John 14:22, The First Thomas, Part I of II
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
//Caution: If you subscribe to a high Christology, of Jesus as God, then these two posts (today and tomorrow) may be a little disturbing … and more than a little confusing.
Today’s verse introduces an unidentified fellow named Judas. Who is this other Judas, the one who is “not Iscariot”? (meaning, not the Judas who betrayed Jesus?)
It is, most conservative readers agree, “Jude.” The person to whom the Epistle of Jude is attributed. But let’s dig deeper. This verse in Luke tells us the second Judas is the brother of James, likewise distinguishing him from Judas the traitor:
And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. –Luke 6:16 (see also Acts 1:13)
Chapter 1 of the Acts of Thomas affirms that Judas is indeed the brother of James (the wording is “Judas of James”), and names him “Judas Thomas.” Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The Syriac version of John’s Gospel tells us, in today’s verse (John 14:22), that “Judas, not Iscariot” is called “Judas Thomas.” Thus, he shares the name Thomas (which means “twin”) with another famous disciple, the “doubting Thomas” of John chapter 20. But these two Thomases are not the same person! There are two Thomases as well! This is clarified again in the Acts of Thomas, where the apostle Thomas appears in the same list of disciples as “Judas of James” (Judas Thomas, the brother of James).
Confused yet? It turns out that this “Judas of James” is the person about whom the Acts of Thomas is written, not “doubting Thomas!” Likewise, the famous “fifth Gospel” of the Nag Hammadi library, named the Gospel of Thomas, portions of which date back to the late first century, is not about doubting Thomas but about Judas Thomas, the brother of James.