Didymus Judas Thomas: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions

Posted: October 9, 2015 in General

st.thomasAs I begin to explore deep into the person and work of one of the most significant, but most neglected and demeaned, personalities in Christian history and interpretation, I have many questions to deal with and many existing answers to accept/counter with. It is my earnest desire that I may make a good progress in this important endeavor. Thanks to all those who have already inspired me to take up this important challenge and to all those who stand firm with me to see the successful completion of the task. The following are some of my preliminary questions:

[Didymus Judas Thomas is one of the most misunderstood characters from the beginning of the New Testament history and interpretation. The nickname ascribed to Thomas (as “doubting Thomas”) is mostly accepted as a synonymn for ‘doubt,’ ‘unbelief,’ and ‘lack of devotion.’ The general tendency of studying the character from the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions, idependently from one another, led the interpretors away from a broader understanding of the character. The dychotomy of studying the character of Thomas independently from within the limits of canonical, apocryphal, and historical disciplines created a lot of gaps within the area of Thomas studies. This situation persuades us to look at the Thomas literature comprehensively to understand the character from a broader perspective. The current study is intended to address the following questions: Whether Thomas was merely ‘doubting Thomas’ or was he ‘genuine Thomas’? Did we understand Thomas comprehensively by bridging the New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions together? Or did we understand him only through disciplinary perspectives? How can an interdisciplinary perspective will help us to understand the character comprehensively? How was Thomas connected to the Eastern Christianity and how does the Thomas literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Thomas traditions related to Judea, Syria, and India with the help of canonical, extra canonical, and traditio-historical documents? These questions have to be adequately dealt with in the process of exploring the Thomas literature. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the Thomas literature right from the beginning, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Thomas documents, and analyze the Thomas literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.]

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

[GRI Writing Scholar @ Fuller Theological Seminary

Pasadena, California, USA]


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