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Let the dead bury the dead

A Gnostic Interpretation


Jesus said, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead." Matthew 8:22
  • Those physically dead cannot perform the act of burial.
  • Who then is 'dead' but still capable of performing the act of burial?
  • Who is alive?

A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead. * * * In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death. Proverbs 12:16,28.

Jesus said, " * * * And the dead are not alive, and the living will not die." Gospel of Thomas, Saying 11.

Those who are heirs to the dead are themselves dead, and they inherit the dead. Those who are heirs to what is living are alive, and they are heirs to both what is living and the dead. The dead are heirs to nothing. For how can he who is dead inherit? If he who is dead inherits what is living he will not die, but he who is dead will live even more. Gospel of Philip v.2, emphasis added.

"Therefore, become seekers for death, like the dead who seek for life; for that which they seek is revealed to them. * * * Verily, I say unto you, none of those who fear death will be saved; for the kingdom belongs to those who put themselves to death." Apocryphon of James, v.8, emphasis added.

Then [Jesus] said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." Luke 9:23-24, emphasis added.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John 5:24, emphasis added.

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 1 John 3:14, emphasis added.

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6, emphasis added.

"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24.

Compare "And the [messiah] will perform marvelous acts such as have not existed, just as he sa[id, for] he will heal the badly wounded and will make the dead live; he will proclaim good news to the poor ... ." 4Q521 Messianic Apocalypse.

Proposed Interpretation
Who is dead? The dead are those who fail to enter through the narrow gate and walk the path (meaning, everyone who has not joined the community of the poor ones). Let the dead who love the world bury their own dead (meaning, let the spiritually dead bury those who were also spiritually dead in this world). Those who wish eternal life (and escape from the circle of life and death on this earth) must pass from death to life by spiritually dying to self (i.e., kill your physical wants, needs, and desires of this world) and follow the path walked by the master. Take up your cross (renunciation of the material world) and follow him.

Related article: The Gospel of Thomas, a Gnostic interpretation.

JJR
6-20-2012

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