(THE STORY OF THOMAS CHURCHES) Prof. M.M.Ninan
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San Jose, CA 95126
The Holy Bible does not give any details regarding the Acts of Apostle Thomas. It does not even mention Thomas except as one of the disciples. It gives only the implantation of the gospel in the Greco-Roman culture. But it came as a surprise as I entered into writing the acts of Thomas to find a wealth of historical details and archealogical evidences to the vast ministry of Apostle Thomas.
Compared to Paul and Peter, Thomas’ mission covered a larger region and a variety of alien and unfamiliar cultures. This study I hope will only be the beginning. Thomas indeed penetrated the innermost regions and sealed his preaching with a passion unmatched by any other.
The journey of Thomas had been a close parallel to my life journey. Thomas started as a scientist who refused to accept anything without evidence. But the historical reality of resurrection changed him completely. When I left India on a teaching commission, my parents reminded me of the great commission that Thomas handed down to my fore fathers. We were one of the four families who were
given the responsibility of preaching the word and keeping the message pure. As a Physicist the existence of other dimensions were familiar concepts, but only as a theoretical possibility and assumption to explain phenomena. But once we experienced the resurrected Christ, like Thomas we cannot but preach the gospel.
« My Face now is engraved in you, remain in this world of darkness to guide and delight the eyes that are lost there. Bear witness to my Truth! »
Mrs. Ponnamma Ninan
an Jose, CA 95126
After we have published this in 2011, more details of the mission of Thomas has come up which requires additional chapters and some minor changes in the rest of the book. I have to rely on other scholars and was forced to include them with portions that are directly quoted by them. One problem was to follow a sequence which was followed by the Apostle Thomas. This in itself was often not possible since there is no dating and the duration are often conflicting and cannot be taken for granted. Hence these problems may still be there in the book, I have tried to present the mission of the Apostle as best and in detail as possible. To this I am indebted to hundreds of scholars and the internet. I have tried my best to acknowledge every one.
Thomas himself was a magi - magician - wise man- a scientist. As such the whole story seems to indicate that he was to baptize the wise men who came to Jerusalem to worship baby Jesus the Mesiah the King. Thomas way hence postulates the way that faced the rationalists and the scientific world.
San Jose, CA 95123
Prof. M.M.Ninan and Mrs. Ponnamma Ninan
Founding Moderator, International Christian Fellowship, Sanaa, YAR ;
Pioneers of Sudan Pentecostal Churches, Juba,Sudan.
“This image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, with baby Jesus was painted by St. Luke.
It was carried by St. Thomas the Apostle to India
It is kept at the main altar in the Church of Mount St. Thomas in Madras, India, the place where
St. Thomas was martyred.
Over twenty of Dr.Luke’s paintings are distributed all over the world.
Three Gospels recount the names of the twelve Apostles in almost same order:
· Matthew 10:1-4 reads: “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive
out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus,
and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
· Mark 3:13-19 reads: “13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
· Luke 6:12-16 states, “ 12 One of those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve
of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
Thomas in Hebrew means "The Twin". So he was also known as "Didymus" which meant 'The Twin' in Greek. It obviously implies that Thomas was the twin brother of some other known person. His real name was Judas. Judas (Greek: Ιούδας) is the anglicized Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Yehudah (Hebrew: דהוּיה. Since there are so many persons with the common name Yehuda (Judah) the only way to identify is the nickname as Didymus. Here are some of the New Testament person by name Judas
lSaint Thomas and Doubting Thomas
lJudas Iscariot, the apostle of Jesus Christ who betrayed him ·
lJudas Thaddaeus, son of James, one of the twelve apostles ·
lSaint Jude, a brother, stepbrother, or half-brother, to Jesus
lSaint Jude, who some traditions think is Judas Thomas Didymus
lSimon the Zealot, the apostle named Simon that was not Simon Peter
The Gnostics considers Thomas as the twin brother of Jesus. We have no evidence for this in the Bible. No, Mary did not give birth to two Children, Matthew 1:18-23. It also has the problem of a twin being conceived in Mary by Holy Spirit making Thomas also God incarnate. Jesus Christ is the Father's only begotten Son, John 3:16-17.
The Book of Thomas the Contender, found in the Nag Hammadi library, Jesus says: others believe that Adai whom Thomas send to King Abgar of Edessa was the twin brother. Addai was one of the 72 disciples in the second circle of disciples of Thomas.
It is most likely that Thomas and his twin were very close relatives of Mary and Joseph. In factt there were several disciples of Jesus who were close relatives. This is to be expected since Jesus was the legal heir to the throne of David, the disciples expected to be part of the ruling cabinet when Jesus became King as they expressed clearly in Mark 10 and Mathew 20. So it is to be assumed that Jesus and Thomas looked alike to some extent. Alternately the similarity must have been in their approach to problems and situations - a spirit reflection.
"Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself…" Thomas probably looked like Jesus and so people called him the Twin. Still others consider that his attitude of rationality and interpretation corresponded a spiritual reflection of Jesus.
What was his real name? All tradition ascribes the name Judas Thomas which makes his real name as Jude or Judas. In the lists of the apostles Thomas is always mentioned along with Matthew, who was the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18), and that these two are always followed by James, who was also the son of Alphaeus. Hence it may be assumed that these three, Matthew, Thomas, and James, were brothers.
Syriac tradition claims that Thomas was the son of Cephas who was the brother of Joseph, thus making him the first cousin of Jesus. Hebrew does not have a word for cousin. All are referred to as brothers or sisters. But this will not explain the the twin similarity because Jesus is not immediately related to Joseph. If we have to explain this identity of look, Thomas will have to be a nephew of Mary - a brother of John the baptist or of Apostle John.
Even though the references to Thomas are few, they are sufficient to give us insight into this great rationalist scientist. Once committed he was willing to die for the cause. So when Jesus was planning to return to Jerusalem where people waiting to kill him, Thomas volunteered and encouraged his fellow brothren to dare to accompany Jesus even to death.
John 11:16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
When Jesus began to speak of a heavenly abode, Thomas wanted a clearer explanation of where, when and how?
John 14:2-6 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We have no record of the early of Apostle Thomas. However there had been a recent book where they claim some revelation in the book called The Urantia Book.
The Urantia Book (sometimes called The Urantia Papers or The Fifth Epochal Revelation) is a spiritual and philosophical book that originated in Chicago some time between 1924 and 1955. The authorship remains a matter of speculation. It has received various degrees of interest ranging from praise to criticism for its religious and science content, its unusual length, and its lack of a known author. It has no scriptural basis and should be considered as such.
The Twelve Apostles
8. Thomas Didymus
139:8.1 (1561.1) Thomas was the eighth apostle, and he was chosen by Philip. In later times he has become known as “doubting Thomas,” but his fellow apostles hardly looked upon him as a chronic doubter. True, his was a logical, skeptical type of mind, but he had a form of courageous loyalty which forbade those who knew him intimately to regard him as a trifling skeptic.
139:8.2 (1561.2) When Thomas joined the apostles, he was twenty-nine years old, was married, and had four children. Formerly he had been a carpenter and stone mason, but latterly he had become a fisherman and resided at Tarichea, situated on the west bank of the Jordan where it flows out of the Sea of Galilee, and he was regarded as the leading citizen of this little village. He had little education, but he possessed a keen, reasoning mind and was the son of excellent parents, who lived at Tiberias. Thomas had the one truly analytical mind of the twelve; he was the real scientist of the apostolic group.
139:8.3 (1561.3) The early home life of Thomas had been unfortunate; his parents were not altogether happy in their married life, and this was reflected in Thomas’s adult experience. He grew up having a very disagreeable and quarrelsome disposition. Even his wife was glad to see him join the apostles; she was relieved by the thought that her pessimistic husband would be away from home most of the time. Thomas also had a streak of suspicion which made it very difficult to get along peaceably with him. Peter was very much upset by Thomas at first, complaining to his brother, Andrew, that Thomas was “mean, ugly, and always suspicious.” But the better his associates knew Thomas, the more they liked him. They found he was superbly honest and unflinchingly loyal. He was perfectly sincere and unquestionably truthful, but he was a natural-born faultfinder and had grown up to become a real pessimist. His analytical mind had become cursed with suspicion. He was rapidly losing faith in his fellow men when he became associated with the twelve and thus came in contact with the noble character of Jesus. This association with the Master began at once to transform Thomas’s whole disposition and to effect great changes in his mental reactions to his fellow men.
139:8.4 (1561.4) Thomas’s great strength was his superb analytical mind coupled with his unflinching courage—when he had once made up his mind. His great weakness was his suspicious doubting, which he never fully overcame throughout his whole lifetime in the flesh.
139:8.5 (1561.5) In the organization of the twelve Thomas was assigned to arrange and manage the itinerary, and he was an able director of the work and movements of the apostolic corps. He was a good executive, an excellent businessman, but he was handicapped by his many moods; he was one man one day and another man the next. He was inclined toward melancholic brooding when he joined the apostles, but contact with Jesus and the apostles largely cured him of this morbid introspection.
139:8.6 (1561.6) Jesus enjoyed Thomas very much and had many long, personal talks with him. His presence among the apostles was a great comfort to all honest doubters and encouraged many troubled minds to come into the kingdom, even if they could not wholly understand everything about the spiritual and philosophic phases of the teachings of Jesus. Thomas’s membership in the twelve was a standing declaration that Jesus loved even honest doubters.
139:8.7 (1562.1) The other apostles held Jesus in reverence because of some special and outstanding trait of his replete personality, but Thomas revered his Master because of his superbly balanced character. Increasingly Thomas admired and honored one who was so lovingly merciful yet so inflexibly just and fair; so firm but never obstinate; so calm but never indifferent; so helpful and so sympathetic but never meddlesome or dictatorial; so strong but at the same time so gentle; so positive but never rough or rude; so tender but never vacillating; so pure and innocent but at the same time so virile, aggressive, and forceful; so truly courageous but never rash or foolhardy; such a lover of nature but so free from all tendency to revere nature; so humorous and so playful, but so free from levity and frivolity. It was this matchless symmetry of personality that so charmed Thomas. He probably enjoyed the highest intellectual understanding and personality appreciation of Jesus of any of the twelve.
139:8.8 (1562.2) In the councils of the twelve Thomas was always cautious, advocating a policy of safety first, but if his conservatism was voted down or overruled, he was always the first fearlessly to move out in execution of the program decided upon. Again and again would he stand out against some project as being foolhardy and presumptuous; he would debate to the bitter end, but when Andrew would put the proposition to a vote, and after the twelve would elect to do that which he had so strenuously opposed, Thomas was the first to say, “Let’s go!” He was a good loser. He did not hold grudges nor nurse wounded feelings. Time and again did he oppose letting Jesus expose himself to danger, but when the Master would decide to take such risks, always was it Thomas who rallied the apostles with his courageous words, “Come on, comrades, let’s go and die with him.”
139:8.9 (1562.3) Thomas was in some respects like Philip; he also wanted “to be shown,” but his outward expressions of doubt were based on entirely different intellectual operations. Thomas was analytical, not merely skeptical. As far as personal physical courage was concerned, he was one of the bravest among the twelve.
139:8.10 (1562.4) Thomas had some very bad days; he was blue and downcast at times. The loss of his twin sister when he was nine years old had occasioned him much youthful sorrow and had added to his temperamental problems of later life. When Thomas would become despondent, sometimes it was Nathaniel who helped him to recover, sometimes Peter, and not infrequently one of the Alpheus twins. When he was most depressed, unfortunately he always tried to avoid coming in direct contact with Jesus. But the Master knew all about this and had an understanding sympathy for his apostle when he was thus afflicted with depression and harassed by doubts.
139:8.11 (1562.5) Sometimes Thomas would get permission from Andrew to go off by himself for a day or two. But he soon learned that such a course was not wise; he early found that it was best, when he was downhearted, to stick close to his work and to remain near his associates. But no matter what happened in his emotional life, he kept right on being an apostle. When the time actually came to move forward, it was always Thomas who said, “Let’s go!”
139:8.12 (1562.6) Thomas is the great example of a human being who has doubts, faces them, and wins. He had a great mind; he was no carping critic. He was a logical thinker; he was the acid test of Jesus and his fellow apostles. If Jesus and his work had not been genuine, it could not have held a man like Thomas from the start to the finish. He had a keen and sure sense of fact. At the first appearance of fraud or deception Thomas would have forsaken them all. Scientists may not fully understand all about Jesus and his work on earth, but there lived and worked with the Master and his human associates a man whose mind was that of a true scientist—Thomas Didymus—and he believed in Jesus of Nazareth.
139:8.13 (1563.1) Thomas had a trying time during the days of the trial and crucifixion. He was for a season in the depths of despair, but he rallied his courage, stuck to the apostles, and was present with them to welcome Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. For a while he succumbed to his doubting depression but eventually rallied his faith and courage. He gave wise counsel to the apostles after Pentecost and, when persecution scattered the believers, went to Cyprus, Crete, the North African coast, and Sicily, preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom and baptizing believers. And Thomas continued preaching and baptizing until he was apprehended by the agents of the Roman government and was put to death in Malta. Just a few weeks before his death he had begun the writing of the life and teachings of Jesus.
138:2.5 (1539.8) 2. Thomas Didymus, a fisherman of Tarichea and onetime carpenter and stone mason of Gadara. He was selected by Philip.
5. The Call of Thomas and Judas
138:5.1 (1542.2) Thomas the fisherman and Judas the wanderer met Jesus and the apostles at the fisher-boat landing at Tarichea, and Thomas led the party to his near-by home. Philip now presented Thomas as his nominee for apostleship and Nathaniel presented Judas Iscariot, the Judean, for similar honors. Jesus looked upon Thomas and said: “Thomas, you lack faith; nevertheless, I receive you. Follow me.” To Judas Iscariot the Master said: “Judas, we are all of one flesh, and as I receive you into our midst, I pray that you will always be loyal to your Galilean brethren. Follow me.”
The Urantia Book says that the Apostle Thomas died in Malta.
Thomas is also known as "The Doubting Thomas", because he demanded an objective proof of evidence for resurrection directly.
Thomas was the first disciple who confessed and acknowledged, Jesus as "My God and My Lord"
This indeed was the first time anyone ever recognized Jesus as God. Not even Peter ever came close to this realization even after the Mount of Transfiguration.
John 20:24 -29 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "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 it."
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
THOMAS WORLD’S FIRST CHRISTIAN
In terms of Rom. 10:10
Thomas may be considered as the first Christian who was saved .
”For man believes with his heart and so is justified,
and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.”
“This is the last of a series of confessions of Jesus found in the Fourth Gospel.
lJohn the Baptist testified that Jesus is the Son of God (1:34),
lNathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel’ (1:49);
lthe Samaritans said, ‘we know this man really is the Saviour of the world’ (4:42),
l the man born blind said, ‘If this man were not from God he could do nothing,’ and later worshipped him as the Son of Man (9:33, 35-38),
lMartha said, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world’ (11:27), and
lthe disciples said, ‘This makes us believe that you came from God’ (16:30).
Thomas’ confession is not only the last; it is also the climatic confession of the Fourth Gospel. He confessed Jesus not only as his Lord, but his It was a strongly personal confession. By recording it the evangelist brings his readers back to the opening verse of the Prologue:
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
Colin G. Kruse, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 385.
The militant atheist, Richard Dawkins, once nominated Thomas the apostle as a patronsaint of scientists:Science is based upon verifiable evidence.
“Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its indepen-dence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would Christians wax critical of doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as exemplars ofvirtue because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas, on the other hand, requiredevidence. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of scientists.”
It is well known that scientists stands on the observations and results of the former scientific community which have undergone peer reviews and majority consensus. Faith of Christianity follows the same scientific procedure . The resurrection of Jesus was verified by many eye witnesses. These are clearly stated in the Gospels and the later writers. Here are a few:
Act_2:32 This Jesus has God raised up, whereof all *we* are witnesses.
Act_3:15 but the originator of life ye slew, whom God raised from among the dead, whereof
*we* are witnesses.
Act_5:32 And *we* are his witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit also, which God has
given to those that obey him.
Act_10:39 *We* also are witnesses of all things which he did both in the country of the Jews
and in Jerusalem; whom they also slew, having hanged him on a cross.
1Co_15:15 And we are found also false witnesses of God; for we have witnessed concerning
God that he raised the Christ, whom he has not raised if indeed those that are dead are not raised.
Evengelist Luke on the otherhand was not an eyewitness but a researcher and made his own conclusion based on the experience of other witnesses.
Luke, writing anywhere from 50 to 90 A.D., says:
"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been
fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were
eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully
from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you
may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed." (Luke 1:1-4)
But this was written during period when a large number of eye witnesses were still alive.
In fact all of the New Testament books were written during this period ending around AD 100 when the last of the disciple John died. In fact this was the norm in selecting the New Testment Canon of books even though there were a large number of historical books and documents were in existence during the period when the Canon was established and books were selected as part of the Scripture.
Elohim wa Adonai
Strong’s Concordance numbers: 430, 136:
”Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord. (Psalm 35:23)
A similar name (with the Hebrew words reversed) is found in Psalm 38:15 (and about forty times elsewhere): Lord my God (’Adonai ’Elohai). LORD, my God (Yahweh ’Elohai) is a name in Psalm 13:
This indicates his title as Adonai Elohai - my Lord among the Elohims (title used in the creation story in Genesis 1) and my Yahweh among the Elohai (the title used in creation of Adam in Gen 2-3)
This identifies Jesus as YHVH Elohim not as the co-creators with YHVH who form the assembly of Elohim of Heb 20:23
The confession of Thomas hence has tremendous implication. While other disciples saw and believed that Jesus was risen from the dead and was indeed the mesiah - the Son of God who is the Savior of the World. They all were good jews to the core.
Thomas wanted to do further experiment with the data in his own personal way and came to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed Lord but more than that, Jesus was indeed God.”
But Thomas changed it all
JESUS IS GOD
This confession led to the concept of Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - as one in Essence from the One True God in existential form.
THOMAS AND JESUS - THE TWIN ENCOUNTER
The encounter of Twin Thomas with resurrected Jesus along with eleven as described has far reaching implication in history and the Philosophy of the then existing world. Since the death and resurrection of Jesus form the basis of Christian faith the rationalists of the period tried to falsify them by alternate possibilities. The meeting of Thomas with the resurrected Jesus and the declaration of Thomas are hence fundamental proof of the Son of God as God in Human form or Avatar showing the Father’s love and attempt to contact the Children of Adam to show the way.
# First it nullifies the substitution hypothesis.
The substitution hypothesis or twin hypothesis states that the sightings of a risen Jesus are explained not by physical resurrection, but by the existence of a different person, a twin or lookalike who could have impersonated Jesus or at least given the impression that Jesus did not die on the cross nor was he resurrected from the dead.
1. Jesus did not die on the cross. They actually crucified not the true Jesus but his twin brother who looked exactly like him - Dydimus Judas Thomas (Twin Judas Twin). Judas Thomas died in the place of Jesus on the cross. It is a position held by some Gnostics in the first to third century, as well as some modern Mandaeans, Muslims, and many Japanese Christians.
A verse in the Qur'an states a slightly different approach which says of Jesus that “That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-" has been interpreted by many Muslims to mean that a different man who only appeared to be Jesus died in his place.
Proponents of this view do not agree on the identity of the substitute, Some early Gnostic writings say that Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried the cross, was the man who died on it. And a book called the Gospel of Barnabas says that Judas Iscariot was the man who was actually crucified.
Jesus spoke often of his impending death -- and why it was coming. "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father." Gospel According to St. John 10:17-18
Death and resurrection were part of God’s plan all along; it wasn't some failure that led Jesus to the cross; it was the fulfillment of the will of God to defeat sin, death, and the devil. Jesus was the lamb that was sacrificed even before the creation of the world.
2. They mistook Twin of Jesus - Thomas- as resurrected Jesus.: It was was Jesus who died on the cross, and he was placed inside the cave. The disciples were in hiding for three days because of the Romans. But when the came out and saw Thomas, they mistook Twin Judas Twin - Judas Thomas as resurrected Jesus. The Twin Thomas who looked exactly like Jesus impersonated as the resurrected Jesus and the Christian religion evolved out of it.
But the meeting of Jesus and Thomas together in the midst of all the other disciples nullifies all the above explanation. Unless of course if you believe that the disciples wanted to fool people to made their religion. But they had made themselves willing martyrs in that process for the lie.
#Second it nullifies Gnostic Arguments
Gnosticism is a heresy which is made up of a diverse set of beliefs. It is the teaching based on the idea of gnosis (a Koine Greek word meaning "secret knowledge"), or knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of internal, intuitive means. While Gnosticism thus relies on personal religious experience as its primary authority, early "Christian" Gnostics did adopt their own versions of authoritative Scriptures, such as those found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt.
What we know about Gnosticism comes from Irenaeus who studied twenty of the most influential Gnostic writers and defined and criticized their beliefs. Other early church fathers, such as Tertullian and Origen also provide information regarding Gnostic beliefs. Lastly, many Gnostic writings were discovered at the Nag Hammadi Library. Nag Hammadi is a town in Upper Egypt near ancient Chenoboskion and 13 codices were discovered about 1945.
This philosophy is fundamental to the modern Hinduism and of Buddhism.
There are two realms of existence - the Material dimensions and the Spiritual dimensions. Gnostics believed that matter is evil. The Spirit of man is the real being (Soul) which experience the matter and gets entangles with it.. This is the cause of reincarnation resulting in a cycle of life and death.
God is wholly transcendent, that is, he is far removed from his creation. He did not create the material universe as we have now. It is created by an emanation from God, a lesser God, sometimes called a "demiurge".
Gnostics believed that human beings retained "sparks" or "droplets" of the spiritual substance (or essence) that God is. Humans became trapped in our physical bodies and because of the worldly pleasures are bound to it . Moksha or Salvation is the escape from his birth, life and death cycle.
All Gnostics agreed that The Fall was identical to the fall into matter. In other words, creation and The Fall coincide. "As long as spirits are trapped in physical bodies and materiality, they will be subject to sin, which is caused by ignorance of their true nature and home."
Gnosticism commonly held that "salvation is to escape from the bondage to the material existence and travel back to the home from which souls/spirits have fallen." God initiates salvation because he wants to draw back the stray bits and pieces of himself, and so he sends forth an emanation of himself - "a spiritual redeemer" - who comes down from heaven and gives an attempt to teach some of the "divine sparks of Spirit" what their true identity is and where their real home lies. Once they are awakened by this redeemer they can then begin their journey back home. "Salvation is by knowledge - self-knowledge."
Lastly, as far as most scholars know, Gnostics considered themselves Christians and saw Jesus as a heavenly messenger - a man with the Spirit of God in him. However, they rejected the idea of God becoming incarnate (God becoming a man), dying and rising bodily. "These beliefs were considered un-spiritual and against true wisdom because they entangled spirit with matter." Most Gnostics believe that whoever entered Jesus at his baptism left him before he died on the cross.”
Thomas’s experiment with Jesus was to establish that Jesus was indeed in his original body and not a spirit even after resurrection. He was human as well as God as Thomas shouted. Thomas really touched his body - God still in material body.
In this sense Thomas indeed was the Twin of all the rationalists and scientists who stand up and shout loud “We demand evidence”
In all these Thomas is presented as a rational scientist who demanded evidence. He came to Bhakthi (faith) through Jnana (Knowledge) and then went on to his business as a Karma (Action) yogi thus fully encompassing the dimensions of Spirit, Mind and Body.
JNANA YOGA - realization through Knowledge, objective scientific verification of truth
BHAKTHI YOGA - realization through Devotion (commitment).
KARMA YOGA - realization through Action,
In this sense Thomas indeed was the Twin of those who were like me rationalists and scientifically minded. We thank him for his incredulity that he may beget children of courage and absolute confidence.
« Because you see Me, you touch Me, and You kiss Me, Thomas, you are happy, you believe again, truly! Even happier and forever blessed are they who, in your midst, have believed without having seen… My Face now engraved in you, remains in this world of darkness to guide and delight the eyes that are lost there. Bear witness to my Truth! »
(Abbé Georges de Nantes, The Kiss of the Disciple)
In modern times Thomas had received the nickname “Doubting Thomas” and this phrase is even used today to describe someone who doubts what they are told. The nickname arose because after Jesus had risen from the dead the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord alive. But Thomas doubted their words and said “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John. 20:25).
A week later Jesus appeared to the disciples and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus said to Thomas “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe.” (John. 20:27).
A lot of the other disciples had moments of doubt, remember Peter sinking into the water after walking upon it toward Jesus. He became afraid and doubted. Nathanael doubted that the Messiah could ever come from such an insignificant town as Nazareth. Sometimes nicknames are just unfair.
Well Thomas had good qualities as well. After Lazarus had gotten sick and died Jesus said to the disciples “lets go back to Judea” where Lazarus was buried (John. 11:7). But the disciples didn’t want to go because the last time they were there the Jews tried to kill Jesus. But Thomas was not afraid he bravely spoke up and said “Let us go with him, so that we may die with him.” (John. 11:16).
Maybe he should have had the nickname “Courageous Thomas” Instead!
Thomas was with the other Apostles at Christ’s ascension and was gathered with them in the upper room in Acts 1:13. After this the Bible tells us nothing else about Thomas.History then tells us that Thomas alone had the courage and faith to take the gospel from one end of earth (America - unknown to the world at that time) to the other end of the earth (China) while others were only limited within the “known world” of the period in history.
This is the oldest painting of Jesus in the world.
It is now in Cairo Museum
The picture represents the Thoma Margam, the way of Thomas as that of the Magi the Scientist. It would be necessary to look into the theological interpretation of the method of the doubting Thomas to be the Apostle who became a believer through personal experience of verification and became the one who was sent to baptize the Magi - the wise men and the one reached the ends of the world in actuality.
A modern version of the earliest painting of Jesus and Thomas.
Faith is based on everyday personal experience and exercise of faith based on the faith which is established. When Jesus appeared first time after the resurrection, this is what happened
Luke 24: 38-41 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit.
And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?"
"See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them,
"Have you anything here to eat?"…
How did Jesus make them believe that he was indeed risen and is alive in body mind and soul and not a spirit?
He showed his wound and encouraged them to touch and feel his body. He probably ate with them. What the other disciples experienced, Thomas wanted to experience himself to believe and not based on the word of others.
"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 it."
That is exactly what Jesus did with Thomas.
This indeed is the foundation of all science. Jesus did not ask them to believe blindly. It is in fact dangerous to believe blindly what others report to you.
1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 ..do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
“DOUBTING THOMAS” = SCIENTIST THOMAS
“A state in which the mind is suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them. Any number of alternative propositions on the same subject may be in doubt at the same time; but, strictly speaking, the doubt is attached separately to each one, as between the proposition and its contradictory, i.e. each proposition may or may not be true. Doubt is opposed to certitude, or the adhesion of the mind to a proposition without misgiving as to its truth”
Phenomenology and Ethnomethology both operate on the assumption that the world of facts around us is unquestionable. That what we see, hear, feel, touch, taste, and even think are real, measurable, and that the world will continue to operate by these rules.
This is an essential precondition for empirical science,
lDo not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
lDo not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
lDo not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
lDo not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
lDo not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
Buddha was a rationalist. Here is his famous Kalama Sutta:
As a Physics teacher I had always insisted that the students should repeat every laboratory measurements thrice and take the average as an assessment of the truth. Because there are a lot of variables which we know and even those we do not know that decides a final truth
“Judge a man not by his answers but by his questions.” Voltaire
“The stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Bertrand Russell
Science and faith two manifestations of humanity's desire to understand its place within the hidden mysteries of the universe
“The story of Thomas is not about doubting. The story of Thomas is about a merciful and loving Jesus.
He is so merciful that He will come to us and give us what we need to believe. I suppose the question
is, are we willing to ask and are we willing to look for the answer?”
Rev. William D. Oldland, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Reidsville, N.C.
“Doubt is not the same as disbelief.” Cal Thomas, The Washington Post, Aug. 30, 2007
“Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself — for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.”’ Saint Teresa 1953.
“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.“ Paul Tillich
“The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
We have the example of Gideon who tested God’s assignment order by repeated experiments. Then he went out and brought victory for Israel.
The Sign of the Fleece and Gideon’s experiment with God.
36 So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.
King Ahaz and God: You cannot see me but test me
Then in Isaiah we see King Ahaz was challenged to test my any impossible results “as high as the heavens or as deept as the pit” and when he refused he was given the ultimate proof of a virgin birth.
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
12But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”
13Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
God wants you to test him so that you are firmly established in faith.
The ultimate proof of Christian faith depends on the resurrection of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:14-19 King James Version
14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Thus we see Apostle Thomas was really a magi and was willing to openly demand evidence before he commit himself to the cause of Jesus. But the as soon as he was convinced of the experience and the final conclusion that Jesus has indeed risen, his logical conclusion far outweighed the conclusions of all others - Jesus is indeed his Lord and Jesus indeed is God. None of the other disciples came not even close, inspite of the fact three of them really was with Jesus in the mount and saw the transfiguration. But none came to the conclusion that “Jesus is God”.
This has become the foundation of his ministry. In India the very name of God became Iswaran which came from Isa (Jesus) Paran (Lord). Until then Thevar or Deva was the generic word which meant God. After Thomas’ ministry it became Iswaran.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:7,8).
Believers should expect these supernatural works. When Jesus sent out his disciples he said: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils;
they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents;
and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.”
How was the word confirmed - with signs following. Why? Because faith grows with these signs and wonders.
Hebrews 2:3-4 says, How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was
confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Traditions handed down to us)
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, (Personal every day experience)
according to his own will?
Joh 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Joh 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
Jesus accepted the doubt and was all out to assure them.
Colossians 2:6-8 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ
What is this "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed"?
“A text taken out of context is a pretext” is the standard hermeneutic principle
Thomas could touch the wounds of Jesus and verify his assumption. But in the ages to come, people cannot do that. They have to believe by touching the body of Jesus - the Church. By signs of miracles that the believers who are established in Christ perform. Do you know that the greatest magicians are the Christians.
Science is built on the experiments and experience of multiple people through the ages. One cannot experiece all the observed realities and has to base themselves on the experience of trustworthy witnessses. It is here we have the importance of witnesses. New Testaments emphasizes the witness factor. As the generation who lived in the period of Jesus who had actually experienced Him through the five senses began to die out it became necessary to write the New Testament. More than that the Church became for all matters the real body of Jesus with the wounds and the power to heal and to do signs and wonders.
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life -
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you
the eternal life that was with the Father was made visible to us -
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.
1 John 1:1-4
This is what Luke, writing anywhere from 50 to 90 A.D., says:
"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed." (Luke 1:1-4)
Thus the written scriptures were the writings of those who were with Jesus or who had taken the pain to do research and written it down. There were of course on going oral and written teachings and letters of teachers to disciples and fathers to children.
After the ascention of Jesus, we cannot use out five senses to experience the man who was Jesus because the man Jesus ascended back to heave and sits at the right hand of his father. He is not in his material body in three dimensions alone.
But those who were with him during the period when he was alive stand witness to what they saw, heard and touched. This was initially transmitted orally by the 12 disciples and the many who were with Jesus We have to trust the witness of the disciples and touch the living body of Jesus itself - which is the church.
After Jesus is gone back to the heavens, no one could touch him and hear him directly to verify his existence and his Lordship. There will be only witnesses. What Jesus was telling Thomas was that Thomas and all Jesus’ brothers who are now forming the church will be his witness on the earth. Even these witnesses began to die out by around AD 100. After the direct witnesses began to die out, the believing community began to feel the need of documentation. This is what demanded the writing of the Gospels.
Even that would not be complete and Jesus felt the need of every believer touching his body and believe firmly as his disciples did. It is because of these the Church as the body of Christ came into existence and the power of signs and wonders to confirm the word of the witnesses through the coming ages to continue was instituted.Church is the body of Christ on the earth and they will be Jesus’ body which can be touched and believed by the coming generations.
when Jesus send his disciples as witnesses he gave them the power so
that each one who hears the word may be confirmed through sign and
Jesus himself was attested as the Son of God through miracles and wonders and signs
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—
In the same way the preachings of apostles were attested by miracles and wonders and signs
Acts 2:43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
Acts 5:12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people;
2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
Romans 15:19 In the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
These signs will follow all those who believe as a sign to the unbelievers
Mark 16:17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;
1 Corinthians 14:22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.
World’s greatest magicians: the believers - the visible body of Christ now on earth.
Mark 16:17-18 And these signs shall follow them that believe;
l In my name shall they cast out devils;
l they shall speak with new tongues;
l They shall take up serpents;
l and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;
l they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Matt. 18:18-20 Truly I tell you,
n whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and
n whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
n Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.
lFor where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.
THUS FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH ALL SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES.
IT IS AN EXACT SCIENCE.
Just like Thomas each believer will have to experience Jesus in a very personal way by their own experimentations.
This is usually called “Being Born Again”
It is a personal relationship and not based alone on reason nor on majority consonance.
This cannot happen unless every believer experience Jesus in their own personal senses and in their life. They have to go one step further from the witness they received to experience the living Christ by themselves.
Colossians 2:6 -8 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
Establishing in faith is a slow process. This a growth in confidence in character of God and his faithfulness derives from personal experience. Hence Paul uses the analogy of a growing tree. The deeper the root and greater will be tree and the fruit thereof.
Thomas was the first Christian full magi. So Thomas was asked to find those magi from all over the world who searched for the birth of the Son of God and confirm them as full Christian magi with creative power with their words and thoughts as the body of Jesus himself.
Thomas was thus one of the Magi and he was deployed to the ends of earth to preach and to baptize the magi into the faith. These signs followed him because he was rooted in faith.
The Scriptures paint a picture of Thomas far different from the distorted caricature we know as “doubting Thomas”. Here is a summary of the facts as presented in the Word of God:
·Thomas was courageous, loyal and loving:
“Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
·He was inquisitive; willing to ask questions no one else would dare ask:
“Lord, we don't know where You are going, so how can we know the way?”
·He doubted the reports of the Resurrection no more than the other disciples. And being noble in
character, he would not believe hearsay:
The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands... I will not believe.”
·Thomas' depth of understanding of who Yeshua (Jesus) was—God in the flesh—surpassed that of the other disciples:
o“My Lord and my God!”
lThomas alone dared to go beyond the familiar Greco_Roman world to the dark world and to all colors and races to the ends of earth to proclaim that Yeshua (Jesus) was indeed God
« Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. » (Rm 10:18)
Origen of Alexandria (ca. 185-254) writes that the apostles divided up the work of evangelizing the world between them. He mentions “Thomas was assigned Parthia, and John was given "Asia."” Origen was a contemporary to the writer of the Acts of Thomas, and was familiar with Thomas' adventures as a missionary in India. Acts of Thomas mentions that the Apostles "divided the countries among them, in order that each one of them might preach in the region which fell to him and in the place to which his Lord sent him."
“At that time we the apostles were all in Jerusalem— Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James of Alphæus and Simon the Cananæan; and Judas of James; — and we portioned out the regions of the world, in order that each one of us might go into the region that fell to him, and to the nation to which the Lord sent him”
Here is the allocation as finally declared by Apostle Peter: 230.Saint Peter then continued:
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Andrew, will follow his Master preaching his faith in the Scythian provinces of Europe, Epirus and Thrace; and from the city of Patras in Achaia he will govern all that province, and the others of his lot, as far as possible.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother James the greater, will follow his Master preaching the faith in Judea, in Samaria and in Spain; thence he shall return in order to preach the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ in this city of Jerusalem.”
“The most dear brother John shall obey the will of our Savior and Master as made known to him from the Cross, discharging the duties of a son toward our great Mother and Mistress. He shall serve Her and assist Her with filial reverence and fidelity; he shall administer to Her the sacred mysteries of the Eucharist and shall also take care of the faithful in Jerusalem during our absence.
And when our God and Redeemer shall have taken into heaven his most blessed Mother, he shall follow his Master in the preaching of the faith in Asia Minor, governing the churches there established from the island of Patmos, whither he shall retire on account of persecution.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Thomas, will follow his Master preaching in India, in Persia and among the Parthians, Mecles, Hircanians, Brahmans, Bactrians. He shall baptize the three Magi Kings and, as they shall be attracted by the rumor of his preaching and his miracles, he shall instruct them fully in all things according to their expectations.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother James, shall follow his Master in his office of pastor and bishop of Jerusalem, where he shall preach to all the Jews and shall assist John in the attendance and service of the great Mother of our Savior.”
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Philip, shall follow his Master preaching and teaching in the provinces Phrygia and Scythia of Asia, and in the city called Hieropolis in Phrygia.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Bartholornew, shall follow his Master preaching in Lycaonia, part of Cappadocia in Asia; and he shall go to further India and afterwards to Armenia Minor.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Matthew, shall first teach the Hebrews, and go to further India and afterwards to Armenia Minor.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Matthew, shall first teach the Hebrews, and then shall follow his Master, preaching in Egypt and Ethiopia.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Simon, shall follow his Master preaching in Babylon, Persia and also in the kingdom of Ethiopia.”
“The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Judas Thaddeus, shall follow our Master, preaching in Mesopotamia, and afterwards shall join Simon to preach in Babylon and in Persia.”
The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Mathias, shall follow our Master, preaching his holy faith in the interior of Ethiopia and in Arabia, and afterwards He shall return to Palestine.
And may the Spirit of God accompany us all, govern and assist us, so that in all places we fulfill his holy and perfect will, and may He give us his benediction, in whose name I now give it to all.”
Hippolytus(c. 170–235 AD) on the Twelve Apostles
Where each of them preached, and where he met his end.
1. Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia, and afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward, as he himself desired to suffer in that manner.
2. Andrew preached to the Scythians and Thracians, and was crucified, suspended on an olive tree, at Patræ, [a town] of Achaia; and there too he was buried.
3. John, again, in Asia, was banished by Domitian the king to the isle of Patmos, in which also he wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajan's time he fell asleep at Ephesus, where his remains were sought for, but could not be found.
4. James, his brother, when preaching in Judea, was cut off with the sword by Herod the tetrarch, and was buried there.
5. Philip preached in Phrygia, and was crucified in Hierapolis with his head downward in the timeDomitian, and was buried there.
6. Bartholomew, again, [preached] to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, [and] was crucified with his head downward, and was buried in Allanum, [Albanum, a town] of Parthia. [The general tradition is, that he was flayed alive, and then crucified.]
7. And Matthew wrote the Gospel on the Hebrew tongue, and published it at Jerusalem, and fell asleep in Hierees, [a town] of Parthia.
8. And Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians,(Margois. Combefisius proposes Mardois. Jerome has "Magis.") and was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spear at Calamene, the city of India, and was buried there.
9. And James the son of Alphæus, when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews, and was buried there beside the te,ple.
10. Jude, who is also [called] Lebbæus, preached to the people of Edessa, and to all Mesopotamia, and fell asleep at Berytus, and was buried there.
11. Simon the Zealot, the son of Clopas, who is also [called] Jude, became bishop of Jerusalem after James the Just, and fell asleep and was buried there at the age of 120 years.
12. And Matthias, who was one of the seventy, was numbered along with the eleven apostles, and preached in Jerusalem, and fell asleep and was buried there.
13. And Paul entered into the apostleship a year after the assumption of Christ; and beginning at Jerusalem, he advanced as far as Illyricum, and Italy, and Spain, preaching the Gospel for five-and-thirty years. And in the time of Nero he was beheaded at Rome, and was buried there.
When the Apostles were sent out they were first to contact the jewish dispersed community. The reason for this is simple. Abraham was called out to be a blessing to all the Adamic race of the world.
“In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18).
For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
But you will be called the priests of the Lord;
You will be spoken of as ministers of our God.
You will eat the wealth of nations,
And in their riches you will boast.
But you are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
a people for God’s own possession,
so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Jesus when he choose the disciples first during their training period sent them only to the Jews:
Mat. 10: 2-7
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go onto the road of the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’… (also Mark 6:6–13; Matthew 9:35; 10:5–42)
This brought in all the disciples of Jesus In Luke 10 he sents the Seventy again to all the cities of the jews and gathered those who believed him.
. Among them Jews were to be the Priests to the Nations. Since Jesus came into the culture of the Jews, the Gospel is expressed within that culture and are easily understood by them. Now the duty is to interpret and embed this Gospel into the other cultures of the nations. Who else would be the right people to do that other than the jews in dispersion who lived and had assimiliated and aclamatized within the culture within which they live.
Thus we see that whenever the Apostles went out into other cultures, their first contact and mission was to the local Jewish people. We know that there were a large number of such Jews in dispersion. We have a list ready within the bible during the Pentecost when Peter first declared the Gospel. Here is the list:
Jews in dispersion
The Great Commission
Matthew 28: 16-20
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. A
And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.
And Jesus came and said to them:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This time the commission was to go and preach to all nations.
Yet at this point the priesthood and the responsibility remained with the Jews until in every nation disciplined believers will take over the responsibility.
Hence in every country that the Apostles went, they first went to the areas where the jewish diaspora lived and that for a long time.
What Happenned to the disciples?
The Acts of Judas Thomas opens with the following passage :-
And when all the Apostles had been for a time in Jerusalem-Simon Cephas and Andrew and Jacob (James) and John and Philip and Bartholomew and Thomas and Matthew the publican and Jacob (James) the son of Alpheus and Simon the Kananite and Judas the son of Jacob (James)-they divided the countries among them, in order that each one of them might preach in the region which fell to him and in the place to which his Lord sent him.
And India fell by lot and division to Judas Thomas (or the Twin) the Apostle.
And he was not willing to go, saying, " I have not strength enough for this, because I am weak. And 1 am a Hebrew: how can I teach the Indians?" and while Judas was reasoning thus, our Lord appeared to him in a vision of the night and said to him : " Fear not, Thomas, because my grace is with thee."
But he would not be persuaded at all, saying : "Whithersoever Thou wilt, our Lord, send me; only to India I will not go."
And as Judas was reasoning thus, a certain merchant, an Indian, happened (to come) into the south country from --, whose name was Habban, and he was sent by the King Gidnaphar, that he might bring to him a skilful carpenter. And our Lord saw him walking in the street, and said to him :
"Thou wishest to buy a carpenter? " He saith to him "Yes."
Our Lord said to him, "I have a slave. a carpenter. whom I will sell to thee." And he showed him Thomas at a *distance, and bargained with him for twenty (pieces) of silver (as) his price, and wrote a bill of sale thus:
" I, Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter. from the village of Bethlehem, which is in Judea, acknowledge that I have sold my slave Judas Thomas to Habban, the merchant of King Giidnaphar."
And when they had completed his bill of sale, Jesus took Judas and went to Habbiin the merchant. And Habban saw him and said to him: "Is this thy master ? "
Judas saith to him : "Yes, he is my master."
Habban the merchant saith to him : " He has sold thee to me outright." and Judas was silent. And in the morning he arose and prayed and entreated of his Lord, and said to Him : " Lord, our
Lord, as Thou wilt, let Thy will be (done)." And he went to Habbin the merchant, without carrying anythlng with him except that price of his, for our Lord had given it to him. And Judas went and found Habban the merchant carrying his goods on board the ship and he began to carry (them) on board with him.'
“Thomas (Didymus): Notable for his initial incredulity regarding the Resurrection and his subsequent forthright confession of the divinity of Christ risen from the dead; according to legend, preached the Gospel in places from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf and eventualy reached India where he was martyred near Madras; Thomas Christians trace their origin to him; in art, is depicted knelling before the risen Christ, or with a carpenter's rule and square; feast, July 3 (Roman Rite), Oct. 6 (Byzantine Rite).” Catholic Almanac
We will see that unlike other Apostles who evangelized in and around Jerusalem and the nearest reaches, Thomas reached out on the one hand to China in the East and America in the West.
Father Vincenzo Maria was one of four Carmelite friars sent to India by the Pope in 1656. In his attempt to gather up the history of Thomas Christians from interviews with other Christian groups he built up a time line of the ministry of Thomas.
Thomas, he says, began his mission in Syria-Mesopotamia.
From there the apostle went east to China, "the States of the Great Mogul," and "the kingdom of Sian." (The city of Sian in northwest China was the ancient capital of the Han dynasty, western Tang capital, and site of a Nestorian stele.)
He then revisited his original Middle East converts.
A leap across a continent and an ocean brought him to Brazil, then back to Ethiopia, and thence to the island of Socotra, off the coast of the Arabian peninsula, and finally to southern India. There he evangelized the Malabar Coast, and finally the Coromandel Coast (Madras and Mylapore), where he was martyred.
My analysis makes a few changes which would fit all the documents and traditions including the recent discoveries of Rev. Fr. Pancras M. Raja .
This is my time line of Thomas Mission from 33 to 72. Only a few dates can be stated with confidence since nobody kept any record.
1.Thomas starts his ministry from Syria - Mesopotamia and west part of Parthian Empire There is no evidence for Thomas taking the Silk Route nor visiting China other than from Kerala ministry period. Though Rambaan Song tradition gives the visit in 58 AD for a short period, (but then Ramban Songs is supposed to tell only the South Indian mission stories) Chinese tradition and evidence speak for three years (which may have been also in his earlier Asian mission and the route might have been also he silk route) at that time.
3.Then to Yemen and other Queen Sheba areas which also also includes Ethiopia though we have no evidence that he ever evangelized the present Ethiopia proper.
4.He then takes a ship to Kalyan near Bombay and goes on to the Mission in Indo-Parthea and Himalayan areas. Baptises Magi Gondaphores the King of Taxila and
5.procededs to Soutern India to baptise the other two Magi Kings - one in Tamilakam and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and other
6.Priravam near Cochin
7.He then returns to Taxila area.
8.Returns to Jerusalem for the Dormitian of Mother Mary and returns to Taxila
9.In AD 51 he left Taxila by ship due to the occpation and slow displacement of Parthian chiefs by the Kushans
On the way he is shipwrecked and visits Socotra Island
10 Then reaches Kodugallore in AD 52 for his Kerala ministry of establishing seven churches.
Reaches Chennai and visits China for three years starting 58 AD (The State of the Great Nogul and the Kingdom of Sian) He baptised the Chinese Magi
Returns to Chennai and was Martyred there. AD 72
The Breviary of. the church of Malabar contains in fact the following words in a lesson of the nocturnal service : —
"By St. Thomas idolatrous delusion was dissipated in India,
"By St. Thomas the Chinese and Ethiopians were converted to the truth.
"By St. Thomas they received baptism, and believed and con fessed the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
"By St. Thomas they have preserved the faith in one only God.
"By St. Thomas the splendours of a vivifying law have arisen over all India. " By St. Thomas the kingdom of heaven has been extended even to China."
In the same Chaldean service for St. Thomas's day, is found the following anthem : —
"The Indians, the Chinese, the Persians, and the other insular people (cceteriinsulani*), offer their adorations to your holy name in commemoration of St. Thomas."
First on Vincenzo Maria's list is Syria-Mesopotamia, "the neighborhood of Edessa," and expands it to all of the Persian empire, or "Parthia," where he preached "to Parthians, Medes, Bactrians (Northern Afghanistan), Hyrcanians (of Caspian Sea), and Taprobanians.(Ceylon / Sri Lanka.)”. This will indicate the vastness of the mission field. Indeed Thomas turns out to be the Apostle who travelled far away to the end of the earth and covered the maximum area with his mission. Apparently he was not a writer and left us nothing in writing. He was accompanied by a secretary scribe who reported everything. Hence we have to rely on the traditions of the countries where he evangelized.
However Apostle Thomas went beyond the known world of the time even unto the end of the world - the America.
All these areas were the ministry allocated to Thomas and we can see the extent of the Eastern Churches distributed all over by 4th century.
All the areas where Thomas worked was connected to the Syrian Eastern Church and were Nestorians in the early centuries.
Since it covered the portions east of Palestine they were the areas from which the Magi came to visit baby Jesus. It appears that one of his priorities was to meet them and give them the good news and baptize them. They were already believers, but they needed the life and teachings of Jesus explained. They probably were the first Christians in the world
- 30 years before Christianity came into existence ( from the birth of Jesus to the Pentecost ) and were the leaders in their regions when the Church was established.
(Academy for Christian Thought. New York, USA power point Silk Road Christianity)
OSROENE: THE FIRST CHRISTIAN KINGDOM
Edessa is a special case of Thomas mission where his influence was large and he is considered as the patron saint of the country.
It enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 216.
Birthdate: estimated between 100BCE and 20 Death: 50 AD
Immediate Family: Son of King of Osroene - Ma'nu III Saphul (23–4 BC) and Augustina Husband of Helena of Adiabene. Helena’s tomb is still to be seen before the gate of Jerusalem.
He was the father of King of Osroene - Ma'nu V (50–57) and King of Osroene - Ma'nu VI (57–71).
His Brother was King of Osroene - Ma'nu IV (7–13)
According to Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, Abgar was the son of Arsham, who was the son of Artashes, the brother of Tigranes II the Great.
Abgar V (Armenian Աբգար Ե) nicknamed Ukkāmā, which means “black”, was the King of Osroene in 4 BC – 7 AD and then 13-50 AD.
He was the 15th representative of the Osroerne dynasty of the Abgarids.
The Kingdom of Osroene was established in 137 BC and was destroyed by the troops of Caracalla in 216. Abgar V is most known for his apocryphal correspondence with Jesus Christ.
According to Marcus Tacitus, he actively participated in the struggle for the throne of Parthia around 50. He supported King Gotarzes in his campaign against the Roman henchman Meherdat.
Edessa - the native name was Osroe, after some local satrap, this being the Armenian form for Chosroes; it became in Syriac Ourhoï, in Armenian Ourhaï in Arabic Er Roha, commonly Orfa or Urfa, its present name. Seleucus Nicator, when he rebuilt the town, 303 B.C., called it Edessa. Edessa stands on the Silk Road. Abgar is the dynastic name of a number of rulers of Osroene, a small Hellenistic state in Northern Mesopotamia with its capital in Edessa (modern Şanliurfa in the southeast Turkey).
Among the illustrious disciples of the School of Edessa special mention is due to Bardesanes (154-222), a schoolfellow of Abgar IX, the originator of Christian religious poetry. Bardesanes visited Malabar and contended with Manichaen in the Kingdom of Ranni on Pampa River.
Early Church historian Eusebius (AD 260-340) in his "Ecclesiastical History" gives the story of how Edessa came to be Christian. Edessa was a small Kingdom in Syria and at time of Jesus, Abgar
Ukomo (AD 13-50) was its king. Abgar wrote a letter to Jesus. A copy of a letter written by Abgarus the toparch to Jesus, and sent to him by means of Ananias the runner, to Jerusalem.
Abgar’s letter reads:
Abgar Uchama the Toparch to Jesus, who has appeared as a gracious savior in the region of Jerusalem – greeting.
I have heard about you and the cures which you perform without drugs or herbs. If report is true, you make the blind see again and the lame walk about; you cleanse lepers, expel unclean spirits and demons, cure those suffering from chronic and painful diseases, and raise the dead. When I heard all of this about you, I concluded that one of two things must be true – either you are God and came down from heaven to do these things, or you are God’s son doing them. Accordingly I am writing to you to come to me, whatever the inconvenience, and cure the disorder from which I suffer. I may add that I understand the Jews are treating you with contempt and desire to injure you; my city is very small, but highly esteemed, adequate for both of us.“Abgarus Uchama the toparch to Jesus the good Saviour that hath appeared in the parts (place) of Jerusalem, greeting. I have heard concerning thee and thy cures, that they are done of thee without drugs or herbs: for, as the report goes, thou makest blind men to see again, lame to walk, and cleansest lepers, and castest out unclean spirits and devils, and those that are afflicted with long sickness thou heal-est, and raisest the dead.
”And having heard all this of thee, I had determined one of two things, either that thou art God come down from heaven, and so doest these things or art a Son of God that doest these things.
“Therefore now have I written and entreated thee to trouble thyself to come to me and heal the affliction which I have. or indeed I have heard that the Jews even murmur against thee and wish to do thee hurt. And I have a very little city but (and) comely (reverend), which is sufficient for us both”
The answer, written by Jesus, sent by Ananias the runner to Abgarus the toparch.
“Blessed art thou that hast believed in me, not having seen me.
For it is written concerning me that they that have seen me shall not believe in me, and that they that have not seen me shall believe and live. But concerning that which thou hast written to me, to come unto thee; it must needs be that I fulfil all things for the which I was sent here, and after fulfilling them should then be taken up unto him that sent me.
And when I am taken up, I will send thee one of my disciples, to heal thine affliction and give life to thee and them that are with thee.”
Later texts add a promise that “where this letter is, no enemy shall prevail:” and so we find the letter copied and used as an amulet. It was regarded naturally as the palladium of Edessa, but was also thought to act as a protection to individuals.
The authenticity of correspondence exchange between Abgar V and Christ was questioned by St. Jerome (Commentaries in Ezechiel ad 44, 29–30) and St. Augustine (Reply to Faustus the Manichaean 28,4; On the Harmony of the Evangelists 1, 7, 11). Under their influence, the text was rejected as apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I's decree in the 6th century.
This letter purported to be from Jesus to Abgar, or variations of the original letter, were later copied and used as probably to protect the bearer of the letter. Our example is one of the copies from the 7th-8th Century AD. This particular letter was likely folded up and kept on the body for healing or protection from demons. The names at the end of the letter may be list of Christian saints that lends apotropaic power to the letter.
The Syriac document The Teaching of Addai contains the purported correspondence (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist.,I, 13). Eusebius wrote that he personally had seen the exchange of letters, supplied to him from the archives at Edessa, and had himself translated the writings from Syriac.
It is said that after the assumption of Jesus, Apostle Thomas sent Addai (Thaddaeus) his twin brother who was one of the seventy-two, to the king who healed the King and the King himself became a Christian.. In this mission he was accompanied by a disciple, Mari, and the two are regarded as cofounders of the church. The Liturgy of Addai and Mari (c. AD 200), is still used by the Assyrian Churches of the East
Icon of Abgar holding the mandylion,
the image of Christ And Abgar’s wife Helena of Adiabene
(encaustic, 10th century, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai).
Mandylion - not made by hands
The Cathedral of the Holy Madylion in Andronikov Monastery
Hannan, the messenger, was archivist at Edessa, He was also the Royal painter to King Abgar. Part of the mission of Hannan was to paint a portrait of Jesus.
Ananias therefore departed for Jerusalem, and gave the letter mentioned above to the Lord. He then gazed intently at His holy face with great attention. but, since he was unable to get near Him because of the surging crowd, he climbed up onto a small outcrop of rock, and being able to behold the face of the Lord with his eyes, at once he began to press his hand to the paper to copy the appearance of what he saw, but he was quite unable to capture His exact form, because it appeared differently at one point and took on another appearance at another point, and with differing aspect. But the Lord, who knows what is hidden and searches hearts, knowing the intention of Ananias, asked for water to wash Himself. and while doing so He was given a cloth folded in four, and when He had washed He wiped His moist face with it. This produced an image on it.
Fresco from Varaga St. Gevorg church chapel showing king Abgar with image of Christ This he gave to Ananias saying, "Go, give this back to the one who sent you." He also gave him his reply mentioned above along with it.When Abgar saw the picture he was glad and immediately his leprosy was healed. He was still disfigured which was later healed by Thddaeus.
Abgar V (Armenian Աբգար Ե) nicknamed Ukkāmā, which means “black”, was the King of Osroene in 4 BC – 7 AD and 13-50 AD. Besides, he was the 15th representative of the Osroerne dynasty of the Abgarids.
The Kingdom of Osroene was established in 137 BC and was destroyed by the troops of Caracalla in 216. Abgar V is most known for his apocryphal correspondence with Jesus Christ.
The legend is also found found in the Acta Thaddaei, the "Acts of Thaddaeus".
A version of the tradition says that St. Jude Thaddeus showed the Face of Christ on the towel to King Abgar again, who is thereupon cured of all his disease.
This 19th century painting
hangs above the altar in the Carmelite church of St. Jude Thaddeus, Rome.
Icon of St. Thaddeus (10th century, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai)
Mosaic figures on floor in Edesa.
According to the Daily Sabbah,2016 five mosaics have been discovered from the reign of Abgar V (ranging. 4 BCE – 7 CE; and then 13-50 CE), the fifth king of the kingdom of Osroene (Edessa), “depicting fine engravings and Syriac inscriptions.”
The Transfer from Edessa to Constantinople of the Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ Not-Made-by-Hands occurred in AD 944.
The Story of the image of Edessa is a Greek text describing how the mandylion was created and transferred from Edessa to Constantinople in 944. The full title could be translated as "The story of the image of Edessa by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, a Christ-given Roman emperor. A narrative based on various historical accounts about the holy image of Christ, our Saviour, not made by hand and sent to Abgar; and how it was moved from Edessa to Constantinople, the queen among cities, enjoying special prosperity".
King Agbar V was the first Christian King in the World
On August 24, 2009, the board of the Central Bank of Armenia adopted a decision on introducing a new banknote with a nominal value of AMD 100,000. The new banknote depicts King Abgar V (King
of Armenian Mesopotamia as described). The front of the banknote depicts Abgar pointing at the royal flag bearing an image of the Mandylion.
Abgar V called “Ukkāmā” meaning "the Black” was the King of Osroene with his capital at Edessa and was the first monarch to adopt Christianity as his religion.
Abgar V came to the throne in 4 BC as a Roman client. He lost his throne in 7 AD and regained it five years later,and died in c. AD 40.
On August 15, 944, the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae in Constantinople received the letter and the Mandylion. Both relics were then moved to the Church of the Virgin of the Pharos
King Abgar and the Mandylion –Contemporary icon, Russia, 21stcentury
The Face on the Shroud
Mandylion - not made by hands This may be the face of Jesus.
Osrhoene, probably the first Christian Kingdom in the world ruled by Abgar from Edessa. Edessa in modern Urfa,is located today in south-east Turkey.
However there is no solid evidence that Apostle Thomas himself went to Edessa subsequently. Thomas is considered a patron saint of the country along with his twin brother by the fact he did sent his twin brother for the healing and conversion of the country.
Tradition also says Christianity became the official religion of Edessa in 206 A.D., 135 years before Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of Rome in 341 A.D.
Like all the other countries where Thomas touched, Edessa also had a Nestorian Church.
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (NPNFtranslations of early Christian writings into English published between 1886 and 1900.) editors wrote about this story as follows:
. "Abgarus was the name of several kings of Edessa, who reigned at various periods from B.C. 99
to A.D. 217. The Abgar contemporary with Christ was called Abgar Ucomo, or “the Black.” He was the fifteenth king, and reigned, according to Gutschmid, from a.d. 13 to a.d. 50.” It is certain that
in the latter part of the second century there indeed was a a King of Edessa called Abgar who became a Christian. It was in his court the famous Syrian Gnostic who turned into Christian -Bardesanes - lived and who visited Kerala during his time. Evidently there is no doubt that Abgar was the first King to be a Christian and Syrian Christianity was firmly rooted there long before most other churches were fully established early in the mission period of the Apostles”
n the year 33 A.D. before starting for India St. Thomas must have paid a visit to King Abgar and baptized him, in accordance with the mandate given to St. Thomas by Apostle Peter.
When he proceeded to allot the provinces, he said to St. Thomas: “The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Thomas, will follow his Master preaching in India, in Persia and among the Parthians. He shall baptize the three Magi Kings….” (City of God Vol. IV Nos.227, 229, 230). Since there indeed were many more magi, he must have baptized those who were still living. These evidently were in the East - east of Euphrates.
Both Edessa and Nisibis, were closely connected through trade with regions to the south and to the far east and became the Cradle of Eastern Syrian Christianity. Most of the East to end of the then known world were in fact evangelized by the once doubting Thomas and eventually gave his life in East. From the time of the advent of Christianity rulers of Edessa spoke a dialect of Arabic but used Syriac as a written language showing the power of the Syrian Christianity in all Persia and the East.
Apart from the possible Thomas ministry along with his disciples there is the possible contact of Christianity through Jerusalem Pentecost soon after the resurrection. Acts 2:9 lists “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia” among those who were reportedly present in Jerusalem at Peter’s speech on Pentecost. Acts 2:41 states that after Peter’s speech, “those who received the message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.” Hence Christianity was already there when the evangelists reached these areas.
Apostle Thomas is considered as the saint of Edessa. His remains were moved into Edessa from Mylapore, India. Later it was moved from there to Ortona, Italy when it was under foreign attack.
After Agbar V the later kings turned away and became pagan. Yet by 301 Osrohene became the first Christian Kingdom again before Rome.
THE tradition of a miraculous (and thus accurate) image of Christ is associated in the Christian West with the Veil of Veronica (vera ikona) and a portrait by St. Luke.
IN THE EAST this tradition takes the form of an icon “not made by human hands”(acheiropoietos) and can be traced in several stages:
1. Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 325) recounts the legend of a letter sent by Jesus to King Abgar of Edessa: after Jesus’ Resurrection the disciple Thaddeus is sent to evangelize Abgar’s Kingdom, and the king is miraculously healed.
2. Around 384 the pilgrim Egeria visits Edessa: she is shown and given a copy of the famous letter, which is now credited with saving the city during an attack by the Persians.
3. The Syriac Doctrine of Addai (c. 400) adds to the letter Jesus’ promise that Edessa will never be conquered, and describes a portrait of Jesus painted by Hannan, Abgar’s archivist and emmisary.
4. Evagrius Scholasticus (593) quotes Procopius (ca. 550), describing both letter and image: Evagrius calls the image “divinely made - not formed by human hands”. It is now the image, not the letter that is credited with saving the city from the Persians.
5. John Damascene (c. 730) describes how Jesus miraculously created the image by applying a cloth to his face, because his countenance was too dazzling for the painter to copy.
English: NPNF 2, vol. 1. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History
1 τῆς δὲ περὶ τὸν Θαδδαῖον ἱστορίας τοιοῦτος γέγονεν ὁ τρό πος. ἡ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ θειότης͵ εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους τῆς παραδοξοποιοῦ δυνάμεως ἕνεκεν βοωμένη͵ μυρίους ὅσους καὶ τῶν ἐπ΄ ἀλλοδαπῆς πορρωτάτω ὄντων τῆς Ἰουδαίας νόσων καὶ παντοίων παθῶν ἐλπίδι θερα
1. THE divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ being noised abroad among all men on account of his wonder-working power, he attracted countless numbers from foreign countries lying far away from Judea, who had the opening of being cured of their diseases and of all kinds of sufferings.
2 πείας ἐπήγετο. ταύτῃ τοι βασιλεὺς Ἄβγαρος͵ τῶν ὑπὲρ Εὐφράτην ἐθνῶν ἐπισημότατα δυναστεύων͵ πάθει τὸ σῶμα δεινῷ καὶ οὐ θεραπευτῷ ὅσον ἐπ΄ ἀνθρωπείᾳ δυνάμει καταφθειρόμενος͵ ὡς καὶ τοὔνομα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ πολὺ καὶ τὰς δυνάμεις συμφώνως πρὸς ἁπάντων μαρτυρουμένας ἐπύθετο͵ ἱκέτης αὐτοῦ πέμψας δι΄ ἐπιστοληφόρου γίνεται͵ τῆς νόσου τυχεῖν ἀπαλλαγῆς ἀξιῶν.
2. For instance the King Abgar, who ruled with great glory the nations beyond the Euphrates, being afflicted with a terrible disease which it was beyond the power of human skill to cure, when he heard of the name of Jesus, and of his miracles, which were attested by all with one accord sent a message to him by a courier and begged him to heal his disease.
3 ὁ δὲ μὴ τότε καλοῦντι ὑπακούσας͵ ἐπιστολῆς γοῦν αὐτὸν ἰδίας καταξιοῖ͵ ἕνα τῶν αὐτοῦ μαθητῶν ἀποστέλλειν ἐπὶ θεραπείᾳ τῆς νόσου ὁμοῦ τε αὐτοῦ σωτηρίᾳ καὶ τῶν προσηκόντων ἁπάντων
3. But [Jesus] did not at that time comply with his request; yet he deemed him worthy of a personal letter in which he said that he would send one of his disciples to cure his disease, and at the same time promised salvation to himself and all his house.
4 ὑπισχνούμενος. οὐκ εἰς μακρὸν δὲ ἄρα αὐτῷ ἐπληροῦτο τὰ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. μετὰ γοῦν τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἄνοδον Θωμᾶς͵ τῶν ἀποστόλων εἷς τῶν δώδεκα͵ Θαδδαῖον͵ ἐν ἀριθμῷ καὶ αὐτὸν τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα τοῦ Χριστοῦ μαθητῶν κατειλεγμένον͵ κινήσει θειοτέρᾳ ἐπὶ τὰ Ἔδεσσα κήρυκα καὶ εὐαγγελιστὴν τῆς περὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ διδασκαλίας ἐκπέμπει͵πάντα τε δι΄ αὐτοῦ τὰ τῆς τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν τέλος
4. Not long afterward his promise was fulfilled. For after his resurrection from the dead and his ascent into heaven, Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, under divine impulse sent Thaddeus, who was also numbered among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the teaching of Christ.
5 ἐλάμβανεν ἐπαγγελίας. ἔχεις καὶ τούτων ἀνάγραπτον τὴν μαρτυρίαν͵ ἐκ τῶν κατὰ Ἔδεσσαν τὸ τηνικάδε βασιλευομένην πόλιν γραμματοφυλακείων ληφθεῖσαν· ἐν γοῦν τοῖς αὐτόθι δημο σίοις χάρταις͵ τοῖς τὰ παλαιὰ καὶ τὰ ἀμφὶ τὸν Ἄβγαρον πραχθέντα περιέχουσι͵ καὶ ταῦτα εἰς ἔτι νῦν ἐξ ἐκείνου πεφυλαγμένα εὕρηται͵ οὐδὲν δὲ οἷον καὶ αὐτῶν ἐπακοῦσαι τῶν ἐπιστολῶν͵ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀρχείων ἡμῖν ἀναληφθεισῶν καὶ τόνδε αὐτοῖς ῥήμασιν ἐκ τῆς Σύρων φωνῆς μεταβληθεισῶν τὸν τρόπον.
5. And all that our Saviour had promised received through him its fulfillment. You have written evidence of these things taken from the archives of Edessa, which was at that time a royal city. For in the public registers there, which contain accounts of ancient times and the acts of Abgar, these things have been found preserved down to the present time. But there is no better way than to hear the epistles themselves which we have taken from the archives and have literally translated from the Syriac language in the following manner.
ΑΝΤΙΓΡΑΦΟΝ ΕΠΙΣΤΟΛΗΣ ΓΡΑΦΕΙΣΗΣ ΥΠΟ ΑΒΓΑ ΡΟΥ ΤΟΠΑΡΧΟΥ ΤΩΙ ΙΗΣΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΠΕΜΦΘΕΙΣΗΣ ΑΥΤΩΙ ΔΙ΄ ΑΝΑΝΙΟΥ ΤΑΧΥΔΡΟΜΟΥ ΕΙΣ ΙΕΡΟΣΟ ΛΥΜΑ
Copy of an epistle written by Abgar the ruler to Jesus, and sent to him at Jerusalem by Ananias the swift courier
6 Ἄβγαρος Οὐχαμα τοπάρχης Ἰησοῦ σωτῆρι ἀγαθῷ ἀναφα νέντι ἐν τόπῳ Ἱεροσολύμων χαίρειν. ἤκουσταί μοι τὰ περὶ σοῦ καὶ τῶν σῶν ἰαμάτων͵ ὡς ἄνευ φαρμάκων καὶ βοτανῶν ὑπὸ σοῦ γινομένων. ὡς γὰρ λόγος͵ τυφλοὺς ἀναβλέπειν ποιεῖς͵ χωλοὺς περιπατεῖν͵ καὶ λεπροὺς καθαρίζεις͵ καὶ ἀκάθαρτα πνεύματα καὶ δαίμονας ἐκβάλλεις͵ καὶ τοὺς ἐν μακρονοσίᾳ
6 “Abgar, ruler Of Edessa, to Jesus the excellent Saviour who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting. I have heard the reports of thee and of thy cures as performed by thee without medicines or herbs. For it is said that thou makest the blind to see and the lame to walk, that thou cleansest lepers and castest out impure spirits and demons, and that thou healest those afflicted with lingering disease, and raisest the dead.
7 βασανιζομένους θεραπεύεις͵ καὶ νεκροὺς ἐγείρεις. καὶ ταῦτα πάντα ἀκούσας περὶ σοῦ͵ κατὰ νοῦν ἐθέμην τὸ ἕτερον τῶν δύο͵ ἢ ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ θεὸς καὶ καταβὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ποιεῖς ταῦτα͵ ἢ
7 And having heard all these things concerning thee, I have concluded that one of two things must be true: either thou art God, and having come down from heaven thou doest these things, or else thou, who doest these things, art the Son of God.
8 υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ ποιῶν ταῦτα. διὰ τοῦτο τοίνυν γράψας ἐδεή θην σου σκυλῆναι πρός με καὶ τὸ πάθος͵ ὃ ἔχω͵ θεραπεῦσαι. καὶ γὰρ ἤκουσα ὅτι καὶ Ἰουδαῖοι καταγογγύζουσί σου καὶ βού λονται κακῶσαί σε. πόλις δὲ μικροτάτη μοί ἐστι καὶ σεμνή͵ ἥτις ἐξαρκεῖ ἀμφοτέροις.
8 I have therefore written to thee to ask thee that thou wouldest take the trouble to come to me and heal the disease which I have. For I have heard that the Jews are murmuring against thee and are plotting to injure thee. But I have a very small yet noble city which is great enough for us both.”
ΤΑ ΑΝΤΙΓΡΑΦΕΝΤΑ ΥΠΟ ΙΗΣΟΥ ΔΙΑ ΑΝΑΝΙΟΥ ΤΑΧΥΔΡΟΜΟΥ ΤΟΠΑΡΧΗΙ ΑΒΓΑΡΩΙ1
The answer of Jesus to the ruler Abgar by the courier Ananias.
9 Μακάριος εἶ πιστεύσας ἐν ἐμοί͵ μὴ ἑορακώς με. γέγραπται γὰρ περὶ ἐμοῦ τοὺς ἑορακότας με μὴ πιστεύσειν ἐν ἐμοί͵ καὶ ἵνα οἱ μὴ ἑορακότες με αὐτοὶ πιστεύσωσι καὶ ζήσονται. περὶ δὲ οὗ ἔγραψάς μοι ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σέ͵ δέον ἐστὶ πάντα δι΄ ἃ ἀπεστάλην ἐνταῦθα͵ πληρῶσαι καὶ μετὰ τὸ πληρῶσαι οὕτως ἀναληφθῆναι πρὸς τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με. καὶ ἐπειδὰν ἀναληφθῶ͵ ἀποστελῶ σοί τινα τῶν μαθητῶν μου͵ ἵνα ἰάσηταί σου τὸ πάθος καὶ ζωήν σοι καὶ τοῖς σὺν σοὶ παράσχηται.
9 “Blessed are you who have believed in me without having seen me (cf. Jn 20. 29). For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me will not believe in me, and that they who have not seen me will believe and be saved. But in regard to what you have written me, that I should come to you, it is necessary for me to fulfill all things here for which I have been sent, and after I have fulfilled them thus to be taken up again to him that sent me. But after I have been taken up I will send to you one of my disciples, that he may heal your disease and give life to you and yours.”
δὲ ταῖς ἐπιστολαῖς ἔτι καὶ ταῦτα συνῆπτο τῇ Σύρων φωνῇ· Μετὰ δὲ τὸ
ἀναληφθῆναι τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπέστειλεν αὐτῷ Ἰούδας͵ ὁ καὶ Θωμᾶς͵ Θαδδαῖον
ἀπόστολον͵ ἕνα τῶν ἑβδομή κοντα. ὃς ἐλθὼν κατέμενεν πρὸς Τωβίαν τὸν τοῦ
Τωβία. ὡς δὲ ἠκούσθη περὶ αὐτοῦ͵ ἐμηνύθη τῷ Ἀβγάρῳ ὅτι ἐλήλυθεν
10 To these epistles there was added the following account in the Syriac language. “After the ascension of Jesus, Judas, who was also called Thomas, sent to him Thaddeus, an apostle, one of the Seventy. When he was come he lodged with Tobias, the son of Tobias. When the report of him got abroad, it was told Abgar that an apostle of Jesus was come, as he had written him.
[Thaddeus preaches the gospel and lays hands on King Abgar, who believes the Gospel and is healed, along with other believers in Edessa]
English Tr. The Pilgrimage of Egeria, M.L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans. London: SPCK, 1919. pp. 30-36. Latin Text: Aetheria (Egeria) s. IV ex. Itinerarium Egeriae seu Peregrinatio ad loca sancta CPL 2325 SL 175 (P. Geyer / O. Cuntz, 1965), p. 37-90
17. HAVING spent some time there in the Name of God, when three full years had passed since I came to Jerusalem, and having seen all the holy places which I had visited for the sake of prayer, my mind was to return to my country. I wished, however, at God’s bidding, to go to Mesopotamia in Syria, to visit the holy monks who were there in great number, and who were said to be of such holy life as could hardly be described, and also for the sake of prayer at the memorial of S. Thomas the Apostle, where his body is laid entire.
Item in nomine dei, transacto aliquanto tempore, cum iam tres anni pleni essent, a quo in ierusolimam uenisse, uisis etiam omnibus locis sanctis, ad quos orationis gratia me tenderam, et ideo iam reuertendi ad patriam animus esset: uolui, iubente deo, ut et ad mesopotamiam syriae accedere ad uisendos sanctos monachos, qui ibi plurimi et tam eximiae uitae esse dicebantur, ut uix referri possit; nec non etiam et gratia orationis ad martyrium sancti thomae apostoli, ubi corpus illius integrum positum est,
18 This is at Edessa. For Jesus our God by a letter which He sent to Abgar the king by the hand of Ananias the courier, promised that He would send Saint Thomas there, after that He Himself had ascended into Heaven. [See Eus., Hist. Eccl. 1. 13] The letter is kept with great reverence at the city of Edessa, where the memorial [p. 31] is. [...] Id est apud edessam, quem se illuc missurum, posteaquam in caelis ascendisset, deus noster iesus testatus est per epistolam, quam ad aggarum regem per ananiam cursorem misit, que epistola cum grandi reuerentia apud edessam ciuitatem, ubi est ipsud martyrium, custoditur.
18. [...] 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. [...] [...] peruenimus in nomine christi dei nostri edessam. Vbi cum peruenissemus, statim perreximus ad ecclesiam et ad martyrium sancti thomae. Itaque ergo iuxta consuetudinem factis orationibus et cetera, quae consuetudo erat fieri in locis sanctis, nec non etiam et aliquanta ipsius sancti thomae ibi legimus. [...]
Thus I saw in that city many memorials, together with holy monks, some dwelling at the memorials, while others had their cells in more secluded spots farther from the city. Moreover, the holy bishop of the city, [...] led me first to the palace of King Abgar, where he showed me a great marble statue of him--very much like him, as they said--having a sheen as if made of pearl. From the face of Abgar it seemed that he was a very wise and honourable man Ac sic ergo uidi in eadem ciuitate martyria plurima nec non et sanctos monachos, commanentes alios per martyria, alios longius de ciuitate in secretioribus locis habentes monasteria. Et quoniam sanctus episcopus ipsius ciuitatis, [...] duxit me primum ad palatium aggari regis et ibi ostendit michi archiotepam ipsius ingens, simillimam, ut ipsi dicebant, marmoream, tanti nitoris ac si de margarita esset; in cuius aggari uultu parebat de contra uere fuisse hunc uirum satis sapientem et honoratum.
Then the holy bishop said to me: “Behold King Abgar, who before he saw the Lord believed in Him that He was in truth the Son of God.” [...] Tunc ait mihi sanctus episcopus: "ecce rex aggarus, qui antequam uideret dominum, credidit ei, quia esset uere filius dei".
the holy bishop told me about the water, saying: “ At some time, after
that King Abgar had written to the Lord, and the Lord had answered King
Abgar by Ananias the courier--as it is written in the letter
itself--when some time had passed, the Persians came against the city
and surrounded it. And straightway Abgar, bearing the letter of the
Lord to the gate, with all his army, prayed publicly. And he said: “O
Lord Jesus, Thou hadst promised us that none of our enemies should
enter this city, and lo! the [p.34] Persians now attack us.
” Et tunc retulit michi de ipsa aqua sic sanctus episcopus dicens: "quodam tempore, posteaquam scripserat aggarus rex ad dominum et dominus rescripserat aggaro per ananiam cursorem, sicut scriptum est in ipsa epistola: transacto ergo aliquanto tempore superueniunt perse et girant ciuitatem istam. Sed statim aggarus epistolam domini ferens ad portam cum omni exercitu suo publice orauit. Et post dixit: <domine iesu, tu promiseras nobis, ne aliquis hostium ingrederetur ciuitatem istam, et ecce nunc persae inpugnant nos".
And when the king had said this, holding the open letter in his uplifted hands, Quod cum dixisset tenens manibus leuatis epistolam ipsam apertam rex,
suddenly there came a great darkness outside the city before the eyes of the Persians, as they were approaching the city at a distance of about three miles, and they were so baffled by the darkness that they could hardly form their camp and surround the whole city about three miles off. [...] ad subito tantae tenebrae factae sunt, foras ciuitatem tamen ante oculos persarum, cum iam prope plicarent ciuitati, ita ut usque tertium miliarium de ciuitate essent: sed ita mox tenebris turbati sunt, ut uix castra ponerent et pergirarent in miliario tertio totam ciuitatem. [...]
So, at God’s bidding, Who had promised that this should come to pass, they were obliged to return to their own home in Persia. Moreover afterwards, as often as enemies determined to come and take the city, this letter was brought out and read in the gate, and straightway all [p.35] enemies were driven back by the will of God. Ac sic iubente deo, qui hoc promiserat futurum, necesse fuit eos statim reuerti ad sua, id est in persida. Nam et postmodum quotienscumque uoluerunt uenire et expugnare hanc ciuitatem hostes, haec epistola prolata est et lecta est in porta, et statim nutu dei expulsi sunt omnes hostes".
And when the holy bishop had told me all these things, he said to me: “Let us now go to the gate by which Ananias the courier entered with the letter of which I spoke.” Postea ergo quam haec omnia retulit sanctus episcopus, ait ad me: "eamus nunc ad portam, per quam ingressus est ananias cursor cum illa epistola, quam dixeram"?
So when we had come to the gate, the bishop, standing, made a prayer and read us the letters; then, after he had blessed us, another prayer was made. Cum ergo uenissemus ad portam ipsam, stans episcopus fecit orationem et legit nobis ibi ipsas epistolas et denuo benedicens nos facta est iterato oratio.
[...] It was very pleasant to me to receive from the holy man himself the letters of Abgar to the Lord and of the Lord to Abgar, which the holy bishop had read to us there. [...] Illud etiam satis mihi grato fuit, ut epistolas ipsas siue aggari ad dominum siue domini ad aggarum, quas nobis ibi legerat sanctus episcopus, acciperem michi ab ipso sancto.
although I have copies at home, yet it seemed to me more pleasant to
receive them from [p.36] him, lest perhaps something less might have
reached us at home, and indeed that which I received here is fuller. So
if Jesus our God bids it, and I come home, you too shall read them,
ladies, my own souls.
Et licet in patria exemplaria ipsarum haberem, tamen gratius mihi uisum est, ut et ibi eas de ipso acciperem, ne quid forsitan minus ad nos in patria peruenisset; nam uere amplius est, quod hic accepi. Vnde si deus noster iesus iusserit et uenero in patria, legitis uos, dominae animae meae.
Thus I saw in that city many memorials, together with holy monks, some dwelling at the memorials, while others had their cells in more secluded spots farther from the city. Moreover, the holy bishop of the city, [...] led me first to the palace of King Abgar, where he showed me a great marble statue of him--very much like him, as they said--having a sheen as if made of pearl. From the face of Abgar it seemed that he was a very wise and honourable man Ac sic ergo uidi in eadem ciuitate martyria plurima nec non et sanctos monachos, commanentes alios per martyria, alios longius de ciuitate in secretioribus locis habentes monasteria. Et quoniam sanctus episcopus ipsius ciuitatis, [...] duxit me primum ad palatium aggari regis et ibi ostendit michi archiotepam ipsius ingens, simillimam, ut ipsi dicebant, marmoream, tanti nitoris ac si de margarita esset; in cuius aggari uultu parebat de contra uere fuisse hunc uirum satis sapientem et honoratum.
. Then the holy bishop said to me: “Behold King Abgar, who before he saw the Lord believed in Him that He was in truth the Son of God.” [...] Tunc ait mihi sanctus episcopus: "ecce rex aggarus, qui antequam uideret dominum, credidit ei, quia esset uere filius dei".
Then the holy bishop told me about the water, saying: “ At some time, after that King Abgar had written to the Lord, and the Lord had answered King Abgar by Ananias the courier--as it is written in the letter itself--when some time had passed, the Persians came against the city and surrounded it. And straightway Abgar, bearing the letter of the Lord to the gate, with all his army, prayed publicly. And he said: “O Lord Jesus, Thou hadst promised us that none of our enemies should enter this city, and lo! the [p.34] Persians now attack us.” Et tunc retulit michi de ipsa aqua sic sanctus episcopus dicens: "quodam tempore, posteaquam scripserat aggarus rex ad dominum et dominus rescripserat aggaro per ananiam cursorem, sicut scriptum est in ipsa epistola: transacto ergo aliquanto tempore superueniunt perse et girant ciuitatem istam. Sed statim aggarus epistolam domini ferens ad portam cum omni exercitu suo publice orauit. Et post dixit: <domine iesu, tu promiseras nobis, ne aliquis hostium ingrederetur ciuitatem istam, et ecce nunc persae inpugnant nos".
And when the king had said this, holding the open letter in his uplifted hands, Quod cum dixisset tenens manibus leuatis epistolam ipsam apertam rex,
suddenly there came a great darkness outside the city before the eyes of the Persians, as they were approaching the city at a distance of about three miles, and they were so baffled by the darkness that they could hardly form their camp and surround the whole city about three miles off. [...] ad subito tantae tenebrae factae sunt, foras ciuitatem tamen ante oculos persarum, cum iam prope plicarent ciuitati, ita ut usque tertium miliarium de ciuitate essent: sed ita mox tenebris turbati sunt, ut uix castra ponerent et pergirarent in miliario tertio totam ciuitatem. [...]
at God’s bidding, Who had promised that this should come to pass, they
were obliged to return to their own home in Persia. Moreover
afterwards, as often as enemies determined to come and take the city,
this letter was brought out and read in the gate, and straightway all
[p.35] enemies were driven back by the will of God.
Ac sic iubente deo, qui hoc promiserat futurum, necesse fuit eos statim reuerti ad sua, id est in persida. Nam et postmodum quotienscumque uoluerunt uenire et expugnare hanc ciuitatem hostes, haec epistola prolata est et lecta est in porta, et statim nutu dei expulsi sunt omnes hostes".
when the holy bishop had told me all these things, he said to me: “Let
us now go to the gate by which Ananias the courier entered with the
letter of which I spoke”
.Postea ergo quam haec omnia retulit sanctus episcopus, ait ad me: "eamus nunc ad portam, per quam ingressus est ananias cursor cum illa epistola, quam dixeram"?
So when we had come to the gate, the bishop, standing, made a prayer and read us the letters; then, after he had blessed us, another prayer was made. Cum ergo uenissemus ad portam ipsam, stans episcopus fecit orationem et legit nobis ibi ipsas epistolas et denuo benedicens nos facta est iterato oratio.
[...] It was very pleasant to me to receive from the holy man himself the letters of Abgar to the Lord and of the Lord to Abgar, which the holy bishop had read to us there. [...] Illud etiam satis mihi grato fuit, ut epistolas ipsas siue aggari ad dominum siue domini ad aggarum, quas nobis ibi legerat sanctus episcopus, acciperem michi ab ipso sancto.
although I have copies at home, yet it seemed to me more pleasant to
receive them from [p.36] him, lest perhaps something less might have
reached us at home, and indeed that which I received here is fuller. So
if Jesus our God bids it, and I come home, you too shall read them,
ladies, my own souls.
Et licet in patria exemplaria ipsarum haberem, tamen gratius mihi uisum est, ut et ibi eas de ipso acciperem, ne quid forsitan minus ad nos in patria peruenisset; nam uere amplius est, quod hic accepi. Vnde si deus noster iesus iusserit et uenero in patria, legitis uos, dominae animae meae.
The Doctrine of Addai (1876). English Translation The Doctrine Of Addai, The Apostle, now first edited in a complete form in the original Syriac, with an English Translation and Notes by George Phillips, D.D., President of Queens’ College, Cambridge. London: Trübner & CO., Ludgate Hill. 1876.
THE letter of king Abgar, the son of king Ma’nu, and at what time he sent it to our Lord at Jerusalem; and at what time Addai the Apostle came to him (Abgar) at Edessa; and what he spoke in the gospel of his preaching; and what he said and commanded, when he went forth from, this world, to those who had received from him the hand of the priesthood.
In the three hundred and forty and third year of the kingdom of the Greeks, and in the reign of our lord Tiberius, the Roman Emperor, and in the reign of king Abgar, son of king Ma’nu, in the month of October, on the twelfth day, Abgar Ukkama sent Marihab and Shamshagram, chiefs and honoured persons of his kingdom, and Hannan the tabularius, the sharrir, with them, to the city which is called Eleutheropolis [...]
When they went forth from him, they set out and came on the way towards Jerusalem; and they saw many men, who came from a distance to see Christ, because the fame of his wonderful deeds had gone forth to remote countries. When Marihab, Shamshagram, and Hannan, the keeper of the archives, saw the men, they also came with them to Jerusalem. When they entered Jerusalem, they saw Christ, and they rejoiced with the multitudes, who were joined to Him. But they saw also the Jews, who were standing in groups, and were considering what they should do to Him; for they were disturbed to see that a multitude of their people confessed Him.
And they were there in Jerusalem ten days, and Hannan, the keeper of the archives, wrote down everything which he saw that Christ did; also the rest of that done by Him, before they went thither. And they departed and came to Edessa, and entered into the presence of Abgar the king, their lord, who had sent them, and they gave him the reply of the letters, which they had brought with them. After the letters were read, they began to recount before the king all which they had seen and all which Christ had done in Jerusalem. And Hannan, the keeper of the archives, read before him all which he had written and brought with him; and when Abgar the king heard, he was astonished and wondered, as also his princes, who stood before him. Abgar said to them: These mighty works are not of men, but of God; because there is not any one who can make the dead alive, but God only.
And Abgar wished himself to pass over and go to Palestine, and see with his own eyes all which Christ was doing; but because he was not able to pass through the country of the Romans, which was not his, lest this cause should call forth bitter enmity, he wrote a letter and sent it to Christ by the hand of Hannan, the keeper of the archives. He went forth from Edessa on the fourteenth day of Adar, and entered Jerusalem on the twelfth day of Nisan, on the fourth day of the week (Wednesday). And he found Christ at the house of Gamaliel, the chief priest of the Jews. The letter was read before Him, which was written thus:
“Abgar Ukkama, to Jesus, the Good Physician, who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem. My Lord: Peace. I have heard of Thee and of Thy healing, that it is not by medicines and roots Thou healest, but by Thy word Thou openest the eyes of the blind, Thou makest the lame to walk, cleansest the lepers, and makest the deaf to hear. And unclean spirits12 and lunatics, and those tormented, them Thou healest by Thy word; Thou also raisest the dead. And when I heard of these great wonders which Thou doest, I decided in my mind that either Thou art God, who hast come down from heaven and doest these things, or Thou art the Son of God, who doest all these things. Therefore, I have written to request of Thee to come to me who adore Thee, and to heal the disease which I have, as I believe in Thee. This also I have heard, that the Jews murmur against Thee and persecute Thee, and even seek to crucify Thee, and contemplate treating Thee cruelly. I possess one small and beautiful city, and it is sufficient for both to dwell in it in quietness.”
Then Jesus received the letter at the house of the chief priest of the Jews, He said to Hannan, the keeper of the archives:
“Go and say to thy lord, who hath sent thee to Me, ‘Blessed art thou, who, although thou hast not seen Me, believest in Me, for it is written of Me, Those who see Me will not believe in Me, and those who see Me not, will believe in me.13 But as to that which thou hast written to Me, that I should come to thee, that for which I was sent here is now finished, and I am going up to my Father, who sent me, and when I have gone up to Him, I will send to thee one of my disciples, who will cure the disease which thou hast, and restore thee to health; and all who are with thee he will convert to everlasting life. Thy city shall be blessed, and no enemy shall again become master of it for ever.’“
When Hannan, the keeper of the archives, saw that Jesus spake thus to him, by virtue of being the king’s painter, he took and painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, and brought with him to Abgar the king, his master. And when Abgar the king saw the likeness, he received it with great joy, and placed it with great honour in one of his palatial houses. Hannan, the keeper of the archives, related to him everything which he had heard from Jesus, as His words were put by him in writing.
After that Christ had ascended to heaven, Judas Thomas sent to Abgar, Addai the Apostle, who was one of the seventy-two Apostles. And when Addai came to the city of Edessa, he dwelt at the house of Tobias, son of Tobias the Jew, who was of Palestine. [...] Tobias went early on the next day and took Addai the Apostle, and brought him up to Abgar, Addai himself knowing that by the power of God he was sent to him. [Abgar sees a vision] Then Abgar said to Addai, “Of a truth thou art the disciple of Jesus, that mighty one, the son of God, who sent to me saying I send thee one of my disciples for healing and for life.” [...] Abgar said to him: “I also believe in Him and in His Father.” Addai said to him: “Because that thou so believest, I place my hand on thee, in the name of Him in whom thou believest.”
At the moment that he placed his hand upon him, he was cured of the plague of the disease, which he had had for a long time.19 Abgar wondered and was astonished, that as it was reported to him concerning Jesus, that which He did and cured; so also Addai himself, without medicine of any kind, healed in the name of Jesus. [Addai/Annanias heals more believers].
English: Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History (AD 431-594), tr. by E. Walford (1846). Book 4. Greek: Hist., Eccl. J. Bidez and L. Parmentier, The ecclesiastical history of Evagrius with the scholia. London: Methuen, 1898 (repr. 1979)
27. THE same Procopius narrates (Procop., De Bellis, 2. ch. 12)what the ancients had recorded concerning Edessa and Abgar, and how Christ wrote a letter to him. He then relates how Chosroes made a fresh movement to lay siege to the city, thinking to falsify the assertion prevalent among the faithful, that Edessa would never fall into the power of an enemy: which assertion, however, is not contained in what was written to Abgar by Christ our God; as the studious may gather from the history of Eusebius Pamphili, who cites the epistle verbatim.
Ἀναγράφει ὁ αὐτὸς Προκόπιος καὶ τὰ περὶ Ἐδέσης καὶ Ἀγβάρου τοῖς παλαιοῖς ἱστορημένα͵ καὶ ὡς ὁ Χριστὸς πρὸς Ἄγβαρον ἐπέστειλεν͵ εἶτα καὶ ὡς ἐς ἑτέραν ἔφοδον πολιορκίαν τῶν Ἐδεσηνῶν ὁ Χοσρόης κατέστη͵ παραλύειν οἰόμενος τὰ παρὰ τοῖς πιστοῖς θρυ λούμενα͵ ὡς οὐκ ἄν ποτε ἡ Ἔδεσα ὑπὸ τοῖς ἐχθροῖς γενήσεται· ὅπερ τοῖς γραφεῖσι μὲν πρὸς Ἄγβαρον παρὰ Χριστοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν οὐκ ἔγκειται͵ ὡς ἔστι τοὺς φιλοπόνους ἑλεῖν ἐκ τῶν ἱστορηθέντων Εὐσεβίῳ τῷ Παμφίλου͵ αὐτὴν πρὸς λέξιν τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ἀναγνόντι·
Such, however, is the averment and belief of the faithful; which was then realised, faith bringing about the accomplishment of the prediction. For after Chosroes had made many assaults on the city, had raised a mound of sufficient size to overtop the walls of the town, and had devised innumerable expedients beside, he raised the siege and retreated. I will, however, detail the particulars. [...] When the besiegers saw the mound approaching the walls like a moving mountain, and the enemy in expectation of stepping into the town at day-break, they devised to run a mine under the mound--which the Latins term “aggestus”--and by that means apply fire, so that the combustion of the timber might cause the downfall of the mound. The mine was completed; but they failed in attempting to fire the wood, because the fire, having no exit whence it could obtain a supply of air, was unable to take hold of it.
οὕτω δὲ παρὰ τοῖς πιστοῖς ᾄδεταί τε καὶ πεπίστευται καὶ τὸ πέρας ἐδέξατο͵ τῆς πίστεως ἔργον προρρήσεως ἀγαγούσης. Μετὰ γὰρ τὸ προσβαλεῖν τῇ πόλει τὸν Χοσρόην μυρίας τε ἐφόδους ἐργάσασθαι χοῦν τε συνα μήσασθαι πολύν͵ ὡς καὶ τὰ τείχη τῆς πόλεως ὑπερπη δῆσαι͵ ἑτέρας τε μυρίας μηχανὰς ῥάψαι͵ ἄπρακτον ἐπεποίητο τὴν ἀποπόρευσιν· λέξω δὲ τὰ γενόμενα. [...] Ἐπειδὴ τοίνυν οἱ τῇ πολιορκίᾳ συνεχόμενοι τεθέαντο τὸ χῶμα πλησίον ὥσπερ ὄρος βαδίζον ἐγγίζειν τῇ πόλει͵ ἐπιδόξους τε εἶναι τοὺς πολεμίους πεζῇ τῆς πόλεως ἐπι βήσεσθαι͵ ἅμα ἕῳ μηχανῶνται ἀντικρὺ τοῦ χώματος͵ 175 ὅπερ ἀγέστα πρὸς Ρωμαίων κέκληται͵ διώρυγα ὑπὸ γῆν κατεργάσασθαι ἔνθεν τε πῦρ ἀνεῖναι͵ ὡς ἂν τῇ φλογὶ τὰ ξύλα φθειρόμενα τὸν χοῦν ἐς γῆν καταγάγοι. Καὶ τὸ μὲν ἔργον ἐπετετέλεστο͵ πυρὰν δὲ προσάψαντες τοῦ σκοποῦ διημάρτανον͵ οὐκ ἔχοντος τοῦ πυρὸς διέξοδον ὅθεν ἀέρος ἐπιλαμβανόμενον δύναιτο τὴν ὕλην περιδράξασθαι.
In this state of utter perplexity, they brought the divinely wrought image, which the hands of men did not form, but Christ our God sent to Abgarus on his desiring to see Him. [N.B. Procopius writes nothing about the image in Wars 2, 12]]
Ὡς δ΄ οὖν ἐς πᾶσαν ἀμηχανίαν ἦλθον͵ φέρουσι τὴν θεότευκτον εἰκόνα ἣν ἀνθρώπων μὲν χεῖρες οὐκ εἰργάσαντο͵ Ἀγβάρῳ δὲ Χριστὸς ὁ θεός͵ ἐπεὶ αὐτὸν ἰδεῖν ἐπόθει͵ πέπομφε.
Accordingly, having introduced this holy image into the mine, and washed it over with water, they sprinkled some upon the timber; and the divine power forthwith being present to the faith of those who had so done, the result was accomplished which had previously been impossible: for the timber immediately caught the flame, and being in an instant reduced to cinders, communicated with that above, and the fire spread in all directions. [...]
Ταύτην τοίνυν τὴν παναγίαν εἰκόνα κατὰ τὴν εἰργασμένην σφίσιν ἐσαγαγόντες διώρυγα ὕδατί τε ἐπικλύσαντες͵ ἀπ΄ αὐτοῦ κατὰ τῆς πυρᾶς καὶ τῶν ξύλων ἀφεῖσαν. Καὶ παραυτίκα τῆς θείας δυνάμεως τῇ πίστει τῶν δεδρακότων ἐπιφοιτησάσης͵ ὅπερ ἦν ἐκείνοις πρώην ἀδύνατον ἐξηνύετο· παραυτίκα γὰρ ἐσεδέξαντο τὴν φλόγα τὰ ξύλα͵ καὶ λόγου θᾶττον ἀπανθρακωθέντα τοῖς ὑπερτέροις μετεδίδοσαν͵ ἅπαντα τοῦ πυρὸς ἀμφινεμομένου. [...]
On the third day the flames were seen issuing from the earth, and then the Persians on the mound became aware of their unfortunate situation. [...] Then Chosroes, in utter despair, impressed by the circumstances with a sense of his disgraceful folly in having entertained an idea of prevailing over the God whom we worship, retreated ingloriously into his own territories.
Τρίτῃ δ΄ οὖν ἀπ΄ ἐκείνης ἡμέρᾳ͵ ὤφθησαν αἱ γλωσσίδες τοῦ πυρὸς ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἀναδιδόμεναι͵ καὶ τότε συνῆκαν οἱ ἐν τῷ χώματι τῶν Περσῶν μαχόμενοι ὅποι κακῶν καθε στήκασιν. [...] Τότε δ΄ οὖν ὁ Χοσρόης ἁπάσαις ταῖς ἐλπίσιν ἀπειρηκὼς καὶ διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐγνωκὼς ὡς πολλὴν ὦφλεν αἰσχύνην͵ ὑποτοπήσας τοῦ πρὸς ἡμῶν πρεσβευομένου θεοῦ περιέσεσθαι͵ ἐπὶ τὰ σφέτερα τὴν ἀποπόρευσιν ἐποιεῖτο ἀκλεῶς.
English based on: NPNF2 v.-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus; Greek: Expositio fidei . Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, v. 2 ( Gruyter, Berlin, 1973 ) ser. Patristische Texte und Studien
Ch.16. Concerning Images. 89 Περὶ εἰκόνων
16[.1] BUT since some (Cf. Petavius, Theol. Dogm. 25. ch. 12) find fault with us for worshipping and honouring the image of our Saviour and that of our Lady, and those, too, of the rest of the saints and servants of Christ, let them remember that in the beginning God created man after His own image (Gen. 1. 26). On what grounds, then, do we show reverence to each other unless because we are made after God’s image?
Ἐπειδὴ δέ τινες ἡμῖν καταμέμφονται προσκυνοῦσί τε καὶ τιμῶσι τήν τε τοῦ σωτῆρος καὶ τῆς δεσποίνης ἡμῶν εἰκόνα͵ ἔτι δὲ καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν ἁγίων καὶ θεραπόντων Χριστοῦ͵ ἀκουέτωσαν͵ ὡς ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον κατ΄ οἰκείαν εἰκόνα ἐποίησε. Τίνος οὖν ἕνεκεν ἀλλήλους προσκυνοῦμεν͵ εἰ μὴ ὡς κατ΄ εἰκόνα θεοῦ πεποιημένους;
For as Basil, that much-versed expounder of divine things, says, the honour given to the image passes over to the prototype (Basil, De Spir. Sancto, ch. 18).
Ὡς γάρ φησιν ὁ θεοφόρος καὶ πολὺς τὰ θεῖα Βασίλειος͵ ἡ τῆς εἰκόνος τιμὴ ἐπὶ τὸ πρω τότυπον διαβαίνει·
Now a prototype is that which is imaged, from which the derivative is obtained.
πρωτότυπον δέ ἐστι τὸ εἰκονιζόμενον͵ ἐξ οὗ τὸ παράγωγον γίνεται.
Why was it that the Mosaic people honoured on all hands the tabernacle (Ex. 23. 10) which bore an image and type of heavenly things, or rather of the whole creation? God indeed said to Moses, Look that thou make them after their pattern which was shewed thee in the mount (Ex. 25. 40: Heb. 8. 5). The Cherubim, too, which overshadow the mercy seat, are they not the work of men’s hands (Ex. 25. 18)? What, further, is the celebrated temple at Jerusalem? Is it not hand-made and fashioned by the skill of men (1 Kings 8)?
Τίνος ἕνεκεν ὁ Μωσαϊκὸς λαὸς τῇ σκηνῇ κυκλόθεν προσεκύνει εἰκόνα καὶ τύπον φερούσῃ τῶν ἐπουρανίων͵ μᾶλλον δὲ τῆς ὅλης κτίσεως; Φησὶ γοῦν ὁ θεὸς τῷ Μωσεῖ· Ὅρα͵ ποιήσεις πάντα κατὰ τὸν τύπον τὸν δειχθέντα σοι ἐν τῷ ὄρει. Καὶ τὰ Χερουβὶμ δὲ τὰ σκιάζοντα τὸ ἱλαστήριον οὐχὶ ἔργα χειρῶν ἀνθρώπων; Τί δὲ ὁ ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις περιώνυμος ναός; Οὐχὶ χειροποίητος καὶ ἀνθρώπων τέχνῃ κατεσκευασμένος;
[...] But besides this who can make an imitation of the invisible, incorporeal, uncircumscribed, formless God?
Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις τοῦ ἀοράτου καὶ ἀσωμάτου καὶ ἀπεριγράπτου καὶ ἀσχηματίστου θεοῦ τίς δύναται ποιήσασθαι μίμημα;
Therefore to give form to the Deity is the height of folly and impiety. And hence it is that in the Old Testament the use of images was not common.
Παραφροσύνης τοίνυν ἄκρας καὶ ἀσεβείας τὸ σχηματίζειν τὸ θεῖον. Ἐντεῦθεν ἐν τῇ παλαιᾷ οὐκ ἦν τετριμμένη ἡ τῶν εἰκόνων χρῆσις.
But after God (Jn.1. 14; Tit. 3. 4) in His bowels of pity became in truth man for our salvation, not as He was seen by Abraham in the semblance of a man, nor as He was seen by the prophets, but in being truly man, and after He lived upon the earth and dwelt among men (Bar. 3. 38), worked miracles, suffered, was crucified, rose again and was taken back to Heaven, since all these things actually took place and were seen by men, they were written for the remembrance and instruction of us who were not alive at that time in order that though we saw not, we may still, hearing and believing, obtain the blessing of the Lord.
Ἐπεὶ δὲ ὁ θεὸς διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους αὐτοῦ κατὰ ἀλήθειαν γέγονεν ἄνθρωπος διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτη ρίαν͵ οὐχ ὡς τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ὤφθη ἐν εἴδει ἀνθρώπου͵ οὐχ ὡς τοῖς προφή ταις͵ ἀλλὰ κατ΄ οὐσίαν ἀληθῶς γέγονεν ἄνθρωπος διέτριψέ τε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις συνανεστράφη͵ ἐθαυματούργησεν͵ ἔπαθεν͵ ἐσταυρώθη͵ ἀνέστη͵ ἀνελήφθη͵ καὶ πάντα ταῦτα κατὰ ἀλήθειαν γέγονε͵ καὶ ὡράθη ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων͵ ἐγράφη μὲν εἰς ὑπόμνησιν ἡμῶν καὶ δι δαχὴν τῶν τηνικαῦτα μὴ παρόντων͵ ἵνα μὴ ἑωρακότες͵ ἀκούσαντες δὲ καὶ πιστεύσαντες τύχωμεν τοῦ μακαρισμοῦ τοῦ κυρίου.
But seeing that not every one has a knowledge of letters nor time for reading, the Fathers gave their sanction to depicting these events on images as being acts of great heroism, in order that they should form a concise memorial of them. Often, doubtless, when we have not the Lord’s passion in mind and see the image of Christ’s crucifixion, His saving passion is brought back to remembrance, and we fall down and worship not the material but that which is imaged: just as we do not worship the material of which the Gospels are made, nor the material of the Cross, but that which these typify.
Ἐπεὶ δὲ οὐ πάντες ἴσασι γράμματα οὐδὲ τῇ ἀναγνώσει σχολάζουσιν͵ οἱ πατέρες συνεῖδον ὥσπερ τινὰς ἀριστείας ἐν εἰκόσι ταῦτα γράφεσθαι εἰς ὑπόμνησιν σύντο μον. Ἀμέλει πολλάκις μὴ κατὰ νοῦν ἔχοντες τὸ τοῦ κυρίου πάθος͵ τὴν εἰκόνα τῆς Χριστοῦ σταυρώσεως ἰδόντες͵ τοῦ σωτηρίου πάθους εἰς ἀνά μνησιν ἐλθόντες͵ πεσόντες προσκυνοῦμεν οὐ τῇ ὕλῃ͵ ἀλλὰ τῷ εἰκονιζομένῳ͵ ὥσπερ οὐ τῇ ὕλῃ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὐδὲ τῇ τοῦ σταυροῦ ὕλῃ προσκυνοῦ μεν͵ ἀλλὰ τῷ ἐκτυπώματι.
For wherein does the cross, that typifies the Lord, differ from a cross that does not do so? It is just the same also in the case of the Mother of the Lord. For the honour which we give to her is referred to Him Who was made of her incarnate. And similarly also the brave acts of holy men stir us up to be brave and to emulate and imitate their valour and to glorify God. For as we said, the honour that is given to the best of fellow-servants is a proof of good-will towards our common Lady, and the honour rendered to the image passes over to the prototype (Basil, in 40 Mart: also De Spir. Sancto, ch. 27).
Τί γὰρ διαφέρει σταυρὸς μὴ ἔχων τὸ τοῦ κυ ρίου ἐκτύπωμα τοῦ ἔχοντος; Ὡσαύτως καὶ τῆς θεομήτορος· ἡ γὰρ εἰς αὐτὴν τιμὴ εἰς τὸν ἐξ αὐτῆς σαρκωθέντα ἀνάγεται. Ὁμοίως καὶ τὰ τῶν ἁγίων ἀνδραγαθήματα ἐπαλείφοντα ἡμᾶς πρὸς ἀνδρείαν καὶ ζῆλον καὶ μίμησιν τῆς αὐτῶν ἀρετῆς καὶ δόξαν θεοῦ. Ὡς γὰρ ἔφημεν͵ ἡ πρὸς τοὺς εὐγνώμονας τῶν ὁμοδούλων τιμὴ ἀπόδειξιν ἔχει τῆς πρὸς τὸν κοινὸν δεσπότην εὐνοίας καὶ ἡ τῆς εἰκόνος τιμὴ πρὸς τὸ πρωτότυπον διαβαίνει.
But this is an unwritten tradition (Cf. August., contr. Donatist., bk. 4), just as is also the worshipping towards the East and the worship of the Cross, and very many other similar things.
Ἔστι δὲ ἄγραφος ἡ παράδοσις ὥσπερ τὸ κατὰ ἀνατολὰς προσκυνεῖν͵ τὸ προσκυνεῖν σταυρὸν καὶ ἕτερα πλεῖστα τούτοις ὅμοια.
A certain tale (Evagr., Hist. 4., ch. 27), too, is told (Procop., De Bellis, 2. ch. 12), how that when Abgar was king over the city of the Edessenes, he sent a portrait painter to paint a likeness of the Lord, and when the painter could not paint because of the brightness that shone from His countenance, the Lord Himself put a garment over His own divine and life-giving face and impressed on it an image of Himself and sent this to Abgar, to satisfy thus his desire.
Φέρεται δὲ καί τις ἱστορία͵ ὡς ὁ κύριος τῷ Αὐγάρῳ τῆς Ἐδεσσηνῶν πόλεως βασιλεύοντι ζωγράφον ἀποστείλαντι τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ὁμοιο γραφῆσαι εἰκόνα μὴ δυνηθέντος τοῦ ζωγράφου διὰ τὴν ἀποστίλβουσαν τοῦ προσώπου λαμπρότητα αὐτὸς ἱμάτιον τῷ οἰκείῳ καὶ ζωοποιῷ προσώπῳ ἐπιθεὶς ἐναπομάξασθαι τῷ ἱματίῳ τὸ ἑαυτοῦ ἀπεικόνισμα καὶ οὕτως ἀποστεῖλαι ποθοῦντι τῷ Αὐγάρῳ.
Moreover that the Apostles handed down much that was unwritten, Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, tells us in these words: Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught of us, whether by word or by epistle (2 Thess. 2. 15). And to the Corinthians he writes, Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you (1 Cor. 11. 2).”
Ὅτι δὲ καὶ πλεῖστα οἱ ἀπόστολοι ἀγράφως παραδεδώκασι͵ γράφει Παῦλος ὁ τῶν ἐθνῶν ἀπόστολος· Ἄρα οὖν͵ ἀδελφοί͵ στήκετε καὶ κρα τεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις ἡμῶν͵ ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι΄ ἐπιστο λῆς ἡμῶν͵ καὶ πρὸς Κορινθίους· Ἐπαινῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς͵ ἀδελφοί͵ ὅτι πάντα μου μέμνησθε καί͵ καθὼς παρέδωκα ὑμῖν͵ τὰς παραδόσεις κατέχετε.
This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 2004
By Foot To China Mission of The Church of the East, to 1400 gives the following chronology
A.D. 35 A tradition arose that the apostle Thomas Preached in the Kingdom of Osrohene of Armenia (upper Euphrates) on his way to India.
A.D. 100 A congregation existed in Edessa, considered to be the first of the Church of the East. A.D. 180 Tatian's Diatesseron completed.
A.D. 200 The Church of the Eat in Edessa had a bishop and a theological college.
A.D. 258 Djondishapur founded on the lower Tigris with much Christian participation. A.D. 280 Bishop of Selucia-Ctesiphon on the lower Tigris made first Catholicus. A.D.301 Kingdom of Osrohene declared to be a Christian state, the first in history
Thomas was an important Apostle in that land because most of the Thomas literature originated from Edessa during the time of second century AD.
Among them are:
Acts of Thomas is a dramatical poetic work describing the ministry of Thomas in India. Acts of Thomas, survived over the centuries in monastic collections. Acts of Thomas, was composed ca. A.D.225. In the Acts of Thomas, Thomas is Jesus’ twin brother…the serpent said to Thomas in ATh.3:31, “I know that you are the twin brother of Christ.” Unlike the GTh, the ATh says Thomas is Jesus’ twin! Thomas was certainly a cousin of Jesus and probably looked like him. But we have no grounds to make him a twin of Jesus.
Acts of Thomas starts with this .1:1: “At that season all we the apostles were at Jerusalem, Simon which is called Peter and Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas the brother of James: and we divided the regions of the world, that every one of us should go unto the region that fell to him and unto the nation whereunto the Lord sent him. According to the lot, India fell unto Judas Thomas, which is also the twin.” (cf. apostles’ names in Lk.6:13-16, Ac.1:13.
"Acts of Thomas”, describes it with embellishments and exaggerations. It was probably written in Greek and was translated in to Syriac. . It is also found in Latin, Armenian, Ethiopic (Coptic), and Arabic. These were written by Gnostic writers in Edessa and some scholars ascribe it to Bardaisan (155-223 AD) of Syria. Apart from embellishments and exaggerations typical of these types of writings, the context and historical facts are true. Archeology and Indian traditions substantiate the basic historic and geographic context in this book.
Gospel of Thomas discovered during archeological excavations of an ancient library in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. The three papyrus fragments of Thomas – known as the Oxyrhynchus fragments – date to between 40–240 AD. The Gospel of Thomas most probably written around A.D. 170 is just a collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth. It does not touch the birth, life, ministry, crucifixion nor resurrection. Gnostic Churches tend to ascribe an early date even prior to the other Gospels and as an early understanding of the teachings of Jesus before it was formally and fully understood. It starts as “These are the secret words that the Living Jesus spoke, which Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down. And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death."”
Anglican bishop N.T. Wright, history professor at Oxford, wrote concerning the Gospel of Thomas in The New Testament and the People of God: “Thomas reflects a symbolic universe, and a worldview, which are radically different from those of the early Judaism and Christianity.”
The Book of Thomas the Contender, from the Nag Hammadi Library Collection The content of this work is quite hyperbolic and gnostic in style and content. “The secret sayings that the savior spoke to 2 Judas Thomas which I, even I, Mathaias, 3 wrote down, while I was walking, listening to them speak with 4 one another.” It was likely composed in the first half of the 3d century A.D.
The Apocalypse of Thomas c. 300-400 C.E.
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is a gospel about the childhood of Jesus that dates to the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
Why is that there existed a prolific tradition on Apostle Thomas in this area? We cannot but come to understand that it was certainly part of his area of ministry though we have no specific record of it. In actual fact most of these writings associated with the Thomas tradition, were rejected during the early formation of Christian orthodoxy; and by the end of the fourth century most of the writings associated with Thomas had been condemned and destroyed. We have clear evidence in this direction. For one Cyril of Jerusalem [(Cathechesis V (4th century)] says: "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, ]
Manichaen the prophet of the Religion of Light
While it is true that Mani practically followed Apostle Thomas’ footsteps and established his own religion in those areas. In India it was the concerted efforts of Mani that practically took over Thomas Christianity in the rest of India and turned it into the Modern Hinduism where Gnosis is the way of salvation by simple taking away Jesus the Son of God incarnate from Christianity. These groups who were probably within the early Gnostic community asserted a "conviction that direct, personal and absolute knowledge of the authentic truths of existence is accessible to human beings, and, moreover, that the attainment of such knowledge must always constitute the supreme achievement of human life."
He himself presented as the younger brother of Gana Pathy (Logos made flesh) as Manikandan Subramanian. Manichaeism rapidly spread west into the Roman Empire. From Egypt it moved across northern Africa (where the young Augustine temporarily became a convert) and reached Rome in the early 4th century. Then went long the trade routes to reach India and to China. The 4th century marked the height of Manichaean expansion in the West, with churches established in southern Gaul and Spain. Every where it eventually died out except in India and China where it continued and thrived in different names. See my book “Emergence of Hinduism from Christianity for details.
The region known as Mesopotamia stretched from the Mediterranean east, all the way to the Persian Gulf.
On his way, the apostle Thomas, founder of the Church of Mesopotamia, is supposed to have preached with his disciples on the shores of Lake Urmia and to have baptized many worshipers there. In the village Mar Noukha, located near the Lake Urmia, a house was built on the premises where the apostle Thomas is said to have rested.
The church of Mar Noukha, where St. Thomas rested https://www.atour.com/education/20160917a.html Photo: Claire Yacoub
And the people still believe that there is healing to gain for all kinds of sicknesses for everybody who the third of july will bath in the waters of Urinia Lake or in the spring of St. George, near the lake Urmia.
“Eusebius of Caesarea (Eusebius. Ecclesiastical History 1.13.), the church historian of the fourth century tells of another tradition about the coming of the gospel to Edessa. It tells of an invitation sent by King Abgar V (Ukkoma, the Black) of Edessa to Jesus himself to visit Edessa and cure him of leprosy. In Jesus’ reply to the king, he promised that after his ascension, he would send one of his disciples to cure the king of the disease. The tradition is that according to the promise made by Jesus, the apostle Thomas (Didymus) sent Thaddeus (Addai), one of the seventy, to Edessa. Addai on coming to Edessa first preached to the Jews there and thus began the church in Edessa. The king was healed and he became a Christian. (The tradition of Addai’s mission is narrated in great detail in a Syriac document called Doctrine of Addai. According to this Addai’s mission took place in AD. 29. See W.Cureton, Ancient Syriac Documents.)
East of the Euphrates: Early Christianity in Asia by T.V. Philip states that Edessa held St.Thomas as their Patron and as we know today they had the remains of Thomas for some time before it was taken to Italy.. 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.
Map of Persia 1c AD
Church Tradition regarding the evangelism,holds that the holy Apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India. Church Traditon also indicates that Apostle Thomas baptized the Magi. Thus Thomas travelled towards the East and his early travels were probably for the sole purpose of meeting the Magi and give them the details of the life and teachings of the Mesiah and baptise them. In most places,these magi having returned to their own country continued to worship the baby Jesus who they understood as the incarnation of God as human to bring them to the truth. As such they were the first Christians at least 33 years ahead of the beginning of the church. As we will see, Thomas’ priority in the initial period was to find them and give them the good news in detail.
According to the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 490-c. 425 BC), called “Father of History,” the Magi made up one of the original six tribes of the Medes, who lived in Media – what is today northwestern Iran and southeastern Turkey. . By the 6th century BC (prior to the Persian invasion) the Medes were able to establish an empire that stretched from Aran (the modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan) to Central Asia and Afghanistan. Herodotus listed the “Magoi” as one of the six tribes of the Medes.
They were a hereditary caste of priests of the Zurvanism religion that evolved out of Zoroastrianism.Josephus traces their origin to Medes to the Old Testament Hebrew Madai and then to the biblical character, Madai, son of Japheth:
"Now as to Javan and Madai, the sons of Japhet; from Madai came the Madeans, who are called Medes, by the Greeks" Antiquities of the Jews, I:6. (See Gen 10)
http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/History/madha/medes.htm by Dr. Glanpaolo Savola Vizzi 2006
Zorastrianism was one of the earliest monotheistic religion of the world. Like the Levites the Magi tribe was the Priests of the Zorastrianism.
They were described as a priestly class, but their main task appears to have been the interpretation of the king’s dreams. In this respect they were like similar “wise men” kept at the courts of various Near Eastern monarchs. Daniel was the head of the Magi (/Rab Magi) of all Babylon in his time.(Daniel 2:48). The word is defined in Dan 5:11 King Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Daniel as “chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners.”
Avestan maga, magauuan, means "sacrifice" and "sacrificer" which in sanskrit means “Mahabali” the names of the Christian Kings who came to power in the Southern India soon after Apostle Thomas. Ravana the King of Ceylon was his son.
They were the chief counsellors of the King, scientists of the period, astrologers who can predict future etc.
In his work Every Good Man Is Free, Philo of Alexandria says:
”And in the land of the barbarians, in which the same men are authorities both as to words and actions, very numerous companies of virtuous and honorable men are celebrated. Among the Persians there is the body of the Magi, who, investigating the works of nature for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the truth, do at their leisure become initiated themselves and initiate others in the divine virtues by very clear explanations.”
The Infancy Gospel of the Savior, Circa 300-600 AD (http://gnosis.org/library/infarab.htm)
The Magi and Zarathustra are also mentioned in the non-canonical Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of The Savior (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0806.htm) where in section 7 of this early gospel it reads: “And it came to pass, when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem of Judea, in the time of King Herod, behold, magi came from the east to Jerusalem, as Zeraduscht (Zoroaster) had predicted; and there were with them gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And they adored Him, and presented to Him their gifts. Then the Lady Mary took one of the swaddling-bands, and, on account of the smallness of her means, gave it to them; and they received it from her with the greatest marks of honor."
German writer Manfred Barthel,explains how when the Persians invaded Jerusalem in AD 614 they spared the Church of the Nativity in Jerusalem, because the church had a fresco of the Three Kings dressed in Persian dress.
A sixth-century Syrian source, cited by Zoroastrian scholar Dariush Jahanian, names the Three Kings as :
"Hormizdah king of Persia, Yazdegerd King of Saba, and Perozadh King of Sheba," “Ethiopian church knew them as:
Hor, king of Persia; Basanater, king of Saba; and Karsudan, king of the east; and the Western church knew them as Gaspar, Melchior and Balthassar.
Priests of Zarathustra (Zoroaster) were indeed known as the Magi. The Bible gives us the direction, East and the legend states that the wise men were from Persia (Iran) - Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar -thus being priests of Zarathustra religion, the magi. They are thought to have been followers of Zoroastert(he Persian teacher and prophet) and they professed the doctrines of Zoroastrianism much the same as those of the Jews. Encarta Concise Encyclopedia - Religion & Philosophy.
Matthew 2:1 - "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi [*] from the east came to Jerusalem." (* Footnote: Traditionally Wise Men). Matthew 2:7 - Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. Matthew 2:16
- When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. If they were Persians alone and they were only three, why did they take two years to reach Jerusalem. This would suggest additional magi from distance places.
Some of them may have been indeed the Zorastrians.
Christ and the Persian magi Marco Polo on Persia's "Christian" fire worshippers
From Chapter XI (Of the province of Persia) of Marco Polo's "The Travels; The Description of the world" written in 1298. This translation is by William Marsden, revised by Thomas Wright (Konemann Travel Classics, Koln, Germany, 1996).
Persia was anciently a large and noble province, but it is now in great part destroyed by the Tartars. In Persia there is a city which is called Saba, from whence were the three magi who came to adore Christ in Bethlehem; and the three are buried in that city in a fair sepulchre, and they are all three entire with their beards and hair. One was called Baldasar, the second Gaspar, and the third Melchior.
Marco inquired often in that city concerning the three magi, and nobody could tell him anything about them, except that the three magi were buried there in ancient times. After three days' journey you come to a castle which is called Palasata, which means the castle of the fire-worshippers, and it is true that the inhabitants of that castle worship fire, and this is given as the reason.
Like the Chinese wise men it was alleged that the Persian Magi, from time immemorial, each year ascended a mountain at harvest time to await the appearance of the star that would show them where the Zoroastrian savior would be born (Herzfeld 1935, 61–62; J. Russell 1991, 524)
The men of that castle say, that anciently three kings of that country went to adore a certain king who was newly born, and carried with them three offerings, namely, gold, frankincense, and myrth: gold, that they might know if he were an earthly king; frankincense, that they might know if he were God; and myrth, that they might now if he were a mortal man.
When these magi were presented to Christ, the youngest of the three adored him first, and it appeared to him that Christ was of his stature and age. The middle one came next, and then the eldest, and to each he seemed to be of their own stature and age. Having compared their observations together, they agreed to go all to worship at once, and then he appeared to them all of his true age.
When they went away, the infant gave them a closed box, which they carried with them for several days, and then becoming curious to see what he had given them, they opened the box and found in it a stone, which was intended for a sign that they should remain firm as a stone in the faith they had received from him.
When, however, they saw the stone, they marvelled, and thinking themselves deluded, they threw the stone into a certain pit, and instantly fire burst forth in the pit. When they saw this, they repented bitterly of what they had done, and taking some of the fire with them they carried it home.
And having placed it in one of their churches, they keep it continually burning, and adore that fire as a god, and make all their sacrifices with it; and if it happen to be extinguished, they go for more to the original fire in the pit where they threw the stone, which is never extinguished, and they take of none other fire. And, therefore, the people of the country worship fire.
Marco was told all this by the people of the country; and it is true that one of those kings was of Saba; and the second was Dyava, and the third was of the castle (Castle of the Fire worshippers)
According to Assyrian writers, the magi from Iran were priest of the zorastrian temple.
The story says that upon their return from Jerusalem, the Magi turned their temple into a worshipping place for infant Jesus. They spent the remainder of their lives spreading the gospel of the incarnation of the savior. Apparently there was an old gravestone that told the story of Magi from this temple witnessing the Christmas Star and traveling to Jerusalem to meet the Messiah.
Apostle Thomas visited in AD 47 according to the traditions of the Eastern Church along with
Addai (Thaddaeus) and his disciples Aggagi and Mari. They establised the first church there which is Iraq’s Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrian Christian Chruch. These communities are believed to be among the oldest in the world.
The Assyrian people adopted Christianity in the 1st century AD and Assyria became the center of Eastern Rite Christianity and Syriac literature from the 1st century AD until the Middle Ages. It remained Christian until the 14th century. At its peak by the end of the 13th century there were twelve Nestorian dioceses in a strip from Peking to Samarkand.
According to traditions “Acts of Mar Mari”,(written in about the 8th century AD in Babylonia.) Mari, was active in the conversion of client kings in the marches between Rome and Parthia, and he eventually established an episcopal see at the Twin Cities (al-Mada’in) of Seleucia-Ctesiphon on the Tigris.
Seleucia, the ruins of which are at Tell Omar near Salman Pak southeast of modern Baghdad, remained one of the chief cities of the Parthian Empire and later became the winter capital of the Sasanian Empire.
Naneh Maryam Church
Church of East Assyria or St. Mary Church built in the year 32 AD.in Urmia, Iran.
This was originally a Fire Temple of the three Zorastrian Priests - magi who visited baby Jesus The story was written on their grave stone, which is now in the museum of Kiev
After coming back they converted the fire temple to a church. A Chinese princess, who contributed to its reconstruction in 642 AD, has her name engraved on a stone on the church wall. The famous Italian traveller Marco Polo also described the church in his visit.
Briefly prior to the World War I, it was converted by the Russians to a Russian Orthodox church. In early 1960s, the old church was restored and a modern church with a spire was built adjacent to the ancient church.
The Old Church
The sign at the entrance of the church
Naneh Maryam church has 9 pews. On the right of the altar, there is a narrow corridor with a traditional oven built in the wall which is said to be where the holy breads were baked. And next to this oven, there is a Baptismal font.
The first Patriarch of the East had attended the chapel as a boy built by the Three Wise Men in the town of Resaieh of Northern Iran. The patriarch of the East found references to the apostolic tradition of the church and of St. Thomas. St.Thomas in accordance with his appointment baptized the magi. The Magi are said to have been buried on the grounds of the church. The gravestone containing this story was removed during Word War I by the Russian forces and is now in a museum in Kiev
After establishing the first Christian church in Babylon, Thomas turned to India and countries all over Asia. This pre-Christian Christian Church, is still in used today in the town of Resaieh, in Northern Iran. (Obedience By Rear Admiral Joseph H. Miller) The other church made by three Indian Magi are still in Piravam in Moovattupuzha, Kerala near Cochin.
Naneh Maryam is considered by some accounts to be the first church built in the East and by other accounts to be the second largest church of the old world after the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Archeologists say that the arches and pillars of Naneh Maryam Church date back to the Sassanid era (226-651 CE) and that the interior of the church displays a combination of Parthian (247 BC–224 CE) and Sassanid architecture. In accordance with Assyrian values, the interior of the church lacks ornate decorations or embellishments in the form of wall paintings or stucco reliefs. The church has 9 pews, 9 confessionals and a low door above that opens to a large courtyard. Above this door is a sign that tells visitors to remove their shoes as they are entering sacred ground. The floor is covered with rugs.
Over the years the appearance of this church has significantly changed due to several renovations. According to Assyrian accounts, a Chinese princess who resided in the church on returning from her
visit to the Archbishop of Nineveh was the first to renovate the church in 642 CE. The Naneh Maryam Church was also renovated in 1963 when additions were made to the structure.
“Legends of local Indians in the Amazon region tell of a bearded, white man with long, light robes who arrived by the sea, a man cited as a good and wise man who taught the indigenous people the basic concepts of agriculture, which would result in the planting of several plants and the facilitation of local life. This man would be serene and with little difficulty he would have learned the language of the natives, beginning to pass on his knowledge to all who sought him out.
Many shamans traveled long distances to meet this man, and even in times of war there were long meetings of rival peoples who met only to be able to hear the man's speeches.
The legend is often troubled as to its origin and its history, but all aspects converge for a white man, who passed on his knowledge to tribes and its end is also unique: after long years of teaching the man began to be uncomfortable with polygamy and cannibalism. In trying to change these indigenous habits, they began reject his teachings, until he was expelled from Brazilian soil. What happened to him is uncertain. Some say that he returned to the sea and others say that he would have gone to the Andes. Wherever he went he left a footprint. They are seen even today”
Sume taught the Indians of South America cultivation and use of Yerba
Footprint of Pae Sumé or Pajé Sumé with his stick
These types of footprints are found all over the area of
Tacumbu (Asuncion), Santo Tomas (Paraguay), Cristor Rey (Caacupe) and Yaguaron.
least nine places were discovered where the footprints of Saint
Thomas were found on the rock; in one of these, the legend goes on to
say that it was also where the Saint stopped to preach to the fish
in two other of these sites there were water sources that the
Saint had caused to spring up hitting the ground with his staff.
Petrographs considered to have been drawn by Sume
.Versions found in Bahia, identify Sumé with the apostle Thomas and, according to a Bahian friar, he taught the Indians to cultivate cassava, corn, beans and bananas and their many uses. One type of banana is even called by his name. He taught them the use of Yerba mate. (Yerba mate is used to make a beverage known as mate. When served cold, the drink is called tereré in Guaraní. It is traditionally consumed in central and southern regions of South America, primarily in Paraguay, as well as in Argentina, Uruguay, southern and central-western Brazil, the Chaco region of Bolivia and southern Chile.). In some places the first drink of Yerba is dedicated to Sume.
He taught the Gurani’s the religion of monotheism. The creator God Nande, Ruvusu or Nande Papa-tenonede and he was the envoy of this God. He also taught ethical principles of social tribal life and inter-tribal relationships, making of utensils, and nutrition principles.
He was not fully acceptable to the tribal leaders and shamans as it very often opposed the reliegious teachings of the various tribes and cultural practices of polygamy and inter-tribal war and cannibalism.
In a legend, it is said that some Indians enraged by his ruling of the limitation of their sexuality, set fire to Sumé's house. Others say that he was the target of arrows or that he was tied to a stone and threw him into the river. And, some say that he was subjected to walk on fire,He had extraordinary powers, such as the ability to slow down rain and drought, dominate and control the storms and waves of the sea and the ferocious animals. But the shamans, envious of his power, just wanted to keep him out. Repelled, he left the region, walking on the waters of the sea, rossing distances with a single stride. Whe he was shot at with arrows, they would simply turn round hit the shooter.
The Tupi Indians believe that Sumé left their land walking on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and promised to return one day to continue his work.
Others say that Sumé, being chased by the Tupinambás, went to Paraguay and from there to Peru. For this crossing, it opened a road that became known as "Peabiru" or the "Way of the Mountains of the Sun". Recently, a Brazilian archeologist reconstructed this road, finding dozens of landmarks. .
The famous traces of human feet, engraved in stones, were shown by the Indians to the first Portuguese who arrived in Brazil along the route of Sume’s journey. In some places, such as São Gabriel da Cachoeira, on the Negro River (Amazonas), the residents, even today, deposit candles and say prayers around footprints on rocks. Some attribute it to an angel, others to São Tomé, or Pai Sumé.
Even before discovering this part of America, the Indians used for their travels to the coasts and inland a certain road system, which was known as Peavirú or Peavijú . Later, Europe also used these roads in their expeditions, under the direction of the Indians. This communication system was named “the Way of Saint Thomas” , It must be remembered that legends analogous to that of Pa'í Sumé are prevalent in other parts of America - among the Incas, Mayans, Aztecs etc.
* Text transcription by Lua Estrela at Sunnet.com.
Pai Sumé, the Guardian Spirit of Brazil
By Edmundo Pellizari
Pai Sumé is considered the protector of the land of Brazil.
This traditional teaching is preserved by some indigenous and caboclo shamans.
In Brazil there are two basic types of Pajelança (Brazilian Shamanism): the Indigenous and the Cabocla.
The Indigenous is the traditional and ancient art of the shaman and has no “white” elements.
Cabocla is derived from the previous one and adopted non-indigenous elements of the Christian and African religions.
Both traditions are a spiritual treasure for all Brazilians.
For the wise man of the forest, Nature is alive and has a soul. Mother Earth breathes, sings and feels pain. Animals have their intelligence and invisible part. Everything has a hierarchy and nothing is loose without a name or law. Therefore, each thing has its place and an order. Mountains, rivers, caves, forests and all living beings have a guardian.
Man is responsible for local harmony and must respond to his superior. In this way, each element of Nature is intertwined with the other.
The guardian of the forest speaks to the guardian of the land who speaks to the guardian of the place (country, continent, etc.).
Pai Sumé is responsible for what we call Brazil, which does not have the same geography that we “pale faces” created through intrigue, wars and conquests. He watches over these lands and creatures that are born here live and die. When things get very complicated down here, Pai Sumé manifests himself in the flesh to order the house.
I believe that he must already be preparing for another incarnation!
Tradition says that a long time ago, when the whites had not yet arrived here, Pai Sumé manifested himself, walked, ate and taught among the natives. At this time, say the pajés, the indigenous people had forgotten the oldest traditions and lived according to their whims. Some fought with others and coveted their relatives' women. They did not know the plantation of manioc, the secret of sacred plants to talk to the spirits, the manufacture of canoes and the language of the stars. The elders did not remember their origin and could no longer tell the stories of their ancestors. Life was in chaos.
Pai Sumé, also called Tonapa, took a very white man's body and appeared in the world.
Those who lived near the sea saw Sumé arriving by the waves ...
He entered the village and started teaching. He stayed a while and when everything returned to the natural order he left. He did this in every village on this land and was also seen in the Andes and Patagonia. In each place he left marks of his passage, such as impressions of his feet, hands and strange inscriptions on the stones of the hills, beaches and itapébas (slabs).
In Santos (SP), in the old days, there was a fountain called São Tomé (Sumé was syncretized with the apostle São Tomé) that was at the junction of Bernardino de Campos and Floriano Peixoto avenues today.
On the slab of the natural fountain was a footprint of Pai Sumé. After the wise Father restored the lost tradition, he returned to Toryba (Heavenly Paradise) from where he continues to watch. Certain Amazon shamans say that he hid some secrets in the north of the country.
Pai Sumé would have written certain symbols on stones and left them in a kind of pit in Acre. The inscriptions contain the destiny of Brazil and the true origin of the first inhabitants. Some shamans know the path to the grave and watch over the place.
At Pajelança, when we want Sumé's help, we sing and invoke his name. We also fast and use smoking with certain special herbs. Nowadays, Pai Sumé's intervention is very important. We are disconnected from Mother Earth and our souls. The country is left to “foreign demons” and many Brazilians poison the waters, forests and places where they live. The real owners here, our indigenous brothers, are decimated and robbed in the name of modernity and profit.
One of the ways to ask for his help is through Reiki Sumé, which was born under the banner of his heritage and within Umbanda. When we place ourselves as vehicles of universal energy, Pai Sumé helps us to heal and self-heal.
PRAYER TO SUMÉ
This mysterious prayer can be used to greet Pai Sumé: Prayer to Sumé (Pajé Avarumã):
Toryba: the paradise or home of Tupã, the Creator God.
Coaracyguaçú: the great invisible sun that lies behind our visible sun. Place where the pure or enchanted spirits of the early times live
Sources: Jornal de Umbanda Sagrada - August 2009 http://groups.google.com.br/group/alexandrecumino
Posted by Soraia at 12:00 AM Arrows Pai Sumé, Paj
("feathered serpent" or "plumed serpent")
Apart from the above explanations of the local Amerindians there are two basic religious teachings and symbols that needs explanation. Unfortunately, just as the Portuguese did in India, the early Jesuits burned all the local codices leaving only a few that did not reach their hands.
Here is what Friar Diego de Landa writes in 1566
“We found a great number of books and since they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods of the devil we burned them, which they took most grievously, and which gave them great pain”
As such it is very difficult to make conclusive statements on two of the basic symbolisms that is found within the culture.
First is the concept of Quetzalcoatle among the Hispanic culture.
La Venta Stela 19, the earliest known representation of the Feathered Serpent in Mesoamerica
And Quetzalcoatl as depicted in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis.
The first culture to use the symbol of a feathered serpent as an important religious and political symbol was Teotihuacan. Among the pre-Hispanic cultures of America the myth of the serpent is common and is better known as Quetzalcóatl or Kukulkan, and which was also known in the Andean region under the name of Viracocha. The Feathered Serpent was a prominent supernatural entity or deity, found in many Mesoamerican religions. It is still so called Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs, Kukulkan among the Yucatec Maya, and Q'uq'umatz and Tohil among the K'iche' Maya.
The Serpent symbol is one of the most ancient and the general association of the Serpent is with the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. the "Serpent" and "Dragon" were the names given to the "Wise Ones," the initiated adepts of olden times. These are called Magi in the Bible - The Wise Ones. Thomas was indeed one of the Magi and he was appointed to go and baptize the Magi who were distributed all over the world. The Shamans of America certainely fromed part of the magi which would explain why Thomas came to this region. There might have been a group of Shamanic magi group who were waiting for Thomas. Did any of these Shamanic Magi visit baby Jesus in Jersalem like those of Persia, India and China?
At temples such as the aptly named "Quetzalcoatl temple" in the Ciudadela complex, feathered serpents figure prominently and alternate with a different kind of serpent head. The earliest depictions of the feathered serpent deity were fully zoomorphic, depicting the serpent as an actual snake, but already among the Classic Maya, the deity began acquiring human features. The Shamnic explanation includes incarnation of the heavenly being as human. The symbol of the feather indicating the heaven and the serpent indicating the creeping on the earth. The double symbolism used by the Feathered Serpent is considered allegoric to the dual nature of the deity, where being feathered represents its divine nature or ability to fly to reach the skies and being a serpent represents its human nature or ability to creep on the ground among other animals of the Earth, a dualism very common in Mesoamerican deities.
In Mesoamerican myth Quetzalcoatl is also a mythical culture hero from whom almost all mesoamerican peoples claim descent. The real translation is "Precious Holy Snake" or "Precious Holy Twin". It is the possible translation of the word to Twin that associate Thomas with Quetzalcoatl, Thomas itself means the Twin who is often interpreted as the twin of Jesus as was mistaken even by the disciples. It may be that Thomas looked like Jesus. They were probably first cousins. Thus by a double meaning it could represent the Apostle Thomas.
Another very problematic symbolism is the presence of the cross in the religion of the Meso-American culture.
The Mayan Cross
Long before AD1524 when the first Franciscan missionaries arrived in New Spain, they found the natives had the cross as part of their religious symbolism. How did it happen is still an enigma. If it was brought in by Thomas, it has been represented in a culurally relevant way by the time the Jesuits arrived.
No body can mistake the clear form of the cross.. Probably this is what led to that possibly the natives of the New World belonged as part of the lost tribe of Israel whereby a few jewish christians did take refuge in Meso-America. It is quite a possibility. Or Apostle Thomas the Twin the Quetzalcóatl did indeed bring in the cross with him and established it . A particular Cross is worshiped even today in Huatulco, Oaxaca, which according to legends was brought by a bearded man with a fair complexion that came from the sea who taught the natives to venerate it and the wortship of One creator God along with other things. He left again leaving the cross before he walked over the sea to India.
However apparently the interpretation of the cross with all its adornment is totally different from anything directly related to the Christian cross. But it is not difficult to see through it a shamanic version of it.
YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SAINTS: HOLY PATRONS. Diseases, ills and ailments by Ramón Rabre Jordá
“The cross was the cosmic tree that sank its roots in the underworld and extended its branches to the dwelling place of the gods, for what was considered a powerful symbol that served as an intermediary between men , divinity and the world of the dead.”
Evidently it represented a mediation between man and God and a process of reconciliation which is same as the christian cross.
The Maya World of the Cross; A Dissertation on the Great Maya Symbol;January, 2010 puts the comparison:
“Importantly, the Maya understood their Cross as a Tree. This is evident in the manner in which they decorated their Crosses. Trees were planted next to the Crosses, or decorated with branches from trees. This behavior has given strong foundation to the modern scholarly assessment of the Cross as a Tree of Life. But this view is only as a Tree of Life, and not the Cross of crucifixion.
Then again, the Maya were not alone in regarding their Cross as a Tree. Christians did also.
The Christian Cross as a Tree
The ancient author Justin wrote about Jesus hanging on the Tree. Many thousands of similar designations may be found in Christian literature.
Acts 5:30-31 -- The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
Acts 10:39-41 -- They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest.
Acts 13:29-30 -- And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.
Galatians 3:13 -- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, "Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree".
1 Peter 2:24-25 -- He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Thus we see a direct correlation between the Christian Tree and the Mayan Tree.
But did the Mayan Cross derive from Christianity, or from some other realm of knowledge now mostly unknown to western man?
In contrast to the Schele and Friedel speculative methods derived out of such basic assumptions, consider the images of the Mayan Cross. It is richly decorated, with symbolic meaning to each of the various decorations, thus incorporating the religious images of the Mayan people.
The central core of the Pacal image is the Cross. But it is paralleled by the Christian Cross, and not merely a Tree.
George & Audrey DeLange declare the imposed picture of a Celestial Bird on the top of the Cross as a symbol of the kingdom of heaven. ”
The cross with its trinitarian flower arms is nothing new to Thomasian religion
What I have done below is to isolate the cross from the other parts.
There is also a bird which depicts the Holy Spirit also in the Mayan cross top though shown in exagerrated way.
Now compare this with the St.Thomas crosses that is found in India and China
The similarity if unquestionable including the triple leaf arms and the lotus base.
In both cases we see that while the cross, the tree of life and the serpent remain, the historic Jesus is somehow lost in the development of history. In India we know for certain that Gnostic Mani was the reason. We also know that Gnostic Manchaen followed the footsteps of Apsotle Thomas and cleverly toppled over the message of the incarnation leaving behind the way through Gnosis or knowledge. I suppose this is what happenned in America as it was in India and China.
This is an unbelievable proposition since America was not really part of the known world of the time and travel by ship alone was the possible route to this South Americal Continent. This is how the world map of the period looked like, as drawn by the early adventurous people of the period. Thismap was drawn by Strabo
Two thousand years ago, around the time that Jesus of Nazareth was born, the second Holy Temple was still standing in Jerusalem. The Great Pyramid at Giza was already 2,500 years old, but the Library of Alexandria was still around. In Rome, the Colosseum hadn’t been built yet.
The best scholarly guide to the world Jesus was born into is a man called Strabo. He was born in Amasia, a town in the central north of what’s now Turkey. One of the great works of his life was a 17- volume geography, which described in detail the contours, cities, and cultures of the world as it was known to the scholars of his time.
Amasia was on the edge of the Roman empire, and when Strabo was born around 64 B.C., in Amasia, a town in the central north of what’s now Turkey. One of the great works of his life was a 17-volume geography, which described in detail the contours, cities, and cultures of the world as it was known to the scholars of his time.
There is no mention of the Americas and even of China!! That would not mean the continent did not exist nor that they had no connection with the rest of the world. There must have been normal ship traffic between the other continents and people in South and North America as they were as much in existence with the inhabitance alive. This anonymity came just because, the major commercial traffic was under Roman world and we have only those worlds who were in contact with them. It was the trade routes that made the difference. In fact in the recent years evidence has come up indicating Hebrew contact with both the North and South America to the local tribes whom we know as Red Indians. They were there as much as the Persians and the Indians and they were indeed in contact with the rest of the world. So it is as much a possibility as the Thomas tradition of India.
A description of the debate on Hebrew connection to the South and North American tribes can be found in https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/native-americans-jews-the-lost-tribes-episode/
How did he do it? Did he take a ship? Did he walked over the waters? Or Did he jump over the sea from one continent to the other?
Even though it was not known to the European and Indian traders, there must have been small boats of even ships plying between Africa and America and probably between China and America. Hence it will not be such a surprise that Thomas could reach America.
During the first centuries of colonization in America, the first Jesuits who arrived in Brazil were surprised by the receptivity of Karayo natives, who lived in the coastal territory between the city of Cananéia (SP) and the region of Lagoa dos Patos (RS). These natives not only reported, but also showed various records and signs of “proof” that became strong indications of the passage of Thomas by the South of America. Interestingly, there are similar records in India, indicating it is the same person. The natives also reported the mythological figure of a white man who would have visited their South of America in Pre-Columbian times. This figure, which they attributed the nickname “Father Sumé”, was identified and merged with São Tomé - Saint Thomas.
According to these reports, long, long before the arrival of the Europeans, a tall, white-bearded, extraordinarily wise man called Pai Sumé or Pai Zumé [Father Thomas] came walking over the ocean to teach the Indians the art of agriculture, to sow maize and cassava and other products, and to show them the use of yerba mate. (the national beverage of Paraguay.)
Most importantly, this wise old man spoke to them about a religion with the One True God and told them one day there would be men who would carry the Cross and teach them this truth. Then, after a time, having completed his mission among the natives, this man turned back to the sea,
leaving traces of his footsteps on the rocks in various sites along the coast and interior of the South American Continent. In Paraguay, these footsteps of the Apostle St. Thomas can be seen on several hills: Tacumbú near Asunción, Santo Tomás, Cristo Rey in Caacupé, Yaguarón, etc.
In this part of America, the Indians used a system of roads that was known by the name of Peavirú or Peavijú for their trips to the coast and to Paraguay. These same roads were used by the Europeans, guided by the local Indians, in their explorations. This communications system was also given the name of Santo Tomás, as it is mentioned in the history books on the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay.
It received this name by the disciples of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Spaniards, since those roads were connected to the legend of Pai Zumé. These first Jesuits who evangelized in these areas believed that this personage was in fact the Apostle St. Thomas, who had come to America in the days of the early Christians to prepare for the coming of the missionaries.
A procession with St. Thomas in the city of Paraguarí in Paraguay; at right steps of St. Thomas at the top of a hill of Tacumbú near Asunción
Signs left by Saint Thomas in Brazil and India
Route taken by Saint Thomas to Brazil as proposed by Henry Jenné da Costa Jr,who was born in the South of Brazil based on their local tradition.
Tomé Marangatu - Paraguayan legend
(AMERICAN ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW Vol. XX. January, 1899)
The Mormon Story – American Indians are the remnants of the”Losst Tribes of Israel)
According to Joseph Smith ( 1805-1844) who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints( known as Mormon Church), was visited by the angel Moroni in 1823. who told him of an ancient record containing God's dealings with the former inhabitants of the American continent. In 1827. Joseph retrieved this record, inscribed in some unknown language on thin golden plates, and translated it by the "gift of God." The resulting manuscript, the Book of Mormon, was published in March 1830. , They told of a lost tribe of Israel that migrated to the Americas - the Lamanites, and the Nephites. The descendants of these form the present day American Indians.
The Legend of the Post Resurrection Universal Visit of Jesus including America
There exists another ancient legend which has it that during the forty days between our Lord’s Resurrection and His Ascension, He traversed the whole earth with giant strides and visited North and South America.
“Whilst there is no historical evidence to show that our Lord extended His mission on earth by a visit in His human form to our continent, we know that America is part of that universal world which He sent His Apostles to evangelize. The question, whether any of the Apostles actually preached the Gospel in America, has long been discussed, according to the rules of historical criticism, as has been witnessed by the learned members of the different Americanist Congresses, notably those held at Copenhagen and Luxemburg." (AMERICAN ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW Vol. XX. January, 1899)
The letter of Jaume de Blanes to Columbus refers to Apostle Thomas’ visit to America
“The first man seriously to assert the evangelization of America by the Apostle St. Thomas was probably the learned and famous scientist and lapidary, Jaime Ferrer de Blanes, who wrote to the discoverer Columbus from Bruges, under date of August 5, 1495 :
“ I, Senor, meditate upon the mysterious fact that God’s infallible Providence sent the great Apostle Thomas from the West to the East, to promulgate in the Indies the sacred law of the Catholic faith; and that same Providence has urged you, Senor, to take an opposite way, from the East to the West; so that by God’s will you have reached the extreme parts of Upper India; thus you make known to the descendants of the former inhabitants what these have neglected of the preaching of Thomas; in order that the word may be fulfilled: ‘ their sound hath gone forth into all the earth;’ and very soon you will reach, under the divine guidance, the great gulf, on the shores of which the glorious Thomas has left his saintly body.” : (AMERICAN ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW Vol. XX. January, 1899)
1. Bartolome de las Casas believes that both Apostle Thomas visited America and left their mark.
Bartolomé de las Casas .(1484 – 1566) was a Spanish colonist, landowner, friar, priest, and bishop, famed as an historian and social reformer. He arrived in Hispaniola as a layman then became a Dominican friar and priest. He was appointed as the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians". His extensive writings, the most famous being A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and Historia de Las Indias, chronicle the first decades of colonization of the West Indies. .Bartolomé de las Casas spent 50 years of his life actively fighting slavery and the colonial abuse of indigenous peoples,
Blessed de las Casas, Bishop of Chiapa, states that even in those early days the belief was general
that the Apostle St. Thomas had left certain traces of his sojourn in Portuguese Brazil.* Charlevoix says that, according to Oviedo’s confident assertion, the Apostles James and Paul preached the Gospel in the Antilles or ancient
2. Piedrahita, the historian of the Muyscas considers that both Apostles Barthelomeu and Thomas ministered in Americas
William Prescott states in his History of the Conquest of Peru::
Piedrahita, the historian of the Muyscas, is satisfied that this
apostle must have been St. Bartholomew, whose travels were known to
have been extensive. (Conq. de Granada, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 3.) The
Mexican antiquaries consider St. Thomas as having had charge of the
mission to the people of Anahuac. These two apostles, then, would seem
to have divided the New World, at least the civilized portions of it,
between them. How they came, whether by Behring's Straits, or directly
across the Atlantic, we are not informed. Velasco—a writer of the
eighteenth century —has little doubt that they did really come. Hist.
de Quito, tom. i. pp. 89, 90. ”
History of the Conquest of Peru by William Prescot
History of America Before Columbus: According to Documents and ..., Volume 1 By Peter De Roo
Lucas Fernández de Soto Piedrahita was born in Santa Fe de Bogotá. On February 27, 1668, he was appointed by the King of Spain and confirmed by Pope Clement IX as Bishop of Santa Marta.In 1669, he was consecrated bishop by Antonio Sanz Lozano, Bishop of Cartagena. On November 16, 1676, he was appointed by the King of Spain and confirmed by Pope Innocent XI as Bishop of Panamá.He served as Bishop of Panamá until his death on March 29, 1688
6.St.Clement knew of the existence of “the other world” from St. Thomas
Pope Clement I also known as Saint Clement of Rome, is listed by Irenaeus and Tertullian as Bishop of Rome, holding office from 88 to his death in 99 AD. Thus Clement was a contemporary of Apostle Thomas who died in AD 72
Pope St. Clement I
St.Clement writes about the existence of “the other world” in one of his letters to the Corinthians.
7. Traditional route of Apostle Thomas in Brazil
In Brazil, and a similar tradition exists among other savage tribes of America. It is related in particular that St. Thomas had gone to Paraguay along the Iguazu River; and afterwards to Parana on the Uruguay, on the bank of which is pointed out a spot where he sat down to rest. According to the
ancient reports he foretold the later coming of men who would announce to their descendants the faith of the true God.
Paraguay is next door to Brazil and they too maintain the memory of St.Thomas just as Brazil which adds weight to the stories.
Ancient oral tradition retained by the Guaraní tribes of Paraguay claims that Tomé Marangatu (The Good Thomas) or Paí Thome (Father Thomas), one of the twelve apostles, lived among the natives preaching the Gospel and doing miracles in the name of Jesus Christ.
According to the Austrian missionary and writer, F.J. Martin Dobrizhoffer, who spoke with the warlord of the tribe:
.”.The Warlord (Cacique) said to me:
"We don't need for priests, because Holy Father Thomé (Thomas the Apostle) walked on our homeland himself, and he taught us about the Truth, praying for us in the name of Jesus Christ.””
— Quoted by Martin Dobrizhoffer: "Geschichte der Abiponer: eine berittenen und kriegerischen Nation in Paraquay", Volume 3, ch.II. Vienna (1784).
He further states that:
In the estate of our college, called Paraguay, and twenty leagues distant from Asumpcion. This place stretches out on one side into a pleasant plain, affording pasture to a vast quantity of cattle; on the other, where it looks towards the south, it is surrounded by hills and rocks; in one of which a cross piled up of three large stones is visited, and held in great veneration by the natives for the sake of St. Thomas; for they believe, and firmly maintain, that the Apostle, seated on these stones as on a chair, formerly preached to the assembled Indians.
— Dobrizhoffer 1822, p. 385
Jesuit Fr. Francis X. Clooney, in his essay on missionaries, writes:-
“If, as Xavier found, non-Christian peoples were not entirely bereft of God’s wisdom and inklings of revealed truth, the cause of this knowledge had to be explained, and later generations spent a good deal of time reflecting on the matter. There were numerous theories early on among the missionary scholars. For example, Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, writing in Peru in the mid-seventeenth century, thought that since God would not have overlooked the Americas for fifteen hundred years, and since among the twelve apostles St. Thomas was known for his mission to the “most abject people in the world, blacks and Indians,” it was only reasonable to conclude that St. Thomas had preached throughout the Americas: “He began in Brazil – either reaching it by natural means on Roman ships, which some maintain were in communication with America from the coast of Africa, or else, as may be thought closer to the truth, being transported there by God miraculously. He passed to Paraguay, and from there to the Peruvians.”
Dobrizhoffer believed that it was "almost impossible" for that legend to be truthful, although "with the guidance of the Almighty Power of God", there was a chance for Thomas the Apostle to have arrived in Paraguayan lands.
Almost 150 years prior to Dobrizhoffer's arrival to Paraguay, another Jesuit Missionary, F.J. Antonio Ruiz de Montoya recollected the same oral traditions from the Paraguayan tribes. In a very famous book he wrote:
“..The paraguayan tribes they have this very curious tradition. They claim that a very holy man (Thomas the Apostle himself), whom they call "Paí Thome", lived amongst them and preached to them the Holy Truth, wandering and carrying a wooden cross on his back.
— Quoted by Antonio Ruiz de Montoya: Conquista espiritual hecha por los religiosos de la Compañía de Jesús en las provincias del Paraguay, Paraná, Uruguay y Tape", Chapter XVIII. Madrid (1639).
Ruiz de Montoya further reported that St. Thomas even predicted the arrival of later missionaries, including the Jesuits themselves:
“[Thomas] had prophesied in the eastern Indies that his preaching of the gospel would be revived, saying: “When the sea reaches this rock, by divine ordinance white men will come from far-off lands to preach the doctrine that I am now teaching you and to revive the memory of it.” Similarly, the saint prophesied in nearly identical words the coming of the Society’s members into the regions of Paraguay about which I speak: “You will forget what I preach to you, but when priests who are my successors come carrying crosses as I do, then you will hear once more the same doctrine that I am teaching you.”
The sole recorded research done about the subject was during José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia's reign after the Independence of Paraguay. This is mentioned by Franz Wisner von Morgenstern, an Austro-Hungarian engineer who served in the Paraguayan armies prior and during the Paraguayan War. According to Von Morgenstern, some Paraguayan miners while working nearby some hills at the Caaguazú Department found some stones with ancient letters carved in them. Dictator Francia sent his finest experts to inspect those stones, and they concluded that the letters carved in thosestones were Hebrew-like symbols, but they couldn't translate them nor figure out the exact date when those letters were carved. No further recorded investigations exists, and according to Wisner, people believed that the letters were made by Saint Thomas the Apostle.
Nieremberg (Historiae Naturae, l. xiv, c. cxvii) writes:
"The Indians of Brazil still show a path followed by St. Thomas on his way to the kingdoms of Peru. ... It is related in particular that St. Thomas had gone to Paraguay (See Nieremberg, loc. cit., and Bancroft, Native Races, vol. V, p 26) along the Iguazu River; and afterwards to Parana on the Uruguay, on the bank of which is pointed out a spot where he sat down to rest.
Traditions similar to these are reported in other parts of South America, such as those of the Tupinambas, and along the Uruguay, where is shown again the resting-place of the Apostle during his sojourn among the tribe.
The most ancient traditions of the Peruvians tell of a white-bearded man, named "Thonapa Arnava," ...who arrived in Peru from a southern direction, clothed with a long violet garment and red mantle. He taught the people to worship ... the Supreme God and Creator, instead of the sun and moon; he healed the sick and restored sight to the blind. At his approach, wherever he went, the demons took to flight. ...
Horn aptly remarks that proper names frequently undergo slight variations in their passage from language to language, so that Thonapa might easily represent Thoma-Papas. The title Papas, or Father, is evidently imported, as it is without meaning in the native tongue The surname "Arnava" is not unreasonably interpreted from the Peruvian Nechua dialect, in which arma or arna signifies to bathe or pour water, referring probably to the ceremonies of baptism administered by St.Thomas. Thus the name seems to designate him as Father Thomas the Baptist. Sahagun tells the curious fact that the Peruvians gave to their missionaries, after the Spanish conquest, the name of ...Padres Tomés.
In November of 1860, David Wyrick of Newark, Ohio found an inscribed stone in a burial mound about 10 miles south of Newark. The stone is inscribed on all sides with a condensed version of the Ten Commandments or Decalogue, in a peculiar form of post-Exilic square Hebrew letters. The robed and bearded figure on the front is identified as Moses in letters fanning over his head.
The inscription is carved into a fine-grained black stone. The inscribed stone was found inside a sandstone box, smooth on the outside, and hollowed out within to exactly hold the stone.
The inscriptions on the four sides:
Qedosh Qedoshim, "Holy of Holies"
Melek Eretz, "King of the Earth"
Torath YHWH, "The Law of God"
Devor YHWH, "The Word of God"
Some years Later, the Los Lunas Dacalogue stone, an 80-ton boulder found in New Mexico showed Ten Commandments in Paleo-Hebrew.
They were written in the modern Hebrew alphabet, and also in the older Paleo-Hebrew. The stones contained the name of God spelled out in YHVH and the Ten Commandments.
In 1889 on an official Smithsonian exploration into some mounds in Tennessee on behalf of the Bureau of Ethnology, Mr. Emmert, working under the supervision of Powell and Cyrus Thomas, was excavating a trio of prehistoric Indian mounds along the Little Tennessee River near the mouth of Bat Creek.
they were excavating Mound #3 of the earthworks they found some wood
fragments and skeletal remains of some nine adult males, being laid
side by side in a single row, while one pair were positioned apart from
the others. The head of the easternmost skeleton pointed south while
the others were aligned to the north. “Emmert noticed that the skull of
the lone southward-oriented figure was resting on something slightly
protruding from its jaw. Carefully lifting the cranium he found a
rectangular stone, 115 mm (about 4’5 inches) long by 50 mm, (about two
inches) wide by 10 mm thick. More remarkably, the apparently shaped
artifact had been engraved with five letters belonging to a mysterious
script.”179 The writing was in the ancient hebrew script of
Bat Creek Stone
Cyrus Gordon (1908-2001), a Professor of Ancient Languages at New York’s Brandeis University. translated the Bat Creek Stone’s inscription “for Judah” and dated it according to internal linguistic evidence between 70 and 135 A.D.. These time-parameters coincide with the statements of Flavius Josephus (37 A.D. circa 100) a 1st-century Romanized Jew. In The Jewish War (circa 75 A.D.), he told how “ The Hebrews fled across the seas to a land unknown to them before.” The term of “land” Josephus used was Epeiros Occidentalis, or “Western Continent,” a self-evident reference to America. This would mean that Hebrew-speaking war refugees from the ancient Old World arrived in eastern Tennessee more than 1,300 years before Christopher Columbus undertook his first transatlantic voyage.
There is an overwhelming evidence which all cannot be attributed to forgery. There must have been at least a minority Jewish presence in Americas.
Lithograph J. Royer, Nancy. Congres International des Americanistes, vol. 2, p. 192.
Two years later, in 1867, David M. Johnson, a banker who co-founded the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, in conjunction with Dr. N. Roe Bradner, M.D., of Pennsylvania, found a fifth stone, in the same mound group south of Newark in which Wyrick had located the Decalogue. The original of this small stone is now lost, but a lithograph, published in France, survives.
The letters on the lid and base of the Johnson-Bradner stone are in the same peculiar alphabet as the Decalogue inscription, and appear to wrap around in the same manner as on the Decalogue's back platform. However, the lithograph is not clear enough for me to attempt a transcription with any confidence. However, Dr. James Trimm, whose Ph.D. is in Semitic Languages, has recently reported that the base and lid contain fragments of the Decalogue text.
The independent discovery, in a related context, by reputable citizens, of a third stone bearing the same unique characters as the Decalogue stone, strongly confirms the authenticity and context of the Decalogue Stone, as well as Wyrick's reliability.
Foot prints and Grotos
There exiss footprints of Saint Thomas and the caves and grotos where Thomas lived in Brazil which are very similar to the footprints found in India. Here is the comparison as given by Henry Jenné da Costa Jr.
Adam's Peak, the highest point in Sri Lanka, also boasts a footprint of Thomas.
Foot prints of St.Thomas left in the mud which became hard. Similar footprints are also found in India.
Grotos that São Tomé lived in Brazil
The discoverer of the footprints was Father Nobrega, whose mission to Brazil is specifically mentioned by Vincenzo Maria. Nobrega reported that the local tribe called Thomas "Zum," or "Pay Zum" -- "Pay," it seems, being the name given to any local priest or shaman. Similar local holy men, and even footprints, were found in other places -- in Paraguay, Peru, and Ecuador. One missionary sent a rock, bearing footlike impressions, from Chile to Rome, for examination by experts.
These are very similar to the ones in Chennai, India.- given below Cave of Saint Thomas in India and the foot prints.
One cannot deny the similarity of the two sites confirming the identity of the same Apostle Thomas in both places.
Adam's Peak, the highest point in Sri Lanka, also boasts a footprint of Thomas.
Jesuit Manuel da Nóbrega says:
“a reliable person told me, that the roots of bread that are made here today are given by, St. Thomas, because they had no bread here.”
“They say (the natives) that St. Thomas, whom they call Sumé, passed by here and this was told to them by their ancestors and that their footprints are signaled by a river, which I went to see, for the certainty of the truth, and I saw with my own eyes four footsteps very marked with their fingers, to which they are covered by the river sometimes, when it fills. They also say that when he left these footsteps he was escaping from the natives who wanted to shoot him, and when he got the river it opened, and he passed through it, without getting wet. And from there he went to India. They also say that when the natives wanted to shoot him, the arrows turned back to them, and the bushes made way for him. They also say that he promised them he would see them again.”
These natives had a cross, which associated with the story caused greater admiration. According to the Jesuits, the natives reaffirmed other Christian religious ideas taught by Sumé (Tomé). Admirably, they said that to their ancestors, Sumé taught that a virgin of incomparable beauty gave birth to a beautiful son who had no father; and this son restored health to the sick, vision to the blind, life to the dead.
The hospitality of them was very friendly, having a festive demonstration of dances, being offered food, causing him surprise. The Indians then told him an age-old tradition received from their ancestors. When St. Thomas, who they called Father Zumé, made his way through those lands, he had said these words to them:
“The doctrine that I now preach to you, you will lose it in time. But when, after a long time, some of my successor priests, who bring crosses as I bring, will hear your descendants this same doctrine that I teach you.”
There are many who think that there is not enough evidence to this assertion.
Rev. P. De Roo, in an article in" American Ecclesiastical Review, vol. XX, Jan., 1899 reports as follows:
“THE APOSTLE ST. THOMAS ON THE AMERICAN CONTINENT
by Father P. De Roo, 1899
There are records to indicate that St. Thomas travelled through regions of the ancient Near East such as Parthia, Media, Persia, Hircania, and Bactria, and thence proceeded further east to India proper (Roman Breviary, Dec. 21). Greek-speaking Christian congregations still exist at Socotera, the island Socotra, in the Indian Ocean, the place in which the missionary Theophilus was preaching at the time of Emperor Constantine. It is well known that an entire Christian population was found here by Kosmas Indicopleustes in the sixth century, by Arabian freighters in the ninth, and finally by the Portuguese in the year 1507. According to the traditions of the Syrian Christians, the Apostle passed by Socotera and landed at Cranganoor, where took place the first conversions of the Indian people. He established Christian communities all over the coasts of Coromandel and Malabar, until he shed his blood for the doctrine he was preaching -- in a place, since called Beit-Tuma, or house of Thomas.
This tradition is related by St. Gregory of Nazianzen, and by a merchant of Alexandria who found Christians also in Ceylon (Peschel: Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, S. 5). Nicephorus, of Constantinople, and nearly all the authors referred to by Solorzano, state, moreover, that St. Thomas preached not only to the easternmost people of India, but even to the Chinese. It would not, therefore, have been such an extraordinary matter to have followed these nations in their migrations eastward to Polynesia, and even as far as the Americas. ...
suppose that, for the sake of argument, it be granted that human means of transportation from Palestine or from European coasts to America were unknown during the lifetime of the Apostle.... We should then by no means rule out the possibility of a miraculous intervention of God for the purpose of spreading the true Faith.... Let us consider some prehistoric vestiges found in America, that would seem to indicate the actual presence of the Apostle St. Thomas on this continent.
It is especially among the oldest nations of Brazil that the memory of the Apostle has been religiously kept, ...preserving the tradition that he preached to them.
Nieremberg (Historiae Naturae, l. xiv, c. cxvii) writes:
"The East Indians [i.e., those of Brazil] still show a path followed by St. Thomas on his way to the kingdoms of Peru. ... It is related in particular that St. Thomas had gone to Paraguay (See Nieremberg, loc. cit., and Bancroft, Native Races, vol. V, p 26) along the Iguazu River; and afterwards to Parana on the Uruguay, on the bank of which is pointed out a spot where he sat down to rest. According to the ancient reports he foretold the later coming of men who would announce to their descendants the faith of the true God. This tradition is indeed a great consolation and encouragement to the preachers of our holy religion who suffer much in their labors for the faith among those barbarous nations." ... [A]nyone reading the chronicles of Brazil...must be impressed with the fact that in that country, down from ancient times, ...the name of St. Thomas, who preached there, is preserved. ...
Concerning the above reference stating that St. Thomas entered Paraguay and the neighboring provinces..., Sahagun (Historia General, p. iv) relates that the Commissary of the Franciscans, who, ..., had been sent to La Plata, wrote on the first of May, 1533, ...a most remarkable letter, in which he states that the Christians had been received like angels by the natives, from whom he had learned that, four years before, a certain prophet...had announced to them that ere long Christians, brothers of St. Thomas, would come to baptize them.... The prophet...had further enjoined them to keep the Commandments and many other Christian teachings.
This report is hardly more surprising than what we learn from the History of Paraguay by Charlevoix...:
When, in the year 1609, the Fathers Cataldino and Moceta penetrated into the wilderness of America, to convert the Guaranis, certain chiefs of the tribe assured them that long ago, according to their ancestral traditions, a learned man, named Pay Zuma or Pay Tuma, had preached in their country the faith of heaven and had made many conversions amongst them. Yet, in leaving he had foretold them that they and their descendants would abandon the worship of the true God, whom he had made known to them; but that, after the lapse of centuries other messengers of the same God would come with a cross, like the one they saw him carrying, and would restore among their posterity the faith he was preaching.
Some years later, when Fathers Montoya and Mendoza were in the district of Taiati, in the province of Santa Crux, the Indians, seeing them approach with crosses in their hands, received them with great demonstrations of joy. The missionaries, manifesting their astonishment, were told the same story as was told Cataldino and Moceta.
These natives designated their ancient Apostle also by the name of Pay Abara, or the Celibate Father. Pay Zuma seems, however, to have been the more common appellation.
In all these regions the first Christian missionaries of the sixteenth century were called Pay-zumas, by the aborigines (cf. Horn, De Originibus Americanis, l. 3, c. 19; and Bastian, Die Culturländer des Alten Amerika, b. II, s. 58-67). ... ..It will be noticed that the form Zuma or Tuma bears a striking resemblance to the Apostle's name. …...
Traditions similar to these are reported in other parts of South America, such as those of the Tupinambas, and along the Uruguay, where is shown still the resting-place of the Apostle during his sojourn among the tribe (Nieremberg, loc. cit.). ...
The most ancient traditions of the Peruvians tell of a white-bearded man, named "Thonapa Arnava," ...who arrived in Peru from a southern direction, clothed with a long violet garment and red mantle. He taught the people to worship ... the Supreme God and Creator, instead of the sun and moon; [he] healed the sick and restored sight to the blind. At his approach, wherever he went, the demons took to flight. ...
Horn aptly remarks that proper names frequently undergo slight variations in their passage from language to language, so that Thonapa might easily represent Thoma-Papas. ... [The title Papas, or Father, is] evidently imported, as it is without meaning in the native tongue.... The surname "Arnava" is not unreasonably interpreted from the Peruvian Nechua dialect, in which arma or arna signifies to bathe or pour water, referring probably to the ceremonies of baptism administered by St. Thomas...; [thus the name seems to designate him as Father] Thomas the Baptist. Sahagun tells the curious fact that the Peruvians gave to their missionaries, after the Spanish conquest, the name of ... Padres Tomés.
The Chilians likewise have a tradition of a bearded and shod man, who had appeared to their forefathers, healing the sick and procuring for them, when their land was parched, abundant rains (Bastian, loc.cit.).
[Concerning] the northern half of our continent..., we find in one of [America's] most magnificent ruins, in the temple of the cross of Palenque, artistic relics, which many learned antiquarians have considered as unmistakable records of the early possession of the Catholic faith. ...
Sahagun...assures us that the famous Mexican high priest and civilizer, Quetzalcoatl, was none other than St. Thomas. "Cohuatl," he says, means not serpent, as it is often mistranslated, but "twin," that is, the name of the Apostle, who was called Didumos, which means "twin"; an interpretation confirmed by the fact that in Mexico there was no serpent-worship, and no serpent is represented on any altar. ...
Bancroft (Ibid., vol. V, p 200) ... says: "During the Olmec period, that is, the earliest periods of Nahua power, the great Quetzalcoatl appeared. His teachings, according to the traditions, had much in common with those of Christ in the Old World; and most of the Spanish writers firmly believed him to be identical with one of the Christian Apostles, probably St. Thomas."
Thus the belief that ... the Apostle- St. Thomas penetrated as far as America, in the desire to propagate the teaching of Jesus Christ, is not devoid of foundation. …
The old American traditions, so singularly consistent by their agreement, whilst originating in many different parts of this extensive continent, cannot be lightly dismissed. ..., but other Catholic missionaries followed in the course of time to renew the work, and to teach Catholic doctrine, morality, and worship, of which the Spaniards found so many clear vestiges in South America at the time of its discovery and conquest.
(Rev. P. De Roo, "The Apostle St. Thomas in America," American Ecclesiastical Review, vol. XX, Jan., 1899)”
Egypt, Arabian Peninsula and Ethiopia being close to Jerusalem, they may have been impacted by the Christian doctrines before other places. Arab traders had traveled to Jerusalem for trade purposes on a regular basis and heard the gospel from St Peter (Acts 2:11). Apostle Paul spent several years in Arabia (Galatians 1:17). Later Christianity penetrated deeper by the ministry of St Thomas. Almost all of the Arabian Peninsula was Christian until it was wiped out by the Jews and the Islam who came to control the Kingdoms.
Jubail Church, Arabia
One of the earliest church buildings ever discovered by archaeologists is located in Saudi Arabia, known as Jubail Church. Jubail Church is the oldest still remaining church in the world, located in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. It dates to the 4th century. It was discovered in 1986. It originally belonged to the Church of the East, a branch of Eastern Christianity in the Middle East. The majority of its adherents are ethnic Assyrians. Some parts of modern Saudi Arabia (such as Najran) were predominantly Christian until the 7th to 10th century.
Some Arab Christians remained lived as crypto-Christians, or secret Christians. Some Arabian tribes, such as Banu Taghlib and Banu Tamim, followed Christianity. Ancient Arabian Christianity has largely vanished from the region.According to Church Tradition, the holy Apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India.
The Legend of St.Thomas mentions the route taken by Abbas the servant of King Gondaphorus of Parthia from Jerusalem to Aden through the coastal villages of Arabian Peninsula as follows:
“And straightway Thomas the apostle, and the servant of Gondaphorus the king, departed. And as they journeyed, the word of the Lord spake by the mouth of Thomas, and great multitudes of the Gentiles were converted and baptized. And when they came to Aden, which lieth at the going in of the Red Sea, they tarried many days, And departing thence, they can into the coasts of India.”
Actually Yemen was considered part of Ethiopia since both were ruled by Queen Sheba and her dynasty. Axum and Yemen were deeply involved in the tradenetwork between India and the Mediterranean. Recent archaeological discoveries in Mareb, Yemen support the view that Sheba ruled from Mareb. The tradition asserts that Ethiopia was given by Sheba to her son from solomon. Haile Selassie is considered as the 406th descendant of this dynasty. Traditionally the view developed that they were Babylonian or Arabs or Jews from Yemen as the Makrebs chiefs or kings of Yemen then were Jews.
This view was held by John Chrysostom.
Thomas did establish a church in Yemen. Until the islamic take over, Yemen was indeed a Christian country. I worked in the Sanaa (Yemen) University and I am told that even today the heroes of local stories are still Christian – a legacy carried on from the early centuries. Mother Teresa was well received by the people and the state. I had the privilege of being the first moderator of the first Christian Church after the Najran massacre of Christians bby the Jewish Yemen followed by the annihilation of Christianity by the Islamic empire. This started essentially for the expartriate community in Sanaa. After my leaving the country, The Islamic community of Yemen has officially invited the Christian brothren to return and start open worship in that country. It is all a legacy of understanding that the Thomasian Churches left behind.
Thus Yemen probably was the first point of the second missionary journey of Thomas around 40 AD. This time Thomas took the sea route – the Spice Route. The celebrated Venetian Marco Polo, who traversed Upper Asia in the thirteenth century, says, in speaking of Aden in Arabia, that St. Thomas is believed to have preached there before he visited India. ( Kecueil des Voyages et de Memoires Publie par la Societe de Geographie," vol. i. p. 208.;
http://library.umac.mo/ebooks/b21512644a.pdf ) Aden is one of the southernmost ports of Sheba’s Yemen.
Both Yemen and Ethiopia were the Kingdom of Queen Sheba and both were essentially Jewish Kingdoms until Apsotle Thomas reached Yemen. Ethiopia became Christian later at the time of Emperor Ezana in fourth century (c. 340–356 C.E.) The king had been converted by Frumentius, a Syrian who landed in the country after a shipwreck and became a servant of the King Ezana. Ezana became a Christian and he declared Aksum a Christian state,
Coin of King Ezana, under whom Oriental Orthodox Christianity became the established church of the Kingdom of Aksum
The church is called Tewahedo Church.
Tewahedo (Ge'ez: ተ ዋ ሕ ዶ täwaḥədo) is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one" or "unified". This word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one single unified nature of Christ; i.e., a belief that a complete, natural union of the Divine and Human Natures into One is self-evident in order to accomplish the divine salvation of humankind. This is in contrast to the "two Natures of Christ" belief (unmixed, but unseparated Divine and Human Natures, called the hypostatic union) which is held by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Though Ethiopia itself had long connection with Jerusalem through King Solomon and Queen Sheba, Ethiopia proper - the Kingdom of Axum was not in the mission field of Apostle Thomas. His area included Southern areas of Arabia which is Yemen which was the Kingdom of Queen Sheba in their days and was often referred to as Ethiopia.
There are various accounts of the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia,
One tradition, found in the Royal Chronicles and other native works, claims that the Apostle Thomas was responsible for the introduction of Christianity into Ethiopia.
Origen refers to the Apostle Matthew as a missionary to the Ethiopians, an association which Rufinus also gives.
Gelasios of Cyzicus links the name of Bartholomew with Ethiopia.
There is also the well-known account by Luke of the baptism by Philip of the Ethiopian eunuch, around which a legend has developed.
All these may be true.
Parthian, the Media, the Persia, the Hyrcanians and the Bactrian
St. Isidore of Seville in Spain confirms that:
“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.”
In the Paschal Chronicle is a fragment of a work of Bishop Dorotheus (born 254), in which he relates the acts and journeyings of the Apostles, and this is what he says of St. Thomas : —
" The Apostle Thomas, after having preached the Gospel to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Germanians*, Bactrians, and Magi, suffered martyrdom at Calamina, a town of India." http://library.umac.mo/ebooks/b21512644a.pdf
(Germanians are an agricultural people of Persia, mentioned by Herodotus, i. 125)
St. Jerome ; for, in speaking of the immensity of the Saviour regarded as God, he says these words, of which no one will dispute the authenticity : —
" The Son of God remained then with the apostles for forty days after his resurrection, at the same time that he was with the angels in the bosom of his Father. He was present in all places, with Thomas in India, with Peter at Rome, with Paul in Illyria, with Titus in Crete, with Andrew in Achaia, and with every apostle, and every preacher of the Gospel in all regions they traversed."
A passage in the pseudo-Clement's Recognitions (possibly written in the third century) as well as Bardaisan speaks that "the righteous and true Prophet" (that is, Jesus) is able to overcome the barbarous customs "among the Parthians -- as Thomas, who is preaching the Gospel among them, has written to us”
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….”East of the Euphrates: Early Christianity in Asia by T.V. Philip, Chapter 3: Christianity in Persia
Origins of Christianity in Persia quotes:
“The Teaching of the Apostles in describing the work of various apostles says:
“Edessa and the countries round about it which were on all sides of it, and Zoba (Nisibis) and Arabia, and all the north, and the regions round about it, and the south and all the regions on the borders of Mesopotamia, received apostles’ ordination to the priesthood from Addaeus the apostle, one of the seventy-two apostles. (Cureton, W. Ancient Syriac Documents, Ante-Nicene, Christian Library, Vol XX, T&T Clark: Edinburgh 1871, p.48. (see also Cureton, W. Ancient Syriac Documents Amsterdam, Oriental Press 1967 p.24). These Syriac Documents are sometimes referred to as The Doctrine of the Apostles, Doctrine of Addai etc.)
“The whole of Persia, of the Assyrians. of the Armenians, and of the Medians, and of the countries round about Babylon, the Huzites and the Gelai, as far as the borders of the Indians. and as far as the land of Gog and Magog. and moreover all the countries on all sides, received the apostles’ ordination to the priesthood from Aggaeus, a maker of silk, the disciple of Addaeus the Apostle.”
Indo-Parthian Kingdom – Davidic Kingdom?
There is a common misconception that the ten tribes of Israel “disappeared” when they were carried away by Assyria and others migrated into Asia for fear. According to 2Chronicles 15:9, members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon "fled" to Judah during the reign of Asa of Judah.
Whether these groups were absorbed into the population or remained distinct groups, or returned to their tribal lands is not indicated. In c. 732 BC, Tiglath-Pileser sacked Damascus and Israel, annexing Aram and territory of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh in Gilead including the desert outposts of Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. People from these tribes including the Reubenite leader, were taken captive and resettled in the region of the Habor river system. Tiglath-Pilesar also captured the territory of Naphtali and the city of Janoah in Ephraim and an Assyrian governor was placed over the region of Naphtali. According to 2 Kings 16:9 and 15:29, the population of Aram and the annexed part of Israel was deported to Assyria. Israel continued to exist within the reduced territory as an independent kingdom until around 720 BC, when it was again invaded by Assyria and the rest of the population deported.
Thus they were displaced from their original home. But they were never lost in the sense that their where-abouts were lost. Flavius Josephus (37 – c.100 AD) the well known historian wrote this in “Antiquities of The Jews” (Book XI – Chapter V – Verse 2.) “Wherefore there are but two tribes (Yahudah and Benjamin plus the Levites) in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are in immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers. Josephus knew that their popu-lation had become too numerous to estimate, and that the Euphrates River served as their western border.” Steven M. Collins – ‘The “Lost” – Ten Tribes of Israel – Found!’– CPA Books – PO Box 596 – Boring Oregon 97009.
‘Thus has the Lord, God of Israel, spoken: “Your fathers dwelt in olden times beyond the River [Euphrates], Terach, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan….”
Thus what has happened was they were back to the land from which the Patriarchs started their journey. The Parthian Empire existed in and around Aram from where Abram came. This is the land of Mesopotamia, the land between the two Rivers. Many Jews found shelter in various other countries as well.
But majority of them were in Mesopotamia where they rose to become of the great powers of the period which contended with the Roman Empire.The Parthian empire occupied all of modern Iran, Iraq and Armenia, parts of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and -for brief periods- territories in Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine .
Parthian Empire First Century AD
“…the picture of the world during the Roman period…put before students in ‘Histories of Rome,’ was defective, not to say false, in its omission to recognize the real position of Parthia …as a counterpoise to the power of Rome, a second figure in thepicture not much inferior to the first, a rival state dividing with Rome the attention of mankind and the sovereignty of the known earth. Writers of Roman history have been too much in the habit of representing [Rome] as…a Universal Monarchy, a Power unchecked… having no other limits than those of the civilized world…the truth seems to be that…from the first to the last …there was always in the world a Second Power, civilized or semi-civilized, which in a true sense balanced Rome, acted as a counterpoise and a check… This power for nearly three centuries (B.C.64 – A.D. 225) was Parthia. ”
George Rawlinson, Parthia and The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy.
Parthians were at the feast of the Pentecost at Jerusalem as we read in Acts 2:1 .
The Parthians and Medes in Acts 2:9 are identified as persons from a geographical area where the northern ten tribes of ’Ephraim were exiled and scattered, according to 2 Kings 17:5-8 and 1 Chronicles 5:26.
Who were the Parthians?
“They have a Semitic-Israelite connection and a link to King David within the Parthian royal family. The names of Israelite tribes and clans are in evidence within the Parthian Empire. Parthia's first capital city was named after Isaac, the son of Abraham.
The Parthian Empire rose to power when Carthage fell. The ancient world empire of Parthia rivalled Rome's empire and lasted for a few hundred years. The Parthian empire was so powerful at its height that it was the one empire that Rome actually FEARED!
Just decades before the birth of Christ (around 53 B.C.), the Parthian Empire fought and soundly beat the Romans at the battle of Carrhae and killed Crassus (who, with Julius Caesar and Pompey, governed the entire Roman Republic)! The Parthians fought Rome again around 40 B.C. and took from them almost the entire eastern Mediterranean area known as the Levant (composed of Palestine, Syria, Jordan and other areas).
According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the Parthians even forced the ruling Herod the Great to flee for his very life:
"Now, in the second year, Pacorus, the King of Parthia's son, and Barzapharnes, a commander of the Parthians, possessed themselves of Syria. . . .
"Now Antigonus had promised to give the Parthians a thousand talents, and five hundred women, upon condition they would take the government away from Hyrcanus (the governor of the Jews and Herod the Great's father-in-law), and bestow it upon him, and withal KILL HEROD. And although he did not give them what he had promised, yet did the Parthians make an expedition into Judea on that account . . .
" Herod was under great disturbance of mind, and rather inclining to believe the reports he heard about his brother and the Parthians, than to give heed to what was said on the other side, he determined, that when the evening came on, he would make use of it for his flight, and not make any longer delay, as if the dan-gers from the enemy were not yet certain. " (History (Antiquities) of the Jews, Book 14, Chapter 13)
Parthian empire came to an end when the Persians, who had been Parthian
subjects for years, defeated them in battle. The empire of Parthia,
which had existed for four hundred years, came to an end around 224
Parthia: The Forgotten Ancient Superpower by Steven M. Collins”
During the 476 years that the Parthian Empire existed, all nations and empires of the world became part of the extensive Roman Empire except the following four: Caledonia-Scotland, China Dynasties, Kushan Empire and the Parthian Empire. Parthia was the largest of the four empire nations that did not come under the power of, or become part of the extensive Roman Empire. The lack of information on Parthia is likely resulted from the fact that history has been taught almost exclusively from a Greco-Roman perspective.
Local potentates played an important role and the king had to respect their privileges. Several noble families had a vote in the Royal council; the Sûrên clan had the right to crown the Parthian king; and every aristocrat was allowed/expected to retain an army of his own. The constituent parts of the empire were surprisingly independent and were allowed to strike their own coins, which was, in Antiquity, very rare. These are reminiscent of the period of Judges. Parthia con-trolled the Silk Road, the route from the Mediterranean Sea to China.
Various officials of the Achaemenid Persian Empire were from the Israelite tribe of Judah, and the Par-thians were themselves descendants of the ten tribes of Israel. The term “Iran” comes from the ‘Ephraimite clan named after “Eran,” and even the name of the language “Pahlavi” contains the name of the Israelite tribe of Levi! The name Parthia itself comes from the consonants are “B-R-TH,” the consonants of the He-brew word for “Covenant.” The name Parthia simply means People of the Covenant. The very language of the Parthian Kingdom was Pahlavi which is same as Aramaic the language spoken by Jesus – of Semitic origin.
In the “sceptre”promise of Genesis 49:10 King David was promised that he would always have descen-dants ruling over the House of Israel (Jeremiah 33:17). Jeremiah’s prophecy was made after the relocation of the House of Israel (the northern ten tribes) into Asia. Therefore, because of the timing of Jeremiah’s prophecy, we should expect to find descendants of King David ruling over the ten tribes of Israel after they moved to Asia.
In II Kings 24:8-15, the last kings of Judah, Jehoiachin, was carried captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnez-zar. But after 37 years in the dungeon of Babylon II Kings 25:27-30 says the King “…did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison; and he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the thrones of the kings that were with him in Babylon… ”(KJV) Thus not only that Johoiakim was made a vassal King, but he was given a higher position ruling over several vassal kingdoms in the Babylonion Empire. We should assume that Johoiakim was made ruler over the vassals who were themselves of the lost tribes. Jehoiakim himself may have appointed others from the tribes of Israel - who were themselves Princes of the tribes who led the migration - as his own vassals. Since Jehoiachin was a descendant of King David (of the Phares line), his descendants apparently established a dynasty which continued to rule over descendants of the ten tribes when they regained their independence. In fact I Chronicles 3:16-24 records that the royal family of Judah did not die out, but produced many descendants during the generations after the fall of Jerusalem
The Phares branch of the Jews produced both King David and Jesus. This reference to the Zerah branch of Judah is rare in Parthian annals, but there are many Parthian kings with names containing the root word “Phares” (indicating David’s royal bloodline). From the eastern edge of Parthian rule and influence to the western edge, Parthian kings regularly included the “Phares” name. A Parthian king who ruled in the area of West India was named Gondophares, and several kings ruling over the Caucasus mountain kingdom of Iberia were named Pharasmanes.
The Bnei Menashe (from northeast India) claim descent from the lost Tribe of Manasseh. Their oral traditions depict them as originally going from the Persian Empire into Afghanistan. According to their traditions, they then went to China, where they encountered persecution, then pressed on to India and Southern Asia. DNA tests to determine whether or not they originate from the Middle East has yielded mixed results.The Israeli government has recognized them as one of the lost tribes and made them eligible for immigration under the Law of Return.
Notice the Indo-Parthian sub Kingdom that covers the Afghanistan area. A large population of this area claims direct descent from Jewish tribes even today.
The Magi of Parthia
“The Magi were powerful members of one of the two assemblies which elected Parthian monarchs and wielded great influence within the empire.
One assembly was composed of members of the royal family (the Arsacids), and the other consisted of the priests (the Magi) and influential Parthians of nonroyal blood (the Wise Men).
The Magi and Wise Men were jointly known as the Megistanes.
The Greek word translated "wise men" is "magian," literally meaning "Persian as-tronomer or priest." Parthia had long governed all Persian territory at the time of Christ, and the Wise Men cited in the Bible were clearly members of the Megistanes - very high Parthian officials.
While traditional Christian accounts of this episode celebrate the coming of "the three wise men", the Bible does not limit the number of visiting Magi/Wise Men to three. Indeed, Biblical events and the realities of that time argue for a much larger contingent of Parthian Magi. …..
Since we saw ….that the Parthians were descended from the Ten Tribes of Israel and that their priests were likely descended from the tribe of Levi this delegation of Magi consisted of leading members of the [lost] Ten Tribes of Israel. Since there were numerous members of the tribe of Judah in Parthia's empire, they may have been represented as well. Consequently, the delegation of Magi could easily have consisted of at least ten or twelve men representing the various tribes of Israel. ….
Their arrival in Jerusalem was a very public affair because "all Jerusalem" was "troubled" by their arrival……
This suggests that the Magi came to Jerusalem in a caravan with costly treasures and escorted by a strong force of armed Parthian soldiers!... These high officials would have traveled with a large entourage of servants, animal-handlers, cooks, etc., on such a long journey... There may have been thousands of Parthian soldiers escorting the caravan. This is not an overstatement. Josephus re-cords that treasure caravans bringing expensive offerings to Jerusalem from Jews living in Par-thian territory did so with "as many as ten thousand men" as escorts. In ancient times, traveling with expensive items was dangerous. There was danger not only from brigands, but also from lo-cal satraps who might use their armies to conquer a treasure train passing through their territories
The Wise Men were not bringing just a few samples of gold and other precious things that they carried in their personal saddle bags. They were coming to worship a King. The caravan was so big that their arrival quickly became a "cause celebre" in Jerusalem. The whole city was in an up-roar over their arrival, and that argues for a very visible and impressive Parthian caravan arriving in Jerusalem not long after Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. The sheer size of the caravan and its escorts awed King Herod and the whole city to the point they were all "troubled"... It is clear that the Jewish hierarchy understood that the Parthians were looking for the Messiah as they quickly looked for Messianic prophecies to locate the city of His birth. …..
They informed Herod they had come to worship Him "that is born king of the Jews"...
Since Matthew 1:3-17 tells us that Jesus Christ was also a descendant of Phares and King David, Jesus was a blood relative of the Parthian ruling dynasty which ... serves as a further explanation for the homage paid to Him by the Parthian Magi ...
Alexander III of Macedon ( 356 – 323 BC),
Alexander the Great was a Greek king of Macedon. Alexander was tutored by the famed philosopher Aristotle. In 336 BC he succeeded his father Philip II of Macedon to the throne after he was assassinated. Philip had brought most of the city-states of mainland Greece under Macedonian hegemony, using both military and diplomatic means. In 334 BC he invaded Persian-ruled Asia Minor and began a series of campaigns lasting ten years. Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela. Subsequently he overthrew the Persian king Darius III and conquered the entirety of the Persian Empire. The Macedonian Empire now stretched from the Adriatic sea to the Indus river. Following his desire to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea", he invaded India in 326 BC, but was eventually forced to turn back by the near-mutiny of his troops.
Alexander’s Empire covered most of the Parthian area. After the death of Alexander Taxila was taken over by Gondaphorus and the Indo-Parthian Kingdom was established.
In 2010, Amir Mizroch in the Jerusalem Post referred to the theory that even Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be descending from the lost tribe of Efraim. Shahnaz Ali, a senior research fellow at the Indian National Institute of Immunohaematology in Mumbai, has started studying the blood samples that she collected from Afridi Pathans in Malihabad, in the Lucknow district in Uttar Pradesh, India, to check their putative Israelite origin.
It is evident that almost all Apsotles went to Jews in dispersion and established the first churches among the Jews. This is true in the case of Thomas also.
Religion during the Parthian era (ca.129 BC-224 AD) http://www.angelfire.com/nt/Gilgamesh/parthian.html
“The Parthians left the local administrations and rulers intact when they conquered Mesopotamia. According to Pliny the Elder (Natural History VI. 112) the Parthian empire consisted of 18 kingdoms, 11 of which were called the upper kingdoms (or satrapies), while 7 were called lower kingdoms, meaning that they were located on the plains of Mesopotamia. The centre of the lower kingdoms was ancient Babylonia, called Beth Aramaye in Aramaic, and it was governed di-rectly by the Parthian ruler…..
“During the Parthian occupation the ancient religion and cults of Mesopotamia came to an end and were replaced by mixed Hellenic and Oriental mystery religions and Iranian cults. Local Semitic cults of Bel, Allat, and other deities flourished alongside temples dedicated to Greek gods such as Apollo. The sun deity Shamash was worshiped at Hatra and elsewhere, but the henotheism of the ancient Middle East was giving way to acceptance of Universalist religions (Gnosticism)….
In Mesopotamia, in particular, the influence of Jewish monotheism, with the beginning of rab- binic schools and the organization of the community under a leader, the exilarch (resh galuta in Aramaic), must have had a significant influence on the local population……
In the first two centuries of the Common Era, Christianity and various baptismal sects also began to expand into Mesopotamia. So far no Mithraism’s (underground temples for the worship of the god Mithra), such as existed in the Roman Empire, have been found in Mesopotamia, except at Dura-Europus, where Roman troops were stationed. Many local cults and shrines, such as that of the Sabians and their moon deity at Harran, however, continued to exist until the Islamic conquest. Parthian Zoroastrianism reinforced local Zoroastrian communities in Mesopotamia left from the time of the Achaemenians, and one of the Gnostic baptismal religions, Mandaeanism, which is still in existence, had its beginning at this time. Although Christian missionaries were active in Mesopotamia in the Parthian period, no centers, such as the one established later at Nisibis, have been reported, and it may be supposed that their activity at first was mainly confined to Jewish communities.”
The known world during the Apostolic period.
The powerful empires of the age were Roman, Parthian, Kushan and Chinese Empires.
Thus all traditions indicate that Thomas started his ministry in the empire of Parthia. In Parthia, the fief-dom of Edessa is particularly associated with Apostle Thomas.
Jewish groups in India
1. Jews of Pakistan
2. "Malabarese Jews"
"Malabarese Jews", as depicted by the Portuguese in the 16th century Códice Casanatense
The Malabar component of the Cochin Jews, according to Shalva Weil, claim to have arrived in India together with the Hebrew King Solomon's merchants as early as 562 BC. The Cochin Jews settled down in Kerala as traders. The fair-complexioned component is of European-Jewish descent, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi.
The acts of Thomas are not found in the Acts of the Apostles. But an apocryphal book written around 200 AD called "Acts of Thomas", describes it with embellishments and exaggerations. “Like other apocryphal acts combining popular legend and religious propaganda, the work attempts to entertain and instruct. In addition to narratives of Thomas' adventures, its poetic and liturgical elements provide important evidence for early Syrian Christian traditions.” (Harold W. Attridge: The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 6, p. 531) The style of the book is typical of the period and is written in the form of a dramatic story telling. In the days when books were rare and not accessible to common man, the idea was to make the point clear with added techniques of keeping the major theme in tact while embellishing them with memorization fringes. Acts of Thomas, is thus an early Christian kind of novel, which was originally written either in Greek or Syriac
Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the historicity of the events and hence the traditions were questioned by scholars.
“Did a king of the name of Gondophares reign over any portion of India, and was he a contemporary of the Apostolic age? Where was his kingdom situated? Was it practicable for the Apostle Thomas to have had access to it?
Should the above questions receive an affirmative solution, they would justify the inference that the re-cital in the Acts of Thomas in this point was based on historical knowledge; and further, that on this ac-count the Acts themselves deserved closer study and examination.
The name of King Gondophares appears in the Syriac text of the Acts as Gudnaphar; in the Greek version as GoundaforoV : codd. Rand S of a later date give GoutaforoV and GoundiaforoV ; the longer Latin ver-sion, De Miraculis, does not reproduce the name of the king: he is throughout styled ‘rex’; it appears in the shorter Latin version, Passio, as Gundaforus: codd. QGR of Max Bonnet’s Acta Thomae give Gundoforus.
Some scholars recognize the name of Gondophernes through its Armenian form, Gastaphar, in Gaspar, the traditional name of one of the Magi (Wise Men) who came from the East to worship Jesus Christ at his nativity.
It was only about the middle of the nineteenth century that it became possible to say whether a king of that name ever existed and had reigned in India.
In 1854 General Alexander Cunningham, writing in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Vol.xxiii. pp.679-712), was able to say that in the preceding twenty years no less than thirty thousand coins bearing Greek and Indian legends, and extending over a period of more than three centuries, had been found in Afghanistan and the Punjab. A large, if not the greater, number belong to Greek princes who ruled over the country as inheritors of and successors to the conquests of Alexander the Great. Another portion bear the evidence of Scythian conquerors, confirmed also by other authorities, and of Parthian kings and rulers who had become masters of these territories. The coins of Gondophares, the king with whom we are concerned, belong to the latter category.” INDIA AND THE APOSTLE THOMAS, A.E. Medlycott
The exact route of Thomas is not clear. We know that on the way to India, Thomas actually established churches in the Yemen. This church was destroyed under the on rush of Islam around 600 AD. It is likely that they went directly to Taxashilla (Taxila) the capital of King Gondaphores. In that case it is sometime in 40s. This is supported by the current understanding of the date of the Kingdom of Gondaphorus which came to an end in AD 50. In that case he was in the region for nearly 10 to 12 years.
A 17th Century drawing of St.Thomas going with Abbanes found in Denmark
The basic story is that a merchant Ambassador Habbanes (This is probably a Greek pronouncement of the name Appana. Habbanes was probably from the Kingdom of Pandhya Empire) and Thomas was sold to him as a master carpenter by his Master - Jesus the Carpenter. He was the ambassador for King Gondapho-res the Indo-Parthian Kingdom of Indus Valley Area (Sind, Pakistan, Baluchistan and Afghanisthan). Tak-shasila, (The English version of the name is Taxila which was a University City in the Indus Valley) the capital of Hondaphorus Kingdom. He established a church in that region before he traveled to other areas of India. These churches were annihilated during the invasion of Kushan and Moghal dynasty.
It has also been suggested that Gondophares may be identical with Phraotes, a Greek-speaking Indo-Parthian king of the city of Taxila, met by the Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana around 46 CE ac-cording to the Life of Apollonius Tyana written by Philostratus.
The Ruins of Taxila, the Capitol of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom of Gondaphorus - now in Pakisthan St. Thomas is said to have begun his missionary work here in India
The coins from Taxila with the seal and inscription of King Gudophorus as "Maharaja rajarajasamahata -dramia -devavrata Gundapharase"
Thirty-three of these coins are now in the British Museum and twenty-four in a museum in Calcutta.
The discovery of Gondophoras coins was made by one Charles Masson who worked in the Bengal Euro-pean Artillery. During his stay in Kabul he got interested in the antiquities. In 1833 he undertook digging in Begram, the ancient Kapis and discovered 1565 copper coins and 14 gold and silver coins. This brought alive the history of the long forgotten Indo-Parthian Kingdom.
Takthi-Bahi Buddhist monastery where the stone iscription was found.According to an inscription at Takht-i-Bhai (near Peshawar), Gondophernes ruled for at least 26 years, probably from about 19 to 45 CE.
This Takhth-i-Bahi Stone 17" long and 14.5" broad has the inscription:
"In the twenty-sixth year of the great King Gudaphara in the year three and one hundred, in the month of Vaishakh, on the fifth day"
“The Indo-Parthian kingdom was founded by the first of several kings named Gondophares in the late first century BC. Gondophares, as well as being a Saka king, was probably a member of the Suren family, one of the seven major noble houses of the Parthians, whose feifdom was in Seistan, by now known as Sakas-tan, on the eastern borders of the Parthian empire. Indo-Parthia expanded to the east, sometimes as vassals of the Parthians and sometimes independently, eventually stretching to Pakistan and northern India. Indo-Parthia suffered major defeats at the hands of the Kushans in the late first century AD, and eventually was reduced to the area of Sakastan and Arachosia until their conquest by the Sassanians during the 3rd century AD.”
Gondophares-Sases, c.35-55 AD
British museumThe dates are as stated in the reference and has some probable errors within5 to 10 years
Pahlavas / Indo-Parthians
The expansion of the Kushans was checked by the Indo-Parthians, or Pahlavas, who had their origins in Persia. Gondophares was a vassal of the Parthian Arsacids, and it was he who declared his independence from them and ventured eastwards to establish his own kingdom in present day Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India, sharing domination of the region with the Indo-Scythians
c.AD 10 The Indo-Greek kingdom disappears under Indo-Scythian pressure.
Pockets of Greek population probably remained for some centuries under the subsequent rule of the Ku-shans and Indo-Parthians.
c.AD 20 – 50 Gondophares Parthian vassal of Alexander of Macedonia who declared independence c.20 Gondophares ventures east and establishes an independent Indo-Parthian kingdom in Afghanistan which were in existence even though weak through c.50 - 65 during Abdagases I Nephew of Gondaphorus
c.70 Orthagnes / Orthagnes-Gadana
c.75 The Kushan ruler, Kadphises, subdues the Indo-Scythians and establishes his kingdom in Bactria and the valley of the River Oxus, defeating the Indo-Parthians and recapturing the main area of their kingdom. The Pahlavas survive in northern India and Pakistan, mainly Sakastan and Arachosia.
c.77 Ubouzanes Son.
c.90 Abdagases II
c.100 The neighbouring Kushans capture former Indo-Greek Arachosia (Medieval Ghazi) from the Indo-Parthians.
c.100 – 135 Pacores / Pacores is the last king with any real power. One more Indo-Parthian king follows him but in diminished circumstances, and virtually unknown to history
? Known from numismatic evidence only.
c.140? By this date, if not before, the last Indo-Parthians are conquered by the Kushans.
"Gondophares" was probably a title held by many kings of the period who ruled the Indo-Parthian King-dom. The name Gondophares is a latinization of Greek ΥΝΔΟΦΕΡΡΗΣ, from Old Persian Vindafarna meaning "May he find glory." Indian names include 'Gondapharna', 'Guduvhara' and Pali
'Gudaphara'. Gondophares is 'Gastaphar' in Armenian. “Gundafarnah” was apparently the Eastern Iranian (Sistani) form of the name.
Coin of Gondophares (20-50 AD ?), king of the Indo Parthians Obv: Bust of Gondophares
Rev: Winged Nike holding a diadem, and Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΥΝΔΟΦΕΡΡΟΥ ("of King Gondophares, the Saviour").
Coin of Gondophares-Sases from Seistanin the Parthian style (Early-mid 1st century CE). Obv: King with Parthian-style tiara.
On the coins of Gondophares, the royal names are Iranian, but the other legends of the coins are in Greek and Kharosthī. Kharosthi is developed from Hebrew.
Gandhara's language was a Prakrit or "Middle Indo-Aryan" dialect, usually called Gāndhārī. Texts are written right-to-left in the Kharoṣṭhī script, which had been adapted for Indo-Aryan languages from a Semitic alphabet, the Aramaic alphabet. Gandhāra was then controlled by the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian empire, which used the Aramaic script to write the Iranian languages of the Empire.
Semitic scripts were not used to write South Asian languages again until the arrival of Islam and subsequent adoption of the Persian-style Arabic alphabet for New Indo-Aryan languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi and Kashmiri. Kharosthi script died out about the 4th century. However, the Hindko and the archaic Dardic and Kohistani dialects, derived from the local Indo-Aryan Prakrits, are still spoken, though the Afghan Pashto language is the most dominant language of the region today
Main Indo-Parthian rulers
· Gondophares I (c. 20 BC – first years AD) Coin
· Gondophares II Sarpedones (first years AD – c. 20 AD)Coin ·
Abdagases I (first years AD – mid-1st century AD) Coin
· Gondophares III Gudana, previously Orthagnes (c. 20 AD – 30 AD)
· Gondophares IV Sases, (mid-1st century AD) Gondophares-Sases as he appears on many of his coins, is most probably the king when Thomas visited Taxila.
· Ubouzanes, (late-1st century AD) ·
Pacores (late 1st century AD) Coin
The name Gad which is given as the name of the Brother of King Gondaphores is of interest as Gadana, or Gadaranisa, appears on coins either with the name of Orthagnes or with the apparent double title 'Gondophares-Gadana' (Senior, 2001:114-117 Senior, R (2001) Indo-Scythian Coins and History Volume I, Classical Numismatic Group)
From NewWorld Encyclopaedia
1—Thomas goes to India
Long considered fictional, King Gundaphorus, or Gondophares, is now believed to be the first king of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom, dating to the period after the crucifixion of Jesus.
The apostles gather in Jerusalem, where each of them is assigned as an evangelist to a different region of the world by drawing lots. Thomas is assigned to India, but refuses to go, pleading weakness of health and also that, as a Jew, he cannot live among Gentiles. The resurrected Christ then sells Thomas—who, like his twin brother Jesus, is a carpenter—as a slave to a merchant named Abbanes, the agent of King Gundaphorus of India.
<<Acta Thomae places the landing of Thomas in a royal city called Andrapolis. According to Warinington, Andrapolis was the capital of the Andhra Kingdom in Deccan The proposition that it was muchiris of modern kerala seems unlikely since the distance to Taxila is very far. Most probably it was in Kalyan near Bombay where there were a large Iewish population and under Andra dynasty or Satavahanas The Bene Israel of Bombay came to this area as early as the 2nd century BCE
From the description this king was from South India and most probably was King Kandaparasa,>>
On arriving, Thomas attends the wedding feast of the king's daughter with his master. He declines food and drink, and refuses to gaze at a lovely flute-girl who dances for him. For his rudeness, he is
struck by a royal cup-bearer. Thomas responds by bursting into a hymn of praise to thdancer and God, in which he prophesies the cup-bearer's death. The cup-bearer is soon killed by a lion while drawing water from a well, and the flute-girl, a Jew herself, immediately breaks her flute and becomes Thomas' first disciple.
The king hears of the miracle and asks Thomas to pray for the success of his daughter's marriage, she being an only child. At the bridal chamber, Thomas blesses the couple and prays to Jesus as "the ambassador that wast sent from the height… who showedst the way that leadeth up unto the height." However, when the groom enters the bridal chamber, he sees a vision of Jesus speaking with the bride. Jesus declares "if ye abstain from this foul intercourse, ye become holy temples." He explains that procreation is an error, since "children become useless, oppressed of devils… they will be caught either in adultery or murder or theft or fornication, and by all these will ye be afflicted." The couple immediately convert, committing themselves to "abstain from foul desire." In the morning, the bride tells her parents: "I am yoked unto a true husband," and her groom gives thanks to Jesus "who
hast removed me far from corruption." The king is understandably upset and commands that Thomas, "the sorcerer," be apprehended.
<< The Gospel of Thomas and the Acts of Thomas maintains an encratic approach to salvation. Encratism is the belief that absolute sexual abstinence was required for salvation.
Writings of Irenaus, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius (“Encratites” 123126) gives us the feeling that there indeed were Christian sects who held it. “The encratites can only loosely be called an identifiable sect, having more of the characteristics of a movement that transcends manysects,” states Hultgren and Haggmark. Currently there is no information available on the individual churches that practiced encratism; the heresiologists only discuss the practice, not the churches that endorsed it. Since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, encratism can be understood through the writings attributed to the encratites, not just the denouncements from theorthodoxy.
(Book of Thomas the Contender 138:39139:12). “Woe to you who beguile your limbs with fire!” he says and “Woe toyou who love intimacy with womankind and polluted intercourse with them!”
(Book ofThomas 144:910, 14). The body is a “beast,” like the lion in the Gospel, that shouldbe restrained. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/59235535.pdf
However the Thomas Churches of India never held any such notions,>>
2—King Gundaphorus' palace
Thomas meets King Gundaphorus, who learns of his carpentry skills and commands him to build a new royal palace, leaving him with a substantial sum of money to complete the task. Thomas, however, gives the money away to the poor and the sick as an manifestation of God's love for them. The king then imprisons both Thomas and his master, declaring that they will be punished with death. The king's brother, Gad, then takes sick and dies. The angels carry him to heaven and show him a gorgeous house, which they explain was built there for Gundaphorus by Thomas.
We can take this Gundaphores as the King of Indo-Parthian Kingdom with capital at Taxila
But the name of the Pandyan King of Maanaveera Naadu was Kandappa Raja which which also sounds like Gondaphorus when some one outside of the Tamil areas says it. So that can also be the alternate kingdom where these events happened.This is a question of identifying the King and the Kingdom who are both in India. Thomas Songs of Kerala which claims its origins from one of St.Thomas’ first disciples connects this event with Kandapparasa who is the Periya Perumal (Elder Lord) who had a younger brother (Chinna Perumal).
Gad receives permission to return to earth, where he attempts to buy the king's heavenly palace from him. Learning the true value of Thomas' actions, the king releases Thomas from prison and both the king and his brother humble themselves before Thomas, becoming disciples and devoting themselves to the care of the poor. Thomas seals their commitment with a sacrament of holy oil, reciting a liturgical psalm, and invoking the Trinity. In a Gnostic variation, however, he refers to the Holy Spirit as "Compassionate Mother… she that revealeth the hidden mysteries, Mother of the seven houses."
After this, Thomas continues his preaching, teaching all to "abstain from fornication and covetousness and the service of the belly."
3—Thomas and the Great Serpent
On the road, Thomas encounters the dead body of a handsome youth. A huge black serpent (or dragon) emerges from a nearby hole and declares that he has killed the youth out of jealousy over the youth's sexual intercourse with a beautiful young woman with whom the dragon was enamored. The dragon knows that Thomas is Christ's twin brother and identifies himself as "the son to him that sitteth on a throne over all the earth" and also as he who "spake with Eve the things which my father bade me speak unto her." He also takes credit for inspiring Cain to kill Abel and binding the fallen angels in lust toward human women, in order that children might be born who would do his will. He boasts of hardening Pharaoh's heart, causing the Israelites to sin in the wilderness, and moving Judas Iscariot to deliver up Christ.
Unafraid, Thomas commands the beast to suck out the venom by which he has slain the youth. The young man revives, and the dragon swells up, bursts, and dies. The youth proclaims that he is now free of the lust that caused him to sin with the young woman. He then accompanies Thomas toward the city, and a great multitude of believers join the true faith.
4—Thomas and the talking colt
A young donkey then approaches Thomas and miraculously speaks, addressing him as "Thou Twin of Christ." The colt invites Thomas to mount him and ride into the city. Thomas asks the colt about his origins, and he answers that he descends from the very ass who spoke to the prophet Balaam, and also from the donkey on whom Jesus rode when he entered Jerusalem.
Thomas, feeling humbled, declines the colt's offer, but the donkey insists, and Thomas finally consents to mount him. A huge throng of onlookers follows Thomas and the colt. Thomas dismounts and dismisses the ass at the city gate, whereupon the poor colt promptly falls down dead. The crowd implores Thomas to raise the beast from the dead, but he refuses, not because he is unable, but because the colt had already fulfilled his miraculous purpose by speaking and testifying to the work of God. The people then bury the colt by the side of the road at Thomas' command
5—The Devil's consort
Thomas and his throng enter the city, where he is approached by a very beautiful woman, who explains that she has been tormented by the Devil for five years. The trouble began when a "young man" had "foul intercourse" with her in her dream, which he has continued to until the present time. Thomas is outraged at this and commands the Devil to come forth and face him. No one but Thomas and the woman can see the fiend, but all hear him as he shouts: "What have we to do with thee, thou apostle of the Most High! … Wherefore wilt thou take away our power?" Weeping, the Devil says to the woman: "I leave thee, my fairest consort… I forsake thee, my sure sister, my beloved in whom I was well pleased. What I shall do I know not."
He then vanishes, leaving behind only fire and smoke, which were seen by the astonished crowd. Thomas then blesses the crowd and seals the woman and many others in the name of the Trinity.
Those who are sealed then partake of the Eucharist. Once again Thomas speaks of the Holy Spirit as feminine: "She that knoweth the mysteries of him that is chosen… she that manifesteth the hidden things and maketh the unspeakable things plain, the holy dove that beareth the twin young; Come, the hidden Mother… Come and communicate with us in this Eucharist which we celebrate in thy name and in the love."
6—The misguided youth and his victim
A young man who has just taken the Eucharist is smitten with withered hands. He confesses that he had been in love with a young woman, but after hearing Thomas' teaching, he determined to refrain from having sex with her, asking her to join him in a spiritual marriage instead. When she refused, he murdered her with a sword, not being able to bear the thought of her having sex with another man. Thomas decries the "insane union" of unrestrained lust and commands the youth to bathe in holy water. They then go to the inn, where the victim's body lies. Thomas prays, and the young man takes his former lover by the hand, whereupon she comes back to life. She testifies that she has been in Hell, which she describes inconsiderable detail. Many people become believers as a result of the miracle and the woman's horrifying testimony.
7—Thomas and Captain Siphor
The wealthy captain of King Misdaeus, later named as Siphor, asks Thomas to help his wife and daughter, who are being tormented by devils that throw them down and strip them naked, even in public. The two woman are so beset by these incubi that they have not been able to sleep or eat properly for three years. Greatly grieved for the man, Thomas first secures his commitment to Jesus and then agrees to help, converting many more believers through his public prayers.
8—Exorcisms and wild asses
Thomas travels with Siphor in his chariot or coach, but the animals pulling the vehicle soon tire. At Thomas' suggestion, the captain goes to a nearby herd of wild asses and commands four of them, in Thomas' name, to come. Thomas then commands the asses to yoke themselves in the place of the wearied other animals. When the chariot arrives at the captain's home city, Thomas instructs one of the assess to command the devils to come forth. The ass promptly enters Siphor's house and does as Thomas commanded, and the women approach Thomas in a zombie-like state. When Thomas confronts them, they both fall down as if dead, but the spirit inside the older woman speaks. Thomas recognizes him as the same demon he had driven out of the woman in the previous city. The devil pleads that he is only doing what comes naturally to him. Surprisingly, the wild ass now gives a lengthy sermon urging Thomas to act and declaring the doctrine which Thomas normally preaches.
Thomas responds by praising Jesus, the "heavenly word of the Father … the hidden light of the understanding, who shows the way of truth, the driver away of darkness, and blotter-out of error." He then prays: "Let these souls be healed and rise up and become such as they were before they were smitten of the devils." The women are immediately healed. Thomas then leads the wild asses outside the city and dismisses then back to the natural life and a happy ending.
9—Thomas and Mygdonia
King Misdaeus may represent an anachronchistic version of Vasudeva I, who is thought to have returned the relics of Saint Thomas from India in 232 C.E.
Here in the realm of King Misdaeus, Mygdonia, the wife of Prime Minister Charisius, comes to learn of Thomas and his "new god." Because of her arrogant attitude in pressing through the crowd to
see him, however, Thomas blesses the servants who carry her palanquin, rather than the great lady herself. He teaches the crowd to abstain first of all from adultery, which he characterizes as "the beginning of all evils." After listening to Thomas' long moral sermon, Mygdonia jumps from her chair and prostrates herself before the apostle. He urges her to rise and instructs her to take off her jewelry and other fine ornaments, and also to refrain from "polluted intercourse with thine husband."
Her husband Charisius later discovers Mygdonia in a depressed state, refusing both to dine or to sleep with him, pleading illness. The next day Charisius leaves home early to salute the king, while Mygdonia goes to attend Thomas. Trouble brews between the couple when Charisius learns of his wife's seeming infatuation with the stranger, whom she calls a physician, but he suspects is a sorcerer. That night she again refuses either to dine or sleep with her husband. "Thou hast no more any room by me," she informs him, "for my Lord Jesus is greater than thou, who is with me and resteth in me." The distraught Charisius cannot hide his anguish from King Misdaeus, who sends immediately for Captain Siphor to deal with the troublemaker. Siphor testifies to the king concerning Thomas' good works. Ultimately, Charisius himself confronts Thomas and brings him before the king. When Thomas refuses to answer the king's questions, he is sentenced to death. In prison, Thomas is not anxious at all. Instead, he sings the remarkable Hymn of the Soul (see below), a Gnostic psalm of remembrance of the value of the spirit and the worthlessness of all material things, including the body.
Charisius, thinking his troubles are over, finds Mygdonia in deep grief over Thomas' fate. Even his own tears do not move her, as she only sits silently looking at the ground during his impassioned entreaties. She insists again that her love is only for Jesus.
10—The baptism of Mygdonia
Taking ten denarii to bribe Thomas' jailers, Mygdonia is miraculously met by an apparition of Thomas on her way. She is at first frightened, but after Thomas comforts and teaches her, she requests to be "sealed." Taking Thomas to her home, she receives the necessary elements for the ceremony from her nurse, Narcia. Thomas sanctifies her with holy oil, and she then comes to him clad only in a linen cloth to be baptized in a fountain of water. After dressing, she shares the Eucharist with him, and a voice from heaven declares "Yea, Amen!" Narcia, hearing the voice is also converted and receives baptism. Thomas then returns to prison.
The next morning at dawn, Charisius finds Mygdonia and her nurse praying: "O new god that by the stranger hast come hither unto us… turn away from us the madness of Charisius." He is outraged, imploring her to remember their love as bride and groom. She replies:
That bridal chamber is taken down again, but this remaineth always; that bed was strown with coverlets, but this with love and faith. Thou art a bridegroom that passest away and art dissolved, but Jesus is a true bridegroom, enduring for ever immortal. That dowry was of money and robes that grow old, but this is of living words which never pass away.
Charisius goes to the king and demands Thomas' death. King Misdaeus sends for Thomas and offers to let him go free if he will persuade Mygdonia to return to her husband. Back at Charisius' house, Thomas tells Mygdonia to obey Charisius, but she reminds the apostle of his own teaching, declaring that he has said this only "because thou art in fear." Thomas then leaves the house to stay with Captain Siphor, where Thomas baptizes the household and holds communion with them.
11—Thomas and Tertia
Tertia, the wife of King Misdaeus, visits Mygdonia, who testifies to the truth of Thomas' teachings. Tertia immediately goes to Siphor's house and asks to partake in the promise of life that Thomas offers. He accepts her, and she returns to Misdaeus, who is understandably unhappy to hear that the teaching of the "sorcerer" now infects his own wife. He finds Charisius, and the two of them arrest Thomas again as he is teaching at Siphor's house. He is placed under guard awaiting trial by Misdaeus.
12—Iuzanes, the son of Misdaeus'
Midaeus' son Iuzanes speaks with Thomas and is inspired to help him escape, but Midaeus returns, and Thomas faces trial. He insists that the king has no power over him, and that his fate in is God's hands. The king orders that Thomas be tortured with red-hot iron plates, but a huge spring of water rises up to quench their heat. The king now begs Thomas to pray that the resulting flood will subside, and Thomas complies. Midaeus sends Thomas back to prison, accompanied by Iuzanes and Siphor. Thomas prays once more, including a version of the Lord's prayer, this time seemingly in preparation for death. "I am thine," he declares to his Lord, "and I have kept myself pure from woman, that the temple worthy of thee might not be found in pollution."
13—The baptism of Iuzanes
Iuzanes, who is chaste though married, wishes to become a disciple and requests that Thomas heal his ailing wife, Mnesara. Tertia, Mygdonia, and Narcia bribe the jailer to allow them entrance to the prison, where they join Iuzanes, Siphon, and Siphon's wife and daughter. Thomas and his band then go to Iuzanes' home, where Mnesara is quickly healed. Mygdonia anoints Mnesara, and Thomas anoints Iuzanes; then Thomas baptizes the couple, after which they share the Eucharist.
14 The Martyrdom of Thomas
Thomas returns to his prison, together with Tertia, Mygdonia, and Narcia. On the way, he declares to them and "the multitude" a final message in preparation for his departure. He stresses that they must focus on Christ, not himself, and should hope in his coming.
Misdaeus now places Thomas on trial again. The apostle confesses that he is the slave of Jesus. Taking him out of the city for fear of the crowds, the king commands four soldiers and an officer to take him to a nearby mountain and slay him there with spears. Iuzanes persuades the soldiers to allow Thomas to pray before his death. Thomas concludes his prayer and then invites the soldiers to do their duty. They pierce him with their spears, and he dies.
While Siphor and Iuzanes keep watch over his body, Thomas appears to them and asks: "Why sit ye here and keep watch over me? I am not here, but I have gone up and received all that I was promised." Thomas is buried with great honor, and with much mourning.
After this, the husbands of Mygdonia and Tertia badly mistreat their wives in a vain attempt to force them to perform their conjugal duty, but the two saints bravely hold up, and eventually their husbands allow them to live in chastity. Siphor becomes a presbyter and Iuzanes a deacon, and the church grows rapidly under their leadership. Thomas' bones are transferred to Mesopotamia, but even the dust where he lay possesses miraculous healing qualities. King Misdaeus, before his death, repents and receives forgiveness at the hand Siphor, amid much rejoicing.
As one can see the Acts of Thomas starts with the mission to Parthia which was ruled then by Gondaphores who is considered as one of the magi who visited baby Jesus among several others. But the story continues from Northe Indian ministry to the South Indian Ministry until his martyrdom. The South Indian tradition does not speak about his earlier ministry and starts only from AD 52 and ends with this martyrdom in Mylapore. Except for the details of the historical churches, it will fall in line if we assume as part of his ministry from 33 AD (around the time of Pentecost). We cannot really consider these as separate ministries since they all really form a continuous story.
I am certain of the ministry of Thomas in Yemen, sometime though it is difficult to ascertain, It may well have been after AD 50 around the time of Soccotran ministry. While in Taxila he went around 4 and a half years in China before returning to North India, Trip to Jerusalem or Ephesus for the Dormitan or Assumption of Mary.
Gondophares-Sases (20-45 CE)was probably the Gondaphores we are interested in whose term ended around 45 AD. Later the Gupta empire slowly ousted the Gondaphores dynastry from Northen end till they ceased to exist. This may be why Thomas had to leave North India by boat when he was ship wrecked in Socotra Island near Yemen where he stayed less than an year to reach Kodungallur (Muziris) by AD 52 when the mission in South India restarted to end in AD 72 martyrdom.
Additional details of his earlier mission journey surrounds the three magi (or were there
more ?)from Indian continent from North and South and their baptism. These are now available due to further archealogical search and are now added to this book.
The Book of the Saints of The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
ON APOSTLE THOMAS’ MINISTRY
Some of the apostolic missions of St Thomas that recorded in the Ethiopic Synaxarium are summarized as follows:
St. Thomas went to his apostolic diocese, India and Kantara to preach the Gospel and made many more miracles there. He worked there as a slave at one of the governors of the king, whose name was Lukios, who brought him to the king who inquired about his profession. Thomas said: "I am builder, carpenter and a physician. Then the governor set out to go to the king, and he left St Thomas to build in the house. Contrary to the order of the king, St Thomas preached the gospel of Christ in his master’s palace, and Lukios’ wife believed and all his household.
Later on, the king asked him about his achievements, and St. Thomas answered: "The palaces that I built were the souls that have become the temples of the King of Glory; the carpentry that I did was the Gospel that removes the thorns of sin; and the medicines I practiced are the Holy Mysteries which heal the poison of the evil one. The king became angry and tortured him, and bound him among four poles, cut off his skin and rubbed his wounds with salt and lime. St. Thomas endured the pains.
Lukios’ wife saw him suffering, and she fell from the window and died. Lukios came to him and said: "If you raise my wife from the dead, I believe in your God." St. Thomas went to the room where the dead body was, and said: “O, Arsonia, rise up in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ." She rose instantly and bowed to the Saint. When her husband saw that, he believed and many more with him from the people of the city, and St. Thomas baptized them.
St. Thomas left and went to a city called Kontaria, where he found an old man weeping bitterly because the king killed his three children (other Ethiopic and Coptic sources said six children). The Saint prayed over them, and the Lord raised them up. The idolatry priests were angry, and wanted to stone him. The first one picked up a stone to throw it at him, but his hand became paralyzed. The Saint prayed over his hand, he was healed instantly, and all the idolatry priests believed in the Lord Christ.
St. Thomas also went to the cities of Kenas, and Makedonya, and preached to the men therein in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He also baptized the wife of the king and all her household. When the kings heard about him, he was exceedingly angry and commanded four of his soldiers to kill him with their spears so as to erase him from public memory. They stabbed him with spear repeatedly until he died (in 72 AD). The men of the city including the king’s son came to deliver St. Thomas from the hands of the soldiers, but they found that his soul had already departed. Then they wrapped up his body and laid it on one of the royal tombs. The Coptic Synaxarium recorded that, he was buried in "Melibar", then his body was relocated to El-Raha.
According to church tradition, St. Thomas was also the only witness of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. Thomas the Apostle was not present at the time of St. Mary’s departure. He was on duty in his apostolic diocese of India. As he went back to Jerusalem carried on a cloud St. Mary appeared to him while she was ascending to witness her body’s Assumption into heaven, from which she dropped her girdle. In an inversion of the story of Thomas’ doubts, the other apostles are skeptical of St. Thomas’ story until they see the empty tomb and the girdle. Today, priests attach a piece of vestment in their crosses to remember St. Thomas’ receipt of the girdle from the Ascended Virgin Mary.
Glory be to God who is glorified by His saints!! •Ethiopic Synaxarium, on 3 June.
•Coptic Orthodox Church Network (http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/9_26.html) •Wikipedia, the free encyclo.,(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_the_Apostle#Feast_days). http://www.stmichaeleoc.org/The_Ethiopian_Synaxarium.pdf
John 19: 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and her sister, as well as Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.”27Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home.…
Thus we know for certain is that Mary lived with St. John, for he had been entrusted to the care of her as a son. John's mother's name was Salome and Salome was most probably the sister of Jesus' mother, Mary. And St. John, in the years immediately following Pentecost, 30 AD lived in Jerusalem, where we see him constantly at the side of St. Peter. Just prior to the Council of Jerusalem, about the year 48 (cf. Acts 15:1-34), Paul refers to the beloved disciple as one of the pillars of the Church (Gal 2:9). If Mary was still at his side, she would have been about 65. But most scholars believe that during the persecution initiated by King Herod against the young Church (Acts 12:1-3), Apostle John moved to Ephesus in the year 43 taking Mary with him.
Some say she returned to Nazareth and others believe she died in Ephesus. Ephesus would have been away from “home”- Jerusalem- where all the relatives were close by. Thus some at least believe that either Mary remained in Jerusalem while others believe she moved to Ephesus with John. Council of Jerusalem Acts 15 is generally dated as 48 AD where we know Mary and John were present.. Kerala tradition do not speak about Thomas going for the burial of Mary and so we can safely assume that it was sometime before 50 AD. AD 48 may be a good assumption since all the Apostles were in Jerusalem at the Council of Jeruslem.
Legend says she died after the ninth hour, which is the same time as Our Lord.
Legend says that Peter anointed the body with Myrrh laid in the armpits and bosom of her body as well as between the shoulders and the neck, chin and cheeks. Her body was then wrapped in a gravecloth and placed in a wicker coffin. On her breast was laid a wreath of red, white, and sky-blue flowers. The coffin was taken to the cave where she was buried.
While St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia, the ancient Salamina, in the isle of Cyprus in his Panarion or Medicine Chest (of remedies for all heresies), written in c. 377say : "Whether she died or was buried we know not." Pope Pius XII dogmatically declared the following as Munificentissimus Deus.:
“By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
Kerala Tradition starts from AD 52 only when Thomas arrived in Kodungallur. If Thomas landed in Taxila in AD 40 this will give him a period of 12 years of ministry in the Northern India, Parthia and China. It is probably during this period the Apostle traveled to Ephesus or to Jerusalem to visit the grave of Mother Mary. Mary died, and Thomas was not able to be there as he was In North India at that time. But he arrived soon after the burial. So it was some time before 51 AD
The House believed to be where Mother Mary lived under the care of Apostle John in Ephesus, Selçuk in Turkey. Roman Catholic Church believe that Mary lived here until her death
The Statue of Virgin Mary in Ephesus Campus.
Dormition (Koimisis or Falling Asleep) of Mary.
Jesus is also present in this figure carrying a baby - the soul of Mary.
This is a reverse Mother and Child - Just as Mary carried the swadling baby Jesus, here Jesus carry the Soul of Marium.
Mary after her death was placed in a sacrophage.
While all the other Apostles were there when she was placed in the sacrophage, Thomas as usual was absent. When he reached there, he wanted see the body of Mary. When the Sacrophage was openned her body was said to be missing.
Apostle Thomas came late and when the Sacrophagus was opened the body of Mary was found missing. This gave rise to the doctrine of Domition.
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life. The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus. This belief is known as the Dormition of the Theotokos by the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Apocryphal Story of the Assumption of Mary and Apostle Thomas
In the Apocryphal work, 'Assumption of Mary' (c.400) is found an account which tells how Thomas, who was in India, miraculously found himself along with the other Apostles beside the Virgin Mary at her dormition.
"And Thomas also answered and said: And I, traversing the country of the Indians,when the preaching was prevailing by the grace of Christ, and the king's sister's son Labdanus by name, was about to be sealed by me in the palace, on a sudden the Holy Spirit says to me, Do thou also, Thomas, go to Bethlehem to salute the mother of thy Lord, because she is taking her departure to the heavens. And a cloud of light having snatched me up, set me down beside you." (From the Greek)
<<"Then the most blessed Thomas was suddenly brought to the Mount of Olivet, and saw the most blessed body going up to heaven, and began to cry out and say: O holy mother, blessed mother, spotless mother, if I have now found grace because I see thee, make thy servant joyful through thy compassion, because thou art going to heaven. Then the girdle with which the apostles had encircled the most holy body was thrown down from heaven to the blessed Thomas. And taking it, and kissing it, and giving thanks to God, he came again into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. He found all the apostles and another great crowd there beating their breasts on account of the brightness which they had seen. And seeing and kissing each other, the blessed Peter said to him: Truly thou hast always been obdurate and unbelieving, because for thine unbelief it was not pleasing to God that thou shouldst be along with us at the burial of the mother of the Saviour. And he, beating his breast, said: “I know and firmly believe that I have always been a bad and an unbelieving man; therefore I ask pardon of all of you for my obduracy and unbelief.”
And they all prayed for him. Then the blessed Thomas said: Where have you laid her body? And they pointed out the sepulcher with their finger. And he said: The body which is called most holy is not there.
Then the blessed Peter said to him: Already on another occasion thou wouldst not believe the resurrection of our Master and Lord at our word, unless thou went to touch Him with thy fingers, and see Him; how wilt thou believe us that the holy body is here? Still he persists saying: It is not here. Then, as it were in a rage, they went to the sepulcher, which was a new one hollowed out in the rock, and took up the stone; but they did not find the body, not knowing what to say, because they had been convicted by the words of Thomas.
Then the blessed Thomas told them how he was singing mass in India--he still had on his sacerdotal robes. He, not knowing the word of God, had been brought to the Mount of Olives, and saw the most holy body of the blessed Mary going up into heaven, and prayed her to give him a blessing. She heard his prayer, and threw him her girdle which she had about her. And the apostles seeing the belt
which they had put about her, glorifying God, all asked pardon of the blessed Thomas, on account of the benediction which the blessed Mary had given him, and because he had seen the most holy body going up into heaven. And the blessed Thomas gave them his benediction, and said: Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!">>
St. Thomas receiving the Virgin Mary's girdle from heaven.
Right side painting by Gozzoli
The Holy Belt, according to the tradition, was made by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself with camel hair. The Empress Zoi, wife of Leo 6th the Wise, out of gratitude for her miraculous cure, embroidered the Belt with gold thread, as it is found today, but divided in three pieces. Originally it was being kept in Jerusalem and later in Constantinople. Emperor John the 6th Katakouzinos (1347-1355), donated the Belt to the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi. It is still there is a silver casket.
Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s death nor her Assumption into heaven.
The concept of dormition is not the same as going to heaven in their bodies as Elijah and Enoch and Jesus did. 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Here Mary is considered as one of the first fruits of resurrection after Jesus paid the price of Sin. The assumption of body of Mary is a symbol of the resurrection of the church where the dead in Christ will rise and they will receive a translated body and be with Christ.
However, many believe that Mary returned to Palestine and died there or some that she never went to Ephesus and John went there after the death of Mary. At any rate, the location of the Tomb of Mary today is shown by the Jerusalem tourism as across the Kidron Valley from St Stephen’s Gate in the Old City walls of Jerusalem, just before Gethsemane.
Twelfth-century façade of Mary's Tomb
Steps down to the Tomb of Mary (Seetheholyland.net)
Stone bench where the body was laid - now empty
Entrrance into the tomb of Mary .
Thomas returned to India to continue with his mission.
Who the magi were is not specified in the Bible; there are only traditions. Since English translations of the Bible refer to them as "men who studied the stars", they are believed to have been astrologers, who could foresee the birth of a "Messiah" from their study of the stars. The very first chapter of the Bible defines that the 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for isigns and for jseasons, and for days and years,
Bible does not number or their regal status nor their names. The number three probably came just because three gifts are specified. In the west these are defined :
Caspar is often considered to be an Indian scholar. An article in the 1913 Encyclopædia Britannica states that "according to Western church tradition, Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Caspar as a king of India."
However there are equally strong traditions for a number 12 which may be a better estimation. May be there were many more. They were probably accompanied by a large retinue of guards and servants that it might have constitued an army like entry which would cause concern for Herod the King.”
When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him.”
Some consider Caspar to be King Gondophares (AD 21 – c.AD 47) mentioned in the Acts of Thomas. Others consider Magi to have come from the southern parts of India where, according to tradition, It was thought that Thomas the Apostle visited southern India only after 52 AD; decades later. The town by name Piravom in Kerala State, Southern India has for long claimed that one of the three Biblical Magi went from there. The name Piravom in the local Malayalam language translates to "birth". It is believed that the name originated from a reference to the Nativity of Jesus. There is a concentration of three churches named after the Biblical Magi in and around Piravom. Recent studies seem to indicate that Thomas did indeed visit Southern India as far as the Sri Lankan (Ceylon) islands even during his first visit. There is even a suggestion that this King Gondaphares is actually King Kandappa Raja. He had a brother too but his name was not Gad. (See below)
There are some who consider that Caspar’s kingdom was located in the region of Egrisilla in India Superior on the peninsula that forms the eastern side of the Sinus Magnus (Gulf of Thailand) by Johannes Schöner on his globe of 1515. On it can be seen Egrisilla Bragmanni ("Egrisilla of the Brahmans"), and in the explanatory treatise which accompanied the globe, Schöner noted: “The region of Egrisilla, in which there are Brahman [i.e. Indian] Christians; there Gaspar the Magus held dominion”. The phrase hic rex caspar habitavit (here lived King Caspar) is inscribed over the Golden Chersonese (Malay Peninsula) on the mappemonde of Andreas Walsperger made in Constance around 1448.
The Magi are now not considered by some to have been kings. The reference to "kings" is believed to have originated due to the reference in Psalms "The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring him gifts: and all the kings of the earth shall adore him" Psalm 72:10.
The “City of God” by Mary of Agreda (Spain 1665) reveals through the lips of St. Peter the Apostle that “The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Thomas, will follow his Master preaching in India, in Persia and among the Parthians. He shall baptize the three Magi Kings….” (City of God Vol. IV Nos.227, 229, 230). Thus it appears that Thomas’ first purpose was to find these magis and give them the good news of Jesus whom they had already accepted as their King and paid their homage.
What did they do after their journey to Bethelhem and returning to India? This then is the main storyof Thomas till his leaving Taxila in AD 51
Evidently Thomas arrived in Taxila the capital of the Indo-Pathian Kingdom first. It is assumed that Gondaphorus was one of the many magi who visited baby Jesus. Acta Thomae describes his visit and baptism of Gondaphorus. Another Kandapparasa (The name sounds very much similar), was one of the other Magi kings (Gaspar) was ruling the Pandya kingdom which then extended even to the modern Jaffna of Ceylon Taxila and Ceylon are the two ends of India. This was a Pandian kingdom called Maanaveera Naadu. “This Southern Pandian Kingdom in between Thiruchendur and Kanyakumari was covered by a huge sand hill since the year 1649. So the fact of St. Thomas converting Kandapparasa and performing his missionary activities from A.D. 33 to 46 could not be traced out by the historians until recent findings and documentations.”
The second magi was from the Chera Kingdom.
The Third magi was the King of the South Indian Pandya KIngdom
Hence we should expect that after the baptism of Gondaphorus Thomas travelled to South India to meet the two other Magi from India.
NEW DISCOVERY ON ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE by Fr. Pancras M. Raja is the basic source of this period .
“Joao de Barros, the Portuguese historian, in his book, “Asia de Joao Barros, dos fectos que od Portuguese fizeram no descobrimento & conquista dos mares & teras do Oriente,” published after 1563, relates, “a king of the island of Ceilam, called Primal, went in a ship to the coast of Muscat, to join other kings, who were going to adore the Lord, at Bethlehem, and that he was the third.”
“………..An early king of Jaffna was one of those who paid his adoration to the infant Jesus; also Christianity was in existence in Lanka, since from the very beginning of the Christian era.”
Source: www.bahamaswriter.com/magi.htm - 48k -
There is a tradition that this Peria Perumal (Kandappa rasa) came to south India and was baptized by St. Thomas the Apostle as Gaspar. This fact is described by Fr. Motha Vaz in his “History of St. Thomas the Apostle of India” (1971, pages 32 and 33) as follows: “Peria Perumal, the King of Jaffna (Ceylon) journeyed to India to meet the Apostle. As soon as he saw St. Thomas, he requested him: “O Apostle of the Redeemer of the world! I am one of the Magi Kings who at the sight of the star in the East, followed it and visited the Holy Infant Messiah at Bethlehem. Therefore, please explain to
me His life and teachings and baptize me. The Saint, accepting the request and having instructed on the life and teachings of the Saviour, baptized him as Gaspar.”
Kandapparasa was one of the kings of “Ukkiraperuvazhuthi”, the Pandian King at Madurai to whom “Thirukkural”, the “Deiva Nool” was submitted!
Barthuma (Sons of Thoma) in Pakistan
The late P.V. Mathew, an author, and researcher, states that a unique nomadic tribe (the Fakir community with a Hindu outlook) by the name Barthuma (Aramaic) existed in the Thatta region of Sindh Province of Pakistan. Rev R. A Totter, an Anglican Missionary, once had an encounter with them. During the encounter, they showed him the original copy of the Gospel in their possession but were reluctant to hand over a copy. They might still be wandering in the deserts of Balochistan or elsewhere. We are not sure about their fate.
It is also interesting to note that the ‘Brahuian’ people who live in Pakistan speak ‘Brahui’ which is a Dravidian language. This is an assurance that Dravidians were in the Northern part of India and were pushed down by the Aryans when a small fraction took refuge in the mountains.
Brahui People. Pic- Wiki
There are over 2 million Brahuin people in Pakistan. The majority of them are found in Balochistan, whereas others live in Afghanistan.
The Ten Tribes (Aseres HaShevatim) were exiled by Sancheriv, King of Assyria, before the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash, as a Divine punishment for idol worship. But Rashi in Maseches Sanhedrin (110b) writes that only that first generation had actually worshipped idols; subsequent generations were righteous. After Sancheriv’s death, explains Rabbi Chinagel, substantial numbers decided to move out of the areas in which Sancheriv had forced them to settle, in order to avoid assimilating into the surrounding non-Jewish population.
Distribution of Pashtun tribes in Pakisthan and Afghanistan
“There are approximately twenty million ‘Pashtuni’ tribes people living in Pakistan and Afghanistan today who descend from the Ten Tribes,” asserts Rav Chinagel. “Aside from other proofs, such as traditions and behaviors that are reminiscent of ancient Jewish life, their names – Ravni (from Reuven), Shimani (from Shimon), Livani (from Levi), etc. – make it evident that their ancestors were Jews. Many ofthe tribesmen carry amulets written by the head of their tribe, which seem likely to contain the text of Shema Yisrael. And they make a concerted effort not to intermarry with the Muslims living in the larger cities of the region. “The Pashtuns are the largest among the lost tribes that are spread throughout Asia and Africa, but they have retained only some vague vestiges of Jewish life, even though it is c1ear that they were originally among the tribes of Israel,”
Legend based on the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and other ancient documents suggests that Saint Thomas preached in Bactria, which is today northern Afghanistan.
Bardaisan, writing in about 196, speaks of Christians throughout Media, Parthia and Bactria and, according to Tertullian (c.160–230), there were already a number of bishoprics within the Persian Empire by 220. By the time of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (AD 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. Thus we can be sure that there was a thriving Christian Community in Northern India where Apostle Thomas labored.
In 409, the Church of the East (also sometimes called the Nestorian Church) received state recognition from King Yazdegerd I (reigned 399–409), of the Iranian Sassanid Empire which ruled what is now Afghanistan from 224–579.
In 424, Bishop Afrid of Sakastan, an area which covered southern Afghanistan including Zaranj and Kandahar, attended the Synod of Dadyeshu of the Church of the East.
Bardaisan (154 AD–222 AD) the Gnostic Bishop (formerly a Syriac Orthodox Prelate) in his book ‘The Account of India’ (which he wrote after interviewing wandering Monks from India) states that there were Christian tribes in India (probably in the Northern part of India including present-day Pakistan). These tribes claimed that they have been baptized by St. Thomas. They even had books and the holy relics of the Apostle in their possession. We cannot completely deny a possible migration of the Thomasian Christians from the Parthian region to the Southern tip of India.
“There are other facts which seem to indicate a northern locus for St. Thomas’s work. Bardaisan in his Book of Fate (AD 196) speaks of Parthian Christians living among pagans, which might be a result of the destruction of the Indian Parthian Empire by Kushan invaders about AD 50. There are also said to be Christian tribes still living in north India, but holding their faith a secret from all others. For example, at Tatta in Sind (the ancient port of Pattiala at the mouth of Indus), there is a fakir community which calls itself by an Aramaic name, something like ‘Bartolmai’, and claims to have been descended from St. Thomas’s converts and to have books and relics to prove it.”- East of the Euphrates: Early Christianity in Asia by T.V. Philip
RAJAKALUDEY PALLY PIRAVAM
The Biblical Magi "Gaspar"
The Search for the Twelve Apostles by William Steuart McBirnie quoting Prof. Mundalan
" According to a stone inscription which the Christians of St.Thomas read and interpreted for Roz, the Apostle converted 3 principal kings of India: that of Bisnaga called by them Xoren Porumal, that of Pandi called Pandi Perumal and that of all Malabar called Xaran Perumal. Fr.Guerreiro found in a Chaldean book that the Apostle had converted six kings and three emperors: the emperors correspond to Roz's three principal kings. The Pandi kingdom, according to Guerreiro, corresponded to the then existing kingdom of Cape Comorin.”
Eastern Churches believes that there were at least twelve magi who visited baby Jesus when he was two years old. According to George Nedungatt “…where Thomas first arrived was the India ruled by king Gundaphar” (Page, 186). He ruled the Indo-Parthian Kingdom from Taxila. We do not have the name of the Chera King while Pandya King is identified recently as Kandappa Raja. Each of these Kingdoms had several vasal kingdoms too. Thus after the Taxila mission Thomas came down to Malankara region where the was a which had an on going worhip of Baby Jesus for over 33 years.
This is even today called the “Church of the Kings”
Piravam Valiya Pally in Muvattupuzha river at Piravom, is popularly known as the 'Church of the Kings' (“Rajakkalude Pally”). "The place-name Piravom means “Nativity" or “Birth”. It is believed that three of the wise men who were experts in Astronomy came from this area. Indian traditions assigns other Kings from Kerala as well.
When the three king returned, they built a church to woship infant Jesus on this mount. Kaniyanparambil Kurian Corepiscopa in the History of St.Thomas (Page. 15; Suriyani Sabha) states that St. Thomas himself acknowledged these ‘Megusans’ (MAGI), while he was in Kerala.
Kandapparasa, one of the Magi kings ruled the kingdom known as Maanaveera Nadu (which means the land of the Brave Men).
Maanaveeranaadu was recorded in the ancient inscriptions as “Velli Pon Veesum Veeramulla Naadu.” It means - a brave country glistening with Silver and gold. It was a Pandyan Kingdom in the Southern part of India extending all the way from Thiruchendur to the cape Kanya Kumari (which means Virgin Women and into the island of Ceylon.
This Southern Pandian Kingdom between Thiruchendur and Kanyakumari was covered by a huge sand hill since the year 1649. So the fact of St. Thomas converting Kandapparasa and performing his missionary activities from A.D. 33 to 46 could not be traced out by the historians until recent findings and documentations.
This King Kandhappar (Gaspar) was reigning the Southern Pandian Kingdom which at that time consisted of Ceylon as well.
Gaspar was the youngest of the three kings. He brought frankincense to the Christ Child.
Pandya Kingdom has the sign of two fishes Matsya in Tamil from which the author of Acts of Thomas probably got his name as Mazdeo
In Ceylon he was known as Peria Perumal, and his brother Gaatthiappar as Chinna Perumal. This was the king of Ceylon who heard the nativity of the messiah foretoled by an Indian Sybil, and had joined with the other Magi Kings and had gone to Bethlehem to adore the child. This has been cited by George Moraes from a legend which the Portuguese heard from the lips of the bishop of Quilon as follows: “A Perumal King of Ceylon having heard tell of it from the Sybil, embarked in a ship for Muscat. At this port he joined the other Magi and they went to Bethlehem to adore the child.”
Some scholars assume in the story of Acts of Thomas, that it was this KIng who send Abbas to bring an architect to build his palace and then applies the rest of the development to Periya Perumal (Big King) and Chinna Perumal (Younger King his brother) instead of the Gondaphores of Taxila and his brother Dan. After all, Gondaphores and Kandappa Raja sound similar.
Now there is a tradition that this Peria Perumal came to south India and was baptized by St. Thomas the Apostle as Gaspar. This fact is described by Fr. Motha Vaz as follows: “Peria Perumal, the King of Jaffna (Ceylon) journeyed to India to meet the Apostle. As soon as he saw St. Thomas, he requested him: ‘O Apostle of the Redeemer of the world! I am one of the Magi Kings who at the sight of the star in the East, followed it and visited the Holy Infant Messiah at Bethlehem. Therefore, please explain to me His life and teachings and baptize me. The Saint, accepting the request and after having instructed on the life and teachings of the Saviour, baptized him as Gaspar.”
An ancient painting in the church
(St. Mary with infant Jesus being worshipped by MAGI)
The legend is of "Tortoise, Bell and Fish ".
Once the church bell was stolen and was sunk in the whirlpool on the western side of the Church. It is believed that a sacred fish along with the bell comes up above the water at the time of the celebration of the Holy Mass of the annual festival. People believe that there is a tunnel cave from the river to the centre bottom, of the Church, where the fish and tortoise live safely.
St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Cathedral (Popular name: Piravom Valiyapally) is located in Piravom, Ernakulam Dt., Kerala, India. It is one of the prominent Jacobite Syrian Christian churches in Kerala. The church is situated on the eastern banks of Muvattupuzha river running through Piravom. Though the church is named after St. Mary, it is also known as Rajakkalude Pally (The church of the Kings"), the three Kings who visited Jesus during his birth. It is also called Marth Maryam pally since it was in the name of Mother Mary..
About 2000 years ago, "…after the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of king Herod the "Wisemen" from the east (The Magi) reached Bethlehem through Jerusalem. The "star" they saw in the east was moving to direct them till they reached the birthplace of Infant Jesus… They saw the young child on the lap of mother Mary, knelt down and worshipped him. They opened their treasures and presented gifts to him: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh (St. Mathew 2:1-11) And they returned with exceeding joy and satisfaction to their home land in the east. The Wisemen (Holy kings) were scholars, rulers and devotees. . When they reached back their homeland, they built an edifice in the Indian style and here they began to worship the Holy infant. As such piravom valiyapally is the first church in the world, where worshipping Jesus Christ started. It is the first Christian Church in the world, since it started 33 years before the Pentecost and the Assumption of Jesus soon after the birth of Jesus.
It is the only church in the name of the Magi which claims to have started by the Magi themselves. This Church is now associated with the Patriarch of Antioch,
During the 5th Century, this building may have been rebuilt as a Christian church as we now see, " Piravom Valiyapally"
"The place-name Piravom itself is related to piravi(Birth)" When Apostle Thomas came here, after instructing them of the way that Jesus taught they were baptised as Christians.
It is believed that, in the beginning, this church building was in the architectural style of other indian temples essentially following the Buddhist tradition which was the popular religion of Kerala at that time. . the church building was renovated adopting the Persian architecture. The picture of fish, an ancient Christian emblem has a venerable place in the church. The Church was built as a strong fort; having been built in the periods of "Padayottam" (civilwars and banditry) its walls are more than four feet in thickness.
Knanaya Catholic Forane Church Piravom
John of Hildesheim’s Historia Trium Regum or History of the Three Kings, a text belonging to the 14th century, says Balthasar, Melchior and Caspar (he already uses these traditional names) were from India, Persia, and Chaldea (present-day Iran and Iraq). They set off separately, met at the birthplace in Jerusalem and then journeyed together to Bethlehem. After worshiping Christ, they returned together to India, where they built a church, and after another vision that revealed that their earthly life was about to end, they died at the same time and were buried in their church in India.
The Shrine of the Three Kings.
Two hundred years later, John of Hildesheim explains, St. Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine, traveled to India and recovered their bodies. She put them into a beautifully ornamented casket and placed them in the great church of St. Sophia in Constantinople. In the late 6th century, the emperor Mauricius had the relics moved to Constantinople and later to the Italian city of Milan and then in 1164 transferred the relics to Cologne, where a Gothic cathedral was eventually build to house them. The bones are there to this day, in a beautiful gold reliquary in the cathedral.
It is placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral.
Who were the Magi, really? https://aleteia.org/201<<===========================================
It was in this church of Kings that all the three magi of Parthia, Venadu and Pandya were baptised and given the full message of salvation of Jesus the Christ. He must have then proceded to their capitals and established centers of worships also.
“Excavations (1799) have revealed the existence of a church below the said sand hill of Maanaveera Naadu dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and an ancient wooden Statue of Our Lady. St. Francis Xavier while tracing out the places of St. Thomas (1542) has visited this church, as recorded by Fr. F. W. Faber D.D. (1923) in his “The Life of St. Francis Xavier” (page, 67).The present Church of Manal Matha Kovil replaces earlier churches built on the same site going back to the time of St. Thomas The Apostle” (Fr. Pancras M. Raja)
Athisaya Manal Matha Church, Sokkan Kudieruppu.
http://manalmatha.blogspot.com/2009/04/history-of-church.html https://www.facebook.com/118359141597639/photos/a.235997663167119/333801430053408/?t ype= 1&theater
Reference Books to learn more about Athisaya Manal Matha ( in Tamil Language )
1."Punitha Thomayarum, Aposthalargalum " - by V.C.George
2." Thomasin Natpadigal " - by Judos
3." Manaveera Nadu " - by Alex Muthiah
4." Madhuravil 50 Aandu " by Deniskushan Aayar
“In the first century AD, St. Thomas, started spreading Christianity in the state of Kerala, which is on the west coast of India.
During the first century A.D., the southern tip of India, was under the regime of Pandya Ruler Kandappa Rasa. The king and his family was suffering from a lot of diseases. During this period, he came to know about the miraculous power of St.Thomas through the traders who used to visit Kerala for selling their spices. On hearing about St.Thomas, the king left for Kerala immediately to meet him and described his sufferings and brought St.Thomas to Tamil Nadu.
With the blessing of Lord Jesus, St.Thomas healed the sufferings of King and his family. The king was surprised by the miraculous powers of St.Thomas.
St.Thomas preached Christianity to the King and his followers and they soon started following Christianity. St.Thomas renamed the King as "Sabor".
As a mark of respect, the King donated 3 cents of land to St.Thomas to build a church fin the name of Mother Mary. As per tradition in those days, St.Thomas built the church with palm leaves. This piece of land was the first in India to be donated to Christianity.
In this church, St.Thomas embibed a holy cross made of wood and instructed the people to pray the cross. St.Thomas marked the letters INRI on the top portion of the cross. The church built on 3 cents of land donated to St.Thomas is the " Athisaya Manalmatha Church ".
During St. Xavier 's visit In the 16th century, he re-built the church.
We are not sure of the period when Tiruvalluvar of the Sangam period lived. It is quite possible that he was a contemperory of St.Thomas. In that case he must have been influenced by the principles of Christianity and if he was honest enough must have become a disciple of Thomas. G.U.Pope the first principal of Bishop Cotton School who translated many Tamil scriptures assures that his work reflects most of the Sermon on the Mount.
It has been suggested that King Gandhappar, requested St. Thomas to write down all the teachings of Jesus for the Christian community in Tamil. One of his disciples Valluvar who was a Tamil Scholar was the instrument through which this was done. This was hence given the name “Daiva Nool” or “Thiru Kural” (Sacred Teachings).
A critical study on the existing story of “Thiruvalluvar”, the “Deiva Pulavar” will show that the super - eminent character of the person, the divine eloquence of the doctrines, and the un-equivalent style of the literature could be attributed to the Christian doctrines of St. Thomas written at the request of Kandapparasa. It is astonishing to find that Kandapparasa was the kings “Ukkiraperuvazhuthi”, the Pandian King at Madurai to whom “Thirukkural”, was submitted! Thirukkural most probably was the first Christian literature in Tamil.
Thirukkural is divided into three parts -
Arathupal (Notes on Dharma), Porutpal (Notes on country), and Kaamaththupal (Notes on Love and Married Life).
It consists of 133 chapters and each chapter has its own title like Kadavul Vaazhththu, Kallamai and Arivutamai.
Every chapter has 10 Kurals each. In total, 2660 lines are in the Thirukkural.
This classical work has some other names like Dravidavedam, Uththaravedam, Poyyamozhi, Muppanool and Daivanool.
Refer to the following doctoral thesis:Comparative study of the Bible, Thirukkural and Saiva siddhanta - by Dr. M. Deivanayagam, Origin and Development of Tamil Bhakti Movement - in the Light of the Bible - by Dr. D. Devakala, Six Darshanas and the Religions of the Tamils - in the Light of Bible - by Dr.J.D. Baskara Das The Songs of Tamil Siddhars and the Bible by Dr. Moses Michael Faraday and Trinity in Tamil Literature by Dr. Johnson Thankiah
Tiruvalluvar, The disciple of Thomas
As per Tamil tradition, Tiruvalluvar is believed to have lived some time during the 1st millennium AD. While most scholars place him between 100 and 300 AD, there are a few who consider him to have lived around 600 A.D. and therefore certainly within the Kalabhra era. Maraimalai AdigaL did extensive research on the date of thiruvaLLuvar. While presiding over the Thiruvalluvar Day conference of Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam held on 18 Jan 1935, he declared that thiruvalluvar was born 30 years before the birth of Jesus. His suggestion was that the Tamil Thiruvalluvar year can be obtained by adding 31 years to the Christian Calender. (http://tamilelibrary.org/teli/tvazthu.html) So when Thomas landed in Kerala he was probably in his 80s, a respected old man, full of wisdom. Even if the dates are little off the mark, it is almost certain that he was a in the right place and time to be a disciple of St.Thomas and within the margin or errors of the relevant datings of the periods. In 1975 Dr. M. Deivanayakam and Dr. R. Arulappa. co-authored the book Perinba Villakku in which Tiruvalluvar is represented as one of the first disciples of St.Thomas in the Mylapore area.
Like all other Indian scriptures, the trend of the orthodox hindu is to predate everyone and every document way back into antiquity. New tactics is to post date Valluvar to avoid his presence during the time of Apostle Thomas. Thus the Hindutvas consider Tirukkural as composed during Sangam period (500-200 BC). However C. Rajagopalachari,( Indian independence activist with Gandhi, leader of the Indian National Congress who was the last Governor-General of India who after independence served as the Premier of the Madras Presidency, Governor of West Bengal, Minister for Home Affairs of the Indian Union and Chief Minister of Madras state, the founder of the Swatantra Party and the first recipient of Bharat Ratna) says that Kural belongs to a period anterior to 2nd century CE. Some scholars put it in the 1st century BC. Some put the date between 200 BC to 800 CE. Some even to 1000 CE.
After composing and presenting the Deiva Nool (Doctrines of St. Thomas), the Saint began his preaching tour in the towns and villages of the South East Coast. This time he went up to Tuticorin (Thoothukudi), and thence to Cape Comerin (Kanyakumari).
Villages were: Korkai, Kayal, Kombuthurai and Thiruchendur in the Maanaveera Vazhanaadu; Manapadu, Periathlai, Kooduthalai and Ovari in the Maanaveera Naadu; and Muttappathi (now Chinna Muttam) and Cape Comerin (Kanyakumari) in the Chera Naadu.
There were two islands, one near the Port of Kayal and another near the Port of Korkai, both inhabited by fishermen of Pearl and Sangu. St. Thomas converted the whole population of these two islands.
St. Thomas found several cave cells in the sea shore villages of Thiruchendur and Manappadu, either as places for prayer and meditation. These cave cells, after the Gnostic take over became centers for the Saivite Sanyasis. The present Murugan Temple at Thiruchendur is one of them.
Since the Pandyan King was ruling Ceylon also, Thomas went over there and became the evangelist of the Taprobane which was then a major trade route through the sea.
“Historia Ecclesiastica of Nikephoros Xanthopulos written from Constantinople (present Turkey) states that St. Thomas the Apostle of Jesus preached to Brahamins on a hill at Ginthupitiya in the island of Taprobane.
In the 5th century during the Sigiriya period, 75 ships carrying Murundi Christian soldiers from Mangalore (India) landed in Chilaw at the request of queen Sangha to protect her son King Dhatusena, after he defeated the Pandyans. Migara, King Dhatusena’s nephew and the commander of army was a Christian. His wife, the sister of Mogalan and Kashyapa was also a Christian. The discovery of coins of King Dhatusena with Christian symbols, statues of ‘Abissheka Buddha’ (Paranavithana 1972) and a carved cross on a granite column in Anurhadapura testifies for the presence of Christians.
Cosmos Indicopleustes, an Egyptian monk who visited Sri Lanka in 550 wrote “The island has a church of Persian Christians who have settled there, and a presbyter who is appointed from Persia, and a deacon and a complete ecclesiastical ritual”. Muhammad Al-Idrisi, the Sicilian cartographer, who visited Sri Lanka between 1100 and 1166, found four of the16 advisors of the king were Christians.”
Anuradhapura Nestorian Cross
Cosmos Indicopleustes who wrote in the sixth century that - “Even in Taprobane, and island in Further India, where the Indian sea is, there is a church of Christians, with clergy and a body of believers, but I know not whether there be any Christians in the parts beyond it.” (Cosmos Indicopleustes - Christian Typography, edited with English Translations by J. M. McCrindle, London: Hakluyt Society, 1897 p.118 quoted by T V Philip p. 155).
Similar cross is also found in China and explains its meaning as follows:
“In the cross rising from the lotus, the passion of Christianity finds its place in the Eastern symbol of being rooted in this world but rising above it to full beauty and fulfillment.” (Martin Palmer - The Jesus Sutras, pg. 9).
His mission then led to Thiruvithancode - modern Travancore - where he is said to have lived in a cave. Surprisingly this cave is over three kilometer long and connects it to the King’s Palce. This palace is now a Church.
The entrance to the cave and the Raja's residence having the cave inside Now converted into the church of Peria Nayagi Matha’
During the period of struggle between the Ettuveetil Pillayars and King Marthanda Varma of Travancore (1729 - 1758), the King could escape the raiders through this cave. This is what became the Arapally later because of the connection with the Kings.
Apparently Thomas spent his time on a nearby hill meditating and praying for a long time. He has left a foot print in that site which is now a reverred spot.
Thomas’ foot print and Kissing the footprint
You can see the stone where he might have been sitting.
After these Apostle Thomas went back to Taxila to continue his mission among the Parthas.
The Gondaphores of Apostle Thomas was Gondaphorus V . The Kushan Kingdom was getting stronger by the year. Indo-Parthians never regained the position of Gondophares I, and from the middle of the 1st century AD the Kushans under Kujula Kadphises began absorbing the northern Indian part of the kingdom. The Indo-Parthians managed to retain control of Sakastan, which they ruled until the fall of the Parthian Empire by Sasanian Empire
Indo Parthian Kingdom
Thus by AD 50 Apostle Thomas was forced to leave the Northern India by sea trying to get back to South India.
Within a few years of the arrival of Thomas in Taxila, the empire of Parthia was slowly overtaken by the Kushans. The dynasty of Gondaphores lasted for another 100 years and then totally lost even to the memory of history until a large number of coins were unearthed.
The remains of the palace of King Gondophores have recently been discovered in the mound of Sirkap at Taxila
What Happened to the Christians of North India
Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889 -1929)
was an Indian Christian missionary. He is believed to have died in the foothills of the Himalayas in 1929.
Sadhu Sundar Singh was said to have been rescued by members of the "Sannyasi Mission"—secret disciples of Jesus wearing Hindu markings, whom he claimed to have found all over India.
The secret Sannyasi Mission is reputed to have numbered around 24,000 members across India.
The origins of this brotherhood were reputed to be linked to one of the Magi at Christ's nativity and then the second century AD disciples of the apostle Thomas circulating in India. Nothing was heard of this evangelistic fellowship until William Carey began his missionary work in Serampore.
Speaking of the Nestorians and their Apostolic origins Stewart says, "The center of this marvelous church was first in Edessa and then in the Persian province of Abiabene. There was a large and widespread Christian community throughout the whole of central Asia in the first centuries of the present era. Countries such as Afganistan, and Tibet were centers of Christian activity." (Introduction, p.27, The Search for the Twelve Apostles - Google Books Result
https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1414385358 William Steuart McBirnie)
In this Northern part of India, the Apostle founded a Christian community, which St. Pantaenus of Alexandria visited at the end of the second century, and which sent a bishop to the Council of Nicaea (325).
Fakir Community living in Tatta Nagar BarThomai
Bardaisan (154 AD–222 AD) St. Panthaenus (200-2010) went to India, found the copy of the Gospel of St. Mathew
P.V. Mathew & Rev R. A Totter, an Anglican Missionary, Nomadic tribe (the Fakir communitywith a Hindu outlook) by the name Barthuma (Aramaic) existed in the Thatta region of Sindh Province of Pakistan.
VOLUME 8| issUe 4 January 2019 THOMAS CHRISTIANS OF INDIAS. Pragasi Arul Jothi1and Dr. M. S.Thangam
When St.Thomaspreached the Gospel in North India he lived in a small village, close to Sircap in the district of Islamabad. A violent earthquake which devastated the whole region left untouched the particular small village where St.Thomas stayed1. To commemorate their deliverance, the people of that village named it Gar-Toma (the benevolence of Thomas). V.S.V. Ragavan also clearly elucidated this earthquake that happened in Taxila in 44 AD
Thana Gujarat; Abati in central India Udaipur in the Malwa kingdom, on the Western Coast Goa, Mysore, Orissa, Patna and other places in Eastern India along the banks of the Ganges4.Patna was a renowned metropolitan city .In the year 1222 AD, Marco Poloinformed in his account that there were six Christian kingdoms in central India during the thirteenth century. Among them three were Christian and three were Saracen.
There are Christian communities in the mouth of river Indus that claimed St. Thomas as the founding father of their church. The Tata Nagar Fakirs, a branch of Sendhis worshipping St.Thomas in the name “Thum Bhag”’ (Sons of St.Thomas), call themselves ‘Bnai Thoma’ an Aramaic word which means Sons of Thomas or Christians of St.Thomas. They had the gospel of St.Mathew and holy relics as authentic evidences to prove their connections with St.Thomas from the ancient times itself.
Udaipur Church of St. Thomas:
Udaipur in Central India was an ancient christian’s community and had a Christian church, later converted into a Hindu temple.There is an inscription on the stone jambs (door posts) of the main entrance of this temple. The past history of the church was revealed by Baron Textor de Ravisi, a member of the Asiatic Society of Paris, and Archaeologist and former Commandant Administrator of Karaikal (1852-1862 AD) the then French Colony in India.
By presenting a paper dealing with Udaipur. Inscription, at the XII International Congress of Orientelists held at the ‘Academia’ del Lincei on 13 October 1899. According to him the temple was built by one of the first desciples of St.Thomas and perhaps St.Thomas himself laid its foundation
After its ruin it was rebuilt by Sangai Vardha king of Sac in the middle of XI century AD.
Textor de Ravisi Explains "The truth is that the temple of Udaipur which was built and restored by the desciples of St.Thomas for Christian, worship is now consecrated to Vaishnavite Cult.
The Sanskrit inscription of the Church states as follows:
“Amen.He is the only son of the most Blessed Lady. May he be praised. Glory be to Him who the son of the most High! O you the triple eye of this marvelous universe the author of all that passes and the producer of the breath which will endure forever, invisible being which art not limited by space and which having once assumed our flesh dost not cast off his raiment in the infinite grace of thy nature”.
This Church was dedicated to Mother Mary. During its rededicating ceremony 4339 people attended Pope Nicholas II (1058 AD -1061 AD) sent a holy relic that was enclosed by a metal …… .Besides, the inscription mentions the names of the contemporary sovereign as below:….
Frank incense tree
The Indo-Parthian Empire was over ran by the great Kushan Dynasty around 50 A.D, and the Apostle Thomas set sail to the Southern Parts of India. But tricky as the monsoon winds are he was shipwrecked and was pushed ashore in the Island of Socoto. According to the traditions of this Island this was in AD 51. Thomas himself is said to have built the first church out of the wreckage of the ship itself.
Socotra or Soqotra is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean. The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies off some 240 kilometres (150 mi) east of the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometres (240 mi) south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island is very isolated and through the process of speciation, a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as the most alien-looking place on Earth. Socotra is part of the Republic of Yemen. Socotra appears as Dioskouridou ("of the Dioscurides") in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st century A.D. Greek navigation aid. In the notes to his translation of the Periplus,
G.W.B. Huntingford remarks that the name Socotra is not Greek in origin, but derives from the Sanskrit dvipa sukhadhara ("island of bliss"). The Soco-tran people have their own language which is semitic and close to Aramaic. Souk means market ,Qatira means Drop ,combined the two words gives Socotara - the market for incense and blood drops.
A.E.Medlycott in India and the Apostle Thomas states:
“The earliest mention of the existence of Christians on that island is that by Philostorgius, the Arian Church historian, in his narrative of the mission of Bishop Theophilus to the Homeritae; the reader will find the details, belonging to the year c. 354, given in Chapter V., Section iii.
“Cosmas Indicopleustes, before the middle of the sixth century (Topographia Christiana, Migne, P.Gr.-L., tom. lxxxviii. col. 170), says: ‘Similarly on the island named of Dioscoris [the Greek name for Socotra], situated in the same Indian Ocean, whose inhabitants speak Greek, and are a colony placed there by the Ptolemies, the successors of Alexander of Macedon, there are clergy ordained in Persia and sent there, and a multitude of Christians.’
“The Arab travellers of the ninth century, whose narrative was published by Reinaud, with Arabic text and a translation in French, in two small volumes, Paris, 1845, mention Christians on the island (vol.i.p.130): ‘The same sea holds the island of Socotra.... The greater part of the inhabitants are Chris-tians.’
“Abulfeda (Reinaud’s Géographie d’ Aboulféda, Paris, 1848, vol.ii.pt.ii.p.128): L’ile de Socotora a quatrevingts parasanges de longueur. Ses habitants sont des chrétiens nestoriens.
“Marco Polo, a.d. 1294, also mentions these Christian inhabitants (vol. ii., ut supr., pp. 398-399): ‘ Further towards the south you come to an island called Socotra. The people are all baptized Christians, and they have an Archbishop.’ And again: ‘Their Archbishop has nothing to do with the Pope of Rome, but is subject to the great Archbishop who lives at Bandas [ Bagdad]. He rules over the bishop of that is-land, and over many other bishops in those regions of the world, just as our pope does in these.’
“Assemani (Bibl. Or., tom. ii.p. 458 ff.) gives two lists of the sees under the Nestorian Catholicus or Patriarch. In the second, which is that by Elias, a Nestorian Bishop of Damascus, the see of Socotra is placed under the Metropolitan of Persia, and this appears to be the older of the two lists; while in the first list, that given by Amr’, son of Matthew, of about a.d. 1349 (Bibl. Or.., tom.ii. p. 425), Socotra is placed as the eleventh Metropolitan see under the name of Katraba. No date can be assigned to the au-thorship of the first list. Lequien (Oriens Christiana, tom. ii. col. 1290) mentions the transfer of one Elias from the see of Jerusalem to the Nestorian Metropolitan see of Damascus in the year 893, but concludes: Plane Eliam, tabulae et nomocanonis auctorem, illo de quo nunc est sermo recentiorem dux-ero.76
“Nicolò Conti, c. 1435, visited Socotra and spent two months there (R.H. Major’s India in the Fifteenth Century, London, Hakluyt Society, 1857, p. 20 of narrative): ‘ this island produces Socotrine aloes, is six hundred miles in circumference, and is, for the most part, inhabited by Nestorian Christians.’
“The evidence of the local tradition mentioned before is contained in St. Francis Xavier’s letter written from Goa, 18th September 1542, to the Society at Rome (Coleridge’s life and letters of St. Francis Xa-vier, London, 1872, vol. i. p. 117). As the saint gives the last full account of the state of Christianity on the island before its entire disappearance, we make no apology for reproducing it in full:—
‘ After sailing from Melinda we touched at Socotra, an island about a hundred miles in circumference. It is a wild country with no produce, no corn, no rice, no millet, no wine, no fruit trees; in short, alto- gether sterile and arid, except that it has plenty of dates, out of which they make bread, and also abounds in cattle. The island is exposed to great heat from the sun; the people are Christian in name rather than in reality, wonderfully ignorant and rude: they cannot read or write. They have consequently no records of any kind. Still they pride themselves on being Christians. They have churches, crosses, and lamps. Each village has its Caciz [ Syriac term for priest; correctly Kâshisha], who answer to the Parish Priest. These Caciz know no more of reading or writing than the rest; they have not even any books, and only know a few prayers by heart. They go to their churches four times a day—at mid-night, at day-break, in the afternoon, and in the evening. They use no bells; but wooden rattles, such as we use during holy week, to call the people together. Not even the Caciz themselves understand the prayers which they recite; which are in a foreign language (I think Chaldean). They render special hon-ours to the Apostle St. Thomas, claiming to be descendants of the Christians begotten to Jesus Christ by that Apostle in these countries. In the prayers I have mentioned they often repeat a word which is like our Alleluia. The Caciz never baptize any one, nor do they know the least what baptism is. Whilst I was there I baptized a number of children, with the utmost good will of the parents. Most of them showed great eagerness to bring their children to me, and made such liberal offerings out of their pov-erty of what they had to give, that I have been afraid to refuse the dates which they pressed upon me with such great good will. They also begged me over and over again to remain with them, promising that every single person in the island would be baptized. So i begged the Governor to let me remain where I found a harvest so ripe and ready to be gathered in. But as the island has no Portuguese garri-son, and it is exposed to the ravages of the Mussulmans, the Governor would not hear of leaving me, fearing that I might be carried off as a slave. So he told me that I should soon be among other Chris-tians who were not less, perhaps more, in need than the Socotrians of instruction and spiritual assis-tance, and amongst whom my work would be better spent.
‘One day I went to Vespers as recited by the Caciz; they lasted an hour. There was no end to their repetitions of prayers and incensations; the churches are always full of incense. Though their Caciz have wives, they are extremely strict in regard to abstinence and fasting. When they fast they abstain not only from flesh meat and milk, but from fish also, of which they have a great supply. So strict is their rule that they would rather die than taste anything of the kind. They eat nothing but vegetables and palm dates. They have two Lents, during which they fast; one of these lasts two months. If any one is profane enough to eat meat during that time, he is not allowed to enter the church. “The customs described as prevailing among the Christians of the island are those peculiar to Nestorian Christians.
“The Carmelite Friar Vincenzo Maria di Santa Catarina (Viaggio alle Indie Orientali, Venezia, 1683, lib. v. cap. ix.p.472), describing the state of the island on his voyage home about the middle of the sev-enteenth century, found Christianity quite extinct, with but some faint traces of Christian names yet lingering.
W. B. Huntingford notes that “The inhabitants seem always to have been a mixed people. Some of them at one period were Christians, converted it was said by St. Thomas in AD 52 while on his way to India. Abu Zaid Hassan, an Arab geographer of the 10th century, said that in his time most of the inhabitants of Socotra were Christian... but by the beginning of the 16th century Christianity had almost disappeared. leaving little trace but stone crosses at which Alvares said the people worshipped...However, a group of people was found here by St. Francis Xavier in 1542, claiming to be descended from the converts made by St. Thomas (G. W. B. Huntingform ed. Trans. The Periplus of the Eryphraean Sea ,The Hakluyt Society, London, 1980)
The locals lived essentially in caves until very recently. So most of our evidences are found in the cave drawings.
It is said that Apostle Thomas was shipwrecked and landed in the Socotra Island. The storm and conditions near the island still breaks even the modern ships. Here is a recent accident.
New Delhi, June 02, 2018
Indian seafarers have been stranded due to Cyclone Mekunu which hit that area a few days back. Scocotra is about 1,180 nautical miles from Mumbai.
This is quite reasonable knowing that in 1897, in spite of all the advances in Marine navigation technology a British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company ship Aden sank after being wrecked on a reef near Socotra, , with the loss of 78 lives. In the first centuries, the island itself was inaccessable to the outside world because of the wind and climatic conditions of the sea.
A cave drawing in Socotra island showing a ship of the period, (found at site 6 in Hoq cave)
Line drawing of the motifs found on panel 1 in Dahaisi cave. We can discern cross motives above.
Soqotra Heritage Project in 2018,has expanded upon this corpus, locating and recording 187 rock art motifs that include feet, cupules, a ship, various geometric patterns, cruciform shapes, several plant-like motifs, and a script
An altar stone discovered in the island
“ Firstly, it appears that with the arrival of Christianity the cruciform shape became the most predominant symbol. However, it appears that the cross may have been placed besides the foot symbology not only in an apotropaic manner, but also as a form of syncretism.
This syncretic behaviour is noted in both historically and ethnographic accounts, which remark that in spite of the inhabitants being Christian and revering the cross, they were also involved in a number of pagan rituals (Snell 1955; Yule and Cordier 1993, p. 407). It could also be argued that this was very much the case within Dahaisi cave, with its long sequence rock art that appears to demonstrate a change from earlier pagan symbology, to later Christian cruciform shapes and Arabic inscriptions.
This long sequence also shows that, despite recent folkloric traditions to the contrary, the Soqotri were not only entering caves but spending time within them.”Julian Jansen van RensburgRock Art of Soqotra, Yemen: A Forgotten Heritage Revisited, Excellence Cluster TOPOI,
Freie Universität, 14195 Berlin, Germany
We notice the foot symbology in most of the Apostle Thomas mission areas even in the Southern India. I suppose it tells something about his mission.
Local tradition holds that the inhabitants were converted to Christianity by Thomas the Apostle in AD 51.
In 880, an Ethiopian expeditionary force conquered the island, and a Nestorian bishop was consecrated. The Ethiopians were later dislodged by a large armada sent by Imam Al-Salt bin Malik of Oman.
In the 10th century, the Arab geographer Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdani stated that in his time most of the inhabitants were Christians. Socotra is also mentioned in The Travels of Marco Polo; Marco Polo did not pass anywhere near the island but recorded a report that "the inhabitants are baptised Christians and have an 'archbishop'" who, it is further explained, "has nothing to do with the Pope in Rome, but is subject to an archbishop who lives at Baghdad." They were Nestorians but also practised ancient magic rituals despite the warnings of their archbishops.” \ Marco Polo(1958). The Travels of Marco Polo. Translated and introduction by Ronald Latham. Penguin Books. pp. 296–297.
Frankincense, the resin produced by a species of Boswellia, was one of the most valuable commodities produced in the ancient world. Highly prized as fragrant incense, it was also widely used in medicine, cosmetics, and even cuisine.
Frankincense is obtained from the dried sap of the wild growing boswellia trees of Socotra and neighboring countries
Did one of the magi came from Socotro also? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++>>
Dragon's blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari),
One of the most striking of Socotra's plants is the dragon's blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari), which is a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree. Its red sap was thought to be the dragon's blood of the ancients, sought after as a medicine and a dye, and today used as paint and varnish. Also important in ancient times were Socotra's various endemic aloes, used medicinally, and for cosmetics. Other endemic plants include the giant succulent tree Dorstenia gigas, Moraceae, the cucumber tree Dendrosicyos socotranus, and the rare Socotran pomegranate, Punica protopunica. The Socotra dragon tree is an iconic tree with a long history of commercial use. It is known only from the island of Socotra, Yemen, where it lives within remnants of prehistoric ‘Dragonsblood’ forest on granite mountains and limestone plateaus.
The island of Socotra’s 34-million-year separation from mainland Arabia has given rise to a unique flora – 37% of its plant species are found nowhere else.
The monsoon season brings these areas cloud, drizzle and sea mists – and the dragon trees’ leaves intercept this airborne moisture, channelling it towards root systems shaded by a dense, umbrella-shaped canopy. The dragon tree’s strange looks and ancient age belie a species expertly adapted to its environment.
This remarkable tree has been economically important for centuries. Local people value it as food for livestock: feeding very small quantities of berries to cows and goats improves their health, though they cause sickness in excess.
The tree is perhaps best known for the red resin it is named after. Known to Socotris as ‘emzoloh’, this has a range of traditional medicinal uses. Referred to by the ancients as ‘cinnabar’, it was well known in trade before 60AD; and the dye ‘dragon’s blood’ is thought to have been responsible for the intense colour of Stradivarius violins.
Bottle Tree (desert rose - adenium obesum) on the island of Socotra, the only place on Earth where there are unique bottle trees.
Ancient mythology of the country paints a picture of a magical bird, called Phoenic, a radiant and shimmering, bird which lives in socotra and lived a long five hundred years before it dies by bursting into flames. It is then reborn from the ashes, in a twinkling of the eye to start a new life. The Phoenix is an important Christian symbol and symbolizes the death of Christ and his resurrection from the dead which is celebrated each year at Easter. The following reference to the Phoenix symbol is in the Bible:
"Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix.’ " (Job 29:18)
This evidently is a symbol of resurrection and immortality which is the ultimate hope of Adamic race.
We can surmise that the mission of Thomas in Socotro took around an year or less and Thomas continued his journey to South India when the sea route became conducive during the next monsoon season reaching Kodungallur in AD 52.
Nasranis of Kerala (ancient Malabar)
The Nasranis of Kerala, India, are of Hebrew or Israelite heritage but not much is known of their past, making it difficult to be certain that they are also descended from the 'Lost Tribes'. (Ref. Dr. Asahel Grant's 'The Nestorians or the Lost Tribes of Israel' for more about the Nazarenes and Nestorians).
However, recent DNA analysis results suggest significant Middle Eastern / Israelite components among the Nasranis, also known as Mar Thoma (St. Thomas) Syrian (Syriac) Christians, of Kerala (ancient Malabar). Dr. Avigdor Shachan, in his book ‘In the Footsteps of the Lost Ten Tribes’(translated from the Hebrew, Devora Publishing, Jeusalem, New York) refers to this ancient Christian community and their faith as follows: “One could label the Christianity which Thomas introduced in Taxila, Malabar and other Israelite communities in central Asia and along the eastern and western coasts of India, “Israelite Christianity”, an offshoot of the Jewish religion, for the language, culture, ritual and spirit that prevailed in this ancient church until the western missionaries arrived was a hybrid of Aramaic-Syrian-Eretz Israel and Eastern...”
Archaeologists in Kerala have discovered a 2000-year-old port settlement probably dating back to the first BC to third AD, in Pattanam about 50 km from the modern day port city of Kochi. The Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) suggests that this could be the lost town of Muzires (Muziris) mentioned in early Roman manuscripts of Periplus. Pattanam is now being excavated
The Rambaan Pattu was originally written by Maliyekal Rambaan Thomas who was the disciple of Apostle Thomas as a means of coveying the Acts of Apostle Thomas to the coming generation. It was in song form which were transmitted orally as the performers presented it during festivities as an Art.
It was initally written down by Rambaan Thomas II, the son of Ramban Thomas I originally in Persian in Edesa sometime around the second century. It was based on the stories from South India and from the Northern Parthia. Apparently they were mixed togethet. Itwas also written in Syriac, Greek and Latin. Since it went through both the oral and on going writing several centuries, they might have undergone additions and deletions and c
hanges. But it gives us an idea of what was goig on from one who was eyewitness to these early events.
The following is the Malayalam version which emerged in 1601 AD as written down by another Ramban Thomas.
I give the translation also.
You can download the Ramban paattu from this site : http://www.nasranifoundation.org/downloads.html
By tradition these songs were written by Thomas Rambaan the first Brahmin convert to Christianity Which is handed down through generations and written down in 1601by one of the descendents of Malyekal Thomas another Rambaan Thomas.
By the grace of the true Triune God, may I be able to tell the story of the good works of Apostle Thomas
Kay the grace of the incarnate Mesiah be invoked through the good works of Apostle Thomas. Let the grace of Mother Mary also be with us.
I will describe in summary how the Way of the Son of God was brought into Kerala by the grace of grace of God.
Mar Thoma who was the son of the uncle of the Way of Grace, entered in the ship along with servant of Chola Perumal and travelled across the Arabian sea and reached Maliankara on the Year
of Our Mesiah 50 in the month Dhanu. He established the way through the signs and wonders that accompanied him.
Then he went to Mailepuram (Madras) where he preached the Gospel of the Lord for four and a half Months and then took ship for China.
He stayed four and a half months in China and returned to Mailepuram.
He took some more money from the Chola King for additional work. He spent all of that money for the improvement the poor to whom he showed the Way
After he had been there for about a month, the son-in-law of the Rajah of Thiruvanchikulam came to him and begged him kissing his feet to return to Malabar. So they took ship and came to Maliankara on AD 51 in the month of Dhanu.
where the apostle converted the Rajah and his family, along with 3000 unbelievers, 40 Jews who were migrants to the country within a period of one and half years and were baptised.
He preached to the people, built a church with a cross, and ordained priests and appointed some to be teachers of the law. He conveyed to them the secrets of the Way.
One of the first whom he consecrated was the Rajah Andraos’ son-in-law and was called Kepha.
Accompanied by Kepha he went to south to the citi of Quilon where he set up a cross and baptized 2400 people.
He proceded to Noth-East and reached Trikpaleswaram. In an year 1000 people were baptised where as his practice established a cross for worship.
From Quilon, he went easr on to Chayal, in the mountains, and Stayed there a whole year and baptized 1100 people and set up a cross there also. Along with liturgical services he established a cross there also.
At the request of the elders of Tripaleswaram, he returned to that village. But when he saw that the people had desecrated the cross the believers worshipped and which he had set up, he cursed that place. Nonetheless, he remained there for two months. He once more set up a cross and instructed the people so that they should no longer return to heathen ways and ordained as a priest Thomas, one of the elders who had remained true to his faith.
During these two months that he stayed in Tripaleswaram He strengthened all the Christians in their faith and converted another two hundred to faith.
Not far from there, further south, he built the church of Niranam and ordained as priest his first pupil Thomas Maliyekal and Simeon. He bought a place for worship there and took leave and went to the North and
went to the village of Kokkamangalam, where he stayed for a year and converted sixteen hundred people, set up a cross and taught the people how they were to worship God.
He again visited Kottakavu Parur, stayed almost a year there and converted and baptized1700 people and established a cross and the ways of worship.
From there he went to Maliankara along the southern road, and was pleasantly surprised to see the flourishing state of the Christian community there. He stayed there only two weeks and went away to the north, to Palayur, where in one year he baptized 1050 people and according to his custom set up a beautiful cross and taught them the methods of worship
Towards the end of the year 59 AD month of Dhanu he returned to Mailepuram with the King’s people who reached him by then. He inquired about the construction of the palace and when he could not see the palace Thomas was placed in chains. The King’s brother died because of the anger when he saw the palace in heaven. He got resurrected and told the King about it. The two kings along with their attendants went to the jail with great procession and got Mar Thoma in their chariot and went back home. They begged him to pardon their great and many sins.
They asked Mar Thoma many questions to know the truth and when they understook subjected themselves to the baptism. Along with them 2000 people also joined the way and for their worship a place and a cross was installed. He contined to stay there for another two and a half years and evangelized. As a result over 7000 people were baptized. The Kings of Chandrapuri who were named Petros (Peter) and Paulose (Paul), Thomas ordained the elegant Paul was ordained bishop. He also ordained under him were teachers of the word so that they may rule over the believers. They all brought all their belongings and kept it at the feet of the Apostle. The Apostle established rules and regulation for all the proceddures.
Then he travelled to Malayalam and with the help of the angles reached Mayatur
He stayed two months at Maleattur and converted and baptized 220 people, He then proceded to Palur village. From there through
Maliankara he reached Kottakayal and then onto Kokamangalam and to Kollam (Quilon). He stayed an year each in every village and established order and procedures for woship and elders and Priest for the churches there. In the end according to the tradition gave them the indwellig of the Holy Spirit and reached Niranam
He stayed a whole year at Niranam and was satisfied with the faith of the people and the exemplary life that they led; and annointed them with the Holy Spirit also. He then proceded with the Priest Thomas of the place and reached the hills of
Thomas establised a worshipping place and the order of worship and other routines there also. Finally he blessed them with the Holy Spirit
After giving them the annointing of the Holy Spirit he took his leave of the Christians and told them that they would never see him again,
Apostle Thomas then took off his own clothes and put it on the Elder Kepha and put his both hands on his head and entrusted the care of the believer to him. The Apostle entreated the believers to accept Kepha to be accepted as himself.
Kepha with humble adoration to the name of Mar Thomas received it. It was then ordained that for ever the right of priesthood will remain to the progeny of Maliekal Thomas. He also gave them the need of Ramban position to be trained in order to be perfected before taking over the position of Bishop. Along with these understandings many other things were told to Kepha and entrusted those with him. In this way Mar Thoma established the rites and orders of the Church of Malankara in good standing. For remembrance he gave Thomas Rambaan a book.
As they saud farewell their nerves failed them and their eyes got wet and their voice became a cry. The three went together along the hill path for a distance of seven and a half units and Apostle proceded with the help of the angels towards the Pandyan land. until AD 69 till the month of Medam our Father Thomas did what was great and worthy of praise to the countries that did not have the understanding of truth.
. It would be impossible to relate all the wonders which our saint performed by making the sign of the cross with the hands that had touched the wounds of the Lord.
He raised 29 dead men to life,
Freed 250 who were possessed by devils, Healed 230 lepers,
Restored their sight to 250 blind people And the use of their Limbs to 220 cripples, And their speech to 20 deaf mutes.
He healed 280 sick people who had been given up by their physicians.
He did remove the blindness of people so that they can receive the truth.
Because of the character that is above the sinful nature of man he gained the souls of men - a 17480 of them
He converted to the Christian faith 6850 Brahmins;
2500 Kshatriyas (Warrior Caste)Vaisyas (merchants) and farmers 3780, and 4280 Sudras. He ordained two bishops and seven priests, Of whom four were called Rabban
And appointed 21 deacons to take care of the common properties and wealth and to perform everything for the common good. He ordained that the procedures and steps he had given may not be violated.
As the rulers of the church followed every regulatory procedures without fault Mar Thoma travelled through many countries and declared the way of grace and brought in many to the grace of the savior and Mesiah in the month of Karkadakam 3 rd day in the year AD 72 at the early morning joined travellors to the temple of Kali Devi for Pooja in the Mount Chinna Malai in Milapore where they surrounded him and told him that no one may go through the path if they do not bow down to the grove before the idol of Kali. They assured him that he will receive food if he just bow down to the Devi
Will I bow down to the Satan just for the food made out of dried rice?
Marthoma then said to them that if he bows down the whole grove will burn. They wanted to see the truth of it. Mar Thoma made the sign of the cross and then the Kali idol fell down and the
grove burst in fire. Upon this the Brahmins did cruel things like wolves to Marthoma. They pierced his heart and ran and hid themselves. Marthoma fell down on the stone and began to pray.
The angels told everything to Bishop Paul who with all the others with him ran to the Grove of the Kali. They pulled out the spear that went through his body. When they were trying to take him in the
chariotThomas became conscious and tols them not to be afraid. He said the time for his good forturne has come. He also gave them clear instructions until the morning till 3 in the morning and departed from this world. They saw the soul rise like a white dove. They also heard heavenly music of verious instruments and songs
The elders took the dead body with all honors and placed it inside the church. They all prayed and worshipped god till early morning. They then retired to their home.
The news of the death was transmitted by the angels to Bishop Kepha. He took the lamd route along with other deacomsand reached there on the month of Karkadakom 21. The two bishops and priests and elders did the ordered the rituals and worship in the Church for a period of ten days without stop.
Marthoma suddenly displayed a visible revelation to all those gathered. There was a bright golden light that shone on the body of all those who were there. They also saw a vision of the heaven which cannot be explained.
Bishop Peter said that he had seen this before. All gather heard the heavenly music. All the children who remembers my death will be blessed said the voice. All those who bowed in respect before my burial place whill be also blessed. After all this everything cleared. Man cannot explain all what they saw. In one of those Marthoma sits on the throne. He continues to guide and instruct them. Then all the people went home.
How Marthoma gave the Way as described by Thomas Ramban was written by Thomas Ramban II without description is sung here so that people may know about it. It is now transcibed by the 48
th descendant of the first Thomas Ramban and places it at the foot of the Lord all the stories of the powerful Apostle Thomas in the year 1601 in the month of Karkadakom 3.
Let the Lord give the ability to understand these with worship where it is d
Acts 24: 14-15
I do confess to you, however, that I worship the God of our fathers according to the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15and I have the same hope in God that they themselves cherish, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.…
Margam Kali Dance of Syrian Christians
It is said that Thomas ordained one Prince Peter to be the head of the church of the Jews and left for the other areas of India.
Here he preached to a jewish community who accepted mesia and their synagogue became a Christian church.
He returned to Kerala where he established seven and half churches with 75 Brahmin families as teachers and over 3000 converts from Kshatriyas, Nairs and Chettiars. These new converts were called St: Thomas Christians. This church is one of the most ancient churches in Christendom.
There are other traditional modes of transmission of the history of St.Thomas Churches. Below are some of them.
Parichamuttukali, Shield hitting dance
Parichamuttukali, a martial dance art form is performed by men bearing swords and
shields. Apparently some Thomas Christians specialised in Kalaripayattu (martial art) and served the kings in various states as warriors. These parichamuttu kali follows the movements and steps of Kalarippayattu.
The dancers are usually dressed in a white loin cloth with red wrist bands and sing in chorus as they dance. The performers dance with sword and shield on their hands. The group is usually headed by a leader called Asan around whom the rest of the dancers perform. The dance used to be performed as a religious offering.
Veeradiyan pattu - Paanan (Vaanan) Pattu
Veeradiyan pattu was sung by a particular caste among the Hindus known as Paananmar
(Vaanan) . Paanan actually means singers. Vaanan means forest dwellers. They were hill tribals and were considered high class during the Sangam Period in South India. Most of the early literature were composed by them. These hereditary Paanan-paattukar, or minstrels, used to go from house to house in the village at festival time, singing traditional songs and being paid in grain. The rest of the year, they worked at some trade. The instrument known as Udukku is used as an
accompaniment. In group performances a Villu (bow with the tight string with several bells which is struck with a stick) was used as in the picture above. The Saivites still use the art form to tell stories. In a childhood memories (Balyakalasmaranakal) James Joseph (Kavalam) in a blog says like this Koythu kazhiyunna samayam It is after the harvest.
Kavalathe Ellaa christian veedukalilum veeradiyan ethukayai....… In every Christian home in Kavalam the Veeradyan reaches.
Tholil oru bhandavum thalyil chuvanna thalappavum ketti
Thoma sleehayude pattu padan ethunna veeradiyane kanumbol ellavarkum santhosham aanu.
In their shoulders there is a band and in their head a red covering tied around; he comes to sing the songs of the Apostle Thomas. When they see them they are happy.
veeradiyan thinnayil ethy tharayil erunnu viseshngal chodikkum...…
The Veeradiyans comes into the port of the home and sits down and asks of their news. Njangal kutttikal veeradiyanu chuttum irikkum...…
We the children will sit arond the Veeradiyans. veeradiyante pattu enthu rasam aanenno… The songs of Veeradiyans are beautiful.
Pattinte avasanam Bhum,,Bhum,, Karthave enna vili kelkkathavar churukkam aanul,,,,,,
At the end of the songs there is a sound of Bhum, Bhum and a loud call O Lord. There are only a few who did not hear them.
ella veedukalil ninnum kittunna neellum panavum aanu veeradiyante geevitha margam. ............… They live with the provisions and money each household gives.Koythu kazhiyumbol ippozhum etharundo,,,,,aavo. Do they still come in the harvest season
Udukku is a handheld drum
This is standard individual instrument which is used along with other instruments during the performance of most dance and songs
Villadichan Paattu - Songs accompanied by Bow
Villu Paattu (The Bow Songs)
Villu Paatu ( 'Bow Songs’)- Villadichan pattu (Striking the bow songs)- is an ancient form of musical story-telling where narration is interspersed with music, It is an art form of South Kerala. This art form is popular among Nadar and Chettiyar caste of erstwhile Travancore Kingdom. The main storyteller narrates the story striking the bow. The bow rests on a mud pot kept facing downwards. A co- performer beats the pot while singing. There is usually another co-singer who acts as active listener to the narration, uttering appropriate oral responses.
There are also Udukku, Kudam (mud pot), Thala, Kattai , which are used as supplementary instruments in performances. Occasionally, the Villu Pattu team divides itself into two groups, each trying to prove opposite points-of-view of a subject.
Traditional site where St. Thomas landed - Cranganore in Malabar coast -in 52 AD.
The tradition of Christians of Thomas is a much more reliable source of information than the Acts of Thomas. According to this tradition thousands of locals including Brahmins, Khathriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras were baptized by St. Thomas
Ramban song does not mention Taxila mission and hence this must have been an earlier mission. Since Thomas landed in a ship in Kodungallur in 52 AD we could assume the Taxila mission was somewhere in 40 – 52 AD during the time of Gondaphores. He might have made his first mission trip to China during this 12 year period, for which we have no mention positively. The song mentions the mission trip to China by sea which might have been a follow up mission as he seems to have done in South Indian areas also.
Among the first converts there were forty members of the Jewish community including Rabbi Paul of the Cranganore Synagogue where every Saturday the Apostle used to go and read and explain the Old Testa-ment for the Jewish congregation. Though Rabbi Paul received baptism and became a Christian, a good number of the Cranganore Jewish community continued to stick fast to their ancestral religion and gave the Christians the name"Nazaranis ", meaning followers of the man from Nazareth.
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,
at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness,
in the land of India.
The "Black Jews" settled in the Malabar coast during the times of King Solomon of Israel, and after the Kingdom of Israel split into two.
A massive migration came soon after the destruction of temple in 70 AD. These Jews are called “Paradesi Jews” or “White Jews” A chieftain by the name of Joseph Rabban was granted a principality over the Jews of Cochin by the Chera Emperor of Kerala, Bhaskara Ravivarman II. Rabban's descendants maintained this distinct community, which was called Anjuvannam. ). C. Achuta Menon (A.D. 1911), says:
"In the first centuries of Christian era, a number of Jews immigrated into Kerala and settled in that portion of it which afterwards became the Kingdom of Cochin and Christianity also made its way in to the country about the same time…steadily grown in prosperity and importance so much so that the local Kings by char-ters engraved in copper plates constituted them self governing communities. By these charters Joseph Rabban was made the hereditary chief of the Jews and Irvi Cottan that of the Christians and they were also given powers and privileges of Naduvazhi chiefs. Most of the privileges mentioned in the Jews deed are identical with those enumerated in the grant to the Christians but the latter were also given the right of "the Curved Sword", that is the right of carrying arms which was not granted to the Jews…".
During the first five centuries three powers ruled over today’s Kerala. They were Aay Rajas in the southern side, Ezhimala Kings in the northern side, and the first Chera kingdom comprising most of the present cen-tral Kerala. The capital of Chera was Vanji or Tiruvanchikulam and the most important port was Muchiri (Muziris). The capital of Chola Kingdom was Urayur and the most important port was Kaveri. The capital of Pandian kingdom was Madurai and the most important port was Korkai. The area from Gokarnam to CapeComerin (the land created by Parasu Rama and given to Brahmins) was ruled by the Chera kings. The Chera kingdom existing at that time was ruled by Udayan Cheran Athen-I (page 44 of Cochin State Man-ual). In Cochin State Manual (pages 52-53)
South India in the First Century AD
They were ruled by a large number of local rulers controlling few villages.
Besides Jews, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Nairs, and Chettiars were among the earliest converts to Christianity. The first Brahmin convert was a young member of a Niranom Brahmin family that had settled down in Cranganore engaged in some business. The young man's conversion was not liked by his father, who de-cided to cast him away from the family. The Apostle called the young convert and asked him to live with him. The young man, who had received the Apostle's name in baptism agreed to live with him and came to be known as Thomas Maliyakal, in recognition of his Brahmin family name. Subsequently he was raised to priest hood, and after sometime was given the title of Ramban or Arch-priest. In course of time a Jewish Synagogue as well as a Hindu temple at Cranganore were transformed into Christian churches. Accompa-nied by Prince Kepha, who was consecrated as the Bishop of Cranganore and Malabar, St. Thomas left Cranganore to preach the Gospel elsewhere.
Kodungalloor is believed to be the ancient Muziris of Pliny, and the Periplus, on the north bank of Periyar River today. It is also known as Maliankara in ancient times. It is now known as Pattanam, is near Cochin.
The Mar Thoma Church, Kodungaloor, Kerala
Athen Cheran I
”The story starts with a a human sacrifice in the Kali temple in Kodungallur. It was the practive to select a male child under 5 years old from one of prominent families by lot. The lot that year fell on Kunjan, the nephew of King Aten Cheran I while he was on tour to the Pandyan empire. The family of Kunjan came to the new divine person recently arrived from abroad for help. Thomas and his Jewish friends were present at the ceremony and promised the family that they will save the child if they will believe in Isa. Before delivering the child for sacrifice the child was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and sealed him with the Holy Spirit. The Brahmin Priest took the child into the inner sanctuary of Kali and the door was shut. However the door was never reopened announcing the fulfillment of sacrifice. When the waiting crowd finally forced opened the door, Kunjan was standing there smiling and the Priest was not to be found anywhere.
“The whole city which was present accepted Jesus and were baptized in a repetition of Pentecostal day. The custom of Narabali came to an end. Thus Kodungaloor became a Christian city. It is since then known as the city of the Great God, city of Mahathevar viz., Mahodayapuram. The king on his return himself became a Christian under the name Andrew. Kunjan being saved from Narabali became ‘Kepa’.”
St. Thomas Church, Kodungalloor
The church is built on the model of St. Peter's Basilica, Rome and the church is situated on the banks of river Periyar. It is under the Roman Catholic Church.Portuguese fortified Cranganore and made it the seat of the first Roman Catholic Arch-bishopric in India sometime after the 1500s..The underground remains of the primordial church still remains.
On the occasion of the 19th centenary celebration of the coming of St. Thomas to India, Late Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, the then Prefect of Oriental Congregation solemnly brought the bone of the right arm of the apostle from Ortona in Italy and enthroned it in the present Shrine on December 6th, 1953.
The Marthoma Pontifical Shrine carrying the holy relic of St.Thomas was entrusted by the Holy See to the C.M.I. fathers of Devmatha Province, Thrissur. The relic is enclosed in a glass case and exposed daily from 9am -6pm for veneration of the faithful with befitting briefing. The main feast of the churchis celebrated on November 21 in Commemoration of the apostles 'Entrance to India' and it lasts for a week.
Relic of St. Thomas, kept in the sanatorium of a Syrian Church in Kodungallur
The King of Cranganore (Kodungallur)
, Ethnologisches Museum, Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
The Jew towns existed in cranganore and palayur from 5th century B.C. It is suspected by some historians that Jews established trade with South India even from the times of Solomon the wise from B.C. 10th century. Jewish settlements started from B.C. 557 in the Kerala coast. The items like peacock, monkey, spices, rice, teak, sandalwood etc. were exported from Kerala to Jewish lands. The Syriac words became common to South Indian words in this process.
· Peacock – Tokai in Tamil. Tuki in Syriac the word used in vulgate and septugint versions of the Bible AD 1st Century
· Monkey – Kapi in Sanskrit and Kaphi in Syriac
· Sandalwood – Chandan in Tamil Chandal in Syriac
· Rice – Arisai in Tamil Oryz in Latin and oryza sativa in Botanical name, Greek word for rice is Ari the same word in Malayalam
· Mother – Amma in Tamil Emma in Syriac ·
Father – Appa in Tamil Abba in Syriac
· Teak – Take in Tamil Teak in Syriac
These are quoted by linguistic experts in support of the theory of Kerala trade with Jews from 10th century, B.C.
Here is an unbelievable absolute verification of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in Kerala shores consisting of a Hindu Family’s ancestoral heritage of one Thandachen and his four silver coins which they invariably calls Blood Money. Let me quote the whole story as give by Justin in the Malankaraworld website.
[Note: Justin says when she posted this story in fathersofthechurch.com, “I picked up this story travelling through Kerala. I think it is worth researching.”
Justine adds: “The credit for writing this article should go to
Ms. Paula Gruber, a German tourist who visited India/Kerala in 2005. I was responsible for translating it from German to English.”]
The story goes like this: Thondachen
The worship of Thondachan, a Hindu family deity, by a particular lineage of Nairs (native martial clan) of Malabar, Kerala, and especially the manner and ritual of this worship is noteworthy. Though a family deity, Thondachan is never worshipped within the Nair household. Nor has this deity been ever given a berth among the pantheon of Hindu gods at any of the Hindu temples presided over by the Brahman priests (called Namboodiris). Thondachan has a special altar built outside the Nair family compound, where non-Brahmin priests perform rituals. While Chaamundi, Vishnumoorthy, Pottan, Rakteshwari and Bhagavathi became the non-Aryan non-Brahmin deities for the village folk of Kolathunaad (an ancient province of North Kerala) along with other primitive spirits and folk-heroes, Thondachan has an even smaller following among a select Nair clan. It is believed, that up to the present day, altars for Thondachan’s worship exists in the Cherukunnu area in Kannur (Cannanore) district, especially in the lands surrounding old tharavad houses (ancestral mansions) of the Nairs.
“The deity of Thondachan represents a temple custodian and is believed to be the “grand ancestor.” The shrine of Thondachan is at the upper citadel ( called “mele kottam”). The offerings for him include, beetle leaves, areca-nut and dried rice. His idol is that of a bearded divinity with bow and arrow on his left hand and a sword in his right, weapons that the sailors in his entourage carried. His citadel serves as the site of performance for two forms of oracle dances namely “Vellattom” and "Kaliyattom". The Hindu adaptation of St.Thomas worship represented him as Vaishnava and Shaiva, thus revered as Vishnu-Shiva in single form (as Guru (teacher) and Vaidya (physician)). In addition he is also worshipped as Sani (another Hindu deity), a misplaced reverence arising from confusion in the folk-lore because St. Thomas had told the Nair family that he had set sail from a place called “Sanai.”” https://www.ccel.org/node/5374
When Thomachan (the apostle St. Thomas, –achan, signifying ‘father’) came ashore, landing at Maliankara near Moothakunnam village in Paravoor Thaluk in AD 52, (this village located 5 kilometers from Cranganoor (Kodungallur), Muziris, on the coast of Kerala), some of his followers as well as other sailors and merchants were suffering from a severe form of scurvy. Thomachan himself suffered from a sore throat which he chose to ignore, and which grew steadily worse, until no voice emanated from his lips for many days. A local Jew named Matan took the weary travelers to a local Nair tharavad (locally known as Kambiam Vallapil), in the province of Kolathunaad, a territory comprising the present Cannanore District and Badagara Taluk of Kerala State.
It is said that at the time of Thomachan’s arrival at the Nair tharavad, the Nair karnavar (landlord or head of family) lay injured from a grievous wound that had been inflicted upon him in a feudal duel. Upon seeing this, Thomachan sat beside the injured man and meditated, laying his hands on the man’s head, his throat, his chest and his groin. Immediately the karnavar felt relieved from pain, and his healing was hastened. Within a day he was up and about, his wounds nearly healed.
In return, the Nair household offered shelter to the strangers and called upon their family physician to cure the scurvy that the travelers suffered from, as well as Thomachan’s severely infected throat. Nellikaya (Emblic Myrobalan or Indian Gooseberry) based potions prepared by the tharavad was used to cure the sea-worn voyagers. In an act of gratitude, Thomachan is said to have blessed them, and gave them four silver coins saying, ‘May these coins bestow my guru’s blessings upon you and your household, for take heed when I tell you that the money I pay you today is anointed with the blood of my guru’.
This holy man, Thomachan, is believed to have related a curious story to the members of the tharavad, which has been passed down the ages.
Before he set sail from a seaport in the region called ‘Sanai’ somewhere in the western seas, he had witnessed the persecution of his guru, who was tortured and nailed to a wooden cross and left to die. He spoke of how his guru returned from his ordeals t