Gospel of Thomas Saying 96

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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


(96) Jesus [said:] The kingdom of the Father is like a woman. She took a little leaven, [hid] it in dough, (and) made large loaves of it. He who has ears, let him hear.


(96) Jesus [said], "What the kingdom of the father resembles is [a] woman who took a small amount of leaven, [hid] it in some dough, and produced huge loaves of bread. Whoever has ears should listen!"


100 [96]. Jesus says: "The Kingdom of the Father is like a woman who put a little yeast [into three] measures of flour and made some big loaves with it. He who has ears let him hear!"

Funk's Parallels

Luke 13:20-21, Matt 13:35.

Visitor Comments

The kingdom of God promotes growth.
- 1of2

God has planted seeds in all of us. With time and free will "grow" and be able to transcend into heavenly beings.
- justlooking

(96) The path opens to the soul.
- Ardele

As usually, the "who has ears" is a coded reference for school inmates. A very small amount of the teaching, from a true teacher, fertilizes a great mass
- Thief37

It's not entirely about the intellect. The leaven is the faith walk, a leap of faith that must be taken in the real world, before the kingdom of heaven will open its doors...before the loaf will rise. Thief, you don't need to have an enlightened sage to point this out...the bread is available to anyone who reads this gospel and puts it into practice. No one has a monopoly on the dharma, the wisest sages are the ones who admit to selling water by the edge of the river...Yet, If that's what it takes, the risk of redundancy is better than no guide.
- Zooie

Also implies about the nature of Truth; just the smallest taste or glimspe alters one forever, and the passion to find out is relentless; it grows from the smallest "bit of yeast" and rises to tremendous potentials, transforming the person forever.
- E. Grove

Scholarly Quotes

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "This parable about the kingdom of the Father, like the one which follows it (Saying 94), compares the kingdom with a woman. The original version, in Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:20-21, compared the kingdom of heaven or of God with the leaven which she used. Thomas's emphasis, as usual, is on the action of the Gnostic, not on the work of God." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 187)

R. McL. Wilson writes: "Here the kingdom is likened not to the leaven, as in the Synoptics, but to the woman. Grant and Freedman see here a change of emphasis, from the work of God to the action of the Gnostic, but it may be no more than a transmission-variant. More important is the pointing of the contrast between the little leaven and the large loaves; here it is possible that, as Cerfaux suggests, we have an echo of the Synoptic twin parable of the Mustard Seed, but this presupposes that Thomas made use of our Gospels." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 96-97)

Joachim Jeremias writes: "Again we are shown a tiny morsel of leaven (cf. 1 Cor. 5.6; Gal. 5.9), absurdly small in comparison with the great mass of more than a bushel of meal. The housewife mixes it, covrs it with a cloth, and leaves the mass to stand overnight, and when she returns to it in the morning the whole mass of dough is leavened." (The Parables of Jesus, p. 148)

Funk and Hoover write: "This is a one-sentence parable in its Q version (Matt 13:33//Luke 13:20-21): 'God's imperial rule is like leaven which a woman took and concealed in fifty pounds of flour until it was all leavened.' Matthew and Luke agree word-for-word in taking the parable over from Q. Thomas, on the other hand, seems to have edited it slightly: the explicit contrast between a little leaven and large loaves has been introduced into the parable. This contrast, found also in Thomas' version of the parable of the lost sheep (107:1-3) and the parable of the fishnet (8:1-3), is alien to the genuine parables of Jesus." (The Five Gospels, p. 523)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "These verses have a parallel in Matt. 13.33/Luke 13.20-21 (=Q). Their dependence on the Q parable emerges from the abnormal expression that the woman hid (one would have expected the verb 'knead') the leaven in the flour. Moreover in the parable in Thomas the woman and her activity are at the centre, and she is meant to be the model for the readers. Finally, at the end the size of the loaves is emphasized (cf. 8.1-3; 107.1-3)." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 636)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 96

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