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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 9:54 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 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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.



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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