A Prince of India's Near-Death Experience from 2,000 Years Ago
The Acts of Thomas is one of the New Testament apocrypha, written in Syriac around 200-225 CE. The text was deemed heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and is therefore not included in the official biblical canon. It recounts supposedly factual biographical details in the life of Thomas the apostle (d. 72 CE), including his missionary visit to India c. 52 CE.
During this episode, Thomas was introduced to the king Gondophares I, founder of the
Indo-Parthian kingdom. When he discovered that Thomas was a carpenter, the king hired him to
build a new palace. However, Thomas deceived the king, distributing the payments to the poor
rather than using it to build the palace even as he told the king that the building project was
progressing well. Upon discovering this, the king confronted Thomas and asked if he had built
the palace. Thomas replied, “Thou canst not see it now, but when thou hast departed from this
world.” In other words, he claimed that he had built the palace in the other world. The king was furious and had Thomas sent to jail to await execution.
Meanwhile, that night the king's brother, Prince Gad, had a near-death experience. He died, went to the other world and confirmed what Thomas had said about the palace in heaven.
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