The Revelation of Thomas (ApkTh) is certainly rather an unknown apocryphal apocalypse. Its existence has long been known only by its reference in the Decretum Gelasianum. Today the revelation’s text is testified not only by medieval English homilies but also interestingly by three various text forms all having been written in Latin and most of them discovered by scholars in different monastery libraries at the beginning of the 20th century. The so-called „short form“ of the apocalypse, which is - because of the dating of the oldest of the relevant manuscripts - considered to be the earliest witness created in the fifth century, consists of an address by Christ to Thomas, where he announces that famine, wars, and pestilences will appear when the End of Times approaches. After that, a list of the single events taking place on the last and final days follows. This distribution of the de-creation of the world on seven days before Christ’s arrival on the eighth - events which are moreover all testified in the second transmitted „abbreviated form“ of the ApkTh variant containing only the list predicting the End - hereby is what makes the Revelation of Thomas so fascinating and simultaneously unique among all the other apocalypses known so far. In the third variant of testification, which for its part can be named the „long recension,“ the relevant medieval manuscripts of the ApkTh additionally deal with the calamities striking the humans on earth and preceding Christ’s parusia. This prophetic introduction of the Revelation of Thomas contains insinuations to historical events having taken place in the fifth century C. E. Among those observable references the allusion to Arcadius and Honorius, the two sons of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, is quite unambiguous, while other scourges described in the text cannot be assigned to actual occurrences without doubt. In any case the setting seems to be the Western part of the Roman Empire, although the Eastern part can’t be totally excluded.
© 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston