if you want to experience what he meant
saying-15; not your father.
When you see one who was not born of woman,
prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him.
That one is your father.
This saying may perhaps have been an answer to the question:
“but what about God, our Father? Shouldn’t we worship Him?”
The saying might have acted as a cynical answer to ordinary thinking about “Ultimate Reality”,
as if God was a kind of person, like us, humans, "born of woman".
This is not an unrealistic assumption given the fact that in Jewish thinking
the image of God was somehow thought to be reflected in the appearance of the
human body (van den Broek en Quispel, 2003). Furthermore, in the OT we find God to have
all kinds of anthropomorphic characteristics; both mental and physical ones (Ariel, 1988).
Meyer also considers "one not born of woman" to indicate "not of human birth" (Meyer,1992).
"Born of woman" was used to express the ephemerality of life (Plisch, 2008) -
"not born of woman" may, therefore, hint at something beyond birth and death.
Your father, just as the kingdom were terms Jesus might just have used to try and create
the most suitable mindset in his hearers to come as close as he could get to illustrate what
he was really talking about. Vermes (2012) states that calling God "Father" was traditional,
and consequently not a personal invention of Jesus.
In saying-11 Jesus had told his hearers to leave their fixed ideas about heaven, which likely
included the One living there, for what they were: just ideas in their heads.
The 7th century Maximus the Confessor said of Jesus' use of the word 'Father':
"Father refers to the transcendent state of mind and will which is free of material
considerations, wherein the Word of God comes to us to give end to the battling
against passion and devils" (Berthold, 1985).
The Heavenly Father really is not anything like an earthly father (born of woman) at all. Any
comparison ultimately fails, and all we can say what He is not, as "the use of negation
may help us to grasp what we know we cannot describe" (Scharfstein, 1993). So-called reductive
explanations will convince no-one of Ultimate Reality, and neither will reductive comparisons,
as language falls short to describe it. Scharfstein says: "the nonreductive make it their object
to take into account the higher, more complex, more individual characteristics of whatever is to be explained. One usual precaution is to refuse to interpret anything on a higher cultural level by
means of a discipline dealing with a cultural lower one". I guess the same may be said of
"religious" matters, and that is what Jesus did; he refused to reduce! A drawback of such stance is
that it goes at the reduction of intellectual lucidity, and therefore, incomprehension. I think that was
exactly what happened: Jesus complains time and again that his hearers do not understand him.
Explaining "higher things" only goes by explaining them away. Scharfstein (1993) stated
that so many who have experienced the ineffable use so many words trying to explain that they
cannot put it into words. Thomas' Jesus seems not to have fallen victim to this.
Instead he uses poetics, paradox, and metaphor which must have come as rather strange in a culture where everyone's mind was saturated with discursive Torah teachings. Because of his peculiar
preaching methods Jesus teachings have often been considered "secret", or "esoteric",
or "only for the elect", only to indicate that those who say so do not understand.
In fact, the term 'father' serves as a metaphor for something that can
not be conceptualized or thought of in the first place;
we should leave behind all anthropomorphic images of the Sacred.
According to Vermes (2012) the name 'Father' figures ten times in the early,
pre-Christian Jesuist writing the Didache where, however, God is never designated
specifically the Father of Jesus.
Scott (1981) states that by using the word Abba = "daddy" in English, Jesus was likely just
poking fun at formalism, which held an anthropomorphic view of the Divine.