John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

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.

And who cares? Maybe you should. More tomorrow.

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3 Comments

  1. Demetrius

    Above you wrote:

    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.”

    Where do we see “Judas of James” called “Judas Thomas” in the Scriptures? Matthew and Mark call him Thaddaeus and/or Lebbaeus but never Thomas.

  2. Lee Harmon

    Hi Demetrius! See John 14:22, in the Syriac.

  3. Demetrius

    I don’t see the name Tooma (Thomas) connected with Yehuda (Judas) anywhere in the Syrian. The literal translation of the John 14:22 from the Syriac says this:

    22. said to him Yehuda not Skaryota my Lord why is it to us are about you to reveal yourself and not to the world…

    (22. Judas said to him, not Iscariot, my Lord why is it you are about to reveal yourself to us and not to the world…)

    John 14:5 however, does use the name Tooma but it is not connected to Yehuda anywhere in the scriptures.

    In the both English Syriac versions the name Tooma shows up only once on all four list of disciples (Matt. 10:2-4, Mk. 3:16-19 , Lk 6:14-16, and Acts 1:13)

    Also on these lists, Yehuda “son” of Yaqub (James) shows up once (Lk. 6:16) and Yehuda bar-Yaqub shows up once in Act 1:13 [bar (of)- usually notes paternal relation but could be brotherly if dad is dead but unlikely because Lk. 6:16 clearly says son of Yaqub and since Luke is accredited with Acts as well, you would expect he would stay in agreement with himself]

    This other Yehuda of James on Luke’s lists seems to be the one referred to as Lewi (Leddaeus) who was called Taddi (Thaddaeus) from the lists in Matthew 10 and Mark 3 but neither Lewi nor Taddi are ever called Tooma; even in the Syriac.

    If you could show me your translation it would be greatly appreciated because I am still stuck halfway on this post.

    Thanks

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