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7868RE: [GTh] Two Thomases ?

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  • Judy Redman
    Jan 1, 2008
      Hi Maurice

      > So accordingly, Judy, do you see a possibility that the
      > so-called Gospel of Thomas, then, should perhaps more
      > correctly be called the Gospel of Judas . given that Tomas
      > and Didymos are simply words used by the manuscript's
      > scrivener to make the point for both Aramaic and Greek
      > audiences that Judas (the possible real name of the author)
      > was a twin (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot)? Hmmm !
      > This would at least explain why logion # 13 seems to be
      > written in the third person . that is, that Judas is not to
      > be confused with Thomas which is simply used here as an
      > adjective and is not the proper name of the author .

      Well, the Gospel of Thomas certainly starts by telling us that it contains
      the secret words that Judas the Twin the Twin wrote down, which would lead
      one to suspect that he was known both as Didymus and Thomas in different
      circles. According to Richard Bauckham's "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" Judas
      was the fourth most common name for male Palestinian Jews in the first
      century, so lots of men named Judas would likely have had nicknames to
      distinguish between them, especially if they happened to be Judas bar Judas
      (or bar Simeon or bar Joseph - the top two names). And if Thomas was
      actually Judas son of James, it would help with the confusion about the
      names of the Twelve in the various gospel accounts. Since most of the names
      of the early Christian texts were apparently added some time down the track,
      and the NH codex is dated around the mid-300s or so, I would suggest that
      the name was added by a community that was Aramaic/Syriac speaking and
      possibly at a point where its author had become known simply as The Twin
      because everyone knew *which* twin was being referred to (in much the same
      way that if you say The Duke most people understand that you mean John Wayne
      and The King is usually understood to be Elvis Presley). This name was then
      passed down in various copies of the manuscript because that was now its
      official name. But, yes, it probably should be known as the Gospel of Judas
      the Twin (as opposed to the other Gospel of Judas - Judas Iscariot) which is
      very different.

      > Of possible further relevance, and if I am not mistaken, the
      > names Judas and James are / were essentially synonymous at
      > the time of GoT's writing. If so, one should also note the
      > Eastern / Syrian tradition that Jesus had a "twin" brother
      > called . yes . "Judas" as you no doubt know. Indeed, then,
      > there may be a possibility that Jesus' twin brother, Judas
      > (designated as "Thomas" or "Dydimos"
      > meaning "the twin" in both Aramaic and in Greek) may have
      > somehow had a hand in the "sayings of Thomas", and led in
      > recent years to the popular suggestion that the "Gospel of
      > Thomas so-called" may be, or indeed "is", of Eastern or
      > Syrian provenance. Thus, it may indeed be entirely possible
      > as you suggest, that the inclusion of "Judas" in Thomas'
      > incipit may well have had a purpose far beyond introducing
      > the idea or concept of a "twin" (of Jesus) to the reader.
      > Even in Western tradition, James (aka Judas ?) is generally
      > referred to as "brother of the Lord" or "Adelphotheos" in
      > Greek as I understand.

      I personally don't find the notion that Jesus was a twin particularly
      convincing. If you look at it from the perspective of Christian myth, this
      would mean that said twin was also conceived by the Holy Spirit and there is
      certainly nothing around that claims this or tells Mary and Joseph which of
      the boys was to be called "Jesus." I also have difficulty with the notion
      that the birth narratives would not have mentioned a twin - surely this
      would have been something miraculous and worthy of mention? I have less
      problem with the idea that Jesus had a brother who was a twin - the twin of
      one of his other siblings. Of course, if you want to run with the perpetual
      virginity of Mary line, you have problems with Jesus having any brothers or
      sisters, but there are other things in the gospels that make the notion that
      Mary was a perpetual virgin difficult. I don't know about James being the
      same as Judas at the time. James is more usually synonymous with Jacob and
      that's how Bauckham lists the names (James is the 11th most popular). Note
      that the statistics are not Bauckham's research per se - he uses a couple of
      sources and I don't have time to read the text properly to sort out what
      exactly he says about them.

      Please note, however, that all this is pretty much "off the top of my head".
      My research is about the text of Gos Thom as we have it, so I am not
      particularly interested in who wrote it and thus haven't researched this at
      any depth.

      "Politics is the work we do to keep the world safe for our spirituality" -
      Judith Plaskow, Phoenix Rising, 2000

      Rev Judy Redman
      PhD candidate, Postgraduate member of Council & Uniting Church Chaplain
      University of New England Armidale 2351
      ph: +61 2 6773 3739
      fax: +61 2 6773 3749
      web: http://www-personal.une.edu.au/~jredman2 and
      email: jredman2@...
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