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Chapter 10

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas

Tony Chartrand-Burke

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (IGT) is one of the most well-known texts of the Christian Apocrypha. Its stories of the young Jesus shaming teachers and maiming playmates are sufficiently titillating and theologically challenging that many scholars and writers enjoy discussing the text, but few seek to understand it in its original historical and literary contexts. Few also have been willing to grapple with its complex transmission history. And so, 400 years after its initial publication, IGT remains a neglected text—a surprising and regrettable situation given its importance, for this gospel likely is one of the earliest pieces of Christian writing outside of the New Testament and its stories had a tremendous impact on art, literature, and piety throughout the medieval period.

1. The Recovery of the Original Text

A description of the contents of the gospel must wait for a detailed discussion of the manuscript tradition, for the shape of the text depends on how one interprets the evidence. And there have been many interpretations. Each new manuscript discovery or edition of a version has been accompanied with a claim that the newly-published evidence best preserves the original form of the text. Alas no single witness holds that distinction. But, together, the growing number and variety of the witnesses has brought that elusive original text into view. And it is much different from what many expected.

������������� The initial interest in manuscripts of IGT began in the late seventeenth century. The first of these, Vienna Phil. gr. 162 (144) from the fifteenth century (=O), was described in a 1675 catalog by P. Lambeck.[1] The manuscript was subsequently lost; all that remains now are Lambeck’s brief excerpts. The second manuscript, Paris A. F. gr. 239 (2908/2279) also of the 15th century (=P), was mentioned by Lambeck and a few other scholars. It was published in its entirety by J. B. Cotelier in his 1698 edition of the Apostolic Constitutions[2] before reaching a larger audience in J. Fabricius’ 1703 apocrypha collection.[3] The fragmentary manuscript features an introduction ascribing the text to ‘Thomas the Israelite Philosopher’ and promising to tell readers the miracles Jesus did as a child in Nazareth. Several stories follow of the five-year-old Jesus breaking Sabbath regulations to fashion birds out of clay and animate them, cursing the son of Annas the scribe for disturbing his work, slaying a boy for bumping into him in the marketplace, blinding his critics, and amazing a teacher with his knowledge. The text finishes prematurely in the middle of a story in which Jesus encounters a dyer.

������������� Early commentary on the text identified IGT either as the ‘Gospel of Thomas’ (mentioned by Origen, Hippolytus, and others)[4] or as the Childhood of Jesus (mentioned by John Chrysostom, Epiphanius of Salamina, and others),[5] or both. A terminus ante quem for the text was established by Irenaeus’ discussion of the episode of Jesus and the Teacher, a tale he attributes to the Marcosians (Adv. Haer. 1.20.1). The patristic citations led scholars to associate IGT with Gnosticism, an association which has endured to today despite the fact that IGT is not the ‘Gospel of Thomas’ known to the early writers, nor was it valued only by Gnostics—the anti-Gnostic Epistle of the Apostles (ch. 4) cites the same story of the Teacher, and other ‘orthodox’ apocrypha such as the Gospel of Bartholomew (2:11) and the History of Joseph the Carpenter (ch. 17) refer to episodes from the text. The lack of Gnostic elements in IGT has been no barrier to this mischaracterization. To explain their absence, an ‘expurgation theory’ was devised stating that the offending Gnostic material had been removed from the text by orthodox revisers (a process similar to what occurred with the Apocryphal Acts).

������������� Subsequent manuscript discoveries led to the publication of longer and longer forms of IGT, though none of these longer forms were any more Gnostic than the Paris manuscript. C. von Tischendorf constructed a critical edition of the text based primarily on two new manuscripts—Dresden A 187 (=D) and Bologna Univ. 2702 (=B),[6] both from the fifteenth century—comprising the nineteen-chapter form of the text (=Greek A) well-known today.[7] Tischendorf also published a shorter form of the text (=Greek B) based on a manuscript he found during his famous visit to St. Catharine’s monastery in the Sinai (Cod. Sinaiticus gr. 453, 14/15th cent.; =S).[8] At the same time, Tischendorf brought attention to several Latin witnesses to the text: an expanded version of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew that features the IGT material as its pars altera (=Lm), a related fifth-century palimpsest (Vindobonensis 563; =Lv), and a second Latin translation featuring several introductory chapters detailing episodes from the Holy Family’s sojourn in Egypt (Vat. lat. 4578, 14th cent.; =Lt).[9] The Greek manuscript base of IGT was expanded further in 1927 with A. Delatte’s publication of a third form of the text from Cod. Atheniensia gr. 355 (=A; 15th cent.).[10] This recension, labeled Greek D by subsequent scholars, is a second witness to the Egyptian Prologue found in Lt.[11] Since Tischendorf’s day, the body of evidence for IGT has expanded considerably with the publication of versions in Syriac,[12] Georgian,[13] Ethiopic,[14] Slavonic,[15] and Irish.[16]

������������� As important as the Greek recensions are to the transmission history of IGT, it has been shown persuasively that the earliest versions are, collectively, a better witness to the original form of the text. In 1980 L. van Rompay demonstrated that the Syriac, Georgian, Ethiopic, and Old Latin (Lm, Lv, and the Irish manuscript) versions all derive from a form of IGT comprised of only chs. 2-9, 11-16, and 19.[17] This shorter text also has a number of abbreviations within chapters and features a speech made by Jesus in ch. 6 that is absent in Greek A and B but has some parallel in the Greek D, Lt, and Slavonic texts. Further evidence for an originally shorter IGT was bolstered by S. Voicu’s discussion of yet another Greek recension—Greek S, based on Cod. Sabait. 259 (=H; 11th cent.)—which he describes as an ‘intermediate’ form of the text 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).[18] Voicu’s knowledge of Greek S was based on a collation made available to him by J. Noret[19]; he declined to publish the text as he felt the Greek manuscript tradition on the whole was not useful for determining the original form of IGT—indeed, he believed the Ethiopic text to be superior to all other witnesses.[20]

������������� Greek S finally was published, along with additional Greek manuscripts, in my 2001 Doctoral dissertation.[21] The dissertation features a critical synopsis of each of the four recensions. The Greek S column of the synopsis is simply an edition of the Jerusalem manuscript. Greek A is based on two new manuscripts—Vienna, Cod. hist. gr. 91 (=W; 14/15th cent.) and Cod. Vatopedi 37 (=V; 14th cent.)—and incorporates all previously published Greek A manuscripts as well as evidence from the related Slavonic tradition. Two other Greek manuscripts similar to B and D are employed also: Samos, B. Metropoleos MS gr. 54 (=M; 15/16th cent.) and Cod. Lavra  222 (=L; 15th cent.). Tischendorf’s Greek B manuscript is accompanied by a second manuscript from Sinai: Cod. Sinait.gr. 532 (=C; 15/16th cent.). And Greek D is reconstructed using A, Lt and two fragmentary manuscripts: Vienna, Cod. theol. gr. 123 (=T; 13th cent.) and Vat. Palat. gr. 364 (=R; 15th cent.). 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.

2. The Origins of the Text

Though Tischendorf’s 19-chapter Greek A version of IGT remains popular in scholarship, it does not represent well the contents of the original text—indeed, the manuscripts he used for his edition do not even represent well the text of Greek A. Greek S and the early versions offer a much different text than all other Greek recensions of IGT; it is this much different text that must be used in future analyses of the gospel.

i. Original Content

The original title of IGT appears to have been simply ‘The Childhood of the Lord.’ It begins, not with the introduction ascribing the text to Thomas, but with the Animation of the Sparrows (Greek A chs. 2-3). This tale concludes with Jesus withering the son of Annas but does not include the demand by the child’s parents that Joseph ‘teach him to bless and not to curse.’ Then follows the Curse on the Careless Boy (ch. 4) and Joseph Rebukes Jesus (ch. 5). Jesus’ behaviour attracts the attention of the teacher Zacchaeus (ch. 6) who wishes to teach this ‘wicked boy’ manners and respect. Joseph questions his ability to do so, but Zacchaeus persists. So Jesus delivers a speech in which he declares his strangeness to this world and his superior knowledge and in which he predicts his demise on the cross. Then Jesus demonstrates his otherworldly wisdom with an esoteric description of the letter alpha. Zacchaeus is humbled by the boy and confesses his inability to fathom the nature of Jesus (‘For what great thing this boy is—either a god or an angel or whatever else I might say—I do not know,’ ch. 7). In response to Zacchaeus’ confession, Jesus restores those he had cursed (ch. 8). Several beneficent miracles follow: the Raising of the Child Zeno (ch. 9), Carrying Water in a Cloak (ch. 11), the Miraculously Great Harvest (ch. 12), and the Miraculous Repair of a Bed (ch. 13). In the later witnesses, these miracles elicit praise from his parents and the townspeople; but originally only the Zeno story included such a response. The text continues with Joseph taking Jesus to another teacher, who, angered by Jesus’ insolence, strikes the boy. He is then cursed (ch. 14). In the later witnesses, this teacher is subsequently restored to life, but not in the early versions. A third teacher escapes harm only because he recognizes Jesus’ superior knowledge (ch. 15). Jesus then saves his brother James from a snakebite (ch. 16). Finally, the text comes to a close with the story of Jesus in the Temple from Luke 2:41-52. But whereas Luke has Jesus sit among the teachers listening intently, IGT has Jesus teach them about the Law.

������������� If this arrangement is indeed closer to the original form of the text, then IGT lacks many of the elements that have impaired previous commentary on the gospel. Distracted by the additions present in the later witnesses, scholars have remarked that the gospel shows few signs of a coherent arrangement or plot. The synoptic-like healing miracles of chs. 10, 17 and 18 always seemed out-of-place in the text and disrupted what scholars saw as a hint of progression in the boy Jesus’ behaviour from cursing to blessing. But the shorter text form contains fewer references to the need to rehabilitate Jesus and more of a focus on the theme of teaching. The original author appears intent on demonstrating that Jesus is a being of power, wisdom, and authority, and that these attributes must be recognized and respected—by both those around Jesus in the stories and, presumably, the gospel’s readers. It is not Jesus who needs to change, but those around him. The teaching stories highlight this theme. The Teacher story stands at the center of the text and continues for three chapters; two sequels follow and the text culminates in the story of Jesus in the Temple. There the boy demonstrates his acumen and receives proper acknowledgement from the scribes and Pharisees who declare to Mary, ‘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.’

������������� The focus on the original text of IGT should not result in the neglect of other childhood stories that weave in and out of the tradition over the centuries. Such tales as Jesus Rides the Sunbeam, Jesus and the Dyer, Jesus in the Temple of Idols, and the episodes in Greek D’s Egyptian Prologue testify to the continuing efforts to invent and compile stories of Jesus as a child. These additions and other variations in the manuscript traditions show also how views of Jesus’ childhood and childhood in general change over time.

ii. Time and Place of Origin

As with many of the non-canonical gospels, the origins of IGT are difficult to determine. It evokes both Jewish and non-Jewish literature, making its cultural affinities uncertain. And it bears no stamp of sectarian identification—neither in a reliably-early apostolic attribution nor by titles assigned to Jesus. Early scholars of the text placed its origins in Syria, based on the Thomas attribution and similarities with childhood tales of Krishna and Buddha from India.[22] Some even suggested that IGT was composed in Syriac.[23] But we now know that the introduction was added to the text late in its transmission and in a non-Syrian milieu. Knowledge of Buddhist stories and Hindu ascetics by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 1.15) and Philo (Abr. 182; Dreams 2.56) indicate that geographical proximity is not required for literary borrowing. And Syriac composition is unlikely—first, because it is extremely rare for early Christian apocryphal literature to be written in a language other than Greek,[24] and second, IGT (at least in the form that we have it in Greek S) bears none of the characteristics we find in Greek translations of Semitic texts.[25] Egypt has been offered as another place of origin.[26] So too has Palestine[27]—due to the existence of several Jewish parallels to the tales[28] and of pilgrimage sites related to two of the IGT miracles (Antonini Placentini, Itinerarium 5 and 13), and the possibility that the teacher Zacchaeus is intended as a parody of the rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai.[29] S. Voicu goes so far as to suggest that the text reflects Ebionite christology.[30] But, as near as can be determined from the patristic evidence, the Ebionites are a poor fit as they believed Jesus had a normal human birth and childhood (see Epiphanius, Pan. 30.13.7-8).

������������� IGT’s time of origin is generally considered to be the late second century. This date is based primarily on Irenaeus’ knowledge of the Teacher story (Haer. 1.20.1), though the same tale is reproduced in the Epistula Apostolorum which is convincingly dated also to the late second century. It is not certain whether the two authors knew the complete IGT or simply an isolated story. It is secure, however, that a collection of childhood tales was known to several authors of the fourth century. Chrysostom refers to miracles of Jesus’ childhood (paidika/) (Hom. Jo. 17), and Epiphanius, too, mentions miracles Jesus ‘is said to have performed in play as a child’ (Pan. 51.20.2-3). And the fourth-century Gos. Bart. and Hist. Jos. Carp. contain allusions to several chapters of IGT. Further evidence for the date of origin for IGT can be gleaned from the text itself. First, borrowings from the NT are rare. The expanded Greek manuscripts of IGT draw material from the Synoptics and John. However, all of the NT parallels in Greek S could be derived solely from Luke-Acts.[31] The text also features some elements of Lucan redaction. These details indicate not only a close tie between IGT and Luke, but also perhaps a time of composition before the wide dispersion of other NT texts. And second, the absence of any claims of authorship in the text suggests an early dating. Anonymity in Christian compositions is far more common to those written in the first and second centuries.[32]

������������� The cumulative weight of the evidence indeed suggests that IGT was composed in the second century. Its use of Luke provides the text with a terminus a quo of around 90 CE and the few internal indications of its antiquity point to a time of composition that allows for its possible use by Irenaeus and Ep. Apos. IGT’s connection with Luke suggests it was written in a place where Luke was held in high esteem; unfortunately, it is not known exactly where Luke originated, though Palestine seems unlikely. Syrian Antioch or Asia Minor may be the best candidates for IGT’s place of origin: both regions have been suggested for the composition of Luke, they allow for its speedy dissemination into both the West and the East, and it is in Antioch where Chrysostom, the earliest secure witness to the paidika/, came into contact with the text in the late fourth century.

3. Genre and Meaning

For many years IGT’s identification as a once-lengthier, Gnostic text has hampered serious investigation into its contents. There is now no reason to think it has been edited over time—indeed it has been expanded—nor to associate it with Gnosticism.[33] Nevertheless, these theories continue to influence much of modern commentary. But in recent years a few scholars have set aside the earlier negative assessments of the text and now seek to properly understand the text by observing affinities between IGT and Greco-Roman biographies.[34]

������������� Childhood tales of the great men, and sometimes women, of history are plentiful. Such tales are found not only among ancient Mediterranean cultures but throughout the world. Biographies of gods (Hermes, Krishna), heroes (Hercules), leaders (Cyrus the Great, Alexander), philosophers (Plato), and holy men (Apollonius, the Buddha) all contain childhood tales. Such tales were prominent also in Hellenistic Jewish literature (e.g., in tales of Moses, Samson, Abraham, Malachi, Elijah, Solomon, and Isaac) and continue into later Christian literature (e.g., in tales of Mary, Origen, Ambrose, Athanasius and a host of other saints). The primary purpose behind the tales is to foreshadow the adult career of their protagonist. This motif is permissible given how the ancient world viewed character and personality. Discussing Plutarch’s work, C. Pelling reveals that the ancients tended to reconcile a person’s various personality traits into one character ‘type’ and that they believed personality is inherited and remains consistent throughout one’s life.[35] An esteemed figure, therefore, would have ascribed to him or her stories of beneficence, or signs of intelligence, military skill, or whatever quality for which they were known in adulthood, while notorious figures were portrayed as cruel, calculating, or coddled, even as children. Childhood thus becomes a choice time in a person’s life for exploitation in propaganda.[36]

������������� The childhood tale was such a popular motif in antiquity that rhetoricians provided advice to writers on the process of composing the stories. In his treatise on constructing a panegyric, Quintilian instructs his readers to praise a subject with descriptions of his background, his beauty, and with accounts of his education: ‘it has sometimes proved the more effective course to trace a man’s life and deeds in due chronological order, praising his natural gifts as a child, then his progress at school’ (Inst. 3.7.15). Quintilian’s instructions are echoed by the early fourth-century rhetorician Menander, who advises speakers to include in their praises such miracles as the recognition of an emperor’s future role by children at play[37]: ‘If there is anything like this in connection with the emperor, work it up; if it is possible to invent, and to do this convincingly, do not hesitate’ (Treatise II.371.10-15). He recommends also to praise the subject’s beauty and to emphasize his excellence at school: ‘Then you must speak of his love of learning, his quickness, his enthusiasm for study, his easy grasp of what is taught him. If he excels in literature, philosophy, and knowledge of letters, you must praise this’ (Treatise II 371.26-372.1). For nefarious figures, however, the schoolroom motif was used to illustrate the subject’s intellectual shortcomings.

������������� The emphasis biographers placed on presenting their subjects as children should not be credited to an interest in childhood as a stage of development—indeed, the majority of references in ancient writings to children and their qualities are disparaging. Greek and Roman writers characterize children as ignorant, capricious, foolish, and quarrelsome. They spoke nonsense, lacked judgement, were physically frail, and easily frightened.[38] Adolescence, too, was often denounced. Biblical texts, for their part, describe children as ignorant, capricious, and in need of strict discipline (see 2 Kgs 2:23-24; Isa 3:4; Wis 12:24-25; 15:14; Prov 22:15; Sir 30:1-13). The later rabbis associate the young with deaf-mutes and the weak-minded, thereby indicating that children, too, lack their full faculties (‘Erub. 3:2; Šeqal. 1.3; Sukkah 2.8; 3.10, etc.).[39] This negativity toward childhood contributes to the motifs we find in the childhood stories. None of the protagonists of these tales act like children. They all demonstrate a wisdom and maturity that belies their age. They excel at school, sometimes surpassing even the abilities of their teachers. They are praised for their seriousness. When they play, it is only in games that prophesy their future roles. The biographers appear uneasy with attributing typical childhood qualities to their subjects.

������������� This uneasiness is not restricted to the educated elite who were responsible for biographies and other literature. Even ordinary children, some from very humble origins, were remembered for being wise beyond their years. Sarcophagi and funerary altars, primarily used by the lower classes, often contain images and inscriptions that portray the prematurely deceased as young adults. J. Huskinson labels this form of depiction ‘proleptic’—i.e., the images either present the children as they would have appeared had they not met an untimely death, or feature symbolic representations of the qualities which they (allegedly) possessed.[40] For example, young boys are found depicted as adult military men or budding orators (what Huskinson calls ‘the proleptic figure par excellence’[41]) or as adherents to religious cults they would not be able to join until adulthood. Girls are portrayed as adult mythical figures, such as Diana or Venus. Inscriptions, too, testify to this need to exaggerate the commemorated child’s maturity. For example, one inscription from Rome mentions Kriti�s who died at the age of two and a half; for his intelligence, it is said, he should be compared to someone of gray wisdom.[42] The idealized intelligent, mature child—commonly referred to as the puer senex motif—appears also in Pliny’s panegyric for Minicia Marcella (Ep. 5,16) and in Quintilian’s portrayals of his own deceased children (Inst. 6.7, 10 and the proemium). These same literary and iconographic motifs can be found also in Christian funerary sources.[43]

������������� All of these sources—the literature, inscriptions, and reliefs—from high and low social strata betray an uneasiness with childhood. Deceased children are portrayed as they would have been had they lived to adulthood, and important historic figures are depicted as adultlike in childhood. It seems that any children of note, be they emperors, heroes, saints or simply one’s prematurely deceased child, did not act like children do. And IGT’s Jesus is no exception. The wisdom and precocity he exhibits in the childhood tales are evidence not for Gnostic Christology as many scholars on the text maintain, but for the prevalence of the puer senex motif in ancient Mediterranean societies. This is particularly evident in IGT’s interest in the theme of teaching; the Teacher and Temple stories allow Jesus to demonstrate his otherworldly nature while at the same time illustrating his shortage of childlike qualities and foreshadowing his future accomplishments. Furthermore, given the affinities between IGT and other biographical literature, readers should not expect to see the young Jesus grow and mature as the text progresses—indeed, Jesus is here presented as a cursing wonderworker because the author considers the adult Jesus to have been a cursing wonderworker. As it happens, the early Christian text that features such characters most prominently is Luke-Acts,[44] a text already shown to have been a great inspiration to the author of IGT.

4. Conclusions

Scholarship on IGT has progressed significantly in the last decade. The Slavonic and Greek traditions have been treated to in-depth analyses. Similar work is underway on the Old Latin and Syriac traditions, the results of which may clear up problems in establishing the original text.[45] E. Norelli has contributed a study of the much-overlooked Egyptian Prologue. He finds in the material a core narrative traceable to post-70 Palestine and reflecting conflicts between Christian groups or Jewish and Christian groups.[46] L. Paulissen has published two articles examining IGT’s use of the theme of teaching.[47] And in 2008 Reidar Aasgaard will see the release of his study of the text—the first monograph devoted to IGT to be published in forty years. Unfortunately, little of this scholarship ever makes its way to those authors who write entries in collections of non-canonical texts, or university textbooks, or popular-market overviews of early Christian literature. So, the majority of readers of the text still encounter it in new editions or translations of Tischendorf’s Greek A and learn from introductions that IGT was once a longer, Gnostic text. Hopefully, that trend will soon come to an end and more and more readers will turn from denigrating the text to recognizing its place in the development of Christian thought and literature.


5. Bibliography

W. Baar������������� ‘Neue Materielen zum Text und zur Interpretation des Kindheitsevangeliums des

& J. Heldermann,������������� Pseudo-Thomas.’ Oriens Christianus 77 (1993): 191–226; 78 (1994): 1–32.

T. Chartrand-Burke,������������� ‘The Greek Manuscript Tradition of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas,’ Apocrypha 14 (2004), 129–51.

T. Chartrand-Burke,������������� ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: The Text, its Origins, and its Transmission’ (PhD diss., University of Toronto 2001).

A. De Santos Otero,������������� Das kirchenslavische Evangelium des Thomas. Patristische Texte und Studien 6 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1967).

S. Gero,������������� ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: A Study of the Textual and Literary Problems.’ Novum Testamentum 13 (1971): 46–80.

R. F. Hock,������������� The Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas. The Scholars Bible 2 (Santa Rosa, Calif.: Polebridge Press, 1995).

M. McNamara,������������� ‘New Testament Apocrypha in the Irish Church.’ Pages 333–40 in vol. 6 of Studia Evangelica. Edited by Elizabeth A. Livingstone. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1973.

E. Norelli,������������� ‘Ges� ride: Ges�, il maestro di scuola e i passeri. Le sorprese di un testo apocrifo trascurato,’ in E. Franco (ed), Mysterium regni ministerium verbi (Mc 4,11; At 6,4). Scritti in onore di mons. Vittorio Fusco, Supplementi alla Rivista Biblica 38 (Bologna 2001), 653–84.

L. van Rompay,������������� ‘De ethiopische versie van het Kindsheidsevangelie volgens Thomas de Isra�liet.’ Pages 119–32 in Enfant dans les civilisations orientales. Edited by A. Th�odorid�s, P. Naster, and J. Riesl.� Leuven: Editions Peeters, 1980.

T. Ros�n,������������� The Slavonic Translation of the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Slavica Upsaliensia 39 (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1997).

C. von Tischendorf,������������� Evangelia Apocrypha (2d ed.; Leipzig: H. Mendelsohn, 1876).

S. J. Voicu,������������� ‘Verso il testo primitivo dei Paidika\ tou= Kuri/ou70Ihsou= ‘Racconti dell’infanzia del Signore Ges�.’’ Apocrypha 9 (1998): 7–95.

S. J. Voicu,������������� ‘Notes sur l’histoire du texte de L’Histoire de l’Enfance de J�sus.’ Apocrypha 2 (1991): 119–32.


[1]������������� Commentariorum de augusta bibliotheca caesarea vindobenensi, vol. 7 (Vienna: Typis M. Cosmerovii, 1675), 270–73.

[2]������������� SS. Patrum qui temporibus apostolicis floruerunt, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (Antwerp: Huguetanorum sumtibus, 1698), 345–6.

[3]������������� Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti,� vol. 1 (Hamburg: Schiller, 1703), 128–67.

[4]������������� A complete overview and discussion of the citations can be found in H. Attridge, ‘The Greek Fragments: Introduction,’ in B. Layton (ed), Nag Hammadi Codex II, 2–7, vol. 1, NHS 20 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1989), 95–112.

[5]������������� For an overview and discussion see T. Chartrand-Burke, ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: The Text, its Origins, and its Transmission’ (PhD diss., University of Toronto 2001), 11–7.

[6]������������� D was published for the first time by Tischendorf; however, B was published a century earlier in a diplomatic edition by G. L. Mingarelli, ‘De Apocrypho Thomae Evangelio…epistola’, in A. Calogiera (ed), Nuova Raccolta d’opuscoli scientifici e filologici, vol. 12 (Venice 1764), 73–155 and then in a critical edition by I. C. Thilo, Codex apocryphus Novi Testamenti, vol. 1 (Lipsius: Vogel, 1832), lxxiii–xci and 277–315.

[7]������������� Evangelia Apocrypha (2d ed.; Leipzig: H. Mendelsohn, 1876), 140–57.

[8]������������� Ibid, 158–63.

[9]������������� Ibid, 93–112, xliv–xlvi, and 164–80 (respectively).

[10]������������� ‘�vangile de l’enfance de Jacques: Manuscrit No. 355 de la Biblioth�que Nationale’, in Anecdota Atheniensia, vol. 1, Textes grecs in�dits relatifs � l’histoire des religions (Paris: Edouard Champion, 1927), 264–71.

[11]������������� The earliest scholarship on the recension (as well as my own study of the Greek manuscript tradition in T. Chartrand-Burke, ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas’) used the designation Greek C. Greek D, the designation begun by S. J. Voicu, ‘Notes sur l’histoire du texte de L’Histoire de l’Enfance de J�sus,’ Apocrypha 2 (1991), 119–32, has since become standard.

[12]������������� The first Syriac manuscript (BL Add. 14484; 6th cent.) was published by W. Wright, Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature of the New Testament (London: Williams & Norgate, 1865), 6–16. Since then three additional manuscripts have seen publication: G�ttingen syr. 10 of the fifth or sixth century (collated against Wright’s manuscript by W. Baars and J. Heldermann, ‘Neue Materielen zum Text und zur Interpretation des Kindheitsevangeliums des Pseudo-Thomas’, Oriens Christianus 77 [1993], p. 191-226; 78 [1994], p. 1-32), a version of the Syriac Life of Mary published from a thirteenth-/fourteenth-century Alqoš manuscript by E. A. W. Budge, The History of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the History of the Likeness of Christ (2 vols.; London: Luzac & Co., 1899), and Vat. syr. 159 from 1622/1623 published in a partial French translation by P. Peeters, �vangiles apocryphes, vol. 2, Textes et documents pour l’�tude historique du Christianisme 18 (Paris: Librairie Alphonse Picard & Fils, 1914), 291–311. A large number of Syriac manuscripts remain unpublished. A partial list of these manuscripts (though with a few infelicities) can be found in A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur mit Ausschluss der christlich-pal�stinensischen Texte (Bonn: A. Marcus & E. Webers Verlag, 1922), 69–70 n. 12 and 99 n. 4 and S. C. Mimouni, ‘Les Vies de la Vierge: �tat de la question,’ Apocrypha 5 (1994): 239–42. The Syriac tradition also spawned two offspring: the Arabic Infancy Gospel, which combines IGT with other infancy traditions, and an unrelated Arabic translation of IGT alone published by S. Noja, ‘L’�vangile arabe apocryphe de Thomas, de la ‘Biblioteca Ambrosiana’ de Milan (G 11 sup)’, in A. Vivian (ed), Biblische und Judistische Studien. Festschrift f�r Paolo Sacchi, Judentum und Umwelt 29 (Paris: Peter Lang, 1990), 681–90.

[13]������������� From a single, fragmentary manuscript (Tblisi, Cod. A 95) copied around the end of the tenth century. The text was published by Russian scholars early in the twentieth century but was given wider exposure in a Latin translation by G. Garitte, ‘Le fragment g�orgien de l’�vangile de Thomas,’ RHE 51 (1956): 513–15.

[14]������������� Found in chapter eight of Ta’amra ’Iyasus (Miracles of Jesus), a large biographical work compiled from various canonical and noncanonical sources. There are 25 known manuscripts of the text; S. Gr�baut, ‘Les miracles de J�sus: Texte �thiopien publi� et traduit,’ PO 12.4 (1919): 625–42 used five of these for his edition of the IGT section of the Miracles.

[15]������������� The Slavonic tradition comprises six medieval manuscripts in Middle Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, and Russian, and ten in Ukrainian from the eighteenth/nineteenth century. The initial translation of the text is dated to the tenth or eleventh century. For more on the Slavonic tradition see the two major studies by A. de Santos Otero, Das kirchenslavische Evangelium des Thomas, PTS 6 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1967) and T. Ros�n, The Slavonic Translation of the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Slavica Upsaliensia 39 (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1997).

[16]������������� Published from a single manuscript (Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 50) by J. Carney, ‘Two Old Irish Poems,’ Eriu 18 (1958): 1–43 and more recently by Maire Herbert in M. McNamara et al, Apocrypha Hiberniae, t. 1: Evangelia infantiae, vol. 1, CCSA 13 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), 443–83. Though the manuscript is dated to the seventeenth century, the translation is believed to have been made directly from the Old Latin IGT (found in Lv and incorporated in Ps.-Matt) around 700 C.E.

[17]������������� ‘De ethiopische versie van het Kindsheidsevangelie volgens Thomas de Isra�liet,’ in A. Th�odorid�s, P. Naster, and J. Riesl (eds), Enfant dans les civilisations orientales (Leuven: Editions Peeters, 1980), 119–32.

[18]������������� ‘Notes sur l’histoire,’ 128–29.

[19]������������� Noret (‘Pour une �dition de l’�vangile de l’enfance selon Thomas,’ AnBoll 90 [1972]: 412) had earlier mentioned the manuscript in an announcement of a planned critical edition of IGT that never materialized. Readings from the collation were incorporated (albeit in Italian) in Voicu’s second work on the text, ‘Verso il testo primitivo dei Paidika\ tou= Kuri/ou70Ihsou= ‘Racconti dell’infanzia del Signore Ges�.’’ Apocrypha 9 (1998): 7–95.

[20]������������� This assessment of the Ethiopic version is shared by L. van Rompay (‘De ethiopische versie’, 131–2).

[21]������������� Chartrand-Burke, ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas,’ 134–244. Details of all the Greek manuscripts are provided also in idem, ‘The Greek Manuscript Tradition of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas,’ Apocrypha 14 (2004), 129–51.

[22]������������� The connections were discussed first among scholars of the religionsgeschichtliche Schule of the late nineteenth century. A more recent case for IGT’s reliance on the Indian tales was made by Z. P. Thundy, Buddha and Christ: Nativity Stories and Indian Traditions, SHR 60 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1993).

[23]������������� The first scholar to advance seriously a theory of Syriac composition was P. Peeters, �vangiles apocryphes, xvii-xxii as part of an idiosyncratic theory that IGT, Arab. Gos. Inf., and Arm. Gos. Inf. all derive from a Syriac infancy gospel similar to Budge’s Life of Mary text.

[24]������������� Of all first and second century gospels only the Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Nazareans are believed to have been written in a Semitic language. The third-century Abgar Legend and the Acts of Thomas were composed in Syriac. S. Brock, ‘Greek into Syriac and Syriac into Greek’, Journal of the Syriac Academy 3 (1977), 11–16 lists the few Semitic texts (Christian and non-Christian) esteemed enough in antiquity to be translated into Greek.

[25]������������� R. A. Martin, Syntactical Evidence of Semitic Sources in Greek Documents, Septuagint and Cognate Studies 3 (Cambridge, Mass: Society of Biblical Literature, 1974), 5–43 details 17 criteria by which one can determine whether a text was composed in Greek or was translated from a Semitic source. By these criteria, Greek S meets well the expectations of Greek composition. In addition, Greek S clearly draws upon a Greek version of Luke in the Temple story, not a translation from Syriac, whereas the same story in Wright’s Syriac text exhibits no verbatim agreement with Old Syriac Luke. For the complete study see Chartrand-Burke, ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas,’ 247–54.

[26]������������� L. Conrady, ‘Das Thomasevangelium: Ein wissenschaftlicher kritischer Versuch,’ Theologische Studien und Kritiken 76 (1903): 377–459; A. Meyer, ‘Kindheitserz�hlung des Thomas,’ in E. Hennecke (ed), Neutestamentlichen Apokryphen, 2d ed. (T�bingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1924), 96;� Baars and Heldermann, ‘Neue Materialien,’ 30.

[27]������������� The most vigorous proponent for the location is B. Bagatti, ‘Nota sul Vangelo di Tommaso Israelita,’ Euntes Docete 29 (1976): 482–9.

[28]������������� The Miraculous Stretching of a Beam and the Healing of James recall similar tales told of Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa (b. Ta‘an 25a; t. Ber. 3:20; b. Ber. 33a; the texts are excerpted in C. A. Evans, Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation [Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992], 234) and Carrying Water in a Cloak has a parallel in an apocryphal childhood tale of Ezra from a Jeremiah Apocryphon (discussed most recently by K. H. Kuhn, ‘A Coptic Jeremiah Apocryphon,’ Le Mus�on 83 [1970]: 95–135, 291–350).

[29]������������� J. Neusner, ‘Zacchaeus/Zakkai,’ HTR 57 (1964): 57–9.

[30]������������� Voicu, ‘Verso il testo primitive,’ 50.

[31]������������� For more on the relationship between IGT and Luke see T. Chartrand-Burke, ‘Completing the Gospel: The Infancy Gospel of Thomas as a Supplement to the Gospel of Luke,’ in L. DiTommaso and L. Turcescu (eds), The Reception and Interpretation of the Bible in Late Antiquity. Proceedings of the Montr�al Colloquium in Honour of Charles Kannengeiser, 11-13 October 2006 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, in press).

[32]������������� See further K. Aland, The Authorship and Integrity of the New Testament (London: SPCK, 1965), 1-13.

[33]������������� For lists of apparent Gnostic elements in IGT see De Santos Otero, Kirchenslavische, 172–84 and Baars and Heldermann, ‘Neue Materialien,’ 30–31.

[34]������������� Most effectively by R. F. Hock, The Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas, The Scholars Bible 2 (Santa Rosa, Calif.: Polebridge Press, 1995), 95-97 which draws heavily on T. Wiedemann, Adults and Children in the Roman Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 49-83. For a more detailed discussion see Chartrand-Burke, ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas,’ 380–94.

[35]������������� ‘Childhood and Personality in Greek Literature,’ in C. Pelling (ed), Characterization and Individuality in Greek Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 235–40.

[36]������������� On biographies as propaganda see Pelling, ‘Childhood and Personality,’ 217; P. Cox, Biography in Antiquity: A Quest for the Holy Man (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), xiv–xv; as negative propaganda, 10–2.

[37]������������� Such a tale is told of Jesus in Arab Gos. Inf. 41. More well-known is the example from the life of Cyrus recorded by Herodotus (Hist. 114-115).

[38]������������� See further Wiedemann, Adults and Children, 17-19, 24.

[39]������������� The following references are taken from J. M. Gundry-Volf, ‘The Least and the Greatest: Children in The New Testament,’ in Marcia Bunge (ed), The Child in Christian Thought (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 35.

[40]������������� Roman Children’s Sarcophagi: Their Decoration and its Social Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 2 and similarly H. I. Marrou, Mousikos an�r. �tude sur les sc�nes de la vie int�llectuelle figurant sur les monuments fun�raires romains (Rome: Brettschneider, 1964), 200.

[41]������������� Roman Children’s Sarcophagi, 93.

[42]������������� For this and other examples see M. Kleijwegt, Ancient Youth: The Ambiguity of Youth and the Absence of Adolescence in Greco-Roman Society (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1991),� 126-30 and Marrou, Mousikos an�r, 201-7.

[43]������������� See further Chartrand-Burke, ‘The Infancy Gospel of Thomas,’ 379–80.

[44]������������� It has been noted also that Luke’s gospel in particular evokes the figure of Elijah, who was also a cursing wonderworker. See M. M. Faierstein, ‘Why do the Scribes say Elijah Must Come First?’ JBL 100 (1981), 75–86 and the responses by D. C. Allison, ‘Elijah Must Come First’, JBL 103 (1984), 256–8 and J. A. Fitzmyer, ‘More About Elijah Coming First’, JBL 104 (1985), 295–6.

[45]������������� See S. Voicu, ‘La tradition latine des Paidika,’ Bulletin de l’AELAC 14 (2004), 13–21; as for the Syriac version, I have begun the process of assembling the known manuscripts and have already found better witnesses than those published.

[46]������������� ‘Ges� ride: Ges�, il maestro di scuola e i passeri. Le sorprese di un testo apocrifo trascurato,’ in E. Franco (ed), Mysterium regni ministerium verbi (Mc 4,11; At 6,4). Scritti in onore di mons. Vittorio Fusco, Supplementi alla Rivista Biblica 38 (Bologna 2001), 653–84.

[47]������������� ‘J�sus � l’ �cole. L’enseignement dans l’ �vangile de l’Enfance selon Thomas,’ Apocrypha 14 (2003), 153–75; and ‘Jesus, enfant divin: processus de reconnaissance dans l’ �vangile de l’Enfance selon Thomas’, in L. Couloubaritsis and B. Decharneux (eds), Les origiens th�ologico-politiques de l’humanisme europ�en. Actes du colloque international de l’Universit� Libre de Bruxelles et des Facult�s Universitaires Saint-Louis, 15-18 mars 2000 (Ousia, Bruxelles, forthcoming).

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