Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VIII/Apocrypha of the New Testament/Gospel of Thomas: Latin Form/Chapter 6
Chapter VI.—How Jesus Was Treated by the Schoolmaster.
Therefore a certain man named Zacheus listened to all that Jesus was saying to Joseph, and in great astonishment said to himself: Such a boy speaking in this way I have never seen. And he went up to Joseph, and said: That is an intelligent boy of thine; hand him over to me to learn his letters; and when he has thoroughly learned his letters, I shall teach him honourably, so that he may be no fool. But Joseph answered and said to him: No one can teach him but God alone. You do not believe that that little boy will be of little consequence? And when Jesus heard Joseph speaking in this way, He said to Zacheus: Indeed, master, whatever proceeds from my mouth is true. And before all I was Lord, but you are foreigners. To me has been given the glory of the ages, to you has been given nothing; because I am before the ages. And I know how many years of life thou wilt have, and that thou wilt be carried into exile: and my Father hath appointed this, that thou mayest understand that whatever proceeds from my mouth is true. And the Jews who were standing by, and hearing the words which Jesus spoke, were astonished, and said: We have seen such wonderful things, and heard such words from that boy, as we have never heard, nor are likely to hear from any other human being,—either from the high priests, or the masters, or the Pharisees. Jesus answered and said to them: Why do you wonder? Do you consider it incredible that I have spoken the truth? I know when both you and your fathers were born, and to tell you more, when the world was made: I know also who sent me to you. And when the Jews heard the words which the child had spoken, they wondered, because that they were not able to answer. And, communing with Himself, the child exulted and said: I have told you a proverb; and I know that you are weak and ignorant.
And that schoolmaster said to Joseph: Bring him to me, and I shall teach him letters. And Joseph took hold of the boy Jesus, and led Him to the house of a certain schoolmaster, where other boys were being taught. Now the master in soothing words began to teach Him His letters, and wrote for Him the first line, which is from A to T, and began to stroke Him and teach Him. And that teacher struck the child on the head: and when He had received the blow, the child said to him: I should teach thee, and not thou me; I know the letters which thou wishest to teach me, and I know that you are to me like vessels from which there come forth only sounds, and no wisdom. And, beginning the line, He said the letters from A to T in full, and very fast. And He looked at the master, and said to him: Thou indeed canst not tell us what A and B are; how dost thou wish to teach others? O hypocrite, if thou knowest and will tell me about the A, then will I tell thee about the B. And when that teacher began to tell about the first letter, he was unable to give any answer. And Jesus said to Zacheus: Listen to me, master; understand the first letter. See how it has two lines; advancing in the middle, standing still, giving, scattering, varying, threatening; triple intermingled with double; at the same time homogeneous, having all common.
And Zacheus, seeing that He so divided the first letter, was stupefied about the first letter, and about such a human being and such learning; and he cried out, and said: Woe’s me, for I am quite stupefied; I have brought disgrace upon myself through that child. And he said to Joseph: I earnestly entreat thee, brother, take him away from me, because I cannot look upon his face, nor hear his mighty words. Because that child can tame fire and bridle the sea: for he was born before the ages. What womb brought him forth, or what mother nursed him, I know not. Oh, my friends, I am driven out of my senses; I have become a wretched laughing-stock. And I said that I had got a scholar; but he has been found to be my master. And my disgrace I cannot get over, because I am an old man; and what to say to him I cannot find. All I have to do is to fall into some grievous illness, and depart from this world; or to leave this town, because all have seen my disgrace. An infant has deceived me. What answer can I give to others, or what words can I say, because he has got the better of me in the first letter? I am struck dumb, O my friends and acquaintances; neither beginning nor end can I find of an answer to him. And now I beseech thee, brother Joseph, take him away from me, and lead him home, because he is a master, or the Lord, or an angel. What to say I do not know. And Jesus turned to the Jews who were with Zacheus, and said to them: Let all not seeing see, and not understanding understand; let the deaf hear, and let those who are dead through me rise again; and those who are exalted, let me call to still higher things, as He who sent me to you hath commanded me. And when Jesus ceased speaking, all who had been affected with any infirmity through His words were made whole. And they did not dare to speak to Him.
- [In this book, the name Zacheus is given in different form, following the Latin.—R.]
- A slight alteration is here made upon the punctuation of the original.
- This refers to the Hebrew alphabet.
- Better, perhaps: And when He began to tell that teacher.
- This passage is hopelessly corrupt. The writer of this Gospel knew very little Greek, and probably the text from which he was translating was also here in a bad state. [Compare the accounts in the versions from the Greek forms.—R.]
- The Greek original has μήτρα, which he seems to have confounded with μήτηρ.