Gospel of Thomas Saying 37

Previous - Gospel of Thomas Home - Next

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


(37) His disciples said: On what day will you be revealed to us, and on what day shall we see you? Jesus said: When you unclothe yourselves and are not ashamed, and take your garments and lay them beneath your feet like the little children (and) trample on them, then [you will see] the Son of the Living One, and you will not be afraid.


(37) His disciples said, "When will you be shown forth to us and when shall we behold you?" Jesus said, "When you strip naked without being ashamed, and take your garments and put them under your feet like little children and tread upon them, then [you] will see the child of the living. And you will not be afraid."


42 [37]. His disciples say to him: "On what day wilt thou appear to us, and what day shall we see thee?" Jesus says: "When you strip yourselves without being ashamed, when you take off your clothes and lay them at your feet like little children and trample on them! Then [you will become] children of Him who is living, and you will have no more fear."

Oxyrhynchus Greek Fragment

Gospel of Thomas Greek Text

DORESSE - Oxyrhynchus

His disciples say to him: "When wilt thou appear to us, and when shall we see thee?" He says <to them:> "When you strip yourselves and are not ashamed [...]"

ATTRIDGE - Oxyrhynchus

(37) His disciples said to him, "When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?" He said, "When you disrobe and are not ashamed [...afraid]."

Funk's Parallels

POxy655 37, GThom 21:1-2, DialSav 51-52, DialSav 84-85.

Visitor Comments

When we shed our beliefs and become as little children, we find that we are all sons of God. "Naked" because we have truly become children and are unashamed, as children are not bothered by nudity.
- whacky

When we shed our conventional beliefs and understand Jesus' true message about our true nature, you will fully understand Him and "see" Him in His true nature. Otherwise, when we shed our bodies in the transition of death, we will see Him. References to nudity are poetical license and not literal statements.
- active-mystic

When one peels away the layers of learnt responses to reveal one's innate self one ceases to be afraid.
- Rodney

You want to know when will I appear to you, and when will you see me? When you understand the illusory nature of personal identity well enough to strip without being ashamed, and take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children, and trample on them, then you will understand the true nature of the human one and one will not be afraid. (See Sayings 4, 22, 46, 85, Gen 3:7-11, and John 13:4 et. seq.)
- Simon Magus

Garment is a technical term. Also one could say, when you stop asking when you are ready, only then will you be ready.
- Thief37

I am a naturist - believing that nature, God's own creation, holds more answers than you would expect. This could refer to being naked, as Adam and Eve were in all innocence - like children - in order to fully experience the presence of God. The fall of Adam & Eve from grace was demonstrated in their shame of being naked. Nakedness in nature is a spiritually exhilirating experience. I know that that exhilaration is the awareness of God. In Jesus' time nakedness was not as vile as it is today, and when He was baptised by John he would have been naked. That the skin is the largest sense organ of the body and is constantly covered means that that experience cannot be felt.
- Rusty Klichowicz

When we are able to shed the cloaks that we set up to hide our own spiritual or moral imperfections then we will realize that there was no sense in trying to hide them and fearing them in the first place, for all of it can be forgiven by God.
- icerigsadmn

The body is the clothing that the mind wears.
- Z

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer writes: "Compare Gospel of the Egyptians 5 (cited at saying 22); Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 5.8.44 (cited at saying 21); Gospel of Thomas 21; especially Manichaean Psalm Book 99,26-30; 'The saying (or, word) of Jesus the redeemer came to [me (?), as] is appropriate: "The vain garment of this flesh I have stripped off, and I am saved and purified; I have caused the clean feet of my soul to trample upon it confidently; with the gods that are clothed with Christ have I stood in line."' This list text, like saying 37, combines referenecs to stripping and to trampling. In his article 'The Garments of Shame,' Jonathan Z. Smith argues that such stripping and trampling reflect early Christian baptismal practice." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 84-85)

Gospel of Philip 75:21-25 states: "The living water is a body. It is fitting that we put on the living person. For this reason, when one is about to go down to the water, one strips so that one may put on that one (that is, the living person)."

Cyril of Jerusalem in Mystagogical Catechesis 2.2 states: "So then, once you entered, you took off your garment, and this was an image of taking off the old person with its deeds. Having taken this off, you were naked. . . . How marvelous! You were naked in the sight of all and were not ashamed. For truly you were bearing a copy of the first-formed Adam, who in paradise was naked and not ashamed."

Augustine in Sermon 216.10-11 states on prebaptismal instruction: "In such great masses of troubles, then, clothe yourselves with goatskin and humble your souls through fasting. What is denied to pride is restored to humility. Indeed, when you were examined and the one who instigates flight and desertion was duly rebuked by the omnipotence of the awesome trinity, you were not clohted with goatskin, yet your feet sotod mystically upon it. Vices and skins of she-goats are to be trampled under foot; cloth from perverse kids is to be torn apart."

Marvin Meyer writes: "As is hinted at by Cyril of Jerusalem, the ultimate source of these motifs of stripping and trampling may be the book of Genesis (2:25; 3:14-15). In their article 'Stripped before God,' April D. De Conick and Jarl Fossum concur that these motifs derive from the Genesis story, but they challenge Smith's suggestion that saying 37 provides an interpretation of early Christian baptism. Instead, they note that stripping commonly refers to the removal of the fleshly body (compare saying 21), and trampling clothes ina childlike way may be understood as the renunciation of the flesh, so that the one who strips off and tramples upon clothes behaves like a child and achieves a childlike purity and innocence. De Conick and Fossum observe that in two Nag Hammadi documents, On the Anointing and Reality of the Rulers ('Hypostasis of the Archons'), such trampling is said to aid in overcoming the world and the powers of the world, and in these two texts trampling is discussed in the context of anointing. Thus, they conclude, saying 37 describes the means employed (perhaps including anointing) for embracing purity and attaining a vision of the divine." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 85-86)

Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes: "This question recalls that put in the mouth of 'Judas, not the Iscariot' (most likely Judas Thomas, the alleged compiler of this Gospel), by the writer of the fourth canonical Gospel, 'Master, how does it happen that you are going to show yourself to us and not to the world?' (Jn 14:22)." (Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament, p. 410)

F. F Bruce writes: "The disciples' question is reminiscent of the questions of Matthew 24.3 (cf. Mark 13.4; Luke 21.7) and Luke 17.20; but the answer is quite different from anything found in the canonical Gospels. As the primal sin in Eden was followed by a sense of shame at the awareness of being naked, so (it is implied) the restoration of primal innocence will be marked by the removal of such a sense of shame. For the reference to small children cf. Saying 22; for 'sons of the Living One' cf. Saying 3." (Jesus and Christian Origens Outside the New Testament, p. 128)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "Whereas in the Church's gospels such questions are not really answered, Thomas answers them by stating that the kingdom has come; it need only be recognized. Here the disciples are to become 'naked' (Saying 21) by stripping off the body; they are to become 'like little children.' Such stripping is mentioned by the Naassenes (Hippolytus, Ref., 5, 8, 44); while treading on the grament of shame was found in the Gospel of the Egyptians (Clement, Strom., 3, 92, 2). The disciples will be 'sons of the Living Father' (see Saying 2)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 153)

Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes: "In this saying, at least as it is preserved for us in the Coptic version, we find the characteristic Gnostic ideas about sexual asceticism that were current in the second and third centuries A.D. These ideas force us to classify this saying in the category of J. Jeremias' 'tendentious inventions'." (Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament, p. 410)

Funk and Hoover write: "The removal of one's clothes can be understood in different ways, as we noted in the comments on Thom 21:4. It may be interpreted as an allusion to Christian baptism, where the naked candidate is reborn; it may be understood as a return to the heavenly state in which humans have shed their bodies; or it may denote the primodial state of andogyny in which the sexes are not differentiated. It is striking that in 37:3 Jesus speaks about himself; this is rare among sayings attributable to Jesus. His response is, of course, correlative with the question posed in the introduction in 37:1, which presupposes an understanding of Jesus as the messenger from heaven - a typical Thomean perspective. These sayings are not correctly attributed to Jesus." (The Five Gospels, p. 494)

If you like the site, please buy the CD to support its work and get bonus stuff!
Copyright 2012 Peter Kirby <E-Mail>. See the Gospel of Thomas Bibliography & Credits.

Gospel of Thomas Saying 37

Previous - Gospel of Thomas Home - Next