“Thomas the Apostle”, by Vincent Aucante: the travels of the athlete of Christ

Thomas the apostle. The athlete of Christ

by Vincent Aucante

France Empire, 150 p., € 20

The Apostle Thomas appears little in the Gospels. Yet he is present in essential scenes in Saint John: he is the one who, after the washing of his feet, dares to confess to Jesus that he does not know at all the path that the latter is going to take … And there is this famous episode concerning him: absent during the first appearance of Jesus to his disciples, Thomas doubts before recognizing him as his Lord and his God. His life remains a mystery, however. And it is from the perspective of itinerancy that Vincent Aucante seeks to approach the figure of this apostle.

→ READ. Who was the apostle Thomas?

The former director of the Collège des Bernardins distinguishes three journeys in the life of Thomas. The first is the long journey with Jesus and the other Apostles. The Gospel text allows a relatively marked path of this Jew of Galilee who was ” possibly a carpenter and would have been familiar with Jesus before the announcement of the Good News began “.

Apocryphal literature

The second journey is more interior: it is the journey that took Thomas from unbelief to faith. A travel determining “which” largely explains his apostolic zeal », Considers the author. The third covers the journeys to the East recounted in apocryphal literature. It is “This disparate body of texts” that the author proposes to “reread with a critical mind, in order to identify the vestiges of the sources used, by removing the literary artifice which surrounds them and by neutralizing the legendary part and the framework of the additional interpretations “. To do this, he mobilizes his good knowledge of both these texts and the history and geography of the countries concerned to distinguish between trips that are almost certain, those that are probable and those that relate to hagiography or pure pious legend.

Against the opinion of many authors, he concludes in the plausibility of the mission of the Apostle in India, after his stay among the Parthians. Thomas would have gone even further, to China, where, with his companion Shofarlan, he would have met the emperor and king of Chu, Mingdi, whose brother, Liu Ying, would have converted to the Christian faith through of ” these two monks from the far West »… But the discredit into which this prince will fall forces (Thomas) to leave the Chinese empire in 68 ”. He would then have returned one last time to India where he will lose his life: Indian tradition says that he suffered martyrdom on the South-East coast on July 3, 72, pierced by the spears of four soldiers. He was then about 75 years old and fully deserves his nickname of athlete of Christ. “


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