Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [John_Lit] Why did Gospel of John call the Apostle Thomas "Didymos"

Expand Messages
  • David Cavanagh
    ... Do the Synoptics actually mention Thomas? My impression was that he appears only in the fourth gospel.... ... Surely Thomas would have been much earlier
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 23, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      Roger Mott wrote:
      >
      > Hi everyone,
      >
      > I have been pondering why the author of Gospel of John designated the
      > Apostle Thomas as one who was called Didymos.
      >
      > I feel very confident that the synoptics do not even remotely suggest
      > that Thomas had a brother....
      >








      Do the Synoptics actually mention Thomas? My impression was that he
      appears only in the fourth gospel....
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > If the above is the ancient scholar that perhaps Thomas was known to
      > quote in "Apostle circles"; then he could have been nick
      > named "Didymos".
      >








      Surely Thomas would have been much earlier than this figure?
      >
      >
      >
      > Another line of thought is that the author of John used "Didymos" for
      > the Apostle because Thomas had "didymos" personalities. At first, he
      > was a "doubter" then he became a "testifier" as he stated to the
      > risen Jesus, "My Lord and my God". Perhaps Jesus was playing on the
      > fact he, Jesus, did not have "bronze guts" as Thomas could insert his
      > hand into his side.
      >









      This is an interesting suggestion, and it's worth playing around with.
      On the other hand, I thought the common understanding was that Thomas is
      "Didymos" because he is our twin -he is an example of faith in his great
      confession, although he is also distinguished from us because he insists
      on seeing before he will believe, while we must beleive on the basis of
      the apostolic testimony.

      David Cavanagh
      Major (The Salvation Army)
      Naples (Italy)
      >
      >



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jack Kilmon
      ... From: David Cavanagh To: Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 1:55 AM Subject: Re: [John_Lit]
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "David Cavanagh" <davidcavanagh@...>
        To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 1:55 AM
        Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Why did Gospel of John call the Apostle Thomas
        "Didymos"


        > Roger Mott wrote:
        >>
        >> Hi everyone,
        >>
        >> I have been pondering why the author of Gospel of John designated the
        >> Apostle Thomas as one who was called Didymos.
        >>
        >> I feel very confident that the synoptics do not even remotely suggest
        >> that Thomas had a brother....
        >>
        >> Another line of thought is that the author of John used "Didymos" for
        >> the Apostle because Thomas had "didymos" personalities. At first, he
        >> was a "doubter" then he became a "testifier" as he stated to the
        >> risen Jesus, "My Lord and my God". Perhaps Jesus was playing on the
        >> fact he, Jesus, did not have "bronze guts" as Thomas could insert his
        >> hand into his side.
        >>
        >
        > This is an interesting suggestion, and it's worth playing around with.
        > On the other hand, I thought the common understanding was that Thomas is
        > "Didymos" because he is our twin -he is an example of faith in his great
        > confession, although he is also distinguished from us because he insists
        > on seeing before he will believe, while we must beleive on the basis of
        > the apostolic testimony.


        This disciple's name was Yehudah. It is very possible that Jesus' penchant
        for assigning second names to his disciples was based on his d'wale lekon
        l'mithiladu min d'resh..."you must be born again" prerequisite for entrance
        into the malkutheh d'alaha.

        The Jewish concept was that until a father held a newborn up and spoke the
        name loudly, the newborn was not yet "born." We know of a few of these
        "second birth names" in Kefa for Shymeon bar Yonah and Levi for Mattaya bar
        Halfai and apparently "Toma" for Yehudah. Whether or not the disciple
        Yehudah was Jesus' brother Yehudah is not known but Toma is Aramaic for
        "double" or "twin" and Didymos is simply the redundant Greek translation
        while QWMAS is the Greek transliteration. It is certainly possible that two
        of the bar yahosef boys were twins. It could explain Mary's sizeable brood
        of sons (5) in addition to at least two girls in a society where infant
        mortality was high for the lesser economic class...although I do not believe
        the Yahosef family was dirt-poor and poverty stricken. There are too many
        indicators otherwise.

        Sticking strictly to the historical kernels, wherever they may lie, I am
        inclined more to the practicality side of this naming practice than with
        retrojected Gnostic hoodoo.

        Regards,

        Jack

        Jack Kilmon
        San Antonio, TX
      • David Cavanagh
        ... Jack, what basis is there for this assertion? I m not aware of any text in the gospels renaming Yehudah..... David Cavanagh Major (The Salvation Army)
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
        • 0 Attachment
          Jack Kilmon wrote:
          >
          >
          >
          > This disciple's name was Yehudah. ....
          >




          Jack, what basis is there for this assertion? I'm not aware of any text
          in the gospels renaming Yehudah.....


          David Cavanagh
          Major (The Salvation Army)
          Naples (Italy)


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jack Kilmon
          ... From: David Cavanagh To: Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 9:54 AM Subject: Re: [John_Lit]
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
          • 0 Attachment
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "David Cavanagh" <davidcavanagh@...>
            To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 9:54 AM
            Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Why did Gospel of John call the Apostle Thomas
            "Didymos"


            > Jack Kilmon wrote:
            >>
            >>
            >>
            >> This disciple's name was Yehudah. ....
            >>
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Jack, what basis is there for this assertion? I'm not aware of any text
            > in the gospels renaming Yehudah.....

            "Didymus Thomas," as you know, is a tautology and the name...or
            designation...is a hapax as far as names go and as I posted, I believe a
            "rebirth name" from Jesus. He would have had a first name..what was it?
            What we notice is a reluctance to use his first name hence the tautology at
            John 20:24 and 21:2 as well as the care.taken to identify THAT Judas or to
            separate him at John 14:22, Luke 6:6, John 13:26, John 14:22. It appears
            that Thomas was unfortunate enough to have the same first name as Judas
            Iscariot...as did Jesus' brother...but the name is preserved in the Gospel
            of Thomas and the Acts of Thomas which are apocryphal works that find
            support for the name Yehudah/Jude/Judas from the Curetonian Old Syriac John
            14:22 with "Amar leh yehudah toma, maran....."

            Yehudah was the third most common name at the time of Jesus. So the gospel
            text as preserved in the 5th century Old Syriac and copied/translated from
            an older text.

            I also do not believe the name of Judas/Yehudah would have beeb associated
            with the disciple Thomas by the early Thomas Christians had it not been his
            name.

            My basis, Dave, is the weight of the evidence.

            Jack
          • Arlene Sheldon
            Roger,   This is maybe not the kind of answer that you are expecting, but it is about all I know on the subject:   The author of the Gospel of John referring
            Message 5 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
            • 0 Attachment
              Roger,
               
              This is maybe not the kind of answer that you are expecting, but it is about all I know on the subject:
               
              The author of the Gospel of John referring to Thomas as a "twin" in John 20 serves an important symbolic purpose, which is to draw attention to the twins, Jacob and Esau, and Jacob's twin grandsons, Zerah and Perez. This is relevant to the account of Jesus entering the room when the door was locked, because both sets of twins switched roles with each other, and switching roles is what the account of Jesus entering the room when the door was locked is all about. Within Jacob's family there were three pairs of role-switching brothers. The two sets of twins, plus Ephraim and Manasseh. One set of grandsons (Zerah and Perez) belonged to Judah. The other set (Ephraim and Manasseh) belonged to Joseph. Therefore, Judah and Joseph were surrounded by role-switching pairs of brothers in the family tree. In addition, Jacob's wives, the two sisters, Leah and Rachel, switched roles with each other (on what was supposed to have been Rachel's wedding night). All of
              these role-switching pairs of siblings form a "frame" around Judah and Joseph in the family tree, as if to draw our attention to them. The relationship between Judah and Joseph is characterized by Judah selling Joseph into slavery, followed by Judah offering to become a slave to Joseph. Quite a reversal of roles. Judah's purpose in offering to be a slave to Joseph is to obtain Benjamin's freedom after Benjamin has been accused of being a thief. So, in conclusion, twins are associated with role-switching, and role switching with Judah offering to become a "thief" for Benjamin, so that Benjamin can go free.
               
              Fast-forwarding to John 20, Jesus had said that he was the good shepherd, and that the person who enters the sheep pen through the door is the shepherd of the sheep, and that a thief gets in some other way. So we would expect him to enter the room through the door, like a shepherd of the sheep; however, Jesus got into the room, not through the door, but some other way, like a thief. As Judah offered to become a "thief" in place of Benjamin, Jesus became a "thief" in our place. The use of the name "Thomas" ("twin") in John 20 acts like a hyperlink, linking in the story of Judah and Benjamin, to the story of Jesus entering the room when the door was locked, to explain the substitutionary death of Christ.
               
              Arlene Sheldon
              Author of 'Confirming Signs in the Gospel of John' web site


              --- On Wed, 7/23/08, Roger Mott <mottrogere3@...> wrote:

              From: Roger Mott <mottrogere3@...>
              Subject: [John_Lit] Why did Gospel of John call the Apostle Thomas "Didymos"
              To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 6:40 PM






              Hi everyone,

              I have been pondering why the author of Gospel of John designated the
              Apostle Thomas as one who was called Didymos.

              I feel very confident that the synoptics do not even remotely suggest
              that Thomas had a brother, let alone a male twin. So the Septuagint
              use of "didymos" in describing of Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:24), and
              Zarah and Perez (Gen 38:27) as birth twins almost certainly does not
              apply as to what the author of John meant.

              Clement of Alexandria (c.150 - 211/216), mentions a Didymus
              THE STROMATA, OR MISCELLANIES
              OF CLEMENS ALEXANRIUS
              BOOK I
              CHAP. I.--PREFACE- -THE AUTHOR'S OBJECT--THE UTILITY OF WRITTEN
              COMPOSITIONS. (1)
              CHAP. XVI.--THAT THE INVENTORS OF OTHER ARTS WERE MOSTLY BARBARIANS.

              "Didymus, however, in his work On the Pythagorean Philosophy, relates
              that Theano of Crotona was the first woman who cultivated philosophy
              and composed poems The Hellenic philosophy then, according to some,
              apprehended the truth accidentally, dimly, partially; as others will
              have it, was set a-going by the devil. Several suppose that certain
              powers, descending from heaven, inspired the whole of philosophy."

              The question is which "Didymus was Clement referring too.? (both
              from Wiki)

              Didymus Chalcenterus, ("Didymus bronze-guts" ), ca. 63 BCE to 10 CE,
              was a Hellenistic Greek scholar and grammarian who flourished in the
              time of Cicero and Augustus.

              Or

              "Arius Didymus, a citizen of Alexandria, was a Stoic philosopher in
              the time of Augustus, who esteemed him so highly, that after the
              conquest of Alexandria, he declared that he spared the city chiefly
              for the sake of Arius"

              End Wiki excerpts:

              If the above is the ancient scholar that perhaps Thomas was known to
              quote in "Apostle circles"; then he could have been nick
              named "Didymos". And in the childhood Gospel of Thomas accounts,
              Thomas was called a Philosopher allegedly authoring the Gospel.

              Another line of thought is that the author of John used "Didymos" for
              the Apostle because Thomas had "didymos" personalities. At first, he
              was a "doubter" then he became a "testifier" as he stated to the
              risen Jesus, "My Lord and my God". Perhaps Jesus was playing on the
              fact he, Jesus, did not have "bronze guts" as Thomas could insert his
              hand into his side.

              Any thoughts?

              Roger Mott
              Waterloo, Iowa


















              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • David Cavanagh
              ... Jack, An amateur theologian like myself must be very cautious in challenging someone who engages in theology for a living: nevertheless, I m still not
              Message 6 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
              • 0 Attachment
                Jack Kilmon wrote:
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > "Didymus Thomas," as you know, is a tautology and the name...or
                > designation...is a hapax as far as names go and as I posted, I believe a
                > "rebirth name" from Jesus. He would have had a first name..what was it?
                >






                Jack,

                An amateur theologian like myself must be very cautious in challenging
                someone who engages in theology for a living: nevertheless, I'm still
                not convinced that you've made your case...The tautology is there, and I
                can accept the "rebirth name" hypothesis, but I'm not at all convinced
                there is enough evidence to say Thomas = Judas (not Iscariot)

                > What we notice is a reluctance to use his first name hence the
                > tautology at
                > John 20:24 and 21:2 as well as the care.taken to identify THAT Judas
                > or to
                > separate him at John 14:22, Luke 6:6, John 13:26, John 14:22.
                >



                The care taken to distinguish the other Judas from Iscariot is certainly
                there, and it's understandable enough.....after all, if you were called
                Adolf Hitler you would want to put plenty of distance between yourself
                and the German fuhrer; a similar edginess is visible in the current US
                presidential campaign (and this is purely illustrative, I don't want to
                get into USA politics) about the similarity between "Osama" and "Obama".
                So, there was a second Judas, and early Christians were careful to
                distinguish him from Iscariot.....but where is there any textual link to
                Thomas? John 14:22 and Luke 6:16 just show the problem, while John 13:26
                is a straightforward reference to Iscariot

                > It appears
                > that Thomas was unfortunate enough to have the same first name as Judas
                > Iscariot...as did Jesus' brother...but the name is preserved in the
                > Gospel
                > of Thomas and the Acts of Thomas which are apocryphal works that find
                > support for the name Yehudah/Jude/Judas from the Curetonian Old Syriac
                > John
                > 14:22 with "Amar leh yehudah toma, maran....."
                >
                > Yehudah was the third most common name at the time of Jesus. So the
                > gospel
                > text as preserved in the 5th century Old Syriac and copied/translated
                > from
                > an older text.
                >











                Isn't Thomas rather late and dubious to be quoting as authority? And the
                point that Judas was such a common name also rather seems to tell
                against your thesis: going back to my earlier illustration, is every
                John in the USA to be identified with McCain?

                David Cavanagh
                Major (The Salvation Army)
                Naples (Italy)
                > .
                >
                >



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Roger Mott
                ... Thomas is listed in all three synoptics when the author is introducing the 12. (See Mat 10:3, Luk 6:15 and Mar 3:18) The order within the 12 means
                Message 7 of 10 , Jul 25, 2008
                • 0 Attachment
                  --- In johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com, David Cavanagh
                  <davidcavanagh@...> wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > Do the Synoptics actually mention Thomas? My impression was that he
                  > appears only in the fourth gospel....

                  Thomas is listed in all three synoptics when the author is
                  introducing the 12. (See Mat 10:3, Luk 6:15 and Mar 3:18) The order
                  within the 12 means something and the brothers Peter and Andrew are
                  listed together and usually first. Also brothers James and John are
                  listed together. The other brothers are sort of together but I have
                  to use a tradition that Thaddeus/ Lebbeus and Jude are one and the
                  same person.

                  So the supposed Apostle sons of Mary Alphaeus are Matthew/Levi, James
                  the Less, Jude, Simon/Nathanial. A 5th brother (Joses/Joseph) never
                  made the 12. But he is listed as another son of Mary in the
                  synoptics.

                  Bartholomew, Phillip, Judas Iscariot and Thomas do not have siblings
                  that were Apostles according to the 4 Gospels. And the alternate
                  name for Thomas that Jack has suggested (Judas) never appears in that
                  context in the 4 Gospels.

                  Since this is a John-Lit list, it is unique to the 4 Gospels that the
                  author of G. of John never uses the names of Jude/Thaddeus,
                  Matthew/Levi, or James and John ; or their mother Salome. If the
                  motive is to stay out of "spotlight" in the mid 1st century when
                  persecutions were occurring, (James Zebedee already was martyred c 43
                  CE). The planned obscurity gives support that it is indeed, John
                  Zebedee, who authored the Gospel.


                  > > If the above is the ancient scholar that perhaps Thomas was known
                  to
                  > > quote in "Apostle circles"; then he could have been nick
                  > > named "Didymos".
                  > >

                  > Surely Thomas would have been much earlier than this figure?

                  Caesar Augustus died 14 CE which means that the writings of
                  scholar "Didymus" were completed by that date. Very possible that
                  Thomas could have studied them in the 20's. I understand that a list
                  of Greek sayings/proverbs came from "Didymus" and it would be
                  interesting to read them and compare them to the OT.

                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Another line of thought is that the author of John used "Didymos"
                  for
                  > > the Apostle because Thomas had "didymos" personalities. At first,
                  he
                  > > was a "doubter" then he became a "testifier" as he stated to the
                  > > risen Jesus, "My Lord and my God". Perhaps Jesus was playing on
                  the
                  > > fact he, Jesus, did not have "bronze guts" as Thomas could insert
                  his
                  > > hand into his side.
                  > >
                  >
                  > This is an interesting suggestion, and it's worth playing around
                  with.
                  > On the other hand, I thought the common understanding was that
                  Thomas is
                  > "Didymos" because he is our twin -he is an example of faith in his
                  great
                  > confession, although he is also distinguished from us because he
                  insists
                  > on seeing before he will believe, while we must beleive on the
                  basis of
                  > the apostolic testimony.
                  >
                  > David Cavanagh
                  > Major (The Salvation Army)
                  > Naples (Italy)
                  > >

                  Thanks for you insights and comments, David

                  Roger Mott
                  Waterloo, Iowa
                • Roger Mott
                  ... is about all I know on the subject: Thanks Arlene, I like the thinking that went into your post and perhaps your book. You took the idea of role reversals
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jul 25, 2008
                  • 0 Attachment
                    --- In johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com, Arlene Sheldon
                    <wellofbethlehem@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Roger,
                    >  
                    > This is maybe not the kind of answer that you are expecting, but it
                    is about all I know on the subject:

                    Thanks Arlene,

                    I like the thinking that went into your post and perhaps your book.
                    You took the idea of role reversals and showed the occurrences in the
                    OT and G. of John.

                    >  
                    > The author of the Gospel of John referring to Thomas as a "twin" in
                    John 20 serves an important symbolic purpose, which is to draw
                    attention to the twins, Jacob and Esau, and Jacob's twin grandsons,
                    Zerah and Perez. This is relevant to the account of Jesus entering
                    the room when the door was locked, because both sets of twins
                    switched roles with each other, and switching roles is what the
                    account of Jesus entering the room when the door was locked is all
                    about. Within Jacob's family there were three pairs of role-switching
                    brothers. The two sets of twins, plus Ephraim and Manasseh. One set
                    of grandsons (Zerah and Perez) belonged to Judah.

                    [comment]
                    Not every instance of Hebrew twain, twins, double or pair was
                    translated to Greek Didymos by the "seventy". Only the 2 of the 6
                    instances of Didymos in the Septuagint are applied to human twins.

                    According to the Septuagint, only Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:24) were
                    called "Didymos" and likewise, Zarah and Perez (Gen 38:27). I would
                    like to limit my comments to those who were actually
                    called "Didymos". But the idea of opposites or good son,
                    bad/obscure son is in the OT.

                    For some reason, the OT makes a point that the second born twin
                    becomes "famously good" while the first born becomes an enemy of the
                    2nd born; or obscure, and not in the direct blood line of David. The
                    idea of opposites could be what G of John is conveying by using the
                    term "Didymos". Judas-Thomas of the GoT are opposites in behavior in
                    the NT. At first, Thomas was a "doubter" like Judas Iscariot and
                    perhaps a philosopher, and then Thomas became a "testifier".

                    Regarding Jesus comment that "Blessed are those who have not seen but
                    believe.", that could be a condemnation of the philosophers of the
                    day who touted the "know thyself" phrase (a form of seeing) whilst
                    Jesus followers were like little children and knew nothing of
                    philosophy but believed.

                    >snip<
                    >  
                    > Fast-forwarding to John 20, Jesus had said that he was the good
                    shepherd, and that the person who enters the sheep pen through the
                    door is the shepherd of the sheep, and that a thief gets in some
                    other way. So we would expect him to enter the room through the door,
                    like a shepherd of the sheep; however, Jesus got into the room, not
                    through the door, but some other way, like a thief. As Judah offered
                    to become a "thief" in place of Benjamin, Jesus became a "thief" in
                    our place. The use of the name "Thomas" ("twin") in John 20 acts like
                    a hyperlink, linking in the story of Judah and Benjamin, to the story
                    of Jesus entering the room when the door was locked, to explain the
                    substitutionary death of Christ.
                    >  
                    > Arlene Sheldon
                    > Author of 'Confirming Signs in the Gospel of John' web site
                    >
                    >

                    I am not convinced that G John use of Didymos to mean birth twin but
                    it could be a metaphor meaning pair, or two in a role reversal.

                    Roger Mott
                    Waterloo, Iowa
                  • Stan Harstine
                    After reading the comments on Thomas Didymos while on vacation, I would like to add a few pieces of research information. I deleted these comments from the
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 1, 2008
                    • 0 Attachment
                      After reading the comments on Thomas Didymos while on vacation, I would
                      like to add a few pieces of research information. I deleted these
                      comments from the final copies of both the SBL presentation and the
                      Perspectives in Religious Studies publication of "Un-doubting Thomas".



                      "William Bonney briefly discusses this issue in a footnote. He
                      references Bultmann's discussion that the Greek word "Thomas" is a
                      transliteration of a Semitic word for twin, thus the evangelist's
                      identification "Thomas, the one called Didymus."[1] Some efforts have
                      been made seeking to identify the missing twin of Thomas. While the
                      Acts of Thomas identifies this absent sibling as Jesus,[2] other
                      possible siblings are also mentioned. Elizabeth C. Piasecki, argues in
                      her essay published in the National Student Essay Competition in
                      Divinity, 1981, that the "twin" is Nathanael. This identification is
                      based more on the literary structuring of the two pericope than on any
                      genetic information. Interestingly, both the Nathanael episode, Jn
                      1.43-51, and the Thomas episode, Jn 20.24-29 contain recognition scenes;
                      the topic to which we now turn. "



                      William Bonney, Caused to Believe, (Leiden: Brill, 2002), p. 137, n. 20

                      Piasecki, Elizabeth C. "Nathanael: the twin of 'doubting' Thomas." Pages
                      101-106 in Church Divinity, 1981: National Student Essay Competition in
                      Divinity. Edited by John H. Morgan. Notre Dame, IN: Church Divinity
                      Monograph Series, 1981.





                      I fear that we are prone to read too much into some comments recorded
                      2000 years ago. As most of this audience are aware, the Gospel of
                      Thomas refers to Thomas as the "twin" to Jesus.



                      Stan



                      Stan Harstine, Ph.D.

                      Friends University

                      2100 W. University Ave..

                      Wichita, KS 67213-3379



                      316-295-5876


                      ________________________________

                      [1] William Bonney, Caused to Believe, (Leiden: Brill, 2002), p. 137,
                      n. 20

                      [2] "But the Lord said to him; 'I am not Judas who is also Thomas, I am
                      his brother.'" Acts of Thomas, 11, translated by Han J.W. Drijvers in
                      Wilhelm Schneemelcher, ed., New Testament Apocrypha, Vol 2, translated
                      by R. McL. Wilson, (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), pp.
                      322-411.



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.