THE APOCRYPHA AND THE INFANT GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. THOMAS
That most immortal of the literary aggravators Gore Vidal once claimed: “The fate of books is incalculable”, a statement I find most applicable to this tale. Firstly I find it quite interesting, when you walk in any library of sacred texts within the most well established of any libraries or depositaries of books around the world that you can find the same book, yet encounter the various versions of it as it relay’s its messages across the centuries. Of course, like a firm bloodstream a message can flow throughout the necessary passages of time with little to no trouble, but as times change and attitudes, like blood, can be squeezed, filtered, diluted, re- directed and reformed to wherever the canals take it, so think of such things as I tell you this story.
Firstly I was traversing into Melbourne to see a fellow writer friend of mine, to work on a new form of fiction to which a young boy of 8 becomes emotionally attached to a poltergeist which haunts the house on which he lives…an entertaining little side project which I must confess, I had little hopes for. The weather (as is typical of any location spotted around Victoria) was in a bipolar frenzy. The wind was hot and air was sticky and humid. This lead to the darkest and most vicious clouds I can recall ever seeing, so a storm struck Melbourne flooding most of it’s metro tunnels and turning the whole city to a standstill. Luckily I had just emerged from Melbourne Central station, where trains were now unable to move (as where the people who depended on its functions). The whole shopping complex to which the station was apart of was bundled with the stench of irritable humans and accompanied by a noise just as fitting. As I had no intention to stay around in such a place and seeing as how the train lines were currently indisposed I ventured across the street towards the State Library (which was standing on a hill thank god!) to indulge into some literary pleasures. As I entered the doorways I was surprised as to the lack of human presence and how quiet it all seemed (Oh what bliss it was!).
The pollution of the outside world, both scented and visual, was completely vacuumed in my mind by the affluence of the buildings interior. It was that perfect mixture of the embrace of ancient Hellenic architecture and modern infrastructure. I walked through to decide which aspect of the library I wished to go, but seeing as the biblical nature of the storm was rattling away the interior of the building it seemed only fitting that I gravitated towards the section on anglo-christian literature, something which i had long magnetised away from (the reasons as to why they are so agitative for me is too long a complicated story dating back to schoolyard years).
My eyes glided along the large hard covers of the various crumpled books, ascertaining to many varying degrees of literature which I had not seen. All of them began to blur into one however, seething into each other in recited out burgundy and crinkled browns, all seeming most unpleasant to look at, but the smell of these books! They tinged the air with their antiquity. But one particular, larger, more solidly constructed version took my investigation by surprise. This book looked larger, more formidable than anything that was on display. It didn’t even to seem to be a book but rather, a collection of ancient pages that should of being in a museum rather than cringing away into dust in a library seemingly unsuitable for such rare items.
It seemed to be a manuscript more than anything, so I picked it up and placed it delicately down onto one of the spare tables. The cover of it glistened with the charm of quill delicacy, a form so patiently calligraphied and so fluently smooth that it seemed to singe my mind with feelings of magnificence to which I had never known. It stated “The Forgotten Books of Eden”, and immediately I was fascinated. At first I was surprised at the state of the manuscript and of it’s age being published in english, the style and bearing of the letters, the formatting of the paragraphs seemed to me lie it should of being published in Greek, Hebrew, or Latin, but it seemed to translate into a finely tuned and lovely form of english verse and prose.
These were stories i hd never seen before, contradicting and rephrasing the bible in ways i had never imagined. It was spell binding. As I read onwards for around 2 hours (though it felt inconceivably infinite I was in such rapture) I stumbled upon a story most fascinating. It was entitled, again in exquisite penmanship, “The Infant Gospel According to Saint Thomas”, an intriguing enough title, though my attention was quickly grabbed by the words and phrasing of the early childhood of Jesus Christ, where he is described as brutally murdering a small child because of his dismissal of Christ’s miracles of turning mud into swalows:
And when Jesus saw what was done, he was wroth and said unto him: O evil, ungodly, and foolish one, what hurt did the pools and the waters do thee? behold, now also thou shalt be withered like a tree, and shalt not bear leaves, neither root, nor fruit. 3 And straightway that lad withered up wholly, but Jesus departed and went unto Joseph’s house. But the parents of him that was withered took him up, bewailing his youth, and brought him to Joseph, and accused him ‘for that thou hast such a child which doeth such deeds.’
As I read on I found more disturbing acknowledgements of our estranged spiritual leader. The world seemed to grow dark, and my soul darker with it. The rest of the day was tormented by this fact, I was afraid; why had this being omitted from most versions of the bible i could not say. I made a mistake though. As I headed to my friend’s and began to drink away, I told him about the tales and stories I found out of the manuscript and how it disturbed me, how rare and how strange the whole text was.
I had believed I had discovered some bizarre conspiracy; a murder tale taken straight out of the bible, something to which most believers of the christian faith choose to ignore. He was quick to grab his laptop, he typed it in most precariously, and he showed me the text, word for word of what I had seen, pasted on a internet search board.
The information had being there the whole time, so had the story, but the search bar equivalent was much easier, direct, and forward. I was confused, so I sipped away at my cheap Japanese beer, waited for some other conversation to pop up, and quickly pretended to forget the incident.
I was disappointed for purely selfish reasons, I was angry, but was I angry at how i had discovered it? Or was I disappointed in the text itself? I may never know, but when i went to the library the next day, i could not find the manuscript, it had disappeared, vanished…or had being removed. I asked the lovely library lady about the text, she searched it up in the computer:
“We have no such book, I’m sorry” She stated unblinkingly “but if you type it into google you should find it very easily.”
“Thank you” I said, and walked back out into the dirty streets.