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The New Oxyrhynchus Sayings
a tentative interpretation

The Expository Times 15 (1904) 488-495

   A lecture delivered at the Divinity School,
Cambridge on 7th July 1904.

In July 1897 I had the pleasure of lecturing in this place upon a series of sayings of our Lord which had been discovered on the site of Oxyrhynchus by Messrs. Grenfell and Hunt.<Note 1> The indefatigable zeal of these two Oxford scholars has now brought to light a second fragment, belonging apparently to the same collection though not to the same papyrus, which adds five or six new sayings to the seven previously given to the world.<Note 2> Through the courtesy of the discoverers, a proof of the new sayings, with their comments upon them, has been in my possession since April, and some of my spare time has been agreeably spent in an endeavour to interpret the treasure. The result, such as it is, in printed overleaf. /489/

 

a Jo. 4,37, Apoc. 19,9; 21,5; 22,6.
b Rom. 14,9; Apoc. 1,18; 2,8; cf. Jo. 11,16, 20,24ff.
c Jo. 20,2.18.20; 21,7.12.
d Jo. 12,4.7; 18,37; 19,13.
e Ps. 52(53),2.
f Mc, 1,27; 10,24.32.
g Clem., strom. 2,9.45; 5,14.97.
h Clem., strom. 7,2.9; so ἑλκύεινe in Cant. 1,4; Jer. 38(31),32; 2 Jo. 6,44; 12,32.
i Absolutely, as in Mt. 13,38; 24,14; Acts 20,25.
j Lc. 17,21.
k 2 Cor. 6,18 See Kattenbusch, das apost. Symbol II. p.520 ff.
l Cf. Mt. 5,14; Heb. 12,22.
m Plat. Phaed. 84c; ὀκνεῖν Acts 9,38.
n Acts 1,7.
o Mc. 10,31.
p Mt. 7,14.
q Mt. 10,26; Lc. 8,17.
r Mt. 2,8; 10,11; constr., Jo. 21,12.
s The order of Mt. 6,1-18 reversed.
t Gal. 4,10.
u Mt. 5,12 etc.; 10,42; 2 Jo. 8; for the future after βλ. μἠ, see Col. 2,8; Heb. 3,12.
x Jo. 1,17 etc.
y Jo. 12,32; 17,23; 20,23.
z Mc. 4,11; Col. 1,26. Cf. Clem, strom. 5,10.64
    Ou-toi oi`1 lo,goi oi` @avlhqinoi.a ou'j evla,#|lhsen VIhsou/j o` zw/n k@ai. avpoqavvw.nb VIou,da| tw/|#| kai. Qwma/|) kai. ei=pen @auvtw/| o` ku,riojc :Ostij#| a;n tw/n lo,gwn tou,@wn avkou,sh|d( qana'tou#| ouv mh. geu,shtai)
    @Le,gei VIhsou/j# | Mh. pausa,sqw o` zh@tw/n to.n pate,rae e[wj a'n#| eu[rh|( kai. o[tan eu[rh| @qambei,sqwf\ kai. qam#| bhqei.j basileu,sei2( ka@i. basileu,saj avnapa#| h,setaig.
    Le,gei VI@hsou/j Ti,nej eivsi.n#| oi` e[lkontejh u`ma/j#| pro.j th.n basilei,ani*#| h` basilei,a evn ouvra@nw/|\ oi` de. evpi. gh/j kai.#| ta. peteina. tou/ ouvr@anou/ kai. pa/n kti,sma o[#|ti u`po. th.n gh/n evst@i.n kai. evn tw/| a[dh| kai.#| oi` ivcqu,ej th/j qala,@sshj( ou-toi oi` e[lkon#tej u`maj) kai. h` bas@ilei,a tw/n ouvranw/n#| evnto.jj u`mw/n @ev#sti,@n( kai. o[stij a'n e`auto.n#| gnw/| tau,thn eu`rh,@sei) eva.n ga.r avlhqw/j#| e`autou.j gnw,sesqe4( @ui`oi. kai. qugate,rej#| evste. u`mei/j5 tou/ patro.j tou/ p@antokra,torojk( kai.#| gnw,sesqe6 e`autou.j evn@to.j th/j po,lewj o;ntaj\#| kai. u`mei/j evste. h` pt@o,lij#l.
    Le,gei VIhsou/j | Ouvk avpoknh,seim a;nq@rwpoj peri. tw/n kai.#| rw/nn evperwth/sai7 pa@rrhsiazo,menoj( lh#rw/n peri. tou/ to,pou th/@j do,xhj) u`meij de. siwph,#|sete\ o[ti8 polloi. e;sontai p@rw/toi e;scatoi kai.#| oi` e;scatoi prw/toio( kai. @ovli,goi eu`rh,sou#| sinp.
    Le,gei VIhsou/j @Pa/n to. mh. e;mpros#|qen th/j o;yew,j sou kai. @to. kekrumme,non#| avpo. sou/ avpokalufqh,set@ai9) ouv ga,r evs#|tin krupto.n o] o@uv fanero.n genh,setai(#q | kai. teqamme,non10 o] o@uvk evgerqh,setai#|.
    @VEx#eta,zousinr auvto.n o@i` maqhtai. auvtou/ kai. | le,#gousin Pw/j nhsteu,@swmen* kai. pw/j pros|euxw,#meqa* kai. pw/j @evlehmosu,nhn poih,|swmens* k#ai. ti, parathrhs@w,meqat tw/n toi|ou/tw#vn* le,gei VIhsou/j @ble,pete mh. to.n mis|qo.n avpol#ei/te11 u) mh. poiei/t@e mhde.n eiv mh. | ta. t#h/j avlhqei,aj\x a]ny @ga.r poih/te tau/ta( gnw,|sesqe musth,rio#n avpokekr@umme,nonz) le,|gw u`mi/n Ma#ka,ri@o,j# evst@in12 o]j a]n))))
   1OITOIOIOI  2BASILEUSH  3HMAS  4GNWSESQAI  5UMEIS suprascr.  6GNWSQE  7EPERWTHSE  8OTI suprascr.  9APOKALUYHSET))  10QEQAMMENON  11))))EITAI  12Line 41 shews W EST under OS EST, and line 42 IN under EST

    Reconstruction in the present instance is not only hazardous, but for the most part impracticable. The earlier discovery lent itself with comparative ease to conjectural restoration; two only of the seven sayings were seriously damaged, and with very few exceptions both the beginnings and the endings of the lines had been preserved. The new fragment, on the other hand, has been torn or cracked down the middle, and the right-hand side has disappeared; of the forty-two lines which it contained, every one has lost its ending, while the last eleven are defective also at the beginning. Thus even the average lenght of the lines can only be conjectured; but, judging from the four or /490/ five which can be restored with some degree of confidence, the average number of letters may well have been twenty-nine or thirty, and the normal length twelve syllables or that of an iambic trimeter, one of the measures, as Dr. Rendell Harris<Note 3> has shown, which professional scribes followed in dividing their matter into stichi. This probability must be borne in mind by the interpreter; no filling up of the lacunæ is admissible which makes any line considerably exceed twelve syllables or thirty letters. But the guidance thus afforded does not, of course, guarantee any security that the lacunæ have been rightly filled. I offer my attempt not as even a provisional restoration, but merely as an interpretation suggested by the letters which survive. Let me add that I have freely used the helps afforded by the editors and the German and English scholars whom they have consulted. It will be unnecessary to acknowledge these debts in detail, because I may assume that the fourth volume of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, or at least the pamphlet which contains the new sayings,<Note  4> is in the hand of everyone who is here to-day.

    The first four lines and a half of the new papyrus are introductory. The fragment of 1897 began in the middle of a saying; the fragment of 1904 begins with the opening words of the collection, or of one of its books or sections. We now know that in the third century there existed a collection of Λόγοι Ἰεσοῦ which was in circulation at Oxyrhynchus and probably elsewhere in the valley of the Nile. The sayings were not simply jotted down in the note-book of a private collector, but were prepared for publication. Perhaps this might have been inferred from the bookform and the uncial script of the earlier fragment, but the formal introduction which has now been found places the fact beyond reasonable doubt.
    ‘These (the compiler begins) are the true sayings which Jesus who liveth and was dead spake to Judas Thomas.’
    Even the first sentence presents difficulties. Οἱ τοῖοι οῖ οἱ λόγοι is intolerable, and the editors propose to delete the first article; I cannot but think that οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι, which they mention but dismiss, is a more probable correction. After λόγοι οἱ it is natural to supply ἀληθινοί, and after ὁ ζῶν; the words καὶ ἀποθανῶν are suggested by more than one passage in the New Testament, while ὁ ζῶν κύριος is an unusual if not unprecedented combination. But the chief problem of the sentence lies in the lacuna which precedes Θωμᾷ Here I gladly accept Professor Lake's brilliant conjecture, Ἰούδᾳ τῷ καὶ Θωμᾷ ‘Judas Thomas,’ it will be remembered, is read by the Curetonian Syriac in John 14,22, and the form Ἰούδας ὁ καὶ Θωμᾶς occurs in the Acts of Thomas (§11), for which Mr. Burkitt has claimed a Syriac original,<Note 5> and in the Syriac document quoted in a Greek translation by Eusebius, H.E. 1,13. I will leave it to others to consider whether this conjecture is consistent with the Egyptian origin or circulation of the sayings.

    The prologue proceeds: ‘And the Lord said to him, Whosoever shall hearken to these sayings, he shall in nowise taste of death.’
    This is not one of the λόγοι, but a preliminary saying, perhaps adapted from John 8,51, Ἐάν τις τὸν ἐμὸν λὀγον τηρήσῃ θάνατον οὐ μὴ θεωρήσῃ (or, as the words recast in the next verse, οὐ μὴ γεύσηται θανάτου) εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. Ἀκούειν λὀγου is but another expression for τηρεῖν λόγον( just as γεύεσθαι θανάτου is another expression for θάνατον θεωρεῖν. I see no improbability in the supposition that the second century compiler has modified the words of a canonical Gospel to suit his purpose, and represented them as addressed in this form to St. Thomas. That he has gone to the Fourth Gospel for his text is a suggestive circumstance, and accords with other indications which the fragment shows of acquaintance with the Johannine books.
    The brief prologue is followed by the first saying: ‘Jesus saith, Let not him who seek the Father cease until he find Him; and having found Him, let him be amazed; and being amazed he shall reign, and reigning shall rest.’
    The substance of this saying has long been familiar to us through its use by Clement of Alexandria, who (Strom. 5,4, §97 quotes it in the form Οὐ παύσεται ὁ ζητῶν ἕως ἀν εὕρῃ, εὑρὼν δὲ θαμγηθήσεται, θαμβηθεὶς δε βασιλεύσας δὶ ἐπαναναύσεται. In an earlier book of the Stromateis (2,9, §45) he attributes what is apparently part of the same saying to the Gospel according to the Hebrews: κἀν τῷ καθ᾽Ἑβραιόυς εὐαγγελίῳ, ‘Ὁ θαυμάσας βασιλεύσει,’ γέγραπταί ‘καὶ ὁ /491/ βασιλεύσας ἀναπαήσεται.’ The newly discovered form agrees in the main with Clement's longer quotation, but is slightly fuller; after ζετῶν there is a gap of thirteen of fourteen letters, of which eight or nine problably occupied by the object of search. As the editors observe, τήν βασιλείαν is too long; they suggest τὴν ζηήν,but perhaps τὸν θεόν is to be preferred, or better still, τὸν πατέρα, for which there is just room. In the next line the exigencies of the space seem to require θαμβείσθω rather than θαμβηθήσεται, and the imperative perhaps agree better with the foregoing παυσάσθω. Clement, who begins with παύσεται, has kept to the future throughout.
    What is the θάμβος which is enjoined on those who seek and find God? If we may judge from the New Testament use of θάμβος, θαμβεῖσθαι, ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι, ἒκθαμβος this group of words indicates the sudden sensation akin on the one hand to fear (Mk 10,24; 14,33), and on the other to ecstasy (Ac 3,10) which attends the unexpected, especially when it belongs to the region of the supernatural of the Divine. Thus in the present saying θαμβείσθω indicates with precision the rush of mingled fear and joy which ought to follow the great εὕρηκα of life, the discovery of God.

    The second saying is new, and of the deepest interest, but so badly mutilated that more than one line of interpretation is possible. I offer that which on the whole I prefer.
    ‘Jesus saith, Who are they that draw you (MS., us) to the kingdom? The kingdom is in heaven; but they that are on earth and the birds of the heaven and every creature that is under the earth in Hades and the fishes of the sea, these are they that draw you to it. And the kingdom of heaven is within you, and whosoever shall know himself shall find it; for if ye shall truly know yourselves, ye are the sons and daughters of the Father Almighthy, and ye shall know yourselves to be in the city of God, and ye are the city.’
    The key to the general meaning lies in οἱ ἕλκοντες. Ἕλκειν occurs but twice in the New Testament (Acts 21,30; Jac. 2,6), and both times in the sense of dragging a resisting body. But it is patient of another use; it may equally well describe the attractive or magnetic power which draws the soul towards a person or a goal. In this sense, it is true, ἑλκύειν seems to be more usual, cf. e.g. John 6,14 ἐὰν ηὴ ὁ πατὴρ … ἑλκύσῃ αὐτόν, ib. 12,32 πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν. But ἕλκειν, ‘to draw,’ is well attested; thus in 4 Mac 14,13 a mother's στοργή is represented as ἕλκοθσα πάντα πρὸς τὴν τῶν σπλἀγχνων σθνπάθειαν, and Clement (Strom.7,2, §9) speaks of men as τῷ ἁγίῳ πνύματι ἑλκόμενοι. But if οἱ ἕλκοντες ὑμᾶς in our saying are ‘they who attract you,’ how shall we fill up the lacuna that follows? Does the Speaker refer to the forces which attract men to the world, or to those which attract them to God? Shall we proceed πρὸς τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς (or τὰ ἐπίγεια), or πρὸς τὴν βασιλείαν? At first sight the broken lights of the next few lines seem to direct us to the former, in which case the sense would be: ‘the kingdom is in heaven, but you are drawn to the present world by the visible creation about you’ – a commonplace with every preacher. But when the words are studied more closely, a subtler and more suggestive thought emerges: ‘the kingdom is in heaven, it is spiritual and invisible and belongs to another order; yet the visible creation, the common objects of outward life, rightly used and understood, have the power of directing you to God and things above; or, as St Paul (Ro 1,20) expresses the same truth: τὰ ἀόρατα αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου τοῖς ποιήμασιν νοούμενα καθορἀται, ἥ τε ται ἥ τε ἀίδιος αὐτοῦ δύναμις καὶ θεότης. The physical creation ought to be an ally and not an adversary to the soul that strives to attain the kingdom of God – a doctrine never more needful than in our own age.
    Furthermore, the Speaker continues, the kingdom of God is not only in heaven. It is within men, and all that tends to self-knowledge attracts them to it. ‘Know yourselves aright, and you are the children of God; you belong to the City of God, nay, you yourselves constitute that City.’
    The study of Nature, the study of Man, are forces which in loyal disciples make for righteousness, drawing them to the highest and best things, and not, as in others, distracting attention from them.
    But if this view of the second saying is accepted, opinions will differ as to the details. The two most doubtful points seem to me to be the insertion of τοῦ παντοκράτορος after τοῦ πατρός and the use of πὀλις in the last two lines. Ὁ πατὴρ ὁ παντοκράτωρ is a title of God which, though common in Christian writings from the second century onwards, has no parallel in the New Testament, where παντοκράτωρ is used, as in the LXX, only in connexion with Κύριος or ὁ Θεός. /492/ Yet the phrase υἱοὶ καὶ θυγατέρες τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ παντοκράτορος finds some justification in St. Paul's version of more than one Old Testament promise (2 Co 6,18 ἔσομαι ὑμῖν εἰς πατέρα, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔσεσθέ μοι εἰς υἱοὺς καὶ θυγατέρας, λέγει Κύριος παντοκράτωρ). If it is to be accepted in our saying, I fear it must be regarded as an echo of St. Paul's words which has found its way into the saying in the course of transmission – a not very satisfactory admission, but one which I am in fairness bound to make. Ὑμεῖσ ἐστὲ ἡ πτόλις, (which is due to Professor Blass, presents a thought which is not unknown to the Gospels or the first series of Oxyrhynchus sayings. It is latent in St. Matthew's πὸλις ἐπάνω increases our doubt.

    The third saying is not less difficult to reconstruct. ‘Jesus saith. A man will not hesitate to inquire boldly about the seasons, prating of the place of glory. But ye shall hold your peace; for many that are first shall be last, and the last first, and few shall find it.’
    So on the whole I venture to interpret. The general sense is fixed by the last two lines, which may be almost certainly restored, ὅτι πολλοὶ ἔσονται πρῶτοι ἕσχατοι καὶ οἱ ἑσχατοι πρῶτοι – the exact words, as the editor remark, of Mk 10,31 according to the reading of the best MSS. That the saying ends thus shows that the Speaker is discouraging undue confidence in reference to the final award; and in view of this I propose to adopt some such ending as καὶ ὀλίγοι ε῾θρήσουσιν, rather than the editors' καὶ ζωὴν ἀιώνιον ἕξουσιν, which does not seem to be quite relevant to the purpose of the preceding words. But it is the first half of the sentence which gives the interpreter serious trouble. All would be straightforward if we could ignore the lacunæ and read simply Οὐκ ἀποκνήσει ἄθρωπος ἐπερωτῆσαι περὶ τοῦ τόπου. But on either side of the infinitive there is a gap of half a line which must be filled, and to add to our difficulty, each gap is followed by the letters ΡΩΝ while the second begins with the letters ΠΑ. Under these conditions our choice of words is very limited. Περὶ τῶν καιρῶνis suggested by such passages as Mk 13,33 οὐκ οἴδατε πότε ὁ καιρός ἐστιν, and Ac 1,7 οὐχ ὑμῶν γνῶναι χρόνους ἢ καιρούς. If ληρεῖν is not a New Testament word, yet λῆρος occurs in Luk 24,11. But I set no store by either of these conjectures, and use them merely as stopgaps, which may be displaced as soon as something better has been found. For ὁ τὀπος τῆς δὀξης I can quote no authority,<note 6> but ὁ τὀπος is illustrated by Jn 14,2 πορεύομαι ἑτοιμάσαι τόπον ὑμῖν, and Ac 1,25 πορευθῆναι εἰς τὸν τόπον τὸν ἴδιον; and τῆς δόξης by Jn 17,22 τὴν δόξαν ἣν δέδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς.

    The fourth saying has been restored by Dr. Grenfell and Dr. Hunt with complete success.
    'Jesus saith, Everything that is not before thy face and that which is hidden from thee shall be revealed; for there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest, or buried which shall not be raised.'
    Like more than one of the former group of Oxyrhynchus sayings, this saying is closely akin to one in the canonical Gospels. It reminds us at once of Mt 10,26 οὐδὲν γάρ ἐστιν κεκαλυμμένον ὃ οὐκ ἀποκαλύϕθήσεται, καὶ πρυπτὸν ὃ οὐ μὴ γνωσθήσεται, and Lk 8,17 οὐ γάρ ἐστιν κρυπτὸν ὃ οὐ ϕανερὸν γενήσεται, οὐδὲ ἀπόκρυφον ὃ οὐ μὴ γνωσθῇ καὶ εἰς ϕανερὸν ἔλθῃ. Our saying blends elements which are to be found in each of these. But it has also features of its own. Πᾶν τὸ μὴ ἔμπροσθεν τῆς ὄψεώς σου is interesting for its use of the Johannine word ὄψις; and the ending οὐ γάρ ἐστιν … τεθαμμένον ὃ οὐκ ἐγερθήσεται presents a striking metaphor to which the Gospels offer no parallel. Does it refer to the doctrine of the Resurrection? is the thought that of Jn 5,28 πάντες οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις … ἐκπορεύσονται? The Resurrection may be in the background of the words, but if they were spoken during the Ministry, I incline to the belief that they refer, as the Synoptic sayings usually do, to one of the incidents of Galilean life. It was no uncommon thing for treasure to be buried in the ground for the sake of security; we recall Mt 13,44 ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν θησαυρῲ κεκρυμμένῳ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ. From time to time in northern Palestine the spade of the labourer turns up such a hoard, and I have in my possession a tetradrachm which /493/ was found buried somewhere in the Lebanon some five and thirty years ago. 'Nothing is buried which shall not be raised,' acquires a new meaning in this light; buried silver or gold may escape discovery to the end of time, but character, life, truth, however long concealed, must in the end come to the surface and fulfil their destiny.

    We have now reached the last of these sayings. It has suffered more severely than the rest, but enough remains to excite the greatest interest.
    ‘His disciples enquire of Him and say, How are we to fast? and how are we to pray? and how are we to give alms? and of such duties what are we to observe? Jesus saith, See that ye lose not your reward. Do nothing save the things that belong to the truth, for if ye do these, ye shall know a hidden mystery. I say unto you, Blessed is the man who …’
    This saying takes rank with the second in point of originality and importance. It is an answer to a question which happily has been fairly well preserved. The question seems to have arisen out of some instruction upon almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, similar to that which we find in the Sermon on the Mount, if not identical with it. We can imagine the circumstances. After the crowd had dispersed and our Lord was again alone with the Twelve, one or more of His disciples — Thomas, as the prologue suggests, or more probably Peter, perhaps in company with Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee (Mk 13,14) — appealed to Him for more definite teaching on the three great acts of righteousness to which He had referred. The Pharisaic scribes had laid down definite rules for the discharge of these duties, and they looked to their Master for similar guidance. The strong word ἐξετάζειν, used in this sense only in Jn 20,12, indicates a desire to press their suit unduly, to examine, cross-question, and almost to catechise the Master on these matters, and force him to prescribe a system of nicely-balanced regulations. How, i.e. after what manner, were His disciples to fulfil their obligations? The motive which prompted their demand is shown by the use of parathrei/sqai; the Twelve were still under the influence of the Pharisaism which had been the religious teacher of their youth, and they not unnaturally sought to foist the spirit of legalism into the new teaching. We are reminded of St. Paul's words to the Galatians, 4,10 ἡμέρας παρατηρεῖσθε καὶ μῆνας καὶ ἐνιαυτούς· ϕοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς, μή πως εἰκῇ κεκοπίακα εἰς ὑμᾶς.
    If the question has been rightly interpreted, the general sense of the answer may be conjectured. In such a demand the Master would discover a temper the very opposite of that which He laboured to produce. Those who could make it had failed to grasp the first lessons of the kingdom of God. To use St. Paul's later phraseology, they looked to be justified by works of law, and not by a righteousness based upon the principle of faith. Against such a perversion of His teaching the Lord would assuredly have made a stand. But in what words? Along what line of thought would He have carried His questioners to a better understanding of His position? The keynote of His answer is struck by th/j avlhqei,aj, which survives to show that though the question may have arisen out of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord's reply was in the terms of the Johannine teaching. To the bare performance of certain prescribed acts He opposed the doing of the Truth, which both the Fourth Gospel (3,21) and the First Epistle of St. John (1,6) represent as the first condition of life in Christ. No mere acts of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, no formal observance of external duties, could secure the Divine reward, which depends on the assimilation and fulfilment of the Truth itself. The next line seems to describe the results of a life regulated by this principle, but we catch no more than a broken echo in which the word ‘hidden’ has a place. Professor Lake suggests, ‘and ye shall eat the hidden manna,’ and there is much to be said for this; like the reference to ‘the Truth,’ it is Johannine, coming directly from the Apocalypse, a book which, as we know from the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, was highly prized by some Christian communities in the second century. But there is no obvious connexion between ‘doing the truth’ and ‘eating the manna’; in the message to the Church at Pergamum the promise of the manna is apposite; it is a solatium for the loss of the εἰδωλόθυτα, a heavenly banquet reserved for those who refused the dainties and the social enjoyments of the pagan guild-feasts. No such sequence of thought is possible here. I prefer therefore to read γνώσεσθε μυστήριον ἀποκεκρυμμένον) For μυστήριον there is Synoptic authority (Mk 4,11 = Mt 13,4 =Lk 8,10), while the exact phrase μυστ. ἀποκεκρυμμένον occurs twice in the Pauline Epistles (Eph 3,9, Col 1,26). It is true that in these passages /494/ the article is used, but in a saying which, if genuine, presumably belongs to an early stage of the Galilean ministry, the anarthrous μυστήριον ἀποκεκρυμμένον is quite appropriate. The connexion between the Truth and a yet hidden mystery is not hard to trace. To do the Truth, to grasp and live the great principles of the gospel, is to win an entrance into that which is yet secret but will presently be revealed, the higher life behind the veil of sense.

In these remarks I have not concealed my impression that the new sayings are substantially genuine. That they have assumed their present form under the influence of the canonical Gospels, possibly also of the Apocalypse and certain of the Pauline Epistles, is not altogether incredible, even if we assent to the judgment of the editors that the compilation is not later than the middle of the second century. But, admitting the presence of canonical elements, there remains a large residuum which is at once new and after the manner of our Lord's earlier teaching. This is especially apparent in the second and fifth sayings, which it is difficult to regard as the creation of subapostolic times. ‘The kingdom of God is in heaven, but it is also within you; all nature, your own nature, rightly interpreted, are magnets which attract you to God.’ ‘Principles of action are to be considered rather than formal acts; the Truth itself is the sufficient guide of life, and to follow it here is the one condition of being admitted to the fuller knowledge of the vision of God.’ Are these thoughts such as could have had their origin in Christian circles, Catholic or heretical, within the sixty years which followed the death of St. John?
    But if we allow the claim of the compiler that these sayings are in their substance lo,goi VIhsou/( from what source or sources shall we suppose him to have derived his treasure? The editors have discussed this point at length, and I will not repeat what they have written except so far as it is necessary to do so for the purpose of making my meaning clear.
    We have seen that a part of the first saying is quoted by Clement of Alexandria in a somewhat different form as from the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Dr. Grenfell and Dr. Hunt anticipate the inference that the other sayings are from the same Gospel, and, as it appears to me, they successfully dispose of it. It is not even certain that the first saying was taken as it stands from that Gospel; it agrees more nearly with Clement's second quotation, which is anonymous; indeed, the agreement is so close that Clement may have taken his quotation from this very collection of which fragments have been found at Oxyrhynchus. More importance may be attached to the introductory question which precedes the fifth of the present sayings. It has the appearance of being taken from some narrative of the Ministry, where the Lord's answer would naturally be prefaced by a reference to the occasion which called it forth. It may be argued that the compiler has simply transcribed the passage, changing the ὁ δὲ ἔϕη or ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν of the narrator into his usual formula, Ἰησοῦς λέγει. There is a similar instance of an answer preceded by a question in the homily known as the Second Epistle of Clement of Rome (2 Co 12 ἐπερωτηθεὶς γὰρ αὐτὸς ὁ κὐριος ὑπό τινος πότε ἥξει αὐτοῦ ἡ βασελεία εἶπεν κ.τ.λ.), which Lightfoot believed to have been taken from the Gospel according to the Egyptians. On the other hand, it is conceivable that an agraphon might have carried with it the question which it answered when (as in the present case) the answer would not have been intelligible apart from the question.
    Thus, while it is possible that certain of the sayings were excerpted from non-canonical Gospels, there is no convincing evidence that this was so; it is open to us to believe that the compiler was indebted wholly or chiefly to the floating traditions of the second century – traditions based on the recollections of those who had heard the Lord, or who, like Papias, had made it their business to inquire from survivors of the first generation what the apostles and other disciples had said about Him.
    There remains the question how we are to understand the compiler's claim that the sayings were addressed to St. Thomas. Dr. Grenfell and Dr. Hunt regard the short preface with which the new fragment begins as introductory to the whole collection. I venture to suggest that it opens a fresh book or section, which, for whatever reason, the compiler has seen fit to connect with the Apostle Thomas. Possibly the whole collection was entitled Λόγοι Ἰησοῦ πρὸς τοὺς δώδεκα, and the name of one of the Twelve was associated with each section. Such an arrangement would be a comparatively innocent example of the tendency which led a second-century writer /495/ to entitle his Church Order Διδαχὴ Κυριόυ διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, or which has given us Gospels of Thomas, Peter, James, and the like. If it be asked why these particular sayings were allocated to Thomas, the true answer will probably be that the distribution of the sayings among the several apostles was largely a matter of the compiler's convenience. In some cases, of course, he may have been guided by tradition, and in others by the characters of the sayings. It is not difficult to imagine the first and perhaps the second of these sayings as actually addressed to the Thomas of the Fourth Gospel. But no special aptitude to St. Thomas can be discovered in the third and fourth while the fifth, by the very terms in which it is introduced, belongs to the disciples as a body. Thus the arrangement which has assigned these sayings to St. Thomas must be regarded as chiefly arbitrary; it illustrates a fashion of the age, but has little further significance. The sayings must be judged severally, each on its own merits, without regard to the order in which they stand or their supposed connexion with a particular apostle. So judged, they will be found, I venture to think, not wholly unworthy of the Supreme Teacher of mankind.


Notes

Note 1: See The Expository Times, 8 (1897) 544ff., 568.

Note 2: Later published as: POxy 654 in B.P. Grenfell and A.J. Hunt, The Oxyrhyncus Papyri, Part IV, London 1904

Note 3: Stychometry, p. 15ff.

Note 4: New Sayings of Jesus, etc. London: Froude. Price 1s.

Note 5: Journal of Theological Studies, p. 280ff.

Note 6: 1 A colleague reminds me that I have overlooked CIement of Rome's τὸν ὀϕειλόμενον τόπον τῆς δόξης.