The Letter from Heaven
The following version, reproduced from Per Beskow, Strange Tales about Jesus: A Survey of Unfamiliar Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), p. 25-26, is said to be from Mesopotamia. Numerous versions of the Letter exist and in a dizzying number of languages. The earliest known example appeared in 584/585 CE.
Whosoever worketh on the Sabbath day shall be cursed. I command you to go to church and keep the Lord’s Day holy, without any manner of work. You shall not idle or misspend your time in bedecking yourself with superfluities, costly apparel and vain dressing, for I have ordained it a day of rest. I will have that day kept holy, that your sins may be forgiven you.
You shall not break my commandments but observe and keep them, they being written in my own hand and spoken with my own mouth. You shall not only go to church yourself, but also your man servants and your maid servants. Observe my words and learn my commandments. You shall finish your labor every Saturday in the afternoon by six o’clock, at which hour the preparation for the Sabbath begins.
I advise you to fast five days in the year, beginning with Good Friday and continuing the four Fridays following, in remembrance of the five bloody wounds I received for you and all mankind. You shall diligently and peaceably labor in your respective callings wherein it has pleased God to call you. You shall love one another and cause them that are not baptized to come to church and receive the holy sacraments, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, and to be made members of the church. In so doing I will give you long life and many blessings; your land shall be replenished and bring forth abundance. I will comfort you in the greatest temptations, and surely he that doeth to the contrary shall be cursed. I will also send hardness of heart upon them until I have consumed them, especially upon hardened and impenitent unbelievers.
He that hath given to the poor shall not be unprofited. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day, for the seventh day have I taken as a resting day to myself.
He that hath a copy of this letter, written in my own hand and spoken with my own mouth, and keepeth it without publishing it to others, shall not prosper, but he that publisheth it to others shall be blessed of me. And if their sins be in number as the stars of the sky, and they truly believe in me, they shall be pardoned. And if they believe not this writing and my commandments, I will send my plagues upon them and consume both you and your children.
Whosoever shall have a copy of this letter and keep it in their house, nothing shall hurt them, and if any woman be in childbirth and put her trust in me, she shall be delivered of her child. You shall hear no more of me but by the Holy Spirit until the Day of Judgment. All goodness and prosperity shall be in the house where a copy of this letter shall be found.