Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 101 We should hate our family and love our true family

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 101

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

(101) <Jesus said:> He who does not hate his father and his mother like me cannot be a [disciple] to me. And he who does [not] love [his father] and his mother like me cannot be a [disciple] to me. For my mother [ . . . ], but [my] true [mother] gave me life.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(101) <Jesus said>, “Those who do not hate their [father] and their mother as I do cannot be [disciples] of me. And those who [do not] love their [father and] their mother as I do cannot be [disciples of] me. For my mother [. . .] But my true [mother] gave me life.”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

105 [101]. “He who has not, like me, detested his father and his mother cannot be my disciple; and he who has loved h[is father a]nd his mother as much as he loves me cannot be my disciple. My mother, indeed, has [. . .] because in truth she gave me life.”

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

GThom 55
GThom 105
• Luke 14:25-33 KJV
• Luke 9:23-27 KJV
• Matt 10:34-39 KJV
• Matt 16:24-28 KJV
• Mark 8:34-9:1 KJV

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer writes: “‘my true [mother]’: perhaps the holy spirit, who may be described as the mother of Jesus in such texts as the Secret Book of James, the Gospel of the Hebrews, and the Gospel of Philip. Thus the conundrum presented in the saying (hate parents and love parents) is resolved by positing two orders of family and two mothers of Jesus.” 

The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 105

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “The substance of this saying has already been provided in Saying 56 [55]. Here, however, Jesus explicitly states that he himself hates his (earthly) father and mother (see Saying 96). The repeated phrase, ‘cannot be my disciple,’ comes, like most of the saying, from Luke 14:26. What he said about his mother (who gave him life?) cannot be recovered from the broken text. Perhaps he said, as in the Gospel of the Hebrews, that his mother was the Holy Spirit. The statement about loving father and mother may refer to loving the Father and the Holy Spirit. Verbally it is quite close to Matthew 10:37: ‘He who loves father or mother more than me cannot be my disciple.’ The sense is quite different, however. On ‘father and mother’ see Saying 102 [105].” 

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 189-190

Funk and Hoover write: “Verse 1 of this saying, by itself, could have been voted pink, as a similar saying was in Luke 14:26. But here the first saying is joined by its opposite (v. 2), which makes it a paradox. One cannot both hate and love parents at the same time. The rest of the saying in Thomas is fragmentary, but enough remains to suggest that Thomas was making a distinction between two different kinds of mothers and fathers. The Fellows had to conclude that Thomas has revised an authentic tradition and developed it in some new but unknown direction.” 

The Five Gospels, p. 527

J. D. Crossan writes: “In all cases where Thomas has two or more versions of a synoptic aphorism, one is usually more gnostic than the other. So also here. Gos. Thom. 101 ‘is a doublet of Saying 55. That part of its text which is parallel to the Lukan account of hating is almost identical with Saying 55. Its additional material seems clearly to be a more developed Gnostic interpretation of the saying: hat this world, love the spiritual’ (Sieber: 121).

For my present purpose, it is less important to discuss this gnosticizing tradition of the triple-stich aphoristic compound than to note that, now the cross saying has completely disappeared inside the family one, save for the common Coptic term behind ‘in My way’ (55) and ‘as I do’ (101). But Gos. Thom. 101 still retained the triple-stich format of the aphoristic compound. He even retained the double-stich parallelism of Aphorism 113 [Mt 10:37 // Lk 14:26], but the second stich is now in antithetical (hate/love) parallelism rather than in the original synonymous parallelism (hate/hate). Gos. Thom.101 is a Gnosticized redaction of Gos. Thom. 55.” 

In Fragments, p. 136


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

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