The Childhood of Jesus from the Acts of Andrew and Matthias

I mentioned some time ago a discussion with A. Vinogradov about a manuscript of the Acts of Andrew and Matthias that features a summary of the life of Jesus. Included in this summary are three episodes from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. The section alludes also to the Protoevangelium of James and begins with an expanded version of the story of the Magi from Matthew. Here is a translation of the IGT material (based on the Greek text edited by A. Vinogradov, “Die zweite Rezension der Actorum Andreae et Matthiae apud Anthropophagos [BHG 110B]”, Christianskij Vostok, 3, 2001, p. 11-105 with some emendations by J-. D. Kaestli.):

And behold, he happily taught the alphabet with joy. And hearing him, the teacher….his hand was withered up to where it touched his fringe, and suddenly he was healed. And filled up with strength again, he dug by a word and commanded the flowing water to divide into twelve streams. And he formed birds of clay on the Sabbath day. And the priests, seeing and being angry, wished to destroy them. But, clapping his hands, he said: “O melodious birds, behold, in the presence of the priests I say to you: become flesh, receive form, become animated, become winged and fly to the entire world. Do not fear the archer, be careful of traps and tortuous snares, fly not toward the ground. And take care of your young in heaven above. And at once the announced deed became a thing manifest for, singing sweet music through the voice, the birds went away crying: “O holy child of a heavenly father and earthly mother… And grace has shone on us, Christ. And we have returned to you again so that you may know that we believe in your father.” And he said to the priests: “You are despising, and are like the clay that was formed by the hand of the craftsman in the form of the birds, which now also have been given form. And you, oh priests, who until now were without form regarding life, through the water, you have been made known to God and are fleeing from the threat of the Law and receiving the grace of life.

And the child Jesus, playing, went upon a roof with his children friends. And one of the children fell and died at once. And when his father and also his mother raised a clamour because of the one who was dead, and when everyone fled, the boy Jesus remained alone. And placing his hand on the one who was dead, he said: “Did I kill you?” And the boy, rising as if from sleep, looked up and saw Jesus and said: “No Lord, but you raised me from the dead.” And then the parents of the one who was raised ran to the temple and reported all that Jesus had done to the high priests of the Law. And they said: “truly this is the messiah, the one born of Mary the holy virgin, and truly she is a virgin still.” And again they (the high priests) said: “Beelzebul, ruler of the demons, he does these things. For who has heard that a virgin has given birth?” And the parents of the boy who was raised were saying to the priests: “Why do you, who read the Law, not recognize Jesus the Messiah in the Law?” The high priests said to them: “Babouberbeth, who is called Accursed, are you teaching us?” And they ordered them to be banished from the synagogue. But they laughed. Then the high priests said: “Why did you laugh?” And they said: “We did not laugh (at ourselves), rather we laughed at you, because from now on we have forsaken you for, having gone away, we will follow Jesus. For if our son Zeno was raised from the dead, he is able to raise us after death also.” And at once they left the temple and came to where Jesus was.

And the high priests called for Joseph, the father of Jesus, and said to him in Hebrew: “Nathazareth and Boum.” And they said: “The god of your fathers, in fear give him praise. Is the child Jesus your son?” Joseph said: “If he is my son, I do not know, for the virgin Mary, who you had given to me from the house of the Lord to protect her, gave birth to him and she is a virgin still.” The high priests said: “No small wonder, that having brought forth she is still a virgin.” And they said to him: “Call Mary, your wife, so that we may see if, after giving birth to the boy Jesus, she is still a virgin.” Joseph said: “I said to you that I took her from the holy house after she conceived from the Holy Spirit there in the temple of God with the virgins spinning the purple and red and the gold embroidery into the curtain for the glory of the Lord. But I am alone in my house, and the child Jesus.” They said to him: “How old is the child Jesus?” He said to them: “Why do you accuse me so, in contentiousness? For the child Jesus is three years old. And he speaks from the beginning so that often also I see him greater, above my height. And also frequently he watches over and considers and prays and does wonderful things, such as the prophets did not do, nor Moses, no Elijah. And he says God is his own father.”

And the high priests said: “Dachodoreth, Samouth, who is called Excellent, Joseph…[Joseph said:] “Why do you accuse me so and talk idly so much? Listen, because Zeno was raised from the dead and two birds molded from clay; animating them and giving them wings, he sent them out to the whole world. He is to me a support and all my nourishment is from him; for when I do not have wood, he commands and a great amount appears. And when I began an evening’s work, he came at night and he observed, and in the morning it was finished. And when it was time for a meal and having nothing to eat, he came to the table and immediately the table became full of bread and good things of all sorts. And drawing water from the well, he offered it to drink and it was found to be fine wine. And as I was eating, he came out from my house and he calls to the neighbours from the street and the poor and those he found to be lame, blind, half-withered, crippled, and thrown on the dungheap and said to them: ‘Rise in full health and come into the house of my father Joseph and eat the bread and drink the wine to filling.’ On the whole, his word is a true deed. And he has a great crowd of disciples. And the Sabbath, he says, was made for man. And he said to the teacher: ‘Why do you strike (me) for not breaking the Sabbath?’ And in striking him, he whipped him and immediately his right hand withered. And running he fell at his feet and it was healed. And everyone in the schoolroom worshipped him as God.”

And the high priests were amazed at what he said. And they said to him: “What can we give you to kill him during the night?” And he said to them: “How could I kill him? I said to you that he never sleeps but he watched and considers and prays, and a great crowd of angels respond: Alleluia.” And the high priests became silent and said to Joseph: “Go to your home and say nothing in arrogance to the child, do not be angry with us and kill us. Go home, Joseph, bless you. Bless also the child Jesus.”

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