Gospel of Thomas Saying 30

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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


(30) Jesus said: Where there are three gods, they are gods; where there are two or one, I am with him.


(30) Jesus said, "Where there are three divine beings they are divine. Where there are two or one, I myself dwell with that person."


35 [30]. Jesus says: "There where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two, or <else> one, I am with him!"

Oxyrhynchus Greek Fragment

Gospel of Thomas Greek Text

DORESSE - Oxyrhynchus

Jesus says: "Where there are [two (?) they are] not without God, and where there is one, I say <to you>, I am with him. Raise the stone, and there thou wilt find me; split the wood: I am even there!"

ATTRIDGE - Oxyrhynchus

(30 + 77b) [Jesus said], "Where there are [three], they are without God, and where there is but [a single one], I say that I am with [him]. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there. Split the piece of wood, and I am there."

Funk's Parallels

POxy1 30 + 77b, GThom 22, GThom 23, GThom 49, GThom 75, GThom 106.

Visitor Comments

Jesus is saying: when you realize the unity of all as One and that two only exists to fulfill the One, then you have my message and I am with you. God does not reside within all things. All things that exist reside within, take their existence from God's Will and are a part of God. Whether you look under the stone or within the split wood, God is there. There is only One of us.
- active-mystic

This is most likely Jesus' way of saying two things: 1) that a group of people lack divinity and cannot find it in each other the way that an individual may find it by searching for God. 2) that the presence of the Divine is not limited to boundaries like churches and blessed ground, set by man, but is everywhere to be experienced.
- Captain Munky

None of us has ever fully experienced being 'one with' another. I think the propositional truth that 'we are one' is hindered by the positional truth, 'we are more than one.' Until two or more people experience being 'one with God' together, the positional truth will seem more real.
- bromikl

Could Jesus possibly be referring to the unity of religions? For example, Hinduism has three major deities (Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu), and Christianity has the trinity. Jesus also says he is with the one or two gods, like in monotheistic religions such as Judaism. To me, it seems like Jesus is saying that one can worship God or gods in many ways, but that they are all one and the same.
- Hoya

I love what this message has to offer. We can not be as one with God if we do not step forward to become one with another human. For in the end we are all one.
- Shameful_one

Perhaps it means just what it looks like it means (that Jesus had no problem with polytheism) and that one person's search for truth was as good as another.
- caspar

I believe this to be a spiritual truth, difficult to put into other words. When we are gathered as a group, we are partially hindered. Our attention is split. Our attention is dispersed outward and mindful to the people around us. In a gnostic journey, we take the portion that would be attentive within, and our awareness is sacrificed in the importance of our fellow men/women. Take for instance, an adolescent cliche that would rely on the support of one another. It is not the insecurity, but the totality of the individuals. There is little room to be attentive and accepting elsewhere. In a smaller gathering, there is more room for open intimacy together, and therefore room for God/Jesus, to be a part of that collection. This goes a step further though. When there are many gathered with a singular unity, the soul is collectively open to God. Many groups bickering and being attentive to one another is different than a single congregation with open hearts as a collective unit. I believe this to be a caution and an incentive. It cautions us, yet again, against finding our satisfaction within things of the world (being our own gods), and it gives us further incentive to be light, so that our closed groups might still be righteous in being 'together'. This is not a statement that community is evil or destructive, but that division within that community or within ourselves is counter-productive and holds us apart from the Greater.
- Foomanchu

Scholarly Quotes

J. D. Crossan writes: "Put mildly, that is not very clear, and we are cast back on the Greek of Oxy P 1, lines 23-27. Harold W. Attridge's recent study of that papyrus under ultraviolet light led him to the following restored translation: 'Jesus said, "Where there are three, they are without god, and where there is but a single one I say that I am with him."' He concludes that, 'instead of an absolutely cryptic remark about gods being gods, the fragment asserts that any group of people lacks divine presence. That presence is available only to the "solitary one." The importance of the solitary (monachos) is obvious in the Gospel. Cf. Sayings 11, 16, 22, 23, 49, 75, and 106. This saying must now be read in connection with those remarks on the "monachose."' (156)." (Four Other Gospels, p. 78)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "This saying is found in different versions, Greek and Coptic. The Greek speaks of some number of persons - more than one - who are not without God (if the fragmentary text has been correctly restored; perhaps it should read, 'Wherever there are two, they are without God'), and goes on to say, 'And where there is one alone, I say, I am with him.' Then it adds the last sectino of Saying 77 (Coptic). The Coptic, on the other hand, says that three gods are gods, and that where there are two or one, Jesus is with him. The second half of the saying is fairly easy to explain. It looks like a Gnostic version of 'Where there are two or three gathered in my name, there am I in their midst' (Matthew 18:20); as a Gnostic, Thomas reduces the numbers. Which version is really the original can hardly be determined; the medieval Cathari seem to have quoted a combination of both versions. 'Where there was one of his little ones, he would be with him; and where there were two, similarly; and where there were three, in the same way' (v. Dollinger, Beitrage zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters, II, page 210). The remark about the gods may possibly involve a criticism of Christian doctrine as tritheism; according to the Coptic text, Christians may be worshipping three (mere) gods (for 'God' as possibly inferior to Jesus, see Saying 97)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 149)

R. McL. Wilson writes: "The Greek is fragmentary, but Blass emended it to read 'Where there are two, they are not without God,' a restoration which Evelyn White calls 'certainly final.' It may be that the Coptic proves Blass wrong, but as Fitzmyer observes it is this saying more than any other which shows that the Coptic is not a direct translation from the Greek, for in Thomas the second part occurs in a completely different saying (logion 77). It is possible that the Greek and the Coptic represent independent versions, but we must also reckon with the possibility suggested by Grant and Freedman, that the differences are due to a Gnostic editor. If Guillaumont is right, however, the latter view would appear to be ruled out. In the Pirke Aboth (3.7, a passage already quoted, as White notes, by Taylor in connection with the Greek), Rabbi Halafta cites Psalm lxxxii. 1 as proof that the Shekinah is present wherever three study the Torah. The psalm speaks of God judging among the elohim, but this last word was interpreted in terms of Exodus xxi. 6, where it must be taken to mean 'judges' (LXX paraphrases 'to the judgment seat of God'). Logion 30 therefore would seem to have some connection with this rabbinic saying, and more particularly to reflect a Jewish background. The obvious Gospel parallel is Matthew xviii. 20, to which White adds Matthew xxviii. 20 and JOhn xvi. 32, but these 'show no more than the elements out of which the saying probably grew.' White's further discussion of references in Clement of Alexandria and in Ephraim must now be reconsidered in the light of the Coptic text. It is tempting to conclude that the Greek fragments and the Coptic Thomas are independent translations of an Aramaic text, but this is exposed to the objection that Clement quotes the saying presumably from a Greek document; moreover, Fitzmyer has shown that it is possible to restore the Greek to a comparatively close agreement with the Coptic." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 121-122)

Funk and Hoover write: "Thom 30:1-2 is the Thomean version of Matt 18:20 ('Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be there among them'). Here, however, the solitary one merits God's presence, not the two or three gathered together. This Thomean idea is found also in thom 4:3; 22:5; 23:2 (also compare 16:4; 49:1; 75). In this respect, the Gospel of Thomas is obviously anti-institutional: it rejects the community (the minimum requirement for which was two or three) as the basic unit in favor of the solitary individual." (The Five Gospels, p. 490)

Beate Blatz writes: "The second part of this saying is transmitted as logion 77 in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. This - and also the deviations of the two versions from one another in the first part - proves that the Coptic version cannot be a direct translation of a Greek version such as is handed down in POx 1." (New Testament Apocrypha, v. 1, p. 131)

Marvin Meyer writes: "In the New Testament, compare Matthew 18:19-20. In other early Christian literature, compare Ephraem Syrus, Exposition on the Harmony of the Gospel 14: 'Where there is one, there also am I, or someone might be sad from lonely things, since he himself is our joy and he himself is with us. And where there are two, there also shall I be, since his mercy and grace overshadow us. And when we are three, we assemble just as in church, which is the body of Christ perfected and his image expressed.' In a medieval inquisition record that recounts the confession of Peter Maurinus, it is said that 'where there was one little one of his, he himself would be with him, and where there were two, similarly, and where there were three, in the same way.'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 82-83)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 30

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