The Parable of the Empty Jar, also known as the Parable of the Woman With a Jar is a parable attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas.[1]

Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking on the road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and the meal emptied out behind her on the road. She did not realize it; she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house, she set the jar down and found it empty."


The scholars of the Jesus Seminar gave the Parable of the Empty Jar a "pink" rating, indicating that it is in their opinion probably an authentic saying of Jesus.[2] The scholars of the Seminar noted parallels with the parable of the leaven, which immediately precedes the parable of the empty jar in the Gospel of Thomas and the parable of the mustard seed: in all three the kingdom starts with something "unnoticed or unexpected or modest".


This parable has been given a wide variety of interpretations. It may be a warning against letting the "Kingdom", which according to Thomas 3 is "inside of you and outside of you"[3] slip away like the lost flour [4]: it may also be a simple warning against self-confidence. [5] The emptiness of the jar may represent an empty life: "people who live their lives in the world [...] carry jars they think are full, but discover, even after much activity, that they are empty". [6] Another interpretation is that the parable refers to "the imperceptible coming of the Kingdom". [7] One commentator recasts the emptiness of the jar in a positive light by highlighting the contrast of the image of the empty jar with the expected ending of the woman finding a full jar: such a "happy ending" would be "fairy tale religiosity" whereas "emptiness in the world is what is critical to eventual spiritual fullness". [8]


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Parable of the empty jar. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. G. Thomas 97
  2. Funk, Robert Walter (1997). The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? the Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus (first HarperCollins paperback ed.). HarperCollins. pp. 552. ISBN 006063040X.,M1. 
  3. Gospel of Thomas (Lambdin Translation) - The Nag Hammadi Library
  4. Hultgren, Arland J. (2002). The Parables of Jesus: a commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 443. ISBN 080286077X.,M1. 
  5. Bromiley, Geoffrey W, ed. (1994), "Apocryphal gospels", International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 186, ISBN 0802837816,,M1 .
  6. Valantasis, Richard (1997). The Gospel of Thomas. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 178. ISBN 0415116228.,M1. 
  7. Jones, Peter Rhea (1997). Studying the Parables of Jesus. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc.. pp. 34. ISBN 1573121673.,M1. 
  8. Amundsen, Christian (1999). Insights/Secret Teachings of Jesus: The Gospel of Thomas. Sunstar Publishing Ltd.. pp. 230. ISBN 1887472576.,M1. 

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