Notes on the Secret Sayings of Ye Su

The book, Secret Sayings of Ye Su, is supposedly a translation from a Greek manuscript about the teachings of Yesu (Jesus) by Jay G. Williams. Williams claims that a “Mr. Wang and Mr. Chang” presented him with photographs of a scroll which they somehow obtained, written in Greek.

I can not attest that the document is true, that is, if it is a translation of a real manuscript or scroll that “Mr. Wang and Mr. Chang” presented to Williams. I have read Williams’ introduction and the 72 verses of the so called translation. I can confirm that most of the concepts within this book are in line with the Religion of Light, and especially within the framework of the Taoist-Christian (Jingjiao), Monijiao and Word from Heaven sect (school/community).

I have no doubt that, if there really is/was a Greek manuscript, the writer or compiler was very familiar with the Gospel of Thomas. Even if the backstory is not true, the teachings in the 72 verses are true as far as I can attest.

As I read through the verses, I jotted down some notes for whatever its worth. Throughout my notes I have used the name “Yesu” instead of “Ye Su.”

My Comments

Verse 17 uses the term “addicts”, which seems strange to me until I read it in light of verse 19. Verse 52 also uses the term “addicts,” perhaps in the sense of “egotistical leaders.”

Verse 21, “Everything I say is of the kingdom, not of the Law” might leave some Torah observant ones scratching their heads in confusion, but with a proper understanding, all truth and righteousness emanates or originates from the Kingdom of Light. The Law also originates from the Kingdom of Light, not the other way around.

The latter part of verse 23 seems odd to me: “The kingdom is like the leading lady of the drama who waits in the wings for her cue.” I understand what is being said, but the phrase appears awkward and possibly out of place with other texts related to the Jingjiao Documents.

The latter part of verse 26 is very much in line with Taoist thinking and those promulgated by the early Taoist-Christian congregations, that we are not to look for the faults of others, or judge others. There are standards that must be met, but there are certain areas in humans’ lives that we have no business in meddling.

The term “naked” in verse 29 might be referring to those who are without shame, that is, the blameless or the upright.

Verses 31 will remind anyone familiar with the Gospel of Thomas where Yesu said, “when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].” (From the translation of Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer; see http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas.html and http://gnosis.org/naghamm/gosthom.html)

In verse 34, Yesu is quoted as saying, “Love the poor, but do not pity them.” This might easily lead some to an erroneous thought that we are not to have compassion for the poor. Such a thought is not in line with the teachings from the original Aramaic texts of the Scriptures, including the Epistle of James where he said, “visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction” (1:27) Reading verse 34 of the “Secret Sayings of Yesu”, in contrast with Matthew 5:3, we can see the real intent of this verse. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In the same verse from the “Secret Sayings,” we read “But feed the hungry and care for the suffering as you would care for your own mother or father or wife or friend.”

Another phrase in verse 34, “Child of Adam,” might cause misunderstanding among some readers. This is better read in the Semitic understanding of “son of man” — in other words, a human being, or in Yesu’s case, a divine being in a human body. Compare Luke 9:58 where Yesu said, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Verse 35 uses the familiar verse about a “camel” passing through the eye of a needle, whereas the original Aramaic Peshitta uses the term “rope.” This is probably because the document was supposedly translated from a Greek manuscript as alleged by the translator in his introduction.

Verse 39 is very much in line with Jingjiao and Monijiao thought. The verse reads, “From the Source flows the One and the One contains the Two. The Two give birth to the Third, the Child of Adam, and from the Three flow forth all things.” In Taoist-Jingjiao thought, there is a Primordial Source that is then represented in human thought as “the One” (the Father) and then there is the “Other” or “Cool Wind” (Holy Spirit/Mother). In my opinion, instead of saying “the One contains the Two,” it would have been easier to say, “The One and the Spirit are together, and give birth to all other things.”

Verse 40 will be familiar to Oahspeans concerning inspiration. “All flows creatively from the Source. When you create, the power of the Source is yours. Music, Poetry, Art are gifts of the Source.”

Verse 41 says, “The Spirit is the kingdom made manifest. When the trees move their branches you know that the Spirit is there. The Spirit is your life. When you breathe, it is the Spirit that moves within you. When your breath flows perfectly with the Spirit, you are in the kingdom. Watch your breath.” In the Sutra Concerning the Nature of the One Spirit (from the Lost Sutras of Jesus), we read: “We see the One Spirit dwelling in heaven and earth without teacher or maker. We see this force as One who invisibly sustains heaven and earth and nourishes all living things.” In the Sutra on the Creation, we read: “That which can be seen is made by the power of God and consists of the four elements – earth, water, fire and air… Permanent, inexhaustible, impermanent. The One Spirit resides within all the myriad things.” (translation by Riegert-Moore) We can also compare Ecclesiastes 11:5, which reads: “Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.” (New Revised Standard Version)

In verse 47, the term “agape” is used twice. Within the cultural setting, even though the document purports to have been translated from Greek, this could have been rendered as “loving kindness.” The same term “agape” is seen in verses 49, 50, 60 and 71.

Verse 49 is completely foreign to the original Aramaic text (the Peshitta). When Yesu was referring to the fact that we are not to call others “father” or “great”, and so on, he was referring to false leaders – those who would claim to be masters over others, when they themselves were spiritually blind and more concerned with massaging their own egos rather than providing spiritual food or guidance to the sheep. The translator’s own opinions are obviously overshadowing Yesu’s original intent.

It is clear that verse 51 agrees wholeheartedly with Religion of Light principles. We share the good news about Yesu and the Kingdom with others, but we are not fanatical about making disciples. We are to allow the Spirit to speak to those who would become disciples. Yesu said, as recorded in Matthew 28:19, “Go and make disciples.” When we share the good news with others, and teach, the Spirit guides certain ones to become disciples. It is not by our power through “preaching,” but by the power of God.

For Oahspeans, verse 53 should sound familiar. This verse refers to “a great beast rising out of the earth”. In the same verse we read that the “name of the beast was the Holy Church.” The Oahspe says that the beast is a conglomeration of various religious groups, all claiming to be true. This beast is again referred to in verse 72.

The term “soberness” does not seem to be an appropriate term. The text would make it seem that there is no seriousness in the Kingdom. We know this is not true. Having our minds always on the Kingdom and things of the Lord of Heaven, we must remain sober (serious). Thus, the term “chains” or “fetters” (in the sense of earthly burdens) would have been a better choice if the Greek text would allow for such a translation.

Verse 56 reads, “Those who turn from the light and seek the darkness condemn themselves and enter the darkness. Those who seek the light are of the light. Trust in the light and the healing is yours.” Within the various sacred texts of the Religion of Light and its different spiritual communities, we see this thought communicated multiple times.

We can compare verse 62, where it says, “I am the True Light, glowing from the Eternal Source. Cleave the wood, I am there; lift the stone, I am there”, with the Gospel of Thomas which says, “It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.” (verse 77, Thomas-Lambdin translation)

Verse 64 is a quote from the Tao Teh Ching, attributed to Lao Tzu.

We read about a “Circle Dance of Joy” in verse 65. I’m not sure if this is referring to m’kholot – a circle dance often enjoyed by Jews on the holy day of Yom Kippur. See the following link for more information. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/rabbis-without-borders/yom-kippurs-circle-dance/

Verses 66 and 67 are quite sober and moving.

Blessings,

Abba Charles

March 14, 2019

References

  • The Secret Sayings of Ye Su, copyright © 2004 by Jay G. Williams, iUniverse, Inc.; ISBN: 0-595-33684-1
  • Lost Sutras of Jesus – Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of the Xian Monks, copyright © 2003 Thomas Moore and Ulysses Press; ISBN: 1569753601
  • New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
  • You can read the Tao Teh Ching online at http://www.sacred-texts.com/tao/taote.htm
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