The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
Summary of Contents
1 Introductory words.
2 Jesus forms birds out of mud and makes them come alive.
3 Jesus curses the son of Annas.
4–5 Jesus curses the boy who struck him on the shoulder; Joseph reprimands Jesus.
6–8 Jesus in school expounds the riddle of the alphabet.
9 Jesus raises Zeno who fell from the roof‐top.
10 Jesus heals a man's foot.
11 Jesus carries water in his cloak.
12 Jesus reaps a miraculously great harvest.
13 Jesus stretches a plank of wood.
14–15 Jesus in school, and a variant of the story of the arcane meaning of the alphabet.
16 Jesus heals James, the son of Joseph, bitten by a viper.
17 Jesus raises a dead child.
18 Jesus raises a dead workman.
19 Jesus in the temple at the age of twelve.
1 Introductory words.
2–3 follows A 2–3.
4–5 follows A 4–5.
6–7 follows A 6–8.
8 = A 9.
9 = A 10.
10 = A 11.
11 = A 13.
1 Flight to Egypt; Jesus revives a dead fish.
2 A teacher casts Jesus out of the city.
3 Jesus departs from Egypt.
A. Greek A
The account of Thomas the Israelite philosopher concerning the childhood of the Lord1. I, Thomas the Israelite, announce and make known to you all, brothers from among the Gentiles, the mighty childhood deeds of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he did when he was born in our land. The beginning is as follows.
2. 1. When this boy Jesus was five years old he was playing at the crossing of a stream, and he gathered together into pools the running water, and instantly made it clean, and gave his command with a single word. 2. Having made soft clay he moulded from it twelve sparrows. And it was the sabbath when he did these things. And there were also many other children playing with him. 3. When a certain Jew saw what Jesus was doing while playing on the sabbath, he at once went and told his father Joseph, ‘See, your child is at the stream, and he took clay and moulded twelve birds and has profaned the sabbath.’ 4. And when Joseph came to the place and looked, he cried out to him, saying, ‘Why do you do on the sabbath things which it is not lawful to do?’ But Jesus clapped his hands and cried out to the sparrows and said to them, ‘Be gone!’ And the sparrows took flight and went away chirping. 5. The Jews were amazed when they saw this, and went away and told their leaders what they had seen Jesus do.
3. 1. Now the son of Annas the scribe was standing there with Joseph; and he took a branch of a willow and with it dispersed the water which Jesus had collected. 2. When Jesus saw what he had done he was angry and said to him, ‘You insolent, godless ignoramus, what harm did the pools and the water do to you? Behold, now you also shall wither like a tree and shall bear neither leaves nor root nor fruit.’ 3. And immediately that child withered up completely; and Jesus departed and went into Joseph's house. But the parents of the boy who was withered carried him away, bemoaning his lost youth, and brought him to Joseph and reproached him. ‘What kind of child do you have, who does such things?’
4. 1. After this he again went through the village, and a child ran and knocked against his shoulder. Jesus was angered and said to him, ‘You shall not go further on your way’, and immediately he fell down and died. But some, who saw what took place, said, ‘From where was this child born, since his every word is an accomplished deed?’ 2. And the parents of the dead child came to Joseph and blamed him and said, ‘Since you have such a child, you cannot dwell with us in the village; teach him to bless and not to curse. 1 Cf. Rom. 12: 14 . For he is killing our children.’
5. 1. And Joseph called the child to him privately and admonished him saying, ‘Why do you do such things? These people suffer and hate us and persecute us.’ But Jesus replied, ‘I know that these words are not yours; nevertheless for your sake I will be silent. But these people shall bear their punishment.’ And immediately those who had accused him became blind. 2. And those who saw it were greatly afraid and perplexed, and said concerning him, ‘Every word he speaks, whether good or evil, was a deed and became a miracle.’ And when they saw that Jesus had done this, Joseph arose and took him by the ear and pulled it violently. 3. And the child was angry and said to him, ‘It is fitting for you to seek and not to find, and you have acted most unwisely. Do you not know that I am yours? Do not vex me.’
6. 1. Now a certain teacher, Zacchaeus by name, who was standing in a certain place, heard Jesus saying these things to his father, and marvelled greatly that, being a child, he voiced such things. 2. And after a few days he came near to Joseph and said to him, ‘You have a clever child, and he has understanding. Come, hand him over to me that he may learn letters, and I will teach him with the letters all knowledge, and how to address all the older people and to honour them as forefathers and fathers, and to love those of his own age.’ 3. And he told him all the letters from Alpha to Omega distinctly, and with much questioning. But he looked at Zacchaeus the teacher and said to him. ‘How do you, who do not know the Alpha according to its nature, teach others the Beta? Hypocrite, first if you know it, teach the Alpha, and then we shall believe you concerning the Beta.’ 2 Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 1. 20. 1 says that the Marcosian sect support their doctrines by a vast number of apocryphal writings. ‘They adduce, too, this false invention, that when the Lord as a child was learning the alphabet, and his teacher said, as the custom is, “Say Alpha”, he answered, “Alpha.” But when the teacher bade him say Beta, the Lord answered, “First tell me what Alpha is, and then will I tell you what Beta is.” And this they interpret as meaning that he alone knew the unknown mystery, which he manifested in the form of Alpha.’ Then he began to question the teacher about the first letter, and he was unable to answer him. 4. And in the hearing of many the child said to Zacchaeus, ‘Hear, teacher, the arrangement of the first letter, and pay heed to this, how it has lines and a middle stroke which goes through the pair of lines which you see, (how these lines) converge, rise, turn in the dance, three signs of the same kind, subject to and supporting one another, of equal proportions; here you have the lines of the Alpha’. 3 The text appears to be corrupt. Literally it seems to be: ‘how it has lines and a middle stroke which you see, common to both, going apart, coming together, raised up on high, dancing (?), of three signs, like in kind (?) balanced, equal in measure.’
7. 1. Now when Zacchaeus the teacher heard so many such allegorical descriptions of the first letter being expounded by the child, he was perplexed at such a reply and at his teaching and said to those who were present, ‘Woe is me, I am in difficulties wretch that I am; I have brought shame to myself in drawing to myself this child. 2. Take him away, therefore, I beseech you, brother Joseph. I cannot endure the severity of his gaze, I cannot make out his speech at all. This child is not earth‐born; he can even subdue fire. Perhaps he was begotten even before the creation of the world. What belly bore him, what womb nurtured him I do not know. Woe is me, my friend, he confuses me, I cannot attain to his understanding. I have deceived myself, thrice wretched man that I am. I desired to get a pupil, and have found I have a teacher. 3. My friends, I am filled with shame, that I, an old man, have been defeated by a child. I suffer despair and death because of this child, for I cannot in this hour look him in the face. And when all say that I have been conquered by a small child, what have I to say? And what can I tell concerning the lines of the first letter of which he spoke to me? I do not know, my friends, for I know neither beginning nor end of it. 4. Therefore I beg you, brother Joseph, take him away to your house. Whatever great thing he is, a god or an angel I do not know what I should say.
8. 1. And while the Jews were trying to console Zacchaeus, the child laughed aloud and said, ‘Now let those who are yours bear fruit, and let the blind in heart see. I have come from above to curse them and to call them to the things above, as he who sent me ordained for your sakes.’ 2. And when the child had ceased speaking, immediately all those who had fallen under his curse were saved. And no one after that dared to provoke him, lest he should curse him, and he should be maimed.
9. 1. Now after some days Jesus was playing in the upper story of a house, and one of the children who were playing with him fell down from the house and died. And when the other children saw it they fled, and Jesus remained alone. 2. And the parents of the one who was dead came and accused him. 4 Syriac adds ‘of having thrown him down. And Jesus replied, “I did not throw him down.” ’ But they threatened him. 3. Then Jesus leaped down from the roof and stood by the corpse of the child, and cried with a loud voice, ‘Zeno’—for that is what he was called—‘arise and tell me, did I throw you down?’ And he arose at once and said, ‘No, Lord, you did not throw me down, but raised me up.’ And when they saw it they were amazed. And the parents of the child glorified God for the sign that had happened and worshipped Jesus.
10. 1. After a few days a certain man was cleaving wood in a corner, 5 Variant: ‘in the neighbourhood’. and the axe fell and split the sole of his foot, and he was losing so much blood that he was about to die. 2. And there was a clamour, a crowd gathered, and the child Jesus also ran there, forced his way through the crowd, and took the injured foot, and it was healed immediately. And he said to the young man, ‘Arise now, cleave the wood and remember me.’ And when the crowd saw what happened, they worshipped the child, saying, ‘Truly the spirit of God dwells in this child.’
11. 1. When he was six years old, his mother gave him a pitcher and sent him to draw water and bring it into the house. 2. But in the crowd he stumbled, and the pitcher was broken. But Jesus spread out the garment he was wearing, filled it with water and brought it to his mother. And when his mother saw the miracle, she kissed him, and kept to herself 6 Luke 2: 19, 51 . the mysteries which she had seen him do.
12. 1. Again, in the time of sowing the child went out with his father to sow corn in their field. And as his father sowed, the child Jesus also sowed one grain of corn. 2. And when he had reaped it and threshed it, he brought in a hundred measures, 7 Luke 16: 7 . and he called all the poor of the village to the threshing‐floor and gave them the corn, and Joseph took the residue. He was eight years old when he performed this sign.
13. 1. His father was a carpenter and made at that time ploughs and yokes. And he received an order from a rich man to make a bed for him. But when one beam was shorter than its corresponding one and they did not know what to do, the child Jesus said to his father Joseph, ‘Lay down the two pieces of wood and make them even from the middle to one end.’ 2. And Joseph did as the child told him. And Jesus stood at the other end and took hold of the shorter piece of wood, and stretching it made it equal to the other. And his father Joseph saw it and was amazed, and he embraced the child and kissed him, saying, ‘Happy am I that God has given me this child.’
14. 1. And when Joseph saw the understanding of the child and his age, that he was growing to maturity, he resolved again that he should not remain ignorant of letters; and he took him and handed him over to another teacher. And the teacher said to Joseph, ‘First I will teach him Greek, and then Hebrew.’ For the teacher knew the child's knowledge and was afraid of him. Nevertheless he wrote the alphabet and practised it with him for many an hour; but he did not answer him. 2. And Jesus said to him, ‘If you are indeed a teacher, and if you know the letters well, tell me the power of the Alpha, and I will tell you that of the Beta.’ And the teacher was annoyed and struck him on the head. And the child was hurt and cursed him, and he immediately fainted and fell on his face to the ground. 3. And the child returned to Joseph's house. But Joseph was grieved and commanded his mother, ‘Do not let him go outside the door, for all those who provoke him die.’
15. 1. And after some time yet another teacher, a good friend of Joseph, said to him, ‘Bring the child to me to the school. Perhaps I by persuasion can teach him the letters.’ And Joseph said to him, ‘If you have the courage, brother, take him with you.’ And he took him with fear and anxiety, but the child went gladly. 2. And he went boldly into the school and found a book lying on the lectern and picked it up, but did not read the letters in it; instead he opened his mouth and spoke by the Holy Spirit and taught the law to those that stood around. And a large crowd assembled and stood there listening to him, wondering at the beauty of his teaching and the fluency of his words, that, although an infant, he made such pronouncements. 3. But when Joseph heard it, he was afraid and ran to the school, wondering whether this teacher also was inexperienced. But the teacher said to Joseph, ‘Know, brother, that I took the child as a disciple; but he is full of much grace and wisdom; and now I beg you, brother, take him to your house.’ 4. And when the child heard these things, he at once smiled at him and said, ‘Since you have spoken well and have testified rightly, for your sake shall he who was stricken be healed.’ And immediately the other teacher was healed. And Joseph took the child and went away to his house.
16. 1. Joseph sent his son James to gather wood and take it into his house, and the child Jesus followed him. And while James was gathering the sticks, a viper bit the hand of James. 2. And as he lay stretched out and about to die, Jesus came near and breathed upon the bite, and immediately the pain ceased, and the creature burst, and at once James was healed.
17. 1. And after these things in the neighbourhood of Joseph a little sick child 8 Mark 5: 38 . died, and his mother wept bitterly. And Jesus heard that great mourning and tumult arose, and he ran quickly, and finding the child dead, he touched his breast and said: ‘I say to you child, do not die but live and be with your mother.’ And immediately it looked up and laughed. And he said to the woman, ‘Take him and give him milk and remember me.’ 2. And when the people standing round saw it, they marvelled and said, ‘Truly, this child was either a god or an angel of God, for every word of his is an accomplished deed.’ And Jesus departed from there and played with other children.
18. 1. After some time a house was being built and a great disturbance arose, and Jesus arose and went there. And seeing a man lying dead he took his hand and said; ‘I say to you, man, arise, do your work.’ And immediately he arose and worshipped him. 2. And when the people saw it, they were amazed and said, ‘This child is from heaven, for he has saved many souls from death, and is able to save them all his life long.’
19. 1. And when he was twelve years old his parents went according to the custom to Jerusalem to the feast of the passover with their companions and after the feast of the passover they returned to their house. And while they were returning, the child Jesus went back to Jerusalem. But his parents supposed that he was in the company. 2. And when they had gone a day's journey, they sought him among their kinsfolk, and when they did not find him, they were troubled, and returned again to the city seeking him. And after the third day they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening 9 Variant adds ‘to the law’. and asking them questions. And all paid attention to him and marvelled how he, a child, put to silence the elders and teachers of the people, elucidating the chapters of the law and the parables of the prophets. 3. And his mother Mary came near and said to him, ‘Why have you done this to us, child? Behold, we have sought you sorrowing.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do you seek me? Do you not know that I must be about my father's affairs?’ 10 Luke 2: 41–52 . 4. But the scribes and Pharisees said, ‘Are you the mother of this child?’ And she said, ‘I am.’ And they said to her, ‘Blessed are you among women, because God has blessed the fruit of your womb. 11 Luke 1: 42 . For such glory and such excellence and wisdom we have never seen nor heard.’ 5. And Jesus arose and followed his mother and was subject to his parents; but his mother stored up all that had taken place. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and grace. 12 Luke 2: 51 f. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
B. Greek B
Book of the holy Apostle Thomas concerning the conversation in childhood of the Lord1. I, Thomas the Israelite, have thought it necessary to acquaint all the brethren who are Gentiles with the mighty childhood works which our Lord Jesus Christ did while he had his conversation bodily in the city of Nazareth, when he was five years old.
2. One day, when there was a shower, he went out of the house where his mother was and was playing on the ground where water was flowing down. And when he had made pools, the waters came down and the pools were filled with water. Then he said, ‘I will that you waters become clear and good.’ And straightway they became so. But a certain child of Annas the scribe passed by, carrying a stick of willow, and he broke up the pools with the stick and the waters gushed out. And Jesus turned and said to him, ‘Wicked and lawless one, what harm did the pools do you that you emptied them? You shall not go on your way and you shall dry up like the stick which you are holding.’ And as he was going, after a little while, he fell down and gave up the ghost. And when the young children who were playing with him saw it, they marvelled and went and told the father of the dead child. And he ran and found the child dead and went and complained to Joseph.
3. And Jesus made of that clay twelve sparrows; and it was Sabbath. And one young child ran and told Joseph saying, ‘Behold your child is playing in the brook and has made sparrows of the clay, which is not lawful.’ And having heard, he went and said to the child, ‘Why do you do these things, profaning the Sabbath?’ And Jesus did not answer, but looked at the sparrows and said, ‘Go, fly away, and remember me while you live.’ And at the word they took flight and went off into the air. And Joseph marvelled when he saw it.
4. And after some days, as Jesus was going through the middle of the city, a certain child threw a stone at him and hit him on the shoulder. And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall not go on your way.’ And straightway he too fell down and died. And those who happened to be there were astonished saying, ‘Where does this young child come from that every word that he says has immediate effect?’ They too went and complained to Joseph, saying, ‘You will not be able to dwell with us in this city. But if you please, teach your child to bless and not to curse; for he slays our children and every word that he says has immediate effect.’
5. And when Joseph was seated upon his chair, the child stood before him. And taking hold of him by the ear, he pinched it hard. And Jesus looked intently at him and said, ‘It is enough for you.’
6. And on the next day he took him by the hand and led him to a certain teacher named Zacchaeus and said to him, ‘Take this child, teacher, and teach him letters.’ And he said, ‘Hand him over to me, brother, and I will teach him the Scripture and persuade him to bless everything and not to curse.’ And when Jesus heard he laughed, and said to them, ‘You say what things you know, but I understand more things than you; for before the ages I am. And I know when your fathers' fathers were born, and I understand how many are the years of your life.’ And everyone who heard was astonished. And again Jesus said to them, ‘Are you astonished because I said to you that I know how many are the years of your life? Truly I know when the world was created. Behold, you do not believe me now. When you see my cross then you will believe that I speak the truth.’ And they were astonished when they heard these things.
7. And Zacchaeus wrote the alphabet in Hebrew and said to him, ‘Alpha.’ And the child said, ‘Alpha.’ And the teacher said again ‘Alpha’ and the child likewise. Then again the teacher said a third time, ‘Alpha.’ Then Jesus looking at the teacher said, ‘You who do not know the Alpha, how will you teach another the Beta?’ And the child, beginning from the Alpha, said of his own accord the twenty‐two letters. Then, again, he said, ‘Hear, teacher, the arrangements of the first letter, and know how many strokes and rules it has, and marks that are common, diametral, and convergent.’ And when Zacchaeus heard such attributes of the one letter, he was astonished, and could not answer him. And he turned to Joseph and said, ‘Brother, truly this child is not earth‐born; therefore take him away from me.’
8. And after these things, one day Jesus was playing with other children on a house‐top. And one young child was pushed down by another headlong on to the ground and he died. And when the children playing with him saw it they fled; and Jesus was left alone standing upon the house‐top from which the boy had been thrown down. And when the parents of the dead child learned it they ran weeping, and when they found the child lying dead on the ground and Jesus standing up above, supposed that the boy had been thrown down by him; they looked at him and reproached him. And Jesus, when he saw that, straightway leaped down from the house‐top and stood at the head of the dead boy and said to him, ‘Zeno, did I cast you down? Arise and speak’—for the boy was so called. And at the word the boy arose and he worshipped Jesus and said, ‘Lord, you did not cast me down, but when I was dead you brought me to life.’
9. And after a few days, one of the neighbours while cleaving wood cut off the sole of his foot with his axe and from loss of blood was at the point of death. And many people ran up to him. Jesus also came with them there. And he touched the wounded foot of the young man, and immediately healed him; and he said to him, ‘Arise, cleave your wood.’ And he arose and worshipped him, giving thanks and cleaving the wood. Likewise, also, all who were there marvelled and gave thanks to him.
10. And when he was six years old, Mary, his mother, sent him to fetch water from the well. And as he went his pitcher broke. And going on to the well, he spread out his garment and drew water from the well and filled it, and took the water and brought it to his mother. And when she saw it she was astonished and embraced him and kissed him.
11. And when Jesus had reached his eighth year, Joseph was ordered by a certain rich man to construct a bed for him, for he was a carpenter. And he went out in the field to collect wood, and Jesus also went with him. And having cut two pieces of wood, he fashioned one and he laid it beside the other; and when he had measured it he found it too short. And when he saw it, he was grieved and sought to find another. And when Jesus saw it, he said to him, ‘Lay these two together so as to make both equal at one end.’ And Joseph, being in doubt what the child meant by this, did what was ordered. And he said to him again, ‘Take hold firmly of the short piece of wood.’ And Joseph wondered but took hold of it. Then Jesus taking hold of the other end pulled it and made that piece of wood equal to the other. And he said to Joseph, ‘Grieve no more but do your work without impediment.’ And he, when he saw, was exceedingly amazed and said within himself, ‘Blessed am I that God gave me such a child.’ And when they had gone away into the city, Joseph told Mary. And when she heard and saw the wonderful miracles of her Son, she rejoiced, glorifying him with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and ever and unto the ages of the ages. Amen.
1. When a commotion had been raised, because a search had been made by Herod for our Lord Jesus Christ that he might slay him, then an angel said to Joseph, Take Mary and her child, and flee into Egypt from the face of those who seek to slay him. Jesus was two years old when he entered Egypt.
And as he walked through a cornfield, he put out his hand, and took hold of the ears, and put them on the fire, and crushed them, and began to eat.
Now when they had come into Egypt, they found a lodging in the house of a certain widow, and they passed one year in the same place. And Jesus was three years old, and when he saw boys playing, he began to play with them. And he took a dry fish and put it in a basin, and ordered it to breathe, and it began to breathe. And he said again to the fish, ‘Reject the salt which you have, and go into the water’, and so it came to pass. But the neighbours, seeing what was done, told the widow in whose house Mary his mother was staying, and when she heard it, she cast them out of her house in great haste.
2. And as Jesus was walking with Mary his mother in the middle of the city, he looked up and saw a teacher teaching his pupils; and behold twelve sparrows which were quarrelling together fell from the wall into the lap of the teacher who was teaching the boys. But when Jesus saw it he laughed and stopped. When the teacher saw him laughing, in a great rage he said to his pupils, ‘Go, fetch him to me.’ Now when they had taken him, the master took hold of his ear, and said, ‘What have you seen that has made you merry?’ But he said, ‘Behold master, my hand is full of corn. I showed it to them and scattered the corn, which, at their peril, they carry away; for it was this that they were fighting for—that they might divide the corn.’ And Jesus did not depart from there until it was accomplished; and for this reason, the teacher cast him out of the city together with his mother.
3. And behold an angel of the Lord met Mary and said to her, ‘Take the Child and return to the land of the Jews, for they are dead who sought his life.’ And Mary arose with Jesus, and they went to the city of Nazareth, which is in the possession of her 1 Variant: ‘his’. father. Now when Joseph went out of Egypt after the death of Herod, he led him into the desert until there should be peace in Jersusalem from those who sought the child's life; and he thanked God that he gave him understanding, and that he found favour before the Lord God.
2 Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 1. 20. 1 says that the Marcosian sect support their doctrines by a vast number of apocryphal writings. ‘They adduce, too, this false invention, that when the Lord as a child was learning the alphabet, and his teacher said, as the custom is, “Say Alpha”, he answered, “Alpha.” But when the teacher bade him say Beta, the Lord answered, “First tell me what Alpha is, and then will I tell you what Beta is.” And this they interpret as meaning that he alone knew the unknown mystery, which he manifested in the form of Alpha.’
3 The text appears to be corrupt. Literally it seems to be: ‘how it has lines and a middle stroke which you see, common to both, going apart, coming together, raised up on high, dancing (?), of three signs, like in kind (?) balanced, equal in measure.’
4 Syriac adds ‘of having thrown him down. And Jesus replied, “I did not throw him down.” ’
5 Variant: ‘in the neighbourhood’.
9 Variant adds ‘to the law’.
1 Variant: ‘his’.