THADDAEUS (thă-dē'ŭs, Gr. Thaddaios). One of the twelve apostles, mentioned only twice in Scripture—in two of the four lists of the apostles (Matt.10.3; Mark.3.18). In Matt.10.3, KJV has “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus,” NEB has “Lebbaeus,” and NASB, NIV, and RSV have “Thaddaeus.” The other two lists (Luke.6.16; Acts.1.13) insert Judas, son of (or brother of) James instead of this name. Nothing else is certainly known about him, but he may be mentioned in John.14.22. A spurious “Gospel of Thaddaeus” used to exist.

The name is found only in the lists of the twelve apostles recorded in the first two gospels (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18). In its place Luke has Judas the son (or brother) of James (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). The unpopularity of the name “Judas” because of the treachery of Iscariot may have led to this man's being known by another name. “Thaddaeus” is thought to have been derived from Aramaic meaning the “breast nipple.” This might suggest that he was a character of almost feminine tenderness. Some Western manuscripts read “Lebbaeus” at Matthew 10:3. This is usually thought to be inauthentic and, as probably derived from Hebrew leb, “heart,” may have been an explanation of the name “Thaddaeus.” If Judas is the same as Thaddaeus, he is not likely to be the brother of our Lord or the author of the epistle of Jude, though he may be the same as “Judas (not Judas Iscariot)" of John 14:22. Jerome equates Thaddaeus, Lebbaeus, and Judas of James, and tells how he was sent on a mission to Abgar, king of Edessa. He was thought by Eusebius to be one of the seventy disciples sent out by Jesus (Luke 10:1).

THADDAEUS thă dē’ əs (Θαδδαι̂ος, G2497). One of the twelve apostles (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18). In Matthew 10:3 KJV the reading is “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.” Omitted from the lists of Luke 6:14-16 and Acts 1:13, the name of Judas, “son” (RSV) or “brother” (KJV) of James is inserted instead. Luke prob. gives the true name. Thaddaeus (Aram. “breastnipple”?) and Lebbaeus (Aram. “heart”) may be descriptive designations of Judas introduced in the gospels to avoid confusion with the traitor and because of the odium attached to his name. Judas (not Iscariot) of John 14:22 is possibly this disciple. See Judas, Juda 6.


H. B. Swete, The Gospel According to St. Mark (1905), 61; V. Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark (1952), 233, 234.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

One of the Twelve Apostles (Mt 10:3; Mr 3:18). In Mt 10:3 the King James Version, the reading is "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus." The name corresponds to Judas, the son (Revised Version), or brother (the King James Version), of James, given in the lists of Lu 6:16; Ac 1:13.

See Judas, not Iscariot; Lebbaeus.

The "Gospel of the Ebionites," or "Gospel of the Twelve Apostles," of the 2nd century and mentioned by Origen, narrates that Thaddaeus was also among those who received their call to follow Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias (compare Mt 4:18-22).


According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), Thaddaeus was of the house of Joseph; according to the "Book of the Bee" he was of the tribe of Judah. There is abundant testimony in apocryphal literature of the missionary activity of a certain Thaddaeus in Syria, but doubt exists as to whether this was the apostle. Thus

(1) according to the "Ac of Peter" (compare Budge, II, 466 ff) Peter appointed Thaddaeus over the island of Syria and Edessa.

(2) The "Preaching of the blessed Judas, the brother of our Lord, who was surnamed Thaddaeus" (Budge, 357 ff), describes his mission in Syria and in Dacia, and indicates him as one of the Twelve.

(3) The "Acta Thaddaei" (compare Tischendorf, Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, 1851, 261 ff) refers to this Thaddaeus in the text as one of the Twelve, but in the heading as one of the Seventy.

(4) The Abgar legend, dealing with a supposed correspondence between Abgar, king of Syria, and Christ, states in its Syriac form, as translated by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, I, xiii, 6-22) (compare THOMAS), that "after the ascension of Christ, Judas, who was also called Thomas, sent to Abgar the apostle Thaddaeus, one of the Seventy" (compare Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 76 ff).

Jerome, however, identifies this same Thaddaeus with Lebbaeus and "Judas .... of James" of Luke (Lu 6:16). Hennecks (op. cit., 473, 474) surmises that in the original form of the Abgar legend Thomas was the central figure, but that through the influence of the later "Ac of Thomas", which required room to be made for Thomas’ activity in India, a later Syriac recension was made, in which Thomas became merely the sender of Thaddaeus to Edessa, and that this was the form which Eusebius made use of in his translation According to Phillips (compare Phillips, The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle), who quotes Zahn in support, the confusion may be due to the substitution of the Greek name Thaddaeus for the name Addai of the Syriac manuscripts.

See Apocryphal Acts.

The general consensus seems to indicate, however, that both Thomas and Thaddaeus the apostle had some connection with Edessa. Of the various identifications of Thaddaeus with other Biblical personages which might be inferred from the foregoing, that with "Judas .... of James" is the only one that has received wide acceptance.

The burial place of Thaddaeus is variously placed at Beirut and in Egypt. A "Gospel of Thaddaeus" is mentioned in the Decree of Gelasius.

C. M. Kerr