Saying 49 / C

49, Jesus said: Blessed are the solitary and the elect, for you shall find the kingdom; for you came forth thence, and shall go there again.

To me, this is one of Thomas’ most Gnostic sayings. There are three elements that srruck me …

(1) blessed are the solitary – there is a tradition of solitary mysticism in christianity, but for the most part, there is an emphasis on community … For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. – Matthew 18:20.

(2) blessed are the elect – the idea that only certain people are worthy or capable of being “saved” is both exclusionary and elitist.

(3) Commentators (The Jesus Seminar) Funk and Hoover write ….. Thomas 49 depicts Thomas Christians as those who have come into the world from another realm, to which they will one day return. This is a central tenet of the mythology of gnosticism.

On the whole, to me at least, this saying is sort of disconcerting, though I suspect it’s meant to be comforting, and will be so to the other more gnostically inclined members of the blog 🙂

– Blake’s The Ladder


5 responses

  1. I, too, find Thomas’s absence of communal emphasis disconcerting, one of the first things I noted about this gospel. Long ago I wrote in my introduction to Thomas: ” What I find most compelling about Thomas is that it seems to lack the social dimension so prevalent in the other gospels, particularly the emphasis Jesus placed on love and service to those in need. I did find one mention of love– in Saying 25, but it certainly doesn’t incorporate the universality of love which we understand to be Jesus’ primary focus.”Re “exclusionary and elitist”- I don’t believe any more so than Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, ie. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  2. Hi Crystal,I’ll take the comforting route here…I have just come from a five day silent retreat in the Buddhist tradition, so the word solitary nestles into my recent experience in a comforting way. To be solitary and to be in community are not exclusive notions. One can be both, and both simultaneously. In prayer, in sangha sitting meditation, and in silent worship in the Quaker tradition, we are both solitary and in community. When we are quiet enough to find this Kingdom in our very own hearts, we “come from there,” and this love cannot help but be shared with/in community. I have more problems with the word elect, or chosen. But if I look at this through a different lens, the lens of choosing to open myself, I feel the statement so inclusivley, rather than exclusively. And finally, coming from the kingdom and going there again – confusing too, yes? But what if we look at this statement as though “The kingdom of God is within you” which is where we have all come from, and where we return over and over again – it has a very different connotation. So rather than ‘another realm’ it is the realm within you, as close as your very breath. Yes, in a word, comforting.Thank you Crystal

  3. Canada is teetering on the edge of an election and I don’t see much blessedness about it at all!Elect of course means chosen ones. Matthew and Luke have Jesus say blessed are the poor. That seems more like Jesus to me. But Matthew/Luke’s Jesus calls me to something a bit harder to live up to as well.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I’m sorry if lately I’ve been sort of argumentative … I think I’m very upset inside and though I’m trying not to let it out, it seeps. Not angry at you guys or the material … just personal stuff.Larry – yes, I forget about the many called, few chosen line. Good point.Mererdith – I used to belong to a zendo and sat for a couple of years, it was very restful. But that way of being with God seemed too impersonal for my temperment. Still, I see the beauty of it :-)David – perhaps my dislike of the term elect stems from my school days when I didn’t get picked for the softball team 🙂 Still, any religion with an application test worries me.

  5. What if the only application test in heaven was whether your religion had application tests? And you failed if it had one.(Luke 6:37-38)

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