Article Index

Acts of Thomas: Chapters 1 - 3

Chapter 1

Apostle Thomas is reluctant to minister in India

1 At that time we apostles were all in Jerusalem, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Cananean, and Judas the brother of James; and we divided the regions of the world, that each one of us might go to the region which fell to his lot, and to the nation to which the Lord sent him.

2 According to the lot, India fell to Judas Thomas, who is also called Didymos, but he did not wish to go, saying that through weakness of the flesh he could not travel, and: ‘How can I, who am a Hebrew, go and preach the truth among the Indians?’ As he considered and said this, the Saviour appeared to him by night saying to him: ‘Fear not, Thomas, go to India and preach the word there, for my grace is with you.’ But he would not obey and said: ‘Send me where you will -but somewhere else, for I am not going to the Indians!’

The Lord sells the Apostle to Abban.

3 As he thus spoke and thought, it happened that a certain merchant was there who had come from India. His name was Abban and he had been sent by king Gundaphorus, and had received orders from him to buy a carpenter and bring him back to him. Now the Lord saw him walking in the marketplace at noon, and said to him: ‘Do you wish to buy a carpenter?’ He said to him ‘Yes.’ The Lord said to him: ‘I have a slave who is a carpenter, and wish to sell him.’ When he had said this he showed him Thomas from a distance, and agreed with him for three pounds of un-coined silver, and wrote a deed of sale saying: ‘I, Yesu, the son of Yusaf the carpenter, confirm that I have sold my slave Judas to you, Abban, a merchant of Gundaphorus a king of the Indians.’

4 When the contract was completed the Saviour took Judas, who is also called Thomas, and led him to the merchant Abban. When Abban saw him, he said to him: ‘Is this your master?’ The apostle in answer said: ‘Yes, he is my Lord.’ Abban said: ‘I have bought you from him.’ And the apostle was silent.

Yesu gives Thomas the money to redeem himself from slavery

5 On the following morning the apostle prayed and asked the Lord, and said: ‘I will go wherever you want me to, Lord Yesu; your will be done.’ He then went off to Abban the merchant, carrying with him nothing at all, save only his price, for the Lord had given it to him, saying: ‘Let your price also be with you, with my grace, wherever you go.’ The apostle found Abban carrying his baggage aboard the ship, and he too began to carry it with him.

6 After they had embarked on the ship and sat down, Abban questioned the apostle, saying: ‘What manner of trade do you know?’ The apostle answered: ‘In wood I make ploughs and yokes and balances, and ships and oars for ships and masts and pulleys; and in stone, pillars and temples and royal palaces.’ Abban the merchant said to him: ‘Good, for of such a craftsman are we in need.’ So they began their voyage. They had a favourable wind, and sailed prosperously until they arrived at Andrapolis, a royal city.

The Wedding Feast

7 Leaving the ship, they went into the city. Sounds of flutes and water organs and trumpets echoed round about them; and the apostle inquired, saying: ‘What is this feast in this city?’ The people there said to him: ‘You too, have the gods brought to keep festival in this city, for the king has an only daughter, and now he is giving her to a man in marriage. So it is for the wedding, this rejoicing and this assembly for the feast today, which you see. The king has sent out heralds to proclaim everywhere that all should come to the wedding - rich and poor, slave and free, strangers and citizens; but if any man refuse, and come not to the marriage he shall be accountable to the king.’

8 When Abban heard it, he said to the apostle: ‘Let us also go, then, that we may not give offence to the king, especially since we are strangers.’ And he said: ‘Let us go.’ And after taking quarters at the inn and resting a little they went to the wedding. The apostle, seeing them all reclining, stretched out in their midst; and they all looked at him, as at a stranger and as one that came from a foreign land. But Abban the merchant, being the master, lay down at another place.

9 While they dined and drank, the apostle ate and drank nothing; so that those who were around about him said: ‘Why do you come here neither eating nor drinking?’;1
He answered them: ‘For something greater than food or drink have I came here, so that I may accomplish the kings will. For the heralds proclaim the king, and whoever does not listen to the heralds shall be liable to the king’s judgment.’2

Thomas anoints himself

10 After they had dined and drunk, crowns and scented oils were brought to them and each one took of the oil - one anointed his face, another his beard, another again other parts of his body; but the apostle anointed the crown of his head and smeared a little upon his nostrils, dropped some also into his ears, touched his teeth with it and carefully anointed the parts about his heart; and the crown that was brought to him, woven of myrtle and other flowers, he took and set upon his head; and he took a branch of a reed in his hand and held it.

11 Now, the flute-girl, holding her flute in her hand, was going round all the company and playing; but when she came to the place where the apostle was, she stood over him and played at his head for a long time, and the apostle knew the flute-girl was by race a Hebrew.

The Maiden Song

12 While the apostle was looking at the ground, one of the cup-bearers stretched out his hand and slapped him for his rudeness for not looking at the girl. But the apostle lifted up his eyes, directed his gaze at the man who had struck him, and said: ‘My God will forgive you this injury in the world to come, but in this world he will show forth his wonders, and I shall even now see that hand that smote me dragged by dogs.’3
When had said this he began to sing this song:

The maiden is the daughter of light,
Upon her stands and rests
the majestic effulgence of kings.

Delightful is the sight of her,
Radiant with shining beauty.

Her garments are like spring flowers,
and a scent of sweet fragrance is diffused from them.

In the crown of her head the king is established,
feeding with his own ambrosia those who are under him.

Truth rests upon her head,
by (the movement of) her feet she shows forth joy.

Her mouth is open, and so becomingly,
she sings magnificent songs of praise.

Thirty and two are they that sing her praises.

Her tongue is like the curtain of the door,
flung back for those who enter.

In steps her neck mounts up,
which the first craftsman worked.

Her two hands make signs and secret patterns,
proclaiming the dance of the blessed eons,

Her fingers open the gates of the city.

Her chamber is full of light,
breathing a scent of balsam and all sweet herbs,

And giving out a sweet smell of myrrh and aromatic leaves.

Within are strewn myrtle and incense flowers,
and the walkways are decorated with reeds.

Her seven groomsmen keep her company wherever she goes.

Whom she herself has chosen;

And her bridesmaids are seven,
who dance before her.

Twelve are they in number who serve before her.

And are subject to her,
moving their gaze and look toward the bridegroom,

That by the sight of him they may be enlightened;

And for ever shall they be with him in that eternal joy,
and they shall be at that marriage.

For which the princes assemble together,
and shall linger over the feasting.

Of which the eternal ones are accounted worthy,
and they shall put on royal robes.

And be arrayed in splendid raiment,
and both shall be in joy and exultation.

And they shall glorify the Father of all,
whose proud light they received.

And were enlightened by the vision of their Lord,
whose ambrosial food they received,

Which has no deficiency at all,
and they drank too of his wine.

Which gives them neither thirst nor desire;
and they glorified and praised, with the living Spirit,
the Father of Truth and the Mother of Wisdom.
4

13 When he had sung and ended this song, all who were present gazed at him: and he was silent. They saw also his appearance changed, but they did not understand what he said, since he was a Hebrew and what he said was spoken in the Hebrew tongue.

14 The flute-girl alone heard it all, for she was a Hebrew by race; and moving away from him she played to the others, but often looked back and gazed on him. For she loved him greatly, as a man of her own race; moreover in appearance he was comely above all that were present.5
After the flute-girl had finished playing, she sat down opposite him and looked steadily at him. But he looked at no one at all, nor did he pay attention to anyone, but kept his eyes only on the ground, waiting for the time when he might take his departure.

The lot of the cup-bearer

15 But the cup-bearer who had slapped him went down to the well to draw water. It so happened that there was a lion there, and it slew him and left him to lie on the spot, after tearing his limbs to pieces - immediately dogs seized his limbs, and among them a black dog grasped his right hand in its mouth and carried it into the place where the feast was.

16 They were all amazed and inquired which of them were absent when they saw it. When it became evident that it was the hand of the cup-bearer who had struck the apostle, the flute-girl smashed her flute and threw it away, and went to the apostle’s feet and sat down, saying: ‘This man is either a god or a servant of God; for I heard him say to the cupbearer in Hebrew: “Even now shall I see the hand that smote me dragged by dogs” which you also have now seen; for as he said, so did it come to pass.’ And some believed her, but some did not.

17 But when the king heard it, he came and said to the apostle: ‘Arise and come with me, and pray for my daughter! For she is my only child, and today I give her in marriage.’ But the apostle would not go with him, for the Lord was not yet revealed to him there. But the king led him away against his will into the bridal chamber, that he might pray for the bridal pair.6

Thomas prays for the couple who are getting married

18 The apostle stood there and began to pray these words: ‘My Lord and my god, the companion of his servants, who guide and direct those who believe in him, the refuge and rest of the oppressed, the hope of the poor and redeemer of the captives, the physician of the souls laid low in sickness and saviour of all creation, who quicken the world to life and strengthen the souls, you know what is to be, who also do accomplish it through us; you, Lord, who reveal hidden mysteries and make manifest words that are secret; you, Lord, are the planter of the good tree, and by your hands are all good works engendered; you, Lord, are he who is in all and passes through all and dwells in all your works, and manifest in the working of them all; Yesu Christ, son of compassion and perfect Saviour; Christ, son of the living God, the undaunted power which overthrew the enemy, the voice that was heard by all the powers of the universe, which shook all their powers; ambassador sent from the height who did descend even to Hell, who having opened the doors did bring up here those who for many ages had been shut up in the treasury of darkness, and show them the Way that leads up to the height; I pray you, Lord Yesu, as I bring to you my supplication for these young people, that you do for them the things that help and are useful and profitable.’ After laying his hands upon them and saying: ‘The Lord shall be with you,’ he left them in that place and departed.

The Lord appears to the couple

19 The king required the attendants to go out of the bridal chamber. When all had gone out and the doors were shut, the bridegroom lifted up the veil of the bridal chamber, that he might bring the bride to himself. Then he saw the Lord Yesu in the likeness of the apostle Judas Thomas, who shortly before had blessed them and departed from them, conversing with the bride, and he said to him: ‘Did you not go out before them all? How are you now found here?’ But the Lord said to him: ‘I am not Judas who is also Thomas, I am his brother.’ The Lord sat down upon the bed and bade them also to sit on the chairs, and began to say to them:

20 ‘Remember, my children, what my brother said to you, and to whom he commended you; and know this, that if you abandon this filthy intercourse you become holy temples, pure and free from afflictions and pains both manifest and hidden, and you will not be surrounded with cares for life and for children, the end of which is destruction. But if you get many children, then for their sakes you become robbers and materialistic, ones who flay orphans and defraud widows, and by so doing you subject yourselves to the most grievous punishments. For the majority of children become unprofitable, possessed by demons, some openly and some in secret; for they become either lunatic or half-witted or crippled or deaf or dumb or paralytic or stupid. Even if they are healthy, again will they be unserviceable, performing useless and abominable deeds; for they are caught either in adultery or in murder or in theft or in unchastity, and by all these you will be afflicted. But if you obey, and keep your souls pure unto God, you shall have living children whom these hurts do not touch, and shall be without care, leading an undisturbed life without grief or anxiety, waiting to receive that incorruptible and true marriage 7 (as befitting for you), and in it you shall be groomsmen entering into that bridal chamber which is full of immortality and light.’8

21 When the young people heard this, they believed the Lord and gave themselves entirely to him, and refrained from the filthy passion, and so remained throughout the night in that place. The Lord departed from them, saying: ‘The grace of God shall be with you.’

22 When morning broke, the king came to meet them, and after furnishing the table brought it in before the bridegroom and the bride; and he found them sitting opposite one another, the bride with her face unveiled and the bridegroom very cheerful. But her mother came in and said to the bride: ‘Why do you sit like this, child, and are not ashamed, but do behave as if you have lived a long time with your own husband?’ Their father said: ‘Because of your great love for your husband do you not even veil yourself?’ 9

23 The bride in answer said: ‘Truly, father, I am in great love, and I pray to my Lord that the love which I experienced this night may remain with me, and I will ask for the husband of whom I have learned today. I do not veil myself because the mirror of shame was taken from me, I am no longer ashamed or abashed, because the work of shame and bashfulness has been removed far from me. I am not alarmed, because alarm did not remain with me. I am in cheerfulness and joy because the day of joy was not disturbed. I have set at nothing this man, and this marriage which passes away from before my eyes, because I am bound in another marriage. Also, I have had no intercourse with a short-lived husband, the end of which is bitterness of soul, because I am yoked with the true man.’

24 While the bride was saying yet more than this, the bridegroom answered and said: ‘I thank you, Lord who through the stranger was proclaimed and found in us; who removed me from corruption, who has sown in me life, who freed me from this sickness hard to heal and hard to cure and abiding for ever, and implanted in me sober health; who showed yourself to me and revealed to me all my condition in which I am; who redeemed me from the fall and lead me to the better, and freed me from transitory things but count me worthy of those that are immortal and everlasting; who humbled yourself to me and my smallness, that setting me beside your greatness you unite me with yourself; who did not withhold your mercy from me that was ready to perish, but showed me to seek myself and to recognise who I was and who and how I now am, that I may become again what I was; whom I did not know, but you yourself did seek me out; of whom I was unaware, but though yourself did take me to you; whom I have perceived, and now cannot forget; whose love rises within me, and of whom I cannot speak as I ought, but what I can say about him is short and very little and does not correspond to his glory; but he does not blame me when I make bold to say to him even what I do not know; for it is for love of him that I say this.’

25 But when the king heard this from the bridegroom and the bride he tore his garments and said to those who stood near him: ‘Go out quickly and go through all the city, and seize and bring to me that man, the sorcerer who by an evil chance is in this city. For I brought him with my own hands into my house; and told him to pray over my most unfortunate daughter. Whosoever finds and brings him to me, to him do I give whatever he may ask of me.10

26 So they left and went in search of him, and did not find him; for he had set sail. They went also into the inn where he had lodged, and there they found the flute-girl weeping and distressed, because he had not taken her with him. But when they told her what had happened in the case of the young people, she was very glad when she heard it, and setting aside her grief she said: ‘Now have I too found rest here!’

27 The stood up and went to them, and stayed with them a long time, until they had taught many about the truth, and the king also.

28 Many of the brethren also gathered there, until they heard a report about the apostle, that he had landed in the cities of India and was teaching there, and they went off and joined themselves with him.

Chapter 2

Concerning the eternal palace

1 When the apostle came to the cities of India with Abban the merchant, Abban went off to salute King Gundaphorus, and reported to him concerning the architect whom he had brought with him. The king was glad, and commanded that he should come to him.

2 So when he came the king said to him: ‘What kind of trade do you understand?’ The apostle replied: ‘Carpentry and building.’ The king said to him: ‘What craftsmanship then do you know in wood and what in stone?’ The apostle said: ‘In wood; ploughs, yokes, balances, pulleys, and ships and oars and masts; and in stone, pillars, temples and royal palaces.’ The king asked: ‘Will you build me a palace?’ He answered: ‘Yes, I will build, and I will finish it with furnishings; for this is why I came, to build and work as a carpenter.’

3 The king took him and went out of the gates of the city, and began to discuss with him on the way the building of the palace and how the foundations should be laid, until they came to the place where he wanted the building to be. He said: ‘I wish the building to be here.’ The apostle agreed: ‘Yes, for this place is suitable for the building’, for the place was wooded, and there was much water there.

4 So the king said: ‘Begin to build.’ But the apostle said: ‘I cannot begin to build now at this season.’ The king asked: ‘When can you?’ And he said: ‘I will begin in November and finish in April.’ Then the king said in astonishment: ‘All buildings are built in summer, but you can build and establish a palace even in winter?’ And the apostle said: ‘So it ought to be, and there is no other way.’

5 The king said: ‘Well then, if this is your decision, draw me a plan how the work will be done, and I will come back here after some time to see it.’ The apostle then took a reed and drew, measuring the place; and the doors he set toward the east, to face the light, and the windows to the west towards the winds, and the bake-house he made to be to the south, and the aqueduct for the service to the north. When the king saw this, he said: ‘Yes, truly you are an architect, it is fitting for you to serve kings.’ And leaving much money with him he departed.

The hungry and destitute need material help

6 At appointed times the king sent him money and whatever was necessary both for his own sustenance and for that of the other workmen. But Thomas took it all and handed it out, going about the towns and the villages round about, distributing it and giving alms to the poor and afflicted, and he gave them relief, saying: ‘The king knows that he will receive a royal reward, but the poor must for the present be uplifted.’

7 Later the king sent an ambassador to the apostle, writing to him thus: ‘Show me what you have done, or what I should send you, or what you require.’ The apostle replied to him, saying: ‘The palace is built, and only the roof remains.’ When the king heard this, he sent him again gold and un-coined silver, writing: ‘If the palace is built, let it be roofed.’

8 The apostle thanked the Lord: ‘I thank you Lord, in every respect that for a short time you died that I might live eternally in you, and that you sold me in order to deliver many through me.’

9 He did not cease from teaching and uplifting the afflicted, saying: ‘The Lord has dispensed this to you, and himself provides to each his food; for he is the nourisher of the orphans and supporter of the widows, and to all that are afflicted he is relief and rest.’ (See 1:20)

10 The day the king came to the city he inquired of his friends concerning the palace which Judas who is also Thomas was building for him. They told him: ‘Neither has he built a palace, not has he done anything else of what he promised to do, but he goes about the towns and villages, and if he has anything he gives it all to the poor, and he teaches a new God and heals the sick and drives out demons and does many other wonderful things; we think he is a magician. His works of compassion, and the healings which are worked by him without reward, and moreover his simplicity and kindness and the quality of his faith, show that he is righteous or an apostle of the new God of whom he preaches. For continually he fasts and prays, and eats only bread and salt, and his drink is water, and he wears one garment whether in fine weather or in cold, and takes nothing from anyone, and what he has he gives to others.’ When the king heard this, he smote his face with his hands, shaking his head for a long time.

11 The king sent for the merchant who brought him, and for the apostle, and said to him: ‘Have you built me the palace?’ The apostle replied: ‘Yes, I have built it.’ The king said: ‘Then when shall we go and see it?’ But the apostle answered him: ‘Now you can not see it, but when you do depart this life you shall see it.’

12 Hearing this, the king in great wrath commanded both the merchant and Judas who is also Thomas to be put in bonds and cast into prison until he should investigate and learn to whom the king’s money had been given, and so destroy him together with the merchant. But the apostle went rejoicing into the prison and said to the merchant: ‘Fear nothing, but only believe in the God who is preached by me, and you shall be freed from this world, but from the age to come shall obtain life.’

13 Now the king was considering with what manner of death he should destroy them. He had resolved to flay them alive and then burn them with fire. In the same night Gad 11 the king’s brother fell sick, and because of the pain and disappointment which the king had suffered, he was greatly depressed.

14 Gad, sent for the king and said to him: ‘My brother the king, my house and my children I commend to you. I have been grieved on account of the despiteful usage that has befallen you, and behold, I am dying, and if you do not come down with vengeance upon the head of that magician, you will give my soul no rest in Hades.’12

15 The king replied to his brother: ‘The whole night through I was considering how I should put him to death; and this have I resolved, to flay him alive and then burn him with fire, both him and with him the merchant who brought him.’

16 As they conversed, the soul of Gad his brother departed. The king mourned Gad deeply, for he loved him greatly, and commanded him to be buried in royal and costly apparel. But when this happened, angels took the soul of Gad, the king’s brother and carried it up into heaven, showing him the places there and the dwellings and asking him: ‘In what kind of place would you live?’

17 When they drew near to the building of Thomas the apostle, which he built for the king, Gad, when he saw it, said to the angels: ‘I pray you, sirs, allow me to live in one of these lower apartments.’ But they denied him: ‘You cannot live in this building.’ And he asked: ‘Why?’ They replied: ‘This palace is the one which that Christian built for your brother.’ He then pleaded with them: ‘I pray you, sirs, allow me to go to my brother, that I may buy this palace from him. For my brother does not know of what kind it is, and will sell it to me.’

18 Then the angels let Gad’s soul go. While they were putting the grave clothes on him, his soul entered into him, and he said to those who stood around him: ‘Call to me my brother, that I may ask of him one request.’ So at once they brought the good news to the king, saying: ‘Your brother is alive again.’ The king sprang up and came with a great crowd to his brother, and going in he stood by his bed as if stupefied, unable to speak to him.

19 Gad said: ‘I know and am persuaded, brother, that if anyone asked of you the half of your kingdom, you would have given it for my sake. Therefore I beseech you to grant me one favour which I ask of you, that you sell me what I ask from you.’ The king answered: ‘And what is it that you do ask me to sell you?’ His brother replied: ‘Convince me by an oath that you will grant it me.’ The king swore to him: ‘Of my possessions you ask and I give it.’

20 Only then the kings brother said to him: ‘Sell me that palace which you have in heaven.’ The king asked: ‘Since when should I have a palace in heaven?’ He replied: ‘The one that Christian built for you, who is now in prison, the man the merchant brought after buying him from one Yesu. I mean that Hebrew slave whom you wished to punish, for having suffered some deception at his hand. The slave against whom I too was vexed, but then I died, and now I am alive again.’

King Gundaphorus receives Wisdom

21 Then the king, considering the matter, understood concerning the eternal goods which were more excellent for him and which he was to receive, and said: ‘That palace I cannot sell to you, and I pray to enter it one day and live in it. But if you truly wish to buy such a palace, behold the man is alive, and will build you one better than that.’

22 Immediately the king sent for and brought the apostle out of the prison, and the merchant who had been shut up with him, saying: ‘I plead with you, as a man entreating the servant of God, to pray for me and beseech him whose servant you are, that he forgive me and overlook the things that I have done against you, or thought to do, and that I may become a worthy inhabitant of that dwelling for which I did not labour at all, but you built it for me labouring alone, the grace of your God working with you, and that I too may become a servant, and serve this God whom you do proclaim.’

23 His brother also fell down at the apostle’s feet and said: ‘I pray you and implore before your God, that I may become worthy of this ministry and service, and that it may be my lot to be worthy of the things shown to me by his angels.’

24 The apostle was full of joy, saying: ‘I praise you, Lord Yesu, that you have revealed truth in them. You are the God of truth, and no other; and you are he who knows all that is unknown to the many; you, Lord, are he who in all things show forbearance to humanity. For humans, because of the error that is in them forsake you, but you forsake them not. Now, as I beseech and supplicate you, receive the king and his brother and unite them with your flock, cleansing them with your washing and anointing them with your oil, saving them from the error which surrounds them. Preserve them also from the wolves who wish to lead them from your pastures. Give them to drink from your ambrosial spring which neither is turbid nor dries up. For they pray you and implore and desire to become your ministers and servants, and for this cause they are content even to be persecuted by your enemies, and for your sake to be hated by them and be despitefully used and put to death, even as you for our sakes suffered all these things that you might preserve us, who are our Lord and good shepherd. Do grant to them that they may have confidence in you alone, and the help which comes from you and your salvation they expect from you alone, and that they may be established in your mysteries and receive of your graces and gifts the perfect good, and may flourish in your service, and bring forth fruit to perfection in our Father.’

25 Being now well disposed to the apostle, king Gundaphorus and his brother Gad followed him, not leaving his side at all. They themselves were providing for those who were in need, giving to all and inspiring all.

26 They pleaded with him that they also might now receive the seal of the word, saying to him: ‘Since our souls are at leisure and we are zealous for God, give us the seal! For we have heard you say that the God of whom you do preach, knows his own sheep by his seal.’

27 The apostle said to them: ‘I also rejoice and pray for you to receive this seal, and to share with me in this Great Mystery and divine feast, and to be made perfect in it. For this is the Lord of all, Yesu Christ whom I preach, and he is in the Father of truth in whom I have taught you to believe.’ He then commanded them to bring oil for anointing, that through anointing they may be sealed. So they brought the oil, and lit many lamps; since it was night.

28 The apostle rose up and sealed them, and the Lord was revealed to them by a voice, saying: ‘Peace be with you brothers!’ They only heard his voice, but his form they did not see; for they had not yet received the additional sealing of the seal. The apostle took the oil, and pouring it on their heads anointed and chrismed them, and began to say:13

The Great Invocation

29

‘Come, holy name of Christ that is above every name;

Come, power of the Most High and perfect compassion;
Come, our highest gift;
Come, compassionate mother;
Come, fellowship of the male;

Come, mother that reveals the hidden mysteries;
Come, mother of the seven days, that your rest may be in the eighth house;
Come, elder of the virtues: understanding, thought, prudence, considerations, reasoning,

Communicate with these young men!

Come, Holy Spirit, and purify their control and their heart and give them the added seal in the name of the Father, the Mother and the Holy Son.’

Yesu appears to them in the form of a youth

30 When they had been sealed there appeared to them a young man carrying a burning torch, so that even the lamps were darkened at the brightness of its light – and going out he vanished from their sight.

31 The apostle said to the Lord: ‘Beyond our comprehension, Lord, is your light, and we are not able to bear it; for it is greater than our sight.’

King Gundaphorus and his brother Gad partakes of the Great Mystery and Thomas delivers the sermon to the crowd

32 And when dawn came and it was light, he broke bread and made them partakers in the great Mystery of Christ. They rejoiced and were glad, and many others also, believing, joined the faithful and came into the refuge of the Saviour.

33 The apostle did not cease preaching and said to them: ‘Men and women, boys and girls, youths and maids, vigorous and aged, whether you are slaves or free, abstain from fornication and avarice and the service of the belly; for in these three heads all lawlessness is comprised. For fornication blinds the mind and darkens the eyes of the soul, and is a hindrance to the right ordering of the body, turning the whole person to weakness and throwing the whole body into sickness.

34 Insatiate desire brings the soul into fear and shame, since it is within the body and plunders the goods of others,14 and harbours suspicion. Even once restored, these things and their owners will be shamed. The service of the belly plunges the soul into cares and anxieties and sorrows, it becomes anxious for fear of wanting, and reaches out for what is far from it. If then you escape from these, you become free from care and sorrow and fear, and there remains with you that which was said by the Saviour: ‘Be not anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Remember also the words which were spoken before: “Look at the ravens and consider the birds of the heaven, that they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and God provides for them. How much more for you, O you of little faith!”

35 Do you wait for his coming, and set your hope in him, and believe in his name? – for he is the judge of the living and the dead and he gives to each one according to his works. At his coming, and later appearance, no man has any word of excuse when he is about to be judged by him, as if he had not heard. For his heralds are proclaiming to the four regions of the world: ‘Repent and believe the tidings of freedom from this world, and receive a yoke of meekness and a light burden, that you may live and not die!’

36 These things, make it your own and treasure it. Come out from the darkness, that the light may receive you! Come to him who is truly good, that you may receive grace from him and take up his sign in your souls.’

37 When he had said this, some of the bystanders said to him: ‘It is time for the creditor to receive the debt.’ But he said to them: ‘The creditor always wishes to receive more than enough, but let us give him what is his due.’

38 When he had blessed them he took bread and oil and herbs and salt, and blessed and gave to them; but he himself continued in his fasting, for the Lord’s day was about to dawn.

39 As he slept in the following night, the Lord came and stood at his head and said: ‘Thomas, rise up early and bless them all, and after the prayer and service go down the eastern road two miles, and there I will show in you my glory. Because of the work which you have done, many will take refuge in me, and you shall face the nature and the power of the enemy.’

40 Rising up from sleep he said to the brothers who were with him: ‘Children and brothers, the Lord wishes to accomplish something through me today. Let us pray and entreat him, that nothing may become a hindrance for us towards him, but that as at all times so now it may come to pass through us according to his will and desire.’

41 When he had said this, he laid his hands upon them and blessed them. And breaking the bread of the great Mystery he gave it to them, saying: ‘This Mystery shall be to you for compassion and mercy, and not for judgment and requital.’ They said: ‘Amen.’

Chapter 3

Concerning the serpent

1 Thomas went out to go to where the Lord had commanded him; and when he was near the second milestone and had turned aside a little from the road he saw lying there the body of a comely youth, and said: ‘Lord, was it for this that you brought me out here? That I might be tested by this? Your will be done.’

2 He began to pray and say: ‘O Lord, judge of living and dead, of the living who stand by and the dead one lying here, you, Lord of all and Father – but Father not of the spirits that are in bodies, but of those that are out; for of the spirits that are in pollution you are Lord and judge – come in this hour in which I call upon you, and show your glory toward this young man who lies here.’

3 Turning to those who followed him he said: ‘This thing has not happened for no purpose, but the enemy has been at work, and has worked this that he may make an attack thereby; and you see that he has made use of no other and worked through no other creature than that which is his subject.’

4 When he had said this a great serpent came out of a hole, darting his head and lashing his tail on the ground, and said with a loud voice to the apostle: ‘I will say before you for what reason I slew him, for to this end have you come, to put my works to shame.’

5 The apostle said: ‘Yes, speak on.’ And the serpent said: ‘There is a beautiful woman in this village over against us. As she was once by my place I saw her and fell in love with her, and following her I kept watch on her. I found this young man kissing her, and he had intercourse with her and did other shameful things with her. But not wishing to disquiet her I did not kill him in that very hour, but watched for him, and as he came by in the evening I smote and slew him, the more especially since he dared to do this on the Lord’s day.’

The nature of evil

6 But the apostle questioned him, saying: ‘Tell me of what seed and what race you are?’

7 The serpent said to him: ‘I am a reptile of reptile nature, a baleful son of a menacing father; I am son of him who hurt and smote the four Tall Brothers;15 I am son of him who sits upon the throne which has power over the creation which is under heaven,16 who takes his own from those who borrow;17

8 I am son of him who girds the sphere18 about; and I am a kinsman of him who is outside the ocean, whose tail is set in his own mouth;19

9 I am he who entered through the fence into Paradise and said to Eve all the things my father charged me to say to her;20 I am he who kindled and inflamed Cain to slay his own, and because of me thorns and thistles sprang up on the earth;21

10 I am he who hurled the angels down from above, and bound them in lusts for women, that earth-born children might come from them and I fulfil my will in them;22 I am he who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he might slay the children of Israel and enslave them in a yoke of cruelty; I am he who led the multitude astray in the wilderness, when they made the calf; I am he who inflamed Herod and kindled Caiaphas to the false accusation of the lie before Pilate; for this was fitting for me; I am he who kindled Judas and bribed him to betray Christ to death;23

11 I am he who inhabits and possesses the abyss of Tartarus, but the Son of God did me wrong against my will, and chose out of his own not from me; I am a kinsman of him who is to come from the east, to whom also is given power to do what he will on the earth.’24

12 When the serpent had said this, in the hearing of all the crowd, the apostle lifted up his voice on high and said: ‘Cease now, most shameless one, and be you put to shame and entirely done to death! For your end and destruction, is come. Do not dare to say what you have worked through to those who have become subject to you. I command you in the name of that Yesu who contends with you until now for the souls who are his own by choice, that you suck out your poison which you put into this man, and draw it out and take it from him.’

13 But the serpent said: ‘Not yet has the time of our end come, as you have said. Why do you compel me to take what I have put into this man and die before the time? For indeed if my father draw forth and suck out what he cast into the creation, then only is his end.’

14 But the apostle said to him: ‘Show now the nature of your father!’ And the serpent came forward and set his mouth against the young man’s wound and sucked the gall out of it. Little by little the young man’s colour, which was purple, became white, and the serpent swelled up. When the serpent had drawn up all the gall into himself, the young man sprang up and stood, then ran and fell at the apostle’s feet.

15 The serpent, being swollen, burst and died, and his poison and gall poured out; and in the place where his poison poured out there came a great chasm, and that serpent was swallowed up. The apostle said to the king and his brother: ‘Send workmen and fill up that place, and lay foundations and build houses on top, that it may become a dwelling place for the strangers.’

The young man

16 The young man said to the apostle, with many tears: ‘Wherein have I sinned against you? For you are a man that has two forms, and wherever you want to, there you are found, and you are restrained by no man, as I see.

17 For I saw how that man stood beside you, and said to you: “I have many wonders to show through you, and I have great works to accomplish through you, for which you shall receive a reward; and you shall make many live, and they shall be in rest in eternal light as children of God. Do you, then,” he said, speaking to you of me, “revive this young man stricken by the enemy, and become at all times his guardian.”

18 You have done well to come here, and again you shall do well to depart of him, for indeed he never leaves you at all. But I have become free from care and reproach, and the light has shown me freedom from the care of the night, and I am at rest from the toil of the day; but I am free also from him who urged me to do these things.

19 I sinned against him who taught me the opposite, and I have lost that kinsman of the night who compelled me to sin by his own deeds; but I found that figure of light to be my kinsman. I have lost him who darkens and blinds his subjects, that they may not know what they are doing, and being ashamed at their works depart from them, and their deeds come to an end; but I found him whose works are light and his deeds truth, of which if a man does them he does not repent. I have been freed from him whose lie is persistent, before whom darkness goes as a veil and behind whom follows shame, shameless in inactivity; but I found him who revealed to me beautiful things that I might take hold of them, the Son of Truth, who is kinsman of concord, who driving away the mist enlightens his own creation, and healing its wounds overthrows its enemies.

20 I pray you, man of God, make me to look upon him again, and to see him who has now become hidden from me, that I may also hear his voice, the wonder of which I cannot express; for it is not of the nature of this bodily organ.’

21 The apostle answered and said to him: ‘If you are freed from those things of which you have received knowledge, as you have said, and know who it is that has worked this in you, and do learn and become an heir of him who now in your fervent love you search; you shall both see him and be with him for ever, and in his rest shall you rest, and you shall be in his joy.

22 But if you be lightly disposed towards him, and turn again to your former doings, and let go the beauty and that radiant countenance which now was shown to you, then the effulgence of his light, which now you so desire, will be wholly hidden from you, not only of this life shall you be deprived but also of that which is to come, and you shall depart to him whom you said you have lost, and no longer look on him whom you said you have found.’

23 When the apostle had said this, he went into the city holding fast that young man’s hand and saying to him: ‘These things which you have seen, child, are but a few of the many which God has; for it is not about these visible things that he brings good news to us, but greater things than these he promises us.

24 So long as we are in the body we cannot speak and declare what he gives to our souls. We say that he gives us light, this is a visible thing and we possess it; it both exists and is visible in this world, and we name it, and do not require it, for it has been said: “Hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven.” If we speak of the cloak which the luxurious in this life put on, it is named and it has been said: “They who wear soft garments are in king’s houses.”

25 Of costly banquets, concerning these we have received a commandment to beware of them, not to be “weighed down in to intemperance and drunkenness and the cares of this life.” As you have read at the service, and it is said: “Be not anxious for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, neither for your body, what you shall put on, for the life is more than meat, and the body than clothes.”

26 If we speak of this rest which is temporal, judgment is appointed for this also. But we speak about the world above, about God and angels, about watchers and saints, about the ambrosial soma and the drink of the true vine, about clothing that endures and does not grow old, about things which the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, neither have they entered into the hearts of sinful people; things which God has prepared for those who love him.

27 These things we discuss, and about these we bring good tidings. Do you also, therefore, believe in him, that you may live, and set in him your trust, and you shall not die. For he is not persuaded by gifts, that you should offer to him; nor does he need sacrifices, that you should sacrifice to him. But look to him from the heart, and he will not disregard you; and turn to him, and he will not forsake you; and you will receive the true knowledge of things above and below now and forever and of before and after.

28 For his comeliness and beauty will make you eager to love him, but also it does not allow you to turn yourself away.’

‘If you are not lifted up you cannot see me...’

29 When the apostle spoke these things to the youth, a great multitude joined them. The apostle looked and saw them raising themselves on high that they might see him, and they were going up into high places, and the apostle said to them: ‘You that have come to the assembly of Christ, and would believe on Yesu, take an example from this. If you are not lifted up you cannot see me who am but little, and you will not be able to spy on me who am really like you all. If, then, you cannot see me who are like you unless you lift yourselves up a little from the earth, how can you see him that dwell in the height and now is found in the depth? – unless you first lift yourselves up from where you stood before in your unprofitable deeds, and your desires that abide not, and the wealth that is left here, and the possession of earth that grows old, and the clothes that corrupts, and the beauty that waxes old and vanishes away, and yet more out of the whole body wherein all these things are stored up, and which grows old and becomes dust, returning to its own nature? 25 For it is the body which maintains all these things.

30 Rather believe on our Lord Yesu Christ, of whom we preach, that your hope may be in him and in him you may have life without end, that he may become your fellow traveller in this land of error, and may be to you a harbour in this troubled sea.

31 He shall be to you a fountain springing up in this thirsty land and a chamber full of food in this place of them that hunger, and a rest to your souls, yes, and a physician for your bodies.’

32 Then the multitude of them that were gathered around hearing these things wept, and said to the apostle: ‘0 man of God, the God whom you preach, we dare not say that we are his, for the works which we have done are alien to him and not pleasing to him; but if he will have compassion on us and pity us and save us, overlooking our former deeds, and will set us free from the evils which we committed being in error, and not impute them to us nor make remembrance of our former sins, we will become his servants and will accomplish his will to the end.’ The apostle answered them and said: ‘He reckons not against you, neither takes account of the sins which you committed being in error, but overlooks your transgressions which you have done in ignorance.’26

The colt

33 While the apostle stood in the highway and spoke with the multitude, a she- colt came and stood before him and Judas said: ‘It is not without the direction of God that this colt has come here.’

34 He said; ‘0 colt, by the grace of our Lord there shall be given to you speech before these multitudes that are standing here; now whatsoever you must, that they may believe in the God of truth whom we preach.’

35 The mouth of the colt was opened, and it spoke, saying: ‘You twin of Christ, apostle of the Most High and initiate in the hidden word of Christ who receives his secret oracles, fellow worker with the son of God, who being free have become a bondman, and being sold have brought many into liberty. You kinsman of the great race that have condemned the enemy and redeemed his own, that have become an occasion of life to man in the land of the Indians; for you have come, not by your own will, to us that are in error, and by your appearing and your divine words they are now turning to the God of truth which sent you. Mount and sit upon me and repose yourself until you enter into the city.’

36 The apostle answered and said: ‘O Christ that understands the perfect mercy! O tranquillity and silence that now speak among brute beasts! O hidden rest, that are manifested by your works, Saviour of us and nourisher, keeping us and resting in alien bodies! O Saviour of our spirits! Spring that is sweet and unfailing; fountain secure and dear and never polluted; defender and helper in the fight of your own servants, turning away and scaring the enemy from us, that fights in many battles for us and makes us conquerors in all; our true and undefeated athlete; our holy and victorious captain. Glorious and giving to your own a joy that never passes away, and a relief wherein is none affliction; good shepherd that gives yourself for your own sheep, and have vanquished the wolf and redeemed your own lambs and led them into a good pasture. We glorify and praise you, and your invisible Father the Holy Spirit, and Wisdom the Mother of all creation.’

37 When the apostle had said these things, all the multitudes were there looking upon him, expecting to hear what he would answer to the colt.

38 The apostle stood a long time as if he was astonished, and looked up into heaven and said to the colt: ‘Of whom are you and to whom do you belong? For marvellous are the things that came forth from your mouth, and amazing as such are hidden from the many.’

39 The colt answered: ‘I am of that stock that served Balaam, and your Lord and teacher also sat upon one that appertained to me by race. I also have now been sent to give you rest by your sitting upon me: and I may receive faith, and to me may be added that portion which now I shall receive by your service wherewith I serve you; and when I have ministered to you, it shall be taken from me.’

40 The apostle said to him: ‘He is able who granted you this gift, to cause it to be fulfilled to the end in you and in them that belong to you by race; for as to this mystery I am weak and powerless.’

41 The apostle would not sit upon him, but the colt beseeched and entreated him that he might be blessed by him by ministering to him. Then the apostle mounted him and sat upon him; and they followed him, some going before and some following after, and all of them ran, desiring to see the end, and how he would dismiss the colt.

42 But when he came near to the city gates he dismounted from him, saying: ‘Depart, and be you kept safe where you go.’ Straightaway the colt fell to the ground at the apostle’s feet and died.

43 All they that were present were sorry and said to the apostle: ‘Bring him to life and raise him up.’ But he answered and said to them: ‘I indeed am able to raise him by the name of Yesu Christ, but this is by everything the better way. For he that gave him speech that he might talk was able to cause that he should not die; and I raise him not, not as being unable, but because this is that which is expedient and profitable for him.’ He asked them that were present to dig a trench and bury his body and they did as they were commanded.