Gospel of Thomas Saying 85

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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


(85) Adam came into being out of a great power and a great wealth, and he was not worthy of you; for if he had been worthy, [he would] not [have tasted] of death.


(85) Jesus said, "It is from a great power and a great wealth that Adam came into being: and he did not become worthy of you (plur.). For, had he been worthy [he would] not [have tasted] death."


89 [85]. Adam was produced by a great power and a great wealth; but he did not receive (?) [. . .] worthy (?) of you, for he was not worthy [to (?)] be preserved from [being subject (?)] to death."

Funk's Parallels

Gen 1:26-28, Gen 3:17-19.

Visitor Comments

Adam was made by God. But he was not worthy enough to live without death.
- seeker of truth

The sense of self of a child is grounded in one's genetic inheritance. It is not sufficient for independent adult life. If it had been, no part of one's innate child self would have been repressed.
- Rodney

If God is perfect and God made Adam in "His" own image then Adam must have been perfect also, for imperfection cannot result from perfection. It follows that, if Adam was not "worthy of being preserved from death", i.e. Adam was a mortal man and was not perfect, he could not have been created by God.
- Lux

Mankind is created to live. Mankind has chosen to make preferential distinctions with the intellect. This choice leads to misery and death. (See the references to the "tree of life" and the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" in Gen 2-3.) God offers through Jesus to each of us a way back into the Garden of Eden, a way to meet and overcome the flaming sword of the Cherubim which turns every way to guard the entrance, a way to reach out and take again of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. (See Saying 37 and Gen 3:22-24.)
- Simon Magus

Adam was from below but the second Adam (Worthy One) is from above living eternally by the resurrection.
- Yahoppu

Adam fell because of his want of a cheap thrill, forgetting that he was born of the eternal. To rush after pleasure and power in this limited life further separates us from the eternal. We can do better than the fallen when we accept life as it is, and search for the kingdom of heaven within, that has never left, but which we choose to ignore.
- Zooie

Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer writes: "On 'great power' compare Acts 8:9-10, which refers to Simon the Magician, who was said to be 'the power of God that is called great.' The Nag Hammadi tractate Concept of Our Great Power also discusses the 'great power,' the Secret Book of John alleges that Yaldabaoth took 'great power' from his mother, Wisdom, and magical texts likewise employ the phrase 'great power' to refer to a supernatural force. In the tractate On the Creation of the World 148, Philo uses the same Greek word for 'power' (dynamis) that is used in the Coptic text of Gospel of Thomas saying 85 when he suggests that 'there was probably a surpassing power about that first human.'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 100-101)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "Doresse (pages 192-93) treats his equivalent of Sayings 83 and 84 together, but it would be better to treat 83, 84, and 85 as a unit. We begin with Saying 85. We know that Adam originated from a great power and great wealth because he was a copy of the 'image' and 'likeness' of god; he was both male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). He was not worthy of Gnostic believers, however, for he sinned - by increasing and multiplying, by being divided into male and female when Eve was taken from his rib. (Eve mus trutrn to Adam, as in Saying 112 [114].) Apparently (Saying 84), men in general can see the 'likeness,' which they still retain. Not all can see the 'images,' for to see the image is to see Christ, which means to see the kingdom and, indeed, the inner man. This true image neither dies nor is openly manifest. At this time the image cannot be seen openly or perfectly; it is fully seen only after death (1 Corinthians 13:12, quoted by Doresse). Saying 83 explains why the image cannot be fully seen now. The image contains light (see Saying 51), but this light is overshadowed by th eimage of the light of the Father (cf., 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6). Later, however, 'If he is manifest we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is' (1 John 3:2). If this is what these sayings mean, Thomas has expressed it rather obscurely, using image terminology perhaps like that of the Naassenes (Hippolytus, Ref., 5, 8, 10)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 181-182)

Funk and Hoover write: "In developing the significance of Jesus, early Christians often used the mythic figure of Adam as a point of comparison. One finds this especially in Paul (Rom 5:12-14; 1 Cor 15:21-22, 42-50): in contrast to Adam, whose sin led to death, stands Jesus, whose obedience leads to life. The fate of Adam, according to Thom 85:2, was death; the fate of those who find the meaning of Jesus' words will be not to taste death, according to Thomas 1. The phrase 'not taste death' is a favorite of Thomas (Thom 1; 18:3; 19:4; 111:2), although it was also known to the Gospel of John (8:51-52)." (The Five Gospels, p. 518)

Stevan Davies writes: "Death occurs to Adam, not to the image of God (Gos. Thom. 85; Gen 3:19). The compiler of the Gospel of Thomas understands the first chapters of Genesis in their plain sense, that there are two creations of primordial humanity: the image of God brought forth in Gen 1:1-2:4, Adam created in Gen 2:5-3:24. For the first, the image of God, there is neither law nor sin, nothing that would require prayer or fasting or giving of alms (Gos. Thom. 14, 104). The image of God has dominion over the perfect kingdom of God, living through the light of creation (Gen 1:3-4) in a condition of rest and immortality." (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/jblprot.htm)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 85

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