Tag Archives: Narrative of Pseudo-Melito

Jesus and The Giving Tree

4 Mar

In the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, after the infant Jesus tames a few dragons and befriends a pride of lions–you know, developmentally appropriate activities for his age bracket–Mary, Joseph, and Jesus encounter a palm tree in the desert. New-mother Mary wants to “rest a little in the shade” after three days of travel in the heat. Eager to ease her fatigue, baby Jesus commands their arboreal companion: “‘O tree, bend your branches and refresh my mother with your fruit.'” The tree bows to obey, and “they gathered from it fruit with which they all refreshed themselves.” The palm even stays bowed down until, at Jesus’ request for water, it rises up “immediately, and at its root there began to gush out a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling.” There’s a palpable The Giving Tree ambiguity here, somewhere between “how sweet and generous” and “this tree’s being abused!”

Unlike the boy in Silverstein’s book, however, Jesus doesn’t simply abandon his devoted tree once it’s offered up everything it’s got. Just when the family’s ready to move on the next day, Jesus addresses the generous-but-still-thriving tree: “‘This privilege I give you, O palm-tree, that one of your branches be carried away by my angels, and planted in the paradise of my Father.” After an angel flies up “to heaven with the branch in his hand,” we don’t hear of this tree again…

Continue reading