The childhood of Jesus up until 12
We know nothing about the childhood of Jesus between his return from Egypt at about 4 or 5, unscrambling the three sources might even give the age of 8 – and his Lecturing in the Temple at 12. The gaps have been filled for us in The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, not to be confused with the Gospel of Thomas. It is a fanciful document purported to have been written by Thomas Didymus there are two Greek versions a Latin version and a Syriac Version.
One would think the very devil was in this child for he worked both good and evil in turn even to commanding the death of men and boys alike.
(I have chosen the Greek Text A because it is the one with which I am most familiar.)
Birds of clay fly away and Annas’ son is crippled:
It is said by Thomas the Israelite that when Jesus was 5 years old that he and other boys were playing at the ford of a brook: the young Jesus gathered the waters into pools to purify it by command and after doing so took some soft clay and fashioned 12 clay birds. This just happened to be on the Sabbath and a tattle tale Jew hastened off to Joseph to dob Jesus in and Joseph, of course, came down to the brook to see for himself. Jesus got a right old telling off by Joseph, and clapped his hands in glee and the 12 birds became alive and flew away.
Now the son of Annas the scribe was there and began to stir up the water and muddy it again. Jesus, the dear child said “O evil, ungodly, and foolish one, what hurt did the pools and the waters do thee? behold, now also thou shalt be withered like a tree, and shalt not bear leaves, neither root, nor fruit. 3 And straightway that lad withered up wholly, but Jesus departed and went unto Joseph’s house.” Annas and his wife took the child around to the Joseph ben Levi residence, (a widow had taken them all in when they arrived in Egypt) Annas shook his fists at Joseph, did a little frothing at the mouth, and wanted to know just what kind of child would do such a thing?
Okay, two strikes, what else did this imp of ours do before he became righteous and knew himself?
Quite a lot, it does give us pause to wonder that the meaning of Jesus being the expression of Perfect Humanity was, in reality, being human in all ways, as to have begun in the depths and slowly risen the Maslow pyramid until he knew as he was known.
On another occasion, Jesus was walking through the village when another child bumped into him, Jesus caused this one to die, he told the child you won’t get to where you are going, and the child dropped dead.
People wanted to know from where Jesus was born that everything that came from his mouth came to be, the parents of the child went around to see Joseph and to threaten him, that unless the child was taught to bless rather than curse then they had better vacate said house and village pronto. Well, Joseph expressed both fear and concern because he feared persecution from the villagers. His words to Jesus expressed his fear: Why do you do these things, Joseph said, because villagers hate us and will persecute us? But Jesus said: I know that these words don’t come from you nevertheless for your sake, I will keep my counsel: but they shall wear their punishment – and all who had aggrieved them became blind.
Somehow the young Jesus seems to think that he is in the right and that something has put the unjust words of admonition into his father’s mouth.
Zacchaeus attempts to teach Jesus
Now we see glimpses of things to come because it is poor Zacchaeus who comes out of this skirmish all the poorer. Jesus lectures him on the true nature of the Alpha telling him that unless Zacchaeus knows the Alpha how can he teach the Beta? We get our word alphabet from the Alpha and the Beta of which the Hebrew version was inscribed somewhere for Jesus to recite. And of course, the lad refused.
His response to the debacle was the following.
“And as the Jews were counselling Zacchaeus, the young child laughed greatly and said: Now let those bear fruit that were barren (Gr. that are thine) and let them see that were blind in heart. I am come from above that I may curse them, and call them to the things that are above, even as he commanded which hath sent me for your sakes. 2 And when the young child ceased speaking, immediately all they were made whole which had come under his curse. And no man after that durst provoke him, lest he should curse him, and he should be maimed.”
Jesus is worshipped
The very next occasion involves another death, this time a boy named Zeno fell off the roof while they were all at play and died. Jesus was accused of killing him, which he denied he then said to Zeno, arise and tell them I did not kill you, and straight away Zeno returned to life and told them that Jesus did not put him down but raised him up. Zeno’s parents glorified Jesus and worshipped him.
This is the pivot between the imp and the son of God, from here on Jesus’ actions are true miracles of the type we would expect bringing people to say, “Verily the spirit of God dwelleth in this young child.” Except, that is, his schooling!
Jesus did not like being a pupil and couldn’t abide anyone telling him, presumably what he already knew. Twice more he is taken off to school, the first time he throws aspersions on the qualifications of the teacher concerning the form of the Alpha and it doesn’t end well. The teacher hit Jesus who was hurt and Jesus cursed the teacher who appropriately fell into a swoon.
However, third time lucky!
And going with boldness into the school he found a book lying upon the pulpit and he took it, and read not the letters that were therein, but opened his mouth and spake by the Holy Spirit, and taught the law to them that stood by. And a great multitude came together and stood there hearkening, and marvelled at the beauty of his teaching and the readiness of his words, in that being an infant he uttered such thingsFrom “The Apocryphal New Testament” M.R. James-Translation and Notes Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924
I am tempted to record more of these positive Miracles, but I think if you have any desire or interest you will do that for yourselves.
Whatever credence is given to this text its summary is the growth of a naughty, rather wicked child into a youth of honour.
After many other records of Miracles, many of resurrections, and descriptions of Jesus working with Joseph, healing his brother James we come to Luke’s record
XIX. 1 And when he was twelve years old his parents went according to the custom unto Jerusalem to the feast of the passover with their company: and after the passover they returned to go unto their house. And as they returned the child Jesus went back to Jerusalem; but his parents supposed that he was in their company. 2 And when they had gone a day’s journey, they sought him among their kinsfolk, and when they found him not, they were troubled, and returned again to the city seeking him. And after the third day they found him in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors and hearing and asking them questions. 7 of 7 And all men paid heed to him and marvelled how that being a young child he put to silence the elders and teachers of the people, expounding the heads of the law and the parables of the prophets. 3 And his mother Mary came near and said unto him: Child, wherefore hast thou so done unto us? behold we have sought thee sorrowing. And Jesus said unto them: Why seek ye me? know ye not that I must be in my Father’s house? 4 But the scribes and Pharisees said: Art thou the mother of this child? and she said: I am. And they said unto her: Blessed art thou among women because God hath blessed the fruit of thy womb. For such glory and such excellence and wisdom we have neither seen nor heard at any time. 5 And Jesus arose and followed his mother and was subject unto his parents: but his mother kept in mind all that came to pass. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and grace. Unto him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
From “The Apocryphal New Testament” M.R. James-Translation and Notes Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924
This final passage is the only element within the text that corresponds in some manner to Canonical Scripture. The author has this to say-
“The few Greek manuscripts are all late. The earliest authorities are a much abbreviated Syriac version of which the manuscript is of the sixth century, and a Latin palimpsest at Vienna of the fifth or sixth century, which has never been deciphered in full.” From “The Apocryphal New Testament” M.R. James-Translation and Notes Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924From “The Apocryphal New Testament” M.R. James-Translation and Notes Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924
Here is a link to the Syriac version of The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: Syriac | Tony Burke
Here is Greek A Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Greek Text A (M.R. James translation) (earlychristianwritings.com)
This leads to Greek B Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Greek Text B (M.R. James translation) (earlychristianwritings.com)