An account of Jesus's infancy, almost universally rejected, if not unknown, by the Christian church:


In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God.

With the help and favour of the Most High we begin to write a book of the miracles of our Lord and Master and Saviour Jesus Christ, which is called the Gospel of the Infancy: in the peace of the Lord. Amen.

1. We find (1) what follows in the book of Joseph the high priest, who lived in the time of Christ. Some say that he is Caiaphas. (2) He has said that Jesus spoke, and, indeed, when He was lying in His cradle said to Mary His mother: I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Logos, whom thou hast brought forth, as the Angel Gabriel announced to thee; and my Father has sent me for the salvation of the world.

2. In the three hundred and ninth year of the era of Alexander, Augustus put forth an edict, that every man should be enrolled in his native place. Joseph therefore arose, and taking Mary his spouse, went away to (3) Jerusalem, and came to Bethlehem, to be enrolled along with his family in his native city. And having come to a cave, Mary told Joseph that the time of the birth was at hand, and that she could not go into the city; but, said she, let us go into this cave. This took place at sunset. And Joseph went out in haste to go for a woman to be near her. When, therefore, he was busy about that, he saw an Hebrew old woman belonging to Jerusalem, and said: Come hither, my good woman, and go into this cave, in which there is a woman near her time.

3. Wherefore, after sunset, the old woman, and Joseph with her, came to the cave, and they both went in. And, behold, it was filled with lights more beautiful than the gleaming of lamps and candles, (4) and more splendid than the light of the sun. The child, enwrapped in swaddling clothes, was sucking the breast of the Lady Mary His mother, being placed in a stall. And when both were wondering at this light, the old woman asks the Lady Mary: Art thou the mother of this Child? And when the Lady Mary gave her assent, she says: Thou art not at all like the daughters of Eve. The Lady Mary said: As my son has no equal among children, so his mother has no equal among women. The old woman replied: My mistress, I came to get payment; I have been for a long time affected with palsy. Our mistress the Lady Mary said to her: Place thy hands upon the child. And the old woman did so, and was immediately cured. Then she went forth, saying: Henceforth I will be the attendant and servant of this child all the days of my life.

4. Then came shepherds; and when they had lighted a fire, and were rejoicing greatly, there appeared to them the hosts of heaven praising and celebrating God Most High. And while the shepherds were doing the same, the cave was at that time made like a temple of the upper world, since both heavenly and earthly voices glorified and magnified God on account of the birth of the Lord Christ. And when that old Hebrew woman saw the manifestation of those miracles, she thanked God, saying: I give Thee thanks, O God, the God of Israel, because mine eyes have seen the birth of the Saviour of the world.

5. And the time of circumcision, that is, the eighth day, being at hand, the child was to be circumcised according to the law. Wherefore they circumcised Him in the cave. And the old Hebrew woman took the piece of skin; but some say that she took the navel-string, and laid it past in a jar of old oil of nard. And she had a son, a dealer in unguents, and she gave it to him, saying: See that thou do not sell this jar of unguent of nard, even although three hundred denarii (5) should be offered thee for it. And this is that jar which Mary the sinner bought and poured upon the head and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, which thereafter she wiped with the hair of her head. (1) Ten days after, they took Him to Jerusalem; and on the fortieth day (2) after His birth they carried Him into the temple, and set Him before the Lord, and offered sacrifices for Him, according to the command-meet of the law of Moses, which is: Every male that openeth the womb shall be called the holy of God. (3)

6. Then old Simeon saw Him shining like a pillar of light, when the Lady Mary, His virgin mother, rejoicing over Him, was carrying Him in her arms. And angels, praising Him, stood round Him in a circle, like life guards standing by a king. Simeon therefore went up in haste to the Lady Mary, and, with hands stretched out before her, said to the Lord Christ: Now, O my Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy compassion, which Thou hast prepared for the salvation of all peoples, a light to all nations, and glory to Thy people Israel. Hanna also, a prophetess, was present, and came up, giving thanks to God, and calling the Lady Mary blessed. (4)

7. And it came to pass, when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem of Judaea, in the time of King Herod, behold, magi came from the east to Jerusalem, as Zeraduscht (5) had predicted; and there were with them gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And they adored Him, and presented to Him their gifts. Then the Lady Mary took one of the swaddling-bands, and, on account of the smallness of her means, gave it to them; and they received it from her with the greatest marks of honour. And in the same hour there appeared to them an angel in the form of that star which had before guided them on their journey; and they went away, following the guidance of its light, until they arrived in their own country. (6)

8. And their kings and chief men came together to them, asking what they had seen or done, how they had gone and come back, what they had brought with them. And they showed them that swathing-cloth which the Lady Mary had given them. Wherefore they celebrated a feast, and, according to their custom, lighted a fire and worshipped it, and threw that swathing-cloth into it; and the fire laid hold of it, and enveloped it. And when the fire had gone out, they took out the swathing-cloth exactly as it had been before, just as if the fire had not touched it. Wherefore they began to kiss it, and to put it on their heads and their eyes, saying: This verily is the truth without doubt. Assuredly it is a great thing that the fire was not able to burn or destroy it. Then they took it, and with the greatest honour laid it up among their treasures.

9. And when Herod saw that the magi had left him, and not come back to him, he summoned the priests and the wise men, and said to them: Show me where Christ is to be born. And when they answered, In Bethlehem of Judaea, he began to think of putting the Lord Jesus Christ to death. Then appeared an angel of the Lord to Joseph in his sleep, and said: Rise, take the boy and His mother, and go away into Egypt. (7) He rose, therefore, towards cockcrow, and set out.

10. While he is reflecting how be is to set about his journey, morning came upon him after he had gone a very little way. And now he was approaching a great city, in which there was an idol, to which the other idols and gods of the Egyptians offered gifts and vows. And there stood before this idol a priest ministering to him, who, as often as Satan spoke from that idol, reported it to the inhabitants of Egypt and its territories. This priest had a son, three years old, beset by several demons; and he made many speeches and utterances; and when the demons seized him, he tore his clothes, and remained naked, and threw stones at the people. And there was a hospital in that city dedicated to that idol. And when Joseph and the Lady Mary had come to the city, and had turned aside into that hospital, the citizens were very much afraid; and all the chief men and the priests of the idols came together to that idol, and said to it: What agitation and commotion is this that has arisen in our land? The idol answered them: A God has come here in secret, who is God indeed; nor is any god besides Him worthy of divine worship, because He is truly the Son of God. And when this land became aware of His presence, it trembled at His arrival, and was moved and shaken; and we are exceedingly afraid from the greatness of His power. And in the same hour that idol fell down, and at its fall all, inhabitants of Egypt and others, ran together.

11. And the son of the priest, his usual disease having come upon him, entered the hospital, and there came upon Joseph and the Lady Mary, from whom all others had fled. The Lady Mary had washed the cloths of the Lord Christ, and had spread them over some wood. That demoniac boy, therefore, came and took one of the cloths, and put it on his head. Then the demons, fleeing in the shape of ravens and serpents, began to go forth out of his mouth. The boy, being immediately healed at the command of the Lord Christ, began to praise God, and then to give thanks to the Lord who had healed him. And when his father saw him restored to health, My son, said he, what has happened to thee? and by what means hast thou been healed? The son answered: When the demons had thrown me on the ground, I went into the hospital, and there I found an august woman with a boy, whose newly-washed cloths she had thrown upon some wood: one of these I took up and put upon my head, and the demons left me and fled. At this the father rejoiced greatly, and said: My son, it is possible that this boy is the Son of the living God who created the heavens and the earth: for when he came over to us, the idol was broken, and all the gods fell, and perished by the power of his magnificence.

12. Here was fulfilled the prophecy which says, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (1) Joseph indeed, and Mary, when they heard that that idol had fallen down and perished, trembled, and were afraid. Then they said: When we were in the land of Israel, Herod thought to put Jesus to death, and on that account slew all the children of Bethlehem and its confines; and there is no doubt that the Egyptians, as soon as they have heard that this idol has been broken, will burn us with fire. (2)

13. Going out thence, they came to a place where there were robbers who had plundered several men of their baggage and clothes, and had bound them. Then the robbers heard a great noise, like the noise of a magnificent king going out of his city with his army, and his chariots and his drums; and at this the robbers were terrified, and left all their plunder. And their captives rose up, loosed each other's bonds, recovered their baggage, and went away. And when they saw Joseph and Mary coming up to the place, they said to them: Where is that king, at the hearing of the magnificent sound of whose approach the robbers have left us, so that we have escaped safe? Joseph answered them: He will come behind us.

14. Thereafter they came into another city, where there was a demoniac woman whom Satan, accursed and rebellious, had beset, when on one occasion she had gone out by night for water. She could neither bear clothes, nor live in a house; and as often as they tied her up with chains and thongs, she broke them, and fled naked into waste places; and, standing in cross-roads and cemeteries, she kept throwing stones at people, and brought very heavy calamities upon her friends. And when the Lady Mary saw her, she pitied her; and upon this Satan immediately left her, and fled away in the form of a young man, saying: Woe to me from thee, Mary, and from thy son. So that woman was cured of her torment, and being restored to her senses, she blushed on account of her nakedness; and shunning the sight of men, went home to her friends. And after she put on her clothes, she gave an account of the matter to her father and her friends; and as they were the chief men of the city, they received the Lady Mary and Joseph with the greatest honour and hospitality.

15. On the day after, being supplied by them with provision for their journey, they went away, and on the evening of that day arrived at another town, in which they were celebrating a marriage; but, by the arts of accursed Satan and the work of enchanters, the bride had become dumb, and could not speak a word. And after the Lady Mary entered the town, carrying her son the Lord Christ, that dumb bride saw her, and stretched out her hands towards the Lord Christ, and drew Him to her, and took Him into her arms, and held Him close and kissed Him, and leaned over Him, moving His body back and forwards. Immediately the knot of her tongue was loosened, and her ears were opened; and she gave thanks and praise to God, because He had restored her to health. And that night the inhabitants of that town exulted with joy, and thought that God and His angels had come down to them.

16. There they remained three days, being held in great honour, and living splendidly. Thereafter, being supplied by them with provision for their journey, they went away and came to another city, in which, because it was very populous, they thought of passing the night. And there was in that city an excellent woman: and once, when she had gone to the river to bathe, lo, accursed Satan, in the form of a serpent, had leapt upon her, and twisted himself round her belly; and as often as night came on, he tyrannically tormented her. This woman, seeing the mistress the Lady Mary, and the child, the Lord Christ, in her bosom, was struck with a longing for Him, and said to the mistress the Lady Mary: O mistress, give me this child, that I may carry him, and kiss him. She therefore gave Him to the woman; and when He was brought to her, Satan let her go, and fled and left her, nor did the woman ever see him after that day. Wherefore all who were present praised God Most High, and that woman bestowed on them liberal gifts

17. On the day after, the same woman took scented water to wash the Lord Jesus; and after she had washed Him, she took the water with which she had done it, and poured part of it upon a girl who was living there, whose body was white with leprosy, and washed her with it. And as soon as this was done, the girl was cleansed from her leprosy. And the towns- people said: There is no doubt that Joseph and Mary and that boy are gods, not men. And when they were getting ready to go away from them, the girl who had laboured under the leprosy came up to them, and asked them to let her go with them.

18. When they had given her permission, she went with them. And afterwards they came to a city, in which was the castle of a most illustrious prince, who kept a house for the entertainment of strangers. They turned into this place; and the girl went away to the prince's wife; and she found her weeping and sorrowful, and she asked why she was weeping. Do not be surprised, said she, at my tears; for I am overwhelmed by a great affliction, which as yet I have not endured to tell to any one. Perhaps, said the girl, if you reveal it and disclose it to me, I may have a remedy for it. Hide this secret, then, replied the princess, and tell it to no one. I was married to this prince, who is a king and ruler over many cities, and I lived long with him, but by me he had no son. And when at length I produced him a son, he was leprous; and as soon as he saw him, he turned away with loathing, and said to me: Either kill him, or give him to the nurse to be brought up in some place from which we shall never hear of him more. After this I can have nothing to do with thee, and I will never see thee more. On this account I know not what to do, and I am overwhelmed with grief. Alas! my son. Alas! my husband. Did I not say so? said the girl. I have found a cure for thy disease, and I shall tell it thee. For I too was a leper; but I was cleansed by God, who is Jesus, the son of the Lady Mary. And the woman asking her where this God was whom she had spoken of, Here, with thee, said the girl; He is living in the same house. But how is this possible? said she. Where is he? There, said the girl, are Joseph and Mary; and the child who is with them is called Jesus; and He it is who cured me of my disease and my torment. But by what means, said she, wast thou cured of thy leprosy? Wilt thou not tell me that? Why not? said the girl. I got from His mother the water in which He had been washed, and poured it over myself; and so I was cleansed from my leprosy. Then the princess rose up, and invited them to avail themselves of her hospitality. And she prepared a splendid banquet for Joseph in a great assembly of the men of the place. And on the following day she took scented water with which to wash the Lord Jesus, and thereafter poured the same water over her son, whom she had taken with her; and immediately her son was cleansed from his leprosy. Therefore, singing thanks and praises to God, she said: Blessed is the mother who bore thee, O Jesus; dost thou so cleanse those who share the same nature with thee with the water in which thy body has been washed? Besides, she bestowed great gifts upon the mistress the Lady Mary, and sent her away with great honour.

19. Coming thereafter to another city, they wished to spend the night in it. They turned aside, therefore, to the house of a man newly married, but who, under the influence of witchcraft, was not able to enjoy his wife; and when they had spent that night with him, his bond was loosed. And at daybreak, when they were girding themselves for their journey, the bridegroom would not let them go, and prepared for them a great banquet.

20. They set out, therefore, on the following day; and as they came near another city, they saw three women weeping as they came out of a cemetery. And when the Lady Mary beheld them, she said to the girl who accompanied her: Ask them what is the matter with them, or what calamity has befallen them. And to the girl's questions they made no reply, but asked in their turn: Whence are you, and whither are you going? for the day is already past, and night is coming on apace. We are travellers, said the girl, and are seeking a house of entertainment in which we may pass the night. They said: Go with us, and spend the night with us. They followed them, therefore, and were brought into a new house with splendid decorations and furniture. Now it was winter; and the girl, going into the chamber of these women, found them again weeping and lamenting. There stood beside them a mule, covered with housings of cloth of gold, and sesame was put before him; and the women were kissing him, and giving him food. And the gift said: What is all the ado, my ladies, about this mule? They answered her with tears, and said: This mule, which thou seest, was our brother, born of the same mother with ourselves. And when our father died, and left us great wealth, and this only brother, we did our best to get him married, and were preparing his nuptials for him, after the manner of men. But some women, moved by mutual jealousy, bewitched him unknown to us; and one night, a little before daybreak, when the door of our house was shut, we saw that this our brother had been turned into a mule, as thou now beholdest him. And we are sorrowful, as thou seest, having no father to comfort us: there is no wise man, or magician, or enchanter in the world that we have omitted to send for; but nothing has done us any good. And as often as our hearts are overwhelmed with grief, we rise and go away with our mother here, and weep at our father's grave, and come back again.

21. And when the girl heard these things, Be of good courage, said she, and weep not: for the cure of your calamity is near; yea, it is beside you, and in the middle of your own house. For I also was a leper; but when I saw that woman, and along with her that young child, whose name is Jesus, I sprinkled my body with the water with which His mother had washed Him, and I was cured. And I know that He can cure your affliction also. But rise, go to Mary my mistress; bring her into your house, and tell her your secret; and entreat and supplicate her to have pity upon yon. After the woman had heard the girl's words, they went in haste to the Lady Mary, and brought her into their chamber, and sat down before her weeping, and saying: O our mistress, Lady Mary, have pity on thy hand-maidens; for no one older than ourselves, and no head of the family, is left- -neither father nor brother--to live with us; but this mule which thou seest was our brother, and women have made him such as thou seest by witchcraft. We beseech thee, therefore, to have pity upon us. Then, grieving at their lot, the Lady Mary took up the Lord Jesus, and put Him on the mule's back; and she wept as well as the women, and said to Jesus Christ: Alas! my son, heal this mule by Thy mighty power, and make him a man endowed with reason as he was before. And when these words were uttered by the Lady Mary, his form was changed, and the mule became a young man, free from every defect. Then he and his mother and his sisters adored the Lady Mary, and lifted the boy above their heads, and began to kiss Him, saying: Blessed is she that bore Thee, O Jesus, O Saviour of the world; blessed are the eyes which enjoy the felicity of seeing Thee.

22. Moreover, both the sisters said to their mother: Our brother indeed, by the aid of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the salutary intervention of this girl, who pointed out to us Mary and her son, has been raised to human form. Now, indeed, since our brother is unmarried, it would do very well for us to give him as his wife this girl, their servant. And having asked the Lady Mary, and obtained her consent, they made a splendid wedding for the girl; and their sorrow being changed into joy, and the beating of their breasts into dancing, they began to be glad, to rejoice, to exult, and sing--adorned, on account of their great joy, in most splendid and gorgeous attire. Then they began to recite songs and praises, and to say: O Jesus, son of David, who turnest sorrow into gladness, and lamentations into joy! And Joseph and Mary remained there ten clays. Thereafter they set out, treated with great honours by these people, who bade them farewell, and from bidding them farewell returned weeping, especially the girl.

23. And turning away from this place, they came to a desert; and hearing that it was infested by robbers, Joseph and the Lady Mary resolved to cross this region by night. But as they go along, behold, they see two robbers lying in the way, and along with them a great number of robbers, who were their associates, sleeping. Now those two robbers, into whose hands they had fallen, were Titus and Dumachus. Titus therefore said to Dumachus: I beseech thee to let these persons go freely, and so that our comrades may not see them. And as Dumachus refused, Titus said to him again: Take to thyself forty drachmas from me, and hold this as a pledge. At the same time he held out to him the belt which he had about his waist, to keep him from opening his mouth or speaking. And the Lady Mary, seeing that the robber had done them a kindness, said to him: The Lord God will sustain thee by His right hand, and will grant thee remission of thy sins. And the Lord Jesus answered, and said to His mother: Thirty years hence, O my mother, the Jews will crucify me at Jerusalem, and these two robbers will be raised upon the cross along with me, Titus on my right hand and Dumachus on my left; and after that day Titus shall go before me into Paradise. And she said: God keep this from thee, my son. And they went thence towards a city of idols, which, as they came near it, was changed into sand-hills.

24. Hence they turned aside to that sycamore which is now called Matarea,1 and the Lord Jesus brought forth in Matarea a fountain in which the Lady Mary washed His shirt. And from the sweat of the Lord Jesus which she sprinkled there, balsam was produced in that region.

25. Thence they came down to Memphis, and saw Pharaoh, and remained three years in Egypt; and the Lord Jesus did in Egypt very many miracles which are recorded neither in the Gospel of the Infancy nor in the perfect Gospel.

26. And at the end of the three years He came back out of Egypt, and returned. And when they had arrived at Judaea, Joseph was afraid to enter it; but hearing that Herod was dead, and that Archelaus his son had succeeded him, he was afraid indeed, but he went into Judaea. And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said: O Joseph, go into the city of Nazareth, and there abide. Wonderful indeed, that the Lord of the world should be thus borne and carried about through the world!

27. Thereafter, going into the city of Bethlehem, they saw there many and grievous diseases infesting the eyes of the children, who were dying in consequence. And a woman was there with a sick son, whom, now very near death, she brought to the Lady Mary, who saw him as she was washing Jesus Christ. Then said the woman to her: O my Lady Mary, look upon this son of mine, who is labouring under a grievous disease. And the Lady Mary listened to her, and said: Take a little of that water in which I have washed my son, and sprinkle him with it. She therefore took a little of the water, as the Lady Mary had told her, and sprinkled it over her son. And when this was done his illness abated; and after sleeping a little, he rose up from sleep safe and sound. His mother rejoicing at this, again took him to the Lady Mary. And she said to her: Give thanks to God, because He hath healed this thy son.

28. There was in the same place another woman, a neighbour of her whose son had lately been restored to health. And as her son was labouring under the same disease, and his eyes were now almost blinded, she wept night and day. And the mother of the child that had been cured said to her: Why dost thou not take thy son to the Lady Mary, as I did with mine when he was nearly dead? And he got well with that water with which the body of her son Jesus had been washed. And when the woman heard this from her, she too went and got some of the same water, and washed her son with it, and his body and his eyes were instantly made well. Her also, when she had brought her son to her, and disclosed to her all that had happened, the Lady Mary ordered to give thanks to God for her son's restoration to health, and to tell nobody of this matter.

29. There were in the same city two women, wives of one man, each having a son ill with fever. The one was called Mary, and her son's name was Cleopas. She rose and took up her son, and went to the Lady Mary, the mother of Jesus, and offering her a beautiful mantle, said: O my Lady Mary, accept this mantle, and for it give me one small bandage. Mary did so, and the mother of Cleopas went away, and made a shirt of it, and put it on her son. So he was cured of his disease; but the son of her rival died. Hence there sprung up hatred between them; and as they did the house-work week about, and as it was the turn of Mary the mother of Cleopas, she heated the oven to bake bread; and going away to bring the lump that she had kneaded, she left her son Cleopas beside the oven. Her rival seeing him alone--and the oven was very hot with the fire blazing under it--seized him and threw him into the oven, and took herself off. Mary coming back, and seeing her son Cleopas lying in the oven laughing, and the oven quite cold, as if no fire had ever come near it, knew that her rival had thrown him into the fire. She drew him out, therefore, and took him to the Lady Mary, and told her of what had happened to him. And she said: Keep silence, and tell nobody of the affair; for I am afraid for you if you divulge it. After this her rival went to the well to draw water; and seeing Cleopas playing beside the well, and nobody near, she seized him and threw him into the well, and went home herself. And some men who had gone to the well for water saw the boy sitting on the surface of the water; and so they went down and drew him out. And they were seized with a great admiration of that boy, and praised God. Then came his mother, and took him up, and went weeping to the Lady Mary, and said: O my lady, see what my rival has done to my son, and how she has thrown him into the well; she will be sure to destroy him some day or other. The Lady Mary said to her: God will avenge thee upon her. Thereafter, when her rival went to the well to draw water, her feet got entangled in the rope, and she fell into the well. Some men came to draw her out, but they found her skull fractured and her bones broken. Thus she died a miserable death, and in her came to pass that saying: They have digged a well deep, but have fallen into the pit which they had prepared.

The Arabic Infancy Gospel - part two

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