Sourced or Nonsense: the Infant Jesus

hat follows are texts about Jesus as a toddler, boy and youth. The idea is to decide which texts are true (as from my source) and which are false (I made it up). Some stories will join together. Those that are true come from the gospels - that is, not (just) in the New Testament but outside. The text when true is either close to as much of the story (nothing added to my source) or verbatim from the gospel, and when rubbish it is because I wrote it from my head. Historicity is unavailable in either case.
At least three are truly sourced and at least three are rubbish. Answers by brushing the mouse somewhere within each text. The source by brushing the text somewhere above.

[Example 1]
Jesus was in the Temple, speaking with some rabbis. After, on the road to Nazareth, he came to two young men who were fighting. He approached them saying, 'Cease, for this would not be in the Kingdom.' They were halted on the instant and were stilled. Jesus went between them, and touched their redded hands. Their fingers became loose, like autumn leaves hanging on a tree. He told them to sin no more. Jesus left them, and when the hour was past they walked. The next day Jesus met one at the wayside unable to work with his father, so he touched his hands. Both men became able to work, and sinned no more, for they were very afraid.

[Example 2]
Jesus was five years old, playing by a stream (with another boy). It was the Sabbath day. He made a small dam and collected the muddy water. He commanded the water to become clean, and it was. Alongside this stream of water, Jesus crafted clay sparrows. A Jewish man came by, and saw what Jesus had done. He ran to Joseph, his father, to complain that the boy had broken the Sabbath Law (not to work). With immediacy, Joseph came and upbraided Jesus for breaking the Sabbath Law. The boy neither gave apology nor repented for any sin, but with a clap of his hands the sparrows were told to depart, and they did, chirping.

[Example 3]
Jesus' water was gathered pure and the boy put in his willow stick and scattered it. Jesus was annoyed and said, 'You unrighteous, irreverent idiot! What did the pools of water do to harm you? See, now you will be withered like a tree, and you will never bear leaves or root or fruit.' And Jesus' word happened: Immediately the child was completely withered.' Jesus went home but the parents of the withered child carried him away, mourning his lost youth. The parents went forth to Joseph and protested. 'What kind of child do you have who does such things?' he was asked.

[Example 4]
Jesus is in the school his father told him to attend. The boy refused to recite the alphabet. The teacher of Jesus pleaded with the boy to do as he was asked. Jesus challenged him, saying, 'If you really are a teacher and know the letters well, tell me the power of Alpha and I'll tell you the power of Beta.' The teacher hearing this struck the boy upon the head. At the very moment, the teacher withered. Joseph, on coming upon this, was grief stricken, and spoke to Mary, his mother, saying, 'Do not let him outside: anyone who makes him angry dies.'

[Example 5]
A child accidentally bumped into Jesus on the street. Jesus was angry and turned about. He said, 'You shall go no further on your way. The child fell and died. [Later on in the gospel Jesus raises this child back to life along with all others he had cursed]

[Example 6]
His reputation was going before him. Jesus was upon a roof playing with some children, whereupon one child known as Zenon fell fom the roof and he died upon the ground. From the side of the roof Jesus looked down. The parents came upon their dead boy and saw Jesus above him. They accused Jesus of killing their child, as he had done others. Jesus, hearing this, jumped down, and  close by the dead child said, 'Zenon! Rise up and tell me: did I throw you down?' The boy, rose from the dead and replied, 'Not at all, Lord! You did not throw me down, but you have raised me up'

[Example 7]
Jesus was in his father's carpentry shop. Joseph miscut a board and  realised that he would lose his important customer for the error. Jesus there made it so that the board was correctly cut.

[Example 8]
Jesus was twelve years old and in the Temple, surrounded by scribes and pharisees.

[Example 9]
Jesus was in a tree playing alone while children of the village played nearby near the water's edge. As Jesus made his way to the edge of the tree to look about his Kingdom, the children below began to shout. Mary, a girl he knew, was falling into the soft ground crying out in fear of being consumed [drowned]. Jesus dropped from the tree, and appeared to the wet ground. He bent to her and stretched out a hand. The girl ceased her panic, laid her hand on his, and rose up. She walked with Jesus to solid ground by the tree. He said to her, 'Mary, you have shown true faith. In due time you will join my Father and his Son.'

[Example 10]
Jesus held in his mother's lap by a pond when they saw ahead a dog run to a lost lamb and kill it by the throat. His mother laid her hand in front of the young child's eyes, but though the flesh he saw the lamb in its moment of death. As his mother groaned at the sight, the boy pushed out out his arm and the sheep ran away, the dog too full in the stomach to wish to pursue his quarry.


Relying on the secondary source and not a translation has made alterations of emphasis and variations to the fuller translations. Perhaps my versions are more readable in some cases! I had not looked at a second source, which is quite different and more about pregnancy and first days.
All the gospels, including canonical, are secondary sources, as the term is understood. One can imagine stories told orally that reflect happenings, but no matter what the accuracy of telling the oral chain is as good as its weakest link. By the time of writing there will have been several chains developed with different emphases, embellishments and inventions, and one or two of the gospel writers added points themselves when they fitted everything into their themes for the audience receiving the texts.
I took the secondary source summaries and wrote them in a kind of gospel-speak, keeping as close to what the author had written as possible, adding (as far as possible) nothing. Historians and researchers would scream at me for this lax method, for no serious writing should ever rely on a secondary source (ah, but we've all done it, looking at a secondary source and wondering, unable to find the original, "What can I get away with?"). Nevertheless, this is the process of writing, and especially in the ancient world when meaning was more significant than notions of historical accuracy. Variations of my rewritten sourced stories can be compared with the "originals" - that is, translations of "originals", themselves translations.
I made some up completely, because they follow on from my understanding of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels and thinking back to boyhood. Is this not what happened with this infancy gospel anyway? And is this different significantly in process from the adult gospels? Why cannot there be chains of tradition for the boy Jesus, if he was the divine figure that Christians claimed he was? The wondering and speculation of the divine figure as a boy was present, and stories were being told.
It is often assumed by divinity-believers that sinless Jesus would have had a sinless childhood. Krishna is definitely a naughty child and teenager, and this sounds odd to Western ears. But those who created the infancy gospel also considered Jesus a naughty child, who grew up and had to learn right from wrong. Not quite without sin then, unless sin like wisdom needs maturity and isn't present in the child. Well that is not the "orthodox" view, which sees sin in every born human being.
This explanation as well as mouseover activity should reveal the purely created gospel stories from those that have past written anchorage.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful