Moving through my choice of five disregarded books of the Bible, today, I will review The Infancy Gospel and Acts of Paul and Thecla. I want to mention many more discovered books were never chosen to be included in the modern-day Bible. I encourage everyone to read these books because early Christians used them to understand Jesus. Yes, we may have to read between the lines, but open your mind to the possibility a lot of the passages could be genuine.
The Infancy Gospel
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas was written at some point in the late second century CE. I found this book very intriguing because it speaks about the young childhood of Jesus. The Books of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John only begins in the Bible with His young adulthood years. The Infancy Gospel tells of His childhood miracle stories from the age of five to twelve.
It portrays Jesus as a normal child playing, jumping, and laughing. At five years old, His description is written in the book:
“This little child Jesus when he was five years old was playing at the ford of a brook: and he gathered together the waters that flowed there into pools, and made them straightway clean, and commanded them by his word alone. And having made soft clay, he fashioned thereof twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath when he did these things (or made them). And there were also many other little children playing with him.”
One day, along came the son of Annas, who drained His pools of water. He threw rocks at Jesus and punched Him. Jesus cursed him:
“Your fruit shall be without root and your shoot shall be dried up like a branch scorched by a strong wind”
The boy withered away, and Jesus returned home. In another story, Jesus killed a child who bumped into him while running, and He cursed the adults of His village. Jesus blinded them, although He later restored their sight.
Other stories tell of Jesus healing His brother, James, from a snake bite, resurrecting a friend who is killed when he falls from a roof, and the healing of another who cuts his foot with an ax.
According to The Infancy Gospel, Jesus’ superior knowledge and power over all mankind were very evident at a young age. Many teachers and Joseph and Mary struggled to control His passions and supernatural powers throughout the book.
As I think about the Infancy Gospel’s many incidents, it suddenly makes sense why Mary and Joseph were adamant about keeping a low profile with their baby, Jesus. So, why was this book eliminated from our Bible?
They considered the Infancy Gospel absurd and full of too many mystical events to be published in a Bible. In my opinion, this book is worth reading. If only a section of the book is correct, what a great insight into Jesus’ childhood!
Acts of Paul and Thecla
The Acts of Paul and Thecla are looked upon as genuine by early Christians. In their decree against apocryphal books, Pope Gelasius and Cardinal Baronius inserted it anyway amongst the first Bibles. They felt it contained nothing superstitious, nor did it disagree with those times’ opinions and beliefs. In this book, Paul the Apostle and his follower, Thecla, are the principal characters. It details the life of the young Christian convert, Thecla.
Thecla was a young virgin, engaged to a wealthy and powerful man in the city of Iconium. She often visited Paul when he was in town preaching his sermons. In one of his lectures, he discussed chastity, and it incensed her to break off her engagement. To shorten the story, she was sentenced to burn at the stake, but God intervened to save her life.
This young Christian joined Paul on his journey to Antioch. But a few miraculous incidents occurred during her time in the city. Antioch’s magistrate begged her to sleep with him, and when she refused, he ordered to have her killed several times. Each time God saved Thecla from death.
Her last trial involved throwing herself into water filled with sharks. The Lord came down and destroyed the sharks, and she baptized herself in the bloody waters.
Thecla was considered too powerful and unacceptable for a woman in biblical days, thus eliminating it from our modern Bible. They considered such women a threat to the Roman Empire, and sexual continence was the way for women to be active in the church. Yet Catholics celebrated her fierce determination and faithfulness, inducting her to sainthood.
With Paul’s blessing, she became a missionary and enlightened many in the Word of God. I believe the Acts of Paul and Thecla would be great to share with our current generations. It sets an example for all humanity to follow. What do you think?
Please join us next week as we uncover one last disregarded book of the Bible. It will be sure to please!
If you missed Part One and Part Two of this series click here:
The Disregarded Books: Part One (The Gospel of Thomas)
The Disregarded Books: Part Two (The Gospel of Mary)