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

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  • Jack Kilmon
    ... From: David Cavanagh To: Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 1:55 AM Subject: Re: [John_Lit]
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
      ----- 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 2 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
        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 3 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
          ----- 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 4 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
            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 5 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
              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 6 of 10 , Jul 25, 2008
                --- 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 7 of 10 , Jul 25, 2008
                  --- 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 8 of 10 , Aug 1, 2008
                    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.



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