(32) Jesus said, “A city built on a high mountain and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden.” (Coptic version)
(32) Jesus said, “A city, having been built and established on the summit of a high mountain, can neither fall nor can it be hidden.” (Greek Oxyrhynchus version)
Two prominent features of this gospel are its use of hyperbole, the literary device of deliberate exaggeration, and whimsy, the use of fanciful images. In saying 107, a shepherd speaks to a sheep and tells him that he wants him more than he does the other ninety-nine sheep. In 4, an old man asks an infant about the place of life. Preposterous situations are presented as if they were completely normal. In the Greek version of this saying, a whole city is built on the summit of a high mountain—literally, “the high point of a high mountain.” This obviously is a fanciful and hyperbolic image. Yet, the Coptic version blunts this description somewhat, leading some commentators to compare the mountain to the mounds or tells on which many towns and cities in ancient Israel were built.
Of course, no city would be built on the summit of a high mountain, and that is the point. In the realm of the world, this would be impossible. However, in the realm of the Kingdom, the summit represents ultimate freedom and grandeur. Those who manage to escape the limits of the world and wake up to their true Selves live in this city. They share it with all of their brothers and sisters who have realized their oneness with each other and with God. To reach this height, they must, like mountain climbers, scale with great courage the sheer cliffs of doubt and fear. Yet, having reached the city, all seeking comes to an end. Fortified by their love for each other and for God, this city cannot “fall.” It is indeed the only secure place in existence. However, it is not a place in the usual sense. It is anywhere where ordinary people discover their true nature.
The point is made that the Kingdom is like a city built on the top of a mountain. But what is possible for the Kingdom is impossible for the world. There is no place in the world where safety is guaranteed. There are no soaring heights, no matter how well fortified, that will not in time fall into ruin. Only fools seek refuge in the world. Why would anyone seek shelter in a place of death and division?
And just as the Kingdom cannot fall, it cannot be “hidden.” Such splendor cannot be contained in a mind that is one with all other minds. Like a beacon in a vast space, it will call to every living soul to abandon its futile struggle to find freedom where there is no freedom, meaning where there is no meaning. As saying 60 affirms, “You too, look for a place for yourselves within rest, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.” That “place” is the summit of what man as spirit is capable of. It is his ultimate refuge and home.
Praise For The Hidden Gospel of Thomas
“As luck may have it, William Duffy has just published a marvelous work on Thomas. It is a perfect balance between commenting on each Thomas logion and explaining the non-duality angle.”
—Martijn Linssen, Gospel of Thomas scholar and translator
“This is a beautifully written, deeply researched and insightful study of the Gospel of Thomas. Mr. Duffy demonstrates a profound knowledge of non-dualism. A must read for religious students.”
“I first read this gospel sometime in the 1980’s but had not returned to it until I read Mr. Duffy’s book. I feel he has unlocked the mystery of these early teachings. I won’t be surprised if his book becomes widely regarded as the definitive word on the Thomas Gospels. For someone with a prior interest in these teachings, I found myself reading and responding with a great sigh of relief: oh … I see.”
About the Author
William G. Duffy, known to his family and friends as “George,” is a retired Mental Health Counselor living in upstate New York. He has studied and written on the Gospel of Thomas for over thirty-six years. His conviction that Thomas can be understood only in a non-dual context has been inspired and sustained by a variety of influences. These include a wide range of scholarly works on Biblical and non-canonical scripture, Christian mysticism, and the wealth of material, both ancient and modern, arising from eastern traditions. As a boy in Cortland, New York, he attended a Catholic elementary and secondary school under the tutelage of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany. He is a graduate of Syracuse University (BA) and the University of Toronto (BEd). He is a long-time, associate member of the Westar Institute. When he is not thinking, writing, or speaking about the Gospel of Thomas, he is enjoying the company of his extended and extensive family, playing golf, or quietly walking the hills and valleys near his home in New York.