Re: Why did Gospel of John call the Apostle Thomas "Didymos"
- --- In email@example.com, David Cavanagh
>Thomas is listed in all three synoptics when the author is
> Do the Synoptics actually mention Thomas? My impression was that he
> appears only in the fourth gospel....
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
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
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 knownto
> > quote in "Apostle circles"; then he could have been nickCaesar Augustus died 14 CE which means that the writings of
> > named "Didymos".
> Surely Thomas would have been much earlier than this figure?
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"
> > the Apostle because Thomas had "didymos" personalities. At first,he
> > was a "doubter" then he became a "testifier" as he stated to thethe
> > risen Jesus, "My Lord and my God". Perhaps Jesus was playing on
> > fact he, Jesus, did not have "bronze guts" as Thomas could inserthis
> > hand into his side.with.
> This is an interesting suggestion, and it's worth playing around
> On the other hand, I thought the common understanding was thatThomas is
> "Didymos" because he is our twin -he is an example of faith in hisgreat
> confession, although he is also distinguished from us because heinsists
> on seeing before he will believe, while we must beleive on thebasis of
> the apostolic testimony.Thanks for you insights and comments, David
> David Cavanagh
> Major (The Salvation Army)
> Naples (Italy)
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Arlene Sheldon
>is about all I know on the subject:
> This is maybe not the kind of answer that you are expecting, but it
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.
>John 20 serves an important symbolic purpose, which is to draw
> The author of the Gospel of John referring to Thomas as a "twin" in
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.
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<shepherd, and that the person who enters the sheep pen through the
> Fast-forwarding to John 20, Jesus had said that he was the good
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.
>I am not convinced that G John use of Didymos to mean birth twin but
> Arlene Sheldon
> Author of 'Confirming Signs in the Gospel of John' web site
it could be a metaphor meaning pair, or two in a role reversal.
- 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." Some efforts have
been made seeking to identify the missing twin of Thomas. While the
Acts of Thomas identifies this absent sibling as Jesus, 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 Harstine, Ph.D.
2100 W. University Ave..
Wichita, KS 67213-3379
 William Bonney, Caused to Believe, (Leiden: Brill, 2002), p. 137,
 "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.
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