Infancy Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Thomas is what’s known as an Infancy supplement. These texts assume Christ’s deity meant that he emerged form the womb as if he were an adult able to hold conversations ands speak within months/weeks, sharing gifts of wisdom. These ideas emerged from Gnostic circles and some non as well. They make claims that Jesus was teaching the Alphabet and the meanings of letters form the age of one.
In this book Jesus fashions birds from a mudbox, breathes life into them and they fly away. This is also where Jesus as a boy withers up another boy with a spell basically! When Joseph has made a table with one leg longer than the other, Jesus miraculously lengthens it instantly. These stories to the historian have no historical value.
There are few surviving complete manuscripts of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, and most date to the 13th century (although there many fragments dating back to as early as the 5th century). Some scholars believe the document was written in Eastern Syria, but the precise origin is unknown. The text was very popular, and the early Church Fathers were certainly aware of its presence and influence.
Reasons for rejection
- It is late in the 5th century with no traces of it going back to the first century, the Apostolic era. Likely however to go back to the time of Irenaeus as he refutes it.
- Unfamiliarity with Jewish life and customs of the 1st Century.
- Thomas the Israelite is referred to, this doesn’t necessitate the Apostle Thomas.
- It presupposes Luke’s Gospel for it’s material and them proceeds to contradict Luke 4 speaking of Jesus producing miracles as a child in Nazareth when the Nazarene’s were in shock when he did them as an adult (Unfamiliar with his acts)
- Irenaeus appears to refer to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and include it in his list of unreliable non-canonical documents described in “Against Heresies” (180AD).
- Hippolytus and Origen also refer to a Gospel of Thomas in their respective lists of heretical books (although it is unknown if they are referring to this text or the “sayings” Gospel of Thomas mentioned earlier).
- It’s well acknowledged that this book is trying to take advantage of Jesus’ early childhood and create a narrative that didn’t exist in the first century. So in this case, it’s piggybacking on fame. It focuses on the first 12 years on the of Jesus we don’t get in Luke’s Gospel.
- The character of Jesus contradicts all the reliable sources. Jesus is often described as quick tempered, spiteful and disrespectful, almost as if the author was shaping him to resemble other Greek mythological “trickster” gods and pagan “child-gods” from antiquity. This isn’t of Jewish lineage
Some scholars (such as Ron Cameron) believe that the Infancy Gospel of Thomas was designed as a piece of “Christian missionary propaganda”, intended to demonstrate the divine nature of Jesus in a manner familiar to the pagans proselytized by the early Christians. These non-believers had their own set of Greco-Roman or Egyptian gods; the Infancy Gospel of Thomas compared Jesus to these gods in a manner designed to impress Hellenistic, Egyptian and pagan sensibilities.
We can clearly conclude that This Infancy supplement is not Apostolic, dating beyond the first century even with no clear authorship and no external evidence to back this up. The teachings are not Orthodox and were non-Jewish and contain pagan as opposed to Jewish thought. It was not widely agreed upon and never considered for the Canon. The only relevance this book contains would be perhaps those Christians wanting to impress pagans but that would only takeaway and further contradict the known Canonical sources such as Luke who is often attributed for his attention to detail and accuracy of information.