German Researchers Discover Earliest Known Manuscript About Jesus’ Childhood

Researchers in Germany have deciphered what they believe to be the oldest known manuscript containing details about Jesus’ childhood.

The manuscript, dating back over 1,600 years to the 4th or 5th century, was previously kept at a library in Hamburg, Germany, unnoticed due to its seemingly insignificant nature.

“This fragment is incredibly valuable for research,” stated Lajos Berkes, a professor and one of the researchers who decoded the document, in a press release. “Firstly, its dating to the 4th to 5th century makes it the earliest known copy. Secondly, it provides new insights into the text’s transmission.”

“It was initially believed to be a mundane document like a personal letter or shopping list because the handwriting appeared so clumsy,” he continued. “We first noticed the word ‘Jesus’ in the text. Then, through comparison with numerous other digitized papyri, we deciphered it letter by letter and swiftly realized it couldn’t be an ordinary document.”

Berkes explained that the document is a fragment of the Gospel of Thomas, an apocryphal book excluded from the canonical Gospels. This gospel offers details about Jesus’ life as a child before his ministry.

The manuscript’s poor handwriting led Berkes to believe it was likely produced as a writing exercise within a monastery or school.

Despite containing only a handful of words, the researchers were able to determine that the manuscript tells a version of the “vivication of the sparrows” story.

“Jesus plays at the ford of a rushing stream and molds twelve sparrows from the soft clay he finds in the mud. When his father Joseph rebukes him and asks why he is doing such things on the holy Sabbath, the five-year-old Jesus claps his hands and brings the clay figures to life,” the press release stated.