I'm looking at the name Thomas in (especially) the Gospel of John where it appears seven times as a major actor in the narrative. In the synoptic gospels and acts, his name only shows up once in a list of disciples. The name appears in John 11:16, 14:5, 20:24, 20:26, 20:27, 20:28, 21:2.

In Greek, the name appears as: Θωμᾶς In Syriac, the name appears as: ܬܐܘܡܐ (in Syriac John, this name also appears in John 14:22)

So my question is this: Is this term used in other documents where the name clearly is affiliated with the process of double and twinning? Is there an aramaic word from before the first century that might have fed into this name?

Is this only defined as "twin" because his name is associated with Δίδυμος (didymos, greek word meaning twin). Basically I'm wondering if there is an independent source for defining this name as meaning twin? Or is it only defined because of it's association with didymos? That seems like saying that Jesus's name means "Christ" because he his called Jesus Christ in the text... Or that Peter (a Greek name) means Simon (a hebrew name)... We know those are not true... But I can't find any example in the hebrew bible where this is used.

Can anyone help me understand where the definition of "Thomas" comes from in Hebrew.


  • "Twins" (תוֹמִ֖ם) in Genesis 25:24 is pronounced "Tomim" in Ivri. Nov 5 '20 at 16:11
  • 1
    Thanks a ton. That is helpful. תוֹמִ֖ם also looks like the particple for תָּמַם, "tamam" which seems like the verb for completeness ("completing.")... I'm wondering if these are related. This is used to describe jacob (תמ) in Genesis 25:27 too. This term for twin also seems pretty obscure here in Just these two places in Genesis and two places in Song of Songs... Is this a common nickname elsewhere closer to the first century?
    – Gus L.
    Nov 5 '20 at 16:33
  • This looks like primarily an etymological question, not a question that arises out of any particular text.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 7 '20 at 2:12
  • @curiousdannii, it arrises out of the Gospel of John as I attempt to understand one of the main characters in that narrative.
    – Gus L.
    Nov 7 '20 at 12:25
  • Gus - I'd suggest focusing on John 11:16 as the root of this question to bring it on-topic.
    – Steve Taylor
    Nov 9 '20 at 15:07

Several lexicons I consulted all give a very similar origin for the Greek transliteration resulting in Θωμᾶς (Thomas).


Θωμᾶς, Θωμᾷ, ὁ (תְּאום (i. e. twin), see δίδυμος), Thomas, one of Christ's apostles: Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; John 11:16; John 14:5; John 20:24-29 (in 29 Rec. only); John 21:2; Acts 1:13. (B. D. under the word.)


Thomas. Of Chaldee origin (compare ta'owm); the twin; Thomas, a Christian -- Thomas.

see HEBREW ta'owm


the Aramaic: תּאוֹמָא = "twin" which was never used simply as a surname ...

Thus, there appears to be consistent consensus that Θωμᾶς is or Chaldee/Aramaic origin meaning "twin".

  • Does it give any references to Chaldean or Aramaic texts or stellas that have this word in a context? I haven't been able to find any other documents from which this word is derived.
    – Gus L.
    Nov 5 '20 at 21:33
  • @GusL. - yes, BDAG gives several references which I did not reproduce above
    – Dottard
    Nov 5 '20 at 22:02
  • Why is this closed? It is literally seeking the meaning of the biblical text and the history of that meaning
    – Gus L.
    Nov 6 '20 at 11:02
  • @GusL. - I do not know why it was closed. I certainly did not ask for it to be closed and was surprised that it was closed.
    – Dottard
    Nov 6 '20 at 19:36

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