Gospel of Thomas Saying 77

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This Gospel of Thomas Commentary is part of the Gospel of Thomas page at Early Christian Writings.

Nag Hammadi Coptic Text

Gospel of Thomas Coptic Text


(77) Jesus said: I am the light that is above them all. I am the all; the all came forth from me, and the all attained to me. Cleave a (piece of) wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there.


(77) Jesus said, "It is I who am the light (that presides) over all. It is I who am the entirety: it is from me that the entirety has come, and to me that the entirety goes. Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift a stone, and you (plur.) will find me there."


81 [77]. Jesus says: "I am the light which is on them all. I am the All, and the All has gone out from me and the All has come back to me. Cleave the wood: I am there; lift the stone and thou shalt find me there!"

Funk's Parallels

POxy1 30 + 77b, Matt 18:20, John 8:12-20, 1 Cor 8:4-6, Manichaean Psalm Book 54:19-30.

Visitor Comments

This passage speaks to any corruption in the church. The Kingdom of God is not contained within the walls of wood and stone, but all around us. Wherever we seek, there we shall find.
- Angelina

With the total extinction of the self there is only total, undifferentiated reality. There is then no 'me' to experience, only experience itself, which may be termed 'God', Truth, the un-nameable or anything else. It does not matter. Reality is.
- Wynford

When you switch on a light, you get rid of the darkness. When you teach, you give insight to the student. Understand the workings of Nature and you will understand the teachings of Jesus.
- anonymous

Jesus clearly states that finding him is an active process, "lifting a stone and cleaving a piece of wood." The stone does not lead to answers, neither does the log. It is in the lifting and cleaving that he is to be found.
- ajee

It means that Jesus is everywhere and you don't need to "connect" with Him through a priest or in a church.
- JS

Consciousness, spirit, light, and love is contained in everything in existence. The microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. We are all connected on a deep level in His holy breath, and as a human, I am a reflection of the holy as well.
- Susanne Reichert

Knowledge an be found everywhere --- once you have learnt how to learn it
- Thief37

The simplicity of this is missed by many and hard to find for few. The wonder that is felt is felt by all but not understood. Does he not say that basically I am the very air that you breathe, the caress of the wind and the drop of rain that you feel on your face. This should put a smile on every face that truly understands this meaning.
- Jacqueline Marquez

"Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock." Oh, Great Spirit Indian prayer
- Tuxedo

Experience of reality is consciousness, and that consciousness is everything and is everywhere.
- Z

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer writes: "Compare Ecclesiastes 10:9; perhaps Habakkuk 2:18-20, on wooden and stone iamges. Note also the philosophical position presented by the Greco-Roman author Lucian of Samosata, Hermotimus 81: 'God is not in heaven but rather permeates all things, such as pieces of wood and stones and animals, even the most insignificant.'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 98)

Jean Doresse writes: "Cf. the Gnostic Gospel of Truth (Codex XIII of Chenoboskion, p. 17): 'The All has been in search of Him from whom he came forth; and the All was within him, unseizing, unthinkable!' One might also mention the Acts of Peter, Chapter XXXIX: 'Thou art the All, and the All is in thee, and thou art! And there is nothing else that exists, except thou alone!' The same allusion is found in Col. III, 11: 'Christ is all and in all.'" (The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 376)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "As the All, Jesus is everywhere present. He is in wood and under stones. We cannot agree with Doresse (pages 188-189) that Thomas is referring to the cross and the stone at his tomb. A much closer parallel is provided in the Gnostic Gospel of Eve (Epiphanius, Pan., 26, 3, 1): 'In all things I am scattered, and from wherever you wish you collect me.' At this point Thomas's doctrine is pantheist, not Christian. The Greek version inserts the words about wood and stone at the end of Saying 31 to indicate that Jesus is present with his disciples, or with one disciple. The meaning is approximately the same: Jesus is everywhere." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 178)

Stevan Davies writes: "Gos. Thom. 77b: 'Split a piece...' etc, is appended to Gos. Thom. 30 in POxy. 1. This probably means that 77b once existed independently of 77a, but whether this means that 77a existed once independently of 77b in Thomas we do not know. It is possible that 77b was appended both to 77a and to 30 in POxy 1." (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/jblprot.htm)

Stevan Davies writes: "From him, primordial light, all comes forth, and to him all extends. As the light, he is everywhere, for example, within logs and under stones." (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/jblprot.htm)

Funk and Hoover write: "In this complex, Jesus speaks of himself in highly exalted terms, as he often does in the Gospel of John (for example, John 8:12; 10:7). But such self-reference is not characteristic of the Jesus of the synoptic parables and aphorisms. The term 'light' has special significance in the Gospel of Thomas (11:3b; 24:3; 50:1; 61:5; 83:1-2), and the 'All' is a technical gnostic term for the whole of cosmic reality (note Thomas 67). Such ideas, of course, had currency elsewhere in early Christian circles as well (note John 8:12; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6). But they are not characteristic of Jesus." (The Five Gospels, p. 515)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "Jesus identifies himself with light (cf. John 8.12; 9.5), which is tremendously important in Thomas: 11.3b; 24.3; 50.1; 61.5; 83.1-2. Jesus claims to be mediator at creation (cf. Romans 11.36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16). All this recalls the role of wisdom. The presence of Jesus as it is described in vv. 2-3 echoes Matt. 18.20; 28.20 - but in that passage, too, there is a wisdom background." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 629)

Jack Finegan writes: "The first sentence in this saying is doubtless to be recognized as thoroughly Gnostic in character. The theme of light is prominent in Gnostic writings (e.g., §113), and the 'All,' presumably meaning the totality of being, is also mentioned in such works as the Gospel of Truth (§341). The second sentence, which is the part common to the Coptic and the Greek texts, can be interpreted most simply as promising the invisible presence of Christ to the believer in his daily work, involved with stone and wood, the common materials of human labor. But with the introductory sentence in the Coptic, where Jesus is the 'All,' the promise seems to be set within the framework of pantheism or, more precisely stated, of panchristism." (Hidden Records of the Life of Jesus, p. 250)

F. F. Bruce writes: "Jesus is not only the light of the world (cf. John 1.9; 8.12); all things cohere in him (Colossians 1.17) and he embodies the fulness of deity (cf. Colossians 2.9). This is presented here in pantheistic terms going far beyond the sense of a canonical saying as Matthew 18.20." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, pp. 142-143)

Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes: "In what sense is this second part of the saying to be understood? It has often been interpreted in a pantheistic sense, or more precisely a 'panchristic' sense, asserting the ubiquity of Jesus in the world. Cf. Eph 4:6. J. Jeremias (Unknown Sayings, 96, n. 2) gives a convenient list of those who so explained it. He rejects this interpretation and prefers that first suggested by H. Lisco and adopted by A. von Harnack, H. B. Swete, and Evelyn White. According to this interpretation, two pictorial illustrations are given to explain how Jesus is present to the individual - two kinds of strenuous work, lifting stones and splitting wood. The combination of these two types of work was probably suggested by Eccl 10:9, 'He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, while he who splits logs is endangered by them.' In contrast to the pessimism of the Preacher, Jesus promises his abiding presence even in the most strenuous type of work." (Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament, pp. 400-401)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 77

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