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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 of 10 , Aug 1 10:27 AM
              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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