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Judas Thomas — Hymn of the Robe of Glory

Also known as: The Hymn of the Pearl

“The Hymn of Judas Thomas the Apostle in the Country of the Indians”  — Translation from the Syriac by William Wright, Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (London, 1871), pp. 238-245.  Illegible words are indicated by (…).

A — Dwelt As Child — Content With Nourishers
When I was a little child, and dwelling in my kingdom, in my father’s house, and was content with the wealth and the luxuries of my nourishers, from the East, our home,

B1 — Equipped And Sent
my parents equipped me (and) sent me forth;

B2 — Load Large And Light — Gold, Silver, Rubies, Agates, Adamant
and of the wealth of our treasury they took abundantly, (and) tied up for me a load large and (yet) light, which I myself could carry, gold of Beth-Ellaya, and silver of Gazak the great, and rubies of India, and agates from Beth-Kashan, and they furnished me with the adamant, which can crush iron.

B3 — Took Off Robe, Toga — Wrote It In My Heart That It Might Not Be Forgotten
And they took off from me the glittering robe, which in their affection they made for me, and the purple toga, which was measured (and) woven to my stature. And they made a compact with me, and wrote it in my heart, that it might not be forgotten:

  “(a/b.) If thou goest down into Egypt, and bringest the one pearl,

    (c/d.) which is in the midst of the sea around the loud-breathing serpent,

     (e/f.) thou shalt put on thy glittering robe and thy toga, with which (thou art) contented, and with thy brother, who is next to us in authority, thou shalt be heir in our kingdom.”

C1 —  Maishan, Babel, Sarbug
I quitted the East (and) went down, there being two guardians, for the way was dangerous and difficult, and I was very young to travel it. I passed through the borders of Maishan, the meeting-place of the merchants of the East, and I reached the land of Babel, and I entered the walls of Sarbug.

C2 — Straight To The Serpent — Single And Alone
I went down into Egypt, and my companions parted from me. I went straight to the serpent, I dwelt in his abode, (waiting) till he should lumber and sleep, and I could take my pearl from him. And when I was single and alone (and) became strange to my family, one of my race, a free-born man, and Oriental, I saw there, a youth fair and lovable, the son of oil-sellers; and he came and attached himself to me, and I made him my intimate friend, and associate with whom I shared my merchandise. I warned him against the Egyptians, and against consorting with the unclean;

C3 — Dressed In Their Dress
And I dressed in their dress, that they might not hold me in abhorrence, because I was come from abroad in order to take the pearl, and arouse the serpent against me. But in some way other or another they found out that I was not their countryman, and they dealt with me treacherously, and gave their food to eat.

D1 — Son Of Kings
I forget that I was a son of kings, and I served their king;

D2 — Forgot The Pearl
and I forgot the pearl, for which my parents had sent me,

E1 — Cause
and because of the burden of their oppressions

E2 — Deep Sleep
I lay in a deep sleep.

E3 — Letter Signed
But all this things that befell me my parents perceived, and were grieved for me; and proclamation was made in our kingdom, that every one should come to our gate [kingdom], kings and princes of Parthia, and all the nobles of the East. And they wove a plan on my behalf, that I might not be left in Egypt; and they wrote to me a letter, and every noble signed his name to it:

F — Letter (See/Remember)
  a/b. “From thy father, the king of kings, and thy mother, the mistress [Queen] of the East, and from thy brother, our second (in authority), to thee our son, who art in Egypt, greeting!

     c/d. Call to mind that thou art a son of kings!

      e/f. See the slavery,– whom thou servest!
e/f. Remember the pearl, for which thou was sent to Egypt!

    c/d. Think of thy robe, and remember thy splendid toga, which thou shalt wear and (with which) thou shalt be adorned,

  a/b. when thy name hath been read out in the list of the valiant, and thy brother, our viceroy, thou shalt be in our kingdom.”

E3’ — Letter Sealed
My letter is a letter, which the king sealed with his own right hand, (to keep it) from the wicked ones, the children of Babel, and from the savage demons of Sarbug. It flew in the likeness of an eagle, the king of all birds; it flew and alight beside me, and became all speech.

E2’ — Arose From Sleep
At its voice and the sound of its rustling, I started and arose from my sleep.

E1’ — Result
I took it up and kissed it, and I began (and) read it; and according to what was traced on my heart were the words of my letter.

D1’ — Son Of Royal Parents
I remembered that I was a son of royal parents, and my noble birth asserted itself.

D2’ — Remembered The Pearl
I remembered the pearl, for which I had been sent to Egypt,

D1’ — Name Of My Father, Our Second, My Mother
and I began to charm him, the terrible loud breathing serpent. I hushed him asleep and lulled him into slumber, for my father’s name I named over him, and the name of our second (in power), and the [name] of my mother, the queen of the East.

D2’ — Snatched The Pearl
And I snatched away the pearl, and turned to go back to my father’s house.

C3’ — Stripped Off Unclean Dress
And their filthy and unclean dress I stripped off, and left it in their country;

C2’ — Straight To Light Of Our Home — My Awakener Drew Me On
and I took my way straight to come to the light of our home in the East. And my letter, my awakener, I found before me on the road; and as with its voice it had awakened me, (so) too with its light it was leading me. It, that dwelt in the palace, gave light before me with its form, and with its voice and its guidance it also encouraged me to speed, and with its love it drew me on.

C1’ — Sarbug, Babel, Maishan
I went forth (and) passed by Sarbug; I left Babel on my left hand; and I came to the great Maisan, to the haven of merchants, which sitteth on the shore of the sea.

B1’ — Robe And Toga Sent
And my bright robe, which I had stripped off, and the toga that was wrapped with it, from Rantha and Reken(?) my parents had sent thither by the hand of their treasurers, who in their truth could be trusted therewith.

B2’ — Garmet Mirror Of Myself — Gold, Beryls, Rubies, Agates, Sardonyres, Diamond Clasps, Sapphire — Image Of King In Full All Over It
And because I remembered not its fashion,– or in my childhood I had left it in my father’s house,– on a sudden, when I received it, the garment seemed to me to become like a mirror of myself. I saw it all in all, and I too received all in it, for we were two in distinction and yet gain one in one likeness. And the treasurers too, who brought it to me, I saw in like manner to be two (and yet) one likeness, for one sign of the king was written on them (both), of the hands of him who restored to me through them my trust and my wealth, my decorated robe, which was adorned with glorious colors, with gold and beryls and rubies and agates and sardonyxes, varied in color. And it was skillfully worked in its home on high, and with diamond clasps were all its seams fastened; and the image of the king of kings was embroidered and depicted in full all over it, and like the stone of the sapphire too its hues were varied.

B3’ — Poured Itself Entirely Over Me — Love Urged Me To Run To Meet It And Receive It
And I saw also that all over it the instincts of knowledge were working, and I saw too that it was preparing to speak. I heard the sound of its tones, which it uttered with its….., (saying):

  “(a/b.) I am the active in deeds,

    (c/d.) whom they reared for him before my father;

      (e/f.) and I perceived myself, that my stature grew according to his labors.”

And in its kingly movements it poured itself entirely over me, and on the hand of its givers it hastened that I might take it. And love urged me too run to meet it and receive it; and I stretched forth and took it. With the beauty of its colors I adorned myself, and I wrapped myself wholly in my toga of brilliant hues. I clothed myself with it, and went up to the gate of salutation and prostration;

A’ — Worshipped The Majesty Of My Father
I bowed my head and worshiped the majesty of my father who sent me,–

B3’ — He Had Done What He Proimsed
for I had done his commandments, and he too had done what he promised,–

A’ — I Mingled With His Princes — With Him In His Kingdom
and the gate of his…., I mingled with his princes, for he rejoiced in me and received me, and I was with him in his kingdom, and with the voice of…. all his servants praised him.

B4’ — Further Promise To Go With Him To Our King
And he promised that to the gate too of the king of kings with him I should go, and with my offering and my pearl with him should present myself to our king.


The Hymn of Judas Thomas the Apostle, which he spake in prison, is ended.


Summary outline 

A — Dwelt as Child — Content with Nourishers
B1 — Equipped and Sent
B2 — Load large and light — gold, silver, rubies, agates, adamant
B3 — Took off Robe, Toga — wrote it in my heart that it might not be forgotten

C1 — Maishan, Babel, Sarbug
C2 — Straight to the serpent — single and alone
C3 — Dressed in their Dress
D1 — Son of Kings
D2 — Forgot the Pearl

E1 — Cause
E2 — Deep Sleep
E3 — Letter Written, Signed
F — Letter
E3’ — Letter Becomes All Speech
E2’ — Arose from sleep
E1’ — Result

D1’ — Son of Royal Parents
D2’ — Remembered the Pearl
D1’ — Name of my Father, our Second, my Mother
D2’ — Snatched the Pearl
C3’ — Stripped off Unclean Dress
C2’ — Straight to light of our home — my awakener drew me on
C1’ — Sarbug, Babel, Maishan

B1’ — Robe and Toga Sent
B2’ — Garment Mirror of Myself — gold, beryls, rubies, agates, sardonyres, diamond clasps, sapphire — image of King in full all over it
B3’ — Poured itself entirely over me — love urged me to run to meet it and receive it

A’ — Worshiped the Majesty of my Father
B3’ — He had done what he Promised

A’ — I mingled with his Princes — with him in His Kingdom
B4’ — Further Promise to go with him to our King


As outlined by Scott L. Vanatter

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