Gospel of Thomas Commentary

174,747 words

This compilation explores modern interpretations of the Gospel according to Thomas, an ancient text preserved in a Coptic translation at Nag Hammadi and Greek fragments at Oxyrhynchus. With no particular slant, this commentary gathers together quotations from various scholars in order to elucidate the meaning of the sayings, many of which are right...

Saying 93 - Do Not Give The Holy To Dogs

Nag Hammadi Coptic Text


(93) <Jesus said:> Do not give what is holy to the dogs, lest they cast it on the dung-heap. Do not cast the pearls to the swine, lest they make it [ . . . ].


(93) <JESUS said>, 'Do not give holy things to dogs, lest they throw them upon the dunghill. Do not throw pearls to swine lest they [. . .]."


97 [93]. "Give not that which is holy to dogs, in case they throw it onto the dunghill; and cast not pearls to swine, for fear that they should make it [. . .]


Funk's Parallels

Matt 7:6
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Did 9:5
And let none eat or drink of your Eucharist but such as have been baptized into the name of the Lord, for of a truth the Lord hath said concerning this, Give not that which is holy unto dogs.


Scholarly Quotes

Marvin Meyer writes:

"Several possible restorations of this passage have been suggested, but none has proven to be convincing. Bentley Layton, Nag Hammadi Codex II, 2-7, 1.86-87, notes the following suggestions: 'or they might make [mud] of it'; 'or they might bring it [to naught'; 'or they might grind it [to bits].'"

(The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 103)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write:

"The disciples are to seek and to find; but they are not to make public what they have found. The holy is not to be given to dogs; pearls are not to be cast to swine (outsiders are dogs and swine, as the Basilidians taught: Epiphanius, Pan., 24, 5, 2). Gnostics and Christians alike were fond of this mysterious saying (Matthew 7:6). Both Gnostics (Basilidians; Elchasaites in Hippolytus, Ref., 9, 17, 1) and Christians (Clement of Alexandria, Strom., 1, 55, 3; 2, 7, 4; Origen, Homily on Joshua, 21, 2; Tertullian, De praescriptione, 26 and 41) applied it to secret doctrines, while in the second-century Didache (9, 5) it is referred to the Eucharist, in Tertullian (De baptismo, 18, 1) to baptism. The Naassenes took it to refer to sexual intercourse (Hippolytus, Ref., 5, 8, 33), but Thomas probably does not have this interpretation in mind, at least not here."

(The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 186)

R. McL. Wilson writes:

"As Grant and Freedman note, Gnostics and Christians alike were fond of this saying, and it was applied to secret doctrines, to Baptism, and to the Eucharist. For present purposes, however, Bartsch's comment is perhaps more to the point, that the interpretation of the saying is no longer determined by the lesson it was meant to convey. It has become a proverb, and the explanator additions are suggested by the saying itself, whereas in the Synoptic parables it is the lesson that is dominant, even to the point of producing such 'impossible' illustrations as those of the beam in the eye or the camel passing through the eye of a needle."

(Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, p. 67)

Funk and Hoover write:

"The version recorded in Thomas differs both in substance and in form from the Matthean version. First, the lines are not arranged chiastically. Second, the dogs 'throw them on the manure pile,' which appears to fit better with what pigs were said to do; the saying may have become garbled in transmission. Unfortunately, the fourth line in Thomas is defective, so we can't reconstruct what pigs do."

(The Five Gospels, p. 522)


Visitor Comments

Make sure that your gift of importance is given to those that will understand, appreciate and hold holy. Someone who is not ready and not in an understanding to receive this gift will treat it as garbage and cast it away.
- Luci

I don't think Jesus is putting anyone down calling them dogs. I think he is saying stop proselytizing, stop giving away the warmth of the love of Jesus. If you are really full of love give them what they want. Give them a bottle of scotch, if that is their pleasure. You may prize diamonds but if you love your dog don't give her a bracelet give her a piece of bologna.
- taoito

It is also said do not let a dog piss in a bath of rosewater for it will scarcely be improved thereby !
- Thief37

I wonder if it doesn't also warn against teaching to people who will twist the holy teachings for their own agenda.
- belle

Look at this in reverse: 93 (also) makes demands on the would-be "teacher;" the True teacher illuminates the student. This demands senstivity to the student as they are in the Now, not to where one would have them. This, of course, is a masterful way of forcing the 'Teacher' to be the student anew.
- E. Grove

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