Thomas the Apostle

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Thomas the Apostle
Thomas.jpg
Eastern icon of Thomas
Apostle, Preacher, Christian martyr
Born 1st century AD
Galilee, Judaea, Roman Empire
Died 21 December 72 [1]
Mylapore (India)[2][3]
Honored in
Assyrian Church of the East
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Anglican Communion
Lutheran Church
Respected among some Protestant Churches
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast 3 July - Latin Catholic,[4] Syriac Catholic, Syro-Malabar, Syriac Orthodox
21 December - Indian Orthodox, Anglican Communion
26 Pashons - Coptic Orthodox
6 October and Sunday after Easter Thomas Sunday - Eastern Orthodox
Attributes The Twin, placing his finger in the side of Christ, spear (means of martyrdom), square (his profession, a builder)
Patronage India, Saint Thomas Christians, Architects, Atheist converts

Thomas the Apostle, sometimes informally called Doubting Thomas or Didymus which means "The Twin", was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is best known from the account in the Gospel of Saint John, where he questioned Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, followed by his confession of faith as both "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus' wounded body.

Traditionally, he is said to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as India.[2][5][6] According to tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, India in 52 AD and baptized several people who are today known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis. After his death, the reputed relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Abruzzo in Ortona, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle.[7] He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thomas remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.

Gospel of John[edit]

Part of a series on
Saint Thomas Christians
നസ്രാണികൾ
St. Thomas Cross
Alternate names
Nasrani · Mar Thoma Nasrani · Syrian Christians
History
Saint Thomas · Thomas of Cana · Mar Sabor and Mar Proth · Tharisapalli plates · Synod of Diamper · Coonan Cross Oath
Religion
Monuments · Churches · Shrines · Liturgical language · Church music
Prominent persons
Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar · Abraham Malpan · Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala · Marth Alphonsa · Mar Kuriakose Elias Chavara · Mar Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly · Thoma of Villarvattom
Culture

Margam Kali · Cuisine · Suriyani Malayalam

Thomas first speaks in the Gospel of John. In John 11:16, when Lazarus has just died, the apostles do not wish to go back to Judea, where Jews had attempted to stone Jesus. Thomas says: "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (NIV).

He speaks again in John 14:5. There, Jesus has just explained that he is going away to prepare a heavenly home for his followers, and that one day they will join him there. Thomas reacts by saying, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (NIV)

John 20:24-29 tells how Thomas was skeptical at first when he heard that Jesus had appeared to the other apostles, saying "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." (NIV, v.25) But when Jesus appeared later and offered to let Thomas see and touch his wounds, Thomas showed his belief by proclaiming, "My Lord and my God!" (NIV, v.28)

Names and etymologies[edit]

The name Thomas is derived from the Aramaic or Classical Syriac: ܬܐܘܡܐ Toma, meaning twin. The equivalent term for twin in Greek is Didymus.

Other names[edit]

The Nag Hammadi copy of the Gospel of Thomas begins: "These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded." Early Syrian traditions also relate the apostle's full name as Judas Thomas.[8] Some have seen in the Acts of Thomas (written in east Syria in the early 3rd century, or perhaps as early as the first half of the 2nd century) an identification of Saint Thomas with the apostle Judas, brother of James, better known in English as Jude. However, the first sentence of the Acts follows the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in distinguishing the apostle Thomas and the apostle Judas son of James. Few texts identify Thomas' twin. In the Book of Thomas the Contender, part of the Nag Hammadi, it is said to be Jesus himself: "Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself…"[9]

Feast days[edit]

When the feast of Saint Thomas was inserted in the Roman calendar in the 9th century, it was assigned to 21 December. The Martyrology of St. Jerome mentioned the apostle on 3 July, the date to which the Roman celebration was transferred in 1969, so that it would no longer interfere with the major ferial days of Advent.[10] 3 July was the day on which his relics were translated from Mylapore, a place along the coast of the Marina Beach, Chennai (Madras) in India, to the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. Traditionalist Roman Catholics (who follow the General Roman Calendar of 1960 or earlier) and many Anglicans (including members of the Episcopal Church as well as members of the Church of England and the Lutheran Church, who worship according to the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer),[11] still celebrate his feast day on 21 December.

The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches celebrate his feast day on 6 October[12] (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 6 October currently falls on 19 October of the modern Gregorian Calendar). In addition, the next Sunday of the Easter (Pascha) is celebrated as the Sunday of Thomas, in commemoration of Thomas' question to Jesus, which led him to proclaim, according to Orthodox teaching, two natures of Jesus, both human and divine. Thomas is commemorated in common with all of the other apostles on 30 June (13 July), in a feast called the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles.[13] He is also associated with the "Arabian" (or "Arapet") icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God), which is commemorated on 6 September (19 September).[14] The Malankara Orthodox church celebrates his feast on three days, 3 July [15](in memory of the relic translation to Edessa), 18 December (the Day he was lanced) [16] and 21 December (when he passed away) [17]

Later traditions[edit]

Assumption of Mary[edit]

St. Thomas receiving the Virgin Mary's girdle from heaven.

According to The Passing of Mary, a text attributed to Joseph of Arimathaea,[18] Thomas was the only witness of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The other apostles were miraculously transported to Jerusalem to witness her death. Thomas was left in India, but after her first burial, he was transported to her tomb, where he witnessed her bodily assumption into heaven, from which she dropped her girdle. In an inversion of the story of Thomas' doubts, the other apostles are skeptical of Thomas' story until they see the empty tomb and the girdle.[19] Thomas' receipt of the girdle is commonly depicted in medieval and pre-Tridentine Renaissance art,[20][21] the apostle's infamous doubting reduced to a metaphorical knot in the Bavarian baroque Mary Untier of Knots.

Mission in India[edit]

The tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle in Mylapore, India.

Thomas is traditionally believed to have sailed to India in 52 AD to spread the Christian faith among the Jews, some of whom had migrated to Kerala. He is supposed to have landed at the ancient port of Muziris (modern-day North Paravur and Kodungalloor in Kerala state).[2] The port was destroyed in 1341 due to a massive flood that realigned the coasts. He established Ezharappallikal or Seven and half churches in Kerala. These churches are at Kodungallur, Palayoor, Kottakkavu (Paravur), Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kollam and Thiruvithamcode (half church).[22]

It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India.

—Hymns of St. Ephrem, edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV).

Eusebius of Caesarea quotes Origen (died mid-3rd century) as having stated that Thomas was the apostle to the Parthians, but Thomas is better known as the missionary to India through the Acts of Thomas, perhaps written as late as c. 200. In Edessa, where his remains were venerated, the poet St. Ephrem (died 373) wrote a hymn in which the Devil cries,

... Into what land shall I fly from the just?

I stirred up Death the Apostles to slay, that by their death I might escape their blows.
But harder still am I now stricken: the Apostle I slew in India has overtaken me in Edessa; here and there he is all himself.
There went I, and there was he: here and there to my grief I find him.

—quoted in Medlycott 1905, ch. ii.

St. Ephrem, a doctor of Syriac Christianity, writes in the forty-second of his "Carmina Nisibina" that the Apostle was put to death in India, and that his remains were subsequently buried in Edessa, brought there by an unnamed merchant.[23]

A Syrian ecclesiastical calendar of an early date confirms the above and gives the merchant a name. The entry reads: "3 July, St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in 'India'. His body is in Urhai (Edessa) having been brought there by the merchant Khabin. A great festival."

A long public tradition in Edessa honoring Thomas as the "Apostle of India" resulted in several surviving hymns, that are attributed to Ephrem, copied in codices of the 8th and 9th centuries. References in the hymns preserve the tradition that Thomas' bones were brought from India to Edessa by a merchant, and that the relics worked miracles both in India and Edessa. A pontiff assigned his feast day and a king and a queen erected his shrine. The Thomas traditions became embodied in Syriac liturgy, thus they were universally credited by the Christian community there. There is a legend that Thomas had met the Biblical Magi on his way to India.

According to Eusebius' record, Thomas and Bartholomew were assigned to Parthia and India.[24][25] The Didascalia (dating from the end of the 3rd century) states, “India and all countries condering it, even to the farthest seas... received the apostolic ordinances from Judas Thomas, who was a guide and ruler in the church which he built.” Moreover, there is a wealth of confirmatory information in the Syriac writings, liturgical books, and calendars of the Church of the East, not to mention the writings of the Fathers, the calendars, the sacramentaries, and the martyrologies of the Roman, Greek and Ethiopian churches.[2]

An early 3rd-century Syriac work known as the Acts of Thomas[3] connects the apostle's Indian ministry with two kings, one in the north and the other in the south. According to one of the legends in the Acts, Thomas was at first reluctant to accept this mission, but the Lord appeared to him in a night vision and said,

“Fear not, Thomas. Go away to India and proclaim the Word, for my grace shall be with you.” But the Apostle still demurred, so the Lord overruled the stubborn disciple by ordering circumstances so compelling that he was forced to accompany an 'Indian' merchant, Abbanes, as a slave to his native place in northwest 'India', where he found himself in the service of the Indo-Parthian king, Gondophares. According to the Acts of Thomas, the apostle's ministry resulted in many conversions throughout the kingdom, including the king and his brother.[4]

Remains of some of his buildings, influenced by Greek architecture, indicate that he was a great builder. According to the legend, Thomas was a skilled carpenter and was bidden to build a palace for the king. However, the Apostle decided to teach the king a lesson by devoting the royal grant to acts of charity and thereby laying up treasure for the heavenly abode. Although little is known of the immediate growth of the church, Bar-Daisan (154–223) reports that in his time there were Christian tribes in India which claimed to have been converted by Thomas and to have books and relics to prove it.[5] But at least by the year of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (226), there were bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India (Afghanistan and Baluchistan), with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity.[6]

The Acts of Thomas identifies his second mission in India with a kingdom ruled by King Vasudeva I,[citation needed] one of the rulers of a 1st-century dynasty in southern India.[clarification needed] It is most significant that, aside from a small remnant of the Church of the East in Kurdistan, the only other church to maintain a distinctive identity is the Saint Thomas Christian congregations along the Malabar Coast (modern-day Kerala) in southwest India. According to the most ancient tradition of this church, Thomas evangelized this area and then crossed to the Coromandel Coast of southeast India, where, after carrying out a second mission, he died near Madras. Throughout the period under review, the church in India was under the jurisdiction of Edessa, which was then under the Mesopotamian patriarchate at Seleucia-Ctesiphon and later at Baghdad and Mosul. Historian Vincent A. Smith says, “It must be admitted that a personal visit of the Apostle Thomas to South India was easily feasible in the traditional belief that he came by way of Socotra, where an ancient Christian settlement undoubtedly existed. I am now satisfied that the Christian church of South India is extremely ancient...”.[7]

Thomas is believed to have left northwest India when invasion threatened and traveled by vessel to the Malabar coast, possibly visiting southeast Arabia and Socotra en route, and landing at the former flourishing port of Muziris (modern-day North Paravur and Kodungalloor)[22] near Cochin (c. 51–52 AD) in the company of a Jewish merchant Abbanes (Hebban). From there he is said to have preached the gospel throughout the Malabar coast. The various churches he founded were located mainly on the Periyar River and its tributaries and along the coast, where there were Jewish colonies. He reputedly preached to all classes of people and had about 17,000 converts, including members of the four principal castes. Later, stone crosses were erected at the places where churches were founded, and they became pilgrimage centres. In accordance with apostolic custom, Thomas ordained teachers and leaders or elders, who were reported to be the earliest ministry of the Malabar Church.

Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Peter Paul Rubens

Death[edit]

According to tradition,[26] St. Thomas was killed in 72 AD. Nasrani Churches from Kerala in South India state that St. Thomas died at Mylapore near Chennai in India and his body was interred there. The accounts of Marco Polo from the 13th century state that the Apostle had an accidental death outside his hermitage in Chennai by a badly aimed arrow of a fowler who not seeing the saint shot at peacocks there.[27]:238 Later in the 16th century, the Portuguese in India created a myth that St. Thomas was killed in Chennai by stoning and lance thrust by local priests, based on the wrong interpretation of inscriptions found on the Pehlvi Cross discovered at St. Thomas Mount in 1547. Later decipherments of the inscriptions by experts proved this myth to be false.[27]:239 Since at least the 16th century, the St. Thomas Mount has been a common site revered by Hindus, Muslims and Christians.[27]:31 The records of Barbosa from early 16th century inform that the tomb was then maintained by a Muslim who kept a lamp burning there.[27]:237 The San Thome Basilica presently located at the tomb was first built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 19th.[28]

The Patristic literature states that St. Thomas died a martyr, in east of Persia,[27]:237 by the wounds of the four spears pierced into his body by the local soldiers.[29] :217 Some authorities state that St. Thomas died a natural death and that he died in Edessa.[29] :218

Relics[edit]

Mylapore[edit]

Few relics are still kept in the church at Mylapore, Tamil Nadu, India. Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller and author of Description of the World, popularly known as Il Milione, is reputed to have visited Southern India in 1288 and 1292. The first date has been rejected as he was in China at the time, but the second date is accepted by many historians.[citation needed] He is believed to have stopped in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where he documented the tomb of Adam. He also stopped at Quilon (Kollam) on the western Malabar coast of India, where he met Syrian Christians and recorded their tradition of St. Thomas and his tomb on the eastern Coromandel coast of the country. Il Milione, the book he dictated on his return to Europe, was on its publication condemned by the Church as a collection of impious and improbable traveller's tales. It became very popular reading in medieval Europe and inspired Spanish and Portuguese sailors to seek out the fabulous (and possibly Christian) India described in it.

Edessa[edit]

According to tradition, in 232 AD, the greater portion of relics of the Apostle Thomas are said to have been sent by an Indian king and brought from India to the city of Edessa, Mesopotamia, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written.

The Indian king is named as "Mazdai" in Syriac sources, "Misdeos" and "Misdeus" in Greek and Latin sources respectively, which has been connected to the "Bazdeo" on the Kushan coinage of Vasudeva I, the transition between "M" and "B" being a current one in Classical sources for Indian names.[30] The martyrologist Rabban Sliba dedicated a special day to both the Indian king, his family, and St Thomas.

In the 4th century, the martyrium erected over his burial place brought pilgrims to Edessa. In the 380s, Egeria described her visit in a letter she sent to her community of nuns at home (Itineraria Egeriae):[31]

we arrived at Edessa in the Name of Christ our God, and, on our arrival, we straightway repaired to the church and memorial of saint Thomas. There, according to custom, prayers were made and the other things that were customary in the holy places were done; we read also some things concerning saint Thomas himself. The church there is very great, very beautiful and of new construction, well worthy to be the house of God, and as there was much that I desired to see, it was necessary for me to make a three days' stay there.

In 441, the Magister militum per Orientem Anatolius donated a silver coffin to hold the relics.[32]

Coronatio Thomae apostoli et Misdeus rex Indiae, Johannes eus filius huisque mater Tertia ("Coronation of Thomas the Apostle, and Misdeus king of India, together with his son Johannes (thought to be a latinization of Vizan) and his mother Tertia") Rabban Sliba[30]

[clarification needed] In 522 AD, Cosmas Indicopleustes (called the Alexandrian) visited the Malabar Coast. He is the first traveller who mentions Syrian Christians in Malabar, in his book Christian Topography. He mentions that in the town of "Kalliana" (Quilon or Kollam) there was a bishop who had been consecrated in Persia. Historian Aprem Mooken writes, "Most church historians, who doubt the tradition of the doubting Thomas in India, will admit there was a church in India in the middle of the sixth century when Cosmas Indicopleustes visited India."[33]

[clarification needed] King Vira Raghavaa gave a copper plate recording a grant given to Iravi Korttan, a Christian of Kodungallur (Anglicised to "Cranganore"), with the date estimated at around 744 AD.[citation needed] In 822 AD two Nestorian Persian Bishops, Mar Sabor and Mar Proth, came to Malabar to occupy their seats in Kollam and Kodungallur, to care for the local Syrian Christians (also known as St. Thomas Christians).[citation needed]

In 1144, the city was conquered by the Zengids and the shrine destroyed.[32]

Chios and Ortona[edit]

After a short stay in the Greek island of Chios,[clarification needed] on 6 September 1258, the relics were transported to the West, and now rest in Ortona, Abruzzo, Italy.

Historical references[edit]

A 13th-century Armenian illumination, by Toros Roslin.

A number of early Christian writings written during centuries immediately following the first Ecumenical Council of 325 mention Thomas' mission.

  • The Acts of Thomas, sometimes called by its full name The Acts of Judas Thomas: 2nd/3rd century (c. 180–230)[34][35] Gist of the testimony: The Apostles cast lots as to where they should go, and to Thomas fell India. Thomas was taken to king Gondophares, the ruler of Indo-Parthian Kingdom, as an architect and carpenter by Habban. The journey to India is described in detail. After a long residence in the court at Taxila he ordained leaders for the Church, and left in a chariot for the kingdom of Mazdei. According to the Acts of St. Thomas the Kingdom of Mazdai, in the Southern India, was ruled by King Misdeus. Some Greek Satraps, the descendents of Alexander the Great, were vassals to the Indo-Parthian Kingdom.[36][37] The king Misdeus was infuriated when St. Thomas converted the Queen Tertia, son Juzanes, sister-in-law princess Mygdonia (a province of Mesopotamia) and her friend Markia. The King Misdeus led St. Thomas outside the city and ordered four soldiers to take him to the nearby hill where the soldiers speared St. Thomas and killed him. Syphorus was elected the first presbyter by the brethren after the death of St. Thomas while Juzanes the prince became the deacon. The names of the King Misdeus, Tertia, Juzanes, Syphorus, Markia and Mygdonia suggest Greek descent or Hellenised Persian descent[38] There, after performing many miracles, he dies a martyr.[39] During the rule of Vasudeva I, the Kushan emperor, the bones of St. Thomas were transferred from the Mylapore to Edessa. These are generally rejected by various Christian religions as either apocryphal or heretical. The two centuries that lapsed between the life of the apostle and the recording of this work cast doubt on their authenticity.
  • Clement of Alexandria: 3rd century (died c. 215); Church represented: Alexandrian/Greek Biographical Note: Greek Theologian, b. Athens, 150.[citation needed] Clement makes a passing reference to St. Thomas’ Apostolate in Parthia. This agrees with the testimony which Eusebius records about Pantaenus' visit to India.[citation needed]
  • Doctrine of the Apostles[citation needed] 3rd century; Church represented: Syrian [40] “After the death of the Apostles there were Guides and Rulers in the Churches… They again at their deaths also committed and delivered to their disciples after them everything which they had received from the Apostles; … (also what) Judas Thomas (had written) from India”.[clarification needed]

“India and all its own countries, and those bordering on it, even to the farther sea, received the Apostle’s hand of Priesthood from Judas Thomas, who was Guide and Ruler in the Church which he built and ministered there”. In what follows “the whole Persia of the Assyrians and Medes, and of the countries round about Babylon… even to the borders of the Indians and even to the country of Gog and Magog” are said to have received the Apostles’ Hand of Priesthood from Aggaeus the disciple of Addaeus [41]

  • Origen: 3rd century (185–254?), quoted in Eusebius; Church represented: Alexandrian/ Greek Biographical. Christian Philosopher, b-Egypt, Origen taught with great acclaim in Alexandria and then in Caesarea.[42] He is the first known writer to record the casting of lots by the Apostles. Origen's original work has been lost, but his statement about Parthia falling to Thomas has been preserved by Eusebius. “Origen, in the third chapter of his Commentary on Genesis, says that, according to tradition, Thomas’s allotted field of labour was Parthia”.[43]
  • Eusebius of Caesarea: 4th century (died 340); Church Represented: Alexandrian/Greek Biographical [44] Quoting Origen, Eusebius says: “When the holy Apostles and disciples of our Saviour were scattered over all the world, Thomas, so the tradition has it, obtained as his portion Parthia…”[45] "Judas, who is also called Thomas" has a role in the legend of king Abgar of Edessa (Urfa), for having sent Thaddaeus to preach in Edessa after the Ascension (Eusebius, Historia ecclesiae 1.13; III.1; Ephrem the Syrian also recounts this legend.)
  • Ephrem: 4th century; Church Represented: Syrian Biographical [46] Many devotional hymns composed by St. Ephraem bear witness to the Edessan Church’s strong conviction concerning St. Thomas’s Indian Apostolate. There the devil speaks of St. Thomas as “the Apostle I slew in India”. Also “The merchant brought the bones” to Edessa.
In another hymn eulogizing St. Thomas we read of “The bones the merchant hath brought”. “In his several journeyings to India/ And thence on his return/ All riches/ which there he found/ Dirt in his eyes he did repute when to thy sacred bones compared”. In yet another hymn Ephrem speaks of the mission of Thomas: “The earth darkened with sacrifices’ fumes to illuminate”, “a land of people dark fell to thy lot”, “a tainted land Thomas has purified”; “India’s dark night” was “flooded with light” by Thomas.[47]
  • Gregory of Nazianzus: 4th century (died 389); Church Represented: Alexandrian. Biographical Note: Gregory of Nazianzus was born AD 330, consecrated a bishop by his friend St. Basil; in 372 his father, the Bishop of Nazianzus, induced him to share his charge. In 379 the people of Constantinople called him to be their bishop. By the Orthodox Church he is emphatically called "the Theologian".[48] “What? were not the Apostles strangers amidst the many nations and countries over which they spread themselves? … Peter indeed may have belonged to Judea; but what had Paul in common with the gentiles, Luke with Achaia, Andrew with Epirus, John with Ephesus, Thomas with India, Mark with Italy?” [49]
  • Ambrose of Milan: 4th century (died 397); Church Represented: Western. Biographical Note: St. Ambrose was thoroughly acquainted with the Greek and Latin Classics, and had a good deal of information on India and Indians. He speaks of the Gymnosophists of India, the Indian Ocean, the river Ganges etc., a number of times.[50] “This admitted of the Apostles being sent without delay according to the saying of our Lord Jesus… Even those Kingdoms which were shut out by rugged mountains became accessible to them, as India to Thomas, Persia to Matthew...” [51]
  • St. Jerome (342–420). St. Jerome's testimony: “He (Christ) dwelt in all places: with Thomas in India, Peter at Rome, with Paul in Illyricum.”[citation needed]
  • St. Gaudentius (Bishop of Brescia, before 427). St. Gaudentius' testimony: “John at Sebastena, Thomas among the Indians, Andrew and Luke at the city of Patras are found to have closed their careers.”[citation needed]
  • St. Paulinus of Nola (died 431). St. Paulinus' testimony: “Parthia receives Mathew, India Thomas, Libya Thaddeus, and Phrygia Philip”.[citation needed]
  • St. Gregory of Tours (died 594) St. Gregory's testimony: “Thomas the Apostle, according to the narrative of his martyrdom is stated to have suffered in India. His holy remains (corpus), after a long interval of time, were removed to the city of Edessa in Syria and there interred. In that part of India where they first rested, stand a monastery and a church of striking dimensions, elaborately adorned and designed. This Theodore, who had been to the place, narrated to us.'[52]
  • St. Isidore of Seville in Spain (d. c. 630). St. Isidore's testimony: “This Thomas preached the Gospel of Christ to the Parthians, the Medes, the Persians, the Hyrcanians and the Bactrians, and to the Indians of the Oriental region and penetrating the innermost regions and sealing his preaching by his passion he died transfixed with a lance at Calamina (present Mylapore), a city of India, and there was buried with honour”.[citation needed]
  • St. Bede the Venerable (c. 673–735). St. Bede's testimony: “Peter receives Rome, Andrew Achaia; James Spain; Thomas India; John Asia"[citation needed]

Writings[edit]

Let none read the gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the twelve apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples.

Cyril of Jerusalem, Cathechesis V (4th century)

In the first two centuries of the Christian era, a number of writings were circulated. It is unclear now why Thomas was seen as an authority for doctrine, although this belief is documented in Gnostic groups as early as the Pistis Sophia. In that Gnostic work, Mary Magdalene (one of the disciples) says:

Now at this time, my Lord, hear, so that I speak openly, for thou hast said to us "He who has ears to hear, let him hear:" Concerning the word which thou didst say to Philip: "Thou and Thomas and Matthew are the three to whom it has been given… to write every word of the Kingdom of the Light, and to bear witness to them"; hear now that I give the interpretation of these words. It is this which thy light-power once prophesied through Moses: "Through two and three witnesses everything will be established. The three witnesses are Philip and Thomas and Matthew"

Pistis Sophia 1:43

An early, non-Gnostic tradition may lie behind this statement, which also emphasizes the primacy of the Gospel of Matthew in its Aramaic form, over the other canonical three.

Besides the Acts of Thomas there was a widely circulated Infancy Gospel of Thomas probably written in the later 2nd century, and probably also in Syria, which relates the miraculous events and prodigies of Jesus' boyhood. This is the document which tells for the first time the familiar legend of the twelve sparrows which Jesus, at the age of five, fashioned from clay on the Sabbath day, which took wing and flew away. The earliest manuscript of this work is a 6th-century one in Syriac. This gospel was first referred to by Irenaeus; Ron Cameron notes: "In his citation, Irenaeus first quotes a non-canonical story that circulated about the childhood of Jesus and then goes directly on to quote a passage from the infancy narrative of the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:49). Since the Infancy Gospel of Thomas records both of these stories, in relative close proximity to one another, it is possible that the apocryphal writing cited by Irenaeus is, in fact, what is now known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Because of the complexities of the manuscript tradition, however, there is no certainty as to when the stories of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas began to be written down."

The best known in modern times of these documents is the "sayings" document that is being called the Gospel of Thomas, a noncanonical work whose date is disputed. The opening line claims it is the work of "Didymos Judas Thomas" – whose identity is unknown. This work was discovered in a Coptic translation in 1945 at the Egyptian village of Nag Hammadi, near the site of the monastery of Chenoboskion. Once the Coptic text was published, scholars recognized that an earlier Greek translation had been published from fragments of papyrus found at Oxyrhynchus in the 1890s.

Saint Thomas Cross[edit]

Mar Thoma Sliva.jpg

In the 16th-century work Jornada, Antonio Gouvea writes of ornate crosses known as Saint Thomas Crosses. It is also known as Nasrani Menorah[53] or Mar Thoma Sliba.[54] These crosses date from the 6th century and are found in a number of churches in Kerala, Mylapore and Goa. Jornada is the oldest known written document to refer to this type of cross as a St. Thomas Cross. Gouvea also writes about the veneration of the Cross at Cranganore, referring to the cross as "Cross of Christians". It is widely perceived as the symbol of Saint Thomas Christians.

There are several interpretations of the Nasrani symbol. The interpretation based on Christian Jewish tradition assumes that its design was based on Jewish menorah, an ancient symbol of the Hebrews, which consists of seven branched lamp stand (candelabra).[55] The interpretation based on local culture states that the Cross without the figure of Jesus and with flowery arms symbolizing "joyfulness" points to the resurrection theology of St. Paul; the Holy Spirit on the top represents the role of Holy Spirit in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The lotus symbolizing Buddhism and the Cross over it shows that Christianity was established in the land of Buddha. The 3 steps indicate Calvary and the rivulets, channels of grace flowing from the Cross.[56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. '^ Fr. G. Thalian. "`Saint Thomas the Apostle' in `The Great Archbishop Mar Augustine Kandathil, D. D.: the Outline of a Vocation". D. C. Kandathil. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  2. ^ a b c The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 5 by Erwin Fahlbusch. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing - 2008, Page 285. ISBN 978-0-8028-2417-2.
  3. ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/592851/Saint-Thomas
  4. ^ "Liturgical Calendar: December'". Latin-mass-society.org. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  5. ^ A. E. Medlycott, (1905) "India and the Apostle Thomas"; Gorgias Press LLC; ISBN 1-59333-180-0.
  6. ^ Thomas Puthiakunnel, (1973) "Jewish colonies of India paved the way for St. Thomas", The Saint Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India, ed. George Menachery, Vol. II.
  7. ^ http://www.gcatholic.org/churches/italy/0164.htm
  8. ^ "... Judas Thomas, as he is called [in the Acta Thomae] and elsewhere in Syriac tradition ...". Wikisource-logo.svg "St. Thomas the Apostle". Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913. 
  9. ^ Turner, John D. The Book of Thomas(NHC II,7 138,7–138,12). Retrieved on 10 September 2006
  10. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vatricana) 1969, p. 96
  11. ^ "Propers for St. Thomas the Apostle". Commonprayer.org. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  12. ^ Holy, Glorious Apostle Thomas Orthodox icon and synaxarion for 6 October
  13. ^ Apostle Thomas—Synaxis of the Holy Apostles
  14. ^ Icon of the Mother of God, Arapet (Arabian) Orthodox icon and synaxarion for 6 September
  15. ^ http://malankaraorthodoxchurch.in/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=385&extmode=cal&date=2014-07-01
  16. ^ http://malankaraorthodoxchurch.in/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=385&extmode=view&extid=88&recurdate=1418886000
  17. ^ http://malankaraorthodoxchurch.in/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=385&extmode=view&extid=90&recurdate=1419145200
  18. ^ Robinson, J. Armitage (2003). Two Glastonbury Legends: King Arthur and St. Joseph of Arimathea, 1926. Kessinger Publishing, p. 33. ISBN 0-7661-7738-6
  19. ^ "The Passing of Mary". Ccel.org. 2005-06-01. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  20. ^ "St Thomas Receiving the Virgin Mary’s Girdle at her Assumption", Dimus, no. 17 (April 2008)
  21. ^ "In imitation of Saint Thomas Aquinas: art, patronage and liturgy within a Renaissance chapel", Online library
  22. ^ a b History, Payyappilly Palakkappilly Nasrani family
  23. ^ MEDLYCOTT, India and the Apostle St. Thomas (London, 1905).Fully reproduced in ICHC I, "The Nazranies", ed. George Menachery, 1998, pp.157 ff.
  24. ^ Ananthakrishnan G, (2006-12-26). "Thomas's visit under doubt". Times of India. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  25. ^ "Thomas The Apostole". Stthoma.com. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  26. ^ Farmer, David (2011). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Fifth Edition Revised. Oxford University Press. p. 418. ISBN 978-0199596607. 
  27. ^ a b c d e Hunter, William Wilson (1886). The Indian empire : its peoples, history, and products. Morrison & Gibb. 
  28. ^ Neill, Stephen (2004). A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707. Cambridge University Press. p. 29. 
  29. ^ a b Most, Glenn Warren (2009). Doubting Thomas. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674025615. 
  30. ^ a b Mario Bussagli, "L'Art du Gandhara", p255
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ a b J.B. Segal, Edessa 'the Blessed City, Gorgias Press LLC, 2005, ISBN 1-59333-059-6, pp. 174–176, 250.
  33. ^ Mar Aprem, The Chaldean Syrian Church of the East, (Date and place of publication not available.)
  34. ^ Dr. Wright (Ed.), Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, London, 1871 (Syriac Text in Vol.1, English translation in Vol. II); Rev. Paul Bedjan, Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum, Vol. III, Leipsic-Paris, 1892.A. E. Medlycott, India and the Apostle Thomas, London 1905, Appendix, pp. 221 -225.
  35. ^ The Acts of Thomas
  36. ^ Chandragupta Maurya and his times by Radhakumud Mookerji P.28
  37. ^ Greek Satrap of Indus Valley. Books.google.co.in. 1966. ISBN 978-81-208-0405-0. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  38. ^ "Acts of St. Thomas". Gnosis.org. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  39. ^ "Acts of Thomas". Earlychristianwritings.com. 2006-02-02. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  40. ^ Cardinal Mai, Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio, Rome, 1838. W. Cureton, Ancient Syriac Documents, London, 1864: Latin Translation by A. Assemani; Vindobonae, 1856; Didascalia in Coptic, Ethiopic, and Arabic. Also see Medlycott, p. 33 ff.
  41. ^ (Cureton, pp. 32, 33, 34). 20th Century Discussions: Medlycott, pp 33–37 alias Menachery, STCEI, II, 20–21, Farquhar, p. 26 ff.
  42. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 3.1; Patrologia Graeca, Migne Edn., 20.215; Patrologia Latina, Migne, 21.478.
  43. ^ Farquhar, p. 30. 20th Century Discussions: Perumalil, pp. 50,51.E. R. Hambye, “Saint Thomas and India”, The Clergy Monthly 16 (1952). Comes, S. J., “Did St. Thomas Really come to India?”, in Menachery (Ed.) STCEI, II. Farquhar, pp. 30,31,
  44. ^ Patrologia Graeca (Migne), 19–24., 20.215.
  45. ^ J.C. Panjikaran, Christianity in Malabar w.s.r.t. The St. Thomas Christians of the Syro-Malabar Rite, Orientalia Christiana, VI, 2 (23), Roma I, April 1926, p.99 esp. for reference to Pantaenus’ Indian visit. Reproduced in ICHC I 'The Nazranies",ed. George Menachery 1998, pp.277 ff.
  46. ^ Bickell, S. Ephraemi Syri, Caramina Nisibena, Lipsiae, 1866; Monsignor Lamy, S. Ephraemi Syri Hymni et Sermones, (Quarto 4 vols.); Breviary acc. to the Rite of the Church of Antioch of the Syrians, Mosul, 1886–96. Also See Medlycott, pp. 21–32. Alias Menachery (Ed.) STCEI, II, p. 18 ff.
  47. ^ 20th Century Discussions : Medlycott, pp.21–32 alias Menachery (Ed.), STCEI, II, p. 18 ff.
  48. ^ Homil. XXXII, xi, Contra Arianos et de seipso. Migne, P.G. 36-228.
  49. ^ 20th Century Discussions : Medlycott, pp, 42,43; Perumalil pp. 43,44.
  50. ^ Migne, P-L 140 1143. (Also see 17. 1131, 17.1133, for his Indian knowledge.)
  51. ^ 20th Century Discussions : Medlycott, pp. 43, 44. Perumalil, pp. 44.45, Perumalil and Menachery (STCEI I, II), Migne Edns.; Wm. A. Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers:etc. History of Christianity-Source Materials by M. K. George, CLS, Madras, 1982 and the Handbook of Source Materials by Wm. G. Young.D. Ferroli, The Jesuits in Malabar, Vol. I. Bangalore, 1939, esp. notes and documents p. 71 ff.; W.S. Hunt, The Anglican Church in Travancore and Cochin, Kottayam, 1920, esp. p. 27, p.33 pp. 46–50; G.T. Mackenzie, i.c.s., “History of Christianity in Travancore”, in The Travancore State Manual, Vol-II, Edited by Nagam Aiya, Trivandrum 1906 pp. 135–233; Menachery, STCEI, I, II.
  52. ^ Medleycott, A. E. (2005) India and the Apostle Thomas: An Inquiry, with a Critical Analysis of the Acta Thomae. Gorgias Press LLC, p. 71. ISBN 1593331800
  53. ^ Paul M. Collins – Christian inculturation in India, pp.119, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007, ISBN 0-7546-6076-1
  54. ^ "NSC NETWORK: Saint Thomas Cross- A Religio Cultural Logo of Saint Thomas Christians". Nasrani.net. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  55. ^ Paul M. Collins: Christian inculturation in India – Page 119 ISBN 0-7546-6076-1
  56. ^ Dr. Geo Thadikkatt – Liturgical Identity of the Mar Toma Nasrani Church

Further reading[edit]

  • A.C. Perumalil, The Apostles in India, Patna (India), XTTI, 1971.
  • George Menachery, Ed.,"The St.Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India", esp. Vol.2, 1973.
  • George Menachery, Ed.,"The Nazranies", Indian Church History Classics, Vol.1, 1998, esp.books fully reproduced in it by Mackenzie, Medlycott,Farquar& many others.
  • Glenn W. Most, Doubting Thomas. Cambridge, Mass., London: Harvard University Press, 2005 (a study in the reception of Thomas’ story in literature and art).
  • Charles Nicholl, "The Other Thomas," London Review of Books vol. 34 no. 21 (8 November 2012), pages 39–43.
  • Pierre Perrier and Walter Xavier. Thomas Fonde L'église En Chine (65-68 Ap J.-C.). (Paris: Jubilé, 2008). ISBN 9782866794828.

External links[edit]