The week before last, the Gospel reading was the well-known story of Thomas called Didymus, who will not believe that Jesus appeared to the other Disciples unless he sees Jesus himself and feels his wounds. As many know, the story is interpreted as a kind of parable on the virtue of faith: the Disciples believe but Thomas demands proof before belief. The story is only found in the Gospel of John.

One thing that always struck me when reading or hearing this story is that when Jesus appears to the Disciples while Thomas is absent, He shows them his wounds.

When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be to you." [20] When he had said this,he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord.

The Disciples themselves received the same proof that Thomas is later chastised for demanding!

The discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, purportedly the work of the same Didymus, has added an additional layer. It is clear that Thomas and John had a theological dispute. Thomas wrote of Jesus describing a divine light within that believers must discover, while John wrote that Jesus is light through which believers must pass in order to access divinity. Conveniently, the Doubting Thomas story is only found in the Gospel of John, so it is easy to read the Doubting Thomas story as a polemical against Thomas designed to discredit him and his theology.

I suppose I'm not really asking a question or looking for an answer. Just posting some thoughts on this story, which is fascinating and opens up an interesting door into the early Christian world and apocryphal texts that we usually don't hear much about. And I hope that sparks discussion on this passage or others that you might find interesting and engaging.

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The Gospel of Thomas is considered an authoritative writing by the Jesus Seminar, but not by many other scholars.  It was written at least a generation after the Gospel of John.  I admire the Thomas found in John, because the story of the Risen Christ would seem unbelievable.  John, if addressing Thomas's issues, is refuting Gnoticism, which permeates the Gospel of Thomas.  G. says that Jesus was strictly a spiritual being, and his human form was just an illusion.  John has Thomas actually feeling Jesus's flesh, so we see the physically Risen Christ.  The early Church rejected the G. of Thomas because its portrayal of Christ was not only contrary to the four authenticated Gospels, it was also contrary to the Old Testament.  Many trendy Christians think that they find Gnosticism appealing as an alternative to traditional Christian belief, but it says that all of the created, physical world is evil, and only spiritual things are good.  In addition, it unambiguously states that men are superior to women!  I believe in the Jesus of the four authentic Gospels and not the Gnostic Jesus.

When Thomas declares, "My Lord and my God," in John 20, he makes the highest Christological confession in the Gospel of John.  Throughout the book, Jesus discloses his identity, and little by little -- from Nicodemus to the woman at the well, to Peter in chapter 6, people see who he is, but no one puts it together before Thomas, who still has a reputation for doubting.  On top of that, Thomas is the one who declares, "Let us also go with him that we may die with him" in John 11.  He's no more doubting than the other disciples, who, despite hearing of the resurrection that morning, show no joy that night. 

The other angle to consider is the debate around determinism and free will.

If you believe in determinism then Thomas isn't really a bad guy; he simply executed what he was destined to execute as per God's plan. If you believe in free will, it's a bit different.


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