to Matthew, Mark & Luke

3. The Lamp
Mark 4:21-25 // Luke 8:16-18
Matt 5:15 // Luke 11:33
Matt 10:26-7 // Luke 12:2-3

  context     Greek synopsis     English synopsis     analysis     source hypotheses     variants 

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Other Versions

The fact that the Gospel of Thomas records the aphorisms of the lamp and the disclosed secrets in separate clusters unrelated to the contexts in which they were used in the synoptic Gospels proves that these sayings were recalled independently in early Christian circles. Unlike any synoptic author, Thomas presents the hidden/revealed paradox first, long before introducing the image of the location of the lamp. In fact he cites it twice in adjacent clusters (Thom 5.2 & 6.5), to support different non-canonical Jesus sayings, each of which concludes with the catchword “disclosed.”

Thomas 5 Thomas 6
1 Jesus said:  2 Jesus said:
      "Don't lie,
     3  and don't do what you hate
  "Know what is front of your face,    
  and what is hidden from you    
  will be disclosed to you 4 because all things are disclosed 
      before Heaven.
  For there is nothing hidden 5 For there is nothing hidden 
   that will not be revealed."   that will not be revealed; 
    6 and there is nothing covered
      that will remain undisclosed."

Moreover, while this Thomas doublet is worded exactly the same, it is not identical to any synoptic version. Though Thom 6:5-6 presents a balanced pair of synonyms similar to Matt 10:26 // Luke 12:2, the paired verbs are cited in an inverted order [“hidden/revealed // covered/disclosed” rather than “covered/uncovered // hidden/made known”]. Such variation indicates that the non-canonical author working from aural memory rather than from any synoptic gospel.

Thomas 33
1 Jesus said:
  "What you hear in your ear
  in your other ear*
  proclaim from your rooftops.
  2   For no one lights a lamp
  and puts it under a bushel
  nor does one put it in a cellar.
  Rather, one puts it on a stand
  so that all who enter and leave
  will see its light.

Thomas’ version of the aphorism of the lamp displays the same pattern of inverted wording vis-à-vis synoptic parallels. Thom 33:2 is closest to Luke 11:33 except its identification of inappropriate places to locate an oil lamp [“under a bushel” or “in a cellar”] is the reverse of Luke’s. Moreover, in Thomas this aphorism is appended to an injunction to disclose whispered secrets that is worded more like Matt 10:27 than Luke’s version.  This shows that the Gospel of Thomas is the product of a culture which collected oral sayings instead of transcribing texts.


Color Code
 Red  Five texts use same wording.
 Purple   Four texts use same wording.
 Blue  Three texts use same wording.
 Teal  Two texts use same wording.
 Black  Words unique to a particular gospel.
 <the>  RSV wording revised to reflect Greek.
 [it]  Word in RSV but not Greek text.
   No parallel passage in this gospel.


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last revised 28 February 2023

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