Gospel of Thomas
F. F. Bruce writes: "The saying (the Greek original of which is preserved fragmentarily in P. Oxy. 655. 3) is practically identical in its first part with Luke 11.52 and in its second part with Matthew 10.16b. The 'knowledge' (gnosis) of the first part was probably interpreted in a Gnostic sense; the same idea is expressed in Saying 102. As for the second part, the Naassenes or Ophites (from the Hebrew and Greek words for 'serpent', nahash and ophis respectively) may have seen special significance in the 'prudence' of the serpent." (Jesus and Christian Origens Outside the New Testament, p. 129)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 92, MatchRank 0.71
Blatz Translation: (92) Jesus said: Seek, and you will find; but the things you asked me in those days and I did not tell you then, now I desire to tell them, but you do not ask about them.
Funk and Hoover write: "Just as Thom 2:2-4 is an expansion of the basic saying in 2:1, so here 92:2 is an editorial comment on 92:1: it apparently refers to Jesus' earlier refusal to tell the disciples all his secret knowledge, coupled with the reprimand that his current disciples are not seeking true knowledge. The editorial comment undoubtedly refers to the knowledge (gnosis in Greek) that was important in this branch of the Christian movement." (The Five Gospels, p. 521)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 56, MatchRank 0.66
Blatz Translation: (56) Jesus said: He who has known the world has found a corpse; and he who has found a corpse, the world is not worthy of him.
Kurt Rudolph says of Saying 56: "in saying 80 the same is said, but instead of 'corpse' the reference is to the 'body' of the world)." (Gnosis, p. 264)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 0, MatchRank 0.35
Blatz Translation: [Prologue.] These are the secret words which the living Jesus spoke, and which Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down.
F. F. Bruce writes: "'Jesus the living one' probably means 'Jesus the ever-living one'. It is common form in Gnostic Gospels to represent the esoteric teaching or gnosis which they contain as delivered by Jesus to his chosen disciples during his appearances to them after he was raised from the dead. But there is no esoteric flavour about the sayings collected in the Gospel of Thomas; many of them can be paralleled from the canonical Gospels (especially Luke) and many others are of the same matter-of-fact order. Perhaps it was not the sayings themselves but their interpretation in the circle from which the Gospel of Thomas came that the compiler regarded as 'secret'. As for the threefold name Didymus Judas Thomas, Didymus is the Greek word for 'twin' and is used in the Gospel of John (11.16; 20.24; 21.2) to explain Thomas, which is the Aramaic word for 'twin' (t'oma). In Syriac Christian tradition he is identified with the 'Judas not Iscariot' who belonged to the company of the Twelve: in the Old Syriac Gospels the question of John 14.22 is said to have been put to the Lord by 'Judas Thomas'." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 112)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 8, MatchRank 0.32
Blatz Translation: (8) And he said: Man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea; he drew it up from the sea full of small fish; among them he found a large good fish, the wise fisherman; he threw all the small fish into the sea, he chose the large fish without difficulty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
R. McL. Wilson writes: "By printing the opening words in the form 'The Man is like a wise fisherman,' the official translation inevitably suggests an association with the Gnostic Anthropos, in which case the parable would refer to the election of the Gnostic. He is the large and good fish which is selected while all the rest are thrown back into the sea. It is also possible, however, to interpret this story as a parable of the Gnostic, the fish in this case being gnosis and the parable constructed on the model of the synoptic parables of the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure, both of which also occur in Thomas, to teach that the Kingdom of God (or in Thomas gnosis) is of such supreme value as to be worth any sacrifice." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 40-41)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 107, MatchRank 0.30
Blatz Translation: (107) Jesus said: The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep; one of them, the biggest, went astray; he left (the) ninety-nine (and) sought after the one until he found it. After he had laboured, he said to the sheep: I love you more than the ninety-nine.
R. McL. Wilson writes: "Accustomed as we are to the familiar story in the Synoptic Gospels, this version must come as something of a suprise, the more particularly since in the Synoptics it is not a parable of the kingdom at all. As Cerfaux observes, however, the parable was a favourite with the Gnostics, who adapted it for their own purposes. He finds an explanation in the Gospel of Truth (32.18-25), which links the lost sheep of this parable with that of Matthew xii. 11 f., the sheep fallen into the well. This, with some other features, would provide clear evidence of Gnostic redaction. For Bartsch the addition of 'the largest' is merely an explanatory expansion to explain the shepherd's search, but if the analogy of the fish and the pearl is borne in mind it may, perhaps, be suggested that the point is somewhat more significant: the sheep would seem to be either the Gnostic, for whose sake Christ the shepherd labours, or the kingdom (identified as elsewhere with gnosis) for which the Gnostic must strive. Bauer draws attention to the Valentinian interpretation recorded by Irenaeus and, like Doresse before him, to the speculations on the number ninety-nine in the Gospel of Truth, but Grant and Freedman see no reason to suppose that Thomas had such calculations in mind; of this it can only be said that all the available evidence must be collected for examination, even if some of it may eventually prove irrelevant. Finally there is the variant in the closing words: 'I love thee more . . .' for Matthew's 'he rejoiceth.' Guillaumont's suggestion that these are different versions of the underlying Aramaic is certainly attractive, but this must be left to the specialists in that field. As it is, there has been some development of this parable in the Synoptic tradition itself, as comparison of the Matthean and Lucan versions will suffice to show." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 95-96)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 109, MatchRank 0.28
Blatz Translation: (109) Jesus said: The kingdom is like a man who had in his field a [hidden] treasure, of which he knew nothing. And [after] he died he left it to his [son. The] son also did not know; he took the field and sold it. The man who bought it came (and) as he was ploughing [found] the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.
R. McL. Wilson writes: "As Cerfaux noted, this version departs radically from that of Matthew and finds a closer parallel in a Rabbinic story of the second century. Grant and Freedman find it difficult to see what the story meant to Thomas, but a Gnostic interpretation is not hard to discover. If the kingdom be identified with gnosis, the knowledge that is latent in every man, but which only the Gnostic can truly be said to possess, we have a treasure hidden from the original owner and his son (the psychic or the hylic?), awaiting the coming of the Gnostic who was able to receive it. An alternative is offered by Bauer, who iwth Doresse refers to the Naassene use of the parable. Like the mustard seed and also the leaven( logion 96), the treasure is the kingdom, understood in a Gnostic sense. The purchaser is Christ, who bought the field in His Incarnation, laboured in it in His Passion, and by casting off the body of flesh in His return to heaven has found the treasure. The taking of interest is forbidden in logion 95 (cf. Matt. v. 42, Luke vi. 34), but is plausibly explained by Bauer as the imparting of gnosis by Christ to his followers. Of this parable Bartsch observes that it has undergone a transformation and shows no relation either in form or in content to the synoptic version." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 93-94)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 14, MatchRank 0.27
Blatz Translation: (14) Jesus said to them: If you fast, you will put a sin to your charge; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your inner spirits. And if you go into any land and walk about in the regions, if they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you; but what comes out of your mouth, that is what will defile you.
Kurt Rudolph writes: "Even more trenchantly the Jewish laws mentioned in logion 14 are made out to be of no consequence, indeed as detrimental to salvation: Fasting gives rise to sin, praying to condemnation, the giving of alms to harming one's spirit; one should eat everything that is set before one. It is important to heal the sick, by which probably the ignorant are referred to. The saying concludes with a quotation from Mark's Gospel; later still Luke's as well as Matthew's Gospel are brought in on this question. Of sole importance is the 'fast as regards the world' because only that leads to the 'kingdom'. The 'great fast' is taken in this sense also by the Mandaeans: It is no external abstention from eating and drinking but a cessation from inquisitiveness, lies, hatred, jealousy, discord, murder, theft, adultery, the worship of images and idols." (Gnosis, p. 263)
Gospel of Thomas Saying 13, MatchRank 0.27
Blatz Translation: (13) Jesus said to his disciples: Compare me, tell me whom I am like. Simon Peter said to him: You are like a righteous angel. Matthew said to him: You are like a wise philosopher. Thomas said to him: Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like. Jesus said: I am not your master, for you have drunk, and have become drunk from the bubbling spring which I have caused to gush forth (?). And he took him, withdrew, (and) spoke to him three words. Now when Thomas came (back) to his companions, they asked him: What did Jesus say to you? Thomas said to them: If I tell you one of the words which he said to me, you will take up stones (and) throw them at me; and a fire will come out of the stones (and) burn you up.
F. F. Bruce writes: "This conversation begins like that at Caesarea Philippi, recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels, where Jesus asks his disciples 'Who do men say that I am?' and then: 'But who do you say that I am?' (Mark 8.27-29). But the answers given here are quite different from what we find in the canonical tradition, which is consistent with the historical circumstances of Jesus's ministry. Here the answers are attempts to depict Jesus as the Gnostic Revealer. Those who have imbibed the gnosis which he imparts (the 'bubbling spring' which he has spread abroad) are not his servants but his friends, [Cf. John 15.14] and therefore 'Master' is an unsuitable title for them to give him. As for the three words spoken secretly to Thomas, conveying Jesus's hidden identity, they are probably the three secret words on which, according to the Naassenes, the existence of the world depended: Kaulakau, Saulasau, Zeesar. [Hippolytus, Refutation v.8.4. Kaulakau, they said, was Adamas, primal man, 'the being who is on high' . . . Saulasau, mortal man here below; Zeesar, the Jordan which flows upward.] (In fact, these three words are corruptions of the Hebrew phrases in Isaiah 28.10, 13, translated 'Line upon line, precept upon precept, there a little' - but their origin was probably forgotten.) The followers of the Gnostic Basilides are said to have taught that Jesus descended 'in the name of Kaulakau'. [Irenaeus, Heresies i.24.6.] The fire that would come out of the stones is perhaps the fire of Saying 10. There is in any case ample attestation of the belief that the untimely divulging of a holy mystery can be as destructive as fire." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, pp. 118-119)