New Indian-Chennai News + more

Members Login
Username 
 
Password 
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Johnson Thomaskutty, Saint Thomas the Apostle - Book review


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Johnson Thomaskutty, Saint Thomas the Apostle - Book review
Permalink  
 


Book Review: “Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions” (Bloomsbury T & T Clark)

Posted: February 22, 2019 in General

Bloomsbury Book PictureJohnson Thomaskutty, Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions (Jewish and Christian Texts in Contexts and Related Studies 25; London/New York: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2018). Pp. xx + 256.

Saint Thomas the Apostle is an excellent study of Thomas traditions in the Gospel according to John, the Apocryphal texts, and the historical traditions in North western and Southern India. The movement of Christianity towards the East is relatively neglected. Many of the traditions and writings were treated more or less fictional and legendary and their historical veracity is often looked down with suspicion. But there are many untold stories of these men and women who were so close to Jesus of Nazareth. The Eastern regions have always maintained their fascinations about these people. One of such figures in the Christian history, a tiny figure amidst the towering figures like Paul and Peter, is Thomas, the Twin. Charlesworth has rightly commented in the Foreword that Thomas has been maligned in the west as the doubting Thomas, because of the misinterpretation of John 20 and therefore Thomas did not make, in the eyes of many, an ideal disciple (p. xi). This study challenges such conventional and stereotyped images and scholarly assumptions regarding Thomas traditions.

This monograph is indeed a remarkable effort to understand the person and work of “Didymus Judas Thomas” (p. 1).  The author’s attempt to reclaim the original image of Thomas as “believing Thomas,” over against the popular image “doubting Thomas,” needs appreciation.  In doing this, the author investigates the development of Thomas literature from its earliest stages, reads those traditions with fresh insights and scrutinizes the Thomas Literature to delineate the character and mission of Thomas. The author builds his thesis furthering the propositions of Charlesworth, as its basis, and cuts its own path employing an interdisciplinary method.

This monograph divides Thomas literature into three categories: canonical references, apocryphal documents, and traditio-historical materials. By interweaving these three layers of documents, the attempt is made to reconstruct the personality of Thomas. This research is structured into three parts. The first part (chaps. 1-4) talks in a detailed way how Thomas is portrayed in the Fourth Gospel. The second part (chaps. 5-8) delineates the person and work of Thomas in the Apocryphal documents and part three (chaps. 9-10) examines the Thomas traditions and attempts to reconstruct the Thomas community. In doing this, a brilliant attempt is made to reconstruct the person of Thomas as a historical and a literary figure.

In the first part, the attempt is to focus Thomas’s character within the narrative framework of the Gospel of John. The author brilliantly explains the “narrative artistry” of Johannine literature with an insightful reading of all four Thomas narratives in the Fourth Gospel (p. 5). The unique placement of Thomas, to the author, communicates something significant about the character and his development within the narrative. The utterances of Thomas is exegetically analyzed with its stylistic and rhetorical effects in the narrative units. In addition, the character of Thomas is brought forward from new directions by analyzing the arrangement of various themes like belief, love, glory and the titles given to Jesus.

The first place where Thomas comes to the forefront of the narrative is in John 11. Apparently, it is the narrative about the death of Lazarus, but at a deeper level it is pointing to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This narrative twist is done through the portrayal of Thomas, in which Thomas’s utterance impacts the whole story of Lazarus. This utterance makes crucial Christological turn in the narrative. Thus, Thomas is presented as one who stands against all odds and stands with the decisions and plans of Jesus and as a key figure in the plot of the story of Jesus (p. 34). The second occurrence of Thomas is in the Farewell discourse (13:1-17:26). By interpreting the question in 14:5 with its rhetorical effects in the narrative, the author brings forth the person of Thomas as one filled with love and concern for Jesus. His questions and utterances in the narrative enhance rhetorical force initiating new revelations. The third occurrence is in 20:1-31. This passage gives the highest Christological confession in the Gospel, the theological climax of the whole narrative. The expression “My Lord and My God” is also ‘rhetoric of resistance’ and therefore it can also be understood from its imperial context and its affiliative-alterity (mimicking and mocking) dynamics. The final appearance is in chapter 21:1-25, which is interpreted as a narrative expansion to stabilize the role and function of Thomas.

The second part of this book analyses the portrayal of Thomas in the Apocryphal documents to see how Thomas traditions continued to exist in the early centuries. It also delineates the significance of Thomas in the post-Johannine context. The Gospel of Thomas is the first document in this category, which is attributed to Didymus Judas Thomas (p. 90). He was identified within the Syrian church as the apostle and twin brother of Jesus. This document helps the reader to understand Thomas’s unique leadership role, his special knowledge about Jesus, and his unparalleled position in early Christianity (p. 101-102). The second document is ‘Book of Thomas the Contender,’ which is a revelation dialogue between Jesus and Thomas (p. 106). This book throws light regarding the engagement of the Thomasine community with that of the ideological and philosophical world of early Christian centuries. Book of Thomas portrays Thomas and his community (Thomasine community) with special attachment to Jesus and ability to comprehend Jesus’ sayings, while the rest of the world is in ignorance. Thus the person and character of Thomas could be seen as an extension of the Johannine tradition.

The Acts of Thomas and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas are the next two documents examined in this study. These documents give further information regarding Thomas’ significance and influence among the communities of faith. In the Acts of Thomas, the Apostle Thomas is described as the Apostle to the East, and more specifically as the Apostle of India (p. 122). This book indicates Thomas’ journeys beyond the Greco–Roman world, to the Eastern Hemisphere, especially to the Indo-Parthian and South Indian regions. This shows Thomas’s character and identity as a disciple with an intimate relationship with and commitment to Jesus and as one who crosses the geographical boundaries, and as one engaging with people from varied walks of life. Just as in the Fourth Gospel, he appears as Jesus’s spiritual twin and proclaims him as “My Lord and my God” (p. 125). The infancy Gospel of Thomas tells the stories of Jesus’ childhood, the stories that were in circulation regarding the earthly Jesus. Thomas was perceived as a philosopher (p. 142), a childhood friend and as a twin brother of Jesus in this document. The author brilliantly reconstructs the growth of Thomas from a “childhood friend” to an “earlier disciple” and later on to a “mature believer” (p. 149).

The third part of this monograph explores the historical traditions related to Thomas. Firstly, there is an attempt to understand the way the nation of India was perceived in antiquity and the possibilities of Thomas’s coming to the Greater Indian provinces. It is an established fact that through trade relationships, India became well connected to the rest of the world, especially the Jewish, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, and Persian kingdoms. Then the patristic evidences are marshaled to prove Thomas’ apostleship to India. Such traditions, for the author, were unanimous, consistent, and reasonably early, and they circulated among the church fathers, travelers, traders, geographers, and historians from a wider geographical area. To the author there is no convincing contradictory evidence stating that Thomas did not go to India.

Author’s analyses of the historical perception of the person and work of Thomas from the tradition- historical material deserve appreciation. Firstly, it is reconstructed from the Synoptic Gospels, Fourth Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. The author argues that the spiritual experiences on the day of Pentecost and in the upper room, the emerging situation of persecution in the Jerusalemite context, and the post-council (i.e., 49 CE) attitude of the mother church toward missions would have challenged Thomas to pursue the task of going beyond the Jewish and Greco–Roman boundaries. The evidences from the records of church fathers, historians, travelers, and geographers are called forth in proving Thomas’s visit to India. Thomas Christianity, though rooted in the Palestinian Jesus movement and connected to Gentile Christianity, kept its own identity as a mystical, ascetic, and esoteric group spread throughout the East Syrian, Persian, Indo-Parthian, and South Indian provinces. The living tradition of Malabar, the tomb of Mylapore, archaeological evidence relating to the kingdom of Gundaphoros, the local traditions of Malabar including the Ramban Thoma Pattu, Margan Kali Pattu, Veeradian Pattu, and other traditions, are indicators of such growth of Thomas Christianity. The author strongly argues that the traditions about Thomas as one of the oldest and strongest traditions in church history.

The author’s brilliant integration of Thomas’s literary character, historical persona, and theological traits for a comprehensive understanding of his person and work deserves appreciation. The reconstruction of Thomasine community and its development as a unique, concrete, and consistent movement in history, with its expressive forms, especially the Malabar traditions is enlightening and makes this monograph a valuable contribution to the academia. The meticulous examination of the development of this Thomasine movement through the Thomasine Literature indeed evidences the nature of research and its excellence. The quest for the person and work of Thomas and his community through these traditions is indeed a contribution to the theological fraternity across the globe.  With these analyses, the author proposes reasons for a Thomasine School hypothesis. This study of Thomas with the help of an interdisciplinary approach is iconoclastic in nature. With this eclectic reading, the author proves how Thomas stands tall as a unique figure in the history of Christianity. This is an interesting book for all theological students, biblical scholars and researchers on history of Christianity.

Dr. Biju Chacko

New Theological College

Dehra Dun, India.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

BOOK REVIEW: SAINT THOMAS IN EARLY CHRISTIAN TRADITION

Posted: June 29, 2018 in General

Bloomsbury Book PictureJohnson Thomaskutty, Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions, Jewish and Christian Texts in Contexts and Related Studies 25 (London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2018, ₤85.00. pp. xx + 265. ISBN 978-05676-7284-1).

This is a monograph with an edge. It emerged from a postdoctoral research project, but its aim was no mundane textual re-examination of early literary texts referring to the apostle Thomas. Instead, this study adopts an interdisciplinary approach to challenge what is seen as the pervasive assumption that the extra-canonical texts referring to Thomas are purely fictive. Thomaskutty frames his research question in the following manner: ‘Are the Thomas references in the Gospel of John, the Thomas compositions, and the early Thomas traditions in north-western and southern India purely legendary as biblical scholars have assumed or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently as the Thomas Christians in India have believed?’ (p. 1). While Thomaskutty is correct that scholars have tended to see the so-called Thomas compositions as largely fictive, it might be overstating the case to say that biblical scholars have understood these traditions as entirely legendary. The link between the figure of Thomas and eastern Christianity, and perhaps with India itself has occasioned consideration of whether there might be an historical kernel to this tradition. Thomaskutty, however, undertakes a comprehensive study of early Thomas material to provide a more encompassing portrait of the figure of Thomas.

As the subtitle suggests the book is arranged in three parts, dealing in turn with Thomas in the Gospel of John, Thomas in the Apocryphal Documents, and Thomas in the Historical Traditions. In terms of arrangement, the reason for treating the Thomas in the Gospel of John as a discrete section, while examining the other New Testament texts that refer to Thomas (in disciple lists: Matt 10.3; Mk 3.18; Lk 6.5; Acts 1.13) in the third section on historical contexts is not entirely obvious. It is argued that in the fourth gospel Thomas’s portrayal is that of ‘a royal, inquisitive, and developing model, his character advances towards a new level of faith commitment’ (p. 85). In the second section Thomaskutty examines four Thomas texts—The Gospel of ThomasThe Book of Thomas the ContenderThe Acts of ThomasThe Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Analysis of these texts leads Thomaskutty to observe the proximity of Thomas to Jesus particularly in terms an attachment to Jesus that results in a deeper comprehension of his sayings. The twin-motif is emphasized (p. 119). However, one may question whether it is present in all these texts (cf. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas). Particularly helpful is the discussion of Thomas Christianity in India (pp. 197-201). Thomaskutty notes that Thomas Christianity possesses ‘a spirituality that focuses on the glorious trinity’ (p. 199). Presumably that aspect of spirituality did not originate with the figure of Thomas in the first century, but may evidence contact between Thomas Christianity and church traditions to the west.

In the end this is an intriguing study, which raises many significant questions. The author is to be commended for marshalling the evidence in a way that lends some support to the ideas being articulated. This volume now stands alongside a growing literature on early Thomas texts and traditions.

By Prof. Paul Foster, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, UK.

(Published in The Expository Times 129/11: p. 524).



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

An Interview with Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty about his new book on “Saint Thomas the Apostle”

Thomas the apostle has received relatively little interest in western theology. I knew from friends who came from Kerala in India that Thomas plays a much more important role in their thinking. It is a great pleasure to host an interview about a new book on Thomas which demonstrates his importance in both the New Testament and in the early church.

(1) Why did you choose Thomas’s character as your topic for post-doctoral research?

Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty is Head of the Department of New Testament and Christian Origins at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, IndiaLong Description
Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty is Head of the Department of New Testament and Christian Origins at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

Rob, it is an interesting question. Thomas was a fascinating character right from the beginning of my life in Kerala, India. In tradition, Kerala was well known as the land of Thomas and Thomas Christians. The following are some of the other reasons facilitated my thinking further: first, as a person who was born in a Saint Thomas Syrian Christian family, we always cherished his traditions and that further created in me a sense of identity as a Thomas Christian; second, my learning related to Saint Thomas in the Bachelor of Divinity (BD) and Master of Theology (MTh) classes under Senate of Serampore College, especially both in favor of or against the views of his coming to India, inspired me to advance in this field of study; third, my second Master of Theology (ThM) degree in Princeton Seminary, USA, was a good time to facilitate interactions and discussions with a reputed Thomas scholar Prof. James H. Charlesworth who motivated me to take up this topic seriously; fourth, the classes on John’s Gospel under Prof. George L. Parsenios enabled me to understand the complex character of Thomas in the Fourth Gospel; and fifth, as a PhD student at Radboud University Nijmegen, Holland, I was continually inspired by the Center for the Study of Oriental Christianity to take initiative in the field of Thomas studies.

These reasons were enough to continue in my thinking about the character of Thomas and Thomas Christianity. The inspiration and fellowships I received from Global Research Institute (GRI) of Fuller Theological Seminary, Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins (FJCO), and Center for South Asian Research (CSAR) also inspired me to take up the challenge. I thank Union Biblical Seminary administration for giving a year-long sabbatical for the successful completion of the research.

(2) How do your views deviate from the popular understanding of Thomas’s character? Do you think that Thomas is a synonym for doubt and unbelief?

Thomas appears as one of the most misunderstood characters from the early stages of New Testament history and interpretation. The nickname ascribed to him, “doubting Thomas,” is mostly accepted as a synonym for doubt, unbelief, and lack of devotion. The usual practice of studying the character of Thomas from the New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions independently has kept interpreters from reaching a broader understanding of the character. The limitation of studying the character of Thomas independently within the limits of canonical, extracanonical, and historical disciplines has created gaps within Thomas studies. This situation persuades us to review the Thomas Literature integratively to understand the character from a broader purview.

The present book addresses the following questions: Was Thomas merely a “doubting Thomas” or was he a “believing Thomas?” How will a study of Thomas that bridges New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions provide a broader understanding of the character? How is a disciplinary perspective limited in its scope in the study of Thomas, and can an interdisciplinary perspective enable us to perceive the character comprehensively? How was Thomas connected to Eastern Christianity and how does the Thomas Literature support this link? Can we understand the Thomas traditions related to Judea, East Syria, Persia, Indo-Parthia, and South India with the help of canonical, extracanonical, and traditio-historical documents? These questions must be dealt with adequately in the process of exploring the Thomas Literature. Thus, the task of the study is threefold: to investigate the development of the Thomas Literature from the earliest stages, to understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Thomas documents, and to analyze the Thomas Literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.

(3) Why did you choose the title “Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions?”

The book has a structure of its own and it incorporates views from the New Testament, especially Johannine, understanding of Thomas, his appearance in the apocryphal documents, and the widespread understanding of his person and work in the historical traditions. In view of that, the 10 chapters of the book are divided under three parts. In Part One (chapters 1-4), the study foregrounds the character of Thomas within the framework of John’s Gospel through a narrative-critical analysis. In this section, I trace how Thomas appears in the four episodes of the Gospel (11:16; 14:5; 20:24-29; 21:2) and how the explicit and implicit aspects of the Gospel together bring his character into the limelight. Part Two (chapters 5-8) throws light on how Thomas appears in The Gospel of Thomas (GTh), The Book of Thomas the Contender (BTh), The Acts of Thomas (ATh), and The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (IGTh) and how the apocryphal documents further advance the Johannine portrayal. Part Three (chapters 9-10) investigates how the historical traditions can be integrated together to build further upon the canonical and extracanonical details. Chapter 10 attempts to reconstruct a history of the person and work of Thomas by combining the perspectives from the Synoptic Gospels, the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Acts, the apocryphal documents, the traditions from the church fathers, the communitarian perspectives, and the traditions of the Thomas Christians. In the conclusion, I signal how a comprehensive understanding of Thomas becomes possible through a scientific reading of all these materials.

(4) What methodological principles did you adopt in this research? Why you consider the research to be interdisciplinary in its approach?

This monograph is an attempt to expound a holistic understanding of the person and work of Thomas combining the information about him in the New Testament, the so-called apocrypha documents, and the traditional-historical materials. The task, therefore, is to identify how Thomas is perceived in the Thomas Literature. I take up this research with a hope that a dynamic interwovenness of the three major layers of documents and traditions provide an overview of his personality. In order to achieve the expected goal, I treat the character of Thomas following an integrated dynamic of interpretation. Reconstructing a history of the character based on the literary, historical, and theological highlights of the Thomas Literature will enhance the scope of the study. Furthermore, the study will explore the conceptualization of the Twin motif and the significance of the two monuments such as the living tradition of Malabar and the tomb of Mylapore. In short, the study is an attempt to implement an interdisciplinary analysis as an overarching approach to pull things together in understanding the overall picture of Thomas’s character. This analysis contributes to the advancement of a thorough interpretation of the identity of Thomas both as a literary character and as a historical figure.

Thomas traditions in John and in the so-called apocryphal works, like the GTh, BTh, ATh, and IGTh, have long been misunderstood. They have been explained from the perspective of Jesus’s disciples who went to the West, especially to Rome. The so-called apocryphal documents were composed long before there was any canon of the New Testament, and they must not be branded as ‘non-canonical.’ The present monograph examines all the traditions focused on Thomas from an interdisciplinary perspective. The insights and conclusions have proved surprising and challenge the well-known claim that there is no history in some of these very early traditions.

(5) What does your book conclude about the popular view that Thomas is “the Apostle to the East?”

The last two chapters provide us with an overview of the Thomas documents from geographically vast areas over a chronologically extended period of time. The details regarding Thomas outlined in the Johannine and the apocryphal documents are further substantiated by the traditions from the church fathers, historians, travelers, and geographers. Chapter 9 concludes that India had a well-established trade relationship with the rest of the world, even before the beginning of Christianity. Hence, India was not a terra incognita for outsiders during the post-resurrection period. Furthermore, we can now expound how Thomas’s apostleship to India was unanimously accepted, consistent, and reasonably early. As Thomas’s Indian apostolate was acknowledged over a longer period of time and there were no convincing contradictory views, it continues to remain as an accepted view in historical documents of the church. Chapter 10 further demonstrates how we can reconstruct a history of Thomas based on New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions. Based on all the arguments from canonical, extracanonical, and traditio-historical documents, I attempt to understand Thomas from an Eastern point of view.

Finally, thank you Rob for all these interesting questions concerning my book on Thomas.


 

Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, Historical TraditionsLong Description
Here at the details of the book:

 

“Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, Historical Traditions”

Series: Jewish and Christian Texts Series 25

Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark

Author: Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty is Head of the Department of New Testament and Christian Origins at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India. He is author of “Dialogue in the Book of Signs: A Polyvalent Analysis of John 1:19-12:50” (Biblical Interpretation Series 136; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015). His forthcoming monograph is entitled “Saint Bartholomew the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions” (Fortress Press).



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

Blog Interview – Rev Johnson Thomaskutty Ph.D – The Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

ubs_logoI am continuing my series on theological training around the world and this week I am interviewing Johnson Thomaskutty of The Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at The Union Biblical Seminary (UBS)

248934_1880842394768_3297602_n
Rev Johnson Thomaskutty, Ph.D.

I am Johnson Thomaskutty. I am the General Editor of ‘Union Biblical Seminary Journal’ (also called UBS Journal) and also Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek at the seminary.

2) Tell us a little about The Union Biblical Seminary

The story of UBS goes back to October 1938 when the first systematic Bible training school was opened by the Free Methodist Church at Yavatmal, Maharashtra, Western India, with Dr. Frank J. Kline as its first principal. In 1953 the UBS was officially constituted as a joint effort of eleven mission and church groups. The seminary was relocated in 1983 to the new campus in Pune. The campus is on a beautiful hillock, overlooking the city. We now offer BD (Bachelor of Divinity), MTh (Master of Theology in OT, NT, Theology, Missions, Christian Ministry), and DTh (Doctor of Theology), with affiliation from the Senate of Serampore University (SSU). All these programs are in English. We offer BBS (Bachelor of Biblical Studies) and MDiv (Master of Theology) in English, Hindi, and Marathi languages, with accreditation from Asia Theological Association (ATA). We also offer courses on women studies and children ministry. Our training is bible-centered, evangelical, and interdenominational with emphasis on the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural aspects of South Asian context. The total number of students is almost 1,200. For more details, visit the website here.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

While all the Senate of Serampore University programs are residential and full-time, the Asia Theological Association programs are part-time.

4) How do The Union Biblical Seminary students fund their studies?

UBS Picture 2Mostly the students are supported by the denominational churches, mission organisations, and funding agencies.

5) Does The Union Biblical Seminary take students from overseas?

Yes, we have a tradition of taking students from Bangladesh, Nepal, Korea, and other Asian nations. At the same time we are open to have students from other parts of the world. Our faculty representation from different Asian countries, America and Europe might help us to accommodate students from any parts of the world.

6) What type of ministry is The Union Biblical Seminary intended to prepare students for?

UBS trains future pastors for different denominational churches, academicians for theological institutions, mission leaders and office bearers for NGOs and other organizations, and through our extension programs a large number of lay leaders in India and overseas.

7) When students leave The Union Biblical Seminary what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

The students who are trained in the residential sessions usually go for full-time pastoral, mission, and ministerial and cross-cultural engagements, academic and leadership positions, pioneering and church planting ministries, slum and urban missions, bible translation, and the like. But those trained through the extension department are divided into two categories: first, those who choose to do full-time pastoral engagement; and second, those who stay in their secular professions and serve the humanity in different capacities as servant-leaders.

8) What is distinctive about what The Union Biblical Seminary offers compared with other colleges in India and overseas?

UBS Picture 1UBS is one of the leading evangelical theological institutions in South Asia. The motto of the seminary, i.e., “Committed to wholistic training of servant-leaders and scholar-saints for a biblio-centric ministry in a contemporary world”, speaks about its three-fold (i.e., biblical, spiritual, and practical) ministerial commitment. The UBS is unique in the sense that it represents evangelical Christians from almost all the major Indian ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups as well as from other countries. The dynamic principle of ‘unity in diversity’ finds expression in everyday experience based on the solid foundation of the person of Jesus Christ, to whom every member of the UBS family is committed. The vision of UBS from its founding is the fulfilling of the Great Commission in the contemporary socio-economic, cultural and religious context of India. This involves training committed men and women to become more effective ministers and mission leaders who will facilitate the Indian Church in fulfilling its calling. In other words, the Seminary sees itself as the handmaid of the Indian Church, and this self-understanding is reflected in all it seeks to do.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

We have one of the best theological libraries in South Asia, especially in India, with many of the modern research facilities. We have recently started a research and resource centre in addition to the old facilities.

10) Does The Union Biblical Seminary offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

We seriously think of starting on-line courses in the immediate future. But our extension department is widely spread in India, other Asian countries, Middle East, Europe, and United States of America.

My thanks to Dr Thomaskutty for his fascinating contribution to the series. You can read more about Johnson’s work on this blog, which you will find here.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

 

Bartholomew Picture

This monograph is the first study of the Bartholomew Traditions in the East from an interdisciplinary perspective. The focal question is as follows: Are the Bartholomew traditions in the New Testament, in the apocryphal Bartholomew compositions, and the early Bartholomew traditions in India purely legendary (as biblical scholars have assumed) or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently? The general tendency of studying the character of Bartholomew from the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions, independently from one another, led the interpreters far from a broader understanding of the character. The dichotomy of studying the character of independently from the limits of canonical, apocryphal, and historical disciplines created a lot of gaps within the area of Bartholomew studies. This situation persuades us to look at the Bartholomew literature comprehensively to understand the character from a broader perspective. The current study is also intended to address the following subsidiary questions: Did we understand Bartholomew comprehensively by bridging the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions together? Or did we understand him only through disciplinary perspectives? Are Bartholomew and Nathanael in the gospel traditions one and same personality or are they different characters? How can an interdisciplinary perspective help us to understand the character comprehensively? How was Bartholomew connected to the Eastern Christianity and how does the Bartholomew literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Bartholomew traditions related to diverse geographical locations with the help of canonical, extra-canonical, and traditio-historical documents? These questions will be adequately dealt with in the process of exploring the Bartholomew literature. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the Bartholomew literature right from the beginning, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Bartholomew documents, and analyze the Bartholomew literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

Bartholomew Picture

This monograph is the first study of the Bartholomew Traditions in the East from an interdisciplinary perspective. The focal question is as follows: Are the Bartholomew traditions in the New Testament, in the apocryphal Bartholomew compositions, and the early Bartholomew traditions in India purely legendary (as biblical scholars have assumed) or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently? The general tendency of studying the character of Bartholomew from the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions, independently from one another, led the interpreters far from a broader understanding of the character. The dichotomy of studying the character of independently from the limits of canonical, apocryphal, and historical disciplines created a lot of gaps within the area of Bartholomew studies. This situation persuades us to look at the Bartholomew literature comprehensively to understand the character from a broader perspective. The current study is also intended to address the following subsidiary questions: Did we understand Bartholomew comprehensively by bridging the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions together? Or did we understand him only through disciplinary perspectives? Are Bartholomew and Nathanael in the gospel traditions one and same personality or are they different characters? How can an interdisciplinary perspective help us to understand the character comprehensively? How was Bartholomew connected to the Eastern Christianity and how does the Bartholomew literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Bartholomew traditions related to diverse geographical locations with the help of canonical, extra-canonical, and traditio-historical documents? These questions will be adequately dealt with in the process of exploring the Bartholomew literature. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the Bartholomew literature right from the beginning, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Bartholomew documents, and analyze the Bartholomew literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

Bloomsbury Book PictureHypothesis

Thomas traditions in John and in the so-called apocryphal works, like the Gospel of Thomas (GTh), the Book of Thomas(BTh), the Acts of Thomas (ATh), and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (IGTh), have long been misunderstood. They have been explained from the perspective of Jesus’ disciples who went to the West, especially to Rome. The so-called apocryphal documents were composed long before there was any canon of the NT, and they must not be branded as ‘non-canonical.’ The present monograph examines all the traditions focused on Thomas from an interdisciplinary perspective. The insights and conclusions have proved surprising and challenge the well-known claim that there is no history in some of these very early traditions. The focal question is the following: Are the Thomas references in the Gospel of John, in the Thomas compositions, and the early Thomas traditions in the North-Western and Southren India purely legendary as biblical scholars have assumed or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently as the Thomas Christians in India have believed? Thus, this study is an endeavor to understand the person and work of Didymus Judas Thomas from a comprehensive perspective and interdisciplinary methodology.

Thomas appears as one of the most misunderstood characters from the early stages of NT history and interpretation. The nickname ascribed to him (that is, ‘doubting Thomas’) is mostly accepted as a synonymn for doubt, unbelief, and lack of devotion. The usual practice of studying the character of Thomas from the NT, apocrypha and historical traditions independently from one another, kept the interpreters far from a broader understanding of the character. The dichotomy of studying the character of Thomas independently from within the limits of canonical, extra-canonical, and historical disciplines created gaps within Thomas studies. This situation persuades us to review the Thomas Literature (hereafter TL) integratively to understand the character from a broader purview. The current study addresses the following questions: Was Thomas merely a ‘doubting Thomas’ or was he a ‘believing Thomas’? How will a study of Thomas that bridges the NT, apocrypha, and historical traditions provide a broader understanding of the character? How is a disciplinary perspective limited in its scope in the study of Thomas, and can an interdisciplinary perspective enables us to perceive the character comprehensively? How was Thomas connected to Eastern Christianity and how do the Thomas literature support this connectivity? Can we understand the Thomas traditions related to Judea, East Syria, Persia, Indo-Parthia, and South India with the help of canonical, extra-canonical, and traditional-historical documents? These questions have to be dealt with adequately in the process of exploring the TL. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the TL right from the beginning stages, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Thomas documents, and analyze the TL integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.

Endorsements

“I find most attractive Thomaskutty’s interdisciplinary methodology. It is both revolutionary and refreshing. He examines the four selected texts [i.e., GTh, BTh, ATh, and IGTh] using textual criticism, biblical criticism, narrative criticism, and theological reflections. He is well read and knows the strengths of the leading scholars. His review includes the so-called canonical texts, the apocryphal compositions, and historical traditions in both collections.” (James H. Charlesworth, George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary, USA)

“Prof. Thomaskutty offers a comprehensive assessment of the evidence for the Apostle Thomas within the New Testament, in early Christian literature, and in the traditions of the Church, particularly the church in India, which has long venerated the Apostle Thomas as its founder. Thoroughly researched and carefully argued, Prof. Thomaskutty’s treatment will be a valuable resource to scholars of the early church and to anyone interested in the development of apostolic traditions outside the western sphere.” (Harold W. Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity, Yale Divinity School, USA)

“Based on careful reading of all the ancient primary sources and attention to the traditions of India, Prof. Thomaskutty has succeeded in bringing the Apostle Thomas to life, in all his complexity. Anyone interested in the Apostle Thomas ‘the Twin’ would do well to start here.” (Charles M. Stang, Professor of Early Christian Thought, Harvard Divinity School, USA)

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

18194138_10210978303887547_8220654040290507346_nMy Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Tyndale House, Cambridge, UK, during the whole month of May 2017, contributed some of the significant moments in my life. As a scholar in residence, I had access to both the Tyndale House and the University of Cambridge libraries. I thank Dr. Peter Williams, the Principal and Warden of the Tyndale House, for extending all the possible helps for my travel, stay and research in the Cambridge area. During my stay in Cambridge, I also had the opportunity to visit the University of Oxford (Bodleian) library and some of the significant historical locations and colleges of that area. It was one of the rarest moments for me to attend the Oxford Center for Mission Studies (OCMS) graduation ceremony. My visit to the British Library and the British Museum in London adds further significance to my stay in UK. I was able to witness some of the significant New Testament manuscripts such as the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Alexandrinus, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, the Codex Bezae, and many other ancient versions and translations of the New Testament.

The Tyndale House Chapel Services on Tuesdays and the Barbecues on Fridays were good times for spiritual, friendly, and scholarly interactions with some of the world-class scholars. The coffee-break times at 11 AM and 4 PM on every day strengthened our relationship with one another. It was one of my rare opportunities to meet and interact with reputed scholars such as Prof. Richard Bauckham (St. Andrews), Dr. Simon Gathercole (Cambridge), Prof. John Barclay (Durham), Dr. Peter Williams (Tyndale), Dr. Dirk Jongkind (Tyndale), Dr. David Instone-Brewer (Tyndale), Prof. Markus Bockmuehl (Oxford), Prof. Judith M. Lieu (Cambridge), Prof. Morna D. Hooker (Cambridge), and many others in diverse occasions in UK. Their insights on my post-doctoral research work as well as on many other related topics helped me to build my thoughts and attune my ideas about the person and work of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. During my stay in Cambridge, I was able to put a strong foundation for my monograph, collect the maximum number of materials, and establish a good scholarly bond with several international scholars. On several occasions, I was able to present my book proposal in individual and small group settings and received feedback from reputed scholars.

18622576_1336860156433091_6084452016179902532_nMy current monograph is entitled “Saint Bartholomew the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions,” which is signed for Fortress Press, Minneapolis, and is expected to be finished in 2018. This is the first study of the Bartholomew traditions in the East from an interdisciplinary perspective. The focal question is as follows: Are the Bartholomew traditions in the New Testament, in the apocryphal Bartholomew compositions, and the early Bartholomew traditions in India and other parts of the world purely legendary (as biblical scholars have assumed) or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently? The general tendency of studying the character of Bartholomew from the New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions, independently from one another, led the interpreters far from a broader understanding of the character. The dichotomy of studying the character independently from the limits of canonical, apocryphal, and historical disciplines created a lot of gaps within the area of Bartholomew studies. This situation persuades me to look at the Bartholomew literature comprehensively to understand the character from a broader perspective.

The current study is also intended to address the following subsidiary questions: Are Bartholomew and Nathanael in the gospel traditions same personality or are they different characters? How can an interdisciplinary perspective help us to understand the character of Bartholomew comprehensively? How was Bartholomew connected to the Eastern Christianity and how does the Bartholomew literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Bartholomew traditions related to diverse geographical locations with the help of canonical, extra-canonical, and traditional-historical documents? These questions will be adequately dealt with in the process of exploring the Bartholomew literature. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the Bartholomew literature right from the beginning, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Bartholomew documents, and analyze the Bartholomew literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, HOD of NT, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

st.thomasThe proposed title of the monograph is “Didymus Judas Thomas: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions.” A contract is signed with Bloomsbury T&T Clark (Bedford Square, London) to publish the monograph in the “Jewish and Christian Texts” Series edited by James H. Charlesworth. The word limit is 120,000 and the manuscript delivery date is February 28, 2017. The monograph will also have a Foreword by James H. Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary. I was privileged to get the following fellowships to continue my project: Global Research Institute (GRI) Fellowship of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California; Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins (FJCO) Fellowship, Princeton, New Jersey; and Centre for South Asia Research (CSAR) Foundation in Bangalore, India, a collaborative program of ScholarLeaders International, Theological Book Network, and South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies. Above all, I once again express my thanks to Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, for granting me sabbatical leave from October 1, 2015 till September 30, 2016.

This monograph is the first study of the Thomas Traditions in the East from an interdisciplinary methodology. The focal question is as follows: Are the Thomas traditions in the Gospel of John, in the apocryphal Thomas compositions, and the early Thomas Traditions in Southwest India purely legendary (as biblical scholars have assumed) or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently (as the Thomas Christians in India have assumed)?

Didymus Judas Thomas is one of the most misunderstood characters from the beginning of the New Testament history and interpretation. The nickname ascribed to Thomas (as “doubting Thomas”) is mostly accepted as a synonym for ‘doubt,’ ‘unbelief,’ and ‘lack of devotion.’ The general tendency of studying the character from the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions, independently from one another, led the interpreters aloof from a broader understanding of the character. The dichotomy of studying the character of Thomas independently from within the limits of canonical, apocryphal, and historical disciplines created a lot of gaps within the area of Thomas studies. This situation persuades us to look at the Thomas literature comprehensively to understand the character from a broader perspective.

The current study is intended to address the following questions: Whether Thomas was a merely a ‘doubting Thomas’ or he was a ‘genuine Thomas’? Did we understand Thomas comprehensively by bridging the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions together? Or did we understand him only through disciplinary perspectives? How an interdisciplinary perspective can help us to understand the character comprehensively? How was Thomas connected to the Eastern Christianity and how does the Thomas literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Thomas traditions related to Judea, Syria, and India with the help of canonical, extra-canonical, and traditio-historical documents? These questions have to be adequately dealt with in the process of exploring the Thomas literature. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the Thomas literature right from the beginning, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Thomas documents, and analyze the Thomas literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.

Thanks to my friends, colleagues, students, and family members for your love and support.

Johnson Thomaskutty, Bangalore, India.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

BrownHallPrincetonUniversity

Prof. James H. Charlesworth is the first scholar who inspired me to write a book on Apostle Thomas with an eastern perspective. After my fruitful time with him in Princeton Theological Seminary (as a ThM student; 2004-2005), at École biblique archéologique française de Jérusalem to plan my Thomas project (June 2013), and during the SBL/AAR meetings in Atlanta, Georgia (November 2015), I was fortunate to receive a Fellowship from Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins (FJCO) to have a further consultation with him at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, and other scholars in Boston University and Harvard Divinity School in Massachusetts. I was granted a Fellowship for the period of April 1-24, 2016, to fulfill the research requirements before my departure to India. The book entitled “Didymus Judas Thomas: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions” shall be published by T & T Clark (Bloomsbury) with a Foreword chapter of Prof. James H. Charlesworth. I press hard to finish the project by the end of 2016. The following are the highlights of my time in Princeton, Boston, Harvard, and other areas in New England and Tri-state areas of the United States of America.

On April 5, 2016, an appointment was scheduled with Prof. Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission and Director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at Boston University, Massachusetts. Her suggestion to connect Thomas of the earlier traditions (i.e., Thomas of the biblical history and historical traditions) with the twenty-first century Thomas communities (especially the Diaspora Indian communities) was helpful to bypass the odds of the Middle Ages. I appreciate her view that as “Children of Thomas” we need to trace back to our earlier history rooted in the person and work of Thomas.

On April 6, 2016, I was invited by Prof. Karen L. King, Hollis Professor of Divinity, as a resource person at Harvard Divinity School. I was interviewed by her and the whole section was filmed at the Harvard EdX studio in Harvard Square. It was scheduled for the course “World Religions [Christianity] Through Their Scriptures.” It was done on the topic “Thomas Christianity in India.” An edited version of the interview shall appear on the site of Harvard University shortly. I also had good interactions with Prof. Francis X. Clooney, S. J. (Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions) and Prof. Charles M. Stang (Professor of Early Christian Thought) at the university. The suggestions by Karen L. King, Francis X. Clooney, and Charles M. Stang were significant toward the progress of my research.

The following were the three questions posed by Prof. Karen L. King during the interview: first, I understand that Christianity came to the Malabar Coast of India very early, at least within the first few centuries after the death of Jesus.  Please tell us more about the early history of Christianity in India; second, would you say more about what Thomas Christianity is like?  [i.e., how would you characterize its core character and distinctive features to our global audience?  You might choose to talk about early tradition or your own contemporary tradition.  Perhaps an anecdote that conveys this sense?]; and third, as I understand it, there are more than 70 million Christians in India today. What would you say is the most important issue these Christians are facing? I had twenty-five to thirty minutes to answer these questions.

My stay in closer proximity with Prof. James H. Charlesworth helped me to develop my research with a lot of insights from him. His reflections from historical, literary, and archaeological insights shall definitely strengthen my arguments during the course of my writing. With that intention I stayed at the Erdman Center of Princeton Theological Seminary another time as a “Thomas Researcher.” Meanwhile, I was fortunate to meet other scholars of the seminary. On April 12, 2016, an appointment was scheduled with Prof. Dale C. Allison Jr., Richard J. Dearborn Professor of New Testament at PTS. We had a detailed interaction about St. Thomas from the New Testament, Apocryphal, and Historical perspectives.

On the same day afternoon, I met with Prof. George L. Parsenios, Associate Professor of New Testament at PTS. We could discuss the poem of Romanos the Melodis (6th century) about Thomas. The prelude of the poem progresses as follows: “With his meddling right hand, Thomas explored your life-giving side, Christ God; for the doors being shut when you entered, he cried out with the rest of the apostles, ‘You are our Lord and our God.’” Also we discussed Bentley Layton’s “The Gnostic Scriptures: Ancient Wisdom for the New Age.” Part Four of the book, i.e., “The School of St. Thomas,” was insightful.

On the same day evening, it was my pleasant surprise that I was invited by Prof. James H. Charlesworth to attend the PhD seminar on “Early Judaism (NT5050): Jesus Tradition and the Dead Sea Scrolls.” After the presentation of the student, Prof. Charlesworth presented his own paper entitled “Why Are the Dead Sea Scrolls Significant for Understanding Jesus and His Message?” He concluded the presentation with the following punch-line: “Jesus was no Essene, but he was influenced negatively and positively by them. The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal to us the intellectual landscape of Jesus’ mind.” At the outset of the class I was given time to present my book project (i.e., “Didymus Judas Thomas: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions”) to the class. Thereafter there was question-and-answer session between myself and the whole class. Also Prof. Charlesworth scheduled students of the class to dine with me at different times in McKay Campus Center.

12990834_10207718776641403_6433433317294910173_n

On April 13, 2016, I had an amazing interaction with Prof. Clifton C. Black, Otto A. Piper Professor of Biblical Theology at PTS. I had about one and half hours to discuss with him the following topics from the Indian point of view: Christianity in general and St. Thomas Christianity in particular, persecution and religious harmony in the multi-religious context, and the relevance of biblical theology. Thanks to him for the free gift of his own book The Rhetoric of the Gospel (Second Edition; Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013). He wrote the following as a compliment: “To Johnson Thomaskutty, friend, colleague, and brother in Christ.” After referring my publications especially the one by E.J. Brill, Prof. Clifton Black suggested my name as a “Distinguished Alumnus” to the Department of Communication at PTS.

April 14 was an accomplished day with Prof. James H. Charleswoth (Princeton): first, attended his seminar on “What Is Love?” (NT3232), where he presented a phenomenal lecture on “The Personification of Love: The Theology of Sports”; second, where I gave a lecture on the topic “Love in India: How I Perceive It?” third, visited this distinguished professor’s archives in 313 Lenox House; fourth, discussed my exegeses of the Thomas Project; and fifth, had a wonderful dinner with him. We had a total of five and half hours to complete all these. The time I spent with him was worth as he challenged me with a lot of insights both from the scripture and historical traditions concerning the person and work of Thomas. I owe him so much for his word-by-word reading and editing of my exegetical analysis of Thomas in the Gospel of John.

I had opportunities in different contexts to interact with scholars such as Dr. Jesudas Athyal and Dr. Thomas Idicula in Boston, Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian and Dr. K.G. Jose in Philadelphia, and Dr. Anand Veeraraj in New Jersey. I also acknowledge the moral and spiritual support of my friends such as Rev. M.G. Johnson, Rev. Samuel John, and Rev. Varughese Mathew (New York), Rev. Renjen Philip Cherian and Rev. Freddy Thomas (Philadelphia), and Rev. James Varughese, Mr. Anish, and Mr. Binoy (New Jersey) during my stay in this part of the USA.

Once again I acknowledge my deep gratitude and love toward Prof. James H. Charlesworth and Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins (FJCO) for the Fellowship and the insightful and meaningful time toward my scholarly pursuit. The following things were motivational during this Fellowship period: first, Prof. Charlesworth’s encouragements to explore further on the Thomasine Christianity and its growth through the centuries; second, his inspiration to explore the early eastern connections of Christianity; third, he posed a very significant question that lies at the root of the research: “Are the Thomas traditions in the Gospel of John, in the apocryphal Thomas compositions, and the early Thomas Traditions in Southwest India purely legendary (as biblical scholars have assumed) or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently (as the Thomas Christians in India have assumed)?”; fourth, his encouragement to adopt an interdisciplinary approach which explores written traditions and historical facts, oral traditions, archaeological evidences, and other areas of research broadens the perspective of the study; and fifth, our constant interaction since 2004 enlarges my understanding about the person and work of Thomas. Thanking him for all the inputs in my scholarly endeavors.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, FJCO Research Scholar, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

Mall_Day_0021.JPG

Established in 1995, the Global Research Institute (GRI) at Fuller Theological Seminary offers a fellowship to post-doctoral non-Western Christian scholars, enabling them to undertake research at Fuller Theological Seminary and complete texts for teaching in their home countries. The GRI program operates out of Fuller’s Center for Missiological Research (CMR). The Global Research Institute exists because Fuller believes that one of the primary tasks of the global Christian community is to provide local churches and Christian institutions with written material that reflects the history, needs, priorities and peculiarities of their specific contexts, and that these local concerns must matter to churches and Christian scholars everywhere. Today this need is particularly compelling in Asia, Africa and Latin America where the Church is experiencing its most rapid growth. This program provides a fellowship that allows recipients to take a two academic quarter sabbatical (6 months) to Fuller Theological Seminary’s Pasadena campus to research and write materials to further the intellectual and spiritual mission of the church in the scholar’s particular region. More details about the program go here.

I, Johnson Thomaskutty, started my GRI Research Fellowship at Fuller on 1st October 2015 and today (31st March 2016) I finish all the requirements toward its successful completion. CMR and Fuller provided the following resources toward my research: first, its extensive primary and secondary resource facilities at the David Alan Hubbard Library; second,interactions with global scholars like Marianne Meye Thompson, Frederick Dale Bruner and others from the Johannine point of view; third, interactions with New Testament scholars such as David J. Downs, Joel B. Green, Tommy Givens, Donald A. Hagner and others from the broader New Testament points of view; fourth, interactions with missional and theological points of view with Amos Yong, John Goldingay, Veli-matti Kärkkäinen, Scott Sunquist, Mark Labberton, and others; and fifth, multi-level interactions with PhD and Masters level students and scholars.

The most valuable aspects of the program include: first, encouragements from Amos Yong, Director of CMR, and his comments and recommendations; second, time-to-time personal one-on-one interactions with Marianne Meye Thompson and David J. Downs and their constructive criticisms and encouragements; third, the program helps scholars to interlock their majority worldviews and methodologies with that of the western scholarship; fourth, as a person writing about Didymos Judas Thomas I was able to see how Thomas was perceived in the western academia and was able to fill the gap with the Indian understanding of the historical person; fifth, the program provided me with a broader outlook and extended resources; sixth, provisions at various levels of the research; and seventh, I was benefited by the encouragements of GRI to attend the following conferences: (1) Golden Jubilee Conference of the School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller, Pasadena; (2) the “John and Judaism” Conference at Mercer University in Atlanta; (3) Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion Annual Conference in Atlanta; and (4) Society for Pentecostal Studies Annual Meeting in San Dimas, California.

The primary audience of my forthcoming book on Thomas would be academic scholars, students, and the common people alike. Thomas was so far looked at from a disciplinary point of view. My upcoming book attempts to address him from an interdisciplinary point of view, i.e., by bridging the New Testament, Apocryphal, and historical traditions together. Through this my ultimate aim is to invite the global audience/readers toward the historical person. A comprehensive study that focuses on Thomas and the Thomas traditions from the eastern context is a genuine need of the time. The need to build the Thomas scholarship, by bridging the eastern and the western perspectives and by interlocking the canonical, extra canonical, and traditio-historical evidences, is yet to be actualized.

I would like to make known the following things with regard to the GRI program: first, I remain ever thankful to GRI and its sponsors for this remarkable program; second, the program provided me with new insights in my thought processes about the historical person called Didymos Judas Thomas; third, special appreciation goes to Prof. Amos Yong for his initiatives to encourage and facilitate my scholarship toward the higher levels, Prof. Marianne Meye Thompson for her critical reading of my exegeses and helpful suggestions, and Prof. David J. Downs for his interactions, meal fellowships, and motivations as my academic interlocutor; fourth, the program provided me an excellent opportunity to present my views during the CMR Colloquium in Geneva Room, Fuller, Pasadena; and fifth, special thanks to both the School of World Missions and School of Theology for their openness and time-to-time encouragements.

As a Thomas scholar, I was privileged to present my views at the church pews and receive feedback from, first, Rock of the Nations Church, Norwalk, California; second, IPC Los Angeles, Whittier, California; third, Sadhana Sangat Hind-O-Pak Church, Artesia, California; fourth, India Christian Fellowship, San Diego, California; fifth, Fremont Grace Church, Fremont, California; sixth, United Methodist Church, San Francisco, California; and seventh, International Assembly of God, Phoenix, Arizona. Moreover, it was my honor that I was interviewed for Light from the East Studios by Eric Sarwar and Joe Bevins. My friends Mathew Varghese, Joy Clement Daniel, David Muthukumar, Achenkunju Pappy, John Wesley Mathew, and co-GRI scholar Prof. Teresa Chai deserve special thanks for their friendship and love during my stay in Pasadena. Fuller staff members, Johnny Ching and Sam Bang, made all the arrangements for my travel and smooth stay in the US. Thanks are also due to the students, faculty, and administration of The Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India. Finally, the sacrifices of my wife Shiny, daughter Jemimah, and son Jeremiah make all my travel and research plans possible. Thanks to one and all.

Johnson Thomaskutty, GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

12694883_964113323637053_4603434710099463858_o

You are welcome to watch Light from the East Studio’s interview with me about my current research on “Didymos Judas Thomas: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions” below. Click the link given below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWL_LEUe6Zw

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

Johnson Thomaskutty at SBL/AAR 2015

Posted: November 27, 2015 in General

AARSBL 2015_Main Banner_0Center for Missiological Research [CMR] of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, gave a new turn in my life as it sponsored my trip to the SBL/AAR at Atlanta, Georgia. As a Global Research Institute [GRI] scholar at Fuller, I found my trip rewarding. The SBL/AAR was held from 21 to 24 November, 2015. I express my sincere thanks to Prof. Amos Yong [Director of CMR] and Johnny Ching for the arrangements and support. I was benefitted out of the annual meeting in the following way.

On the first day, I had a very hectic schedule. My schedule started with the “International Cooperation Initiative Forum Meeting” at 9.30 AM and finished with “Scholar Leaders International Dinner” at 9.00 PM, i.e., with Evan Hunter of SLI and scholars from the Asian context. It was nice attending “John, Jesus, and History” presentations by Graham Twelftree, Tom Thatcher, Jan G. van der Watt, Andrew T. Lincoln, Mark Goodacre, and Catrin Haf Williams. During the sessions on “Comparison of Johannine and Markan Characterization,” I attended five papers including the one by Elizabeth Struthers Malbon. The day was pleasant with face-to-face interactions with scholar friends like Nijay Gupta, Darrell Bock, Ben Witherington, Jo-Ann Brant, Christopher Skinner, Francois Tolmie, Francis X. Clooney, John Christopher Thomas, Iain Torrance, Brian Small, and others.

On the second day, I was privileged to interact with John Dominic Crossan, Kasper Bro Larsen, Jesudas Athyal, Ekaputra Tupamahu, Erik Eynikel, John Byron, Paul N. Anderson, Alan Culpepper, Bill Heroman, Craig Koester, Mike Licona, and many others. Attending the Nordic Reception in the evening provided me opportunities to discuss with some of the key figures like Ismo Dunderberg.

On the third day, I attended three Johannine Forums: [1] Johannine Literature (9.00-11.30 AM); [2] Johannine Characterization and Genre (1.00-3.30 PM); and [3] The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic (4.00-6.30 PM). It was interesting to attend the session by Finny Abraham [GTU, Berkeley] in the academic category of “Ritual in the Biblical World: Social Scientific Criticism of the New Testament.” Moreover, it was good to hear the presentations of Urban von Wahlde, Mary Coloe, Kasper Bro Larsen, Harold Attridge, Colleen Conway, Jo-Ann Brant, and Tom Thatcher. Also had wonderful moments with James Charlesworth, Michael Gorman, Tatsiong Benny Liew, Douglas Estes, John J. Thatamanil, Jayakiran Sebastian, Peter Williams, Mary Coloe, Sandra Schneiders, Lidija Novakovic, Sung Uk Lim, Olugbemiro Temba, Bill Heroman, Joshua Muthalali, and others.

The session on reviewing the new book “The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic” was significant for me in three ways: [1] I attended “The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic” Conference in Aarhus University, Denmark, and presented a gist of my dissertation; [2] This conference connected me with a good number of John and genre specialists; and [3] This book makes a mention about my work on dialogue (Dialogue in the Book of Signs: A Polyvalent Analysis of John 1:19-12;50. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015).

There were several recognition scenes (anagnōrises) at SBL/AAR as many to whom I am connected through social media [Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Academia, WordPress, etc.] really appeared just in front of me and we had moments of interaction. I was happy to see the way my book was exhibited in the Book Exhibition Hall (i.e., at the Brill stall). Thanks friends for your love, appreciation, and encouragements. I look forward for SBL/AAR 2016 in San Antonio.

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar at Fuller Theological Seminary, CA]



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

st.thomasAs I begin to explore deep into the person and work of one of the most significant, but most neglected and demeaned, personalities in Christian history and interpretation, I have many questions to deal with and many existing answers to accept/counter with. It is my earnest desire that I may make a good progress in this important endeavor. Thanks to all those who have already inspired me to take up this important challenge and to all those who stand firm with me to see the successful completion of the task. The following are some of my preliminary questions:

[Didymus Judas Thomas is one of the most misunderstood characters from the beginning of the New Testament history and interpretation. The nickname ascribed to Thomas (as “doubting Thomas”) is mostly accepted as a synonymn for ‘doubt,’ ‘unbelief,’ and ‘lack of devotion.’ The general tendency of studying the character from the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions, idependently from one another, led the interpretors away from a broader understanding of the character. The dychotomy of studying the character of Thomas independently from within the limits of canonical, apocryphal, and historical disciplines created a lot of gaps within the area of Thomas studies. This situation persuades us to look at the Thomas literature comprehensively to understand the character from a broader perspective. The current study is intended to address the following questions: Whether Thomas was merely ‘doubting Thomas’ or was he ‘genuine Thomas’? Did we understand Thomas comprehensively by bridging the New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions together? Or did we understand him only through disciplinary perspectives? How can an interdisciplinary perspective will help us to understand the character comprehensively? How was Thomas connected to the Eastern Christianity and how does the Thomas literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Thomas traditions related to Judea, Syria, and India with the help of canonical, extra canonical, and traditio-historical documents? These questions have to be adequately dealt with in the process of exploring the Thomas literature. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the Thomas literature right from the beginning, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Thomas documents, and analyze the Thomas literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.]

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

[GRI Writing Scholar @ Fuller Theological Seminary

Pasadena, California, USA]



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

06kibas02_Iyer-Jesu_915994e(The author, V. R. Krishna Iyer, 99 years old, is a retired Supreme Court Judge of distinction, a former Cabinet Minister in the Kerala government, a great humanist, and a regular contributor to The Hindu. Republished from “The Hindu” Daily Newspaper, December 24, 2008)

[Was not the kingdom of god that Jesus held up but the forerunner to socialism, social justice, secularism and democracy? He was a raging egalitarian, an invisible socialist, and an economic democrat.

Jesus, born of humble parents in Bethlehem, rose as a glorious phenomenon. He became a world wonder of spiritual-temporal revolution against an imperial establishment and a corrupt priestly order. Judas Iscariot betrayed his master for a few pieces of silver. Every barbarity from those treacherous days still exists, indeed in magnified malignancy, to victimize the have-not humanity and slay the radical humanist and activist.

Lofty testament

For all of humankind, Jesus’ magnificent, yet militant, teaching was a lofty testament of egalitarian liberation from obscurantist faith, authoritarian politics, theological orthodoxy and big business freebooting. Similarly, the ring of his message constituted a de facto revolt against Roman imperialism, absolutist injustice and priest-proud godism. He stood for a higher culture marked by a sacred, sublime, compassionate ethos, and a divinity of humanity that is free from crass, class-mired materialism and gross, greedy, grabbing riches. This rare man of Nazareth resisted Jewish ecclesiastical domination, opposed discrimination among brothers and demanded, in God’s name, socio-economic justice. This is the essence of the Jesus jurisprudence of human dignity, inner divinity and fraternal obligation to help every brother in distress.

Born into a carpenter’s family, Jesus lived a sage and simple life and chose his disciples from a weaker section of society — indigent fishermen. He symbolised a revolutionary change in the theological-temporal establishment and advocated social justice and divinity, dignity and equity in the social order. Such a transformation was the truth of the kingdom of heaven, which was a challenge to the Roman Empire, the Jewish priestocracy and the arbitrary justice system that then prevailed. H.G Wells wrote: “This doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven, which was the main teaching of Jesus, is certainly one of the most revolutionary doctrines that ever stirred and changed human thought. It is small wonder if, the world of that time [and of our time, if this writer may add] failed to grasp its full significance, and recoiled in dismay from even a half apprehension of its tremendous challenges to the established habits and institutions of mankind.”

Rare daring

Jesus, the glorious rebel, proclaimed the reality of a universal moral order. He called it the kingdom of heaven and told the people that the kingdom of god was indeed within them. He outraged the hypocrites who did their commerce inside the temples and the shrines. He drove them out with rare daring. Now, right before our eyes, our temples and churches are again centres of big business.

Jesus, to the anger of the proprietariat, resisted the commercialisation of god and the commoditisation of man. Big temples, great churches, god-men, bishops, mullahs and acharyas are a mundane part of the capitalist establishment and are anti-Jesus in spirit. India’s Constitution mandates equality, secularism and economic democracy. What a marvel it was that Jesus preached ages ago — that God was equal in granting his favours to all, as was the sun. Jesus was a raging egalitarian, an invisible socialist, an economic democrat. Proof of this lies in his parables and preaching.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus cast scorn upon that natural tendency we all obey, to glorify our own people and to minimise the righteousness of other creeds and races. In the parable of the labourers he thrust aside the obstinate claim of the Jewish people to have a sort of first mortgage upon God. All whom God takes into the kingdom, he taught, he serves alike. There is no distinction in his treatment, because there is no measure to his bounty. There are no privileges, no rebates, and no excuses. H.G. Wells has presented these propositions in The Outline of History.

Barabbas jurisprudence

The abolition of poverty is a socialist feature of the societal structure. In order to wipe every tear of grief from every eye, you need a social transformation and an economic regeneration, a special concern for women and children, and a rage against those who rob the people’s resources. This is the majesty and humanity of true spirituality that was absent during the era of Emperor Tiberius. It was his administration and justice delivery system, presided over in the region by Pontius Pilate, which decreed, with perverse judicial power and under pressure from the priestly class and in exercise of state authority that Jesus, who argued for the kingdom of heaven, be put to the cross. When treason was the charge and the priestly order was exposed by the accused, there was terrific pressure on the Governor-judge to sentence him. The same judge set free Barabbas. Even today innocence suffers state punishment and robbery rides state power. Barabbas jurisprudence is in currency even today.

Jesus spoke for all time and all mankind when he, bed-rocked on the spiritual philosophy of the kingdom of god, told that court this truth of human rights and social justice. His advocacy of the humanist culture as the ultimate value, as against obscurantist godism, is evident from the admonition that sabbath is for man, not man for sabbath.

Advocate of unity and fraternity

Jesus advocated the unity and fraternity of humanity, like the doctrine of Advaita that Adi Sankara propagated as an upanishadic fundamental. Not only did he strike at patriotism and the bonds of family loyalty in the name of God’s universal fatherhood and the brotherhood of all mankind, his teaching condemned all the gradations of the economic system, all private wealth, and personal advantage. He said: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

To my mind, this glorious dimension of the kingdom of god is the forerunner to socialism, social justice, secularism and democracy. The life of Jesus was absolute simplicity, matchless humility, compassionate humanity, gender reverence and pro-poor egalite. He washed the feet of his disciples, he defied godist superstition. To share and care for your neighbour, even your enemy, were the fundamentals he taught. He was thus a pioneer of world brotherhood, who advocated freedom from dogmas and obscurantist cults. Such a universalism is the testament of Jesus. This is the Christianity to be practised daily — not the Christianity for a Sunday ritual, or for an alibi to hold the world under imperial might and big business power. Not showy charity coupled with mighty rapacity. The Buddha was a predecessor of Jesus. The Mahatma whom Churchill called “the half-naked fakir” was his successor.

Yet, Jesus if born today will meet Pilate’s justice yet again. Barabbas is in power everywhere again. Judas the pretentious disciple and arch-betrayer is a subtle and slight presence practising diplomacy — the Cross in one hand and nuke bomb in the other. The terrorist incarnation today masquerades as the ruler of the earth.

The resurrection of the world and the elimination of the sufferings and slavery of millions are desiderata for many a million honest disciples of Jesus. Even so, the finest teachings of Jesus have perished, and the world today suffers a grave decline in the values of humanism, compassion, morality and divinity. Greed, vulgarity and the collapse of the public good have been a shock and a shame, a terror and a horror.

Structural splendour

Resurrection, not in the lexical or biblical sense, but in the grand moral dimension of the term conveying the spirit of trans-material mutation, is the structural splendour of the world order. Peace, not war; stability, not subservience; high morality, not any grab-based acquisitive success, is the new ethic. Exploitation has become the rule of law, and equity and justice have become the vanishing point of international jurisprudence.

The hidden agenda after a unipolar world is the malignant methodology of insatiable accumulation of wealth. This terrible trend must be trampled under the foot by a triumphant and dynamic generation. This should be done with socialist convictions and a profound prognosis — of work, wealth and happiness for every human being. This should be the ‘developmental drama’ of the New World Order.]



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions

 

By: Johnson ThomaskuttyMedia of Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions
Published:22-02-2018
Format:Hardback
Edition:1st
Extent:280
ISBN:9780567672841
Imprint:T&T Clark
Series:Jewish and Christian Texts
Volume:25
Dimensions:234 x 156 mm
RRP:£85.00
Online price:£76.50
Save £8.50 (10%)
  

Qty:  

 
Free UK delivery on orders £25 or over

Delivery & Returns

Tell others about this book

About Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions

Are the Thomas references in the Gospel of John, the Thomas compositions, and the early Thomas traditions in northwestern and southern India purely legendary as biblical scholars have assumed or do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently as the Thomas Christians in India have believed?

Didymus Judas Thomas is one of the most misunderstood characters from the beginning of the New Testament history and interpretation. In this study, Thomaskutty addresses the following questions: whether Thomas was merely a 'doubting Thomas' or a 'genuine Thomas'? Can we understand Thomas comprehensively by bringing the New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions together? How was Thomas connected to eastern Christianity and how does the Thomas literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Thomas traditions related to Judea, Syria, and India with the help of canonical, extra canonical, and traditio-historical documents? Thomaskutty investigates the development of the Thomas literature right from the beginning, examining and questioning the approaches and methodologies that have been employed in interpreting these documents, and analyzes the Thomas literature closely in order to understand the character, his mission involvements, and the possible implications this may have for understanding early Christianity in the east.

Table of contents

Foreword, James H. Charlesworth
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Introduction
Part One: Thomas in the Gospel of John
Chapter 1: From Lazarus' Death to Jesus' Death (11:1-12:11)
Chapter 2: Knowing the Way (13:1-17:26)
Chapter 3: Recognizing Jesus as 'Lord' and 'God' (20:1-31)
Chapter 4: Jesus Shows Himself (21:1-25)
Part Two: Thomas in the Apocryphal Documents
Chapter 5: The Gospel of Thomas
Chapter 6: The Book of Thomas the Contender
Chapter 7: The Acts of Thomas
Chapter 8: The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
Part Three: Thomas in the Historical Traditions
Chapter 9: Patristic References about Thomas
Chapter 10: Reconstructing a History of Apostle Thomas
General Conclusion
Bibliography
Index of Authors
Index of Ancient Sources

Reviews

“This is a monograph with an edge ... The author is to be commended for marshalling the evidence in a way that lends some support to the ideas being articulated.” –  The Expository Times

“What I find most attractive is Thomaskutty's interdisciplinary methodology. It is both revolutionary and refreshing. He examines the four selected texts [The Gospel of Thomas, The Book of Thomas, The Acts of Thomas, and The Infancy Gospel of Thomas] using textual criticism, biblical criticism, narrative criticism, and theological reflections.” –  James H. Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary, USA

“Prof. Thomaskutty offers a comprehensive assessment of the evidence for the Apostle Thomas within the New Testament, in early Christian literature, and in the traditions of the Church, particularly the church in India, which has long venerated the Apostle Thomas as its founder. Thoroughly researched and carefully argued, Prof. Thomaskutty's treatment will be a valuable resource to scholars of the early church and to anyone interested in the development of apostolic traditions outside the western sphere.” –  Harold W. Attridge, Yale Divinity School, USA

“Based on careful reading of all the ancient primary sources and attention to the traditions of India, Prof. Thomaskutty has succeeded in bringing the Apostle Thomas to life, in all his complexity. Anyone interested in the Apostle Thomas 'the Twin' would do well to start here.” –  Charles M. Stang, Harvard Divinity School, USA



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 23555
Date:
Permalink  
 

Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical TraditionsJohnson Thomaskutty, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018 (ISBN 978‐0‐567‐67284‐1), xx + 260 pp., hb £85

First published: 30 January 2019
 
 
 

With Saint Thomas the Apostle, Johnson Thomaskutty promises to synthesize comprehensively all the ancient material regarding the Apostle Thomas – canonical, extra‐canonical, and patristic – in order to uncover his character and the impact he had on the early Church. Thomaskutty aims to do this through an interdisciplinary study incorporating literary, historical, and theological methods. This should make for a fascinating volume. Unfortunately, its execution is deeply problematic, rendering many of its conclusions questionable. A promising design and occasional insights are not enough to redeem this study of the Apostle Thomas.

In the Introduction, Thomaskutty raises the driving question of the book: Are references to Thomas in early Christian literature purely legendary or ‘do they preserve unexamined historical traditions intermittently as the Thomas Christians in India have believed?’ (p. 1). He wholeheartedly and often uncritically sides with the Thomas Christians. Part One examines Thomas's scenes in the Gospel of John in detail: 11:1–12:11 (Chapter 1); 13:1–17:26 (Chapter 2); 20:1–31 (Chapter 3); and 21:1–25 (Chapter 4). Against the popular image of ‘Doubting Thomas’, Thomaskutty instead reads the character in the best light possible, even when there is not much material for him to work with. In John 11, for example, when Jesus says Lazarus is dead and they should go to him, Thomas says only, ‘Let us go, that we may die with him’ (John 11:15–16). Thomaskutty repeatedly praises Thomas for refocusing the narrative from Lazarus's death to Jesus's (pp. 24, 31, 33–34). He never considers that Thomas may expect to die with Lazarus, not Jesus, or that Thomas's statement may be uncomprehending, sarcastic, or fatalistic. Thomas's development toward belief is rightly noted, but the fact that Thomas never explicitly receives the Spirit in John is ignored. According to Thomaskutty, Thomas even leads the disciples while fishing in John 21, which is odd since Thomas is nowhere else associated with fishing. Meanwhile, the famous fishers, John and James, are also in the boat (John 21:2; cf. Mark 1:16–20 and pars.). Why would they not take over? Thomaskutty does not say.

In Part Two, Thomaskutty turns to extra‐biblical Thomas literature. He begins with the Gospel of Thomas (Chapter 5), taking it as independent and early evidence for the importance of Thomas as a leader. Next, he turns to the Book of Thomas the Contender (Chapter 6), a second or third century text that emphasizes asceticism. He follows with the third century Acts of Thomas (Chapter 7). While Thomaskutty admits there are fictional, even fantastical elements in Acts of Thomas, this observation does not seem to influence his reading. Accepting the historicity of Acts of Thomas is essential to the conclusion that Thomaskutty wants to reach, which is that the traditions of Thomas Christians in India stretch all the way back to the apostle. In Chapter 8, Thomaskutty also accepts the historicity of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, dismissing scholars who recognize its legendary character: ‘it is necessary to question whether someone [here: Christ] can emerge in life without having a boyhood history. By addressing this question inadequately, many scholars have shown a negative attitude toward the [Infancy Gospel of Thomas]’ (p. 141, emphasis added). Accurately assessing a text's character is not a value judgment, and the fact that Jesus had a childhood does not imply that every story about it is historically reliable. Furthermore, although Thomas is (falsely) identified as the person reporting Jesus's childhood miracles, it does not follow that he was an eyewitness to them. Or should we also assume that Matthew must have fled to Egypt with the holy family in order to tell that story (Matthew 2)?

In Chapter 9, Thomaskutty examines references to Thomas in the historical traditions. He solidly establishes that India was in contact with the West in Thomas's day, that Christians existed in India from the late second century, and that there are references from the fourth century to Thomas in India. This is all fair. However, Thomaskutty tries to strengthen these points through sleight of hand. Earlier references place Thomas in Parthia, not India. While ‘Parthia’ may refer to portions of India, explicit references to Thomas in India are all later – indeed, they postdate the arrival of Thomas of Cana in Kerala (345 C. E.). Given the ancient tendency to conflate figures with the same name and the pervasive desire for apostolic authority, this may not be coincidental. Thomaskutty ignores the late dates of references to India, arguing instead that if a reference could be to India, it should be. Chapter 10 presents a reconstruction of the history of the Apostle Thomas and his community, while Chapter 11 recapitulates the evidence examined in earlier chapters.

Saint Thomas the Apostle is a frustrating read. Here, I will highlight just one more of its troublesome features. Thomaskutty's points are generously referenced, which is helpful in research. However, citations in his footnotes are frequently irrelevant to the point made in the body, and sometimes they are unsupportive or even contradictory. At times one wonders if Thomaskutty understands the material he cites: he summarizes the theological emphases of Acts of Thomas as including a ‘sacrificial lifestyle and suffering for Jesus, charity and concerns for the poor’ (p. 127, emphasis added). At this point he attaches a footnote quoting L. P. van den Bosch: ‘the concrete information about India in the ATh is extremely poor’ (p. 127 n. 49, emphasis added). Not only is this irrelevant to the claim that Acts of Thomas is concerned with impoverished people, but van den Bosch also directly refutes Thomaskutty's use of the ancient text as history. I am open to a critical argument that Thomas traveled to India, and a study of the kind that Thomaskutty promises would be highly valuable. It is disappointing that Saint Thomas the Apostle does not deliver on these promises.



__________________
Page 1 of 1  sorted by
 
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to Del.icio.us


Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard