Gospel of Thomas Saying 87

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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


(87) Jesus said: Wretched is the body which depends on a body, and wretched is the soul which depends on these two.


(87) Jesus said, "Wretched is the body that depends upon a body. And wretched is the soul that depends upon these two."


91 [87]. He said, he, Jesus: "The body which depends on a body is unfortunate, and the soul which depends on these two is unfortunate!"

Funk's Parallels

GThom 112, GThom 29.

Visitor Comments

Wretched is the person/body whose mind is solely focused on sustaining themselves at the loss of sustaining the soul.
- Hydra

If you perceive, as most do, that "I" is synonymous with "body", then your perception must be that when your body dies, you will die. Those in this state are fearful. If your perception is that your body and soul are separate and opposite, then you can speculate that when your body dies, your soul may still survive. Those in this state are hopeful. But when you perceive that the body and soul are not separate or opposite, but are both simply different manifestations of the eternal One, which cannot die, then you will enter the Kingdom. Those in this state simply are. I and my Father are One.
- nothing

When you depend on a another person to make you happy (your spouse), you will never be happy. And, when you have a child (a pure soul) with this person, they will suffer from the whirlwind of problems from this codependency. It is foolish to put your happiness in the hands of another human being. No one or no thing can bring you the happiness and peace that God, O Glorious God, can. Do you give newborn babies to their mothers or to a pack of hungry lions to love, nurture, and provide for? But you cannot be swallowed by resentment and anger for the other person that did not make you happy. It is human nature to make mistakes and sin. Just as it would be in the lion's nature to eat the baby.
- Margaret

Scholarly Quotes

Funk and Hoover point out that speculation about the relation of body and soul is presented in Gal 5:16-18, Rom 8:3-11, and John 3:6.

Marvin Meyer quotes Macarius of Syria, Homily 1.11: "Damn (or, Shame on) the body whenever it remains fixed in its own nature, because it becomes corrupt and dies. And damn (or, shame on) the soul if it remains fixed only in its own nature and relies only upon its own works, not having communion with the divine spirit, because it dies, not having been considered worthy of the eternal life of divinity." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 101)

Jean Doresse writes: "No doubt this is to be explained by Luke IX, 57-60 and Matt. VIII, 21-2: 'Let the dead bury the dead.' In this case, 'the body which depends on a body' is a living person who, through care for earthly obligations, wishes to bury his dead person. 'The soul which depends on these two' is the soul of such a person, a living body depending on a dead body." (The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 377)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "Since Saying 86 is a quotation from Matthew and Luke, we may expect that the present saying is related to something in the context those gospels provide (cf., Sayings 69-70). Indeed, it may well be a Gnosticizing interpretation of the mysterious words reported in Matthew 8:22 (Luke 9:60): 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead.' All earthly ties must be broken, as in Sayings 80 and 110. So Doresse, page 194. To know the world is to find a corpse (Saying 57)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 183)

F. F. Bruce writes: "This cryptic saying (cf. Saying 112) disparages the mortal body, which is given birth from another body. It is best for the soul to be as independent as possible of bodily life." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 145)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 87

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