The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: Irish

The Irish version of IGT is extant in a single manuscript of the 17th century (Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 50). It was brought to the attention of scholars in an article by James Carney in 1958 (“Two Old Irish Poems”, Ériu 18, p. 1-43). Though the manuscript is fairly late, Carney traced the text’s origins to a translation from around 700 C.E., thereby making it one of the earliest witnesses to IGT. Early scholarship on the text sought to prove that the Irish text had significant correspondences with the Greek B recension; therefore, the two versions were considered integral for recovering the original text of the gospel. More recent scholars have made a stronger case for a relationship between the Irish text and the Old Latin IGT extant in a fifth-century palimpsest (Lv) and incorporated into the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (Lm).

The following translation is from the recent edition of the Irish text by M. Herbert contained in M. McNamara et al, Apocrypha Hiberniae, t. 1: Evangelia infantiae (CCSA 13 and 14; Turnhout: Brepols, 2001–2002), p. 443-483.


A Versified Narrative Of The Childhood Deeds Of The Lord Jesus

The Pools and the Sparrows

1 When Jesus, Son of the living God,
was a lad of five years
he blessed twelve little pools of water.
He had enclosed then with clay.

2 He shaped twelve little birds,
called passers
on the Sabbath day
He made them firmly from clay. 

3 A certain Jew complained about
Jesus, son of the great God.
He brought him by the hand
to his foster-father, Joseph.

4 “Rebuke your son, Joseph.
What he is doing is not right.
On the Sabbath Day he has fashioned
Images of birds out of clay.”
5 Jesus clapped his two hands.
His small voice resounded.
Before their eyes – a wonder of sudden movement –
He scared away the birds.

6 There was heard a gentle, endearing little speech
from the mouth of faultless Jesus:
“Let you find out who created you!
Go to your home!”

7 Someone reported to the people
–  it was a extraordinary tale –
that the cries of the birds
were heard as they flew.

Jesus curses the son of Annas

8 The son of Annas the scribe
approached him at his play
and released each single stream.
He destroyed the construction.

9 “What you have done”, said Jesus,
“has not been to our benefit.
May you be like a little branch
Which falls before its fruit.”

10 The boy fell over
like a withered twig.
It would have been better for him not to have ruined
the game of the King’s son.
Jesus curses the boy who caused him annoyance and Joseph rebukes Jesus

11 On a further occasion when Jesus
was at home with Joseph,
another boy who came to him
caused him annoyance.

12 “May the journey which you have made
be one of no return”, said Jesus.
The boy collapsed
and died straight away.

It infuriated the lowly kindred of the boy
to whom he had dealt doom.
“He is declared as your son, Joseph.
Go! Depart from us, indeed!

14 “Unless you reprove your son,
you are to go away somewhere.
Whichever way you go from here,
It would not be too quickly.”

15 “Why, son, have you offended
the people?” asked Joseph.
“Anyone on whom you pronounce your judgement
is taken away from you dead.”

16 “Whomever is innocent”, said Jesus,“
does not die as a result of judgements.
It is only to the accursed
that the malediction adheres.

17 “Sufficient that my ear be offered to them,
and that I be met with hostility,
that strong men should not tear off
my two ears from my head.”

18 “There is great terror”, said the people,
“that your son does this.
We have not heard, up to now
of any boy acting thus.

19 “Quicker than a glance, what he says
is done forthwith.
We have not heard tell of the like
of that boy in the world.”

20 Joseph said: “He is not like
everyone else’s sons.
Whatever the outcome, even cross or death,
he would not attain at all.

21 “Everyone who threatened
to accuse him he punished.
Deafness seized their ears,
Blindness their eyes”

Jesus and Zacharias. The riddle of the alphabet

22 The scholar Zacharias said:
“This is an extraordinary boy.
If he were instructed, he would be
outstanding in that respect

23 Zacharias takes him with him
to his school,
so that he might undertake learning with him
like everyone else.

24 When he had written an alphabet for him,
he said: “Say A.”
Though the son of the King did not answer him,
He knew a greater amount.

25 The master grew angry
and struck him over the head,
[using] whichever he happened on,
either fist or rod.

26 “It is usual”, said Jesus,
“for an anvil when struck
that it teaches whoever strikes it,
[and] that it is not it [the anvil] which is taught.

27 “For what you have taught to all,
what you have written for me,
the letters which you record,
I know their sound.”

28 Jesus recounted his letters
for them before their eyes
each of them with its constituent
and with its hidden design.

Zacharias, confounded, says that Jesus is no mere mortal

29 The scholar Zacharias said:
“Take the boy away from me.
I do not have the means of answering you.
Lad, do not provoke me.

30 “I thought it was a pupil
whom I brought with me to my school.
I saw that it is a master
whom I had taken in charge.

31 “I do not know in any way whether
he be and angel of god.
It seems to me that until today
I did not proceed in confusion.

32 “Who is the mother who conceived
this infant in the womb?
What foster-mother was able
to nurse the suckling?

33 “His proper place will not be on earth.
What is surer
is that he is the child for the cross
who existed before the Deluge.”

Jesus replies to Zacharias as a heavenly Redeemer.

34 The boy Jesus replied:
“Scholar of divine law,
you think that Joseph is
my father. He is not.

35 I existed before your birth.
I am the scholar.
I know every thought
that has been in your heart.

36 “You have certainty of all knowledge.
You have read all.
I have instruction for you
which is not known to anyone.

37 “I have a wonderful tale for you,
absolutely without falsehood.
I have seen Abraham 
at the time when he lived.    

38 “Likewise, I have seen yourself a long time ago,
through the mystery of the Holy Spirit.
O scholar in the Law, I have existed
constantly before you were born.

“That across which you speak of,
he who has come to it for the sake of all,
to redeem every living person,
will encounter it.”

Jesus’ playmate Zeno dies from a fall and is raised by Jesus

40 The sinless son of Mary
played a game with boys.
The extent of his age, which I know,
was then seven year.

41 One of the boys fell over a cliff.
He died forthwith.
They all fled expect Jesus.
He remained, awaiting a crowd. 

42 He was accused of a calculated act,
That it was he who had knocked him down.
“Wait a while for me”, said Jesus,
“until I reach him.

43 “I am accused, O Zeno,
of knocking you down. Is it true?”
“It is not true, Lord, not true.
Let him go. It is not to be attributed to him.”

44 He was dead before, he was dead after,
save that he said this.
When the crowd saw it,
they released him [Jesus].

Jesus takes water home in his cloak.

45 His mother sent him for water –
a great and wonderful boy.
He filled his lap with the water,
And it did not go through his garment.

Jesus sows a field with leeks.

46 He sowed a little field with leeks –
the amount was not great.
Later, after harvesting, there were
a hundred basketfuls of produce.

Jesus miraculously stretches a beam.

47 A piece of craftwork was brought
to the house to Joseph to be adjusted,
for its corner was lopsided,
one side exceeding another.

48 Jesus said: “You take hold of your position,
and I myself will take mine.”
He stretched the shorter side until
it was equivalent to the other.