Letters of St. Thomas the Apostle to Edessa from India
Sep20

Letters of St. Thomas the Apostle to Edessa from India

Letters of St. Thomas the Apostle to Edessa from India The definite statement that Apostle Thomas sent letters from India, which were preserved and read in the Church services, occurs in the Syriac Doctrine of the Apostles. It can be read in W. Cureton’s “Ancient Syriac Documents” , p.32. “And after the death of the apostles there were Guides and Rulers in the churches, and whatsoever the apostles had committed to them, and they had received from them, they taught to the multitudes all the time of their lives. They, again, at their deaths also committed and delivered to their disciples after them every thing which they had received from the apostles; also what James had written from Jerusalem, and Simon from the city of Rome, and John from Ephesus, and Mark from the great Alexandria, and Andrew from Phrygia, and Luke from Macedonia, and Judas Thomas from India: that the epistles of an apostle might be received and read in the churches that were in every place, like those Triumphs of their Acts, which Luke wrote, are read; that by this the apostles might be known, and the prophets, and the Old Testament and the New; that one truth was preached by them all, that one Spirit spoke in them all from one God, whom they had all worshipped and had all preached. And the various countries received their teaching. “ The passage seems to have stood originally in “The Doctrine of Addai”: see F.Nau, La Didascalie des dovze Apôtres, Appendices, 230. Does it seem too bold to postulate that Thomas wrote a letter from Taxila and or from Malabar to the Church in Edessa ? J N Farquhar in the books “The Apostle Thomas in North India” and “The Apostle Thomas in South India” has critically examined the possibilities. This brief write up is based on these two books. There is one very definite statement in early Syriac literature to the effect that he sent letters from India; and there is abundance of indirect evidence that such a letter as we have described lay in Edessa until the close of the second century at least. In all references to Thomas in literature arising from Edessa, the Apostle is called Judas Thomas; and it seems clear that the double name comes from the Apostle’s letter. In writing the letter he would inevitably use his own name, and would naturally add to it the word for “twin,” which had been so universally used instead of his real name. There are two possibilities of Thomas the Apostle writing to the Church in Edessa from Taxila and from Malabar. Lets briefly...

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Hymns of Saint Ephraem (Ephrem) the Syrian, on Apostle Thomas and India
May20

Hymns of Saint Ephraem (Ephrem) the Syrian, on Apostle Thomas and India

Hymns of Saint Ephraem (Ephrem) the Syrian, on Apostle Thomas and India The earliest author of the Eastern Church, is Saint Ephraem (Ephrem) , the Great Doctor of the Syrian Church. Known us Deacon, monk, musician, inspired poet and profound commentator of sacred Scripture, this church father is beloved by all branches of Christ’s Church. This fourth-century saint was so admired and influential that a great many of his writings were among the first works after the Bible to be rendered into many parts of Christendom. He was a native of the city of Nisibis, and had lived there up to A.D 363, when the surrender of that town by the Emperor Jovian to Sapor, the King of Persia, took place after the death of his predecessor, Julian the Apostate, and the partial defeat of the army under the same. The Saint then retired to Edessa, which had become the frontier town of the Empire1. As the Relics of the Apostle Thomas had been treasured in that city from an early period, and as Ephraem had lived there for fully ten years till his death, which occurred in the summer of 373, it certainly seemed strange that in the numerous published works of prolific writers the direct evidence from St. Ephraem hymns are missing about the Apostolate. Relics of the Apostle Thomas are so specially venerated in the very city in which Ephraem resided, the city which, largely owing to his influence, became the general centre of Syrian literature. It was not until past the middle of the nineteenth century that such evidence was forthcoming. Bishop A E Medlycott has collected some of the Saint Ephraem hymns and published those in “India and the Apostle Thomas” .This article is an extract from the relevant pages dealing with St. Ephraem hymns. 1. First Three stanzas from Hymn 42 The first writing of Ephraem which threw clear light on this subject appeared in 1866. It is No. 42 of his “Carmina Nisibena”, so styled by the editor Bickell, because they refer chiefly to the city of Nisibis. The hymn in question consists of ten strophes, and is composed in form not unlike that of Greek and Latin odes, with a ‘refrain’ to be sung after each strophe. Ephraem composed most of his hymns that they should be sung at the public services of the Church.2 Bickell, the Editor of “Carmina Nisibena” remarks : “These refrains which always contain a prayer, or a doxology, were undoubtedly sung by the people in chorus, while the hymn was sung as a solo by a cleric.’ This style of singing took its origin in the...

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Early references about the Apostolate of Saint Thomas in India, Records about the Indian tradition, Saint Thomas Christians & Statements by Indian Statesmen
Feb16

Early references about the Apostolate of Saint Thomas in India, Records about the Indian tradition, Saint Thomas Christians & Statements by Indian Statesmen

Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost, Saint Thomas was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, Persians and Indians; he ultimately reached South India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” The Apostle is believed to have speared to death in Mylapore (Madras). His feast day is July 3rd and is the patron of architects. The earliest record about the apostolate of St. Thomas is the apocryphal Acts of Judas Thomas, written in Syriac in Edessa. A number of fragmentary passages in other writings of the third, fourth and the following centuries speak about the Indian apostolate of St. Thomas. The Indian traditions of the Apostolate of Saint Thomas consist of a combined tradition of Kerala, Mylapore/ Coromandel, and the East-Syrian Church. The Portuguese in early sixteenth century has recorded the tradition. This article examines, 1) Acts of Thomas, 2) Early references about the Apostolate of Saint Thomas in India, 3. Which India meant ? 4) About the Indian Tradition of Saint Thomas and Records of the tradition, 5) Further references about Saint Thomas Christians, 6) Statements of prominent Indian Statesmen, 7) Statements of Religious Leaders . 1. The Acts of Thomas The earliest record about the apostolate of St. Thomas is the apocryphal Acts of Judas Thomas, written in Syriac in the Edessan circle (Edessa, today called Urfa, in eastern Turkey), about the turn of the third century A.D. Even though this work has been acknowledged as apocryphal, Gnostic in touch, and romantic in style, several scholars find in it a historical nucleus, which represents the second century tradition about the apostolate of St. Thomas in India. The Syriac text is published by P. Bedjan, Vol. III (1892), W. Wright, (1871), A.F.J. Klijn (1962) gives an English text: A.E. Medlycott, (1905), pp. 221-25, indicates different versions and editions of the Acts, and pp. 213-97, provides a critical analysis of the same. J.Farquhar’s articles are also useful. Act of Thomas Contents– King Gudnaper ( Gundapar) of India sent Haban to get an architect to build a palace. Habban took with him Thomas, who was sold to him by Christ. Both landed in Sandroqmaboza ( Andropolis in the greek version) . Thomas there converted the royal couple after performing a miracle. Both went to Gudnapar. Thomas got money to build the palace, but spent it for the poor. Thomas was imprisoned. Gudnapar’s brother Gad saw in heaven the palace built by Thomas. Thomas was released and the royal brothers baptized. Thomas went to the kingdom of Mazdai: baptized the queen: was imprisoned for...

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Mission of Saint Bartholomew, the Apostle in India
Feb13

Mission of Saint Bartholomew, the Apostle in India

Mission of Saint Bartholomew, the Apostle in India Mission of Saint Bartholomew, the Apostle in India: Two ancient testimonies exist about the mission of Saint Bartholomew in India. These are of Eusebius of Caesarea ( early forth century) and of Saint Jerome ( late forth century). Both these refer to this tradition while speaking of the reported visit of Pantaenus to India in the second century. 1. Mission of Pantaenus in India Hundred and Twenty years after the traditional date of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas the Apsotle, a second Christian mission is reported to have reached India. According to Saint Jerome written in the fifth century, the great Church in Alexandria, which is the center of Egyptian Christianity sent its most famous scholar, Pantaenus, head of the theological School in that city, “ to preach Christ to the Brahmans and philosophers there”.1 A deputation from India reached Alexandria some time in 179 or 189 AD. Because of the knowledge and learning of Pantaenus, according to Saint Jerome, they asked Demetrius to send him to India for discussions with their own Hindu philosophers. Demetrius decided that the Christian world mission is in higher priority then the advancement of Christian learning. So without hesitation he sent his most famous scholar from the theological school as a missionary to the East. Eusebius also gives an early account of this mission. Both Eusebius and Saint Jerome has reported that Pantaenus found Gospel of Mathew reported to have left there in India by Saint Bartholomew. Some writers has suggested that having difficulty with the language of Saint Thomas Christians, Pantaenus misinterpreted their reference to Mar Thoma ( Bishop Thomas) as Bar Tolmai ( the Hebrew name of Bartholomew). Some others say Eusebius and Saint Jerome confused India with Arabia or Persia as was done by some other classical writers. Interestingly, the pupils and successors of Pantaenus, Clement and Origen, write about India as if they know more of that land than passing myths and in no way confused it with Arabia and Persia. They may have heard this from Pantaenus himself. They speak of “Indian Brahmans” and “gymnosophists” and Clement writes discerningly of the difference between “Sarmanane” and “Brahmans” describing the former in terms that suggest the “hermits” or “holy men of India”.2 2.Mission of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle in India Two ancient testimonies exist about the mission of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle in India. These are of Eusebius of Caesarea ( early forth century) and of Saint Jerome ( late forth century). Both these refer to this tradition while speaking of the reported visit of Pantaenus to India in the second century. According...

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