Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 4-30-2013


Historically, Thomas has a rich identity. Much of the apocrypha was named for the "doubting" disciple, such as The Gospel of Thomas, The Book of Thomas the Contender, and The Acts of the Apostle Thomas, yet these traditions do not address Thomas's story from The Gospel of John. In fact, Thomas becomes the favored disciple in The Book of Thomas the Contender and logion 13 of The Gospel of Thomas. In The Acts of the Apostle Thomas the disciple leaves Rome to evangelize in India where he is eventually martyred. Today, he is still revered in South India as the messenger that brought Christianity to the country and pilgrims travel to his tomb in Mylapore. These traditions portray Thomas as anything but doubtful.

With the discovery of The Gospel of Thomas and The Book of Thomas the Contender in the Nag Hammadi library, scholarship on Thomasine traditions in early Christianity has increased, but scholarship of the Mediterranean and India have remained relatively isolated. This paper seeks to discuss the earlier history of Thomas as a religious icon, from its initial appearances in the first century through its earlier developments in India, and evince not only the historical progression linking those traditions, but also the thematic development across time and regions.


Comparative Methodologies and Theories | History of Christianity | Missions and World Christianity | Religion