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The Gospel of Thomas

September 24, 2005

At last I managed to read the Gospel of Thomas, an ancient text preserved in a Coptic translation at Nag Hammadi (discovered in 1945) and Greek fragments at Oxyrhynchus. It contains 114 short sayings which could be quite puzzling at times, so I suggest that you read one with commentary.

Honestly, I feel more familiar with these sayings than with the four gospels. What started as a mere curiosity ended up in reading almost the whole book in more than two hours *grins*. To make it short, these ones are my favorites:

Saying 7: Jesus said: “Blessed is the lion which a man eats so that the lion becomes a man. But cursed is the man whom a lion eats so that the man becomes a lion!”

The commentary in the Dutch translation suggests that lion symbolizes the passion. Or as Plato put it in Republic, the soul is a being of three parts: a many-headed beast, a lion, and a human being. He recommends that the human part of the soul (that is, reason) tame and nourish the leonine part (that is, the passion of the heart). It’s up to each individual whether he chooses to be a master or a slave of his passion, and therewith live with the consequences.

Saying 67: Jesus says: “He who knows the All, but has failed to know himself, has failed completely to know”

It sounds Buddhist to my ears, stressing the importance of knowing yourself in the process of being (liberated) human.

Here as a comparison a saying from Islam tradition:

He who knows himself/ his own soul knows his Lord (al-Hadith)

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 27, 2007 03:44

    Hmm.. sounds like an interesting book, the Gospel of Thomas. Will follow your suggestion and read it 😉

    BTW, the comparison is good. Knowing ourself is the most difficult thing in this world, and yet.. it promises us a good thing as a reward; ultimate knowledge – or even God

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