home English Tracks New Testament Apocrypha (Ft. Laura Nasrallah & Wilhelm Schneemelcher) – Acts of Paul and Thecla

New Testament Apocrypha (Ft. Laura Nasrallah & Wilhelm Schneemelcher) – Acts of Paul and Thecla

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New Testament Apocrypha (Ft. Laura Nasrallah & Wilhelm Schneemelcher) – Acts of Paul and Thecla

1. As Paul went up to Iconium after his flight from Antioch, his travelling companions were Demas and Hermogenes the copper-smith,4 who were full of hypocrisy and flattered Paul as if they loved him. But Paul, who had eyes only for the goodness of Christ, did them no evil,5 but loved them greatly, so that he sought to make sweet to them all the words of the Lord, of the doctrine and of the interpretation of the Gospel, both of the birth and of the resurrection of the Beloved, and he related to them word for word the great acts of Christ as they had been revealed to him.

2. And a man named Onesiphorus,7 who had heard that Paul has come to Iconium,8 went out with his children Simmias and Zeno and his wife Lectra 9 to meet Paul, that he might receive him to his house. For Titus had told him what Paul looked like like. For (hitherto) he had not seen him in the flesh, but only in the spirit.

3. And he went along the royal road which leads to Lystra, and stood there waiting for him, and looked at (all) who came, according to Titus’ description. And he saw Paul coming, a man small of stature, with a bald head and. crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness; for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel. 1

4. And when Paul saw Onesiphorus he smiled; and Onesiphorus said: “Greeting, thou servant of the blessed God!” And he replied: “Grace be with thee and thy houser But Demas and Hermogenes grew jealous, and went even further in their hypocrisy; so that Demas said: “Are we then not (servants) of the Blessed, that thou didst not greet us thus?” And Onesiphorus said: “I do not see in you any fruit of righteousness; but if ye are anything, come ye also into my house and rest yourselves!”

5. And when Paul was entered into the house of Onesiphorus there was great joy, and bowing of knees and breaking of bread, and the word of God concerning continence and the resurrection, as Paul said:”Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 11 Blessed are they who. have kept the flesh pure, for they shall become a temple of God.12 Blessed are the continent, for to them will God speak. Blessed are they who have renounced this world, for they shall be well pleasing unto God. Blessed are they who have wives as if they had them not, for they shall inherit God. 13 Blessed are they who have fear of God, for they shall become angels of God.

6 Blessed are they who tremble at the words of God, for they shall be comforted. 14 . Blessed are they who have received (the) wisdom of Jesus Christ, for they shall be called sons of the Most High.15 Blessed are they who have kept their baptism secure,16 for they shall rest with the Father and the Son. Blessed are they who have laid hold upon the understanding of Jesus Christ, for they shall be in light. Blessed are they who through love of God have departed from the form of this world, for they shall judge angels 17 and at the Right hand of the Father they shall be blessed. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy? And shall not see the bitter day of Judgment. Blessed are the bodies of the virgins, for they shall be well pleasing to God, and shall not lose the reward of their purity.19 For the word of the Father shall be for them a work of salvation in the day of his Son, and they shall have rest forever and ever.”

7. And while Paul was ‘thus speaking in the midst of the assembly in the house of Onesiphorus, a virgin (named) Thecla-her mother was Theocleia,-who was betrothed to a man (named) Thamyris, sat at a near-by window and listened night and day to the word of the virgin life as it was spoken by Paul; and she did not turn away from the window but pressed. on in the faith rejoicing exceedingly. Moreover, when she saw many women and virgins going in to Paul she desired to be counted worthy herself to stand in Paul’s presence5 and hear the word of Christ; for she had not yet seen Paul in person, but only heard his word.

8. Since however she did not move from the window, her mother sent to Thamyris. He came in great joy as if he were already taking her in marriage. So Thamyris said to Theocleia “Where is my Thecla, that I may see her?”22 And 23 Theocleia said: “I have a new tale to tell thee, Thamyris. For indeed for three days and three nights Thecla has not risen from the window either to eat or to drink, but gazing steadily as if on some joyful spectacle she so devotes herself to a strange man who teaches deceptive and subtle words that I wonder how a maiden of such modesty as she is can be so sorely troubled.

9. Thamyris, this man is upsetting the city of the Iconians, and thy Tecla in addition; for all the women and young people go in to him, and are taught by him. ‘You must’ he says, ‘fear one single God only, and live chastely.’ And my daughter also, like a spider at the window bound by his words, is dominated by a new desire and a fearful passion; for the maiden hangs upon the things he says, and is taken captive. But go thou to her and speak to her, for she is betrothed to thee.”

10 . And Thamyris went to her, at one and the same time loving her and yet afraid of her distraction, and said: “Thecla, my betrothed, why dost thou sit thus? And what is this passion that holds thee distracted? Turn to thy Thamyris and be ashamed.” And her mother also said the same: “Child, why dost thou sit thus looking down and making no answer, but like one stricken?” And those who were in the house wept bitterly, Thamyris for the loss of a wife, Theocleia for that of a daughter, the maidservants for that of a mistress. So there was a great confusion of mourning in the house. And while this was going on (all around her) Thecla did not turn away, but gave her whole attention to Paul’s word.

11. But Thamyris sprang up and went out into the street, and closely watched all who went in to Paul and came out. And he saw two men quarrelling bitterly with one another, and said to them: “You men, who are you, tell me, and who is he that is inside with you, the false teacher who deceives the souls of young men and maidens, that they should not marry but remain as they are? I promise now to give you much money if you will tell me about him; for I am the first man of this city.”

12. And Demas and Hermogenes said to him: “Who this man is, we do not know. But he deprives young men of wives and maidens of husbands, saying: ‘Otherwise there is no resurrection for you, expect ye remain chaste and do not defile the flesh 24.

13. And Thamyris said to them: “Come into my house, you men, and rest with me.” And ·they went off to a sumptuous banquet, with much wine, great wealth and a splendid table. And Thamyris gave them to drink, for he loved Thecla and wished to have her for his wife. And during the dinner Thamyris said: “Tell me, you men, what is his teaching, that I also may know it; for I am greatly distressed about Thecla because she so loves the stranger, and I am deprived of my marriage.”

14. But Demas and Hermogenes _said: “Bring him before the governor Castellius, on the ground that he is seducing the crowds to the new doctrine of the Christians, and so he will have him executed and thou halt have thy wife Thecla. And we shall teach thee concerning the resurrection which he says is to come, that it has already taken place in the children whom we have,© and that we are risen again in that we have come to know the true God.”26

15. When Thamyris had heard this from them, he rose up early in the morning full of jealousy and wrath and went to the house of Onesiphorus with the rulers and officers and a great crowd with cudgels, and said to Paul: “Thou hast destroyed the city of the Iconians, and my betrothed, so that she will not have me. Let us go to the governor Castelli us!” And the whole crowd shouted: “Away with the sorcerer! For he has corrupted all our wives.” And the multitude let themselves be persuaded.

16. And Thamyris stood before the judgment-seat and cried aloud: “Proconsul, this man-we know not whence he is-who does not allow maidens to marry, let him declare before thee for what cause he teaches these things.” And Demas and Hermogenes said to Thamyris: “Say that he is a Christian, and so thou wilt destroy him.” But the governor was not easily to be swayed, and he called Paul, saying to him: “Who art thou, and what dost thou teach? For it is no light accusation that they bring against thee.”27

17. And Paul lifted up his voice and said: “If I today am examined as to what I teach, then listen, Proconsul. The living God,28 the God of vengeance, 29 the jealous God, 30 the God who has need of nothing, has sent me since he desires the salvation of men, that I may draw them away from corruption and impurity, all pleasure and death, that they may sin no more. For this cause God sent His own Son, whom I preach and teach that in him men have hope, who alone had compassion upon a world in error; that men may no longer be under judgment but have faith, and fear of God, and knowledge of Prosperity and love of truth. If then I teach the things revealed to me by God, what wrong do I do, Proconsul?” When the governor heard this, he commanded Paul to be bound and led off to prison until he should find leisure to give him a more attentive hearing.31

18. But Thecla in the night-took off her bracelets and gave them to the door-keeper, and when the door was opened for her she went off to the prison. To the gaoler she gave a silver mirror, and so went in to Paul and sat at his feet and heard. (him proclaim) the mighty acts of God.32 And Paul feared nothing, but comported himself with full confidence in God; and her faith also was increased, as she kissed his fetters.

19. But when Thecla was sought for by her own people and by Thamyris, they hunted her through the streets as one lost; and one of the door-keeper’s fellow slaves betrayed that she had gone out by night. And they questioned the door-keeper, and he told them: “She has gone to the stranger in the prison.” And they went as he had told them and found her, so to speak, bound with him in affection. And they went out thence, rallied the crowd about them, and disclosed to the governor what had happened.33

20. He commanded Paul to be brought to the judgment-seat; but Thecla rolled herself upon the place where Paul taught as he sat in the prison. The governor commanded her also to be brought to the judgment seat, and she went off with joy exulting. But when Paul was brought forward again, the crowd shouted out even louder: “He is a sorcerer! Away with him !”34 But the governor heard Paul gladly concerning the holy works of Christ; and when he had taken counsel he called Thecla and said: “Why dost thou not marry Thamyris according to the law of the Iconians ?” But she stood there looking steadily at Paul. And when she did not answer, Theocleia her mother cried out saying: “Burn the lawless one! Burn her that is no bride in the midst of the theatre, that all the woman who have been taught by this man may be afraid!”

21. And the governor was greatly affected. He had Paul scourged and drove him out of the city,35 but Thecla he condemned to be burned. And forthwith the governor arose and went off to the theatre, and all the crowd went out to the unavoidable spectacle. But Thecla sought for Paul, as a lamb in the wilderness looks about for the shepherd. And when she looked upon the crowd, she saw the Lord sitting in the form of Paul and said: “As if I were not able to endure, Paul has come to look after me.” And she looked steadily at him; but he departed into the heavens.

22. Now the young men and maidens brought wood and straw that Thecla might be burned. And as she was brought in naked, the governor wept and marvelled at the power that was in her. The executioners laid out the wood and bade her mount the pyre; and making the sign of the Cross (i.e, stretching out her arms) she climbed up on the wood. They kindled it, and although a great fire blazed up34 the fire did not touch her. For God in compassion caused a noise beneath the earth and a cloud above, full of rain and hail, overshadowed (the theatre) and its whole content poured out, so that many were in danger and died, and the fire was quenched and Thecla saved.

23. But Paul was fasting with Onesiphorus and his wife and the children in an open tomb on the way by which they go from Iconium to Daphne. And when many days were past, as they were fasting the boys said to Paul: “We are hungry.” And they had nothing with which to buy bread, for Onesiphorus had left the things of the world and followed Paul with all his house. But Paul took off his outer garment and said: “Go, my child, 35 buy several loaves and bring them here.” But while the boy was buying he saw his neighbour Thecla, and was astonished and said: “Thecla, where art thou going?” And she said: “I am seeking after Paul, for I was saved from the fire.” And the boy said: “Come, I will take thee to him, for he has been mourning for thee and praying and fasting six days already.”

24. But when she came to the tomb Paul had bent his knees and was praying and saying: “Father of Christ, let not the fire touch Thecla, but be merciful to her, for she is thine!” But she standing behind him cried out: “Father, who didst make heaven and earth,36 the Father of thy beloved Son ,37 I praise thee that thou didst save me from the fire, that I might see Paul!” and as Paul arose he saw her and said: “O God the knower of hearts,38 Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I praise thee that thou hast so speedily. what I asked, and hast hearkened unto me.”

25. And within in the tomb there was much love, Paul rejoicing, and Onesiphorus and all of them. But they had five loaves, and vegetables, and water, and they were joyful over the holy works of Christ. And Thecla said to Paul: “I will cut my hair short and follow thee wherever thou goest.”41 But he said: “The season is unfavourable, and thou art comely. May no other temptation come upon thee, worse than the first, and thou endure not and play the coward!” And Thecla said: “Only give me the seal in Christ, and temptation shall not touch me.” And paul said: “Have patience, Thecla, and thou shalt receive the water.”

26. And Paul sent away Onesiphorus with all his family to Iconium, and so taking Thecla came into Antioch. But immediately as they entered a Syrian42 by the name of Alexander, one of the first of the Antiochenes, seeing Thecla fell in love with her, and sought to win over Paul with money and gifts. But Paul said: “I do not know the woman of whom thou dost speak, not is she mine.” But he, being a powerful man, embraced her on the open street; she however would not endure it, but looked about for Paul and cried out bitterly, saying: “Force not the stranger, force not the handmaid of God! Among the Iconians I am one of the first, and because I did not wish to marry Thamyris I have been cast out of the city.” And taking hold of Alexander she ripped his cloak, took off the crown from his head, and made him a laughing-stock.

27. But he, Partly out of love for her and partly in shame at what had befallen him, brought her before the governor; and when she confessed that she had done these things, he condemned her to the beasts, .43 But the women were panic-stricken, and cried out before the judgment seat:” An evil judgement! A godless judgment!” But Thecla asked of the governor that she might remain pure until she was to fight with the beasts. And a rich woman named Tryphaena, whose daughter had died, took her under her protection and found comfort in her.

28. When the beasts were led in procession, they bound her to a fierce lioness, and the queen Tryphaena followed her. And as Thecla sat upon her back, the lioness licked her feet, and all the crowd was amazed. Now the charge upon her superscription44 was: Guilty of Sacrilege, But the women with their children cried out from above, saying: “O God, an impious judgment1 is come to pass in this city!” And after the procession Tryphaena took her again; for her daughter46 who was dead had spoken to her in a dream: “Mother, thou shalt have in my place the stranger, the desolate Thecla, that she may pray for me and I be translated to the place of the just.”47

29. So when Tryphaena received her back from the procession she was at once sorrowful, because she was to fight with the beasts on the following day, but at the same time loved her dearly like her own daughter Falconilla; and she said: “Thecla, my second child, come and pray for my child, that she may live; for this I saw in my dream.” And she without delay lifted up her voice and said: “Thou God of heaven, Son of the most High, 48 grant to her according to her wish, that her daughter Falconilla may live forever!” And when Thecla said this, Tryphaena Mourned, 49 considering that such beauty was to be thrown to the beasts.

30. And when it was dawn, Alexander came to take her away for he himself was arranging the games-and he said: “The governor has taken his place, and the crowd is clamouring for us. Give me her that is to fight the beasts, that I may take her away.” But Tryphaena cried out so that he fled, Saying:” A second mourning for my Falconilla is come upon my house, and there is non to help; neither child, for she is dead, nor kinsman, for I am a widow. O God of Thecla my child, help thou Thecla.”

31. And the governor sent soldiers to fetch Thecla. Tryphaena however did not stand aloof, but taking her hand herself led her up, saying: “My daughter Falconilla I brought to the tomb; but thee, Thecla, I bring to fight the Beasts.” And Thecla wept Bitterly and sighed to the Lord, Saying: “Lord God, in whom I trust, with whom I have taken refuge, who didst deliver me from the fire, reward thou Tryphaena, who had compassion upon thy handmaid, and because she preserved me pure.”

32. Then there was a tumult, 50 and roaring of the beasts, and a shouting of the people and of the woman who sat together, some saying: “Bring in the sacrilegious one!” but the women saying” “May the city perish for this law-lessness! Slay us all, Proconsul! A bitter sight, and evil judgment!”

33. But Thecla was taken out of Tryphaena’s hands and stripped, and was given a girdle and flung into the stadium. And lions and bears were set upon her, and a fierce lioness ran and met it, and tore the bear asunder. And again a lion trained against men, which belonged to Alexander, ran upon her; and the lioness grappled with the lion, and perished with it. And the women mourned the more, since the lioness which helped her was dead.

34. Then they sent in many beasts, while she stood and stretched out her hands and prayed. And when she had finished her prayer, she turned and saw a great pit full of water, and said: “Now is the time for me to wash.” And she threw herself in, saying: “In the name of Jesus Christ I baptize myself on the last day!” And when they saw it, the women and all the people wept, saying: “Cast not thyself into the water!”; so that even the governor wept that such beauty should be devoured by seals. So, then, she threw herself into the water in the name of Jesus Christ; but the seals, seeing the light of lightning-flash, floated dead on the surface. And there was about her a cloud of fire, so that neither could the beasts touch her nor could she be seen naked.

35. But as other more terrible beasts were let loose, the women cried aloud, and some threw petals, others nard, others cassia, others amomum, so that there was a abundance of perfumes. And all the beasts let loose were overpowered as if by sleep, and did not touch her. So Alexander said to the governor: “I have some very fearsome bulls-let us tie her to them.” The governor frowning gave his consent, saying” “Do what thou wilt.” And they bound her by the feet between the bulls, and set red-hot irons beneath their bellies that being the more enraged they might kill her. The bulls indeed leaped forward, but the flame that blazed around her burned through the ropes, and she was as if she were not bound.

36 But Tryphaena fainted as she stood beside the arena, so that her handmaids said: “The queen Tryphaena is dead!” And the governor took note of it and the whole city was alarmed. And Alexander fell down at the governor’s feet and said: “Have mercy upon me, and on the city, and set the prisoner free, lest the city also perish with her. For if Caesar should hear this he will probably destroy both us and the city as well, because his kinswoman Tryphaena1 has died at the circus gates.”

37. And the governor summoned Tecla from among the beasts, and said to her: “Who art thou? And what hast thou about thee that not one of the beasts touched thee?” She answered: “I am a handmaid of the living God. As to what I have about me, I have believed in him in whom God in well pleased, His Son.52 For his sake not one of the beasts touched me. For he alone is the goal of salvation and the foundation of immortal life. To the storm-tossed he is a refuge, to the oppressed relief,53 to the despairing shelter; in a word, whoever does not believe in him shall not live, but die for ever.”

38. When the governor heard this, he commanded garments to be brought, and said: “Put on these garments.” But she said: “He who clothed me when I was naked among the beasts shall clothe me with salvation in the day of judgment.” And taking the garments she put them on. And straightway the governor issued a decree, saying: “I release to you Thecla, the pious handmaid of God.” But all the women cried out with a loud voice, and as with one mouth gave praise to God, Saying: “One is God, who has delivered Thecla!”, so that all the city was shaken by the sound.

39. And Tryphaena when she was told the good news came to meet her with a crowd, and embraced Thecla and said: “Now I believe that the dead are raised up! Now I believe that my child lives! Come inside, and I will assign to thee all that is mine.” So Thecla went in with her and rested in her house for eight days, instructing her in the word of God, so that the majority of the maidservants also believed; and there was great joy in the house.

40. But Thecla yearned for Paul and sought after him, sending in every direction. And it was reported to her that he was in Myra. So she took Young men and maidservants and girded herself, and sewed her mantle into a cloak after the fashion of men, and went off to Myra, and found Paul speaking the word of God and went to him. But he was astonished when he saw her and the crowd that was with her, Pondering whether another temptation was not upon her. But observing this she said to him: “I have taken the bath, Paul; for he who worked with thee for the Gospel has also worked with me for my baptism.”

41. And taking her by the hand Paul led her into the house of Hermias, and heard from her everything (that had happened), so that Paul marvelled greatly and the hearers were confirmed and prayed for Tryphaena. And Thecla arose and said to Paul: “I am going to Iconium.” But Paul said: “Go and teach the word of God!” Now Tryphaena sent her much clothing and gold, so that she could leave (some of it) for the service of the poor.

42. But she herself went away to Iconium, and went into the house of Onesiphorus, and threw herself down on the floor where Paul had sat and thought the oracles of God, and wept, saying: “My God, and God of this house where the light shone upon me, Christ Jesus the Son of God, my helper in prison, my helper before governors, my helper in the fire, my helper among the beasts, thou art God, and to thee be the glory forever. Amen.”

43. And she found Thamyris dead, but her mother still alive; and calling her mother to her she said to her: “Theocleia my mother, canst thou believe that the lord lives in heaven? For whether thou dost desire money, the Lord will give it thee through me; or thy child, see, I stand beside thee.”
And when she had borne this witness she went away to Seleucia; and after enlightening many with the word of God she slept with a noble sleep.


1 Cf. Acts 14:19.

2 Cf. Rom. 12:17. · .

3 In other MSS.: Martyrdom of the holy proto-martyr Theda (or something similar)

4 Cf. 2 Tim. 4:10; l :15; 4:14 (?)

5 Lat.: expected no evil from them.

6 Cf. Acts 2:u.

7 Cf. 2 Tim. l :16; 4:19.

8 For the following lines cf. Pap. Antinoopolis (PA).

9 PA: with his children and Zeno and his wife

10 Cf. Acts 6:15.

11 Mt. 5:8.

12 Cf. 2 Clem. 8:6; 2 Car. 6:16..

13 Cf. l Car. 7:29; Rom. 8:17.

14 Cf. Mt. 5 :4.

15 Cf. Mt. 5 :9.

16 Cf. 2 Clem. 6 :g.

17 Cf. l Car. 6:3.

18 Mt. 5:7; this beatitude is lacking in PHeid.

19 Cf. Mt. J0:42.

20 Cf. Mt. 11 :29.

21 So the Greek MSS.

22 In the Greek MSS. “that I may see her” is lacking.

23 The following lines in PO. 6.

24 Cf. Rev. 14:4.

25 Cf. 2 Tim. 2:18. .

26 So with PHeid against Lipsius, to be regarded as original.

27 Cf. Mk. 15:4.

28 Cf. Acts 14:15 et al.

29 Cf. Ps. 94:1.

30 Cf. Exod. 20:5.

31 Cf. Acts 24:25.

32 Cf. Lk. 10 :39; Acts 2: II.

33 So EFG Lat. Syr. PHeid.

34 Cf. Lk. 23:18.

35 Cf. Acts 13 :50; 14:19.

36 Cf. Mart. Pplyc. 15. 1.

37 Only in part of the traditiort.

38 Cf. Acts 4:24; 14:15.

39 Only in part of the tradition; lacking in PHeid.

40 Cf. Acts 1 :24; 15:8.

41 Cf. Mt. 8:19. f Al d ( h )

42 Cf. Gebhardt p. XCVIII; PHeid: “A Syrian by the name of Alexander, was the great man in Antioch and did much in the city among all the rulers. On this passage cf. above, p. 328. H · d

43 Omitted in the· Greek tradition, cf. Gebhardt pp. XCIX f. and PHeid·

44 Cf. Mk. 15:26.

45 “Judgment” is perhaps secondary, cf. Gebhardt pp.GF,

46 Lipsius with MS.A: “daughter Falconilla”.

47 Cf. On the other hand 2 clem. 8.3

48 So according to Gebhardt, PP.CI f.

49 Gebhardt (p. CI) would assume as original: “And when Tryphaena heard this, she mourned.”

50 Cf. Mart. Polye 8. 3.

51 LipsiusL tryphaena, the queen. But this is probably a secondary addition, cf. Gebhardt p. CIV.

52 CF. MK, 1:t1 par.

53 cf.2 Thess. 1:7

This is the end of the Lyrics

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