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Simon Peter said to him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven." (Gospel of Thomas, 114)

I have found a number of pages on the net suggesting that this is a later addition to the Gospel of Thomas, but haven't found any real evidence or arguments for that assertion. What reasons are there to think that it is or is not an addition?

  • Is the Gospel of Thomas open for direct examination here? It looks like prior questions in this tag were about its relationship with canonical texts. – Susan Oct 9 '14 at 23:33
  • @Susan I don't know. If the community decides this should be closed then that's fine. – curiousdannii Oct 9 '14 at 23:50
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    @curiousdannii - Neither do I. There doesn't appear to be obvious popular consensus on Meta despite Dan's attempt to directly address the question. All: please vote on Meta! – Susan Oct 10 '14 at 0:00
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    I voted to close, and weighed in on this meta answer with a comment that qualifies in my mind a special case that would allow direct examination of Gnostic texts, which this question does not meet. I had already previously upvoted Dan's list of texts, but would encourage others to weigh in on that meta thread as well. – ScottS Oct 10 '14 at 20:00
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The Gospel of Thomas Logion 114 is fairly controversial and (like many questions on BH.SE, it seems) has generated a healthy specialist bibliography.1 The translation alone is disputed (or at least discussed!); the one provided by OP is that of Thomas Lambdin (a very fine scholar).

OP: What reasons are there to think that it is or is not an addition?

First, there is no "manuscript" evidence that suggests GThom 114 is an "addition".

Any argument about its status involves debates about the literary development of Thomas as a whole. Stevan Davies is one of those who deems it secondary to some "kernel" of the Thomas tradition.2 His rejection gives a pithy summary of reasons for drawing this conclusion:

  • the book's narrative shape, forged in the link between Logion 3 with 113, is spoiled by the odd 114 (which ends the book);
  • the location at the end makes supplementing a simple matter;
  • it is rhetorically confusing (my wording); and
  • it contradicts Logion 22 which refers to the "union of the sexes".

In the wider literature, it is the last point -- the apparent contradiction with Logion 22 -- that carries the most weight.3 (The first three bullet points are fairly impressionistic and do not in themselves carry conviction.) Here's Logion 22 itself (again, Lambdin translation):

Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, "These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom."
They said to him, "Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom."

The overlap in subject matter is apparent. But, as Plisch notes (see note 3, below), they have quite different starting points: GThom 22 has to do with "non-gendered" infants, while GThom 114 deals with a "gender-defined woman", and Plisch finds at least some possibility of reconciling the two sayings.

Beyond this, one gets involved in much more complex debates about the literary development of the Gospel of Thomas. Two significant voices in this debate are:

Suffice it to say, then, that Logion 114 is difficult to dismiss unless it is take as part of a wider pattern of literary development such as that championed by DeConick in particular. That there may be room for nuancing its translation is certainly the case, but that's a different question -- and one for the Coptic specialists, an exalted company among whom I am not numbered.


Notes

  1. For a decent bibliography of specialist literature on Logion 114, see R. Uro (ed.), Thomas at the Crossroads: Essays on the Gospel of Thomas (T & T Clark, 1998), p. 95 n. 14. For general resources on the Gospel of Thomas, see the typically helpful Early Christian Writings listing. See also the collection of Stevan Davies.
  2. S. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas: Annotated and Explained (Darton Longman & Todd, 2003 = Shambhala Publications, 2004), see p. 116.
  3. See, for example, the discussion by Uwe-Karsten Plisch, The Gospel of Thomas: Original Text with Commentary (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2008), pp. 246-7. Contradiction "led to the assumption that GThom 114 originally did not belong to the Gospel of Thomas but is a secondary addition."
  • Excellent answer - I have learned a lot :-) – Peter Oct 11 '14 at 3:02
  • I would check if there is a difference between the words "male" in 22 and "man" in 114. Logion 22 is a very common idea in Indian & Chinese spirituality and the word "man", from the Sanskrit "manu", is often the source of words concerns with "the mind" in the Indian languages. Therefore, 114 could be different to 22 and 114 could be emphasizing a spiritual (celibate) contemplative life of "mind" as opposed to the female life of motherhood & reproduction. 114 is possibly stating Jesus will make Mary give up the usual female preoccupation with sex & reproduction. – Dhammadhatu Nov 30 '16 at 11:32
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After reading through the few books I have on the Apocryphal Gospels, I was unable to find any direct evidence for logion 114 being a later addition.

I also am unaware of any Greek fragments of 114, so as far as I know, we only have this in the Coptic text. The closest Greek fragment is logion 77, so we cannot say for sure it is not in the Greek text.

The text too makes this argument difficult to resolve, due to the independent arrangement of the sayings, as well as the lack of any narrative or framework to bind together the logion.

The closest argument I can come to is that of Edgar Hennecke, who in his New Testament Apocrypha, Vol 1 states that logion 114:

may be ascribed, with more or less certainty, to the [Greek] Gospel of the Egyptians.

Logion 114 could have been added later, borrowed from the Gospel of the Egyptians, perhaps at the same time logion 1 was added, which Hennecke believes was a later addition due to its artificial nature.

  • Is the Gospel of the Egyptians extant? – curiousdannii Oct 10 '14 at 8:52
  • Not that I am aware of. The other bit which can be confusing (well for me, anyway) is that there is a Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians (found at Nag Hammadi) which is nothing at all like the Greek gospel. – Peter Oct 11 '14 at 3:00
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I have to strongly disagree with Hennecke's assumption. He claims this logion is from, with more or less certainty, the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians. This has no merit. Firstly, what is extant of the text doesn't even mention Mary and secondly since Salome is the most prominent disciple in the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians, along with her conspicuous appearance in Thomas 61, she would have been mentioned along with Mary in 114, had it actually came from Greek Gospel of the Egyptians.

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