Date of Completion

Spring 5-6-2012

Thesis Advisor(s)

Fiona Vernal

Honors Major

History

Disciplines

Asian History | Christianity | History | History of Christianity

Abstract

Approximately 2.4% of the Indian population identify themselves as Christians[1]. As the number of followers grows, it is only natural to question how this religion came to India. The Syrian Christians of Kerala have taken great pride for countless centuries in the fact that their church was personally founded by the apostle Thomas. However, does this legend accurately portray the historical reality? Numerous scholars claim that Christianity was brought to the continent by merchants, other evangelists, or Jewish settlers. This study seeks to identify the evidence behind these claims by comparing the existing primary source documents and observable historic trends. This detailed analysis concludes that substantial evidence supports the claim that Thomas was the first to establish Christian communities on the continent in the first century CE with the purpose of evangelization.

[1] Thomas, Abraham Vazhayil. Christians in Secular India. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1974, p. 13.