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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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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