The proposed title of the monograph is “Didymus Judas Thomas: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions.” A contract is signed with Bloomsbury T&T Clark (Bedford Square, London) to publish the monograph in the “Jewish and Christian Texts” Series edited by James H. Charlesworth. The word limit is 120,000 and the manuscript delivery date is February 28, 2017. The monograph will also have a Foreword by James H. Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary. I was privileged to get the following fellowships to continue my project: Global Research Institute (GRI) Fellowship of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California; Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins (FJCO) Fellowship, Princeton, New Jersey; and Centre for South Asia Research (CSAR) Foundation in Bangalore, India, a collaborative program of ScholarLeaders International, Theological Book Network, and South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies. Above all, I once again express my thanks to Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, for granting me sabbatical leave from October 1, 2015 till September 30, 2016.
This monograph is the first study of the Thomas Traditions in the East from an interdisciplinary methodology. The focal question is as follows: Are the Thomas traditions in the Gospel of John, in the apocryphal Thomas compositions, and the early Thomas Traditions in Southwest India purely legendary (as biblical scholars have assumed) or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently (as the Thomas Christians in India have assumed)?
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 synonym for ‘doubt,’ ‘unbelief,’ and ‘lack of devotion.’ The general tendency of studying the character from the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions, independently from one another, led the interpreters aloof from a broader understanding of the character. The dichotomy 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 a merely a ‘doubting Thomas’ or he was a ‘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 an interdisciplinary perspective can 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.
Thanks to my friends, colleagues, students, and family members for your love and support.
Johnson Thomaskutty, Bangalore, India.