Infancy Gospel of Thomas: Greek S

Greek S is new recension of IGT based on a single Ms: Cod. Sabait. 259 (11th cent.). The Ms was first given extensive treatment in several works by S. J. Voicu (see particularly “Notes sur l’histoire du texte de l’Histoire de l’enfance de Jésus”, Apocrypha 2 [1991], p. 119-132), who describes the text as an “intermediate” form of IGT standing between the early versions (for it too lacks chs. 17 and 18 and contains the speech from ch. 6) and the other Greek recensions (as it includes chs. 1 and 10, the latter placed between chs. 16 and 19).

Greek S finally was published, along with additional Greek manuscripts, in my 2001 doctoral dissertation. The dissertation aims to prove that Greek S may not be a perfect witness to IGT’s original form, but it is the earliest known Greek manuscript and, aside from its additional chapters, follows closely the readings of the early versions. If read alongside the early versions, Greek S can be used to establish the original text of IGT with some confidence.

Translation copyright 2009 Tony Burke. All rights reserved.

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The Great Childhood 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 that our Lord Jesus Christ did in the village of Nazareth after his birth in our region Bethlehem. The beginning of which is this:

  2 1 The boy Jesus was five years old and, after a rain, he was playing at the ford of a rushing stream. And he gathered the disturbed water, which was unclean, into pools and made them pure and excellent, commanding them by the character of his word alone and not by means of a deed.
  2 Then, taking soft clay from the mud, he formed twelve sparrows. It was the Sabbath when he did these things, and many children were with him.
  3 And a certain Jew, seeing the boy Jesus with the other children doing these things, went to his father Joseph and falsely accused the boy Jesus, saying that, on the Sabbath he made clay, which is not lawful, and fashioned twelve sparrows.
  4 And Joseph came and rebuked him, saying, “Why are you doing these things on the Sabbath?” But Jesus, clapping his hands, commanded the birds with a shout in front of everyone and said, “Go, take flight like living beings”. And the sparrows, taking flight, went away squawking.
  5 When the Pharisee saw this he was amazed and reported it to all his friends.

  3 1 And the son of Annas the High Priest said to him, “Why are you doing such a thing on the Sabbath?” And taking a willow twig, he destroyed the pools and drained out the water which Jesus had gathered together. And he dried up their gatherings.
  2 And Jesus, seeing what had happened, said to him, “Your fruit (shall be) without root and your shoot shall be dried up like a branch scorched by a strong wind”.
  3 And instantly that child withered.

  4 1 While he was going from there with his father Joseph, someone running tore into his shoulder. And Jesus said to him, “Cursed be your leader”. And instantly he died. At once the people, seeing that he was dead, cried out and said, “Where was this boy born that his word becomes a deed?”
  2 When they saw what had happened the parents of the dead boy blamed his father Joseph, saying, “Because you have this boy you cannot live with us in this village. If you wish to be here, teach him to bless and not to curse; for we have been deprived of our child”.

  5 1 And Joseph said to Jesus, “Why do you say such things? They suffer and hate us”. And the boy said to Joseph, “Since you know wise words, you are not ignorant where your words came from [two words uncertain]; they too shall not be raised. And these people shall receive their punishment”. Instantly, the ones accusing him were blinded.
  2 But Joseph took hold of his ear and pulled hard.
  3 And Jesus said to him, “Let it be enough for you to seek me and to find me and not, in addition to this, to scourge me by having a natural ignorance. You do not see clearly why I am yours. Behold! You know to not irritate me, for I am yours, and I am your captive”.

  6 1 A teacher named Zacchaeus was standing listening to Jesus saying these things to his father and he was greatly amazed.
  2 He said to Joseph, “Come, bring him, brother, so that he may be taught letters, and so that he may know all knowledge, learn to love those his own age, honour old age and revere elders, so that he may acquire a desire to be among children, also teaching them in return”.
  3 But Joseph said to the teacher, “Who is able to restrain this child and teach him? Do not consider him to be a small cross brother”. And the teacher said, “Give him to me, brother, and do not let him concern you”.
  4 And the boy Jesus looked straight at them and said to the teacher this speech: “Being a teacher you have naturally come (to me). But with respect to the name which you are named you are a stranger. For I am from outside of you, but I am within you on account of existing in this material excellence. But you, a man of the Law, do not know the Law”. And he said to Joseph, “When you were born, I existed and was standing beside you so that, Father, you may be taught a teaching by me which no other knows nor is able to teach. And you will bear the name of salvation”.
  5 And the Jews cried out aloud and said to him, “Oh, what a new and incredible wonder! The boy is perhaps five years old and oh, what things he says! Such words we have never known; no-one has spoken anything—neither a teacher of the law nor a Pharisee—as from this boy”.
  6 The boy answered them and said, “Why are you so amazed? Moreover, why do you not believe that the things that I said to you are true? When you were born and your fathers and your fathers’ fathers, I, who was created before this world, know accurately”.
  7 And all the people listening were speechless, no longer able to speak to him. Approaching them, he skipped about and said, “I was playing with you because I know you are amazed by trifles and to the wise you are small”.
  8 Now when they seemed to be comforted by the boy’s consolation, the teacher said to his 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, flattering him, took him into the classroom. And Zacchaeus wrote the alphabet for him and began to teach the letters. And he would repeat a letter to him frequently. But the boy did not answer him. Becoming irritated, the teacher struck him on the head. And the boy became angry and said to him, “I wish to teach you rather than be taught by you, for I know the letters which you are teaching more accurately and far better than you. To me these things are like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal which do not represent the sound nor the glory nor the power of understanding”.
  9 When the boy ceased from his anger he said by himself all the letters from alpha to omega with much care and clearly. Looking straight at the teacher he said, “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 to speak of the beta”. Then he began to question the schoolmaster about the first element. And he was unable to speak to him.
  10 While many listened, he said to the teacher, “Listen, master, and understand the order of the first element. Pay close attention here how it has sharp lines and a middle stroke which you see pointing, crossing over, meeting, going out, drawn aside, elevated, dancing in chorus, [one word uncertain], in triple rhythm, two-cornered, of the same form, [one word uncertain], of the same family, making to rise, balanced, of equal measure, of equal proportions — these are the lines of the alpha”.

  7 1 And after the teacher heard such a description and such lines of the first letter Jesus had expressed he was puzzled about such teaching and his defense. And the teacher said, “Woe is me! Woe is me! I am puzzled, wretch that I am. I have brought shame down upon myself.
  2 “Take this boy away from me, brother, for I cannot bear the severity of his look nor his lucid words. This boy simply is not of this Earth; he can even tame fire. Perhaps this boy existed before the creation of the world. What kind of womb bore him? What kind of mother reared 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 thought to gain a student and I am found having a master.
  3 “I think, friends, about my shame because I am an old man and I have been defeated by a boy. I must be cast out and die or flee from this village on account of this boy. For I can no longer be seen in the presence of everyone, especially after all those people saw that I was defeated by a very small boy. But what can I say or tell anyone concerning the lines of the first element which he proposed to me? Truly, friends, I do not know. For I understand neither the beginning nor the end.
  4 “Therefore, brother Joseph, take him with salvation into your house. For what great thing this boy is — either a god or an angel or whatever else I might say — I do not know”.

   8 1 The boy Jesus laughed and said, “Now let the barren bear fruit and the blind see  and the foolish in heart find wisdom. Because I have come 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 commanded me”.
  2 And instantly all those who had fallen under his curses were saved. And no-one dared to make him angry from that time on.

  9 1 And again, after many days, Jesus was playing with other children on a certain roof of an upstairs room. And one of the children fell and died. The other children, seeing this, went to their homes. And they left Jesus alone.
  2 The parents of the dead child came and accused Jesus saying, “You knocked down our child”. But Jesus said, “I did not knock him down”.
  3 And while they were raging and shouting, Jesus came down from the roof and stood beside the body and cried out in a loud voice saying, “Zeno, Zeno—for this was his name—rise and say if I knocked you down”. And he rose and said, “No, Lord”. When they saw, they were amazed. And again Jesus said to him, “Fall asleep!” And the parents of the child praised God and worshiped the boy Jesus.

  10 1 And the boy Jesus was about seven years old and he was sent by his mother Mary to fill a water jar. But there was a great crowd at the water cistern, and the pitcher was jostled 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 which Jesus performed, kissed him saying, “Lord, my God, bless my child”. For she was afraid lest someone envy him.

  11 1 And at the time when Joseph was sowing seeds, the boy Jesus sowed also one measure of grain.
  2 And his father gathered 100 great measures and he gave it to the poor and the orphans. And Joseph took some of Jesus’ grain.

  12 1 And he was about eight years old. And when his father, a carpenter, was making ploughs and yokes, he received a bed from a certain rich man so that he might make it exceedingly great and suitable. And since one of the required pieces was shorter and he did not have a measure, Joseph was distressed, not knowing what to do. The boy came to his father and said, “Put down the two pieces of wood and align them from your end”.
   2 Joseph did just as Jesus said to him. And the boy stood at the other end and took hold of the short piece of wood and stretched it. And he made it equal to the other piece of wood. And he said to his father, “Do not be distressed but do what you wish”. And Joseph embraced and kissed him saying, “Blessed am I for God gave me this boy”.

  13 1 And Joseph saw his prudence and understanding and wished him not to be unacquainted with letters. So he handed him over to another schoolmaster. And the schoolmaster wrote the alphabet for him and said, “Say, alpha”.
   2 But the boy said, “First tell me what is the beta and I will tell you what the alpha is”. Becoming irritated, the teacher struck him. And Jesus cursed him and the teacher fell and died.
  3 And the boy went home to his parents. And Joseph called his mother and commanded her, “Do not let him out of the house so that those who make him angry may not die”.

  14 1 And after some days, again another teacher said to his father Joseph, “Come, brother, give him to me into the classroom so that with flattery I might be able to teach him letters”. And Joseph said to him, “If you have the courage, brother, take him with salvation”. And the schoolmaster took the boy by the hand and led him away with much fear and concern. And the boy went gladly.
  2 And going into the school he found a book lying on the lectern. And taking it, he would not read what was written in it (because it was not from God’s law) but, opening his mouth, he quoted such terrifying words that the teacher sitting opposite listened to everything gladly and encouraged him so that he might say more, and the crowd standing there were astonished at his holy words.
  3 And Joseph quickly ran to the school suspecting this teacher was no longer inexperienced and that he may have suffered. But the teacher said to Joseph, “Know, brother, that I took your boy as a student (but) he is full of much grace and wisdom. Therefore, brother, take him away with salvation into your house”.
  4 And he said to the teacher, “Because you spoke rightly and testified rightly, on account of you the one struck down also shall be saved”. And immediately that teacher also was saved. And he took the boy and led him away to his house.

  15 1 And James went into the forest to tie up sticks so that they might make bread. Jesus also went with him. And while they were gathering the sticks, an abominable snake bit James on his hand.
  2 And as he sprawled out on the ground and lay dying, the boy Jesus ran to James and blew on the bite and immediately the bite was healed. And the snake was destroyed and James stood up.

  16 1 Again, when a certain young man was splitting wood into equal pieces, he split the bottom of his foot and, having become drained of blood, he died.
  2 An uproar arose and Jesus ran there. Forcing his way through the crowd, he took hold of the stricken foot and instantly it was healed. And he said to the young man, “Go, split your wood”.
  3 Seeing, the crowd was amazed and said, “For he saved many souls from death. And he will continue to save all the days of his life”.

  17 1 And when Jesus was twelve years old his parents went as usual to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. But as they started to turn back, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know, assuming him to be in the group of travelers.
  2 They went a day’s journey and they looked for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And those listening to him were amazed how he questioned the elders and explained the main points of the law and the riddles and the parables of the prophets.
  3 And his mother said to him, “Child, why did you do this to us? Look, we have been searching for you in great anxiety and distress”. 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 to Mary, “Are you the mother of this child?” And she said, “I am”. And they said to her, “Blessed are you, because the Lord God has blessed the fruit of your womb. For such present wisdom and glory of virtue we have never seen nor heard”.
  5 And Jesus rose from there and followed his mother and was obedient to his parents. And she treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years and in grace before God and men. To whom be the glory [forever, amen].