What do unbelievers believe in?

Is the "unbelieving Thomas" really an unbeliever?

The "unbelieving Thomas" has become proverbial. Thomas is not expressly made the patron saint of doubters, but unofficially he could definitely perform this function. Such a saint would certainly not be without charm; but it is questionable whether this figure can be traced back to the Thomas of JohEv. Its history can also be read differently than under the keyword of doubt and "unbelief".

Thomas does not take the message of the encounter with the crucified Lord lightly, but seeks reassurance. Only apparently does he ask for more than what was given to the other disciples. His demand that the wounds and side of Jesus be touched (20.25) goes beyond the first apparition, since the disciples only saw the wounds of Jesus (20.20). The second apparition is not told in such a way that Thomas carried out his previous request and then came to believe. When Jesus comes the touch is no longer necessary; At the invitation of Jesus, Thomas already speaks the creed: "My Lord and my God" (20:28).

Jesus complies with Thomas' request without reproaching him. Thomas is offered the assurance he asked for. Only after this offer is the request not to be an unbeliever, but to be a believer. So Thomas is not criticized for his condition ("if I don't see the marks on the nails on his hands ..."). Rather, this is taken seriously as a station on the path to faith to which the risen One leads the disciple. So it is Thomas who speaks the most expressive confession of the characters of JohEv: "my Lord and my God".

Even the saying "Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe" (20.29b) need not be read as a rebuke from Thomas. As an Easter witness, his faith (like that of the other disciples) is based on sight (20.29a); this is a finding, not a reproach. The situation of the later believers is different: they have no Easter apparition, but can still come to believe and are therefore to be praised blessed. The story of Thomas is told mainly to emphasize this, not to criticize the belief that is based on sight.