In my previous post in this thread I tried to show how one way to show that a text that embraced a “problematic” view (e.g., a potentially heretical understanding of Jesus as an *adopted* son of God instead of, say, the *eternal* son of God) was by interpreting it in light of *other* texts that held more acceptable views.  I named an example in my previous post.  I end the thread here with this one.


A similar emphasis might be detected behind the entertaining stories of other infancy Gospels, including the one that is arguably the earliest, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.  It’s true that later authors like Irenaeus found this set of tales distasteful and even heretical; according to Ireneaus (assuming that he was referring to our Infancy Thomas, which I think he was; Adv. Haer 1:20) this was a gnostic text that inappropriately emphasized Jesus’ gnosis at a young age, when confronting his teachers with supernatural knowledge.  But there’s little in the text itself actually to suggest a Gnostic origin.  In fact, these stories about Jesus as a miracle-working Wunderkind may well have been popular tales told among the proto-orthodox who were interested in knowing what the miracle working Son of God was like as a child.  What matters for my purposes here is that Jesus is shown in these tales to have supernatural powers simply as part of his being.  He brings clay pidgeons to life, he withers his playmates, he strikes dead those who offend him; he raises people from the dead, he heals snakebite, he pulls off a handy miracle now and again in the home and in the carpenter shop.  All of this is effortless and innate in his nature.  Jesus is the miracle working son of God because of who he is, not because he has been chosen as a human to fulfill God’s mission on earth, and not because some other divine power has come upon him from the outside enabling him to do miraculous deeds.

Unlock 4,000+ Articles Like This!

Get access to Dr. Ehrman's library of 4,000+ articles plus five new articles per week about the New Testament and early Christianity. It costs as little as $2.99/mth and every cent goes to charity!

Learn More!