- Doubting Thomas by Glenn Most
Harvard, 267 pp, £17.95, October 2005, ISBN 0 674 01914 8
The story of Doubting Thomas, examined at length in this learned and fascinating book, has its origin in a brief passage near the end of St John’s Gospel. After the crucifixion, when the disciples were assembled behind locked doors ‘for fear of the Jews’, Jesus appeared among them and displayed the wounds in his hands and side. He also granted them the power to remit sins, or not, as the spirit moved them; so they had good reason to rejoice at having seen the Lord.
Vol. 28 No. 2 · 26 January 2006
Frank Kermode’s review of Glenn Most’s Doubting Thomas (LRB, 5 January) reminded me, perhaps a little inconsequentially, of some curious circumstances relating to The Book of Mormon, and specifically to its validation. Every edition of this sacred text bears the statements of two sets of witnesses, a group of three followed by one of eight (making the surely significant number of eleven), that they had seen the gold plates from which the Book was ‘translated’. Many of these witnesses later apostacised from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but none ever retracted his testimony. Whereas the eight affirmed that they ‘did handle with our hands’, and had ‘hefted’ the plates (Mark Twain appreciated ‘hefted’), the three were apparently not hefters, and said that they had been vouchsafed their vision ‘by the power of God, and not of man’. One of the three confessed: ‘I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith.’ Hanging on, as I do, to my somewhat revisionist version of Christianity, I often think that it would have been very helpful if the Gospel writers had told us something like that.
Trinity College, Cambridge