APOSTLE THOMAS
+>TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH<+
(THE STORY OF THOMAS CHURCHES)

Copyright

Prof. M.M.Ninan
All rights reserved.

Published by

San Jose, CA 95126
mm9n@hotmail.com

 http://www.mmninan.com

 

 

 

FOREWORD  

 

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 Congresswoman 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! »

Prof.M.M.Ninan

Mrs. Ponnamma Ninan San Jose, CA 95126 Jan, 2011

 

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 - wiseman- a scientist. As such the whole story seems to indicate that he was to baptize the wisemen 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.

 

Prof.M.M.Ninan

San Jose, CA 95123 July 2019


 

 

 

 

“This image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, 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.

I

APOSTLE THOMAS

 

 

Thoma Sleeha

 

 

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 per-son. His  real name was Judas. Judas (Greek: Ιούδας) is the anglicized Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Yehudah (Hebrew: הְיוּהָד. 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.

 

"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.

 

It has been conjectured that Thomas was the twin brother of Matthew, Some legends make Thomas the twin of James

 

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.

 

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.

 

Thomas is also known as "The Doubting Thomas", because he demanded an objective proof of evidence for resurrection.

 

 

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 and was saved .

 

Rom 10:10 For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.

 

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)

 

Pentecost

First, Pentecost was an international experience. Jews from many nations were in Jerusalem, but surely, so were many Gentiles. "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." (Acts 2:911) But they were all Jews who gathered together in Jerusalem to celebrate the giving of the Covenant.

 

This was most probably in AD 30 - at any rate sometime between 29 and 33 AD giving all the uncertainty of dating.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++>>

http://www.biblebios.com/peter/apostles/thomas.htmhttp://www.biblebios.com/peter/apostles/thomas.htm

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. Do you know anyone who has gotten a nickname just because of one thing they did that was wrong or embarrassing?

 

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.

 

<<================================================

 

Scientist Thomas= Magi Thomas

Make sure your assumptions are correct And the results are repeatable.

 

 

« 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.”

 

 

 

What Happenned to the disciples?

1.Peter was crucified head down in Rome, 66 A.D.

2.Andrew was bound to death. He preached until his death in 74 A.D.

3.James , son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem by the sword. (Acts 12:1-9). 4.John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, 96 A.D. (Rev. 1- 9).

5.Phillip was crucified at Heirapole, Phryga, 52 A.D.

6.Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, then beheaded by the command of a king, 52 A.D. 7.Thomas was run through by a lance at Corehandal, East Indies, 72 A.D.

8.Matthew was slain by the sword in the city of Ethiopia about 60 A.D.

9.James son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle, then beaten to death, 60 A.D.

10.Thaddeus was shot to death by arrows, 72 A.D.

11.Simon was crucified in Persia, 74 A.D.

 

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

 

The Urantia Book (sometimes called the "Urantia Papers" or "The Fifth Epochal Revelation") is a spiritual and philosophical book that originated in Chicago sometime between 1924 and 1955. These were collections from a series of over 250 sessions of deep trance phenomena attended by William S. Sadler and his wife Lena Sadler, physicians in Chicago.  The book was later published by a group who got interested in the work. Publishers do not name a human author.  Here is what the Urantia revelation adds over and above the scriptural revelations. It is and attempt to integrate science, philosophy and religion.

 

Thomas Didymus
The Urantia Book; Paper 139, Section 8

P1561:1, 139:8.1 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.

P1561:2, 139:8.2 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.

P1561:3, 139:8.3 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.

P1561:4, 139:8.4 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.

P1561:5, 139:8.5 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.

P1561:6, 139:8.6 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.

P1562:1, 139:8.7 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.

P1562:2, 139:8.8 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."

P1562:3, 139:8.9 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.

P1562:4, 139:8.10 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.

P1562:5, 139:8.11 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!"

P1562:6, 139:8.12 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.

P1563:1, 139:8.13 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.

 

II

THOMA MARGAM

.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. 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

 

 

 

 

A modern version of the earliest painting of Jesus and Thomas.

 

 

Faith is based on everyday personal experience and exercise 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.

"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."

John 20:25b

 

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.

1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 ..do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

Doubt

“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,

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.

Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.

Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

Do 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.

 

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.


 

Gideon

We have the example of Gideon who tested God’s assignment order by repeated experiments. Then he went out and brought victory for Israel.

Judges 6:36-40

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.

 

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.

 

Isaiah 7. 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:

 

The ultimate proof Christian faith depends on the resurrection of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:14-19 King James Version (KJV)

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

Then

What is this "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed"?

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.

 

Mark 16:17-18 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.

 

Matt. 18:18-20 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 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. For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.

 

 

 

Colossians 2:6 -8 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

8See 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.

 


 

III

OUTLINE OF THE MISSION OF THOMAS

 

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, Chinese tradition and evidence speak for three years at that time.

2.Visits Brazil.

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 noc turnal 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)

 

India in the First Century AD.

As far as geography is concerned India was by the first century AD a well known place with international connection by the sea and land routes. https://sharbtho.blogspot.com/2007/12/on-syrian-christians-nasrani-mapp... 

 

 Trade in Early India, Oxford University Press says the following on page 66:
"Thanks to a graphic description left behind by Pliny, historians are able to trace the development of the sea-route to the west coast of India in four-stages. The most developed route, which was also the shortest and safest,began from the Red Sea port of Myos Hormos and /or Berenice and reached the famous Malabar port of Muziris (Muciri of the Tamil Sangam texts) in forty days by following the Hippalus (i.e. the south-western monsoon) wind. Pliny states that the earliest point of maritime contacts between India and the West was Patalene in the Indus delta; the subsequent point was the port of Barbaricum on the middle mouth of the Indus. The third stage made Sigerius or Jaigarh on the Konkan coast the convenient harbour and finally, Muziris became the most important port of call." Essentially by the time Pliny wrote things down Muziris was well established as a major port of call for Roman shipping. Note that the term Roman refers in general to the peoples ruled by the Romans - which included portions of Arabia and regions around the Mediterranean - i.e. present day Palestine/Israel, Armenia and Africa.


The Indian Christians of St Thomas, Leslie Brown adds the following on page 60:
"At first(from about 90 B.C.) ships went from Aden and other Arabian ports direct to Bombay and finally discovered how to sail direct, diagonally across to Muziris, the port of Malabar, instead of tacking laboriously down the coast. Malabar was in any case the end of the voyage. for it was from there that pepper, spices and precious stones were exported."

 

"We know something about the extent of this trade from references in Latin writers and from coins discovered in south India. Arikamedu was an established Roman trading station and the Peutinger Tables show a temple of Augustus near Muziris, and it is said that two Roman cohorts were stationed there to guard the warehouses. Pliny speaks with some dismay of a trade which cost the empire about one and a half million sesterces a year, chiefly for luxuries like pepper, ginger and precious stones, with no reciprocal export trade to compensate……Some Tamil classics (Silapadhigaaram, Manimekalai) also speak of this trade. One poem speaks of Muziris, where `agitating the white foam of the Periyar river, the beautifully built ships of the Yavanas(Westerners) came with gold and returned with pepper, and Muziris resounded with the noise'; and in another poem we read of the Pandya king drinking `the cool and fragrant wine brought by the Yavanas in their good ships'. We also read that some Indian rajas employed bodyguards of Western soldiers --`the valiant-eyed Yavanas whose bodies were strong and of terrible aspect'; who were `excellent guardians of the gates of the fort walls'. 

 

IV

ABGAR: THE FIRST CHRISTIAN KING

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

Father of King of Osroene - Ma'nu V (50–57) and King of Osroene - Ma'nu VI (57–71) Brother of King of Osroene - Ma'nu IV (7–13)

 

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.

 

“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.”

 

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.

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

 

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”

 

In 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.

 

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 40240 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.

 


 

V    
PERSIA

 

 

Magi (Majusian)

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

 

https://svmmaapologia.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/biblical-magi-three-kings/

 

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.

.

http://www.sullivan-county.com/z/3magi.htm www.farsinet.com/wisemen/magi.html

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.[1] 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.

http://www.anobanini.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=856.

 

 

The Old Church

https://www.picluck.com/media/880966797027866495_1582649252

 

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.

 

 

http://visitiran.info/worlds-oldest-church-probably/

 

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.

VI

PAI ZUME IN BRAZIL & PARAGUAY OF SOUTH AMERICA

http://henryjenne.com.br/saintthomasinbrazilandindia/
http://henryjenne.com.br/sinaisdesaotome/

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. This  map was drawn by Strabo

 

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-the-world-looked-when-jesus-was-born-according-to- roman-geographers

 

 

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/

 

Strabo

This was the Galilee they knew

This was the Thomas journey to Brazil

 

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.

 

St. Thomas the Apostle, in America Pai Zume

 

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.

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

 

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.

 

http://henryjenne.com.br/saintthomasinbrazilandindia/

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

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).

 

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).[48]

 

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 those stones 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 Thesurname "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.

 

There is speculation that the American Red Indians are descended from the lost tribes of Israel. American historian, William Prescott,says: "Mexican antiquaries consider St. Thomas as having charge of the mission to the people of Anahuac (Mexico)." Joseph Smith the founder of the Mormon sect said that, in the golden tablets he had beheld, it was recorded that a remnant of the lost tribes of Israel, the Nephites, had received the New Law from the apostles in South America. They later migrated to New York State. Thus the lost-tribes-in-America theory is very much apart of the Mormon tradition.

 

 

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"

 

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, Some years Later, the Los Lunas Dacalogue stone, an 80-ton boulder found in New Mexico showed Ten Commandments in Paleo-Hebrew. .

 

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. Click here and select 5/11/98, James Trimm, Johnson-Bradner Stone, to view his report. (Link updated 12/05.)

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.

 

Foor 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

 

 

 

 

 

These are very similar to the ones in Chennai, India.- given belowCave of Saint Thomas in India

 

 

 

 

One cannot deny the similarity of the two sites confirming the identity of the same Apostle Thomas in both places.

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.

 

VII

ETHIOPIA AND YEMEN

According to Church Tradition, the holy Apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and 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 trade  network 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 Christian Church which started essentially for the expartriate community in Sanaa. The Islamic community of Yemen has recently 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: 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.

VIII

PARTHIA

 

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?

http://parthia-aramaic.org/

 

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 2 Chronicles 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)

 

The 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 A.D”.

 

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

http://www.ensignmessage.com/archives/moreaboutmagi.html

 

“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 Jew-ish 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.


 

 

IX

ARRIVAL OF APOSTLE THOMAS IN INDIA

AD 46

 

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.

 

The fragment of Acts of Thomas in Coptic

 

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.

 

Phraotes

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.”

 

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.60 Satavastres

c.70 Sarpedones

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.85 Sases / Gondophares-Sases

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)

 

X

 

Summary of

ACTS OF THOMAS
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.


 

XI

THE SUMMARY OF THE ETHIOPIAN SYNAXARIUM

The Book of the Saints of The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

ON APOSTLE THOMAS’ MINISTRY

 

http://www.stmichaeleoc.org/The_Ethiopian_Synaxarium.pdf

 

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

 

XII

DORMITION OF MARY

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

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!">>

 

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.

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.


 

 

XIII

NORTH INDIAN 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 story  of 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 .

 

discoveryonstthomas.blogspot.com/2011/11/home-page.html

 

“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.

 

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

 

 

XIV

CHURCH OF THE KINGS
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”

 

“Rajakkalude Pally”

 

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 (Gandhappar)

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.”

 

http://www.piravomvaliyapally.org/history.html

 

 

 

'Church of the Kings' , Muvattupuzha

 

An ancient painting in the church

 

(St. Mary with infant Jesus being worshipped by MAGI)

 

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. I

t 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.

Holy kings

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.


 

 

 

XV

PANDYA KINGDOM - MAANAVEERA NADU
KANDAPPA RAJA

Manavazha Veera Nadu was one among the five vazhanadus of the late Pandiyas. The last ruler of Manaveeravazhanadu was one (Manatachia alais Aabathukuthai) meaning (savior at the dead the end). along with other few chieftains. He ruled the Manaveeravazhanadu along with four other valzha nadu kings. After their demise they have seen worshiped by locals as deities (Anju Veetu Samy). The ruler had his capital at arasoor as the domicile of the kings.

 

“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/?type= 1&theater

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manal_Matha_Shrine

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.  During St. Xavier 's visit In the 16th century, he re-built the church following the Roman style.

 

 

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.

<<<<<< 


 

 

XVI

TIRUVALLUVAR AND THIRUKURAL

 

 

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.

 

CEYLON MINISTRY

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.

Leonard Pinto

 

“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).

 


 

 

XVII

TIRUVANCODE

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:….


 

 

 

XVIII

AD 51

SOCOTRA MISSION

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Dorstenia gigas

(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

 

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 conse- quently 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.

 


 

 

XIX

KERALA TRADITION

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 changes. 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.

 

 

 
The Songs of Rambaan Thomas
 The Story of the Ministry of

Apostle Thomas

As handed over by the first disciple of Apostle

Finally written down in 1601 AD

















 

 

You can download the Ramban paattu from this site : http://www.nasranifoundation.org/downloads.html



Thoma Parvam

The Songs of Thomas

 

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

Chayal.

 

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 due.

 

 

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

 

 

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 seasons?

Udukku is a handheld drum

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.

 

 



 

XX

KERALA EVANGELIZATION


The tradition of Christians of Thomas is a much more reliable source of information than the Acts of Tho-mas. According to this tradition thousands of locals including Brahmins, Khathriyas and Dravidians 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.

 

Cochin Jews

 

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 Rab-

 

ban 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. 

 

 

1.Kodungallore Evangelization

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’.”

P. E.Easow

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 church  is 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.

THONDACCHAN AND THE FOUR SILVER COINS

http://malankaraworld.com/library/History/History_thondacchan.htm

https://www.historicmysteries.com/thomas-silver-coins-india/

https://www.ccel.org/node/5374

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/tools/image-gallery/s/silver-temple-coin

Here is an unbelievable absolute verification of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in Kerala shores consisting of a Hindu Family’s ancestoral heritage recived from one Thandachen consisting of four silver coins which they invariably calls ““Raktha Velli” or Blood Money”. Let me quote the whole story as give by Justin in the Malankaraworld website.

by Justin

[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 Thondachans 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 Vellattomand "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 Thomachans 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 mans 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 Thomachans 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 gurus 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 Sanaisomewhere 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 three days later, fully cured. His guru handed him the silver coins saying, my body was sold with these, and now they have been returned to me, all thirty pieces. Put them to good use, as I have. Though you shall choose to travel by sea, I shall meet you again in the mountains of the land where you will finally arrive.

 

The Nair tharavad later migrated further north to the Cherukunnu area of present day Kannur. They referred to the four silver pieces as rakta velli(blood silver) or parindhu velli(parindhu for eagle, as one face of all these four ancient coins bear the figure of an eagle). They also decided never to utilize the silver as it was the custom then not to part with the gift of a guest.

 

Over time, and with the advent of Christianity, the significance of the four silver coins received by the tharavad was understood, but family history is still obscure as to whether Thomachan possessed, or what he did with the remaining twenty-six pieces of silver his guru gave him.

 

This Nair family never converted to the Christian faith as did many others in that region. Subsequent migrations of Nair clans continued throughout history, but the story of the four rakta velli pieces was passed down the generations, as did their veneration for the holi sanyasi Thomachan, (later called Thondachan, a nickname perhaps coined from the story of his sore throat, -thonda for throat. Another story goes that the name Thondachan was adopted in the early 16th century to avoid persecution by the Portugese).

Thus by a curious turn of events, the apostle St. Thomas was transformed into a Hindu deity for an ancient Nair clan of Kerala.

 

A present day member of this family is still in possession of the four pieces of silver. I have seen the four pieces and have identified them as the Shekels of Tyre, a common coinage of Judea of the time of Christ.

 

Comment by Paulo DSouza, Panaji, Goa

 

….…  I have been able to verify from my North Malabar friends that the worship of Thondacchan has been in existence for centuries. The Nairs themselves are quite fuzzy about who exactly Thondacchan was, and why the Hindu deity is not worshipped in the puja-rooms within their household. The attitude of the Portuguese and subsequent turmoils of history appear to have obliterated much of the evidence that could have established the basis of this story……

 

<<===================================================

 

The story continues in the Historic Mysteries discovery 

 

 

A 16th-century fresco depicting Judas being paid the thirty pieces of silver. Image credit: Wikipedia.

Ms. Paula Gruber, a German tourist presents the story:

Towards the end of the Second World War, my father Johann Gruber, a German school teacher was hiding in Portugal and working under an assumed name along with a well-known spy named Joan Pujol Garcia translating German communication for the allies. During his years in Lisbon, he heard rumors of the survival and existence of some coins from the infamous Biblical thirty pieces of silver that Judas Iscariot had allegedly received in exchange for the arrest of Jesus as is narrated in the Bible. Though a little girl then, I would remember the rumor my father spoke of for many years and particularly the reference to a place called Malabarand Goaon the west coast of India. It was a favorite topic of conversation for some time for our devoted Catholic family. Later in my 30s, trialing and trailing the hippyculture, I headed for Goa along with a boyfriend. Following a lead and a friends advice, I landed a few weeks later at Cannanore on the Malabar coast in Kerala. Through some contacts in the local catholic parishes I visited a village in Cannanore called Cheru Kunnu where I was shown four silver coins by an old lady named Parukutty. She referred to the coins as Rakta Vellior blood silver. The story of the four coins so astounded me, that I found it too preposterous to believe and wondered whether I had chased a wild goose all these years. But more surprises were to unfold in the years to come. A brief mention is made by some websites following my revealing this story to Justine, my English translator. However here is my story of the mysterious relics called the St. Thomas coins as never reported before.

 I first reported this story in 2005 in Germany, after traveling to Kerala, India on three occasions. Since then, my friend Justine has posted a brief version of the story on some websites. It had raised many controversies then and I have for many years been both threatened and harassed by many Hindus as well as Protestant church members from India. But the truth is the truth and I cannot change it. In fact, for the record, this is the full story of the events that led me into publishing the discovery of those four coins the Hindus call the Rakta Velli, narrated here in greater detail.

It was actually on my initial visit to India in 1972 that I first saw the four Rakta Velli pieces. I visited the Nair Taravad (ancestral home) at Cherukunnu in the Kannur district along with a mutual acquaintance, a nun from the nearby St. Martin de Porres Hospital who was also my interpreter. (My travel out of Germany was prompted by the state of my mind. I remember I was very depressed that year following the massacre of Olympic athletes in the city and later the passing away of my mother.) Anyway, on that occasion, the story that Parukutty Amma, the old lady at the Nair Tharavad in Kerala told me, seemed ludicrous and farfetched. But the faulty perception was partially mine as I had never really believed the story that the apostle St. Thomas had visited as far east as India or even that Christians actually existed in India as early as the first century AD. Thanks to my ignorance, at first it sounded nonsensical because I reasoned that neither the Romans nor for that matter any substantial community even within Judea had converted to Christianity as early as that. They would probably still be recovering from the shock of the crucifixion. To be told that a contemporary of Christ himself had established many churches in Kerala about 1,950 years ago was, I could only take to be a local yarn or legend. As many Europeans still do, I believed the propagation and the spread of Christianity in India was a result of the much more recent colonization of India by Europeans such as the English, French, Dutch and Portuguese despite the nun from the local mission hospital making several attempts to convince me that I was wrong. In fact, on that visit to Parukuttys ancestral household I had not even bothered to photograph, measure or weigh these venerable coins when they were shown to me. Today I know for certain that they belong to the original thirty pieces of silver that betrayed Jesus. Whatever happened to the remaining 26? These are perhaps the most important ancient Christian relics to surface in recent times! And I had not even paid the due attention to them!

But by the year 1976, sitting in my room in Munich, I had begun to give a more serious thought to what exactly I had been shown at Parukuttys ancestral house four years ago. My curiosity had reached a highpoint for I had just returned from Lisbon where I had the opportunity to go through a private collection of very old manuscripts dated between 1690 AD and 1860 AD, recovered or rescued from Daman and Goa, India, in 1961 by one Manuel António Vassalo e Silva, which contained details of several attempts by the Portuguese to acquire four silver coins, referred to variously asmoedas de prata santos, moedas de Tomas, relíquias de Tomas and moedas sangrentos supposedly in the possession of some Hindu family in Malabar. There were details of arrests made, interrogations carried out and even summary executions. It is also mentioned in a Padroado Real, indicating that even the Pope of that time was aware of the existence of these coins. Now there was no doubt in my mind as to what the Portuguese were looking for. I longed to return to Kerala once again and visit Cherukunnu.

Thus in the winter of 1976 I landed at Bombay, into a very different India from my last visit. It was as if some of Germanys afflictions had followed me there. The whole country was in some sort of curfew and my passport and travel papers were being scrutinized more often and in greater detail. The police were present in most places. I remember being warned by well-wishers not to be critical of the government or be seen carrying more cash than a regular tourist. A large number of the countrys opposition as well as press reporters and foreigners were languishing in jails. The vibrant democracy I had known of that country seemed to have gone bananas!

Professor Ya'akov Meshorer (August 14, 1935 June 23, 2004) was the Chief Curator for archaeology at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and a prominent Israeli numismatist.

However, I had no intention of abandoning my quest. In the very first week of that visit I had not only come to know the story of St. Thomas and his martyrdom in India, near Madras, but also that in the past, various denomination of Christians in Kerala had made attempts to acquire the four coins gifted by St. Thomas to preserve them in a church as relics. I was told by some old priests of a Catholic Church that Syrian Christians or Nasrani Christians made the most vociferous claims to the coins as early as the 1920s but that the issue took a back seat during the Malabar riots of 1921 and the matter was subsequently forgotten. According to my friend at the mission hospital, Malayalam writings of that time made several mention of the St. Thomas coins. Nehru during his prime-ministership is believed to have received a petition from a priest of Kerala to do all that he could to restorethe coins to the Nasrani church. Nehru apparently ignored the petition as his office issued no reply………….

  On my request, and when the table was cleared, the old lady produced the little box with the coins. My excitement this time was irrepressible. I washed my hands before handling them and took pictures of each as best as I could. Using a small weighing scale I carried for the purpose, I weighed each piece of silver. I even measured the approximate diameter of each coin. Satisfied that at last I had enough data, I returned the coins to the old lady. She then began to narrate three or four instances when the nun from the mission hospital brought Christian patients with acute and chronic ailments furtively to the taravad to pray before the coins, placing their hands over the little box that contained them. The nun claimed the patients experienced quick and complete recovery from their afflictions. I listened to the familiar miracle stories related to Christian relics the world over, wondering what to make of it……………….My dear Parukutty amma was long dead and the compound in which the taravad stood was overgrown with weeds..

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++>>

These were the Shekels of the period of Herod used in the Jerusalem Temple.

Silver Half-Shekel
https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/tools/image-gallery/s/silver-temple-coin

David Hendin, Adjunct Curator, American Numismatic Society explains as follows

Silver coin used to pay the half-shekel tax to the Second Temple, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

This rare silver coin was discovered in 2008 during archaeological excavations in the main drainage channel of Jerusalem from the time of the Second Temple, in the City of David. The coin is a shekel denomination that was customarily used to pay a half-shekel head tax in the Second Temple period. This shekel weighs 13 grams and bears the head of Melqart, the chief deity of the city of Tyre, on the obverse (equivalent to the Semitic god Baal) and an eagle upon a ship’s prow on the reverse. The coin was struck in the year 22 C.E. 

These were the four half shekel coins in the family heirloom of Parukutty.
She referred to them as  
”Parunthu Velli” of
Eagle silver
 along side of
 “Raktha velli
or Blood silver

As you can see these are same coins that are produced by the Parvati family as given by Thomas.
You can see they are the same. They are indeed the coins used for the four situations. The referrence to blood money identifies it as part of the money paid by the Temple priest for the betrayal of Jesus to Judas Isacariot as given in Mathew 26:15

<<===========================================


 

2.Kollam Evangelization

Quilon was the next scene of the labors of the Apostle. The majority of the people of Quilon belonged to the Chettiar caste, the recognized trading caste of the time. A good many of them accepted the Gospel at-tracted by the preaching of the Apostle and the miracles performed by him. Many inhabitants of Quilon hated the new religion and migrated from Quilon to Nanjinad to keep themselves away from the influence of the new religion; After erecting a cross for the worship of the converts who numbered about one thou-sand and four hundred, the Apostle left Quilon.

 

Kollam Kadisa Pally

 


 

 

3.Nironam Evangelization

Old Niranam Cross and stone carving of crucifix

 

The Apostle and Prince Kepha proceeded from Quilon in a northeasterly direction and arrived at Thrika-paleswaram, near Niranom. Thrikapaleswaram had Hindu temples at that time, and to provide a place of public worship to the Christian community, the Apostle planted a cross a few furlongs away to the west of one of the temples. The non-Christian people in the locality did not like this and they pulled it out and cast it into the nearby river.

 

This desecration took place sometime after the Apostle had left the place for Chayal or Nileckal. Two Christians from Thrikapaleswaram went there and requested the Apostle to re-visit their place and set mat-ters right. The cross that had been thrown out into the river moved downwards floating on the waters for some distance, and eventually rested on a strip of land on the opposite bank of the river.

Here at Niranom a new site for a church was secured. During this second visit, the Apostle stayed at Niranom for two months and during this period two hundred persons were baptized by him giving new vigor and strength to the Christian community. Local tradition is that most of the Nambutiris having been made Christians by St. Thomas, left the place after giving the boxes containing the documents relating to their landed properties to a Kymal or Nair chieftain, who has since been known as Niranam Petti Kaymal. Of the various miracles performed by St. Thomas at Niranam, the most remarkable was the restoration of life to a child of a barber put to death by anti-Christian families, who wanted to throw the responsibility for the crime on the Apostle. The present building, supposedly the fourth, was constructed in 1912 and was reinforced during the year 2000. Among the attractions at the church are a huge Cross made of granite, relics of St. Thomas, remnants of the old church, the golden cross etc

Nerkadavu at Niranam

 

Thommathu Kadavu at Niranam.

This is Thommathu Kadavu at Niranam. It is believed that in the year 52 C.E St. Thomas, the disciple of Jesus Christ, landed here from a water vessel from the norhtern part of Kerala. Those days this lean water was a grand tributary of the Pamba river that carried precious mechanadise of the anicent kerala to different sea ports in the Arabian Sea.

 

inscription on stone inside the church undeciphered.

Palm leaves preserved in the church

 

 

The St. Mary's (Orthodox) Church, Niranam, Kerala.


4.Nileckal Evangelization

A new church has been built under the joint auspices of all the Christian denominations The St.Thomas Ecuminical Church, Nilakkal

FIRST ECUMINICAL CHURCH IN THE WORLD


 

The Apostle returned from Niranom to Chayal or Nileckal. According to the Ramban song the Apostle worked here for one year and during this period one thousand and one hundred persons were converted to Christianity. It was ruled by Vel kings of the Ayr kingdom. Names like Ayroor confirms this thinking. Vel-Nadu must have become Venad. Most likely this kingdom had its borders along the Southern side of Pampa River up to Thiruvella which later became part of Venadu

 

 

Nilakkal is a forest, almost 52 kilometres east to Ranni and near Sabarimala. It was a mountain route of trade between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Saint Thomas accompanied by Habban came over here

 

and preached good news and baptised 1100 people. Today there exist the Nilackal St. Thomas Church, Ecumenical center trust where all Christian denominations partake of it equaly

 

As early as 1902, what was believed to be the remains of an ancient Christian church and cemetery were accidentally discovered in the forest regions of the south of the Western Ghats, on the road to the ancient Hindu shrine of Sabarimala in the practically inaccessible mountain recesses. The British, the Christian colonial masters, were here at that time, and the local British administration took an interest in the discovery. There was a slight possibility that the ancient church might go back to the first century, when St. Thomas the Apostle was supposed to have established seven churches in Kerala. One of these was called, in the tradition, Nilakkal or Chayal. In any case, Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius, the Malankara Metropolitan in 1902, Wrote to the Dewan of Travancore, that this site was one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas, that the British Resident, Mr. Hannington, had promised Rs. 20,000 to build a church on this site. But nothing came out of that.

The site was discovered again, once more by an Orthodox layman serving in the Forest Department of the Government of Travancore, in the late thirties or early forties. Obviously a bell and a large cross had also been found. Again the Orthodox Church appealed to the Dewan of Travancore, to assign the land to the church, The response of the Dewan, Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer, no friend of the Christians, was an order to remove the bell and the cross to some unknown place, and to begin construction of a Hindu temple on the spot. The present Hindu temple in Nilakkal was thus built in 1946.

The third ‘discovery’ of the site was in independent India, in February 1957, this time also by a priest

of the Orthodox Church, The basement of a Church (believed to be) and several graves, all east west, were regarded as conclusive evidence that this was a Christian spot.

The struggles marked its beginning on 24 March 1983, with the discovery of a stone cross on the Kerala Farming Corporation's (KFC) private land, just 200 m (0.20 km) south to the Nilakkal Mahadeva temple.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++>>

 

 


 

 

This is head of Siva on Mahadeva Temple next to or in the same place as the eaarlu Nilakkal Apostle Thomas Church. Such temples are all over India which is a direct validation of the reality that Modern Hinduism (Saivism and Vaishnavism and Sakthism) emerged as the offshoot of St.Thomas Christianity under the Gnostic influence (Manicaen). Savism is exactly Christianity without Christ as incarnation. Nilakkal is particularly important in that at the nearby Ranni, the Gnostic Syrian Prophet (who claim to the incarnation of the Holy Spirit) Mani was opposed by Bardasanes(the writer of Acta Thomae in Edessa) and was defeated in argument. This will explain the reason why a temple was over the Christian Church and Christian Cemetery.

 

See my book “Emergence of Hinuism from Christianity”

<<========================================

 

Next day, singing hymns, Father Mathew Anthiyakulam, chief priest of the nearby Pambav Valley church, and two jeep-loads of his followers gathered round the spot where the cross was found. Immediately they erected a thatched shed and daily prayers were started. To the Catholics it was clear that this was the spot where a church-built centuries ago by St Thomas - once existed.

 

As a compromise between the existing Hindu Saivite temple (which probably was on the original site of the Church) a new church was built on the other side of the hill without trespassing each other. "There is a hill between the Nilakkal temple and thIs site. It has a separate approach road. There will be no connection between the temple area and the church." It is built jointly by all the Christian Communities, Roman Caotholic, Orthodox, Reformed and Evangelical Churches.

The church is an example of the unity of the Christian churches and also of the communal harmony. The church trust proved that unity among the churches can be maintained and at the same time give respect to the sentiments of the faiths of other religions. The main message which the church provides is of 'love, peace and fraternity'. This church has the importance that it is the first Ecumenical church in the world and has been dedicated by all the denominations as an example of heritage by St. Thomas.

You can read the report here where all representatives of religions, churches and political groups and scholars came together to celebrate the sacrifice and love and unity which the church had shown in dealing with this issue.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/%60Nilackal-ecumenical-church-a-symbol-of- unityrsquo/article15539830.ece

Silver jubilee celebrations of Nilackal St Thomas Ecuminical Church at the Ecumenical Centre at Angamoozhy

canews.com reporter, Kochi India February 1, 2011


Nilakkal St.Thomas Ecumenical Church
I957

 



 

Hindus still argue Syrian Christian site is too close to popular temple. Oscar Fernandes, a former federal minister, opens the jubilee celebrations

 


Hindus still argue Syrian Christian site is too close to popular temple. Oscar Fernandes, a former federal minister, opens the jubilee celebrations

 

5.Kokkamangalam Evangelization

The St. Thomas (Catholic) Church Kokkamangalam, Kerala.

St Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church ,Kokkamangalam

 

Kokkamangalam, far to the north of Quilon, Niranom and Nileckal, was the next centre of the missionary activities of St. Thomas. The Ramban song says that the Apostle spent one year at

Kokka-mangalam and baptized one thousand and six hundred persons to Christianity. After planting a cross and opening a church there the Apostle left the place. During the absence of the Apostle unknown hands removed the cross from its site and threw it into the nearby backwater lagoon. The cross moved with the water current and reached Pallipuram. The believers at Pallipuram installed the cross solemnly at a suitable place and a church was opened there.

 

The cross reputedly erected by the Apostle Thomas in Kokkamangalam

Cross erected by St.Thomas Restored in 2002 AD


 


 

z


 


 


 

6.Kottakuvu Evangelization

Kottakuvu near Parur was the next centre where the Apostle preached the Gospel and founded a church. According to the Ramban song the Apostle succeeded in receiving into the Christian fold one thousand seven hundred and seventy persons at this center.

 

 

Kottakkavu Old Church


The St Thomas (Catholic) Church, Kottakkavu, North Paravur, Kerala.

Kottakkavu Sliba, a Persian cross founded by Mar Sabor and Mar Proth

 

 


 

 

Kottakavu Old Church at North-Paravur is one the seven churches (Ezharappallikal) established by St.

Thomas in 52 C.E.

The church founded by St. Thomas was destroyed in the attack of Tipu Sultan in the 18th century.

The church we see today is the one constructed in its place.


7.Palayur Evangelization

 

From Kottakavu the Apostle proceeded to Palayur, one of the strongest Brahmin centers in Kerala.

 

Built 1607

 

The St. Thomas (Catholic) Church Palayoor, Kerala


Interior of the Church


Palayoor is near Guruvayoor/Kunnankulam

 

Palayur was the stronghold of the Namboodiri Brahmins. Ruins of an ancient Jewish Synagogue are still visible the Church. “When Thomas came to the great Brahmin centre of Palayur, a leading Brahmin Gramam (Village) among the 64, he came across some Brahmins doing the Pithru Yajna or Pooja to the manes or ghosts of deceased ancestors. They were throwing water into the air (Tharpan) while reciting manthras. The Apostle learned from them the meaning of this ritual and remarked: ‘If your performance is acceptable to the gods they could keep the water suspended in the air without allowing it to fall again and again’. “The Brahmins said that this was unthinkable as it was opposed to the laws of nature. Then Thomas asserted that the One true God he worshipped could do it, and he proceeded to perform a miracle on condi-tion that the Brahmins accept his faith if he is successful.

The Apostle, invoking the Holy Trinity, made the sign of the Cross and threw a handful of water up into the sky. After reaching a particular height the water stood still in the air, the particles glittering like diamonds. Looking down the Brahmins could see the cavity made by the removal of the water still there in the pond. Most of the witnesses were baptised on the spot. However those Brahmins who did not accept the faith called the place ‘Shapa Kadu’ or Cursed Place and left the place immediately promising to take the next bath only at Vembanattu, unpolluted by the new faith. Even today, true to the oath taken by their ancestors, the Brahmins do not eat or drink in the vicinity of Palayur or Chowghat (Shapa Kadu).”

 

Syrian Christians traditionally believed that the four Brahmin families Kalli, Kaliyankal, Sankarapuri & Pakalomattam were converted at this place.

This is a legend , shared by Hindus and Christians alike, of the locality, and to this day , no orthodox Brahmin takes a bath or a meal in the village. ( Quoted in the Trichur District Gazetteer ( History ), Chapt. II / p.100 , from the book ' Syrian Christians of Malabar, by K.E.Job. ).

 

The Pond is today known as Thaliyakulam and is used as a baptismal pond

This pond and statues at the Palayur church represent St. Thomas baptizing the Brahmins

As per the local tradition, the place Chavakkadu, (Saapakkad--place of curse), near Palayur(Thrissur), has got that name, as the place was cursed by Nambudiris, because some of their families were converted to Christianity by St. Thomas. The rest of the Nambudiri Brahmins, as tradition says, fled from the village saying," From the next day on-wards , our ablutions shall be at Vembanad".

 

Kerala Video: St Thomas Church, Azhikode, Kodungallur,

https://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g297631-i18709274-Kerala.html

 

 

Persian Cross at Palayur.placed by Apostle Thomas

 

 

Palayur replica of St.Thomas cave in St.Thomas Mount

 

((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

 

Sankarapuri Family Tradition

 

Sankarapuri was among the families who received Baptism in Palayoor. The families of Shankarapuri, Pakalomattom, Kalli, Kalikavu, and Kolath.were given Priestly Status by St. Thomas.

 

Migrations of Our forefathers from Palayoor to Etamanoor:

 

In the 2nd Century AD all the four Family migrated from Palayoor via Angamali, Kadathuruthi to Ett- manoor. The Devasom of Ettmanoor did not allow them to stay there and sent them to a place 5 Km. away which was the Forest of the Goddess Kali. In those days the Forest of goddess Kali was believed to be full of Witches and Devils and people, were scared to stay in such places. The people who came from Palayoor stayed there without any fear not knowing about these facts. To prove this there are documents. The entire house names, house numbers, survey numbers are there in the Government Records. Survey 460/5, 460/6, 519/8 belonged to these Families. During those days there was no place for worship or Burial and the fami-lies worshipped at home and used their own property to bury the dead. Where these 4 families stayed they established a Chapel. There still exists 5 Graves near the famous Forest of Kali (Kalikavu) Grotto. It is be-lieved that these are the graves of 5 important members of these families. This cemetery was just next to the Shakutirikal Family. Right now it is in the procession of Claratu Bhavan Seminary.

 

It is believed that the above said 4 families and the Kadapoor family, which came from Palayoor, joined together and established the Kuravilangattu Church. The Kalli and the Pakalomattom Families stayed on the Northern side of the church and the Shankarapuri, Kalikavu and the Kadapoor families stayed on the Southern side of the Church. So it came to be that Sankarapuri Family got the house name Thekkedethu meaning Southern Side, and Pakalomattom Family got the house name Vadakaedethu meaning Northern Side.

 

From there one family moved to Chengannur. From Chengannur one family moved to Kozhench-ery in Plamoottil. From this came the Chennattu family out of which came Madathilparampil Family.

)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

 

7 1/2. Thiruvithamcode Half Church
 Thiruvithamcode Arappally

(St.Mary's Church), Thiruvithamcode, Kanyakumari

 

Thiruvithamcode Arappally: or Thomaiyar Kovil as named by the then Chera king Udayancheral,

 (St. Mary's Orthodox Church now) was founded by St.Thomas sometime in AD 57

/63 , called Thiruvithamcode Arappally

 

Thiruvithamcode Arappally is located at Thiruvithamcode in Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu. Thiruvithamcode Arappally is also called as Royal Church or Thomayar Kovil or St. Mary's Orthodox Church or Amalagiri Church.It is the existing oldest church structure in the World.

 

Apostle founded another church at Malayattur which is accorded the status of half church. Another tradition claims this half church as the one founded in Thiruvithamcode. When the christians in east coast sufferred persecution St.Thomas took 64 families with him across the ghats over Aruvamozhi Pass into Venad. These were mostly converts from Chettiars of Nagercoil. The King of Thiruvithamcode offered them refuge. The traiditon says that when the King offered them sacred ash (Vibhuthi) they refused and so these Christians came to be known as Vibhuthi Dharia Chettkal. ("A History of Christianity in Kerala" by Dr. C.V.Cherian)

 

 

Oral tradition says that while travelling through Malayattor, faced with hostile natives, he fled to the hilltop where he is said to have remained in prayer and that he left his foot prints on one of the rocks. According to beliefs, a cross formed on one of the rocks, upon his touch. The chief festival is on the first Sunday after Easter. It is traditionally believed that St. Thomas used to make the Sign of the Cross on the rock, kiss it and pray at Kurisumudi. The story has it that a miraculous golden cross appeared at that particular spot. Pilgrims going up the hill to call out incessantly "Ponnum Kurishu Muthappo, Ponmala Kayattom", meaning "O Patriarch of the Golden Cross! Climb we shall, this golden hill!"

 

Malayattoor Kurisumudy is an international pilgrim centre of St. Thomas the Apostle. Kurisumudy is a mountain at Maiayattoor, 1269 ‘Ft. above sea level. Pilgrims come to Malayattoor Kurisumudy all through the year but they come in large numbers during the Lenten season, especially the holy week – largest numbers come on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The main feast is on Puthunjayar (new Sunday) the feast of the proclamation of Jesus as Lord and God by St. Thomas the Apostle.

A footprint said to be of St.Thomas in Malayattor


 

 It is believed that St.Thomas knelt on this rock and signed a cross with his finger.

He prayed hee for a long time. Later a golden cross emerged at this spot.

It is said that the people belonging to hilltribes were attracted by the splendour of the cross .

Out of curiosity they struck the spot with their crude weaoons to their surprise they saw the blood emitting from the cross.

They were wonderstruck and they reported the incident. Thus began the historic pilgrimage to kurisumudy.

The King also gave 64 houses for them built on 64 fragments of land. He also gave another 24 cents of land for worship. It is said that St. Thomas only kept a cross on that place and church was built later. It has been noted in in ancient Tamil poems by Thachilayar who mentions that King Imayavaramban Cheran made “Kadavul Mana” meaning House of the Lord. Also, he is mentioned as Santor Puravila meaning Protector of Saints. Santor is derived from the Latin word, sanctus which means holy.

 

Why is it called as Half Church (Ara Palli), is still not clear. Some people think it is because it was not high enough in its structure. Others believe it is because the number of members of the congregation is only half of the main churches elsewhere. Still others believe that Ara is a short form for Arasan (King). The land and the money were given by the King of the Thiruvithancode. Others believe the  Ara implies the office of the King giving the implication of Adminstrative Office. The Word Aramana is stilll used of the Mana (Palace) of the Bishops.

 

The Church itself was rebuilt during the past two millenium but the basic form is maintained

 

Here are a few good pictures as given by the Tamil Nadu Tousrism department as advertisement.

 

 

The entrance of the church (Prakaram) and behind that is the Holies and the Holy of Holies.


 

The Nila Vilakku (Oil Lamp) mounted with St.Thomas Cross.

 

The Altar

 

Stone cross outside of the Church

The well


 

The oil lamp at many levels.


 



Thoma Sleeha



 

It is said that during the 1940’s, this church was tried to be converted as a Hindu temple due to the resemblance of a Hindu temple. Some believe that it was Hindu shrine which was converted into a Church. But there was a cross curved on a pillar which stopped the issue. According to believers, this cross was carved by St. Thomas himself. The Church’s alter, baptism basin, incense burner is believed to be from Portuguese.


 

 


 

Tucked in an alcove inside the antechamber is an old world baptismal font, made of granite, and said to be as old as the church itself. Right in front of the font, on what is the southern wall of the sanctum, is a cross. It is believed to have been carved by St. Thomas himself. Just outside, adjacent to the western exit of the antechamber, he pointed out the remnants of an ancient stone trough where it is said that priests washed their feet before entering the church. Then, there is the well near the church and according to legend, the well was dug at the time of St. Thomas and also it has never dried up.

 

 

Baptismal font

 

The flag post

 

The Church of the Thomas Christians was one of the four great "Thomite Churches" of the East. The three others were the Edessan, the Chaldean (of Mesopotamia or Iraq) with Seleucia-Ctesiphon as its center, and the Persian (of Persia proper or Iran). These four Churches were "Thomite" in the sense that they looked to St. Thomas as to their direct or indirect Apostle.

According to the tradition of the Church in India Thomas finished his mission in Mylapore (Me- liapouram) for China at the beginning of AD 65. He returned to India and continued his ministry with his head quarters in Mylapore.

 

The Problem of Brahmin presence in Kerala

Some Saint Thomas Christians believe that orthodox Brahmins like Namboodiris were converted by Saint Thomas into Christianity based upon attempts by the St Thomas Christians to enter the caste system of India, though Brahmin conversion is disputed by historians who suggest that this was claimed later by Christian communities to obtain special caste status among the Hindu community, as St Thomas was believed to have arrived in Kerala at 52 AD, whereas Nambudiris arrived in Kerala in the 7th century. These Saint Thomas Christians also grew through integration of Jewish Christian immigrants of the 4th century AD led by Thomas of Cana and later by Mar Sapro in the 8th century AD. As Judeo-Christian communities are said not to have integrated with other faith communities, especially those of the hyper orthodox Namboodhiri Brahmins of Malabar, it has been argued that this tradition is unlikely.”
http://www.turnbacktogod.com/stthomas-the-apostle/
http://wikibin.org/articles/historicity-of-st-thomas-2.html

http://www.turnbacktogod.com/stthomas-the-apostle/

 

One of objections of this traditional story raised recently is the problem of the presence of Brahmins in Kerala who were converted and were given the responsibility of teaching the gospel. The Namboodiri traditions of the present day traces their origins back only to the sixth century AD.

According to the legends, Lord Parasurama created the land between Gokarna and Kanyakumari by throwing his axe .

 

This could have been only in the sixth century AD if Brahmins were given Kerala as a grant!! In fact there could have been no Kerala in existence until sixth century AD.

But we know no historical Parasurama who raised Kerala from the sea at that time.

 

Evidently the Parsurama story of raising the land of Kerala clearly states that he gave them to Brahmins. Parasurama donated this land to the Brahmins and settled Brahmins there in 64 gramams or villages.

 

32 out of the 64 gramams are in the Tulu speaking region (in between Gokarnam and Perumpuzha) and the remaining 32 gramams are in the Malayalam speaking region(in between Perumpuzha and Kanyakumari) in Kerala. Those in Kerala listed in the Keralopatti, the narrative of Kerala history are:

 

1, Payyannoor 2. Perumchelloor (Talipparambu) 3. Alatthiyoor 4. Karanthol 5.Chokiram

(Shukapuram) 6. Panniyoor 7. Karikkau 8. Isaanamangalam 9. Thrussivaperoor 10. Peruvanam.

11. Chamunda (Chemmanta) 12. Irungatikkootal (Iringalakkuda) 13. Avattiputhur (Avittathoor) 14. Paravoor 15. Airanikkulam 16. Muzhikkalam 17. Kuzhavur 18. Atavur 19. Chenganatu(Chengamanadu) 20. Ilibhyam 21. Uliyannoor 22. Kalutanatu. 23. Ettumanoor 24. Kumaranalloor 25. Kadamuri 26. Aranmula 27. Tiruvalla 28. Kidangoor 29.Chengannoor 30. Kaviyoor 31. Venmani and 32. Neermanna (Niranam)

 

So according to this, the land was created by Parasurama and later donated to Brahmins . Where were these Brahmins if they received these lands?

 

Again we know for certain that the Aryan conquest reached as far as Sri Lanka long before the Christian era. The problem is the lack of presence of Brahmins from the period of 1st century to the sixth centuary while they were the original recipients of Kerala from Parasu Rama. How did they disappear all of a sudden?

 

However the Aryans were never a controlling force economically or even intellectually until eighth century AD. The major religion of Kerala was Buddhism in the first century AD. There must have been

 

a few Brahmin families, (as is true even today in the central Travancore area where Christians are concentrated) who were probably small businessmen in various parts of South India. As in all countries, it was the poor and the persecuted communities that came to faith first. I would assume  that the Brahminic community of that time accepted Christianity en masse in Kerala. Conversion in early days was in community groups and families. Thus if 12 Brahmin families accepted Christianity in Malabar it cannot be an exaggeration or an impossibility.

 

The tradition says that Thomas met these Brahmins while they were worshipping the Sun in their traditional way. Other than that it does not directly or indirectly ascribe power or prestige to these people. By the third century when the Syrian immigration took place, since Aryans are also of the same ethnicity, their status became more pronounced. Notice that they were not the only people who were converted.

 

They were known as Nazaranikal (those who follow the Nazarene) or Issanu Vadikal (the disciples of Isa). The Chera King Kuru Varman-1 also known as Vyakrasenan who ruled Kerala from 40 AD to 55 AD was a Christian . Was he a kshatriya? Obviously. All the castes were present in Southern India.  

Wasn’t Mahabali ruling Kerala long before even Parasu, at the time of the incarnation of Vamana?


 

 

 

XXI

CHINA EVANGELIZATION

“By St. Thomas, the Kingdom of Heaven took wings and flew all the way to the Chinese.”

The Chaldean breviary

 

Silk Route

 

The Silk Road is an ancient trade route linking China to Imperial Rome. Also called the Silk Route the Silk Road was about 6,000 kilometers long, or about 4,000 miles. The various routes of the Silk Road stretch from the Chinese capital Changan, across the Chinese plain of the north , through the pamirs and the Karakorum range to Samarq and Bactria, to Damascus, Edessa, and the Mediterranean ports of Antioch and Alexandria.

The Silk Road first started to be in use at about 100 BC , after Chinas emperor Wu Ti from the Han dynasty conquered large sections of Central Asia . The new areas stability, and extensive road building, enabled caravan traffic to go vast distances, which carried high valued goods. Some of those goods were silk, wool, gold , and silver. Caravans generally stopped on the roads and traded goods, rather than traveling the entire route.

Religion, philosophy and teachings also traveled through the silk route. Buddhism traveled from India to china along the Silk route. It is my assumption that Christianity also went to China when Thomas went to China along the Silk route during his ministry in the Northern part of India itself even though we have no record of it.

 

The silk route practically started from Syria and extended all the way to China. Edessa is right on the Silk route. So was Taxila.

It is only logical to imagine that Apostle Thomas who was out to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, traveled that way all the way to China. Thomas Churches are found all along the Silk Route.

We have enough evidence for Thomas’ visit to China by AD 59 from the eastern coast of South India. According to Kerala tradition, he was there only a few months. Evidently this is a devious route. Why did he take a ship to China while he was essentially ministering in South India? The reasonable explanation is that he had been in China before and he wanted to revisit the place and establish the seed he planted as a Church. It appears that it was the normal practice of Thomas to visit his field of mission twice. However there is no evidence for such a trip unless it was during the Northern India mission period.

 

The ancient Breviary of the Syrian church of Malabar written during 17th century states that

 

"By the means of St. Thomas the Chinese...were converted to the truth...By means of St. Thomas the kingdom of heaven flew and entered into China...The Chinese in commemoration of St. Thomas do offer their adoration unto Thy most Holy Name, O God."

Adoration of Magi Chinese version

 

Bible do indicates that from the time of appearance of the star to the arrival of magi took around 2 years. This probably was the basis of the massacre of babies below 2 years by Herod. If it took them 2 years to travel it must have been from a distant east country.

If they came from China, they were coming almost directly from the East. The distance would have been around 4000 miles. A normal caravan covered 25 miles a day

Apostle Thomas went to China certainly around the year 68 AD as the Kerala Rambaan Songs states clearly. But according to Rambaan Paattu that was only for three and a half months. It is possible that he visited China while he was in the North India during the period between 33 and 50 AD.

 

 

Thomas’ first ministry was to the magi who visited Jesus to give homage and worship. T

he Syriac churches, the Magi often number twelve and they were distributed in many countries. Among them were the Chinese and the Indians.

 

https://wheatandtares.org/2012/12/24/magi-from-china/

https://abcnews.go.com/Travel/wise-men-ancient-text-differs-bible-tale-magi/story?id=12460820 https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Magi

 

Recent discovery of documents indicates that some of the magi came from China,

 

“Pierre Perrier, a former researcher for the Dassault Aviation group and a universally known specialist in the oral transmission of the Gospels, at the end of a thorough enquiry that he relates in his book “Thomas founds the Church in China” (éd. du Jubilé, September 2008).

 

http://www.crc-internet.org/CCR/2009/77-Saint-Thomas_China.php

Even People’s Daily”, the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party announced it.

University of Oklahoma professor of religious studies Brent Landau tracked it down a document to the Vatican Library archives titled Vat. Syr. 162 which speaks about a group of mystics who trace their origins to Seth on a prophey of a star of mesiah.

It tells of a group of wise men who were from the land of Shir (China) who traveled to Bethlehem following a star.(It was published early in the last century as the Chronicle of Zuqnin (Chabot, CSCO,1927.)) Apparently they waited together on a mountain in Shir for it which led them to Bethlehem along with other magi from the rest of the world.

It took Landau seven years to analyze the text and translate it to English, as Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men’s Journey to Bethlehem. The story describes the Magi as an ancient mystical sect that traced its lineage back to Seth, from whom they inherited the “prophecy of ‘a star of indescribable.

Mair adduces the discovery of two figurines with unmistakably Caucasoid or Europoid feature dated to the 8th century BCE, found in a 1980 excavation of a Zhou Dynasty palace in Fufeng

County, Shaanxi Province. One of the figurines is marked on the top of its head with an

incised graph. The rock cut figures shown above indicates the possible evidence. You can see “Mother Mary” with a cross on her breast.

 

 

In fact the chinese word Wu for Magi or Shaman is a cross.

We meet Thomas in AD 40 in Taxila. However we do not have detailed mission activities of most of the Apostles including Thomas from the Pentecost till the middle of the century. The New Testament Acts of Apostles were written from the point of view of the Greco Roman Christians even that from the Mission fields of Paul and Peter only. There was no Luke to follow the other Apostles.

Assuming that the crucifixion took place in AD 30 we will have to follow the disciples in their journey. These dates may be a few years probable error since the exact year of birth of Jesus is not really established.

+++++>>

 

 

Daleinchina's Blog

(https://daleinchina.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/did-the-wise-men-come-from-china/)

 

Father Dale A. Johnson (Barhanna)

This is a mountain outside of present day Xian in the Qianling Mountain Range. The five peaks of this sacred mountain area includes caves and inscriptions dating back 3,000 years. Zoroastrians certainly gravitated to this mountain area as did others. It was recognized as a place to welcome the sun and where heaven and earth meet. Emperors of China worshipped at the foot of this mountain.

 

The Revelation of the Magi, An Ancient Christian Apocryphon

The Book of Seth, son of Adam regarding the incarnation

 

“(1:2). The Magi are said to be both kings and wise men, and the text gives apatronymic list of their names (2:3). They live in the land of Shir, which is described as being at the easternmost edge of the inhabited world, at the shore of the great Ocean(2:4). They are descendents of Seth, the son of Adam and Eve, who received commandments from his father and wrote them in books, the first books which appeared in the history of the world (3:3-4). These books contained instructions for Seth’s offspring to wait for the appearance of a star, which would signal the birth of God in human form (4:2-10).

 

Wait of the Magi on Mountain of Victories

 

In expectation of this event, on the twenty-fifth day of every month the Magi purify themselves in a sacred spring, and then on the first day of the next month they ascend their country’s most sacred mountain, the Mountain of Victories, to glorify God in silent prayer (5:2-7). After praying in silence upon the mountain’s pinnacle for twodays, on the third of the month they enter the Cave of Treasures of Hidden Mysteries,where Seth’s books were kept and where treasures were housed in expectation of the star (5:8). When the rituals have ended and the Magi descend from the mountain,they instruct their families and the people of their country who wish to learn about their mysteries (5:9). The Magi carry on this ritual throughout the generations, with ason or a close family member taking the place of his father when the father has died(5:10).

 

After the RevMagi introduces the Magi, their lineage, the prophecy of the star,and their ritual system, the flow of the narrative is interrupted by an excerpt from the books of revelation written by Seth (6:1- 10:7). In this excerpt, Adam tells Seth about the prophecy of the coming star, since he had seen it standing over the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden before he sinned, at which point the star disappeared (6:2-3). Adam warns Seth not to obey Eve and the deceitful serpent as he did (8:8), predicts that at the end of time his lineage will be in rebellion (9:2-6), but promises that if Seth’s descendents ask for mercy, God will hear them (10:5-7).

The angel proclaimed good tidings. The Virgin gave birth to the Sage in Daqin [the

Levant]. The luminous asterism indicated a portent. The Persian(s) witnessed the brilliance and came to pay tribute.

 

After this excerpt from the books of revelation, the text narrates the moment when the star appears to the Magi at the Mountain of Victories, just when they are gathering to commence their monthly rituals (11:3). The star appears in the sky,descends from the heavens, and enters the cave, inviting the Magi to come inside (12:3-5). In the cave, the star takes the form of a small and humble human being and tells the Magi that such a form is necessary for the inhabitants of the world to see the Son of the Father — indicating that this star-child is none other than Christ himself (13:1-2).Christ tells the Magi that he has been sent from the Father for the salvation of allhumanity, and instructs them to follow the star to Bethlehem to see his birth in humanform (13:8-13).

 

As they set out for the journey, the Magi discuss what they saw in the cave, and learn that each of them witnessed Christ in a different form, each of which corresponds to a stage in Christ’s life (14:3- 9). While they are marveling at this, a voicefrom heaven — revealed to be the Father himself — calls out to them and tells them that what they have seen is only a very small portion of the power of the Father and the Son(15:1-10).

 

Journey to Bethlehem

 

Once the Magi have gathered their traveling supplies, the star leads them on the journey to Judea, making the mountains and valleys level in front of them, relieving their fatigue and increasing their food supply through the power of its light, and making the lengthy journey impossibly short (16:3-7).

When they reach Jerusalem in the month of April, the star leads them into the city. Herod and the scribes ask the Magi why they have come, and the Magi say that the savior of the world is to be born in this region (17:1-3). Having been informed that this will take place in Bethlehem, the Magi again see their star and go on their way,scorning the blindness of the inhabitants of Jerusalem (17:6-8).

At Bethlehem, the Magi find a cave, into which the star enters and transforms itself into a luminous infant(18:2-8). The child blesses them and commands them to be witnesses to the Gospel along with his disciples (19:1-6). As the Magi are exiting the cave, Mary and Josephapproach them, concerned that the impending departure of the star with the Magi means that the child who has just appeared in their house is being taken from them(22:2-5). After the Magi reassure Mary that the child is still in their house despite his continuing presence with the Magi in the form of the star (23:2-4), the child blesses Mary and tells her that his mission is the redemption of all humanity (25:1-4).

 

 

Return of the Magi

The star leads the Magi on the journey back to their country, again miraculously refilling their food supply through its power (26:1-7).

When they return to the land of Shir, the Magi tell the inhabitants of the wondrous visions and revelations which they saw, and they give the people some of the food that the star had supplied for them (27:1-11). The people eat the food, which immediately produces visions for them of the life of Christ,and many of the inhabitants convert to the faith proclaimed by the Magi (28:1-4).

 

Judas Thomas baptizes the Magi

 

After some time has passed, the Apostle Judas Thomas arrives in the land of the Magi and converts people to the faith of Jesus Christ through mighty deeds (29:1).When the Magi hear that he has arrived, they realize that he is one of the disciples about whom the Christ child had spoken (29:2). They go to him and tell him about the appearance of the star and their journey to Bethlehem, and Judas Thomas recognizes that they have received the gift of the Lord (29:3-4). He tells them of with the earthly Jesus, and the Magi ask him to give them the seal of the Lord (29:4-5). Early on Sunday morning, Judas Thomas leads the Magi to a spring,takes oil, and sings a hymn over it (30:1-9).

He baptizes the Magi, and when they comeup from the water, Christ descends to them from heaven in the form of a glorious youth (31:1). He produces a loaf of bread and gives it to Judas Thomas and to all of the Magi, proclaims to the Magi that their ancient mysteries have been accomplished,and ascends once more to heaven (31:2-3).

At the closing of the RevMagi, JudasThomas commissions the Magi to preach throughout the entire world (31:10), and they depart, doing mighty works and urging hearers to flee from the coming judgment of fire through faith in Christ (32:1-3).

Zhouzhi County, Xian

This is the location of one of the Syriac churches INestorian) of the Tang Dynasty. It has a replica of the Xian-fu stone which has Syriac and Chinese inscriptions on it

In 2002, the Communist Party Leader and President Jiang Zeming, was asked at a banquet; “Comrade Jeming. If before leaving office, you could make one decree that you knew would

be obeyed in China, what would that be?” Jiang put on a broad smile, looked around the room, and said; “I would make Christianity the official religion of China.”

 

 

Apostle Thomas and Prince Ying ": the drawing of the frieze.

<<===

 

 

These sculptures, located within the walls of the ancient port city of Lianyungang, are 20 meters wide; they are perfectly dated from the year 69 (or early 70) thanks to the Chinese imperial archives. Their style betrays the work of sculptor from Mesopotamia (Iraq, Iran). The only interpretation that works is that which gives his 107 people a role in relation to the three years that the Apostle Thomas spent in China (65-68); otherwise, the frieze is incomprehensible.

 

The colors added to the drawing make it easier to find the same characters in the various places where they are represented.

 

Similarly, the three frames help to better delineate the three scenic sets of the frieze (to "read" from right to left). Originally, everything was painted; it is probable that a microscopic search for traces of paint should make it possible to represent the visual effect that the frieze gave to the origin. It is thanks to the remarkable stamping work done by Chinese archaeologists that the details appeared; it is an invaluable treasure that the People's Republic of China has been able to rediscover and safeguard.

 

Founding of the Church in China by the Apostle St. Thomas between 65 and 68 AD according to the ar-chealogical evidences. It is more likely that it took place between 40 and 52 AD. If this dating AD 65-68 AD is true, this took place soon after the first tour of Kerala ministry. ”Such a discovery rehabilitates the tradition of the Chaldean Church (Iraq) and of the Church of the Syro-Malabar rite in Southern India called the “Christians of St. Thomas”, who have always considered the apostolate of the Apostle and the Christian establishment in China in the first century of our era as facts. In the Chaldean breviary, for example, one can read: ”By St. Thomas, the Kingdom of Heaven took wings and flew all the way to the China. ”” Kerala tradition indeed speaks of two tours. The mission in Kerala has a break in between 52 and 62 when Tho-mas went to other parts of India and probably to China .

 

According to the tradition of the Church in India, the Apostle finished his mission there in 64 AD., and left from Meliapouram (near Madras) for China at the beginning of… 65 AD. The Indian and Chinese sources agree. There is thus a strong possibility that the two figures of Kong Wang represent the Apostle himself with, at his side, his acolyte-interpreter. "

 

China and Japan claim that St. Thomas personally brought Christianity to China and Japan in 64 and 70 AD, respectively. This view is promulgated by the Keikyo Institute.

Evidently fitting of the dates exactly will be impossible.

« « « « « « « « « « « « « « «

 

from http://www.crc-internet.org/CCR/2009/77-Saint-Thomas_China.php\

THE APOSTLE SAINT THOMAS FOUNDED THE CHURCH IN CHINA

Brother Thomas of Our Lady of Perpetual Help September 2008

 

Kong Wang Shan (Kong Wang Cliff)

 

THE DREAM OF EMPEROR MINGDI

 

Kong Wang cliff drawing

 

« Mingdi had a dream in which he saw a tall blond man, the top of whose head was encircled with a ha-lo […]. He was eight zhang tall [close to two metres]; he was of golden complexion [or “like gold”].»

 

Upon awaking, the emperor questioned those who were charged at the Court with  interpreting dreams. They told him that the man that he had seen in the dream did not originate from either China, or the North, or the South or the East, but that it was necessary to turn towards the West, where « tall, blond » men could be found.

 

« One of them told him that in the West there existed a god called “luminous” [or “the Man-Light”].  The Emperor, desirous of enquiring about the true doctrine, dispatched an envoy to the land of Tianzhu so that he might inquire about the precepts of the visionary. It is beginning from that time that paintings and sta-tues reached the Middle Kingdom and Ying, prince of Zhu, began to have faith in this Way [or in the person who preached it] and thanks to that, the Middle Kingdom received it with esteem. »

 

With Pierre Perrrier, let us set aside the Buddhist interpretation, or rather appropriation of this dream, ac-cording to which this « Man-Light » would be Buddha, called the “visionary”. The famous Silk Road, on which the first Buddhist monks were said to have come was closed at the time, and the first archaeological traces of Buddhism only appear in China in the second century, in accordance  with  the commercial agree-ment signed in 158 a.d. with the Kushan Empire, which opened China to exterior religious influences…….

 

« These bas-reliefs, unquestionably contemporaneous with the arrival of St. Thomas in China, offer evidence that is unique in the world. Once the keys to the Judeo-Christian interpretation have been given, there appear:

 

1° the Apostle presenting the Cross –

 

2° his deacon with his scroll as a memory aid – 3° the Virgin carrying Her new-born Child.

In addition to the deacon, whose written scroll attests the coming of the Messiah whom Israel was expec-ting, the Mother and the Child who confirm the human birth of the Son of God, and the glorious Cross that represents His death and resurrection, this bas-relief presents the apostolic testimony of the Apostle St. Thomas. »

 

 

The upper portion of the Nestorian Stone (Hsian monument), discovered by Jesuit missionaries in 1625 AD in the province of Shensi in China. The title of the stone reads:

 

"A monument commemorating the propagation of the Ta-Chin luminous religion (Christianity) in the middle kingdom".

 

His mission in China would last three years, the length of time required to train disciples, deacons and elders, to organise a well-structured Church that would subsist after the departure of its founding Apostle. He was accompanied by a collaborator acting as an interpreter, whom he would leave there as resident bishop.

 

As soon as he arrived, St. Thomas undoubtedly went directly to the capital, Luoyang, where Emperor Mingdi resided. He seems to have given St. Thomas a free hand to preach, and even to build a church, the chancel of which, according to the hypothesis of Mr. Perrier, was the base of a wooden tower reputed to be the first pagoda in China.

 

The half-brother of Mingdi, Prince Liu Ying, converted at the preaching of St. Thomas. This prince,  the Chronicles say, disappointed by the official religion that had become formalist and artificial, was searching for the daô, the true “way” that leads to Heaven. It was not in Buddhism that he found it, but in the Gospel! As he was the governor of the maritime province of Zhu, St. Thomas went to see him  at Xuzhou (today Jiangsu), where it seems that the first Chinese Christian community came into being.

 

It is in this province of Zhu that the most numerous pieces of evidence of a very ancient Christian presence can be found, in particular a tomb dating from 86 a.d., decorated with bas-reliefs that are surely Christian: crosses, biblical scenes and even another representation of the Virgin with the Child. Let us not forget to mention a dish or paten on which are engraved two fish and five round loafs of bread, and the character Yi, which means “to share” in Chinese. It is an obvious allusion to the multiplication of the five barley loaves and the two fishes, related in the Gospel. Other clues, in particular Christian graffiti, bear witness, Perrier writes, « to an extensive and rapid propagation of the Christian Faith » (p. 294)……..

 

St. Thomas had to leave China after three years. The sculpture of KongWang Shan, which celebrates his stay in China, was probably executed with the consent of the imperial authorities just after his departure in 68-69. Shortly afterwards, however, Confucian Court scholars laid siege to the emperor to have him close this new “way”, and stop this new religion from spreading, because they understood that it supplanted their “wisdom” and would prevent them from dominating the people. Mingdi yielded to their entreaties, and Prince Ying, according to the chronicle, had to resign his office, was exiled and condemned to commit sui-cide in 71 AD., as was the custom in China when one had ceased to please the emperor.

»

 

Relying on the authority of Chinese historians, the sinologist Andre Muller found that in AD 65, XACA (Sakya), an Indian Philosopher, came to China and preached amongst other doctrines that of the Divine Three-in-One.

 

Every believer is thus called the twin of Jesus as part of the Elohim.

 

In the temple devoted to Amitabha, who receives and leads the soul to Paradise, there is a noteworthy Triad– viz. 

THE BUDDHIST HIGHJACKING.

 

In the years that ensued the Buddhisms came via the Silk route. They not only tried to eradicate the Thomas Way but actually hijacked the teachings.

 

« The traces can be seen:

 

1° on the rock face of Kong Wang. The upper arm of the cross has been hammered, as has the Infant Jesus on the lap of His Mother. Other figures were added, several times the very characteristic figure of Buddha. These Buddhist sculptures, however, are posterior to the bas-relief sculptures of Parthian workmanship. They date from the beginning of the fourth century, when the Northern Wei dynasty,  the successors of the Han emperors, adopted Buddhism as the official religion. The dream of Mingdi was the object of a Budd-hist reinterpretation, as well as the two figures whom we identified as St. Thomas and his acolyte.

 

2° In Luoyang there is nowadays a Buddhist temple called Baima Si, which means “Temple of the White Horse”, presented in all the official guides as the cradle of Chinese Buddhism because it marks the site of the arrival of the « two foreigners who came from India » to the court of Emperor Mingdi in

65. Originally, however, it was a Christian church, as Pierre Perrier discovered by re-marking the west-east orientation of the underlying ruins, while all the other Chinese pagodas are oriented south- north.

 

3° In the legend of Buddhist origins in China, we read that the two alleged monks who came from India brought with them a “sûtra”, a sort of popular Buddhist catechism presenting the sermons or moral counsels of Buddha. It happens that this “sûtra” was composed of… forty-two texts, not one more, not one less. This is the number of scrolls of the Christian missionaries! The copying is ob- vious, right to the very word, because “sûtra” is said to come from the Aramaic souartha, which  means “good news” made up of the words and deeds of a given person. Thus it is that the “good news”, no, the Buddhist “bad news”, was substituted for the Catholic Gospel!

 

4° The worst is perhaps the appropriation and the misrepresentation of the figure of the Blessed Virgin. In Chinese Buddhism today there is the bodhisattva Guanshiyin, – she, it is said, “who pays attention to the voices of the world”. She is commonly known as Guanyin and also called “goddess of Mercy”. She is one of the key concepts that was introduced by the “Great Vehicle”, the broader form of Buddhism, more syncretistic than the “Little Vehicle” of Northern India. This figure of the “goddess of Mercy” experienced an immense popular success that has never flag-ged. »

 

The gospel that was brought in by Apostle Thomas was nourished by the contact other Christians through the Silk Route

 

Studies show that as early as 86 A.D., or the third year under the reign of "Yuanhe" of Eastern Han, Dy-nasty Christianity entered into China, 550 years earlier than the normally accepted time.

 

When studying a batch of stone carvings of Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.) stored and exhibited in the Museum of Xuzhou Han Stone Carvings, Christian theology professor Wang Weifan was greatly surprised by some stone engravings demonstrating the Bible stories and designs of early Christian times. These include representations of six days of creation, the temptation of Eve, Expulsion from the Garden, and nativity.

 

 

 

Studies showed that these engravings were made in 86 A.D., or the third year under the reign of "Yuanhe" of Eastern Han Dynasty.

 

The unmistakable vessel of communion

 

 

 

Five Loaves and Two Fish on The Yi Vessel

 

The word Yi also means “sharing.” “To share with you.” It is not difficult to imagine that this was a vessel used by the early church in Eastern Han for sharing food and to celebrate the “love feast,”  Holy Commun-ion.

 

A typical Mar Thoma Cross found in China

 

 

Detail of the left part of the rubbing of the Nestorian scriptural pillar,

the inscription of which bears the Chinese
Nestorian text: “Sutras on the Origin of Origins of Ta-ch
in Luminous Religion.

Since 2000 a research team of Australia-based scholars has systematically collected and analysed finds by Chinese arcaheologists and scholars relating to the diffusion and cultural adaptation of two religions of Near Eastern origin, Manichaeism and Christianity, which had reached China via the Silk Road in the Middle Ages. The project focuses particularly on Manichaean and Nestorian remains found in the port city of Quanzhou (Ch’üan-chou, viz. the Zayton of Marco Polo) which was a thriving multicultural centre throughout the Middle Ages.

 

They have found large number of St.Thomas crosses in the tomb stones which strongly indicates the connection with the Thomas Christians of Malabar.

 

 

 

(Manichaean and (Nestorian) Christian Remains in Zayton (Quanzhou, South China)ARC  DP0557098 Compiled by Professor Sam Lieu FRHistS, FSA, FAHA and Dr Ken Parry)

 

 

The introduction of Christianity into China has been ascribed not only to the Apostle of India, St. Thomas, but also to St. Bartholomew.

 

In the third century, Arnobius, in "Adversus Gentes", speaks of the Seres, with the Persians and the Medes, as among the nations reached by "that new power which has arisen from the works done by the Lord and his Apostles". . They seemed to have reached China in the seventh century.

 

The church was augmented after the Nestorian Schism (Council of Ephesus (431 AD))when many Nestorians moved to China as shown in the Si-ngan-fu inscription. The Nestorians were successful in converting the Keraits to Christianity at the beginning of the eleventh century, as related by the Christian historian, Bar Hebræus. The Keraits remained Christians till the time of Jenghiz Khan, Their head is spoken of by Rubruck and Marco Polo as Ung Khan (Wang Khan). Ung Khan is sometimes re-ferred to as the possible Prester John by some.

 

 

 

Kublai Khan, the son of Hulagu Khan, Emperor of all China (died 1294).

 

The Mongol emperor Kublai Khan sent two monks as emissaries to the West. One of them, Rabban Sa-wma, arrived in Rome and visited Pope in l287. He was questioned by the Cardinals” "Which of the Apos-tles taught the Gospel in your quarter of the world?"

 

Sawma replied: "Mar Thomas, and Mar Addai, and Mar Mari taught the Gospel in our quarter of the world and we hold at the present time the canons which they delivered to us."

 

The Chaldean church refers several times to the role of Thomas among the Chinese in its breviary as: "by St. Thomas the Chinese also with the Ethiopians have turned to the truth;" "St. Thomas has flown and gone to the Kingdom of Heaven among the Chinese;"

"the Indians and the Chinese . . . bring worship in commemoration of Thomas to Thy name, our Savior."

 

Whether Thomas reached China through the Silk Route or through the sea from South India is not clear. It appears that Thomas did reach China through the Silk Route first and later also from South India. He might have visited and the returned to Edessa during the period of 30 – 40 AD. But we have no archealogical evidence for such an early visit available. Silk routes were often under pressure of robbers that it was not always open.

 

In 1623 grave diggers working outside of Xian dug up a stele weighing two tons and carved with 2,000 Chinese characters.

 

The Monument Stele says:

 

“The Emperor Taizong was a champion of culture. He created prosperity and encouraged illustrious sages to bestow their wisdom on the people. There was a saint of great virtue named Aleben, who came from the Qin Empire carrying the true scriptures. He had read the azure clouds and divined that he should journey to the East. Along the way, Aleben avoided danger and calamity by observing the rhythm of the wind.

 

In the ninth year of the Zhenguan reign [A.D. 635], Aleben reaching Chang-an [Zian]. The Emperor sent his minister, Duke Xuanling, together with a contingent of the palace guard, to the western outskirts to ac-company Aleben to the palace.

 

The translation work on his scriptures took place in the Imperial Library and the Emperor studied  them in his Private Chambers. After the Emperor became familiar with the True Teachings, he issued a decree and ordered that it be propagated…

 

… the Emperor issued a proclamation, saying:

 

“We have studied these scriptures and found them otherworldly, profound and full of mystery. We found their words lucid and direct.

We have contemplated the birth and growth of the tradition from which these teachings sprang.  These teachings will save all creatures and benefit mankind, and it is only proper that they be practiced throughout the world.”

 

Following the Emperor’s orders, the Greater Qin Monastery was built in the I-ning section of the Capital. Twenty-one ordained monks of the Luminous Religion (Jing Jiao )were allowed to  live there…

 

The Emperor Gaozong [A.D. 650-683] reverently continued the tradition of his ancestor and  enhanced the Luminous Religion by building temples in every province. He bestowed honors upon Aleben, declarin ghim the Great Dharma Lord of the Empire. The Luminous Religion spread throughout all ten provinces, the Empire prospered and peace prevailed. Temples were built in 100 cities and countless families received the blessings of the Luminous Religion.”

 

Palm Sunday procession of Nestorian clergy in a 7th- or 8th-century wall painting from a Nestorian church in Tang China

 

Christianity flourished in China for at least two hundred years around A.D. 850 when persecution caused all foreign religions to close down and all monasteries closed and monks return to lay life.  This affected both the Buddhist and the “Luminous Religion”

 

“Jesus Sutra”

In 1880 a Taoist monk Wang Yuanlu discovered 50,000 ancient Chinese manuscripts hidden away in more than 500 caves in Dunhuang. Among them are the Jesus Sutras which early missionaries brought into China. They paraphrase passages from the New Testament and thus provide direct evidence that the ancient Chinese writers of these texts clearly knew the Gospel accounts:

 

“Do not pile up treasures on the ground where they will rot or be stolen. Treasures must be stored in Heaven where they will not decay or rot.”

 

“Always tell the truth. Do not give pearls to swine; they will trample and destroy them. You will only be blamed by them for your actions and incur their anger. Why don’t you realize this yourself.”

 

“Knock on the door and it will be opened for you. Whatever you seek, you will obtain from the One Spirit. Know on the door and it will be opened for you.”

 

“Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest, they have no barns or cellars. In the wilderness the One Spirit provided for the people and will also provide for you. You are more important than the birds and should not worry.”

 

If you listen to these sutras and take pleasure in them, if you read them aloud and carry them in your mind, you will plant strong roots for many generations to come. Your father and grandfathers, your mother and grandmothers, who cherished these teachings and found joy in them before you, have created a tradition you are continuing.”

 

Evidently these Jesus Sutra texts clearly shows how the basic gospel of Salvation is embedded in the culturally relevant form of China. They translates the Christian ideas and ideals into an Chinese  terms which are steeped in Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian symbols and concepts.

 

Thus, the Jesus Sutras speak of the “Higher Dharma” that leads to Peace and Joy. “It is the Sutras of the Luminous Religion that enable us to cross the sea of birth and death to the other shore, a land fragrant with the treasured aroma of Peace and Joy.” “The Sutras are like a great fire burning upon a high mountain. The light from that fire shines upon all.”

 

Here is how the Jesus Sutras relate the story of Jesus:

 

“The Lord of Heaven sent the Cool Wind to a girl named Mo Yen. It entered her womb and at the moment she conceived. The Lord of Heaven did this to show that conception could take place without a husband. He knew there was no man near her and that people who saw it would say, “How great is the power of the Lord of Heaven.”…

 

“… Mo Yen became pregnant and gave birth to a son named Jesus, whose father is the Cool Wind.

 

When Jesus Messiah was born, the world saw clear signs in heaven and earth. A new star that could be seen everywhere appeared in heaven above. The star was as big as a cart wheel and shown brightly. At about that time, the One was born in the country of Ephrath in the city of Jerusalem. He was born the Messiah and after five years he began to preach the dharma.

 

… From the time the Messiah was 12 until he was 32 years old, he sought out people with bad karma and directed them to turn around and create good karma by following a wholesome path. After the Messiah had gathered 12 disciples, he concerned himself with the suffering of others. Those who had died were made to live. The blind were made to see. The deformed were healed and the sick were cured.

 

 

(The Lost Sutras of Jesus: Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of the Xian Monks, edited by Ray Riegert and Thomas Moore, Berkeley: Seastone, 2003. Martin Palmer’s The Jesus Sutras: Rediscovering the Lost Scrolls of Taoist Christianity Wellspring/Ballantine, 2001).

 

Not long after Jing Jiao reached China, the emperor Tang Taizong ordered and financed a "Persian Temple" to be built in Chang An by Jing Jiao priests. Jing Jiao spread across China very rapidly, by the time of emperor Tang Gaozong, every county has Jing Jiao temples, and the religion reached the prosperous stage of "doctrines spread in ten ways, temples abound in hundreds of cities".

 

http://www.nestorian.org/seventh_century_church.html

 

. “Christianity had first come to China in the year 64 when the Apostl Thomas came to Sian, China from India where he had come in the year 52. Other believers are believed to have brought the  gospel on to Japan by the year 70 AD.

 

According to the Yuan Shi there were 72 Church of the East monasteries during the period 1289 to 1320 not to mention the multitude of churches and believers.


 

 

 

XXI

AD 72

APOSTLE ST. THOMAS MARTYRED

 

Thomas next proceeded overland to the Coromandel coast and ministered in what is now  the Chennai (Madras) area, where a local king and many people were converted. One tradition says that he went from there to China via Malacca and, after spending some time there, returned to the Madras area (Breviary of the Mar Thoma Church in Malabar). According to the Syriac version of the Acts of Thomas, Masdai, the local king at Mylapore, after questioning the apostle condemned him to death about the year A.D. 72. Anxious to avoid popular excitement, “for many had believed in our Lord, including some of the nobles,”the king ordered Thomas conducted to a nearby mountain, where, after being allowed to pray, he was then stoned and stabbed to death with a lance wielded by an angry Brahmin. A persecution of Christians in Southern inida followed and sixty-four families eventually fled to Kerala

 

Apostle Thomas was martyred in Mylapore near Madras. (Tradition calls this place Kalloor - the place of rock) in Tamilnadu State, India. Tamil word Mailapur (i.e. the town of peacocks), which the Greeks rendered as Maliarpha, the Portuguese as Meliapor, and the English as Mylapore. The traditional date of martyrdom is 19th of December, 72 AD.

 

 

 

 

Martyrdom of St. Thomas, by Peter Paul Rubens, dating to about 1636.

His followers took his body and buried him in the tombs of the Chiefs.

 

 

The Church which stands over the cave at Little Mount where St Thomas traditionally known to have hid himself from his murderers

 

 

The inscription in a marble tablet at the entrance to the cave reads as follows:

 

“The cave where lay hid persecuted just before being martyred by RAJA MAHADEVAN, king of Mylapore, A.D. 68, THOMAS one of the twelve, the great Apostle of India, the very one who put his finger into the wounds of his Lord and God”

The Church on St. Thomas Mount, which was built by the Portuguese in 1523 and extended in 1547. Coja Safar, an Armenian, extended it further in 1707.

 

The Marthoma Cross which is on the main altar, in the Church on St. Thomas Mount.

 

 

 

The Church in St. Thomas Mount, Mylapore, Chennai The Gothic Cathedral built in 1893. The tomb is found inside this church

 

"

 

 

 

 

Shrine of Saint Thomas in Meliapore, 18th century print.

 

 

Original tomb of Apostle Thomas in Mylapore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomb in 1900

 

Piece of a hand Bone of St. Thomas which touched the wound of Jesus, it was brought from Edessa

 

 

and preserved in the Mylapore St. Thomas Museum.

 

Tip of the lance that took the life of St. Thomas which was recovered from the grave during the Portuguese excavation and preserved in the Milapore St. Thomas Museum

 

In 232 the relics of the Apostle Thomas are said to have been returned by an Indian king and brought from India to the city of Edessa, Mesopotamia, on which occasion his Syriac “Acts of Thomae “were written. The Indian king is named as "Mazdai" in Syriac sources, "Misdeos" and "Misdeus" in Greek and Latin sources respectively, which has been connected to the "Bazdeo" on the Kushan coinage of Vasudeva I.

 

 

 Obv: Vasudeva in tall helmet, holding a scepter, and making an offering over an altar. Legend in Kushan language and Greek script (with the Kushan letter "sh"):

oesho, a conflation of Zoroastrian Vayu and Hindu Shiva, holding a trisula scepter, with the bull Nandi. Monogram (tamgha) to the left.

 

The martyrologist Rabban Sliba dedicated a special day to both the Indian king, his family, and St Thomas:

 

"Coronatio Thomae apostoli et Misdeus rex Indiae, Johannes eus filius huisque mater Tertia" ("Coronation of Thomas the Apostole, and Misdeus king of India, together with his son Johannes (thought to be a latinization of Vizan) and his mother Tertia") Rabban Sliba (Mario Bussagli, "L'Art du Gandhara", p255)

 

 

 

St. Ephrem's works note that the bones of St. Thomas were venerated there in his time. The great hymnodist alludes to the transferral of the bones in his Carmina Nisibena (42:1.1-2.2, Kathleen McVey, Ephrem the Syrian, Paulist Press, 1989, p. 25):

 

The evil one wails,

"Where then can I flee from the righteous?

 

I incited Death to kill the apostles as if to escape from their scourges by their death. More than ever now I am scourged harshly.

The apostle I killed in India [has come] to Edessa before me.

Here is he and also there. I went there, there he is.

Here and there I found him, and I am gloomy. Did that merchant carry the bones?

Or perhaps, indeed, they carried him!

 

A Nestorian bishop of Basrah, at the mouth of the Tigris-Euphrates, wrote the Book of the Bee in the thirteenth century which states:

 

“Thomas was from Jerusalem of the tribe of Judah. He taught the Parthians, Medes and Indians; and because he baptized the daughter of the King of the Indians, he stabbed him with a spear and he died. Habban the merchant brought his body and laid it in Edessa, the blessed city of Christ our Lord. Others say he was buried in Mahluph [Mylapore], a city in the land of the Indians.”

 

His relics were moved from Edessa. The Edessene Chronicle says that in 394 "the casket of the Apostle Thomas was removed to the great church erected in his honor."

 

Muslims captured Edessa in 1142, at which the Christians took the relics to the isle of Chios in the Aegean Sea, where they remained for more than a century.

 

In 1258 the prince of Taranto raided Chios and sent the relics to Ortona, Italy, where they were installed in the cathedral. In 1952 Cardinal Tisserant arranged to have sent to Cranganore a thigh bone in 1952, on 19th  centenary celebration the arrival of Thomas there.

 

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

 

 

St.Thomas Apostle Basilica in Ortona, Italy

 

 

Ortona's great cathedral has the privilege of housing the bones of St Thomas Apostle, which arrived  in Ortona on September 6, 1258, a booty taken by captain Leone degli Acciaioli when the island of Chio was sacked.

https://thomasguild.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-bones-of-saint-thomas.html

 

The story is that after Saint Thomas was slain, he was initially buried in India.

In the 3rd century, however, his bones were transported to Edessa in Mesopotamia by the Indian King Mazdai (Misdeus), where a tomb was buil

t for him.

In 13th century the bones were 'rescued' together with the tombstone to Italy, as the shrine with the bones was threatened by the Turks. The relics were placed in the island of Chios in the Aegean.

From there they were stolen by Leone Acciaiuoli, captain of a ship from the fleet of Manfred, prince of Taranto, and taken to Ortona in Italy where they arrived on 6 September 1258. In Ortona, the relics were kept in the basilica San Thomasso Apostolo, which was desecrated by the Turks in 1566. After this event the remains were kept in an gild copper urn that was made in 1612 by Tommaso Alessandrini from Ortona.From the 17th century to today, the shrine has been opened several times to do some surveys (which bones are there) and even some research. Between 1983-1986, the shrine was opened for a protection and preservation project. The opportunity was also taken to do some scientific research on the bones of the apostle. This was done under supervision of prof. dr.

Arnaldo Capelli, prof. dr. Sergio Sensi, prof. dr. Luigi Capasso (paleopathology) and prof. dr. Fulvio Della Loggia, all from the Faculty of medicine from the University of Chieti. The anthropological examination on the remains of the skeleton established that the bones belonged to a relatively tall

 

male individual with delicate bone structure, with a height of 1 metre 60 cm plus/minus 10 cm. At the age of death the individual was between 50 and 70 years old, with a fracture of the right cheekbone caused by a sharp blow shortly before or after death. The person did also suffer from rheumatism or artritis, which could be seen at the small joints of the hands. Furthermore, a small osteoma (bone tumour) was found in the frontal region of the skull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gild copper urn holding the most of the remains of Apostle Thomas.

 

 

In 1953, a wrist bone of the right arm was extracted from the Ortona skeleton and given to the Indian church. It now resides at the Marthoma Pontifical Shrine in Koddungalloor in Kerala, India, one of the places where Thomas supposedly has built a church.

 

 

Another bone from the arm of Thomas is found in a relic in the church of Saint Nicholas in Bari, Italy. The Cronicon Bari mentions that a French bishop, cousin of Baldwin of Le Bourg, Lord of Edessa, returning in 1102 from the Holy Land and from Edessa, left the relic of St. Thomas the Apostle in the Basilica in Bari, The reliquary itself is dated to 1602-1618 and has the form of a right arm holding a spear in the iconography of the martyrdom suffered by the Apostle, and rests on a base containing a relic of the Magdalene. The bone of Thomas can be seen through a window of the reliquary. In 2009, the bone was measured and compared to the bones in Ortona. The upper arm bone has a length of  23 cm; this can be used to calculate the full body length, resulting in a length of 163.4 cm plus/minus   2 cm, more or less the same as the skeleton in Ortona. The left upper arm of Bari is missing in Ortona, so this bone could be from the same person.

 

The reliquary S. Tommaso Apostolo in Bari. The central window shows a rectangular bone set. 

 

 

 

 

On the long sides that surround the window, some words are carved: on the left side from bottom to top

"Brachii SANCTI THOMAE Apostles" and on the right side in descending order

"ECCLESIAE SANCTI NICOLAI BARENSIS".

Another arm bone of Thomas is found in Maastricht, the Netherlands, in  the treasury of the Basilica  of St. Servaes.

 



The reliquary containing a right arm bone of St. Thomas in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

 

The bone from the index finger of 'doubting' Saint Thomas, which touched the wound of Christ, can be found in the Basilica Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome Italy. Some say that this relic has been in Santa Croce from the time of St. Helen (third century, i.e. the time that the body was moved to Edessa).

Some other finger pieces of Thomas did return from Edessa to India and preserved in the St. Thomas Museum in Milapore.

 

The index finger of St. Thomas in Rome, Italy.

Piece of a hand Bone of St. Thomas in the St. Thomas Museum in Milapore, India.
 

 

 A close look at the tombstone from Edessa in the Basilica San Thomasso Aposotolo in Ortona. 

 

 

The reliquary with the tip of the lance that took the life of St. Thomas 

in the Milapore St. Thomas Museum.

 

 

 

The reliquary with the tip of the lance that took the life of St. Thomas in the Milapore St. Thomas Museum.

 

 

Holy Relics of Saint Thomas in Mar Mattai monastery

located atop Mount Alfaf in northern Iraq and is 20 kilometers from Mosul. It is recognized as one of the oldest Christian monasteries in existence and is famous for its magnificent library and considerable collection of Syriac Christianmanuscripts.


 

 

XXII

REFERENCES TO THOMAS CHRISTIAN TRADITION

 

 

There are several references to Thomas' acts in India, which corroborates the general validity of the story. As is easily seen we have a continuous witness of the mission of Thomas in India.

 

1.'The Doctrine of the Apostles' 100 AD?

 

Jonathan Draper writes (Gospel Perspectives, v. 5, p. 269):

“Since it was discovered in a monastery in Constantinople and published by P. Bryennios in 1883, the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles has continued to be one of the most disputed of early Christian texts. It has been depicted by scholars as anything between the original of the Apostolic Decree (c. 50 AD) and a late archaising fiction of the early third century. It bears no date itself, nor does it make reference to any datable external event, yet the picture of the Church which it presents could only be described as primitive, reaching back to the very earliest stages of the Church's order and practice in a way which largely agrees with the picture presented by the NT, while at the same time posing questions for many traditional interpretations of this first period of the Church's life. Fragments of the Didache were found at Oxyrhyncus (P. Oxy 1782) from the fourth century and in coptic translation (P. Lond. Or. 9271) from 3/4th century. Traces of the use of this text, and the high regard it enjoyed, are widespread in the literature of the second and third centuries especially in Syria and Egypt. It was used by the compilator of the Didascalia (C 2/3rd) and the Liber Graduun (C 3/4th), as well as being absorbed in toto by the Apostolic Constitutions (C c. 3/4th, abbreviated as Ca) and partially by various Egyptian and Ethiopian Church Orders, after which it ceased to circulate independently. Athanasius describes it as 'appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness' [Festal Letter 39:7]. Hence a date for  the Didache in its present form later than the second century must be considered unlikely, and a date before the end of the first century probable.”

 

"A new consensus is emerging for a date c. 100 AD." Latest date for the available document is 250 AD

 

“After death of the Apostles, there were Guides and Rulers in the Churches; and whatever the Apostles communicated to them, and they had received from them, they taught to the multitudes. They, again, at their deaths also committed and delivered to their disciples after them everything which they had received from the Apostles; also what James had written from Jerusalem and Simon from the City of Rome, and John from Ephesus and Mark from the great Alexandria, and Andrew  from Phrygia and Luke from Macedonia and Judas St. Thomas from India, that the epistles of an Apostle might be received and read in the Churches in every place, like those Triumphs of their Acts which Luke wrote, are read, that by this the Apostles might he known...'

 

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

 

2.Bar-Daisan (A.D. 154-223) was a Syrian poet, astrologist, and philosopher, of Edessa, awealthy Persian, or Parthian parents. Though he started as a Gnostic he became a  strong Christian. He is said to have visited Kerala and met the Gnostic Manicaen in Ranny. He is probably the poet who wrote “The Acts of Thomas”. He reports that in his time there were Christian tribes in North India which claimed to have been converted by Thomas and to have books and relics to prove it. But at least by the time of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (A.D. 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. The difficulty with the Acts of Judas Thomas is in identifying the places and persons in history. The names are Persian attempt at Indian pronunciation.

 

3.Saint Pantaenus ( 180 – 216 AD)

 

 

Saint Pantaenus was a Christian theologian who founded the Catechetical School of Alexandria about AD 190. (Eusebius, Church History V.10),This school was the earliest catechetical school, and became influential in the development of Christian theology.

 

Pantaenus was a Stoic philosopher teaching in Alexandria. He converted to the Christian faith, and sought to reconcile his new faith with Greek philosophy. His most famous student, Clement, who was his successor as head of the Catechetical School. Pantaenus initiated the study of Christian theology, on the interpretation of the Bible, the Trinity, and Christology. Being familiar with the Gnostic movement he was the main supporter of Serapion of Antioch for acting against the influence of Gnosticism.

 

A deputation from India reached Alexandria some time in 179 or 189 AD. In A.D. 189 Pantænus himself went on a missionary tour to India, and Eusebius says that he brought home with him the Gospel of Matthew, in Hebrew, that had been carried to India by Bartholomew. (Barthelomew mission was in Kalyan near Bombay. Some believe that the name Barthelomew is a corruption of Mar Thoma. He brought the gospel back with him to Alexandria, where he returned after he had zealously employed some years in instructing the Indians in the faith. St. Pantaenus continued to teach in private till about the year 216 AD. Saint Jerome, following Eseubius wrote that Pantaenus visited India, “to preach Christ to the Brahmans and philosophers there. ”

 

4.Origen of Alexandria, Egypt c185-254 AD,

He is the first known writer to record the casting of lots by the Apostles. Origen taught in Alexandria and then in Caesarea. Origen's original work has been lost, but his statement about Parthia falling to Thomas has been preserved by Eusebius. “Origen, in the third chapter of his Commentary on Genesis, says that, according to tradition, Thomas’s allotted field of labour was Parthia”.. 

 

 

5.Clement of Alexandria: c. 235 AD

Greek Theologian, Clement makes a passing reference to St. Thomas’ Apostolate in Parthia. This agrees with the testimony which Eusebius records about Pantaenus’ visit to India.

 In what follows the whole Persia of the Assyrians and Medes, and of the countries round about Babylon. even to the borders of the Indians and even to the country of Gog and Magogare said to have received the ApostlesHand of Priesthood from Aggaeus the disciple of Addaeus

 

*Doctrine of the Apostles: 3rd Century; Church represented: Syrian After the death of the Apostles there were Guides and Rulers in the Churches..They again at their deaths also committed and delivered to their disciples after them everything which they had received from the Apostles;(also what) Judas Thomas (had written) from India.

 

6.Ephrem of Syria: 306 – 370 AD the poet affirms Edessan Church’s strong conviction concerning St. Thomas’s Indian Apostolate. There the devil speaks of St. Thomas as “the Apostle I slew in India”.

 

 

 

Also “The merchant brought the bones” to Edessa.

 

In another hymn eulogizing St. Thomas we read of “The bones the merchant hath brought”. “In his several journeyings to India, And thence on his return, All riches, which there he found, Dirt in his  eyes he did repute when to thy sacred bones compared”. In yet another hymn Ephrem speaks of the mission of Thomas “The earth darkened with sacrifices’ fumes to illuminate”. “A land of people dark fell to thy lot”, “a tainted land Thomas has purified”; “India’s dark night” was “flooded with light” by Thomas.

 

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

 

St. Ephraem, writes in the forty-second of his "Carmina Nisibina" that the Apostle was put to death in India, and that his remains were subsequently buried in Edessa, brought there by an unnamed merchant

 

7.Eusebius of Caesarea: c. 263–339 AD

 

 

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…” "Judas, who is also called Thomas" has a role in the legend of king Abgar of Edessa (Urfa), for having sent Thaddaeus to preach in Edessa after the Ascension (Eusebius, Historia ecclesiae 1.13; III.1; Ephrem the Syrian also recounts this legend.)

According to Eusebius' record, Thomas and Bartholomew were assigned to Parthia and India

Ephrem the Syrian: 4th century; 


Many devotional hymns composed by St. Ephraem bear witness to the Edessan Church's strong conviction concerning St. Thomas's Indian Apostolate. There the devil speaks of Saint Thomas as "the Apostle I slew in India". Also "The merchant brought the bones" to Edessa.

Another hymn eulogizing Saint Thomas reads "The bones the merchant hath brought". "In his several journeyings to India/ And thence on his return/ All riches/ which there he found/ Dirt in his eyes he did repute when to thy sacred bones compared".

In yet another hymn Ephrem speaks of the mission of Thomas: "The earth darkened with sacrifices' fumes to illuminate", "a land of people dark fell to thy lot", "a tainted land Thomas has purified"; "India's dark night" was "flooded with light" by Thomas.