirit’ after ‘the poor.’ There are, however, other possibilities: deliberate alteration of Luke by Thomas, or the transmission of the saying from Luke to Thomas through a Jewish-Christian milieu in which the change was made.” 

Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 55-56

Funk and Hoover write: “There is no question about Jesus’ consorting with the poor, the hungry, and the persecuted. He announced that God’s domain belonged to the poor, not because they were righteous, but because they were poor. This reverses a common view that God blesses the righteous with riches and curses the immoral with poverty.” 

The Five Gospels, p. 504

Gerd Ludemann writes: “The logion corresponds to Luke 6.20 and Matt. 5.3, but derives from Luke 6.20, because ‘yours’ corresponds to Lukan redaction. This conclusion is all the more compelling as in Luke 6.20 the Coptic translation of the New Testament reads ‘their’ instead of ‘yours’ – no doubt an assimilation to Matt. 5.3.” 

Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 617

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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