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This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Jesus' twin?

Dragon Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari) from Socotra
Three things you might not know about Early Christianity.

1) Gospels (Matthew 13:55f and Mark 6:3) mention matter-of-factly and in an adversarial context (therefore credibly) Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Only some fundamentalists and conservative Roman Catholics usually have a problem with it artificially explaining it as Jesus’ half-siblings or cousins. But then there was a disciple called Thomas. His Aramaic name (nickname) literally meant “a twin”. And if there were any doubts about the meaning of his name, Evangelist John (11:16; 20:24 and 21:2) translated it into Greek as Didymos so that everyone would know that it indeed meant a Twin. If Thomas was a twin, where was the other twin? Some early Christian writings provided the answer. Thomas was supposed to be the twin of Jesus. The oldest recorded legend dates to the brink of the 2nd and 3rd century. And rumors of this kind must clearly be even older, dating back to the late biblical times.
     At least some early Christians thought that Thomas was Jesus’ twin brother. And that is something you might not know about Early Christianity.

2) According to the early Christian legends, Thomas was a missionary to India, especially its western shore around the Arabian Sea. But well documented legends connect Thomas’ missionary work with one other surprising place - an island of Socotra. Now this island belongs to Yemen, but it is just off the easternmost tip of the Horn of Africa. It is an interesting place with many endemic plants such as Dragon Blood Trees and Bottle trees. In ancient times the island was famous for its frankincense and other aromatic resin. Thomas was supposedly shipwrecked there on his way to India and converted the island to Christianity and it stayed Christian until medieval times when it converted to Islam.
     This Thomassian mission might be legendary, but there is little doubt about a far reaching early mission to India and around the Arabian Sea. And that is something you might not know about early Christianity.

3) Earlier I mentioned legends and writings associated with Thomas. In fact there is an entire library of early Christian literature written under Thomas’ name. The Gospel of Thomas, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Acts of Thomas, Book of Thomas Athlete/Contender, Apocalypse of Thomas and even Psalms of Thomas. All these writings are very different, they survived in different languages, and were influenced by different theologies. At the same time they have something in common - not a single of these writings made it to the Bible. Writings associated with Thomas were mistrusted by the official church and many of them were actively suppressed. Censorship was so successful that some were discovered only recently and by pure chance. That begs a question: Is it possible that the famous biblical story of “unbelieving Thomas” (John 20:19-29) was an attempt by early orthodox Christians to label, brand, dismiss and suppress these heterodox writings and groups which produced them? Or did different unorthodox Christians pick the “unbelieving Thomas” as their patron in protest? We might never know, and both approaches are not mutually exclusive.
     This extensive and diverse literature associated with Thomas shows us the great theological broadness of early Christians. And that is also something you might not know about the early Christianity.

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