|Would you trust this boy?|
I always thought Christmas was the best Christian festival—everyone loves new baby stories. But sweet newborns become hyperactive toddlers, and so on to the hurricanes of puberty. I have also always thought that the most entertaining Christian storytelling—the narratives labelled ‘apocryphal’—are precisely the ones excluded from the New Testament.
The canonical gospels are virtually silent, for example, on how Jesus of Nazareth and his parents weathered his first decade. Fortunately a text exists in both ancient Greek and Syriac which fills in the stormy missing years. The ‘Infancy Gospel’ attributed to St Thomas, and vividly illustrated in a manuscript in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, reveals a child who should have been handed over to Psychiatric Social Services.
|Zeno Falls mysteriously from the upper storey|
At five, Jesus dammed a stream by telepathy and polluted the Sabbath by making twelve living sparrows out of mud. When another boy destroyed the dams, he cursed the boy, who promptly died. When a second child ran into him, Jesus cursed him and he also expired. The villagers protested to Jesus’ human father Joseph that his son was a dangerously disturbed juvenile delinquent. Jesus’ response was to have his accusers miraculously blinded.
|Mary & Joseph needed Supernanny|
When Joseph asked for a teacher’s help in disciplining his dysfunctional child, the five-year-old told his ostensible dad that he had been born ‘so that, father, I could teach you a lesson’. Time for having pocket money withheld, if you ask me. Irritatingly precocious, Jesus taught himself the alphabet in order to show off at school. Time for Supernanny and the Naughty Step. But no.
Unchecked by his baffled parents, Jesus then murdered his next, wholly sympathetic schoolteacher, just for under-estimating his IQ. A third boy called Zeno, with whom Jesus was playing on a roof, fell off mysteriously and died.
|'Who needs a bucket with my magic waterproof cloak, mum?'|
There were, to be fair, a couple of ‘good’ miracles. The young Jesus carried water for his mother in a cloak and sowed a miraculously abundant harvest. But does that outweigh four undeserved deaths and a mass blinding? I would be interested to know what you think! I need cheering up after an unexpectedly medieval week, not in a good sense, of which more anon.