Gospel of Thomas Saying 15

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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


(15) Jesus said: When you see him who was not born of woman, fall down upon your faces and worship him; that one is your Father.


(15) Jesus said, "When you (plur.) see one who has not been born of woman, fall upon your faces and prostrate yourselves before that one: it is that one who is your father."


16 [15]. Jesus says: "When you see Him who has not been born of woman, bow down face to the earth and adore Him: He is your father!"

Funk's Parallels

Manichaean Psalm Book 121,25-33.

Visitor Comments

Compare with Qur'an, 17-61.
- dustonthepath

See also Qur'an, 25:2.
- dustonthepath

We are all not born in our true nature as souls. When you have achieved contact with your soul you have achieved contact with God. There is only One of us.
- active-mystic

When you apprehend the living one who is not of the dead world, drop your personal masks and worship Him. That is the source of all life.
- Simon Magus

This refers to the innate adult self, which develops with puberty; but I wouldn't advise you to worship it, as it is yourself and should not be idolised.
- Rodney

Perhaps it is the ego that is born of a woman; when we come to know That which is All, That which is not born but Is, That which defies the illusion of separateness that our born ego endures, then should we worship That.
- LJewel

Reminds me of the koan "...what was your true face before your mother was born?". We have identified ourselves with our material forms, sensations and thoughts. We are urged to go beyond this illusion.
- Zooie

The true teacher is certainly born of earthly woman. But he has transcended his lower nature [commanding self, nafs-i-ammara] and so is reborn. So it is correct to say he is not born of woman.
- Thief37

Woman can be generally broken down to that which produces a body from within its body - the creative aspect of the self. The development of one's personality, knowledge of self/other, the worldly vision, etc., are fruits of this creative womb. Meditative practice is said to bring forth the experience of 'emptiness' which lies outside of the realm of interdependence where knowledge exists. It is to this emptiness that Jesus alludes.
- slur

This provides incontrovertible evidence that Shakespeare was a closet Gnostic (cf. Macbeth, 5.8--"I bear a charmed life, which must not yield, / To one of woman born").
- hypertextualist

This passage says to bow to no man and believe in you until you meet someone who had no physical mother, obviously a non-existent human.
- David

As disciples, you will cross paths with many souls. If you encounter one who is so different that he or she could not have been born of woman (no man that you are likely to meet in this world) only then bow your face to the ground and worship the Adonai [Lord].
- StarChaser

Translation: "When males can circumvent the natural dependence on females for reproduction then they become gods."
- postmodernkid

The one not born of woman is the inner true self, the spirit, the I. When you see the I, which isn't something you will perceive with your eyes, recognize your true self!
- Maitreya

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer says that "Manichaean Psalm Book 121,25-33 also declares an identity between the father and the one not of human birth" and quotes: "[I] hear that you are in your father (and) your father hidden in [you]. My Master. [When I say], 'The son was [begotten],' I [shall] find [the] father also beside him. My master. Shall I destroy a kingdom that I may provide a womb of a woman? My master. Your holy womb is the luminaries that conceive you. In the trees and the fruit is your holy body. My master Jesus." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 75-76)

Funk and Hoover write: "There are no parallels to this saying in early Christian or gnostic tradition. Among some gnostic groups, the highest god is referred to as the 'unbegotten' (one not born), since birth would imply that the god was finite. This may be the background of the saying. Another possibility is this: Jesus may here be equating himself with the Father, as he sometimes does in the Gospel of John (10:30; 14:9). In either case, the Fellows took this to reflect later Christian or gnostic tradition." (The Five Gospels, p. 482)

Robert M. Grant: "Man who is born of woman is subject to sin, according to Job 14:1, as Doresse notes (page 143). The greatest of those born of women was John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11; Luke 7:28). Therefore, for our Gnostic (as for other Gnostics), Jesus cannot have been born of a woman (in spite of the fact that Paul says he was - Galatians 4:4). Of course it is possible that like some Gnostic teachers he held that while Jesus was born of a woman, the spiritual Christ descended upon him at the time of his baptism; the Naassenes believed that the threefold being descended upon Jesus. In any event, the one not born of woman is to be worshipped, since he is the (heavenly) Father. This conclusion seems to reflect the words of John 14:9: 'He who has seen me has seen the Father' (cf., John 10:30: 'I and the Father are one')." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 135)

F. F. Bruce writes: "But for the last clause, we might have interpreted this saying to mean that Jesus - unlike John the Baptist (cf. Saying 46) - was not born of woman. But whatever the compiler or editor believed about the mode of Jesus's coming into the world (see Saying 19a), this is probably not in view here, since Jesus and the Father are distinguished (cf. Saying 3). Even so, he would no doubt have drawn his own conclusions from such a saying of Jesus as that of John 10.30: 'I and the Father are one.' The Father is in any case the unbegotten One." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, pp. 119-120)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 15

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