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The Acts of Thomas, 3rd Century


From The Apocryphal New Testament, Trans, M..R. James, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)

The Acts of Thomas is an early Christian romance. For discussion of this text see Bernadette Brooten, Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, (Chicago: 1996), 309-313

A young woman who has had a vision of hell relates what she has seen.

55 And the apostle said unto her: Relate unto us where thou hast been. And she answered: Dost thou who wast with me and unto whom I was delivered desire to hear? And she began to say: [This desciption of hell-tourments is largely derived from the Apocalypse of Peter] A man took me who was hateful to look upon altogether black, and his raiment exceedingly foul, and took me away to a place wherein were many pits (chasms), and a great stench and hateful odour issued thence. And he caused me to look into every pit, and I saw in the (first) pit flaming fire, and wheels of fire ran round there, and souls were hanged upon those wheels, and were dashed (broken) against each other; and very great crying and howling was there, and there was none to deliver. And that man said to me: These souls are of thy tribe, and when the number of their days is accomplished (lit. in the days of the number) they are (were) delivered unto torment and affliction, and then are others brought in in their stead, and likewise these into another place. These are they that have reversed the intercourse of male and female. And I looked and saw infants heaped one upon another and struggling with each other as they lay on them. And he answered and said to me: These are the children of those others, and therefore are they set here for a testimony against them.

(Syr. omits this clause of the children, and lengthens and dilutes the preceding speech.)



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