The Kingdom in GThom 113
- Recent discussions of "the kingdom" have brought to mind a small but
important difference between my interlinear translation of GThom #113 and
and those of my betters. Tom Lambdin, for example, has it (divisions mine):
>a His disciples said to him, �When will the kingdom come?�In my translation, 113d is rendered, "...the kingdom ... is SPREADING out
>b �It will not come by waiting for it.
>c It will not be a matter of saying �Here it is� or �There it is.�
>d Rather, the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth,
> and men do not see it.�
upon the earth". This is literally correct, since the verb 'spread' is
preceded by the Coptic prefix 'ES', which suggests current, on-going
action, rather than 'ET', which suggests completed action. (BTW, the word
'kingdom' is feminine in Coptic.)
A quick survey of other translations indicates that others than Lambdin
have also perhaps been misled by what they subconsciously think 113d is
saying (or want it to say), rather than what it actually says. One of the
important effects of reading 113d as 'spreading', instead of 'spread', is
that the former may be seen to suggest an earlier time of utterance than
But I also wish to draw attention to the part about "men do not see it".
"How can they fail to see it?" someone as simple-minded as me might ask.
Obviously, men can see buildings and lands, so the kingdom must not consist
of those. Of what, then, does it consist? I think we can get a a pretty
exact answer to this question, in GThom and elsewhere.
In GThom #3, we have the well-known passage, "The kingdom is inside you,
and it's outside you." But assuming that the kingdom doesn't consist of
_everything_ outside of you, what part of the "outside" are we talking
about? I would suggest that the part of the kingdom which is said to be
"outside you" is that which is _inside others_. In a word, GThom's view of
the kingdom is that it's comprised of the "hearts and minds" of (some)
people. Those people who have the kingdom inside them thus constitute the
"subjects" who belong to the kingdom. And that's why "men can't see it".
Assuming this analysis to be roughly correct, is this view of the kingdom
unique to GThom? I think not. What sense can we make, for example, of
canonical passages wherein the kingdom is said to have "come near" to
someone who welcomes Jesu (or a disciple)? In what sense has the kingdom
"come near" person A, when the only thing actually coming near person A is
person B? The kingdom (or at least part of it) must be within person B.
So the kingdom spreads not by building churches or buying lands, but by
increasing the numbers and dispersion of people who are the kingdom's
subjects. Or so ISTM was the thinking behind at least some "kingdom"
passages in GThom & elsewhere. If this analysis is correct, then it's not
strictly correct to say that the kingdom "is not of this world". Although
it is spiritual (as opposed to material), it is nevertheless manifest in
Kind regards to all
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