The Judas Goat: the Substitution of Christ on the Cross (cont.)
By Tracy R. Twyman
Thomas’ final appearance in the Gospels occurs after the resurrection. For some reason, Thomas was not among them when Jesus made his first resurrected appearance to the apostles. When told about the Lord’s appearance, Thomas does not believe it at first, until Jesus appears to him personally. It was this incident that earned this apostle the moniker “Doubting Thomas.”
This is essentially all that the canonical gospels have to say about Thomas Didymus. But where the canonical story leaves off, the apocryphal story begins. These texts are very clear that indeed Thomas was Jesus’ twin. In The Acts of Thomas, a young man’s vision of Jesus is described:
“... he saw the Lord Jesus in the likeness of the Apostle Judas Thomas... the Lord said to him: I am not Judas who is also Thomas. I am his brother.”
Elsewhere in the Acts, Thomas is described as, “Twin brother of Christ, apostle of the Most High, and fellow initiate into the hidden word of Christ, who dost receive his secret sayings...” This notion is reiterated once again in a Coptic text quoted in Baigent, et. al.’s The Messianic Legacy (sequel to Holy Blood, Holy Grail), where Jesus says, “Greetings Thomas [Twin], my second Messiah.”
This idea of Thomas as a twin messiah appears to have been embraced by many of the early Christian groups. There was a Syrian sect called the “Christians of St. Thomas”, and similar sects throughout the Middle and Far East. This is largely because Thomas is believed to have traveled throughout the East spreading the gospel after Jesus’ death, and his supposed tomb can be found in India. Several of these sects believed that he was literally Jesus’ twin brother. Many people were already receptive to this idea, because the archetype of twin gods or sons of God is one that can be found in the legends of many cultures throughout the world. In Edessa, Turkey, where The Acts of Thomas were written, the worship of the twin gods Momim and Aziz was replaced seamlessly by that of Thomas and Jesus.
In the Dagobert’s Revenge article “Tammuz the Twin: The Beloved Disciple”, author Thomas LaNeave picks up on the idea that Thomas, as Jesus’ twin, acted as his substitute after his death. Noting that “Tammuz” means “twin-born”, LaNeave relates the symbolism of St. Thomas the Twin to that of the Semitic sun-god Tammuz, whose tale of death and rebirth as the “twin-born son of the Sun” resembles in many ways the legend of Christ. LaNeave further notes that Passover, the date of Christ’s Passion, takes place in the Jewish month of Tammuz. He comments upon the implication that in this case, “Passover” may have referred to the “passing over” of the royal messianic inheritance from Jesus to Thomas. He writes of the recurring theme of the “royal substitute” that can be found throughout the Bible, in which the divine royal inheritance is passed on to a substitute when the true heir cannot perform his royal function. The same “substitute” concept is employed when the death or sacrifice of one thing is substituted for the sacrifice of another, as in the scapegoat ritual, or as in the first Passover, when the blood of lambs was used as a substitute for the blood of the first-born of Israel, so that they would be “passed-over” when God’s plague swept the land of Egypt.
So if Thomas was Jesus’ royal substitute, one of the obvious questions that springs to mind is, “Could Thomas have been used as a substitute for Jesus on the cross”? The proposition becomes even more tantalizing when we learn from both The Acts of Thomas and the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas that this disciple’s full name was “Judas Thomas.” Indeed, a person by the name of “Jude”, “Judas”, or “Jude the Twin” is repeatedly named in the canonical gospels as being one of Christ’s biological brothers, and it seems pretty clear that he and Thomas are the same. It also seems hardly coincidental that another Judas, labeled “Iscariot”, is named by The Gospel of Barnabas as having been crucified in Jesus’ place, and as having an identical likeness as Jesus, like a twin.
The Gospel of Thomas is one of the most treasured of the so-called “Gnostic” texts. Purely an initiation document, every line of this gospel is written in code, concealing the spiritual secrets of alchemy, with an emphasis on “making the two become one.” This is interesting if considered in the light of the notion that Jesus had a twin, but that only one of them was remembered. Something very specific seems to be hinted at in these lines:
“Jesus said to His disciples, Compare me to someone and tell Me whom I am like.
Simon Peter said to Him, You are like a righteous angel.
Matthew said to Him, You are like a wise philosopher.
Thomas said to Him, Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom You are like.”
Perhaps Thomas’ reply to Jesus’ question, “tell me whom I am like”, is a hint that it was Thomas himself whom he was like, because they were twins.
But could Christ have made his own twin brother die in his place? There is no doubt that Jesus did not really want to die on the cross. And from what we know of him, it would seem that he had every reason to live. The picture of Jesus which is emerging from contemporary scholarship is that of a wealthy man with a legitimate claim to both the royal throne and the high priesthood of Israel, who was married to a woman with her own royal qualifications, most likely with a royal heir either already born or in utero by the time of his supposed death. He had a strong and powerful family, friends and supporters all over Israel, many of them fanatical devotees. All evidence indicates that he knew his movement was destined for greatness. The backlash from Rome, and from the elders of Jerusalem, undoubtedly boosted his morale, for he knew that he must have really been touching a nerve to be perceived as such a threat. He may have seen his arrest, trial, and execution as being inevitable, however, and may have foreseen the value of letting the opposition, as well as the fanatical public, believe that he had been executed. Thus he may have conceived of the “Passover Plot” written of in the best-selling book of the same title by Hugh Schonfield. Jesus would play the part of the dying and resurrected messiah – fulfilling Old Testament Judaic prophecies while appealing to the mystical sensibilities of Greeks, Romans, and Hellenistic Jews, by blending his messianic mythos with that of the pagan sun-gods. But in order to stage a death and resurrection (barring the miraculous, of course), Jesus would have to use his twin brother, Judas Thomas. Furthermore, they would have to make a choice. One brother would have to die, while the other lived on, perpetuating the throne, the priesthood, and the messianic fantasy.