Thursday, April 02, 2009

Letter to the Editor from this week's TLS

Childhood of Jesus

Sir, – The childhood of Jesus and our lack of knowledge about these hidden years has perplexed people down the generations. Readers fascinated by the fourteenth-century Tring Tiles (see the caption on page 3, March 27) will be interested to read many more of the legends surrounding the childhood of Jesus contained in the second-century apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Providing fiction dressed up as fact which would put many a modern tabloid to shame, Jesus is portrayed as some kind of precocious and capricious wonder boy, including stories of him as a baby speaking in his cradle and later as a young boy helping Joseph in the carpenter’s workshop and doing a Tommy Cooper routine with a piece of timber cut to the wrong size.

PETER TOWNLEY
The Vicarage, Kirkthorpe, Wakefield.

Oh dear. Probably pseudepigraphical Infancy Gospel since it's attributed to Thomas. The term ‘Pseudepigrapha' means "falsely titled." The term "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" describes writings falsely attributed to figures mentioned in the Hebrew Bible such as Enoch. The term is used today as a means to classify not describe these writings. Thus we could speak of New Testament Pseudepigrapha and include Thomas material.

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