Gospel of Thomas Saying 84

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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


(84) Jesus said: When you see your likeness, you rejoice. But when you see your images which came into existence before you, which neither die nor are made manifest, how much will you bear?


(84) Jesus said, "When you (plur.) see your resemblance you are happy. But when you see your images that came into existence before you and are neither mortal nor visible, how much you will have to bear!"


88 [84]. Jesus says: "Now, when you see your appearance, you rejoice. But when you see your images which came into being before you, which do not die and do not show themselves, how will you be able to bear such greatness?"

Funk's Parallels

Gen 1:26-28.

Visitor Comments

When you see your whole self how will you be able to contain it all.
- seeker of truth

Your images that came into existence before you and are neither mortal nor visible-mental images of past reincarnations?
- Paladin

When one sees one's reflection one is happy, but when one sees the fragments of the repressed innate child self then the reflection is seen for what it is.
- Rodney

The "images" that came into existance before you, are your own thoughts. When we have to "review" our own thoughts, on our own judgment day, or when we leave this earthly body, it will be hard to bear.
- Kay

As a human, being limited as we are, you can only ever see and recognize a part of the mystery, if you ever saw the Lord/the Self revealed, you would stumble and fall, blinded by the encompassing light.
- Susanne Reichert

Akasha dwells in the innermost reaches of mind. The process of purification removes layer upon layer of accumulated attachments (both desires and aversions), and this is done by meditating with a calm and equanimous mind. By not accumulating new samkaras (through morality [sila], development of sharp concentration (samadhi, joriki), and wisdom (prajna, kensho) that has more to do with insight rather than logic), one exorcises accumulated defilements, and accesses one's true face before one's parents were born.
- Zooie

"But when you see your images which came into existence before you." This statement in my opinion, refers to the "Akashik Record" of Soul. Every lifetime is an image, or record. If one were to have the experience of full realization of one's past lives, it could be more than one could bear. You will never see yourself the same as before that experience.

This is an allusion to pre-existence. We will be re-united with what was expected of us before we took on mortal bodies. What we are and what we were to become in this life may be different enough to cause us a great sense of dissatisfaction with ourselves.
- Seeker

When we see the world as an extension of ourselves, we know the meaning of true happiness, but when we see it as separate from us it creates fear.
- unknown

Scholarly Quotes

R. McL. Wilson writes: "Like Irenaeus and some other Fathers, Thomas distinguishes between the 'image' and the 'likeness' in Genesis i. 26. Man on earth possesses only the likeness; the iamge (for Thomas) is his heavenly counterpart, the pattern on which he was made. Now we see only the likeness, as in a mirror (Doresse quotes 1 Cor. xiii. 12, 2 Cor. iii. 18), but when Christ shall appear we shall be like Him (1 John iii. 2, quoted by Grant and Freedman). Logion 24 speaks of the light that is in a man of light (cf. Matt. v. 14, vi. 22-23), logion 50 of the disciples (or the Gnostics) as coming from the Light, and the Pistis Sophia (chaps. 2-6) of a light descending upon Jesus, so bright that the disciples were blinded and could not see Him. Christ is the image of God (Col. i. 15 etc.), and Paul speaks of 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' (2 Cor. iv. 4, 6, quoted by Grant and Freedman). Colossians iii. 3 speaks of our life as 'hid with Christ in god,' and we may also recall the Pauline formula 'in Christ.' Finally, the opening words of logion 83 may owe something to reflection on Romans i. 20 ff., the 'invisible things of God' being interpreted as the archetypal patterns, the 'images' or Platonic ideas of all created things. Such speculations seem to belong to a period later than the New Testament, and certainly long after the time of Jesus." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 108-109)

F. F. Bruce writes: "This carries on the thought of the previous saying. Since men are created in the divine image (Genesis 1.26 f.), Christ, who is himself the divine image, is the archetypal man, the true Adam." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 145)

Funk and Hoover write: "This saying is closely related to Thomas 83 and reflects the same early Christian attempt to employ Platonic categories. Some gnostics believed that each person has a heavenly twin, or image, which never perishes, but which awaits the moment of death, when the gnostic's soul is reunited with that twin." (The Five Gospels, p. 518)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "This verse introduces the eternal heavenly likenesses to which the readers have not yet become assimilated. Thomas raises the question how long the readers can bear it, i.e. can be reminded of their earthly existence, without failing." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 632)

Helmut Koester writes: "Separating the soul from corporeal existence does not mean that the soul would henceforth exist as a disembodied spirit, wandering abstractly through the cosmos without form and identity; rather, the soul freed from its prison would enter a new kind of corporeal existence which awaits her in the heavenly realm. This new 'body' is often spoken of as one's heavenly 'image,' which awaits the soul, but remains guarded and enclosed in the safety of the godhead until it can be properly claimed. Thus Thomas speaks of 'images,' for the present concealed in the Father, but waiting for the moment when their splendor will be revealed to the utter astonishment of those by whom they will be claimed: [83 and 84]." (Ancient Christian Gospels, pp. 126-127)

Stevan Davies writes: "For Thomas the world can be conceived in two ways, from the perspective of the primordial light and the beginning, or from the everyday perspective. The difference between these two perspectives is discussed in Thomas's sayings 50a, 83 and 84 . . . Unfortunately, however, these sayings presuppose an underlying metaphysics that is hinted at so briefly and that is so dependent on unclear pronoun references that certainty in regard to their interpretation may be impossible. Still, it is hard to deny that these sayings refer ultimately to a form of Platonism wherein there is a highest reality, an image of that reality, and an image of that image which is, evidently, the world as it is ordinarily perceived." (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/jblprot.htm)

Stevan Davies writes: "In sayings 50a, 83, and 84, it appears that the images which constitute the world as ordinarily perceived are seen through the image of the primordial light (or, alternatively, the image of the light of the Father). The image of primordial light is our ordinary sunlight. Seeing always in an ordinary way, by ordinary sunlight, precludes seeing the primordial light that permeates all things. In this way the light of the Father is concealed by the image of the light of the Father." (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/jblprot.htm)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 84

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