Thursday, January 4, 2024

Saying 84


Jesus said, ‘When you see your likenesses, you are delighted. But when you see your images which came into being before you—they neither die nor are revealed—how much you will suffer.’


Compare Sayings 19 and 83. Some traditions in Second Temple Judaism distinguished God from his ‘likeness’ or ‘image’, so that the Adam was made to resemble the ‘image of God’, an intermediary being—called the Logos or Wisdom by some—which in turn resembled God himself. When bringing together the various threads in the latest additions to the Gospel of Thomas, readers may reconstruct a theology which teaches that when a person is restored to the condition of the sinless primordial first man, they will properly resemble the divine intermediary ‘image of God’ more directly. This perfected version of the person ‘came into being before you’ (or, ‘existed before [you] existed’ in Saying 19). This view may be dependent on Platonic idealism, and Josephus claims that the Essene sect of Judaism believed something comparable. When people see the preexistent, idealized ‘image’ of themselves they will ‘suffer’, possibly referring to an afterlife state where they are confronted by their own shortcomings.



Judean War 2.8.11 For they [the Essenes] cherish the view that while bodies are corruptible and made of impermanent matter, souls are immortal and continue for ever, having come from above and being chained in their bodies as in prisons, into which they are drawn by a natural affinity. Once they are set free from the chains of the flesh, then as if released from long slavery they joyfully mount upward.

Manichaean Psalms

1 ‘He established chambers of life. He set up living images in them. He set up living images in them that never perish.’

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