The English translation below is based primarily on Delatte’s Athens Ms. Superior readings from the other Greek Mss are included and four Mss of Tischendorf’s Latin text were consulted to assist in adjudicating between the Greek Mss.
Translation copyright 2009 Tony Burke. All rights reserved.
On the extraordinary and awesome miracles our Lord Jesus Christ performed as a child written by James the brother of God.
1 During the course of an uproar, Jesus was sought by King Herod. Then, an angel of the Lord said to Mary, “Take the boy and flee from the face of Herod into Egypt, for they seek the boy in order to destroy him”. And Jesus was two years old when he went into Egypt.
2 And as they were passing through the grainfields, he began to pluck the heads of grain and eat them.
3 Then, when they arrived in Egypt they went into the house of a certain widow. And they stayed there one year.
4 And seeing the children of the Hebrews playing, he played along with them. And, taking a salted fish, he threw it into the water saying, “Shake off the salt and swim in the water”. And when the neighbours saw what happened, they immediately reported it to the widow Mary was living with. When the woman heard of these events, she rushed off and drove them away.
5 And as Jesus was going through the streets of the city with his mother, he saw a schoolmaster teaching children. Then twelve sparrows came down from a wall and were fighting amongst themselves. And they fell unexpectedly into the lap of the teacher. Seeing this, Jesus laughed.
6 When the teacher saw him laughing, he was filled with anger and said, “Bring him to me here”. And when they had brought him, he pulled his ear and said, “What did you see to make you laugh?” And he said to him, “Teacher, look: a widow woman comes to you carrying grain which she bought with hard work. And here she must stumble and scatter the grain. Therefore, these birds fight over how many seeds each one ought to get”.
7 And Jesus did not go away until what he said had been fulfilled. The schoolmaster, seeing that the words of Jesus had become a deed, ordered him to be driven from the city along with his mother.
8 And an angel of the Lord came to meet Mary, saying to her, “Take the boy and return to the land of Judaea, for those seeking the boy’s life are dead”. Rising, Mary went with Jesus to Capernaum, a city of Tiberias, their homeland.
9 And James, knowing that Jesus had been brought up from Egypt, took himself into the wilderness after the death of Herod until the uproar in Jerusalem had ceased. And I, James, began to praise God, the one who gave me wisdom, because I found favour in his sight, to write this account.
1 I too, (James), thought it necessary to make known to all the Gentile brethren all that our Lord Jesus Christ did in the village Nazareth after his birth in our region Bethlehem. The beginning of which is this:
2 1 After Jesus became five years old he was playing after a rain at the fords of rushing streams. He gathered the unclean water into pools and instantly he made it pure by means of his word.
2 Then again he took pure clay from a pool and made twelve sparrows. It was the Sabbath when Jesus did these things as he was playing with the children of the Hebrews.
3 And they went to his father Joseph saying to him, “Look! Your boy was playing with us, he took clay and made twelve sparrows”.
4 Joseph came and said to Jesus, “Why did you do such a thing which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” But Jesus, clapping his hands, said to the sparrows, “Go, take flight and remember me, living ones”. And, taking flight, the sparrows went away squawking.
5 They reported to all the miracle which Jesus performed.
3 1 And Annas the scribe was there with Jesus. Taking a willow branch, he did away with the pools and drained the water from them which Jesus had gathered.
2 When <Jesus> saw what he did, he became angry at him and said, “Sodomite, impious and foolish! What harm did my pools and my waters do to you? Look! Now you shall dry up like a tree, and you shall not have roots, nor top nor fruit”.
3 And, falling to the ground, he withered at once. And his parents came, found him dead, and carried him away at once. And they blamed Joseph, saying, “Such a boy you have! Look what he is doing to us. Teach him to bless and not to curse”.
4 1 Then, after a few days, Jesus was walking with Joseph in the village and a child, running, struck Jesus upon the shoulder. Jesus became furious and said to him, “You shall not go your way”. And instantly, he fell and died. When the Jews saw the marvel, they cried out saying, “Where did this child come from?”
2 And they said to Joseph, “You cannot live with us, having such a boy. Take him and go away henceforth. If you wish to live with us teach him to bless and not to curse; for he is crippling our children”.
5 1 And Joseph summoned Jesus and admonished him privately saying, “Why do you curse? They suffer and hate us and drive us away from the village”. But Jesus said to him, “I know that the words are not mine but yours; nevertheless, I must be silent on account of you. But those people will receive their punishment”. And instantly becoming angry they were blinded.
2 And they were disturbed and raging. And seeing what Jesus did, Joseph pulled his ear.
3 But Jesus became furious and he was angry, saying to Joseph, “It is enough for you that you see me and do not scourge me, for you do not know who I am and that I have come to you”.
6 1 A schoolmaster by the name of Zacchaeus was listening to everything that Jesus was saying to Joseph and he was amazed, saying to himself, “Such a child to say such things!”
2 Summoning Joseph, he said to him, “You have a wise child and he has good understanding, but hand him over to me so that he may learn letters and I shall teach him all knowledge so that he will not be disobedient”.
2a But Joseph answered and said to him, “No one can subjugate this one but God alone. Do not think him to be a small cross, brother”.
2b When Jesus heard Joseph saying this he laughed and said to Zacchaeus, “Truly, teacher, all that my father has said to you is true. I am Lord of these people. I have come to you and I have been born among you, and I am with you. I know where you came from and how many years your lives shall be. Truly I say to you, schoolmaster, when you were born I am. And if you wish to be a perfect schoolmaster, 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. For you happen to be my student and I know how old you are and how long you have to live. And when you see my cross which my father mentioned, then you will believe that everything I said to you is true”.
2c And the Jews passing by and listening to Jesus were amazed and said, “O strange and incredible thing! This boy is not yet five years old and such things he says! For such words we have never heard spoken from anyone as from this child”.
2d And answering, Jesus said to them, “You are greatly amazed ? Moreover, do you not believe what I said to you? Truly I know also when you and your fathers were born. And I say this wonder to you: indeed, when the world was created I am, and the one who sent me to you”.
2e And the Jews, listening that the boy spoke so, were angry, unable to answer to him a word. But the boy skipped forward and said to them, “I played with you, for I know that you are amazed by trifles and you are small-minded”.
2f Now when they seemed to be comforted by the boy’s consolation, the teacher said to Joseph, “Bring him into the school and I shall teach him letters”. Taking him by the hand, Joseph led him into the classroom. And the teacher wrote for him the alphabet and began to practice and said the alpha many times. But the boy was silent and did not answer him for a long time. Then, becoming irritated, the teacher struck him on the head. And the boy took the blow calmly and said to him, “I am teaching you rather than being taught by you because I know the letters which you teach me and your condemnation is great. To me these things are like a bronze gong, like a clanging cymbal which, because of the noise, does not produce glory nor wisdom. Nor does anyone understand the power of my wisdom”.
3 When he ceased from his anger he said the letters from alpha to omega with much speed. And looking straight at the teacher he said to him, “You, not knowing the alpha according to its nature, how can you teach another the beta? Hypocrite! If you know, first teach me the alpha and then I will trust you about the beta”. And he began to ask the schoolmaster about the first element. And he was unable to say anything.
4 While many listened he said to Zacchaeus, “Listen, master, and understand the order of the first element. See how it has two lines and a middle stroke pointing, standing with legs apart, meeting, elevated, dancing in chorus, three-cornered, two-cornered, of the same form, 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 Zacchaeus heard such descriptions and the lines of the first letter Jesus had expressed he was puzzled by such teaching and he cried out saying, “Woe is me, because I am assaulted, wretch that I am, and I have taken shame to myself.
2 “Take him away from me I beg you, brother. I cannot bear the severity of his look nor of his speech. This boy can tame fire and bridle the seas. This boy existed before the creation of the world. What kind of mother bore him? Or, who nourished him? I do not know. Woe is me, my friends! My mind is amazed. I am deceived, unhappy as I am, and I strove to gain a student and all of a sudden I have a master.
3 “I cannot endure the shame because, being an old man, I was defeated by a boy. I must be cast out and die or flee the village on account of this boy. For I cannot be seen in his presence after everyone saw that I was defeated by a boy. But what can I say or tell concerning the lines of the first element which he displayed to me? Of this I do not know, o friends, of those I find neither the beginning nor the end.
4 “I beg you, brother, take him into your house. For this one is great—either a god or an angel or the creator of everything”.
8 1 While the Jews were advising Zacchaeus Jesus laughed and said, “Now let the barren bear fruit, now let the unseeing see, now let the deaf in the heart hear, because I am here from on high so that I may deliver those below and I am looking to the things on high just as the one who sent me to you instructed”.
2 And when the boy said these things, everyone became well in soul and body and no-one dared to speak a bad word to him.
9 1 And one day Jesus was playing with the children. And one child fell from the upper floor and died. When the children saw the body they fled. And Jesus alone remained behind on the upper floor.
2 The parents of the dead child came and said to Jesus that, you knocked him down.
3 And as they were raging against Jesus, he came down and, standing over the body, he cried out, saying the name of the dead one, “Zeno, Zeno, rise and say: did I knock you down?” And immediately he rose and said, “No, Lord, no”.
4 When his parents saw the incredible wonder that Jesus performed they praised God and worshipped Jesus.
10 1 Then after a few days a certain young man in the neighbourhood was splitting wood and he cut the right side of his foot. And the crowd assembled by him.
2 And the one who heals illnesses, our Lord Jesus Christ, also went in. And he took hold of the stricken foot and immediately it was healed. And Jesus said to him, “Rise, split the wood and remember me”. And the crowd, seeing the miracle Jesus performed, worshipped him and said, “Truly, perhaps God dwells in this boy”.
11 1 And when Jesus became six years old, his mother sent him out to fetch water. But there was a great crowd at the fountain and his jar broke.
2 Then Jesus spread out the cloak he was wearing, placed water on it, and brought it over to Mary his mother. And Mary his mother, the holy mother of God, seeing the sign which Jesus performed, kissed him and said, “Lord, bless my child”.
12 1 And at the time of the sowing, Joseph went to sow grain. And Jesus accompanied him. And while Joseph sowed, Jesus took also one handful and sowed it.
2 And at the time of the harvest, Jesus gathered together the grain that he sowed, threshed it and made from it one hundred baskets. And he called the poor and orphans and widows and gave them the grain that he made. And Joseph also took up a little of the same grain into his house for the blessing because it was the seed of Jesus.
13 1 And Jesus was eight years old. And Joseph was a carpenter making ploughs and yokes. A certain rich man said to him, “Lord Joseph, make me a beautiful and distinguished couch”. And Joseph was in much distress because one piece of wood was crooked. And Jesus said to him, “Do not be distressed; rather, put down the pieces of wood and let us make them equal”.
2 Joseph did just as Jesus commanded him. And Jesus took hold of the one end and stretched it. And he said to Joseph, “Do what you wish from now on”. And Joseph, seeing the miracle which he performed, hugged and kissed him saying, “Blessed am I for God has given me such a boy”.
14 1 And when Joseph saw that he had a sharp mind and he was increasing in years, he wished to bring him so that he might learn letters. And he brought him to another schoolmaster that he might teach him. And the schoolmaster said to Joseph, “What letters do you wish that I teach him first?” Joseph said, “First the Greek, then the Hebrew”. And knowing an experience of Jesus, the teacher was afraid of him. Nevertheless, he wrote the alphabet for him and taught him the elements for a long time. And Jesus, answering nothing, was silent.
2 And he said to the teacher, “If you are indeed a schoolmaster and you know well the letters, then tell me the meaning of the alpha and I will tell you the beta”. And the schoolmaster became furious and struck him on the head. And Jesus became angry and cursed him and instantly fainting, he fell.
3 And Jesus went home. And Joseph commanded his mother not to let him out of the house so that he may not curse the people.
15 1 And after some days, another schoolmaster, a friend of Joseph, said to him, “Hand him over to me, brother, and with much encouragement I will be able to teach him letters. For he has a sensible understanding and it is proper for him to know and to learn letters”. Joseph said to him, “If you have courage, brother, take him and teach him with great joy”. And the teacher took Jesus and led him away with great fear and trembling.
2 And Jesus readily went into the school and found a book lying there. Taking it, he opened it and did not read the things written in the book but, opening his mouth, he spoke by the Holy Spirit and he taught his law to those who were present and listening, so that even the teacher sitting near him listened to him very gladly, encouraging him that he might say more. And a great crowd entered and listened to everything and were amazed at his holy teaching and his speech because he was a child saying such things.
3 And Joseph heard and ran to the school. And the teacher said to him, “Know, brother, that I took the boy as a student but he is full of much grace and wisdom. Take him into your house, brother, with joy. For the gift which he has is from God”.
4 And when Jesus heard the teacher saying such things he smiled and said, “Because you testified rightly, on account of you that one who had suffered yesterday 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 after a few days Joseph sent James to gather sticks for the oven. And Jesus followed James also. And as James was gathering the sticks, a snake bit him.
2 And falling on the ground, he was going to die from the pain of the poison. But Jesus breathed on the wound and instantly James was healed. And the snake disappeared.
17 1 And after a few days a child of the neighbourhood died of sicknesses and his mother mourned greatly. But Jesus, hearing, went and stood over the child and touched his chest saying, “I say to you, infant, do not die but live and be with your mother”. And instantly the child looked up. And Jesus said to his mother, “Take your child and give it a breast and remember me”.
2 And the crowds seeing the wonder said, “Truly this child is a god or an angel because his every word becomes a deed”. And Jesus went away and played with children.
18 1 Again, at another time, a certain builder fell from the top and died. And Jesus came and said to the one who was dead, “I say to you man: rise and do your work”. And instantly he rose and worshipped him.
2 And seeing, the crowd said, “This boy is from heaven. For he saved many souls from death and he will continue to save to the end of his life”.
19 1 When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents went as usual to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And after completing their days at the festival, his parents returned with the crowd to their city, Nazareth. But Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem and his parents did not know. They assumed he was with the crowd and in the group of travelers.
2 After traveling the span of a day, they looked for him in the evening among the crowd and their friends. When they did not find him they were distressed and returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After the third day they found him sitting in the temple and teaching the crowds. For everyone gladly listened to him and the scribes and the teachers of the law were amazed saying, “What is this child? How does he say such things?” For he questioned all the elders and law-teachers of the people, explaining to them the main points of the law and the parables of the prophets.
3 And his mother approached and said, “Why have you done this to us, child? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety”. He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did I not say to you that I must be in my Father’s house?”
4 And the scribes and the Pharisees said to Mary, “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. Such grace and wisdom and glory we have never seen nor heard”.
5 And Jesus rose and followed his mother and was obedient to her. And Mary treasured all things in her heart, all the great deeds Jesus did among the people, healing the diseases of all of them. And Jesus increased in years and in wisdom and grace. And he was praised by his father. And he is blessed forever and ever, amen.