History — Indonesia and Christianity

Acts of Judas Thomas

This short history was presented as part of the exhibition during the Fremont Celebrations connected with the 50th Indian Independence by Professor M. M. Ninan.

Acta Thomae, the apocryphal book is historically dated around end of first century soon after the martyrdom of St. Thomas. There are several ancients texts in existence in various languages such as Syriac, Greek, Latin, Armenian and Ethiopic. The original manuscripts are found in the British Museum.

This book gives a detailed account of Apostle Thomas’ labors in nine parts. The gist of the book is as follows:

After the ascension of Jesus Christ, the Apostles met in Jerusalem and portioned all the countries of the world among themselves. India which at that time included all Middle East to the present India fell to the lot of St. Thomas.

A certain merchant by name Habban – the Raja Vaidehika of Indian King Gundnaphor came to Jerusalem looking for a carpenter to take home to the King. Christ appeared to Habban and asked him whether he was there for a carpenter. He said “yes”. Jesus introduced himself as Jesus the Carpenter from Nazareth and sold his slave Thomas to Habban for twenty pieces of silver and pointed Thomas to him. Habban asked Thomas whether Jesus was his master. Thomas answered “Yes, he is my Lord.” Habban told Thomas, “He has sold you to me outright.” Thomas was dumb founded. In the morning, Thomas prayed, “Lord, Let thy will be done” and went with Habban. He took with him nothing except the twenty pieces of silver which Jesus gave him.

They took the sea route to India and landed in a port called Sandruk Mahosa . Here Habban was received by the local King. They attended the wedding of the King’s daughter and St. Thomas demonstrated his ability of miracle healing on the troubled daughter of the King by the laying on of hands. There after they continued their journey in India. They reached the Kingdom of Gundaphorus and Thomas was commissioned to build a palace for the King in the shores of the River. However St. Thomas out of his pity gave away the money to the poor and could not build the palace. He was put in the prison. However that night the King’s brother Gad died and he was told the beautiful palace beside the river in the heavens was his brothers. He came back from the dead and told the story to the King. They were later converted to the Christian way.

After ordaining one Xantippus (Xenophon) as deacon to the churches in North India St. Thomas traveled throughout India and converted many to Christianity . Among them are the names of: King of Mazdai, a noble lady by name Mygdonia, Tertia the queen of Mazdai. He was martyred outside the cities on a mountain at the hands of four soldiers.

Read more about the Patron Saint of the Indonesian Orthodox Church.