Acts of Thomas
Introduction to the Acts of the Apostle Thomas
The Online Wayist Bible, Copyright © 1997 by International Association of Wayist Organisations,
Acts of Thomas tells the story of St. Thomas’ ministry in India. As the story unfolds, we learn how Church of the East was founded based on Initiation, mysticism, the presence of the Spirit of Yesu, and by the deacons and priests appointed by St. Thomas. St Thomas was not alone in India. Yesu our Lord was always with him and the devotees.
The author of Acts of Thomas is a master narrator and the story is fluent with an occasional plot that unravels with ease. This book stands its own ground in the annals of ancient literature and is regarded as one of the better literary works of two thousand years ago.
The aim and purpose of Acts of Thomas are not to provide a historical and chronologically accurate account of St. Thomas’ Indian ministry. Its aim is to give readers a readable story that illustrates some incidents and issues in the founding of the Church. Due to the lack of historical accounts of the Apostles’ work we are however in a position where we have to look at all sources for information. Books such as Acts of Thomas shed some light on the historical questions. Considering the fact that they did not write Acts of Thomas for this purpose, it does however help us in this regard. Through the Acts of Thomas we can date some early church fathers such as St. Siphor, Xenophon the Scholar (we think to be the author of the book), Luzanes the Priest and the Indian mother of The Magdalenes, Sister Surya.
After St. Thomas’ death his close friends moved his body to Syria, to be buried in his home town. This we know from other written sources. We also know from other written sources of many other areas where St. Thomas and Yesu our Lord ministered. The Acts of Thomas does not pretend to be, and is not, a full account of the Life of St. Thomas.
The theme of Sacred Sensuality is very strong in Acts of Thomas as the author(s) shows him and our Lord to persistently exhort people to know the reason that they indulge in sensual pleasure. They remind us to differentiate between sensual pleasures that devour the soul (fire) and sensual pleasures made innocent (Fire), being used for the benefit of the spiritual life.
The book is highly mystical and esoteric in places and challenges us to look for deeper meaning. The exoteric reading (surface or literal reading) is a pleasant and sometimes delightful read with the occasional humour, irony and twist worked in to keep the flow refreshing.
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