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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
Apocrypha of the New Testament.: Chapter 31

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 31.

A second time the master Zachyas, doctor of the law, said to Joseph and Mary:  Give me the boy, and I shall hand him over to master Levi, who shall teach him his letters and instruct him.  Then Joseph and Mary, soothing Jesus, took Him to the schools, that He might be taught His letters by old Levi.  And as soon as He went in He held His tongue.  And the master Levi said one letter to Jesus, and, beginning from the first letter Aleph, said to Him:  Answer.  But Jesus was silent, and answered nothing.  Wherefore the preceptor Levi was angry, and seized his storax-tree rod, and struck Him on the head.  And Jesus said to the teacher Levi:  Why dost thou strike me?  Thou shalt know in truth, that He who is struck can teach him who strikes Him more than He can be taught by him.  For I can teach you those very things that you are saying.  But all these are blind who speak and hear, like sounding brass or tinkling cymbal, in which there is no perception of those things which are meant by their sound. 1674   And Jesus in addition said to Zachyas:  Every letter from Aleph even to Thet 1675 is known by its arrangement.  Say thou first, therefore, p. 380 what Thet is, and I will tell thee what Aleph is.  And again Jesus said to them:  Those who do not know Aleph, how can they say Thet, the hypocrites?  Tell me what the first one, Aleph, is; and I shall then believe you when you have said Beth.  And Jesus began to ask the names of the letters one by one, and said:  Let the master of the law tell us what the first letter is, or why it has many triangles, gradate, subacute, mediate, obduced, produced, erect, prostrate, curvistrate. 1676   And when Levi heard this, he was thunderstruck at such an arrangement of the names of the letters.  Then he began in the hearing of all to cry out, and say:  Ought such a one to live on the earth?  Yea, he ought to be hung on the great cross.  For he can put out fire, and make sport of other modes of punishment.  I think that he lived before the flood, and was born before the deluge.  For what womb bore him? or what mother brought him forth? or what breasts gave him suck?  I flee before him; I am not able to withstand the words from his mouth, but my heart is astounded to hear such words.  I do not think that any man can understand what he says, except God were with him.  Now I, unfortunate wretch, have given myself up to be a laughing-stock to him.  For when I thought I had a scholar, I, not knowing him, have found my master.  What shall I say?  I cannot withstand the words of this child:  I shall now flee from this town, because I cannot understand them.  An old man like me has been beaten by a boy, because I can find neither beginning nor end of what he says.  For it is no easy matter to find a beginning of himself. 1677   I tell you of a certainty, I am not lying, that to my eyes the proceedings of this boy, the commencement of his conversation, and the upshot of his intention, seem to have nothing in common with mortal man.  Here then I do not know whether he be a wizard or a god; or at least an angel of God speaks in him.  Whence he is, or where he comes from, or who he will turn out to be, I know not.  Then Jesus, smiling at him with a joyful countenance, said in a commanding voice to all the sons of Israel standing by and hearing:  Let the unfruitful bring forth fruit, and the blind see, and the lame walk right, and the poor enjoy the good things of this life, and the dead live, that each may return to his original state, and abide in Him who is the root of life and of perpetual sweetness.  And when the child Jesus had said this, forthwith all who had fallen under malignant diseases were restored.  And they did not dare to say anything more to Him, or to hear anything from Him.



1 Cor. 13:1, 1 Cor. 14:7.


Tau, and not Teth, is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.


The original—triangulos gradatos, subacutos, mediatos, obductos, productos, erectos, stratos, curvistratos—is hopelessly corrupt.  Compare the passages in the following Apocrypha.  [The Gospel of Thomas, first Greek form, chaps. 6, 7, and parallel passages.—R.]  It obviously, however, refers to the Pentalpha, Pentacle, or Solomon’s Seal, celebrated in the remains of the magical books that have come down to us under the names of Hermas and the Pythagoreans.  The Pentalpha was formed by joining by straight lines the alternate angles of a regular pentagon, and thus contained numerous triangles.  The Pythagoreans called it the Hygiea or symbol of health, and it was frequently engraved on amulets and coins.  It is still, if the books are to be trusted, a symbol of power in the higher grades of freemasonry.


i.e., It is not wonderful that we do not understand what he says, for we do not know what he is.

Next: Chapter 32

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