Gospel of Thomas Saying 55

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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


(55) Jesus said: He who does not hate his father and his mother cannot be a disciple to me. And (he who does not) hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross like me, will not be worthy of me.


(55) Jesus said, "Those who do not hate their fathers and their mothers cannot be disciples of me, and those who do not hate their brothers and their sisters and take up their cross like me will not become worthy of me."


60 [55]. Jesus says: "He who does not hate his father and mother cannot be my disciple; and if he does not hate his brother and sister and does not take up his cross like me, he will not become worthy of me!"

Funk's Parallels

GThom 101, Luke 14:25-33, Luke 9:23-24, Matt 10:34-39, Matt 16:24-25, Mark 8:34-35.

Visitor Comments

This Q1 saying was first in Aramaic. The Greek MISEI in Aramaic is SANA which is an idiom for "set aside." The idiom was not transmitted in the Greek nor from Greek to Coptic. Setting aside one's family to follow Jesus makes much more sense.
- Jack Kilmon

By this, I think Jesus meant that we must be capable of rejecting or sacrificing all that we love in order to be truly free. Because in rejecting all that we love and care for, we reject all that bounds us to our current state of illusion. Sacrificing one's self for the family perpetuates an endless cycle of need and obligation. But only in sacrificing the family for the self would you be able to break that cycle and transcend as Jesus did.
- AnyMe

According to Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, the word hate was derived from the greek word misos, which means by extension to love less. This makes more sense seeing that Jesus instructs us to "love our neighbors as we love ourselves." Hatred is not a Christian quality.
- Don Perkins

Jesus talks about the old fashioned stagnated thoughts that are part of our upbringing and beliefs, that all come from those that are older than and born before us. Rather, love the inquisitivness and freshness of youth that seeks and finds and moves on with technology and understandings, ever changing the world for the future generations to inherit and change themselves.
- anonymous

One has to reject the destructive attitudes of ones parents, kith and kin.
- Rodney

Jesus states that you should hate your family. This is supremely Buddhist where you are supposed to forget your name and all your wordly possesions, for what is your family if not a wordly possesion
- Diggy

The meaning (with the correction of the first note above by Jack Kilman) is literal. If you know and understand who and what I am, then you must abandon all and follow me. Literally. If you see the Son of God before you, offering you the knowledge of heaven and earth, what more do you need? Drop everything and follow him.
- active mystic

Poetic. Everything is to be assigned to its place. Not to be taken literally and arguments about mistranslation are irrelevant
- Thief37

"Take up the cross"? I thought the Gospel of Thomas never referenced the resurrection. How then are we to understand the notion of "taking up the cross"?
- Indy Al

You might have to change programmed beliefs you were raised into and the ones you acquire later in life. And cherish your own beliefs as Christ would YOUR CROSS (I am not implying to die for them).
- King

Jesus means exactly what he says here. To love someone is to be one with them. How can we be one with somone if we are still calling them "Mother" or "Father"? A true relationship of love implies oneness. Jesus tells us to hate our mother so we are forced to think about what love really does--it makes two individuals into one person. Once we are one, any separation into "mother" and "son" would be a horrible and hateful thing.
- The Monist

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer quotes Manichaean Psalm Book 175:25-30 as saying: "I have left father and mother and brother and sister. I have come a stranger for the sake of your name. I have taken up my cross, and I have followed you. I have left the things of the body for the sake of the things of the spirit. I have disregarded the glory of the world for the sake of your glory that does not pass away."

J. D. Crossan writes (In Fragments, p. 136):

Matt. 10:37-38 had retained three stichs, but Luke 14:26 had reduced the former double-stich saying into one. Gos. Thom. 55 also reduces the three stichs to two, but he does so by incorporating the cross saying within the second stich of the family saying:

Whoever does not hate his father and mother
   cannot become a disciple to Me,
And whoever does not hate his brothers and sisters
   [cannot become a disciple to Me,]
And [whoever does not] take up his cross in My way
   will not be worthy of Me.

Those lines in parentheses and italicized have dropped from Thomas's version in a different mode of amalgamation from either Matthew's or Luke's.

Gerd Ludemann writes: "The logion is a mixed quotation made up of Matt. 10.37(-38) and Luke 14.26(-27). Thomas has woven the saying about taking up the cross (cf. Mark 8.34 parr.) into the parallelism." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 617)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "This saying is a combination of Luke 14:26-27 (hating father and mother, brothers and sisters, carrying cross, becoming disciple) with Matthew 10:37-38 (being worthy of me). From Luke, Thomas omits mention of wife and children, perhaps because the Gnostic will have neither; he adds to carrying the cross 'as I do' (or 'like me,' Doresse, page 177), perhaps because as in John 19:17, Jesus bears his own cross (Simon of Cyrene carries it in the synoptic gospels)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, pp. 163-164)

J. P. Meier writes: "A mixed text resulting from the conflation of Matt 10:37-38 and Luke 14:26-27 is found in the Coptic Gos. Thom. saying 55: 'Whoever will not hate his father and his mother cannot become a disciple to me; and whoever will not hate his brothers and his sisters and will not carry his cross as I have will not be worthy of me.' Here we have a parade example of how the Gospel of Thomas melds various phrases from various Synoptic Gospels to create its own form of a Gospel saying. On the whole, the saying is closer to Luke than to Matthew. The phrases 'will not hate' [as opposed to Matthew's 'love'], 'his father and his mother' [with possessive pronouns, reflecting Luke's heautou, which is not in Matthew], 'brothers and sisters' [Matthew has 'son or daughter'], and 'cannot become a disciple to me' comes from Luke. Yet at the end of the saying we see a clear trace of the redactional tendency of Matthew or his M tradition: 'will not be worthy of me.' The key words mathetes (disciple), stauros (cross), and axios (worthy) appear in Greek in the Coptic text. The theme of imitating Jesus carrying his cross, which is implicit in the passages of the Synoptic Gospels, is made explicit by the addition in the Gospel of Thomas: '.. . carry his cross as I have.' On the whole saying, see Fieger, Das Thomasevangelium, 165-67. A similar saying, with a similar conflation of Matt 10:37 and Luke 14:26 and a similar addition of 'as I,' is found in Gos. Thom. saying 101. The text, however, is fragmentary, and there is no mention of carrying one's cross; see Fieger, ibid., 256-57. Fieger's analysis of the parallels in Gos. Thom. to Mark 8:34-35 parr. shows that it is highly unlikely that Thomas' versions of these sayings are independent of the Synoptics." (A Marginal Jew, v. 3, pp. 105-106 n. 75)

R. McL. Wilson writes: "The wording is certainly nearer to Luke, who alone speaks of 'hate.' The differences lie in the omission of any reference to wife and children, and in the substitution of 'in My way' (or 'like Me') for 'and come after Me.' Matthew and Luke evidently give variant translations of the same original saying, and it is therefore possible that what seems at first sight to be a conflation is, in fact, another rendering. If this be so, the substitution noted is not difficult to explain. Moreover, as Creed has observed, Luke has added 'and his own soul' from the sequel in his source. It is therefore possible that the references to wife and children do not derive from the source, but are due to the intensification of the Evangelists; it should be noted that they differ on this point. According to Bartsch the differences compel the assumption of a special tradition independent of the Synoptics, a statement the more remarkable in that he is critical of some of Quispel's other examples." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, p. 57)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 55

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