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Jesus the Brat

Many folks wonder what Jesus was doing as a teenager. The canonical gospel writers leave off the time between age 12 and 30.

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas takes a stab at those preteen years. Keep in mind that this is not a canonical writing, which means at some point, a room full of guys decided this didn't need to be in our gold-trimmed leather-bound Bibles we have today. Here's some excerpts:

Chapter 4, Verses 1-2:
Next, he was going through the village again and a running child bumped his shoulder. Becoming bitter, Jesus said to him, "You will not complete your journey." Immediately, he fell down and died.

Chapter 8, Verses 1-4:
While the Jews were advising Zacchaeus, the child had a great laugh and said, "Now, the fruitless bear fruit and the blind see and the deaf in the understanding of the heart hear. I am here from above that I may rescue those below and call them to higher things, just as the one who sent me to you commanded me." And when the child completed his speech, those who were under his curse were immediately saved, but from then on, nobody dared to make him angry because they did not want to be cursed or crippled.

Chapter 14, Verses 1-4:
When Joseph saw the child's willingness and age and that his mind was also ready, he again wanted him to become accustomed to letters. So, taking him, he gave him to another teacher. The teacher said to Joseph, "First I will teach him Greek, then Hebrew." For the teacher knew about the child's earlier attempt and was afraid. Nonetheless, after writing the alphabet, he instructed the boy for many hours, even though he did not reply to him. Then, Jesus said to him, "If you are really a teacher and if you know the letters so well, tell me the meaning of the alpha and I will tell you the meaning of the beta." As he was growing frustrated, the teacher struck him on the head. Then, Jesus became angry and cursed him. Immediately, he fainted and fell on his face.

Like the texts that did make it into what we call scripture today, this document was written with a certain agenda, perhaps trying to convince people of Jesus' magical ability to heal and curse.


I always find it fascinating (and important) to understand how Jesus was understood in the first few centuries after his death.

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