The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Thomas, Saint

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Thomas, Saint
Edition of 1920. See also Thomas the Apostle on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

THOMAS, Saint, also called DIDYMUS (Tomas being the Aramaic; Didymus, the Greek word signifying “twin”), one of the Twelve Apostles known as The Doubter. He is said to have been a native of Antioch, the twin brother of a sister Lysias, children of Diophanes and Rhoa. Eusebius implies that he was a stepbrother of Jesus and that his real name was Judas. The scene in the Gospel, in which the doubts were at last dissipated, that Thomas had expressed with great vehemence as to the fact of the resurrection, is the chief of the three occasions on which he is prominent (consult John xx, 24-29; Luke xxiv, 36-49). After the crucifixion of Christ it fell to the lot of Saint Thomas to proselytize India, and tradition relates with great circumstantiality that he hesitated to travel there until Jesus appeared to him in a vision and ordered him to go to Gondophares, the Indo-Parthian King, who ruled over the Kabul Valley and the Punjab, and to build him a palace. Saint Thomas accordingly went to India, and converted and baptized the King Gundaphoras or Gondophares whose name is known to archæologists through many inscriptions and coins as reigning from A.D. 21 to 52 at Peshawar on the Indus. Later traditions state that Thomas went farther south and east than the Punjab; founded the Church of the Christians of Saint Thomas in Malabar, and was martyred on Mount Saint Thomas near Madras. (See Christians of Saint Thomas). In Ceylon, Saint Thomas shares with Buddha the honor of the footprint on Adam's Peak, reputed as left on his ascension into heaven. His remains were transferred to Edessa where Chrysostom mentions his grave as one of the four genuine tombs of the apostles, the other three being those of Peter, Paul and John. An apocryphal, ‘Gospel of Thomas,’ is published in Tischendorf's ‘Evangelia Apocrypha.’ In his ‘Zoological Mythology’ (1872), Gubernatis states that in the Middle Ages the Germans of Westphalia made the ass the symbol of Thomas the incredulous apostle to apply to all unbelievers and for a long time, even among German youth, the boy who was last to enter school on Saint ‘Thomas’ day was called the “ass Thomas.” See Apocrypha.