Ever wondered what kind of a child Jesus was? Well, The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ tells us that Jesus was part healer, part genius, part brat. It starts out with some interesting stories about what happened to the holy family in Egypt (following Herod’s edict to kill all boys age 2 and under), and then goes on to tell that Jesus often miraculously killed adults and children that ticked him off. This gospel has some interesting stories, and some really weird stories—definitely not the sort of Jesus most Christians would expect to see.
The gospel was translated into English and published by Professor Henry Pike in 1697 in Cambridge. It dates to at least the 3rd century. The gospel is a Gnostic gospel, so the portrayals of Jesus are quite different than traditional Christians would expect to see. Frankly, some of the things in this gospel are just plain weird.
Here is a summary of some of the more unusual stories in this gospel. (For more details, see a longer version of this post.)
- Even in the cradle Jesus could talk and proclaims that he is the Son of God to Mary.
- Following his circumcision, either the foreskin or the navel string was saved in an alabaster box by a druggist. Years later, this ointment was used to anoint him when Mary (the sinner) cleaned his feet with her hair. (This story has a high yuck factor.)
- Swaddling clothes are given to the Wise Men, followers of the Zoroastrian religion. Zoroastrians have a holy fire, and toss the swaddling clothes into the fire. The clothes do not burn, and the Wise Men rejoice.
- The holy family escapes to Egypt following Herod’s decree. Soon after their arrival in Egypt, some of Jesus swaddling clothes fall on a possessed boy. At that moment, demons fly out of the boy’s mouth and he is cured.
- A man is turned into a mule by a sorcerer. The man’s sisters tell Mary, who puts the baby Jesus on the back of the mule. Instantly, the mule turns back into a man.
- While travelling through Egpyt, Joseph and Mary travel through a place known for robbers. Two robbers (Titus and Damachus) discuss robbing the holy family, but Titus asks Damachus not to rob them. Jesus and Mary prophesy that these two robbers will hang on the cross with Jesus in 30 years, and Titus will go into paradise before Jesus.
- Following Herod’s death, the holy family returns to Israel. Two wives of a man fight over child. One woman tries to kill son of other woman. Mary prophecies that the evil wife will die. She falls in a well.
- Leprous woman is healed by washing in Christ’s bathwater. Leprous princess is healed by same method.
- The child Judas Iscariot (possessed by the devil and has a reputation for biting) tries to bite Jesus. He can’t succeed, but instead hits Jesus. Jesus heals Judas of the devil.
- Seven year old Jesus plays with other boys, and makes clay animals. Jesus causes the animals to walk, fly, and eat. The boys tell their parents, who warn that Jesus is a sorcerer.
- Jesus is apparently a bit of a vandal, and throws a bunch of linens at a shop in the fire. The store owner is upset, so Jesus retrieves them from the fire unharmed.
- Joseph spends 2 years making a throne for the king of Jerusalem. It is too small, so Jesus miraculously enlarges the throne.
- Jesus plays hide and seek with some boys. Some women throw the boys into a furnace, but Jesus transforms them into baby goats—kids. Then Jesus transforms them back into boys, unharmed by the furnace.
- A serpent bites Simon the Canaanite as a boy. Jesus causes the serpent to suck back the poison, and then the serpent bursts. Simon is cured.
- James is bitten by viper and cured. Jesus is accused of throwing boy off roof. Jesus causes dead boy to live and the boy acquits Jesus.
- Jesus makes some clay sparrows near in a fish-pool on the Sabbath. Then Jesus causes the sparrows to fly. The son of Hanani the Jew chastises Jesus for doing this on the Sabbath, and destroys the fish-pool. Jesus prophecies that the boy will vanish like the fish-pool, and the child dies immediately.
- Jesus is sent to school to learn the alphabet, but teaches the schoolmaster. When a second teacher asks Jesus the alphabet, Jesus asks a question. The teacher raises his hand to whip Jesus for insubordination, and then falls dead.
- At 12 years old, Jesus teaches in the temple about astronomy and many other subjects.
- Jesus begins concealing his miracles. He is baptized at age 30.
So what do you make of these stories? Obviously, some of these are a bit outlandish–humans are turned into animals and back; Jesus kills people that ticked him off. Jesus seems a bit capricious in some of these stories.
There are some strange stories in the New Testament as well. What do you make of some of the more outlandish stories in the New Testament–Jesus walking on water, turning water to wine? Do you think these more accepted New Testament stories could be just as outlandish as the stories in this gospel?