The Slavonic version of IGT, extant in 16 manuscripts from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, is believed to be a tenth or eleventh century translation of the Greek A recension. This places the existence of Greek A three to four centuries before the earliest extant Greek manuscripts and, thus, the Slavonic text often preserves more original readings. However, the Slavonic text contains some unique developments, including the addition of several stories not found in the Greek A manuscripts but apparently belonged to the Slavonic text’s Greek Vorlage. These stories are not included in the translation below.
The study of the Slavonic version of IGT began in the late nineteenth century, first by Russian and Serbian scholars, and more recently by Western scholars. The text gained prominence in a much-criticized retrotranslation by Aurelio de Santos Otero in his study of the tradition (Das kirchenslavische Evangelium des Thomas [Patristische Texte und Studien 6; Berlin 1967]). In 1997, Thomas Rosén presented a new critical edition of the Slavonic MSS (The Slavonic Translation of the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Slavica Upsaliensia 39; Uppsala 1997]); unfortunately, Rosén’s edition does not include an English translation of the text. The following translation of Rosén’s edition, presented here for the first time, was furnished by T. Allan Smith of the Toronto School of Theology.
The Acts and Childhood of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
1 I, Thomas the Israelite, the Chosen One, have proclaimed to you all, oh brothers from among the Gentiles. I saw the childhood of our Lord, the great deeds that the Lord performed and his Passion. For he was born in our land which is named Bethlehem, in the town of Nazareth during the reign of…
2 1 When the boy Jesus was four years old, he was playing after it had rained in a stream of brooks arising from the rain. The flowing water was dirty, and he gathered it together in a single stream. And immediately he made it pure, by commanding it with mere words and not with a deed.
2 Then he took soft mud from the clay and formed from it twelve birds. It was the Sabbath, when Jesus acted so, while he played. And many children were there and playing together with him.
3 When now a Jew saw what Jesus did on the Sabbath while playing, he went and informed his father Joseph, saying: “Look, your child plays over there in the brooks. He has taken clay and formed twelve birds and profanes the Sabbath.”
4 When now Joseph came to the place and saw Jesus, he called to him and said: “Why do you do this on the Sabbath, which one cannot do?” But Jesus clapped his hands, cried to the birds and said: “Fly away and think of me, you who live.” And the birds flew up and set about screaming away.
5 When everyone saw this, they were frightened and went out together and told the others and they saw the sign which Jesus performed.
3 1 The son of the scribe Annas was there by Joseph. He took a willow branch and destroyed with it the dam, and the waters drained away out of it, which Jesus had directed together.
2 When the child saw what had happened, he was filled with indignation and said to him: “Impure, senseless Sodomite! How have my dam and the waters offended you that you destroy them? Look, you will become like a dry tree and you will bear neither leaves nor roots nor fruit.”
3 And immediately that same hour the child withered entirely. Jesus went to his house. Then the parents of the paralyzed boy came and said to Joseph: “Look what you have for a child.”
4 1 Another time Jesus was walking through the town. Then another child jumped on to his shoulder. Jesus became angered and said: “You will not continue along your way.” And at once the child fell down and expired. When the others saw this, they said: “Where was this child born that everything happens readily by his word and deed?”
2 Then the parents of the fallen one came and threatened his father Joseph and said: “You, who has such a child, cannot live with us in this village; unless you teach him to bless and not to curse, for he plays wickedly with/plays tricks on our children.”
5 1 And Joseph called over the boy Jesus and instructed him, while he said: “Why do you curse so, and these people suffer and hate us and drive us out of the village?” And Jesus said: “I know that these words are not mine, which I have spoken. But for your sake, O father, I will be silent; but they will receive grief for them (words).” And immediately they all were blinded, who had spoken against him.
2 They saw this, were very afraid and dared no longer to anger him, for every word, which the child spoke, whether good or bad, was fulfilled. When Joseph saw that he had done this, he was very irritated with him and took him by the ear and pulled it soundly.
3 And the child Jesus was filled with indignation and said: “It is enough for you to look for me and not find, you rogue, for you really know not, if I belong to you. Do not be soon angered on my account for I am yours and I have come to you.”
6 1 And a certain teacher named Zacchaeus was standing there and he heard Jesus speak with his father and was very astonished, that the child spoke so.
2 And after some time Zacchaeus came to Joseph and said: “You have a wise boy. Come, hand him over to me, so that he master books, and I will teach to him all that he must know: to honour all elders and ancestors but to love his father and all his peers with humility, to fear and respect his parents so that he too will be loved by his own and other’s children.”
2a And Joseph became very angry at the boy and said to the teacher: “And who can instruct him? Do you think perhaps, my brother, he is a young lord/master?”
2b When the child Jesus heard his father speaking so, he laughed aloud and said to Zacchaeus: “It is all true, teacher, what my father has said (to you). I am Lord here, but you are a stranger. To me alone has been given the power, for I have existed earlier and exist also now. I was born among you and am with you. You know not who I am. But I know who you are and when you were born, and how many years there are of your life. Truly, I say to you , o teacher, when you were born, I know, and before your birth I know (you) truly. If you wish to be a perfect teacher, then listen to me and I will teach you a wisdom which no-one knows except for me and the one who has sent me to you, in order to teach you. I am your teacher, while you are called my pupil, for I know how old you are. And how long your life will last I know truly. When you see my cross, to which my father has referred, then you will believe that all that I say to you is the truth. Behold, I am Lord (the mighty), but you are a stranger, for then and now I am.”
2c And the Jews, who were nearby and listening, were amazed and cried loud and said: “O strange and unheard of wonder! This child is not five years old. We have heard such things said by him that we have not heard said by high priests and scribes.”
2d Then Jesus answered and said to them: “You are all amazed but you do not believe. Because I told you the truth and he who sent me is truthful/trustworthy. When all the world was not here, I was before the world.”
2e When the Jews heard him speak so, they were afraid and none could give answer him. When the children came out, they played and had fun. And he offended (them) saying: “I know that you are amazed/startled and weak. For glory is due for assisting the children.”
2f And the teacher said to his father: “Bring him to me for instruction, and I will teach him books.” Joseph took the child and led him to the teacher. And he persuaded Jesus. And he wrote for him, “I know” and the teacher first began to speak: “Say ‘I.’” He told him often, “Say ‘I.’” Jesus did not proclaim for him for one hour. And the teacher grew angry and struck him on the head. The boy said to him: “You have done unworthy things. I want to instruct you. But am I supposed to be instructed by you? I know all the books which you teach me. And now can they condemn me? Because these (books) are to me as a sounding bronze or a clashing cymbal. You have no voice nor wisdom not a soul strong in understanding.”
3 After saying this the boy became quiet. He recited all the letters from Az to Yats clearly. Then Jesus stared at the teacher Zacchaeus and said: “You do not know what Az is or what letters are. Since you do not know, hypocrite, how do you teach me books? If you know, then tell me what Yats is.” And then he began to prophesy to the teacher these things. The teacher listened and understood Az, but in its nature.
4 Then he spoke to Zacchaeus in the presence of many listeners: “Hear now, teacher, and understand how a limit has two lines that you see through the middle. And I passed by the offerings and I magnified saying the tri-hypostatic praise from two natures identical in form and in power, equal in honour. And the same limit has the Arpha. When the teacher Zacchaeus heard these words from the boy from the beginning, from the first law, as he spoke the truth, and they were unable to respond to this teaching.”
7 1 And Zacchaeus said to the child: “I do not understand an answer such as you have said. I have made for myself shame and have found it.
2 “Take the boy, Brother Joseph, and take him away to your own house, for I cannot endure to look on his swiftness (of mind) and song-like words. For I see that this man/person is not from the earth. For he torments us with/like a powerful fire. And it is beyond me whence he came. Which mother’s womb bore him, I know not. I struggled to have a student, and (instead) I found a teacher.
3 “Consider my disgrace, for I have been shamed by this child. I am old, and there remains to me nothing other than to die humiliated on account of this boy. I cannot look on his face. What have I to say or what should I report about the recited traits of the first elements? For I know neither the beginning nor the end, what it is.
4 “So take away this child, brother, and bring him to your house. For this is something: either a god or an angel or something that is great I know not.”
8 1 And in the presence of the Jews standing near Zacchaeus the boy laughed loudly and said: “Now do the barren bear fruit, the blind see, and the deaf hear and the uncomprehending understand in their heart that I have come from above and I shall deliver you, lowly ones, and call you up to the height as the one who sent me to you commanded.”
2 And when the boy was finished with his speech, at once all were healed who had fallen on account of his curse. And henceforth no-one dared to annoy him, lest he curse them.
9 1 And after this day Jesus played once on (the roof) of a certain high building. One of the children playing with him fell down from the two-tiered building and died. When the other children saw it, they all ran away and Jesus remained alone.
2 Then the parents of the dead boy came and shouted at Jesus: “You have thrown down our child!” But Jesus answered: “I have not thrown him down. He slipped, having injured himself, and jumped down from the roof. (Therefore) he is now dead.”
3 And Jesus spoke to the boy in his own name: “Zenon! Get up. Did I throw you down?” And the boy arose from death: “No my Lord!” And all those who saw this were astonished. And his parents praised the Lord and the people and worshipped Jesus.
10 1 And not many days later another youth appeared. He split wood in the neighborhood and badly cut his foot. And he lay near death.
2 A tumult and crowd arose. The boy Jesus pressed himself through the people. Then he took him by the injured foot and said to him: “I say to you, o young man, take your axe and think of me.” When the crowd saw the sign that had happened they worshipped Jesus and said: “It is therefore true that God dwells with him.”
11 1 When he was seven years old, his Mother Mary went for water, carrying a jug in the crowd. But, jostled, the water jar broke.
2 Then Jesus spread the cloak in which he was clothed, filled it with water and brought (it) to his mother. When his mother Mary saw what Jesus had done, she kissed him.
12 1 Another time, at seed-time, the boy Jesus went out with his father Joseph to sow wheat on their land. And while his father sowed, Jesus also sowed a bushel of grain.
2 Then he harvested and mowed and picked a hundred great bushels of wheat. And Jesus summoned all the poor and lowly into the barn and distributed (the wheat) among them [two unintelligible words].
13 1 At that time Jesus was eight years old and his father was a craftsman. At that time he wanted to make a chest for a certain rich man. And cutting one length (of board), there were two boards, but one was short because he had no measure. Then Jesus said to his father: “Lie the two boards down and from your side make them the same.”
2 And Joseph did what Jesus had said. Then Jesus gripped the short board, stretched it and made it equal to the other. And he said to Joseph: “Do not be worried, now you can make what you want.” But Joseph took the child (in his arms), kissed him and said: “Blessed am I that God has given me such a child.”
14 1 Now when Joseph saw the diligence of the child and his age and cleverness, he thought again that he should not remain ignorant of the alphabet. Thus he led him there and handed him over to another teacher. The teacher said to Joseph: “Which alphabet should I teach him?” Joseph said: “First the Greek and then the Hebrew.” The teacher knew the disposition of the child and was afraid of him, but he wrote down for him the alphabet and instructed him and said: “A.” Jesus answered: “A,” and became silent again. The teacher recited for him the other letters, but Jesus did not answer him, staying silent.
2 Then Jesus said to him: “If you are a teacher and know the alphabet well, then tell me the power of A. I will give you the letters in answer.” The teacher grew angered and hit him on the head. The boy was indignant and cursed him. (The teacher) then fell suddenly unconscious on the ground.
3 Then Jesus went to his house. But Joseph was very sorrowful and exhorted the mother as following: “Let him in no case go out of the house, so that no one suffers who angers him.”
15 1 A year later another teacher nearby said to Joseph: “Go and bring him to the school for instruction. Perhaps by persuading and cajoling I will be able to teach him the alphabet, for the boy is excellent and wise and he has the maturity to be able to read.” Joseph said: “If you have hope, brother, then take him away with caution, awe and effort.”
2 The boy entered the school with confidence and found a book at the end of the cell. He opened (it) but read not what was written in the book, rather he opened his mouth and spoke through the holy spirit and taught the law. And those present listened to him and asked him to read further. Then came a great crowd and they listened to Jesus and admired his beauty, his teaching and his eloquence, that a child spoke such things.
3 When Joseph heard that, he was afraid and ran to the school. He said: “Who understands the instruction? For that teacher will be experienced.” Then the teacher said to Joseph: “That you may know, O brother, I received this child as a student, but he is full of grace, grace that is from God. Now take him away, brother, as it is proper, and keep him in your house.”
4 When the boy heard the teacher speak so to his father, he laughed at once and said: “Because you have given the right opinion, for your sake also that man is to be healed who was wounded.” And immediately that very hour the other teacher was healed.
16 1 Afterwards Joseph sent his son James to gather wood and bring it to the house. And the boy followed him and gathered wood. A wild snake bit James on the hand.
2 Now when he only laid there lame and was in death, Jesus approached and blew on the bite. Then the poison weakened and the snake died.
17 1 There died again another child in the neighbourhood, and his mother cried a lot. Now when Jesus heard the crying and wailing, he ran there at once and saw the child lying on her lap. Then he touched his breast and said to the child: “Die not, rather be alive and go to your mother.” And then the child laughed and smiled at him. And he said to his mother: “Suckle him and think of me.”
2 When the crowd saw this, they were astonished and said: “Truly, in this child is either a god or an angel, because every word, that he says, becomes a deed.” And he went to his house.
18 1 A year later, while a house was being built, a man fell down from the height and died. When, because of that, a crush of people and a great clamor arose, Jesus heard it and went there and saw the man lying there dead. He took him by the hand and said to him: “I say to you, man, get up and do your work!” Then he stood up and worshipped him.
2 When the crowd saw this, they were astonished and said: “This child is God, because he has saved many souls from death, and light shall be in him throughout his life.”
19 1 Now when Jesus was twelve years old, his parents went out in accordance with custom to Jerusalem to the Passover festival with their journey-partners. And after they had celebrated the Passover, Joseph and Mary turned back to their house. But the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and the parents knew (it) not, rather they thought he was among their journey-partners.
2 And after three days, they came to look for him among the relatives among the journey-partners. And they found him not. Thus they turned back to Jerusalem and looked for him full of grief. Three days later they found him finally in the church. And the teachers listened to him reading the law and they asked him about it, wanting to understand through him. And all listened attentively to his words and were astonished that he, still a child, refuted the elders and the teachers and explained to them the chapter of the law and the parables of the prophets.
3 His mother Mary came up to him and said: “Why have you done this to us, my child? Look, with grief and sorrow we have searched for you.” But Jesus said: “Why do you search for me, grieving? Do you not know that I am in my father’s house where I must be?”
4 And the scribes and the Pharisees said to his mother: “Are you the mother of this child?” She answered: “Yes, I am it.” Then they said to her: “You are blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of your body. And the Lord God has blessed you, for such a divine gift and wisdom we have never heard of.”
5 Then Jesus got up and followed his mother and was subservient to them. But his mother kept his words in her heart. And all that Jesus did is a mighty deed of heaven. And Jesus grew in wisdom and body and worked cures, in which he was glorified by God his father. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.