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Ancient Manuscript Reveals Earliest Account of Jesus Christ’s Childhood

A newly deciphered manuscript dating back 1,600 years has been identified as the oldest written record of Jesus Christ’s childhood. The piece of papyrus, stored in a university library in Hamburg, Germany, for decades, was long believed to be unimportant until two experts, Dr. Lajos Berkes and Professor Gabriel Nocchi Macedo, studied it and identified it as the earliest surviving copy of the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas.”

The translation marks a significant discovery for the research field, as it was previously believed that the earliest version of this gospel was a codex from the 11th century. The document, dated between the 4th and 5th century, contains 13 lines in Greek letters and originates from late antique Egypt.


The stories in the document are not in the Bible, but the papyrus contains anecdotes that would have been widely shared in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The document describes a “miracle” that Jesus performed as a child, according to the Gospel of Thomas, which says he brought clay figures of birds to life.

The document was written in Greek, confirming for researchers that the gospel was originally written in that language. The papyrus went ignored for so long because past researchers considered it “insignificant,” but new technology helped Berkes and Macedo decipher the language on the fragment and compare it to other early Christian texts.

Berkes and Macedo believe that the gospel was created as a writing exercise in a school or monastery, explaining the clumsy handwriting and irregular lines.

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