023 All Sins Forgiven
(1) GThom. 44
(2) 2Q: Luke 12:10 = Matt 12:32
(3) Mark 3: 28-30 = Matt 12:31,32b
(4) Did. 11:7
Stratum: I (30-60 CE)
Common Sayings Tradition: Yes
(1) Thomas 44
Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, 2 and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, 3 but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will not be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven." [Complete Gospels]
No copies of this portion of Thomas survive in Greek. For the Coptic version see [Early Christian Writings]
(2) 2Q: Luke 12:10
And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Καὶ πᾶς ὃς ἐρεῖ λόγον εἰς τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ· τῷ δὲ εἰς τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα βλασφημήσαντι οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται. (Luke 12:10 GNT-T)
= Matt 12:32
Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
καὶ ὃς ἐὰν εἴπῃ λόγον κατὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν εἴπῃ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου, οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι. (Matthew 12:32 GNT-T)
(3) Mark 3:28-30
"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-- 30 for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πάντα ἀφεθήσεται τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὰ ἁμαρτήματα καὶ αἱ βλασφημίαι ὅσα ἐὰν βλασφημήσωσιν· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος. ὅτι ἔλεγον· πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον ἔχει. (Mark 3:28–30 GNT-T)
= Matt 12:31,32b
Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, πᾶσα ἁμαρτία καὶ βλασφημία ἀφεθήσεται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, ἡ δὲ τοῦ πνεύματος βλασφημία οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται. καὶ ὃς ἐὰν εἴπῃ λόγον κατὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν εἴπῃ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου, οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι. (Matthew 12:31–32 GNT-T)
(4) Didache 11:3(7)
Do not test any prophet who speaks in the Spirit, and do not judge him, for all sins will be forgiven, but this sin will not be forgiven. [Hermeneia]
καὶ πάντα προφήτην λαλοῦντα ἐν πνεύματι οὐ πειράσετε οὐδὲ διακρινεῖτε· πᾶσα γὰρ ἁμαρτία ἀφεθήσεται, αὕτη δὲ ἡ ἁμαρτία οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται (Didache 11:7–8 AF-T)
John Dominic Crossan
Crossan considers this cluster as part of his discussion of the Son of Man tradition developing from a generic sense to use as the title for an eschatological figure [Historical Jesus, 255-59]. He suggests that this cluster represents clearly the development process, with the texts arranged in the order:
- Mark 3:28-29
- Didache 11:7
- Luke 12:10=Matt 12:32 [2Q]
- Matt 12:31-32 as conflation of Q & Mk
- Thom 44
Crossan assumes a saying from Jesus similar to the form in Mark 3:28 assuring all "the sons of men" (tois hyois ton anthropon; i.e., all humanity) of forgiveness. Very early in its tradition history, this was adapted to exclude from the divine forgiveness anyone refusing to accept the credentials of those acting in the name of God: cf. Mark 3:29-30 and Did 11:7c. However, in the Q tradition, the generic phrase was understood as a title (Luke 12:10) with Matthew combining the two streams: correctly representing Mark's generic use with "men/people" (tois anthropois) in 12:31 but retaining the titular use from Q in 12:32 (tou hyiou tou anthropou). In Thom "compounded and consummated the entire muddle by enlarging it into a Trinitarian formula" where sins against Father and Son can be forgiven, but not sins against the Spirit.
Rather than focus on the positive affirmation that all sins will be forgiven, the Seminar read these texts as variants of a warning against an unforgivable sin, namely "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" [Five Gospels, 52]. After noting that the extant versions rebuke those who deny the active presence of God's Spirit in Jesus and in his followers, Funk & Hoover conclude that they look back on Jesus from the perspective of the later community struggling "to set limits on ecstatic leaders without inhibiting intrusions of the spirit."
Luedemann [Jesus], (23-25) characterizes Mark 3:28f as "a word of law or a community rule" that derives from the community, rather than from Jesus. He notes the two-stage structure, with every kind of sin and blasphemy being capable of forgiveness in v. 28, and the exception that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven, but does not consider the possibility that the more universal affirmation may derive from an older source (Jesus?).