Gospel of Thomas Saying 74

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


(74) He said: Lord, there are many about the well, but no one in the well.


(74) He said, "O lord, there are many around the drinking trough but nothing in the cistern."


78 [74]. He said: "Lord, many are round the opening but nobody in the well!"

Funk's Parallels

Heavenly Dialogue in Origen Against Celsus 8.15.

Visitor Comments

There are many people close to knowing the truth, but none that truly do.
- seeker of truth

Blessed is one who is in the well. That one wants nothing, and the heart's desire is fulfilled. Those clamoring around the drinking trough want something. They will receive life if they enter the well. But they will not enter. For there is nothing in the well.
- Simon Magus

Many thirst for higher knowledge but this is not delivered until the time is right, the place is right, the people is right, and the teacher is right. All these elements must come into correct juxtaposition before any significant can be accomplished. Anything less is inadequate
- Thief37

Those who fall into the opening become nothing. Those who become nothing will not taste of death.
- Dai Gidan

Entering the well is an act of will. It's nice if all the conditions are just right, but if you wait for that, forget it, you'll just be another one at the entrance. Expect great resistance internally and externally.
- Zooie

Many people can talk about the truth but few have become the truth themselves.
- Unknown

Scholarly Quotes

F. F. Bruce writes: "This appears to be said by one of the disciples to Jesus. The well is the well of truth: many approach it without getting into it. Celsus, the anti-Christian writer of the second century, quotes the saying (in Greek) from the Heavenly Dialogue of the Ophite Gnostics. [As quoted by Origen, Against Celsus viii. 16. For the general idea compare Saying 23 (p. 124). The form is simiar to that of a Greek mystery-saying quoted by Plato: 'The wand-bearers are many, but the initiates are few' (Phaedo 69c).]" (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 141)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "This remarkable aphorism, which Thomas probably attributes to Jesus (or is Jesus the Lord who is addressed?), has an equivalent in the anti-Christian philosopher Celsus (c. 180 CE), who read it in a writing with the title 'Heavenly Dialogue'. It was in circulation among the Gnostic group of the Ophites (serpent worshippers). There it runs, 'Why are there many around the well and no one in the well?' Evidently the aphorism is meant to encourage the Gnostic to stop being a bystander and enter, in order also to be able to drink the water of knowledge." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 627)

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 74

Previous - Gospel of Thomas Home - Next