Friday, October 9, 2015

Nathaniel and Thomas: the Two Disciples of Jesus Associated With India!

The St.Thomas Christians of India generally believe that it was St. Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, often called the ‘doubting Thomas’ who preached Christianity for the first time in the Indian sub-continent.

But my favorite book of life guidance clarifies that Thomas never reached India. He died in Malta and it was Nathaniel, son of Bartholomew, who did it instead.

In the Bible there are a few references about Nathaniel. We read in the Gospel of John chapter-1 verse 45  like this: 

Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

In the same gospel, in chapter 21 we find the name of Nathaniel again. He was among the small group of desperate disciples who had just decided to go back to their original fishermen's profession after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. But the resurrected Jesus appeared to them to restore their confidence and their work towards preaching what he taught them about God's kingdom. Interacting with the resurrected Jesus indeed helped them to believe in the teachings of Jesus more firmly than before. They gained the confidence to face threats and deaths to preach the good news to the ignorant but egoistic mankind.

For sure they now believed about the invisible but real worlds of the divines. They now realized Jesus as a living divine being and not one of the kinds of those mortal prophets. As a human he moved with them some time ago and died miserably in the hands of his egoistic humans who took pride in temporal powers of human authority and never really believed in the existence of God though they did all they did in the name of God!

From the assurance received from the resurrected Christ, the disciples moved to all nations to preach about the good news about God, the heavenly father and about the His divine kingdom. And Nathaniel moved first to Mesopotamia and from there he reached India.

But these are all histories of the past and recorded evidences of all these are difficult to find, though not impossible. But the mismanagement of history by the latter generations of human beings made historical evidences difficult to find and interpret without ambiguity. There are many learned historians who have their own interpretations. Mr. T.V.Philip's book is an example.

But to me the nitty-gritty of historical details are not of much relevance. It does not make any difference if it was Thomas Didymus or Nathaniel Barthalomew who preached Jesus's teachings in India 2000 years ago. But one of the disciples of Jesus, indeed, came to reveal the good news to the Indian descendants of Andon and Fonta and also the later descendants of Adam and Eve that existed as a great humanity occupying the Indian subcontinent! 

We do not know much about the personality traits of these two disciples of Jesus from the literature that had been in existence for centuries. But now my favorite book provides much insight about this which I would like to share with my readers.

Nathaniel was known among the other twelve disciples as 'honest Nathaniel'.He was an associate of Philip and it was Philip who brought him to Jesus. He was on the way to meet John the Baptist that he was diverted to meet Jesus. When he was initiated as one among the twelve, he was the second youngest of the group having attained twenty five years of age. He was unmarried and hailed from Cana. He was the youngest among seven of his siblings.

Nathaniel's greatest virtue that Jesus admired was his sincerity and honesty. His weakness was his pride about his family, his hometown, his reputation and the Jewish nation. He was also well educated just as Judas Iscariot. In many respects, he was the genius among the twelve disciples. He was a philosopher, a practical dreamer, a humorist and a story teller among the lot. Jesus greatly enjoyed Nathaniel talking about various topics, both serious and humorous. He came to the grip of the teachings of Jesus only slowly.

Except Judas, all other disciples loved and respected him for his  knowledge and honesty. Nathaniel was also a troubleshooter and a helping hand to all. Whenever there was a problem in the families of any one, it was Nathaniel who was deputed to help and resolve the problem.

Nathaniel respected Jesus most for his tolerance and open mindedness. Among the twelve, it was he who noticed the remarkable quality of generous sympathy of Jesus towards all people and admired his master for that..

After Jesus had gone to his heavenly abode, Nathaniel preached in Mesopotamian regions and later in India. He died in India while doing his mission of sharing the teachings of Jesus to the peoples of India in the later part of his life. 

While Nathaniel was the sixth disciple of Jesus and was one who was directly chosen by him, Thomas Didymus was the eighth apostle. He was chosen to be in the group by Philip. Thomas was not much educated but possessed a very keen, reasoning mind. He was the true analyst among the twelve! His parents were excellent people hailing from Tiberias, but having a difficult married life. That caused Thomas to grew up as a quarrelsome young man. He was married but his quarrelsome nature had remained to a greater extent. For his wife, Thomas was a pessimistic and suspicious husband and when he decided to follow Jesus as a permanent companion, his wife was too happy about it.

By deciding to join the group that followed Jesus, Thomas got the great opportunity to come in to contact with the noblest human being on earth at that time, Jesus. The direct association of Thomas with Jesus brought remarkable changes in the mind of the latter.

He was under great depression when Thomas came and joined the group that followed Jesus.But his problems began to vanish as he began to comprehend Jesus. Jesus loved Thomas and was always interested in talking to him. Thomas had the highest intellectual understanding and personality appreciation of Jesus.

Thomas was always cautious and his attitude was to give safety the first priority. But when the group decided on something, it was he who moved out first fearlessly to implement the decision. Sadness was another characteristics of Thomas. It was because he had lost his twin sister while he was a boy of nine. When Thomas became moody and sad, often Nathaniel helped him to overcome his melancholy with his humorous talks.

When the news of Jesus' resurrection from the miserable death on the cross came, it was Thomas who refused to believe it, only to  become a firm believer of Jesus later when his doubts got removed.

As my favorite book's superhuman authors point out: 'Thomas is the great example of a human being who has doubts, faces them and wins'.

Thomas was a logical thinker and he was the acid test of Jesus and his fellow disciples. If the work and teachings of Jesus had not been genuine, it could not have held a man like Thomas from the start to the end. Had he noticed even a speck of fraud, Thomas would have left the group!

Modern human scientists may not fully understand all about Jesus and his work on earth, but there lived and worked with him a man whose mind was truly scientific and it was Thomas. And Thomas believed in Jesus, after clarifying all his doubts logically and scientifically!

He doubted the news of the dead Jesus rising up again as a living personality. He got the opportunity to quench all his doubts. Once done that, he became the true messenger of for the teachings of his master to all people.

Many historians believe Thomas reaching India while many others do not support this. But Nathaniel and Thomas both had contributed to spread the good news of Jesus to India and the far east either directly or indirectly a few decades after Jesus' mission on earth.

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