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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.
“When I was a little child living in my Father’s 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
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.

But somehow they perceived that I was not their countryman. and all the nobles of the East. it flew and alighted beside me and became all speech. that you may put them on and deck yourself therewith. be heir in our kingdom. The kings and princes of Parthia. our crowned prince. lest they suspect me as an outsider who had come to steal the pearl. Then I clothed myself in garments like theirs. . and a proclamation was published in our kingdom that everyone should come to our gate. and see the slavery of your life! Remember the Pearl. While I slept the sleep of oblivion in Egypt. a youth fair and lovable. and the rebellious and savage demons of the Sarbug labyrinth. I took it up and kissed it. broke its seal and I began reading it. And they wrote to me a letter. and the words written in my heart were in the letter for me to read. and served their king. and against consorting with the unclean. and hearken to the words of our letter! Remember that you are a son of kings. and with your brother. yet I saw one of my race there. the evil children of Babel. and your Mother the Mistress of the East. for which you were sent to Egypt! Remember your splendid robe and your toga. and I made him my confidante with whom I shared my mission. an anointed one. and every noble signed it with his name: “From your Father the King of Kings. greeting! Awake and rise up from your sleep. and because of the heaviness of their food I fell into a deep sleep. At his voice. I forgot the Pearl for which my parents had sent me. and from your brother. I awoke and stood up from my sleep. they made a resolve concerning me. and gave me their food to eat. who is next in rank. and he came and attached himself to me. a nobleman out of the East. my parents knew and grieved for me. that your name may be read in the Book of the Heroes.THE ACTS OF THOMAS (The Hymn of the Pearl) 2 And since I was alone. They dealt with me treacherously.” My letter had been sealed by the King with his right hand to keep it from the wicked ones. I was a stranger to others in the inn. He warned me against the Egyptians. I forgot that I was a son of kings. our son in Egypt. the king of all winged fowl. My letter rose up in the form of an eagle. to you. and the sound of his rustling. that I might not be left in Egypt forsaken. and arouse the serpent against me.

by the hand of their treasurers. and went straight on my way into the light of our homeland in the East. and my toga. I went forth passing through Sarbug. I found before me on the way. But suddenly when I saw it over against me. for I had left it in my childhood. the haven of the merchants. And drawing me with its love. and I stretched out and took it. his who restored to me through them the honour. which it whispered at its descent. And my splendid robe. as with its voice it had awakened me. “I belong to the most valiant servant. I saw it quiver all over with the movements of gnosis. Those filthy and impure garments I stripped off. and turned about to carry it to my Father. my pledge and my riches. I charmed him into sleep by calling the name of my Father over him. for one sign of the King was impressed upon them. written on Chinese silk. and of my Mother. which it was rapped about. And my letter. the splendid robe became like me. with gold and beryls and rubies and opals. All its seams were fastened with adamant. my parents sent thither. And my love also spurred me to run to meet it and receive it. gleaming before me with its aspect. I remembered the pearl for which I was sent down into Egypt. so it led me further with its light. As it moved toward me I heard the sound of its songs. I saw it wholly in me. as my reflection in a mirror. and again one in single form. that I might take it. I seized the pearl. left Babel on my left hand. for whom I was reared in my Father’s house. and came to the great city Maishan. my splendid robe adorned with gleaming in glorious colours. and I perceived also in myself that my stature grew according to his labours. I saw in like manner that they were two of a single form. the Queen of the East. and with its voice and its guidance. and longed for my own kind. which I had taken off.” And with its royal movements it poured itself entirely toward me. and I began enchanting the terrible loud-breathing serpent.THE ACTS OF THOMAS (The Hymn of the Pearl) 3 I remembered that I was a son of kings. and in the hands of its bringers it hastened. my awakener. And the treasurers too who had brought it to me. leaving them in the fields. . in my Father's house. chosen for their faithfulness. and the image of the King of Kings was embroidered all over it. so that we were two in distinction. which lies on the shore of the sea. and in it I saw myself quite apart from myself. I remembered no more its dignity. encouraging me to speed.

I clothed myself with it and mounted up to the gate of Salutation and Adoration. whose commands I had accomplished. and my toga of brilliant colours I drew completely over myself. I bowed my head and worshipped the splendour of the Father who had sent the robe to me. And he had fulfilled what he promised.THE ACTS OF THOMAS (The Hymn of the Pearl) 4 With the beauty of its colours I adorned myself. .

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