Thomas the Apostle

Apostle of Jesus Christ

Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus (meaning "Twin," as does "Thomas" in Aramaic), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is most famous for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in John 20:28. He understands that Jesus is his Lord after he places his fingers into Jesus' side for Thomas said he wouldn't believe in the Lords resurrection unless he could see the mark of the nails in Jesus' hands and put his hand inside of them. Now that Thomas has seen Jesus, he believes in him and that he has died and been resurrected.

My Lord and my God.
The Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.



Gospel of Thomas (c. 50? — c. 140?)

Main article: Gospel of Thomas

Quotes about Thomas

  • Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
    • The Bible. Jesus, in John 20:29
  • We may look a bit more closely into one case which sums it all up: the Saint Thomas church on Mylapore beach in Madras. According to Christian leaders in India, the apostle Thomas came to India in 52 AD, founded the Syrian Christian church, and was killed by the fanatical Brahmins in 72 AD. Near the site of his martyrdom, the Saint Thomas church was built. In fact this apostle never came to India, and the Christian community in South India was founded by a merchant Thomas Cananeus in 345 AD ( a name which readily explains the Thomas legend ). He led 400 refugees who fled persecution in Persia and were given asylum by the Hindu authorities. In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal secularists who attack the Hindus for relying on myth in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. The important point is that Thomas can be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics. In reality, the missionaries were very disgruntled that these damned Hindus refused to give them martyrs (whose blood is welcomed as the seed of the faith), so they had to invent one. Moreover, the church which they claim commemorates Saint Thomas' martyrdom at the hands of Hindu fanaticism, is in fact a monument of Hindu martyrdom at the hands of Christian fanaticism: it is a forcible replacement of two important Hindu temples (Jain and Shaiva), whose existence was insupportable to Christian missionaries. No one knows how many priests and worshippers were killed when the Christian soldiers came to remove the curse of Paganism from Mylapore beach. Hinduism doesn't practise martyr-mongering, but if at all we have to speak of martyrs in this context, the title goes to these Shiva-worshippers and not to the apostle Thomas.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam.
  • A similar saying in Luke 12:49 is clearly eschatological. "I came to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled." Thomas changes future to past and present. The fire has been ignited, and Jesus keeps the world until it burns up; to be near the fire is to be near Jesus and the kingdom (Saying 82).
  • [ W.W. Hunter details how this simple story, which had been in vogue in Christendom, collected an overlay of fraudulent fabrications over time:] Patristic literature clearly declares that St Thomas had suffered martyrdom at Calamina . . . The tradition of the Church is equally distinct that in 394 AD the remains of the Apostle were transferred to Edessa in Mesopotamia. The attempt to localize the death of St Thomas on the south-western coast of India started therefore, under disadvantages. A suitable site was however, found at the Mount near Madras, one of the many hill shrines of ancient India which have formed a joint resort of religious persons of diverse faiths – Buddhist, Muhammadan and Hindu . . . Portuguese zeal, in its first fervours of Indian evangelization felt keenly the want of a sustaining local hagiology. [. . .] A mission from Goa dispatched to the Coromandel coast in 1522 proved itself ignorant of or superior to the well-established legend of the translation of the Saint's remains to Edessa in 394 AD and found his relics at the ancient hill shrine near Madras, side by side those of a king whom he had converted to faith. They were brought with pomp to Goa, the Portuguese capital of India, and there they lie in the Church of St Thomas to this day. The finding of the Pehlvi cross . . . at St Thomas's Mount in 1547 gave a fresh coloring to the legend. So far as its inscription goes, it points to a Persian, and probably to a Manichaean origin. But at the time it was dug up, no one in Madras could decipher its Pehlvi characters. A Brahman impostor, knowing that there was a local demand for martyrs, accordingly came forward with a fictitious interpretation. The simple story of Thomas's accidental death from a stray arrow had, before this grown into a cruel martyrdom by stoning and lance thrust, with each spot in the tragedy fixed at the Greater and Lesser Mount near Madras.
    • Hunter, W.W. The Indian Empire: Its History, People and Products. Routledge, 2001. quoted in Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
  • At that moment, numerous traces of the presence of St Thomas were discovered especially in South America, where circumstances were favourable for the development of the legend. Under the prodding of the first Jesuit missionaries, a remarkable process of amalgamation began . . . it was easy to see ‘Zume’ as a deformation of ‘Tome’ (Thomas) and to transform this native messiah into a Christian apostle. The legend of the journey of St Thomas to the New World was a great success. In the region around Lake Titicaca, it was confused with that of the god Viracocha, which has also left some traces.
    • Haase, Wolfgang, and Meyer Reinhold. The Classical Tradition and the Americas: Myths and Expansionism on American Continent. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1994. in Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
  • The story that places the Apostle St Thomas in India in 53 CE is a lingering medieval myth. It implicitly includes colonial and racial narratives; for instance, that the peaceful apostle ministered to the dark-skinned Indians, who turned on him and killed him. This myth, however, has no historical basis at all. Nevertheless, it has been shaped by various Christian churches into a powerful tool for the appropriation of Hindu culture in Tamil Nadu, by giving credit to 'Thomas Christianity' for everything positive in the south Indian culture, while blaming Hinduism for whatever is to be denigrated. It further serves as a tool to carve out Tamils from the common body of Indian culture and spirituality.
    • Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
  • Logion 10 has a parallel in Luke xii. 49, but with a change of emphasis. The canonical version looks to the future: "I came to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" In Thomas the fire has been kindled: "I have cast fire upon the world, and behold, I guard it until it is ablaze." This raises an interesting problem in relation to the common source of Matthew and Luke, since Matthew (x. 34) records a saying, "I came not to cast peace, but a sword." As already observed, something like this appears in logion 16, but in the saying in Thomas "division" and "fire" are paralleled in Luke, "sword" in Matthew. The question is whether in Thomas we have a conflation of the two synoptic versions, or a form of the saying derived from an independent tradition.
  • According to these theories, the apostle St Thomas (associated in Mexico with the Indian deity Quetzalcoatl and in Peru with Viracocha, among other legendary pre-Inca culture-bearer deities) had appeared among the Indians not long after Christ’s crucifixion, and initiated the New World’s first age of Christianity. . . . Considerably embellishing sixteenth-century hypotheses, certain clergymen and even devout laymen of the independence-era postulated the splendors of a flourishing native American Christian culture that had been snuffed out at the time of conquest by an Iberian variant of Christianity vitiated by greed, individualism and materialism.
    • McManners, John. The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity. OxfordUniversity Press, 2001. in Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
  • A number of scholars... have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect vividness of their imagination rather than the prudence of historical critics. ... The story of the ancient church of the Thomas Christians is of great significance for the whole history of Christianity in India. It is to be regretted that, when all the evidence has been collected and sifted, much remains uncertain and conjectural. ... Millions of Christians in South India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than the apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.
    • Stephen Neill, History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 AD, Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • Thomas was outside his hermitage in the woods, raising his prayers to the Lord his God. All around were many peacocks . . . As St Thomas was saying his prayers, a certain idolater belonging to the race and lineage of Gavi, shot an arrow from his bow, in order to kill one of the peacocks that were gathered round the Saint.
    • Polo, Marco. Travels of Marco Polo. Translated by Aldo Ricci. Routledge, 2004. quoted in Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
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