Klaus Karttunen Kjkarttu at ELO.HELSINKI.FI
Thu May 27 15:19:42 UTC 1999

Dear Colleagues

The information about the origins of Christianity in India is mainly
found in Greek sources (and to some extent Syriac). In these, Thomas
was originally the apostle of Edessa (the was one of his many graves,
too) and Persia. The very first mentions of Christians in India
ascribe the mission to St.Bartholomew (this has been discussed in a
German article by Professor A. Dihle). These Christians were visited
with boat from Egypt, therefore they might belong to the south. The
Acta Thomae - perhaps in the fourth century - describe Thomas'
mission in India, but nothing refers specifically to the South. On
the contrary, the name of India King, Gondophares, seems to be same
as Gudnaphar, an Indo-Parthian ruler in the Northwest in the first
century A.D. N.B. Indo-Parthian -- Thomas is still understood as the
apostle of Persia and Parthia. When the Indian church became part of
the Persian, it was natural that the apostle of the Persian church
was introduced in India. Cosmas Indicopleustes in the sixth century
was the first to make Thomas visiting South India, he also knew that
the South Indian church was subject to the Persian. Thomas probably
never visited India, but the tradition that he did is much earlier
than the Portuguese.
Unfortunately I have no references at hand (they are at home), but
can send them afterwards, if needed.

Klaus Karttunen

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