Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 070 Our salvation is within us

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 70

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

(70) Jesus said: If you have gained this within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have this in [you], what you do not have in you [will] kill you.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(70) Jesus said, “If you (plur.) produce what is in you, what you have will save you. If you do not have what is in you, what you do not have [will] kill you.”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

74 [70]. Jesus says: “When you have something left to share among you, what you possess will save you. But if you cannot share [among you], that which you have not among you, that [ … ? … will …] you.

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

GThom 41

Scholarly Quotes

F. F. Bruce writes: “This Gnosticizing variant of Saying 41 may refer to the heavenly light, which is the salvation of those who possess it but the destruction of those who lack it.” 

Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 140

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “This is a Gnostic version of the synoptic saying already reproduced in Saying 42 [41]. The Gnostic ‘begets’ within himself the kingdom or Jesus or light and will be saved by what he begets; the non-Gnostic has nothing and will be killed by this nothing(ness).” 

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 174

Funk and Hoover write: “This saying reminded the Fellows of the Gnostic idea that one’s salvation depends on possessing – and recognizing in oneself – a piece of the divine, sacred spark, a fragment of the ‘light,’ which signals one’s true origin in the one high God, the ultimate source of other divinities, including the creator God. If one possesses it and recognizes it, salvation is assured (note Thom 24:3, where this same idea is explicit).

If one does not possess the divine spark, there is nothing one can do about it. Such a deficiency is also alluded to in Thomas 67. Because of the affinities of these ideas with Gnostic views and their remoteness from what is otherwise known of Jesus, the Fellows designated the saying black by common consent.” 

The Five Gospels, p. 513

Gerd Ludemann writes: “Thomas’s formulation is dualistic. It is a matter of life (= salvation) and death. Salvation is manifestly connected with knowledge of one’s own self, one’s heavenly origin, which is light. Otherwise, if the knowledge is not attained, the result is death.” 

Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 626


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

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