Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 079 Those who have kept the father’s utterance are blessed

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 79

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

(79) A woman in the crowd said to him: Blessed is the womb which bore you, and the breasts which nourished you. He said to [her]: Blessed are those who have heard the word of the Father (and) have kept it in truth. For there will be days when you will say: Blessed is the womb which has not conceived, and the breasts which have not given suck.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(79) A woman in the crowd said to him, “Blessed are the womb that bore you and the breasts that nourished you!” He said to [her], “Blessed are those who have heard the father’s utterance (or Word) and truly kept it! For days are coming when you (plur.) will say, ‘Blessed are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk!'”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

83 [79]. In the crowd a woman says to him: “Blessed is the womb which bore thee and the breast which fed thee!” He said to her: “Blessed are those who have heard the word of the Father and keep it! In truth, days are coming when you will say: Happy is the womb that has not brought forth and those breasts which have not given suck!”

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

• Luke 11:27-28 KJV
• Luke 23:29 KJV

Scholarly Quotes

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “The first part of this saying comes from Luke 11:27-28, though the word ‘nourished’ is derived from Luke 23:29, which Thomas uses as the second part of the saying. The word of the Father, then, is that sterility is better than pregnancy. Just so, in the Gospel of the Egyptians, Salome says to Jesus, ‘I did well, then, by not bearing [children]’ (Clement of Alexandria, Strom., 3, 66, 2). For Jesus really came ‘to destroy the works of the female’ (Strom., 3, 63, 2).”

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 179

R. McL. Wilson writes: “Once again, as Grant and Freedman show, it is not difficult to find a Gnostic explanation, but this does not mean the association of sayings from entirely different contexts. The obvious suggestion is association by key-words, the references to womb and breasts having caused the attraction of the second saying ot the first; yet the whole fits well together, and it might be argued that it was originally a unity.”

Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, p. 81

F. F. Bruce writes: “Two quite independent sayings are conflated here. Jesus’s reply to the woman who says how wonderful it must be to be his mother indicates that to do the will of God is more wonderful still (Luke 11.27 f.), but this is merged with his words to the weeping woman on the Via Dolorosa (Luke 23.29).

The two sayings are linked by the common theme of bearing and suckling children, but the historical perspective of the second (the impending siege and capture of Jerusalem in A.D. 70) is here replaced by a suggestion that motherhood is incompatible with ‘hearing the Father’s word and keeping it in truth’. As regularly (except in Saying 100), ‘God’ in the canonical text is here replaced by ‘the Father’.”

Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 143

Funk and Hoover write: “Thom 79:3, which has a parallel in Luke 23:29, has possibly been retained by Thomas because of its ascetic interest: the procreation of the race is not necessarily a good thing. This kind of asceticism seems to have been shared by the Qumran community, which some scholars believe was celibate, although it must be noted that not all Essenes were celibate.” 

The Five Gospels, p. 516

Gerd Ludemann writes: “The basis of these verses is Luke 11.27-28, as v. 28 derives from Lukan redaction and ‘word of the Father’ (v. 2) clearly derives from the redaction of Thomas. ‘Word of the Father’ is typical of Thomas, as he avoids the term ‘God’. ‘Truth’ (v. 2) picks up the same word from 78.3.”

Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 630


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

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