The Arabic Infancy Gospel of Thomas

The Arabic version of IGT is found in two manuscripts: Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, G 11 sup, fols. 145r–153v and a fragment in Cairo, Coptic Museum, 6539(D), fol. 188. The translation below was prepared by Slavomír Céplö and appears in Tony Burke, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas in the Syriac Tradition: A Critical Edition and English Translation (Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies 48; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2017), pp. 229–43.


In the name of God, the Creator, the Living One, the Speaking One, we write here the miracles of Jesus in his childhood.

  1 When Jesus was five, he went out one Saturday to play with other boys. Jesus took some clay and made twelve birds out of it. When people saw this, they said to Joseph, “Look at him, doing things that are not allowed on a Saturday.” Hearing this, Jesus clapped his hands in the direction of the clay and said “Fly, birds!” and they flew. Everyone was amazed and they all praised God together.

  2 Another chapter. After that, Jesus made some pools in the clay and filled them with water. Along came a boy who took a dry olive branch and made a channel to drain them. Jesus said to him, “May you be as dry as this branch you have.” And as the boy heard it, he withered. Jesus got up and left him.

  3 Another chapter. Once, Jesus was walking the road with Joseph when a boy came from behind and hit Jesus on the shoulder. Jesus said to him, “You will not move from your place.” And the boy collapsed on the ground, dead. His parents came and found him dead and they said to Joseph, “This son of yours has a tongue on him, you better leave him in Nazareth.” Joseph hit him and scolded him. Jesus said to him, “Keep in mind you have power over me, but you did this ignorantly.”

  4 Once, a teacher named Zek? examined Jesus and scolded him and said to him, “Listen, you smart boy, this is how you must answer to your father, since you do not respect your elders.” Then he said to Joseph, “Entrust him to my care so that I can teach him manners and to respect his elders.” Joseph brought him (Jesus) to Zek? and said, “Who can teach this one manners when he can only die by being crucified on a long pole?” Zek? said to Jesus, “Say alif, b?, t?’, ??’.” Jesus went silent and did not say a word. Zek? hit him over the head and screamed and yelled <for> everyone (to hear), “This boy, I do not know if he is a god or an angel, but since I hit him, my soul has been struggling with me, about ready to depart from my body!” Then he dropped dead.

  5 Another chapter. One Saturday, Jesus was with other boys and they were playing on the rooftops. One of the boys fell from the roof and died. When the others saw him, they ran and not a single one stayed except for Jesus. The dead boy’s parents came and they found Jesus along next to the boy. They said to him, “You threw the boy (off the roof)!” He said, “Ask him whether it was me who threw him (off the roof)!” They said, “But he’s dead, how do we ask him?” Jesus yelled at the boy, “Hey, did I throw you (off the roof)?” The boy answered, “No, my Lord, it was not you who threw me (off the roof).” Everybody who was there marveled and some of them said to each other, “Look at this one, he must be the Messiah, performing such miracles while still a child. What will he be when he grows up?”

  6 Another chapter. One winter day, a group of boys were playing in one of the houses and Jesus (was) with them. When lunch time came, everyone went home to eat. Jesus also went to his mother to have lunch. After, the boys went back to play and when Jesus returned, the boys scattered and hid in three of the houses. Jesus entered one house and did not see any of them inside, but there was a group of men sitting and talking. Jesus said to them, “Where are they?” They told him, “They went outside to play.” He proceeded to the (second of the) three houses and he asked, “Is there anything in this house?” They told him, “Just pigs.” He said, “Let it be so.” Then he proceeded to the third house and said to them, “Is there anything in this house?” They told him, “Just wolves.” He said, “Let it be so.” Then he went out and left. When he was gone, the people said, “This boy really is clever, wise, and special.” Then they called for the boys—“Come out, Jesus has left!”—but no one answered. They rushed to open the doors and (saw that the boys) became as (Jesus) had said: pigs, monkeys, and wolves. The people screamed and cried over their children. A multitude gathered and they marveled at these miracles.

  7 Another chapter. When Jesus turned seven, they sent him to fetch water from a well. The jar broke and he carried the water in his hand all the way to the house. He then poured it into another jar, a jar that was whole.

  8 Another chapter. Jesus was sitting at home while Joseph was making a bed seven cubits long. There was a piece of wood in it that was about one cubit short. Joseph went to search the house for a suitable piece of wood, but did not find any. When Jesus saw that (Joseph) was distressed because of this, he said to him, “Do not worry. Grab one side of the piece of wood. I (will grab) the other; let us stretch it.” And suddenly it became as long as he wanted it to be. Joseph was astonished and marveled at this.

  9 Another chapter. After that, they sent Jesus to a teacher. When he sat down next to him, he said to him, “Say alif and nothing else.” Jesus said to him, “Teacher, what is the meaning of alif and nothing else?” The teacher became angry at him and hit him. The teacher’s hand shriveled up and after that, he died. When Joseph learned of this, he said to Mary, “Do not let your son out of the house, because he has already committed great crimes.”

   10 Another chapter. One day, James and Joseph went to the wilderness to gather wood and Jesus went with them. As the two of them were on their way, they happened across a giant viper. James approached it to kill it, but it lunged at him and killed him. James collapsed, but Jesus approached him and blew on the place (on James’s body) where the venom burnt (him). The venom disappeared without a trace. Then he blew on the viper and it died right away. After that, they cut down some wood and returned together.

  11 Another chapter. Once, Jesus was walking through the market with Joseph. Joseph stopped to talk to a dyer and as they were talking, Jesus entered a shop and took a fine robe and threw it into a vat of black (dye). The dyer returned and saw this. He began to slap his face and pull his beard and said, “You, boy; today you caused me great grief and lost me much money. Why did you do that?” Jesus said to him, “What’s wrong?” The dyer said to him, “This robe is for someone who wanted it red, but you made it black.” Jesus said to him, “Do not despair, did you not want the robe to be red?” He said, “Yes.” Jesus then took it out of the vat of black (dye) and the robe was the most beautiful shade of red. The dyer and everyone who was around marveled at this. The dyer and everyone kissed Jesus’ head and said to him, “May you be blessed among the children of Israel.” Jesus said to him, “Bring me all the robes so that I can dye them for you in better colors (than you can).” The dyer was confused hearing this and Joseph said to him, “Give them to him and do not worry.” (The dyer) took out ten robes and said to him, “Dye all of them for me just as you dyed the one you wanted to.” The dyer wrote on the robes and threw them to the bottom (of the vat with) red dye. Then he pulled them out one by one and each was dyed in the color that was written on it. As people witnessed this, they praised God and said, “We have never seen something like this before. What will become of this boy? There has never been one like him among us and there never will be.”

  12 At that time, Jesus was eight years old. He grew up in secret without doing anything else (remarkable) until he reached the age of thirteen, as Adam the first (of humankind) was at the time of creation. Then he came to John the Baptist and was baptized by him to sanctify the waters. Then he assembled twelve disciples. In the same year, Joseph passed away at the age of one hundred and seventeen.He left Jesus and his mother in Nazareth with James and J?s? and his brother Clopas and his sister Mary as the Gospel says about her, “Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister.” In fact, Mary did not have a sister, nor a brother. With (…), Jesus set out to travel the rest of the land of Judea  and the limits of Jordan and Galilee for three and a half years after his baptism, performing miracles. The divinely-appointed almighty one who was confirmed by the prophets wanted to submit to all the suffering mentioned (previously). He resisted the enemy who subjugated Adam and his descendants. He did so by humbling himself and patiently enduring injustice and humiliation in order to provide the proof of his divinity to the world (burdened) by an old injustice. He saved those who were wronged by (the enemy), casting his justice, his power and his glory on those prepared by merit and their descendants and all who believe in him and perform good works. Then the Holy Spirit illuminated the perfect divinity in him and restored him to the high with the rest of the saints.

Glory and power and dignity to our Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ now and for all time and forever and ever. Amen.