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

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  • 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 1 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
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      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)
      > .
      >
      >



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    • 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 2 of 10 , Jul 25, 2008
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        --- 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 3 of 10 , Jul 25, 2008
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          --- 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 4 of 10 , Aug 1, 2008
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            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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