if you want to experience what he meant
saying- 40; the grapevine destroyed.
A grapevine has been planted outside of the father,
but being unsound,
it will be pulled up by its roots and destroyed.
If the previous saying and this one really have a close textual connection, this saying could
be taken as a clarification of saying-39, and, as in Matthew, the teachings of Pharisees and
scribes may be referred to. In that case, his hearers might have heard Jesus actually say
that the Mosaic Law, although not being negatively labeled as a grapevine, would have had its
days. Imaging the public dismay provoked by such words! It would illustrate Jesus' aversion
to rules and ritual, as these serve no purpose to find the kingdom.
The saying may also refer to Jesus' own teaching: as his message was certainly not confined to
the boundaries of the Hebrew religion, he is sarcastically lamenting that his message will
therefore not be accepted, but finally even rooted out.
Furthermore, there is no reason to adhere a kind of apocalyptic significance to these words;
at least, not from the Thomas' texts.
Mack BL (1993) states that the concept of God as a father was widespread at the time,
so the Jesus people were not laying claim to any particular tradition of religious thinking or
inventing a new theology. I think that this precisely the reason why Thomas’ Jesus so often
complained that only very few really understood what he meant, because he did teach
something new, something of an extraordinary nature. His use of 'usual' expressions were
only meant to lead their thinking into the right direction of his teaching's meaning, not to
define its final goal.
In the absence of a clear definition of the kingdom of the father they filled in for
themselves what it signified, ending up by what they had thought all the time.
If Jesus' hearers had understand him correctly,
they would not have formed groups in his name to honor the Hebrew God.
From various sayings it is obvious that Jesus' hearers indeed completely
misunderstood what he meant by the kingdom.
On second thoughts:
additionally to saying-15, this saying may also be taken as a cynical lamentation
that no spiritual understanding will abide in the mind of those who cling so vehemently to
their familiar ideas, and are completely reluctant to open their minds to the new teaching.
It is hard indeed to pour new wine into old wineskins.
Originally the teachings struck like a thunderbolt, but ultimately its resonance remained
limited to the person of Jesus himself, whereas his teachings were already in phase again
with familiar thought by the time his past appearance had transformed into a social
phenomenon. We have to be careful, therefore, not to interpret all sayings from a social
perspective, but we should have the courage to imaging their meaning as coming from
the mouth of a charismatic master, who in a spiritual sense, was a revolutionary, but
only as to the content of his teaching.