Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 067 Any deficiency is utter deficiency

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 67

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

(67) Jesus said: He who knows the all, (but) fails (to know) himself, misses everything.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(67) Jesus said, “If anyone should become acquainted with the entirety and should fall short of all (?), that person falls short utterly.”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

71 [67]. Jesus says: “He who knows the All, but has failed to know himself, has failed completely to know, <or: to find> the Place!”

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

Book of Thomas the Contender 138:16-18.


Scholarly Quotes

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “This saying is incomprehensible. Presumably Jesus is ‘the All,’ and ‘everywhere’ is where Jesus is, as in Saying 77. If – as is most uncertain – the saying is related to Jesus’ words to Martha in Luke 10:41, ‘There is need of few things or of one,’ it would mean that to know Jesus is all that the believer needs. Perhaps the saying was garbled during transmission.” 

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 173

R. McL. Wilson writes: “Logion 67 Grant and Freedman, using a different translation, found incomprehensible, and they suggest that it may have been garbled in the transmission. The clue, however, had already been provided by Dr. Till, who after observing ‘For him who wants to be saved it is necessary above all to recognize the vanity of the material world,’ and quoting sayings to that effect, continues ‘It is by no means sufficient to know the worthlessness of the material world. The indispensable perfection of knowledge is knowing oneself. For even “he who knows all the universe but does not know himself has missed everything”.'” 

Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, p. 28

Funk and Hoover write: “This saying is as difficult to translate as it is to understand. The first clause may refer simply to one who is very knowledgeable – a know-it-all. In this case, the saying recalls the famous dictum of Socrates, ‘Know thyself.’ However, the word for ‘all’ is also a technical term in Gnostic circles and refers to the whole of cosmic reality; it is usually translated as ‘All,’ with a capital A. Elsewhere in Thomas this term seems to carry this technical sense (note 2:4 and 77:1). The Fellows took the term here to be technical Gnostic language also. They gave it a black designation as the result. Thomas 70 is a related saying.” 

The Five Gospels, p. 512

Gerd Ludemann gives the translation, “Jesus said, ‘Whoever knows the All (but) is deficient in himself is deficient in everything.'” Ludemann writes: “The ‘All’ is a technical term which relates to the universe, embracing the earth and the cosmos (cf. 2.4; 77.1). ‘Know’ takes up the same expression from 65.4, 7.

According to Thomas, knowledge of the All and self-knowledge condition each other. The reason lies in the constitutionality of the All with the Gnostic self. Thus according to Logion 77 Jesus is the light and at the same time the All. Whoever knows himself is Christ and himself becomes a person of light.” 

Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 624


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

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