Due for publication in July 2011 The Childhood of Jesus sees the Infancy Gospel of Thomas as reflecting oral storytelling, and possessing far more narrative qualities than has been previously assumed. He situates the story within rural Christianity among the common people, with the social and cultural ideas and values characteristic of such a milieu, and argues that it can even be considered the first Christian children’s story.
This book gives a fresh interpretation of the infancy gospel and comes to a number of radical and new conclusions. Aasgaard presents the history of research history and analyses its story, transmission, narrative world and values, theology, views of gender and childhood, social setting, and audience – much of which has not been previously treated.
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas was probably the first of many attempts by the early Christians to document the first twelve years of Jesus’s life, bridging the gap left in the second chapter of Luke. This ancient tale about Jesus’s boyhood years narrates his play with other children, miraculous deeds, first visits to school, and conflicts with his teachers.
Originating in second-century, Greek-speaking Christianity, it was quickly translated into other languages, including Latin and Syriac, and enjoyed widespread popularity in the Middle Ages, when it was included as part of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.
Although it has often been claimed that the gospel is heretical Aasgaard argues that the theology mirrors mainstream thinking rooted in biblical tradition, particularly in the Johannine and Lukan traditions. Jesus is portrayed as a divine figure but also as a true-to-life child of late antiquity.
The volume includes the Greek text of the gospel with an English translation, as well as extensive appendices, among them surveys of its historical evidence, variants in the stories, and other ancient infancy gospels.
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