Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 072 Jesus is not an arbitrator of possessions

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 72

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

(72) [A man said] to him: Speak to me brothers, that they may divide my father’s possessions with me. He said to him: O man, who made me a divider? He turned to his disciples. He said to them, I am not a divider, am I?

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(72) Some person [said] to him, “Tell my siblings to share my father’s possessions with me.” He said to that person, “My good fellow, who has made me into an arbitrator?” He turned to his disciples and said to them, “So am I an arbitrator?”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

76 [72]. [Someone (?) said] to him: “Speak to my brothers, that they may share with me my father’s possessions!” He answered him: “Man, who made me a sharer?” He turned to his disciples and said to them: “Let me not be a sharer!”

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

• Luke 12:13-21 KJV

Scholarly Quotes

‘Abd al Jabbar in the Book on the Signs of Muhammed’s Prophecy states: “A man said to him, ‘Master, my brother (wishes) to share (with me) my father’s blessing.’ (Jesus) said to him, ‘Who set me over you (in order to determine your) share?'”

from Shlomo Pines, The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source, p. 13

Marvin Meyer writes: “Gilles Quispel, ‘The Gospel of Thomas Revisited,’ p. 243, proposes that in this saying ‘divider’ may be understood to mean ‘schismatic,’ so that Jesus denies being a schismatic or heretic. Such an understanding may be related to the Eighteen Benedictions (‘Shemoneh `Esreh’) used in Jewish worship, since Benediction 12 was a prayer against Nazarenes and Minim, or heretics, and was meant to exclude such heretics (who included Jewish Christians) from the synagogue.”

The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 97

Funk and Hoover write: “The unit in Thomas consists of two parts, a dialogue (vv. 1-2) and a question addressed to disciples (v. 3). The dialogue portion in Luke and Thomas is quite similar; Jesus rejects the requested role. The second element in each version is strikingly different. The dialogue in Luke ends with this general admonition: ‘Guard against greed in all its forms; after all, possessions, even in abundance, don’t guarantee someone life.’

The subject in Luke is evidently the dangers of wealth, while for Thomas the final words of Jesus appear to be focused on division, in spite of the request made in 72:1. This theme is reminiscent of Thom 61:5: ‘If one is <whole>, one will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness.’ Division appears to be a Thomean motif.” 

The Five Gospels, pp. 513-514

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “The final question is added by Thomas. Jesus is not really a divider (in spite of Sayings 16, 56, and 98); he comes to restore man’s lost unity.”

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 175


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

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