Chinnor Community Church, High Street, Chinnor, OX39 4DH

The Twelve Disciples in 12 Months

These are the names of the twelve disciples: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Plus his replacement Matthias)


After Simon the Zealot, Bartholomew and Judas Iscariot we now turn our attention to Thaddaeus.

Most of what is known of Thaddaeus is lost in history, in translation or in the mists of time. Did he have three names? Was he also known as Lebbaeus? Why is he only mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and not in Luke, as a disciple? Why is he not listed in the Acts of the Apostles? Could he be Judas, son of James or did Judas, the son of James, replace him? Is this confusion due to scribal errors in the early days of the church? Why are there differences between the Authorised Version, the Authorised Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version? Thaddaeus is only mentioned in Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18 and not at all in the Oxford Reference Dictionary.

There are apocryphal documents within the Eastern Church that indicate a tradition that Thaddaeus was a Hebrew, born in Edessa. He went to Jerusalem during which time he was supposedly baptised by John the Baptist. He stayed with the disciples until the Crucifixion, after which he returned to his hometown to evangelise the Syrians and the Armenians. He is reported to have died from natural causes and is buried in Beirut. He became known as Saint Thaddaeus, sometimes identified with Addai, one of the Seventy who was sent to Abgar, but more often with Jude. His feast day is celebrated on August 21.

As I have now reached the ‘desperate for further information’ stage, that’s it until next month, unless you know better.

Peter Brown

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