Infancy Gospel of Thomas: Greek A

Greek A is the most well-known form of IGT. It has long been the textus receptus for almost two centuries thanks to the work of  C. von Tischendorf who assembled an edition based primarily on two Mss: Dresden A 187 and Bologna Univ. 2702, both from the fifteenth century, containing the full nineteen chapters of the recension; and two additional fragmentary Mss: Vienna Phil. gr. 162 (144) from the fifteenth century (now lost; only the contents of chs. 1 and part of two are known), and Paris A. F. gr. 239 (2908/2279) also of the 15th century (containing only chs. 1-6).

Since Tischendorf’s day, a number of other Mss have been discovered: Vienna, Cod. hist. gr. 91 (14th/15th cent.), Cod. Vatopedi 37 (14th/15th cent.), and two Mss very similar to those from Dresden and Bologna: Samos, B. Metropoleos, Ms gr. 54 (15th/16th cent.) and Cod. Lavra Theta 222 (15th cent.). Also related to the Greek A recension is the Slavonic tradition of Mss. Thomas Rosén published a new edition of these Mss in 1997 (The Slavonic Translation of the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Uppsala). It is believed they hail from a translation from Greek around the 10th/11th century, earlier than any of the extant Greek A Mss. The Slavonic tradition, therefore, is important for establishing the earliest form of the recension.

The translation below is based on my critical edition of the Greek A recension. The base Ms is Vienna, Cod. hist. gr. 91, believed to be the best Ms of the recension as it agrees most closely with the Slavonic tradition, with the seven other Mss used to help determine the recension’s most original readings. The edition is significantly different from the text of Tischendorf, as Tischendorf’s Mss suffered from some major lacunae and corruptions (most notably several missing verses in ch. 6).

Translation copyright 2009 Tony Burke. All rights reserved.

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An account on the childhood deeds and mighty deeds of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  1  I, Thomas the Israelite, thought it necessary to make known to all the Gentile brethren all the childhood deeds and mighty deeds our Lord Jesus Christ did at the region of Nazareth after his birth in our region Bethlehem. The beginning of which is this:

  2 1  When the boy Jesus was five years old, after a rain, he was playing by the fords of a stream. And he gathered the flowing water, which was unclean, into pools and at once he made them pure and virtuous—by a single word he commanded them and not by means of a deed.
  2  Then, taking soft clay from their mixture, he formed twelve sparrows. It was the Sabbath when he did these things while he was playing. And many children also were playing with him.
  3  And a certain Jew, seeing what Jesus did on the Sabbath, went away and informed his father Joseph, saying, “Look! Your boy was playing by the stream and he took clay and formed twelve sparrows from it and profaned the Sabbath”.
  4  Joseph came to the place and, seeing <Jesus>, shouted at him, saying, “Why are you doing these things on the Sabbath that it is not lawful to do?” But Jesus, clapping his hands, shouted at the sparrows and said to them, “Go, take flight and remember me, living ones”. And, taking flight, the sparrows went away squawking.
  5 The Jews who saw this were amazed and went away and reported to their leaders the miracle they had seen Jesus perform.

  3 1 And the son of Annas the scribe was standing there with Joseph. Taking a willow twig, he destroyed the pools and drained out the waters which Jesus had gathered together.
  2 And the boy Jesus, seeing what he had done, became angry and said to him, “Wicked, impious and foolish! What harm did the waters and pools do to you? Look! Now you too shall dry up like a tree and you shall never produce leaves nor roots nor fruit”.
  3 And instantly that child withered completely. And Jesus departed and went home. The parents of the withered boy carried him away, lamenting his youth. And they brought him to Joseph and accused him saying, “Such a boy you have doing such things!”

  4 1 Then again Jesus was going through the village and a child, running, tore into his shoulder. Becoming irritated, Jesus said to him, “You shall not go your way”. And immediately he fell and died. Some people seeing what happened said, “Where was this boy born, that his every word is a deed accomplished?”
  2 The parents of the dead boy came and blamed his father Joseph, saying, “You, having such a boy, cannot be with us nor live in this village unless you teach him to bless and not to curse; for he is killing our children”.

  5 1 And Joseph summoned the child and admonished him privately saying, “Why do you do such things? Those people suffer and hate us and drive us away”. But Jesus said to him, “I know that your words are not mine but yours; nevertheless, I shall be silent on account of you. But those people shall bear their punishment”. Instantly, the ones accusing him were blinded.
  2 And those who saw were very afraid and disturbed and they said about him that every word he happened to say, whether good or bad, has become a deed. And, seeing what Jesus did, Joseph rose and took hold of his ear and pulled it hard.
  3 But the boy became angry and said to him, “It is enough for you to seek and not find; most of all, you have acted wisely. You do not know that I am yours. Do not irritate me, for I am yours”.

  6 1 A teacher by the name of Zacchaeus was standing in a certain place and heard Jesus saying these things to his father and he was greatly amazed that, being a child, he said such things.
  2 After a few days he approached Joseph and said to him, “Your child is wise and has understanding. Come, hand him over to me so that he may learn letters. And I shall teach him, with the letters, all knowledge, and to greet all the elders and honour them as forefathers or fathers, and love others and all those his own age, to fear and respect parents so that also he shall be loved by his own child”.
  2a But Joseph became furious with him and said to the teacher Zacchaeus, “Who is able to teach such a child? Do not consider him a small cross, brother”.
  2b When the boy heard what Joseph said he laughed greatly and said to the teacher, “Truly, teacher, all that my father said to you is true. To him, I am Lord, but you are strangers, for the authority has been given to me alone. I am before the age and now I have come, and I was born among you and I am with you. And you do not know who I am. But I know you, who you are and where you are from and how many are the years of your lives. Truly, I say to you, master, I was present when you were born and I know before your birth. And if you wish to be a perfect master, listen to me and I shall teach you a wisdom which no one else knows except me and the one who sent me to you so that I may teach. I am your master but you have turned out to be my student. I know how old you are, and how much time you have to live truly I alone know. And when you see my cross which my father mentioned to you then you will believe that all I said to you is true. And I am Lord of these people but you are strangers; for then and now I am the same”.
  2c And the Jews standing there were astonished hearing the little boy saying such things and they cried out with loud voices saying, “Oh, what a new and incredible wonder! This child perhaps has not completed five years, and oh what things he says! Such words we have heard no-one speak, not a high priest, nor a teacher of the law, nor a scribe, nor any Pharisee—as from this boy”.
  2d Answering, the boy said to them, “Why are you so amazed? Moreover, do you not believe what I said to you—that I know when you were born and your fathers and your fathers’ fathers? I say this wonder to you: I know when the world was created and the one who sent me to you knows”.
  2e And the Jews, listening that he said such things, were afraid, no longer able to speak to him. Approaching, the boy said to them, “I played with you because I know you are amazed by trifles and you are small-minded”.
  2f Now when they seemed to be displaced (moved ?) by the boy’s consolation, the teacher began to say to the father, “Come, bring him into the school and I shall teach him letters”. Taking hold of his hand, Joseph led him into the classroom. And the schoolmaster Zacchaeus, flattering him, wrote the alphabet for him. He began to instruct him and said the alphabet frequently. But the boy was silent and did not obey him for a long time. Becoming irritated, the teacher struck him on the head. And the boy looked intently at him and said, “I wish to teach rather than to be taught. I know the letters which you teach better than you. To me these things are like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal which demand, like an answering sound, neither glory nor power of soul nor understanding”.
  3 When the boy ceased from his anger he said by himself all the letters from alpha to omega clearly with much care. And looking straight at the teacher Zacchaeus, he said to him, “You, not knowing the alpha according to its nature, how can you teach others the beta? Hypocrite! First, if you know, teach alpha, and then I will trust you concerning the beta”. Then he began to question the schoolmaster about the first letter. And he was unable to answer him.
  4 While many listened, the boy said to Zacchaeus, “Listen, master, and understand the order of the first element. Pay close attention here how it has lines and middle strokes which you see sharp, standing with legs apart, meeting, spreading, (unknown word), elevated, dancing in chorus, (unknown word), in triple rhythm, of the same thickness, of the same family, holding the measuring cord, in charge of the balance, of equal measure—these are the lines of the alpha”.

  7 1 And after the schoolmaster Zacchaeus heard such great things and such allegories of the first letter the boy had expressed, he was puzzled at so great a defense and his teaching. And he said to those who were there, “Woe is me! I am puzzled, wretch that I am, bringing shame to myself, attracting to me this boy.
  2 “Take him away I beg you, brother Joseph. I cannot bear the severity of his look nor his lucid speech. This boy is not of this earth; he can even tame fire. Perhaps he was born before the creation of the world. What kind of womb bore him? What kind of mother’s belly [matrix?] nourished him? I do not know. Woe is me, brother! He stupefies me. I cannot follow along in my mind. I have deceived myself, thrice unhappy as I am. I strove to gain a student and I am found to have a master.
  3 “I think, friends, about the shame because I am an old man and I was defeated by a boy. I must be cast out and die on account of this boy. For I can no longer be seen in his presence, especially after everyone said that I was defeated by a small boy. What can I say and tell anyone concerning the lines of the first element which he told me? O friends, I do not know. For I do not know the beginning or the end of it.
  4 “Therefore, I ask you, brother Joseph, take him away into your house. What great thing this one is—either a god or an angel or whatever else I might say—I do not know”.

   8 1 While the Jews were advising Zacchaeus, the boy laughed loudly and said, “Now let the barren bear fruit and let the blind in heart see, because I am here from on high so that I may deliver those below and call them to the heights just as the one who sent me to you instructed”.
  2 And when the boy ceased his speech instantly all those who fell under his curse were saved. And from that time on no-one dared to make him angry lest somehow he would curse them and they would be maimed.

  9 1 And after several days Jesus was playing on a certain roof of an upstairs room. And one of the children who were playing fell down from the upper room and died. The other children, seeing this, fled instantly. And Jesus was left alone.
  2 The parents of the dead child came and they made accusations, thinking that he had knocked him down.
  3 As they were insulting him, Jesus leaped down from the roof and stood by the body and cried out in a loud voice and said, “Zeno, Zeno—for so his name was—rise and say to me: did I knock you down?” And immediately he rose and said, “No, Lord, you did not knock me down, you raised me up”. When they saw, they were astonished. And the parents of the child praised God for the miracle that had happened and worshipped Jesus.

  10 1 After a few days a certain young man in this neighbourhood was splitting wood and the axe fell and split the bottom of his foot and, having become drained of blood, he died.
  2 And when an uproar and a rush of people occurred, Jesus ran there. Forcing his way through the crowd, he took hold of the stricken foot of the young man and instantly it was healed. And he said to the young man, “Rise, split your wood and remember me”. And the crowd, seeing what had happened, worshipped the boy saying, “Truly, perhaps God dwells in him”.

  11 1 And when he was seven years old, his mother Mary sent him to draw water, giving him a jar. But the jar was jostled about in the crowd and broke.
    2 Then Jesus spread out the cloak he was wearing, filled it with water, and brought it to his mother. And Mary, seeing the miracle that had occurred, kissed him and she kept to herself the mysteries that she saw him perform”.

  12 1 And again at the time of the sowing, the boy went with his father to sow wheat in their field. And while his father sowed, the boy Jesus sowed also one measure of wheat.
  2 And harvesting and threshing he produced 100 measures. And he called all the poor and the needy in the village to the threshing floor and gave them the wheat. And Joseph took the leftover wheat from the seed of Jesus.

  13 1 And Jesus was eight years old. And when his father, a carpenter, was making at that time ploughs and yokes, he received an order from a certain rich man to make a bed for him. But since the wood bar which is called the bedstead did not have the (right) length, because it was shorter, and as Joseph did not know what to do, Jesus said to him, “Put down the two pieces of wood and align them from one end”.
  2 Joseph did just as Jesus said to him. And Jesus stood at the other end and took hold of the shorter piece of wood and, stretching it, he made it equal to the other. And he said to his father, “Do not be distressed now but do what you wish”. And Joseph embraced the boy and kissed him saying, “Blessed am I for God gave me this boy”.

  14 1 And Joseph saw the boy’s understanding and years and growing maturity and again wished him not to be inexperienced with letters. And he went away and handed him over to another schoolmaster. And the schoolmaster said to Joseph, “What letters do you wish that I teach him?” And Joseph said, “First the Greek, then the Hebrew”. For the schoolmaster knew the experience of the boy and was afraid of him. Nevertheless, he wrote the alphabet and talked with him for a long time. And Jesus, saying nothing, did not answer him.
  2 But Jesus said to him, “If you are indeed a schoolmaster and you know perfectly well the letters, then tell me the meaning of the alpha and I will tell you of the beta”. And the schoolmaster became irritated and struck him on the head. And the boy Jesus cursed him and instantly he fainted and fell upon his face.
  3 And the boy went home. And Joseph was distressed and commanded his mother not to let him out the door because those who make him angry die.

  15 1 And after some time, again another teacher, a loyal friend of Joseph, said to him, “Send him to me into the classroom. Perhaps with flattery I will be able to teach him the letters. For it is proper for the boy, being sensible and having understanding, to know letters”. And Joseph said to him, “If you have the courage, brother, take him away with you”. And he took him and led him away with much fear and concern. And the boy went gladly.
  2 And going boldly into the school he found a book lying on the lectern. Taking it, he did not read what was written in it but, opening his mouth, he spoke by the Holy Spirit and taught the law, and they listened to him. And a great crowd gathered and stood listening to him and they were amazed at the beauty of his teaching and the maturity of his words because he was a child saying such things.
  3 And Joseph heard and was afraid and ran to the school terrified that this teacher was inexperienced. But the teacher said to Joseph, “Know, brother, that I took the boy as a student but he is full of much grace and wisdom. Therefore, I beg you brother, take him to your house”.
  4 When the boy heard these things spoken by him to Joseph, at once he laughed at him and said, “Because you spoke rightly and testified rightly, on account of you that one who was struck down also shall be saved”. And immediately the other teacher was healed. And Joseph took the boy and led him away to his house.

  16 1 And Joseph sent his son James to tie up sticks and bring them into his house. The boy also followed him. And as James was gathering the sticks, a snake bit him on his hand.
  2 And as he sprawled out on the ground and lay dying, Jesus came near and blew on the bite and immediately it was healed. And the snake burst apart.

  17 1 And after these events a certain sick infant in the neighbourhood of Joseph died and his mother cried greatly. And Jesus heard, because of the great sorrow and the uproar, and ran quickly. And he found the dead child and touched his chest and said, “I say to you, infant, do not die but live and be with your mother”. And instantly he looked up and laughed. And he said to his mother, “Take your child and give it milk and remember me”.
  2 And the crowd standing there seeing were amazed and said, “Truly this child is a god or an angel because his every word becomes a deed”. And Jesus went away again and played with the children.

  18 1 And after some time, while a building was under construction a man fell from a ladder and died. A rush of people and a great uproar arose and Jesus got up and went straight there. Seeing the man lying dead, he took his hand and said, “I say to you man: rise and do your work”. And instantly he rose and worshipped him.
  2 And seeing, the crowd marveled and said, “This boy is from heaven. For he saved many souls from death and he will continue to save all the days of his life”.

  19 1 And when he was twelve years old his parents went as usual to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover with their group of travelers. And after the Passover, they returned to their home. But as they stared to return home, the boy Jesus went to Jerusalem. And they assumed he was in the crowd of the travelers.
  2 After traveling a day’s journey, they looked for him among their relatives. When they did not find him, they were distressed and returned to the city to search for him. After the third day they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers and asking them about the law and asking them questions. And all paid attention to him and were amazed how, being a child, he questioned even the elders and teachers of the people <and> explained the main points of the law and the parables of the prophets.
  3 And his mother Mary approached and said to him, “Why have you done this to us, child? Look, in great anxiety and distress we have been searching for you”. Jesus said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
  4 And the scribes and the 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. For such glory and such virtue and wisdom we have never seen nor heard”.
  5 And Jesus rose and followed his mother and was obedient to his parents. And his mother treasured  the things that concerned him, all that Jesus had done. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years and in grace. And he was praised by God Almighty. To him be glory forever, amen.