There are historians who argue that Thomas went only to the North West and they deny the south Indian tradition. Then there are others, who deny the Acts of Thomas as a reliable historical source and accept only the south Indian tradition.
There is a third group who argue for both places. Bishop Medlycott, H. Heras, J.N. Farquhar and S.H. Moffett are some of them. Medlycott thinks of two separate journeys, one from Palestine through Mesopotamia and Persia by land to north west India, the other, after a return to Palestine, via Egypt and Ethiopia and Socotra and thence across the Arabian Sea to Malabar. (Medlycott, op.cit.. pp. I47-148.) J.N. Farquhar thinks of one journey in the East. He says that St. Thomas first went to north western India travelling by sea and up the river Indus, but had to leave because of the Kushan invasions, which eventually wiped out the Christians of that region so that no trace remained. Then he left India by sea, landed in Socotra and spent some time there during which he made converts; and afterwards he sailed for India again and came to Malabar, from where in due course he crossed over to the east coast. He mentions that Thomas even went to Burma, and after returning to India he was martyred at Mylapore. (C.B. Firth op.cit.. pp. 16-17: IN. Farquhar, ‘The Apostle Thomas in North India and the Apostle Thomas in South India,’ Manchester, The Bulletin of John Ryland’s Library, x:l and xi:l.) .
The acts of Judas Thomas
Gundaphorus despatches Habban to find an architect
|Andropolis a Royal City|
Thomas is introduced to the King
Thomas restores Kings brother to Life
For a long time several historians considered the Acts of Judas Thomas as of no historical value. They pointed out that the teaching of the Acts was unorthodox and the stories told were fantastic. The aim of the author was to establish the doctrine that marriage is sinful and Christians ought to abstain from it, and therefore the book was of Gnostic origin. Today historians are inclined to take more seriously the historical value of the Acts of Thomas and its theological orthodoxy. F.C. Burkitt, Arthur Voobus and several other historians have shown that the emphasis on celibacy and abstinence from marriage belonged to an authentic tradition of the Syrian church till the fourth century. L.W. Brown observes, "The great stress on celibacy as a way of salvation, and the emphasis on the miraculous are not in themselves proof of a non-Catholic origin for the Acts, as even in the time of Aphrates only the unmarried could be baptized in Edessa." (LW. Brown, op.cit,, p.43.).R. Murray points out how at several points the Acts of Thomas reflect the theology of the East Syrian church. Reflecting the asceticism of the East Syrian church, the Acts tells how Thomas refused to receive silver and gold from people. In Acts six of the book, Thomas thanks God that he has become an ascetic and a pauper and wanderer for God. The East Syrian writers when they speak of incarnation, speak of Christ putting on the body as a garment. Murray writes," ‘Christ put on the body’. This simple image of clothing is the Syriac fathers’ favourite way of describing the Incarnation. It occurs consistently in the Acts of Judas Thomas, while inDidascalia it comes as a heading.... (R. Murray, op cit., p.69.) Again Murray says, "The invocations to the Mother-spirit to descend on the candidate for baptism in the Acts of Judas Thomas are typical of early Syriac literature." (Ibid., p. 80.) Drivers also points out that the literary heritage of the early Syriac-speaking church is reflected in the Acts of Thomas, Odes of Solomon and in Tatian’s Diatessiron.
PARTHIA - THE FORGOTTEN EMPIRE.
Till the middle of the 19th century, no king by the name Gundaphorus was known in Indian history. Since AD 1834 numerous coins have been found in the Punjab and Afghanistan bearing his name in Greek on one side and in Pali on the other, and they are dated to be from the first half of the first century. In some coins the name of Gad, his brother is also found. There is also a stone inscription (now in Lahore museum) containing his name and dates which tell us that he was an Indo-Parthian prince in the north western part of India (from AD 19-45) at the time when St. Thomas is supposed to have come there. In this connection Stephen Neill has raised an important point. "We have no means of knowing how it came about that the name of Gondophorus whose time and succession had wholly vanished from the earth was still remembered in a syriac speaking country at least a century, perhaps considerably more than a century, after his death". Stephen Neill himself answers it thus: "It appears that there had been more contact between north-west India and the countries now known as Iran and Iraq, than had been generally supposed. (Stephen Neill, A History of Christianity in India, Cambridge University Press, 1984, p.28.) He is certainly right in pointing out the frequent contact between north-west India and the countries now known as Iraq and Iran in the early centuries of the Christian era. But contacts alone need not retain in Edessa the memory of a Parthian king after a century and half. What Stephen Neill failed to recognise was the possibility of a tradition existing in Edessa at the time of the writing of the Acts of Thomas that Thomas worked in the kingdom of Gundaphorus. Whatever else may be legendary, one thing is certain that the author of the Acts of Judas Thomas was fully aware of a tradition in Edessa of St. Thomas’s work in the kingdom of Gundaphorus in north west India. As L.W. Brown notes there was a considerable Jewish colony in north-western India in the first century, which might have attracted the attention of the first Christian missionaries.
The Gondopharid dynasties, and other so-called Indo-Parthian rulers, were a group of ancient kings who ruled in present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India, during or slightly before the 1st century AD. For most of their history, the leading Gondopharid kings held Taxila (in present-day Pakistan) as their residence, but during the last few years of their existence the capital was at Kabul (present-day Afghanistan). These kings have traditionally been referred to as Indo-Parthians, as their coinage was often inspired by the Arsacid dynasty, but they probably belonged to a wider groups of Iranian tribes who lived east of Parthia proper, and there is no evidence that all the kings who assumed the title Gondophares, which means ”Holder of Glory”, were even related.. Recent research by R.C. Senior shows with some certainty that the king who best fits the references in acts of Thomas is Gondophares-Sases, the fourth king using the title Gondophares.There are some claims based on historical, anthropological, and linguistic evidence indicating that the Southern Indian kingdom of the Pallavas was originally founded by the Parthians, either from Iran or from the territories of the Indo-Parthians in northwestern India, also called Pahlavas in Indian literature. These Pahlavas of Indo-Iranian descent would have migrated Southward and first settled in Krishna river valley of present day coastal Andhra Pradesh. This region is called Palnadu or Pallavanadu even today. Pallavas later extended their sway up to Northern Tamil region and established a flourishing empire.