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

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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 1 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 2 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 3 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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