There is great joy to be found in going where no man has previously dared, hacking through the undergrowth of scholarship in the hope that one might stumble upon a new clearing, previously unknown to man. In an effort to break new ground, I have turned my superior mind to a much-neglected subject and have unearthed a real gem: a brand new glimpse into the person of Thomas.
Little is known about the doubtful disciple. He is mentioned eleven times in the New Testament (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24, 26, 27, 28; 21:2; Acts 1:13) and on three occasions John tells us that his Greek nickname was Didymus, ‘The Twin’ (John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2). This has given rise to many suggestions about who Thomas’ sibling may have been (most of them frankly ridiculous). But I am thrilled to inform you that through a combination of rigorous study and sleepless nights, I have unravelled the mystery.
So let us consult the evidence:
In the case of other disciples, we are told to whom they were related. For example, James the son of Alphaeus (Matt 10:3), or Simon and his brother Andrew (Mark 1:16) or the brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee (Mark 1:19). Why do the gospel writers not see fit to tell us whose twin Thomas is?
None of the other gospel writers call him ‘The Twin’, only John. Perhaps this suggests it was a particular favourite nickname? Given that John alone depicts Thomas’ foolhardy (11:16) and doubting (20:24-29) moments, ought we to assume that John was guilty of a little teasing towards his fellow disciple? Or is it an indication that the disciples all had similar kinds of proto-Bugsy Malone ‘gangster-style’ nicknames? I can imagine the twelve lining up: Knuckles, Snake Eyes, Rocky, The Twin…
After much prayerful reflection, I have come to the realisation that Thomas was not actually one twin with an anonymous sibling. Didymus was, in fact, a pair of conjoined twins!
Controversial I know, but hear me out:
On two of the three occasions when Thomas speaks, he uses plural objective pronouns:
‘Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”’ (John 11:16)
The traditional interpretation is that Thomas is referring to all of the disciples when he says “let us…” But what if he is actually using the plural pronoun to describe himself as two conjoined beings, a detail which would be lost on the reader had John not informed us of his nickname in the very same verse. Perhaps Thomas is offering to sacrifice himself (themselves?), leaving the other disciples safely behind?
Or take John 14:
‘Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”’ (John 14:5)
Commentators typically see Thomas as being a spokesman for the rest of the disciples. But if my thesis is correct, then he is actually speaking of his own lack of knowledge: “We (both halves of Thomas) don’t know where you are going.”
Still not convinced? Then why does John 20:24 make such a big deal of specifying both that Thomas is ‘The Twin’ and yet also ‘one of the twelve’, if not to hint at the mysterious blend of plurality within unity? It quite simply is the most plausible option.
I know, I know – My academic abilities must seem daunting to you mere mortals! But take heart, each of us has our lot in life. Every great explorer needs a nameless, faceless lackey to carry his bags. And every great pioneering theologian needs a handful of readers hanging devotedly on his every word.
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