By Study and Also by Faith  >  From the Philopedia of Jesus to the Misopedia of the Acts of Thomas

From the Philopedia of Jesus to the Misopedia of the Acts of Thomas

James H. Charlesworth

Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey

The purpose of this little essay is to reveal that Jesus' philopedia was so altered by some second-century Christian groups that it became misopedia. Jesus' own teachings were sometimes changed or even abandoned by those who called him "Lord." My thoughts and research are now presented in honor of Hugh Nibley, that philological genius who has the habit of searing one's consciousness and memory in ways somewhat reminiscent of a welder whom I saw in my youth in Florida.

For the cultural context, we will first look at some Hellenistic attitudes toward children and contrast those with Jewish attitudes, both ancient and contemporaneous.

Children in Hellenistic Culture

According to Iamblichus, children are beloved of the gods (theophilestatous).1 In the cults hieroi paides, "sacred children," sang, as the following excerpt illustrates:

Dianae sumus in fide
puellae et pueri integri:
Dianam pueri integri
puellaeque canamus.
   (Catullus, Carmina 34, 1-4)2
We are in truth
The sacred girls and boys of Diana.
As sacred boys and girls
We sing to Diana.

Children were beloved, even cherished, in some segments of Hellenistic culture.3 The Greeks coined a word, philopais, to articulate the love of children.4

Another view of children is also evidenced in antiquity. Slave children, deliciae, amused and sexually served the decadent rich, especially at banquets. Sometimes they were raped by men or beasts, or devoured by animals during debauched orgies. Undesired offspring — especially girls — were killed or exposed to the elements.5 Cynics advised against marriage and children.6 Hellenistic views of the blessed life or the abode of the blessed ones are customarily depicted without children; this perspective is found in Greek (Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Herodotus, Plato), Roman (Vergil, Lucian), Persian (Yima's golden reign, Mithra's abode, Yima's subterranean hideaway [vara]), Egyptian (the Shipwrecked Sailor, Chaeremon), and Jewish (the history of the Rechabites) sources. Hellenistic poetry often focuses on the erotic side of sex to the detriment of the conception of children. Unfortunately, the Greeks created a word for the "hating of one's children," misopais.7

Children in Israelite and Jewish Traditions

In Israelite and Jewish traditions the child, especially the son, was honored. The celebration of children, offspring, is essential because of two seminal ideas in the Genesis account of creation. God had ordered the creation of "man in our image" (bsalmenû), "after our likeness" (kidmûtenû; Genesis 1:26). This concept, imago dei, undergirded much of early Jewish thought, although it is seldom articulated explicitly until the first century A.D.8 The import of this word of God is paradigmatic; children are to be loved because they are in the image of God. The second pregnant passage is the one in which the Creator commanded Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). To bear children is to obey God's first commandment in history. A trifold love is implicitly embodied in one's offspring: the expression of love for the other (the sexual act), the love of God (imago dei), and the love of self (one's descendants and name). Teaching children the Torah was also an obligation of Jewish parents: "make them known to your children and your children's children" (Deuteronomy 4:9), and "you shall teach them diligently unto your children" (Deuteronomy 6:7).

The love of children is also regnant in depictions of the paradisiacal future. Isaiah views the blessed future in the following terms:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child (w-nacar qaton) shall lead them
   (Isaiah 11:6).

Ancient Israelite tradition emphasized that grandchildren are "the crown of the aged" (Proverbs 17:6), and blessed is the man whose "quiver" is full of children (Psalm 127:5). As is well known, sterility was abhorrent (cf. esp. Genesis 16:2; 20:18; 30:2) and pride of place goes to the gift of a son.9 Children were evidence of honor, even divine favor; the future of humanity is possible only because of male and female children.10 Female children are not unimportant; Job rejoices in his daughters (Job 42:15).11 As R. de Vaux stated, "Dans l'ancien Israël, avoir des enfants, beaucoup d'enfants, était également un honneur envié, et des souhaits étaient formulés au moment du mariage (In ancient Israel, to have many children was a coveted honour, and the wedding guests often expressed the wish that the couple would be blessed with a large family)."12

During the period of Early Judaism, from about 250 B.C. to A.D. 200, the trend continued to be toward philopedia within the acknowledged importance of the family. Ascetic movements began around the middle of the second century B.C., perhaps with the exodus of the followers of the Righteous Teacher from Jerusalem to the western shores of the Dead Sea. While "non-marriage" is found in Judaism it is on the basis of devotion to Torah; it is never linked with misopedia.

In early Jewish literature there are two passages that may be construed to denote a hatred of children. The first is in 1 Enoch 99:5, which has been translated by E. Isaac as follows:

In those days, they (the women) shall become pregnant, but they (the sinners) shall come out and abort their infants and cast them out from their midst; they shall (also) abandon their (other) children, casting their infants out while they are still suckling. They shall neither return to them (their babes) nor have compassion upon their beloved ones.13

The passage should not be categorized, without qualifications, as indicative of misopedia. The main reference is to unwanted infants, and — most importantly — these two sentences refer to the final woes of the sinners. Such exhortations are descriptions of the eschatological horrors to be confronted by the wicked and must not be confused with misopedia.

The second passage is in Josephus' Jewish War. An extremely wealthy woman named Mary, the daughter of Eleazar of the village of Bethezuba, fled to Jerusalem to escape the southward movement of the conquering Roman army. While in the city she treated her son in the most horrifying manner:

kai tauth' hama legousa kteinei ton huion, epeit' optesasa to men hemisu katesthiei, to de loipon katakalupsasa ephulatten.
she slew her son, and then, having roasted the body and devoured half of it, she covered up and stored the remainder.14

The social situation is the key to understanding her actions. This passage does not denote misopedia; it reflects insanity due to the hatred of marauding Jewish youths15 and the debilitations from the famine.

Without any doubt the emphasis in Early Judaism was on the love of family and children. Education in the home was centered on the Torah; religious services conducted every Sabbath in the home and the sacred prayer offered before and after meals solidified the importance of the family as the most important group in Jewish society.16 The special history of each family was retold in light of the first humans, who formed a family, and the subsequent histories, which centered almost always around the family; and children had their own significant roles, highlighted by the stories about Adam's sons and daughters, Noah's sons, Job's daughters, Abraham's son Isaac, Jacob's twelve sons, Jephtha's daughter, and David during his youth. Telling and retelling such stories not only defined the person and clarified the will of God but also brought the child psychologically, spiritually, and physically close to the parent.

According to Josephus, "sexual intercourse was only for the procreation of children" (kai tauten ei melloi teknon heneka ginesthai).17 According to the Mishnah, the world (ha-côlam) was "only created for fruition (lpiryah) and increase (w-ribyah)"; then Isaiah 45:18 is quoted: "He created it not a waste: he formed it to be inhabited."18 The chief blessing of the family, as S. Safrai states, was "the number and survival of children."19

A brilliant Jew, sometime between 50 B.C. and A.D. 100, affirmed the importance of children; note the following excerpt from Pseudo-Phocylides:

Do not remain unmarried, lest you die nameless.
Give nature her due, you also, beget in your turn as you were begotten.
Do not prostitute your wife, defiling your children.
    (lines 175-77).20

Obviously, more than children are the concerns of this thinker; but his acknowledgment of children and their place in the home is reaffirmed in line 207, in which he exhorts gentleness in training a child. Such traditions are well entrenched in Early Judaism. M. Cohn correctly concludes, "Anerkennung und Pflege des engen geistigen und seelischen Zusammenhanges zwischen Eltern und Kindern charakterisiert die jüd. Familie" (recognition and cultivation of the close spiritual and mental bonds between parents and children characterized the Jewish family).21

Jesus' Philopedia

Even those who only read the New Testament cursorily know that Jesus affirmed the sanctity of marriage, the home, and the need to honor both parents and children. He is reputed to have said, "Let the children (ta paidia) come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:13-16; cf. also Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17). According to Mark, at Capernaum Jesus attempted to instruct the twelve regarding the meaning of greatness. Mark records that Jesus took a child (paidion) and said, "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Mark 9:37; Matthew 18:5; Luke 9:48). Those doing exegesis must be careful not to confuse a reference to a child with love of children. The pericope in Mark 9:36-37, as Hugh Anderson states, is not about children per se, but about discipleship.22 The child is chosen to illustrate not philopedia but lowliness, littleness, dependence, and humility. The disciples had quarreled over greatness, each probably seeking to elevate himself. Again the setting, the context, is the source of insightful exegesis.

If Jesus' love of children had been addressed to the Romans in persuasive language to convince them that he was a loving, nonmilitant, peaceful person, then we might suspect this of being a creation of the early Church. But the pericopes mentioned are not apologetic or polemic; they are not shaped, or created, by the kerygmatic and christological concerns of the Church. Their didactic function is derivative from the probability that Jesus loved children.

The acids of critical scholarship, which have been essential in removing the encrusted eisegesis that has obscured the original intent of the Evangelists, and of Jesus himself, have not marred the solid evidence of Jesus' philopedia. The first great critic in the history of the quest for the historical Jesus, D. F. Strauss, affirmed the love of Jesus for children. The Jesus sayings related to children are almost always preserved in contexts that show Jesus being forced "to suppress disputes among" his disciples. Yet the scene with the child in Mark 9 (and parallels), Strauss concludes, "is in itself too specific and remarkable to be a mere background to the ensuing discourse."23 In addition, the logion about children in Mark 10 is not a creation by the Church; "the saying of Jesus, Suffer little children, etc., . . . bears the stamp of genuineness."24

Mark 10:13-16 (and parallels) could be used to teach about discipleship, but behind it lies reliable evidence that Jesus loved children. That presupposition, indeed probable fact, made the analogical teaching "like a child" possible. Jesus identified himself with the humble child and against the proud disciples.

The authenticity of these Jesus traditions is widely and rightly affirmed today.25 I have no reason to doubt that Jesus' philopedia was represented in his actions and words, even though almost all of these are lost forever and those that have been preserved were recorded for reasons other than to argue for his love of and for children.

An additional proof of Jesus' love of children is reflected perhaps in the peculiar name he habitually uses for God. Over 170 times in the canonical Gospels and twenty times in the Gospel of Thomas Jesus calls God "Father."26 Jesus' name for God (Elohim) is Abba, which is not only translated but also transliterated in the Greek New Testament: Abba ho pater (Mark 14:36; cf. Galatians 4:6 and Romans 8:15). Jesus is related to a loving Father. Jesus also encourages his disciples to share in this relationship, teaching them to say, when they pray, "Father" (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). Abba is childlike talk and may be rendered colloquially as "Daddy," "dear Father," or even "my Daddy." This is intimate discourse. Jesus tends to eschew the jargon of sophisticated liturgy, which had in his own lifetime moved from spontaneous to statutory prayer; he prefers the language of humble children dependent upon a loving father. Jesus must have seen on innumerable occasions what I have seen only occasionally in Jerusalem: a little child pulling on the garment of a towering father and calling to him with an upward look: "Abba." Jesus probably was not so much appealing to the child's innocence as to his or her utter dependence upon a father, and the humble indwelling of the sphere controlled by the loving father. The conclusion to our reflections and research is palpable: Jesus loved children and felt close to them.27

In the context of this Jewish tradition and environment, it is pertinent to ask if Jesus in any way altered the Jewish concept of children. He obviously inherited from the Tanach, early Jewish writings, and oral traditions the love of children. The result of altering the traditions was to elevate the children with their humility over the authorities with their pride. As J. Jeremias pointed out, the status of the child in Judaism was elevated by Jesus' "new view of children."28 Jeremias rightly emphasized that sayings like Mark 10:14 and Matthew 18:3, "cannot be derived either from contemporary literature or from the community, which shared the patriarchal attitude of its milieu; rather, they belong at the heart of Jesus' message."29

Braun stresses another discontinuity between Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries. He alone accorded to children the ability to teach by word and example. In Jesus of Nazareth: The Man and His Time, Braun wrote the following: "Children are fitting teachers — a thoroughly unjewish view — not because of their naive view of the world but because of their capacity, innocently and without calculation and guile, to accept a gift."30 Braun was commenting on the new ideas brought by Jesus and reflected in Mark 10:15 ("Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it").

Recently, scholarly research has affirmed Jesus' significant contribution to the history of ideas on the role and status of children. In God the Father, for example, R. Hamerton-Kelly attempts to show that Jesus "broke the forms of the patriarchal family in the name of God the Father."31 Although Hamerton-Kelly is primarily concerned with the place accorded by Jesus to women, he correctly contends that Jesus noticed children as well; he "paid special attention to mothers and children, over the characteristic objections of his disciples."32

In The Practice of Jesus, H. Echegaray wisely embraces the necessity of basing exegesis on a careful assessment of the social setting confronted by Jesus. In following this methodology he perceives Jesus' unique understanding of children. He wrote:

Jesus takes the offensive and declares that the kingdom of God belongs to those whom the society of the day regarded as inferiors. This was the case with children who in that period of history were given the "unpleasant" tasks of the household. If men and women are to enter the kingdom, they must become like children, identify with the social condition of inferiority in which children found themselves, and cultivate an attitude of obedience and openness toward the kingdom.33

Obviously some Jews in the first century A.D. had a very high regard for and love of children. Jesus certainly shared this attitude, but he alone elevated children and used them as examples of the proper attitude to the kingdom. Children cannot inaugurate God's rule; they cannot help bring it any closer to the present: no one can. Children know their smallness and utter dependence, so they can graciously and humbly receive an unmerited gift: so must the disciple. Here we are very close to the heart of Jesus' authentic message.

Jesus' creativity and new perspectives often were missed by those who followed him. In fact, one century after his death some of his followers had completely reversed his position on children. His own thesis was perverted into its antithesis: philopedia became misopedia.

Misopedia in the Acts of Thomas

By the second century A.D. ascetic strains are evident in Christianity. Encratism (second-century extreme asceticism) probably predates Tatian; it is clearly reflected in his alteration of gospel traditions in the so-called Diatessaron. For example, the famous reference to Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, is rewritten. The statement that she "lived with her husband seven years from her virginity" (Luke 2:36) becomes "she was with (her) husband seven days."


G. Quispel has drawn attention to the distinction between Encratism and Gnosticism, and the early influence of the former.35

Asceticism clearly helped shape the Acts of Paul; the husbands of his converts attack him because the women now refuse to cohabit with them. By the middle of the second century A.D. asceticism was pronounced in Syria; and Arthur Vööbus may well be correct in concluding that it was influenced by the ascetic ideas contained in the Qumran scrolls.36 As Robert Murray writes, "The enthusiasm for sexual asceticism is all but universal in the Syriac world, Bardaisan and perhaps Quq (both Edessenes) being practically the only exceptions."37

Even though asceticism is not misopedia, some gnostic documents show that a clear strain of misopedia does grow out of certain ascetic tendencies. The Acts of Thomas, for example, was composed in Syriac sometime in the early third century A.D. or (more probably) the latter half of the second century, probably in or near Edessa.38 In this, the most ascetic document in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the New Testament, ascetic ideology reaches its ultimate limit and includes misopedia. Observe how children are portrayed in the Acts of Thomas, chapter 12, where the Lord sits down the young people and says.39

Remember, my children, what my brother (=Thomas) said to you, and know to whom he entrusted you; and know that the moment you extricate yourselves from this defiling intercourse you will become pure temples. Then you are saved from hidden and manifest sufferings, and from the great anxiety of children, whose end is bitter sadness. And if you should have children,40 because of them you will become deceivers, thieves, beaters of the fatherless, and defrauders of widows; and you will be tormented greatly by their losses. For the greater part of children entails many pains; either the king will attack them,41 a demon42 will seize them, or, partial (paralysis)43 will attack them. And if (they are) healthy they will become defilers, either by adultery, theft, fornication, avarice, or by empty pomposity;44 and through these defilements you will be tormented by them. But if45 you will be formed46 by me, and keep yourselves47 purely unto God you will have living children, (and) not one of these infirmities and injuries shall touch them. And you will be without anxiety, sadness, and distress. And you will consider48 (the time) when you will see the true wedding feast; then you will be in it singers, and be numbered with those who enter the bridal feast.49

Employing a device known now to be deeply entrenched in Early Judaism, thanks to the discovery of the Temple Scroll, the author attributes his own ideas to God. The words seem authoritative and invaluable because they appear to belong to Christ himself. This linguistic phenomenon is also well known from the Odes of Solomon.50

In an absurd explosion of logic the author confuses children with the origin of all sins: because of children "you will become deceivers, thieves," and all embodiments of evil. On the same level of thought the reasoning is at once irrefutable and absurd: without children there would be no sin because there would be no more humans to commit evils. (The author, however, admits belief in demons, so evil could continue without humans.) The vision is also confused by a false equation between sexual lust and procreation, and between anxiety for children and concern for their welfare. Misogamy has moved precariously close to misogyny and into misopedia.

Our disenchantment with this passage is due to our ideological distance from early Syriac asceticism. The author had begun with a beautiful thought: the embodiment of the supreme importance of one thing and the promised harmony and transcendence of problems through this devotion; the devotee will become a singer who sees and enters into the bridal feast. For him (or her), marriage is to be with Christ. Children are promised; but the thought is not philoprogenitive: that is, children are not "begotten"; they are "adopted" from already begotten children.


We have witnessed more than a diminution of Jesus traditions. In some Syriac communities, by the second century, or the third at the latest, Jesus' original actions and teachings were so significantly misconstrued that they became the antithesis of what they had been. Philopedia lapsed into misopedia. Fortunately, the Church was led away from the path advocated by the author of the Acts of Thomas 12. It does not follow, however, that it has understood the perspicacity behind Jesus' philopedia.


It can also be noted that these insights into the message of Jesus render the teachings of the Book of Mormon on children that much more meaningful to Latter-day Saints. In one of the most moving accounts in 3 Nephi, the resurrected Jesus blessed the children who were encircled about by angels and fire (3 Nephi 17:11-24), epitomizing a spirit of philopedia evident throughout the Book of Mormon. The words of Lehi state that bearing children was one of the desired purposes of the Fall, for Adam and Eve "would have had no children" had they remained in a state of innocence (2 Nephi 2:22-25). Benjamin exhorts everyone to "become as little children, . . . submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:18-19) and commands them to teach their children "to walk in the ways of truth and soberness, . . . to love one another, and to serve one another" (Mosiah 4:15). Mormon even matches the love of all children with the perfect love of God: "I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation" (Moroni 8:17) — The Editors, with permission of the author.

[completed in 1985]


1. Iamblichus, De Vita Pythagorica X, 51, in Ludovicus Deubner, ed. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1937), 28.

2. See the excellent discussion of "pais," by Albrecht Oepke in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 9 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, (1964-75), 5:636-54. I am indebted to him for his research.

3. Hellenistic is not a term that indicates geographical areas distinct from Palestine; unfortunately some scholars still use it incorrectly. It denotes the world culture of the Hellenistic period that dates from approximately after the time of Alexander the Great until the decline of the Romans, or roughly from the middle of the third century B.C. until the middle of the fourth century A.D. It is a world and not a Greek culture, because Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Iranian, and Syrian traditions flowed into the first shared culture. One could also include elements from other nations, namely all those from the Irish Celts to the Chinese. I have tried to demonstrate this insight in my contribution to the Valentin Nikiprowetzky Festschrift, "A Study of the History of the Rechabites," Hellenica et Judaica: Hommage î Valentin Nikiprowetzky, ed. A. Caquot, M. Hadas-Lebel, and J. Riaud (Leuven: Peeters, 1986), 219-43, and in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 54 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

4. Cf. Aristaenetus, Epistolographi I, 13; Inscriptiones Graecae, vol. 12, fasc. 5, 292.7; Julian, Epistulae 896. These sources are derived from Liddell, Scott, Jones, and McKenzie's A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973).

5. See H. Herter, "Das Kind im Zeitalter des Hellenismus," Bonner Jahrbücher des Vereins von Altertumsfreunden im Rheinlande 132 (1927): 256; and the excellent bibliography supplied by Oepke, Theological Dictionary, 5:636-37.

6. Cf. Epictetus, Discourses III, 22, 67-82.

7. Cf. Lucian, Abdicatus 18.

8. Especially in "The Life of Adam and Eve," in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983, 1985), 2:249-95. See the following publications: Jacob Jervell, "Imagines und Imago Dei: Aus der Genesis Exegese des Josephus," in Josephus Studien: Untersuchungen zu Josephus, dem antiken Judentum und dem Neuen Testament (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1974), 197-204; J. Jervell, Imago Dei: Gen 1.26f. im Spätjudentum, in der Gnosis und in den paulinischen Briefen, Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 58 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960); and John R. Levison, Portraits of Adam in Early Judaism: From Sirach to 2 Baruch (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1988). Also see the erudite discussion of the imago dei by Ephraim E. Urbach in The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs, tr. Israel Abrahams, 2 vols. (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975/Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 1:227-33.

9. Wisdom of Sirach (Ben Sira) 30:4-6.

10. TB Baba Bathra 16b.

11. Cf. Testament of Job 46-52 in Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:864-68.

12. Roland de Vaux, "Les Enfants," Les institutions de l'ancien testament, 2 vols. (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1967), 1:71-87 (quotation on p. 71). Also consult the revised English translation: Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, tr. John McHugh (London: McGraw-Hill, 1965; repr. 1968), 41-52 (quotation on p. 41).

13. E. Isaac, 1 Enoch, in Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:80. For a similar translation with supporting philological notes, see Matthew Black, The Book of Enoch or I Enoch: A New English Edition, with James C. VanderKam, Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 7 (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 92, and notes.

This passage in 1 Enoch must not be construed to denote that in some wayward Jewish communities of the third or second centuries B.C. Jewish children were exposed. As J. Duncan M. Derrett, "Law and Society in Jesus's World," in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1982), II.25.1:477-564, succinctly states with regard to Jewish communities, "Children were not exposed" (p. 516).

14. Josephus, Jewish War VI, 208; the Greek is from Josephus: The Jewish Wa, tr. H. St. J. Thackeray, 9 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928; repr. 1967-68), 3:436-37.

15. Cf. Josephus, Jewish War VI, 205.

16. As Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts (New York: Hebrew, 1979), 9, clarifies, "Religious observances, particularly those connected with the Sabbath and the festivals, strengthened Jewish family life and developed its solidarity to an extent unusual among non-Jews."

17. Josephus, Against Apion II, 199; cf. H. St. J. Thackeray, Josephus: The Life against Apion, 9 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926; repr. 1968), 1:372-73.

18. M Eduyoth 1:13. The Hebrew is from Chanoch Albeck and Henoch Yalon, eds., Shishah Sidre Mishnah, 6 vols. (Jerusalem: Mosed Bialek, 1951-58). The English translation is by Herbert Danby, The Mishnah (London: Oxford University Press, 1933; repr. 1964), 424.

19. See Shemuel Safrai's informative "Home and Family," in S. Safrai and M. Stern, eds., The Jewish People in the First Century, 2 vols., Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum 1 (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1974-76), 2:728-92; see esp. 748-52 (quotation on p. 750).

20. Translated by P. W. van der Horst in Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2:580-81.

21. Marcus Cohn, "Kinder und Eltern," in Georg Herlitz et al., Jüdisches Lexikon: Ein enzyklopädisches Handbuch des jüdischen Wissens, 4 vols. (Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1927-30), 3:697-99 (quotation from col. 697).

22. Hugh Anderson, The Gospel of Mark, New Century Bible (London: Oliphants, 1976), 234.

23. David F. Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, tr. George Eliot, ed. Peter C. Hodgson, Lives of Jesus Series (London: SCM Press/Philadelphia: Fortress 1972), 397. The original was published in 1835.

24. Ibid., 398 (italics in original).

25. The most influential New Testament scholar of this century, and a severe critic of the reliability of the Jesus tradition, Rudolf Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition, tr. John Marsh (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), tended to conclude that Mark 10:13-16 was not formed in a non-Palestinian setting, but within the Palestinian Church (p. 60). For Bultmann, verses 13 through 16 are "a complete apophthegm without v. 15, and its point is stated in v. 14" (p. 32). He continues by contending that the "original unit" is verses 13, 14, and 16 and has "its basis in the Jewish practice of blessing" (p. 32). These insights reveal that Bultmann did not attribute all of Mark 10:13-16 to the later Church, but they do not prove that they are ipsissma verba Jesu, which was, of course, not Bultmann's Tendenz.

Among numerous recent publications that assume or contend that the tradition of Jesus' love for children is reliable, see especially the following: Eduard Schweizer, The Good News According to Matthew, tr. David E. Green (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975), 363; John D. Crossan, In Fragments: The Aphorisms of Jesus (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), 109; and Ben Witherington III, Women in the Ministry of Jesus: A Study of Jesus' Attitudes to Women and Their Roles as Reflected in His Earthly Life, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 51 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 14. As Ben F. Meyer, The Aims of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1979), contends, Jesus "affirmed the root structures of social existence (Mark 10:2-9 par.; 10.14 parr.; Matt. 7:11 par.; Mark 12:17 parr.)" (p. 249).

26. The pioneering and definitive research was conducted by Joachim Jeremias. See the following publications by him: Abba: Studien zur neutestamentlichen Theologie und Zeitgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1966), and Das Vater-Unser im Lichte der neueren Forschung, Calwer Hefte 50 (Stuttgart: Calwer, 1962). Each of these has seen subsequent editions. The English translations of the major sections have been published: Jeremias, The Prayers of Jesus, tr. John Bowden, Christoph Burchard, and John Reumann, Studies in Biblical Theology, Second Series 6 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979).

27. John Reumann brings out an important dimension of the concept of a child. God's kingdom is given freely; it is not a reward nor a result of some action by an individual or group. According to Reumann, Jesus in the Church's Gospels: Modern Scholarship and the Earliest Sources (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1973), 151, the gift is to be received as a child; "Man simply receives it, as a child receives a gift" (Mark 10:15). Herbert Braun, Jesus of Nazareth: The Man and His Time, tr. Everett R. Kalin (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), 50, also stresses this dimension; children are chosen as examples by Jesus, "Because of their capacity, innocently and without calculation and guile, to accept a gift."

28. Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus, tr. J. Bowden (New York: Scribner, 1971), 227. Jeremias tends to denigrate the place of children in Judaism. He wrote, "In the world of Jesus, children, like women, were counted as things of little value" (ibid.). This statement is simply inaccurate. Perhaps Jeremias meant that in legal terms children were not accorded significant rank, because they "are not in full possession of their intellectual powers" (ibid.). Children, as we have seen, were highly prized in almost all sectors of Early Judaism. Jeremias also erred when he claimed that Jesus "brings children nearer to God than adults" (ibid.). Perhaps he meant to emphasize that children are closer to God than proud adults.

29. Jeremias, New Testament Theology, 227-28.

30. Braun, Jesus of Nazareth, 50.

31. Robert Hamerton-Kelly, God the Father: Theology and Patriarchy in the Teaching of Jesus, Overtures to Biblical Theology Series (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), 60.

32. Ibid.

33. Hugo Echegaray, The Practice of Jesus, tr. Matthew J. O'Connell (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1984), 84.

34. This is not the place to list the publications on the Syriac evidence of the "Diatessaron." Sufficient for the present are the following: Louis Leloir, Doctrines et méthodes de S. Éphrem d'après son commentaire de l'évangile concordant (original syriaque et version armémenienne = CSCO 220) (Louvain: Secrétariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1961); Leloir, Saint Éphrem, commentaire de l'évangile concordant, texte syriaque, manuscrit Chester Beatty 709, edition, traduction, Chester Beatty Monographs 8 (Dublin: Hodges Figgis, 1963); Leloir, Éphrem de Nisibe, Commentaire de l'évangile concordant ou Diatessaron traduit du syriaque et de arménienne, Sources Chrétiennes series 121 (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1966); Tj. Baarda, "A Syriac Fragment of Mar Ephraem's Commentary on the Diatessaron," New Testament Studies 8 (1961/62): 287-300; and Pedro O. Valiviesco, "Un nuevo fragmento siríaco del comentario de San Éfren al Diatésaron," Studia Papyrologica 5 (1966): 7-17.

35. His numerous publications are cited in James H. Charlesworth, The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: A Guide to Publications, with Excursuses on Apocalypses, ATLA Bibliography Series, 17 (Metuchen, NJ: American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1987). Also, see Yves Tissot, "Encratisme et actes apocryphes," in François Bovon et al., eds., Les actes apocryphes des apôtres: Christianisme et monde païen, Publications de la faculté de théologie de l'Université de Genève 4 (Geneva: Editions Labor et Fides, 1981), 109-19; and Giulia S. Gasparro, "Gli atti apocrifi degli apostoli e la tradizione dell'enkrateia. Discussione di una recente formula interpretativa," Augustinianum 22 (1983): 287-307; and Ugo Bianchi, "Encratismo, acosmismo, diteismo come criteri di analisi storico-religiosa delgi apocrifi," Augustinianum 22 (1983): 309-17.

36. Arthur Vööbus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, 2 vols., Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 184, Subs. 14 and 197, Subs. 17 (Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1958, 1960).

37. Robert Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition (London: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 11. See the important work by H. J. W. Drivers entitled Bardaisan of Edessa (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1966).

38. A full bibliography on the Acts of Thomas is published in Charlesworth, The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.

39. This section is not preserved in the oldest Syriac manuscript of the Acts of Thomas, the fifth- or sixth-century palimpsest, Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus 30, edited by Agnes S. Lewis, Acta Mythologica Apostolorum, Horae Semiticae 3 (London: Clay, 1904). The text is from the tenth-century Syriac manuscript, B. M. Add. 14,645, and was edited by William Wright, Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, 2 vols. (London, 1871; repr. Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1968). The Greek cited below is according to Constantinus Tischendorf, "Acta Thomae," in Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha (Leipzig: Avenarius et Mendelssohn, 1851), 200.

40. Abbreviations to be used in these notes: Syr. = Syriac; Gk. = Greek; Wright = Wright's Apocryphal Acts; James = Montague R. James, The Aprocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924; 1972); Klijn = Albertus F. Johannes Klijn, The Acts of Thomas: Introduction — Text — Commentary, Supplements to Novum Testamentum 5 (Leiden: Brill, 1962); Bornkamm = Gunther Bornkamm, "The Acts of Thomas," in New Testament Apocrypha, ed. Edgar Hennecke and Wilhelm Schneemelcher, tr. R. McL. Wilson, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976), 2:425-531, esp. 449; Bovon = Bovon, Les actes apocryphes des apôtres; Festugière = Andre-Jean Festugière, Les actes apocryphes de Jean et de Thomas: Traduction Française et notes critiques, Cahiers d' orientalisme 6 (Geneva: Cramer, 1983).

My translation is intended to be neither woodenly literal nor freely idiomatic. The Syriac at this place in the text has hsh', which means "pain, suffering, disease." Gk.: ean de ktesethe paidas pollous, "but if you acquire many children . . . " Wright emended the Syr. to bny'," children." Klijn follows Wright, but without discussion or note; the others — James, Bornkamm, and Festugière — translate from the Greek text, which is inferior to the Syriac text, because it derives from the original Syriac; as Festugière states, "tout le monde s'accorde pour dire que l'original est en syriaque" (43). It is possible either that the consonants became confused (but they are quite distinct), or that "pains" may be an intentional euphemism for children; they are defined as those who cause pain. It is the custom today to be hesitant to emend a text. The Greek may indicate either a Syr. byn' or an interpretation by a translator. The strongest case for an emendation is the following mtlthwn, "on account of them," which seems to presuppose byn', "children."

41. Syr. npl with cl means "attack" not "falls upon" as in the translations by Wright and Klijn. This clause is not found in the Greek, hence the translations by James, Bornkamm, and Festugi&egrve;re do not contain it.

42. Or "a lunatic."

43. Literally "a part"; plg' with k'b means "partial paralysis," but k'b does not occur here. Perhaps k'b' (pains) is the nomen regens in this long sentence; it appears at the beginning of the sentence. The Gk. is different, but it has a parallel noun here, hemizepoi, "half-dry," or "half-withered"; also four nouns later it has paralutikoi, "paralytics." Klijn: "or paralysis befalls them."

44. Or "vainglory" (so Wright and Klijn). Perhaps the author thought that pride, or pomposity, was not intrinsically evil, and so breaking with his style he added the adjective sryg', "empty."

45. Klijn inadvertently omitted the "if"; the error is probably typographical. Wright's version corrects the error.

46. The form tttpyswn is interesting and unattested. I parse it to be the second person masculine plural imperfect Ethpai'al of tps, "to typify," and would mean "to be formed," or "be persuaded" (Wright, Klijn). It could be from the denominative verb tps, which comes from twps', "figure, likeness, model, example." The Gk. has peisthesesthe, "you be persuaded" ("Mais, si vous laissez persuader": Festugière) or "obey" (Bornkamm).

47. Or "souls." Gk.: tas psuchas humon, "your souls."

48. Or "hoping"; Klijn: "and you shall be hoping (for the time) . . ."

49. Or "heaven, resting place," which is a metaphor for "bridal chamber."

50. See James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Odes of Solomon: The Syriac Texts, SBL Texts and Translations Series 13; Pseudepigrapha Series 7 (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1977).