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THE ACTS OF THOMAS (The Hymn of the Pearl)

From The Acts of Thomas


The Hymn of the Pearl
And whilst Judas Thomas was praying, all those who were in the prison saw that
he was praying, and begged of him to pray for them too. And when he had prayed
and sat down, he began chanting this hymn.
THE HYMN OF JUDAS THOMAS THE APOSTLE
IN THE COUNTRY OF INDIA
When I was a little child living in my Fathers palace in His kingdom,
happy in the glories and riches of my family that nurtured me, my parents
gave me supplies and sent me out on a mission from our home in the East;
and from the wealth of our treasury they took abundantly and tied up for
me a load large and yet light, so I could carry it alone.
Gold and silver, and rubies from India they gave me, opals and pearls from
the realm of Kushan, and they girded me with adamant, which can crush
iron. They took off from me the splendid robe which they had made for me
out of love, and the purple toga, which was woven to my stature, and they
made with me a covenant, and wrote it in my heart, that I might not forget:
If you go down to Egypt, and bring back the One Pearl that lies in the
midst of the sea, guarded by the snorting serpent, you will put on again
your splendid robe of glory set with gems, and your purple toga which lies
over it, and with your brother, who is next to us, you will be heir in our
kingdom.
I departed from the East and travelled down, led by two guardians, for the
way was dangerous and harsh, 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 entered the walls of Sarbug.
When I went down into Egypt, my companions parted from me. I went
straight to the serpent, and settled close by him in an inn, waiting for him to
sleep, that I might take my Pearl from him.

THE ACTS OF THOMAS (The Hymn of the Pearl)

And since I was alone, I was a stranger to others in the inn, yet I saw one
of my race there, a nobleman out of the East, a youth fair and lovable, an
anointed one, and he came and attached himself to me, and I made him my
confidante with whom I shared my mission.
He warned me against the Egyptians, and against consorting with the unclean. Then I clothed myself in garments like theirs, lest they suspect me as
an outsider who had come to steal the pearl, and arouse the serpent against
me. But somehow they perceived that I was not their countryman. They
dealt with me treacherously, and gave me their food to eat. I forgot that I
was a son of kings, and served their king. I forgot the Pearl for which my
parents had sent me, and because of the heaviness of their food I fell into a
deep sleep.
While I slept the sleep of oblivion in Egypt, my parents knew and grieved
for me. and a proclamation was published in our kingdom that everyone
should come to our gate. The kings and princes of Parthia, and all the nobles of the East, they made a resolve concerning me, that I might not be left
in Egypt forsaken. And they wrote to me a letter, and every noble signed it
with his name:
From your Father the King of Kings, and your Mother the Mistress of
the East, and from your brother, who is next in rank, to you, our son in
Egypt, greeting! Awake and rise up from your sleep, and hearken to the
words of our letter! Remember that you are a son of kings, and see the slavery of your life! Remember the Pearl, for which you were sent to Egypt!
Remember your splendid robe and your toga, that you may put them on
and deck yourself therewith, that your name may be read in the Book of the
Heroes, and with your brother, our crowned prince, be heir in our kingdom.
My letter had been sealed by the King with his right hand to keep it from
the wicked ones, the evil children of Babel, and the rebellious and savage
demons of the Sarbug labyrinth. My letter rose up in the form of an eagle,
the king of all winged fowl; it flew and alighted beside me and became all
speech. At his voice, and the sound of his rustling, I awoke and stood up
from my sleep. I took it up and kissed it, broke its seal and I began reading
it; and the words written in my heart were in the letter for me to read.

THE ACTS OF THOMAS (The Hymn of the Pearl)

I remembered that I was a son of kings, and longed for my own kind. I
remembered the pearl for which I was sent down into Egypt, and I began
enchanting the terrible loud-breathing serpent. I charmed him into sleep by
calling the name of my Father over him, and of my Mother, the Queen of
the East. I seized the pearl, and turned about to carry it to my Father. Those
filthy and impure garments I stripped off, leaving them in the fields, and
went straight on my way into the light of our homeland in the East.
And my letter, my awakener, I found before me on the way, as with its
voice it had awakened me, so it led me further with its light, written on
Chinese silk, gleaming before me with its aspect, and with its voice and its
guidance, encouraging me to speed. And drawing me with its love, I went
forth passing through Sarbug, left Babel on my left hand, and came to the
great city Maishan, the haven of the merchants, which lies on the shore of
the sea.
And my splendid robe, which I had taken off, and my toga, which it was
rapped about, my parents sent thither, by the hand of their treasurers, chosen for their faithfulness. I remembered no more its dignity, for I had left it
in my childhood, in my Father's house. But suddenly when I saw it over
against me, the splendid robe became like me, as my reflection in a mirror. I
saw it wholly in me, and in it I saw myself quite apart from myself, so that
we were two in distinction, and again one in single form.
And the treasurers too who had brought it to me, I saw in like manner
that they were two of a single form, for one sign of the King was impressed
upon them, his who restored to me through them the honour, my pledge
and my riches, my splendid robe adorned with gleaming in glorious colours, with gold and beryls and rubies and opals. All its seams were fastened
with adamant, and the image of the King of Kings was embroidered all over
it. I saw it quiver all over with the movements of gnosis.
As it moved toward me I heard the sound of its songs, which it whispered
at its descent. I belong to the most valiant servant, for whom I was reared
in my Fathers house, and I perceived also in myself that my stature grew
according to his labours. And with its royal movements it poured itself entirely toward me, and in the hands of its bringers it hastened, that I might
take it. And my love also spurred me to run to meet it and receive it, and I
stretched out and took it.

THE ACTS OF THOMAS (The Hymn of the Pearl)

With the beauty of its colours I adorned myself, and my toga of brilliant
colours I drew completely over myself. I clothed myself with it and
mounted up to the gate of Salutation and Adoration, I bowed my head and
worshipped the splendour of the Father who had sent the robe to me, whose
commands I had accomplished. And he had fulfilled what he promised.

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