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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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.



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