Tag Archives: growing up

Bad Jesus

8 Feb

I grew up in a time when “juniorized” versions of popular (cartoon) characters were almost more common than their adult originals. From the Star Wars laden, delightful Muppet Babies to the terribly bland A Pup Named Scooby Doo, beloved, earnest, and admirable characters became even more adorable when transformed into younger versions of themselves. The formula seems logical: the innocence, naivete, and lack of power in childhood allows for slightly different (and easily pumped out) stories about characters with already well-defined personalities.

Not so with the tales of baby Jesus in the ancient world. In the beginning of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, five-year-old Jesus is a murderous, vengeful bully–think Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son–with superpowers. While Jesus plays at building clay sparrows and creating pools of water beside a stream, a scribe’s son takes a tree branch and disperses the water he collected. In response, Jesus drains the kid of his youth: “the child withered up completely,” and his parents “bemoaned his lost youth.”

Lest this seem like the worst kind of overreaction, Jesus quickly tops this perverse poetic justice. While taking a walk in the village, another child accidentally knocks into Jesus’ shoulder. Jesus strikes him down dead, exclaiming “You shall not go further on your way.” When the murdered child’s parents tell Joseph to control his kid, Jesus makes the parents blind by uttering the words, “these people shall bear their punishment.”

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