The Gospel of Thomas



Maurice Nicoll, one of the great spiritual teachers of the West during our times, writes in his book 'The New Man' (1950) "All sacred writings contain an outer and an inner meaning. Behind the literal words lies another range of meaning, another form of knowledge. According to an old-age tradition, Man was once in touch with this inner knowledge and inner meaning" (page 1). . . . "A parable in the Gospels is cast in the form of an ancient language now forgotten. There was a time when the language of parables could be understood. . . . Since the object of the parable is to connect higher and lower meanings, it can be thought of as a bridge between two levels, a liaison between literal and psychological understanding. . . . Through this ancient language a connection was made between higher and lower meaning—or, which is the same—the higher and lower sides of man." (page 6).

On page 9 he continues "In the ancient language stone is used as an image for Truth. Stone represents the most external and literal form of esoteric Truth. The commandments were written on tables of stone. . . . Christ re-named Simon Peter, which in the Greek is stone. . . . In Genesis it is said that Jacob rolled away the stone from the well. Christ was called "the stone which the builders rejected".

Thus, summarizing this insight of Nicoll, stone means a reliance on the literal meaning of words that have a higher esoteric meaning.

In Thomas stone occurs in logion 19:
If you become my disciples and hear my logia even these stones will minister to you.

So we can now see that this phrase becomes:
If you follow me and listen to and hear inwardly my sayings, then their higher esoteric meanings will teach and serve to raise you to a richer life.

The word stone also comes in logion 77:
.6 Cleave the wood, I am there;
.7 lift up the stone,
.8 and you shall find me there.

This has never been satisfactory, for when one usually lifts up a stone all one finds are worms and slugs. The two Coptic words rendered 'lift up' are in Crum's Dictionary given as to bear up, to carry up, to take up, which Quispel's first English translation and other books render as to lift up. But it could equally well be translated as to raise up.

So that phrase #77.7 becomes
raise up the literal meaning of my words to their higher esoteric meaning.

Following this line of thought, we can go further. In #77.6 the word cleave is used by Quispel and the Metanoia books. Here is an example of the exact use of words that is such a characteristic of Thomas. That phrase is not cut, saw, chop, hack, crack, splinter, whittle the wood. The distinctive quality in the word cleave is to split wood along the grain. So we are being urged to open the meanings of Jesus' sayings in the way they are intended, most easily, to go.

When we slice lengthways a piece of wood of a tree, what do we find? We go past the bark, we go past the sapwood, we get to the heartwood.

Logion 77 is one of the most powerful in Thomas:
I am the Light that is above them all.
I am the All.
The All comes forth from me,
and the All reaches towards me.
Cleave the wood, I am there;
lift up the stone,
and you shall find me there.

Soputting these two insights derived from Nicoll together in the whole logion, an identity is asserted between Jesus, the Light and Ultimate Reality, and then we get :
by finding the heart of what we are given we will find Him there,
by rising above the literal meanings of his words
we shall find Him in and as the Light.

Thus substantial and uplifting meanings have been given to several phrases that have previously been found inadequate or baffling. This discovery of these hidden meanings was made in October 2002 by the combined insights of the members of the Thomas Circle in England. It raises logion 77 to its full stature.