Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (1871) Volume 2. pp.116-145. The history of Thecla, the disciple of Paul the apostle
When Paul had gone up to the city of Iconium after his persecution, there accompanied him Demas and Hermogenes, the coppersmiths, who were full of sedition and spake big words. And they were conversing with Paul as though with their friend; but Paul was looking to the dwelling-place of the grace of the Messiah, and was not doing unto them any harm, but was loving them truly. And he was so loving them, that he was making all the words of the Lord, and of the teaching and preaching and the birth and the resurrection of the Beloved, sink into their souls through the great (doings) of the Messiah. And he showed them how they were revealed to him, and was narrating (them) unto them by word (of mouth).
And a man, whose name was Onesiphorus, heard that Paul had come to the city of Iconium, and went out, with the sons of Simon, and with Zeno, and with his wife, to meet Paul, that they might receive him; for Titus had told him what was the aspect of Paul; for Onesiphorus did not know him in the body, but in the spirit. And he went (and) stood where the roads meet, on the highway which goes to Lystra; and was standing and waiting for him, and looking upon those who were passing and returning, according to the marks which Titus had given him. And he saw Paul coming, and in his stature he was a man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were projecting (or far apart); and he had large eyes, and his eyebrows met, and: his nose was somewhat long; and he was full of grace and mercy; at one time he seemed like a man, and at another time he seemed like an Angel. And when Paul saw Onesiphorus, he was glad; and Onesiphorus said to him: "Peace be to thee, thou apostle of the Blessed (One)." Paul saith to him: "Peace be to thee, Onesiphorus, and to all thy household." And Demas and Hermogenes were filled with envy, and their jealousy was great; and they said to Paul: "Are we not of the Blessed (One), that thou hast never saluted us thus?" He answered and said to them: "Because I do not see in you the works of righteousness." Onesiphorus saith to them: "If ye be aught, come ye too to my house and rest."
And when Paul had entered into the house of Onesiphorus, there was great joy there, and they kneeled down on their knees, and prayed, and brake bread. And Paul came nigh and spake unto him the words of God concerning the controlling of the flesh and concerning the resurrection, and was saying: "Blessed are they who are pure in their heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are they who have kept their flesh in purity, for they shall be called temples of God. Blessed are they who control themselves, for God shall speak with them. Blessed are they who have despised this world, for they shall be pleasing unto God. Blessed are they who have wives as though they had them not, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they in whose heart is the fear of God, for they shall be called Angels. Blessed are they who tremble at the words of God which they hear, for them shall God call. Blessed are they who have received the wisdom of Jesus the Messiah, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are they who have kept the baptism, for they shall rest with the Father, who is in Heaven, and with His beloved Son. Blessed are they who have received the exhortation of the Messiah, for they shall be in great light. Blessed are they who for the love of God have gone out of this body, for they shall inherit eternal life, and shall stand at the right hand of the Son of God. Blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be upon them from God, and on the Day of Judgement they shall receive the kingdom. Blessed are the bodies and souls of virgins, for they shall be pleasing unto God, and the reward of their holiness shall not be lost, for, according to the word of the Father, there shall be found for them works unto life at the day of His Son."
And whilst Paul was speaking these great things of God in the midst of the Church, in the house of Onesiphorus, one Thecla, a virgin, the daughter of Theocleia, who was betrothed unto Thamyris, came and sat at a window, which was close to their roof, and was listening to the words of Paul, which he was speaking concerning purity; and she did not depart from that window, and by night and day was hearkening to the prayer of Paul, and was wondering at the faith. Moreover too she was seeing many women, who were going in unto Paul that they might hear his words, for he was teaching the commandments of God; and she was longing to hear the words of Paul, for his figure had not been seen by her, but it was his words only which she was hearing; and she did not stir at all from that window.
Then her mother sent for Thamyris her betrothed; and when Thamyris her betrothed heard that his mother-in-law had called him, he ran and came to her, as if, lo, she was already granting to him to take her to wife. And Thamyris answered and said to his mother-in-law: "Where is Thecla my betrothed, that I may see her?" Theocleia answered and said to him: "I have something new to tell thee, Thamyris! Thecla thy betrothed, lo, for three days and three nights has not got up from that window, neither to eat nor to drink; but her eyes are intently fixed and she is looking at a strange man, who speaks vain and foolish words as if for a pastime; and accordingly I am surprised how discreet young women are quickly (and) evilly led away after him. I say unto thee, Thamyris, that he has perverted the whole city of the Iconians, and Thecla thy betrothed too, and many (other) women; and the young men go in to him, and he teaches them to worship one God and to live purely. And moreover Thecla is bound like a spider on its web, and is seized with a new desire and with an evil corruption, and her eyes are intently fixed on whatsoever comes out of that chamber, and she does not quit that window either to eat or to drink, and the virgin is quite absorbed (in thought). But do thou, Thamyris, go near to her and speak with her, for she is betrothed to thee."
And Thamyris her betrothed drew nigh unto her, firstly, because he loved her, and secondly, because he had respect for her modesty; and he answered and said to her: "Thecla, thou art my betrothed; why is it that thou doest thus? And what is the evil corruption that has taken hold of thee? Turn to Thamyris thy betrothed, and be ashamed before him." And her mother answered and saith to her: "Why is it that thou thus lookest down, and givest no answer, but art become like a mad woman?" And when the people of their household saw her, they wept; and Thamyris was weeping because his betrothed had parted from him; and the mother because she was parted from her daughter and the women-servants because they were parted from their mistress. And great was the grief and the mourning in their house. And Thecla paid no attention to all these things, but her mind was bent to hear the words of Paul.
Then Thamyris her betrothed became angry, and sprang up (and) went out into the street, and was looking at those who were going in and out to Paul. And suddenly he saw two men who were quarrelling bitterly with one another. And Thamyris drew nigh unto them and said to them: "What are ye? Tell me. And who is this man, who (is) within, who is with you, who leads astray the souls of young women and of virgins, and commands that there should be no marriage-feasts, but that they should live thus (as they are)? I am willing to give you much money, if ye will tell me about him, who he is; for I am the chief (man) of this city." And Demas and Hermogenes, when they saw him, came to him, and answered and say to him: "This man of whom thou hast spoken, we do not know him, who he is; but he separates the young men from the virgins, and the virgins from the young men, and says to them, 'Ye cannot rise from the grave, unless ye keep yourselves purely.'" Thamyris answered and said to them: "Come, my friends, with me to my house, and rest yourselves with me." And they went with him to a great repast, and much meat, and immense luxury, and splendid tables. And Thamyris entertained them, because he loved Thecla his betrothed, that he might get her as a wife on the day which his mother-in-law had fixed for him. Thamyris answered and said to them as they were reclining (at table): "Tell me, my friends, what are the doctrines which he teaches, that I too may know; for they are not few, who complain against him, and I too am grieved for my betrothed, who loves a strange man, and I am parted from her."
And Demas and Hermogenes answered and said to him with one consent: "Thamyris, bring him before Castelus the hêgemôn, and say, 'This (fellow) teaches the new doctrine, and is a Christian'; and lo, straightway he will destroy him, and thou shalt take Thecla thy betrothed (to wife), and we will teach thee the resurrection of the dead, which he teaches."
And when Thamyris heard these words, he was filled with envy and jealousy, and rose early in the morning, and went to the house of Onesiphorus with the chief men of the city and many people with staves. And he answered and said: "Paul, thou hast destroyed the city of the Iconians and my betrothed, so that she will not be mine. Come to Castelus the hêgemôn." And the whole city said: "Drag him along, he is a magician; for he has corrupted all our wives." And the whole people let themselves be persuaded. And when Paul had gone, they holding him, and stood before the hêgemôn, Thamyris answered and said with a loud voice to the hêgemôn: "This man—we do not know who he is; but he does not suffer virgins to become (the wives) of men. Let him tell thee, why he teaches this doctrine." And Demas and Hermogenes the smiths, who were full of sedition, drew near to Thamyris and said to him: "Say that he is a Christian, and lo, at that moment he will destroy him." And when the hêgemôn had heard the words of Thamyris and of the whole people, who were holding Paul, they saw that the hêgemôn called Paul and said to him: "Tell me, Paul, who art thou? And what teachest thou? For they are not few who accuse thee." Then Paul lifted up his voice and said: "I will relate to-day what I teach; listen, O hêgemôn. I teach a living God; a God who does not requite retributions unto men; a God who does not require anything, but to whom the life of men is useful. And he has sent me that I might rescue them from destruction, and from uncleanness, and from all deadly lusts, that they might sin no more. On this account God has sent me, whom I preach, and I proclaim that in Him shall be the hope of all men; who has taken providential care and delivered the nations from error, that they might sin no more, and might not walk in sedition, but that fear might be in them through belief in God, and (that) they might know fear and love in truth. And if I teach whatever God hath revealed unto me, what wrong do I do, O hêgemôn?" And when the hêgemôn heard these words, he commanded that Paul should go to prison, being bound, until he could have an opportunity of hearing him well.
And Thecla in that night took off her bracelets and gave (them) to the doorkeeper of their house, and he opened the door for her; and she went out, and went to the jailer, who was guarding Paul, and gave him her mirror of gold that he might bring her in to Paul. And he brought her in, and she came and sat by the feet of Paul, and was listening to the great things of God. And Paul was not distressed, but was teaching the commandments of God openly to every one who was with him (in the prison). And Thecla with great joy was kissing the bonds and chains which were laid on the hands and feet of Paul.
And when her family and her betrothed sought for Thecla, as if she had been lost, they arose, going about and searching for her in the streets. And the companion of the doorkeeper came, and informed against him, and said: "I saw Thecla by night give her bracelets to the doorkeeper, and he opened the door for her, and she went out." And when they had scourged the doorkeeper, he confessed and said to them: "She went out, and said to me, 'Lo, I am going to the stranger, where he is imprisoned.' " And they went, as the doorkeeper told them, and found her sitting at Paul's feet, she and many persons, and they were listening to the great things of the Most High. And Thamyris went forth thence with many persons, and they went in a great rage, and informed the hêgemôn of what had happened. Then the hêgemôn said: "Fetch Paul." And the young men ran and unbound Paul, and were dragging him from the prison until (they came) before the hêgemôn. And Thecla was prostrating herself and weeping on the spot where Paul had been sitting bound and teaching the commandments of God. And again of a sudden the hêgemôn commanded and said: "Bring Thecla, the betrothed of Thamyris." And Thamyris ran with many men, and they laid hold of Thecla, and were dragging her up to the hêgemôn. And when the hêgemôn saw her, he was very sorry for her; but Thecla was standing before him with great joy, and was not sorry. Then of a sudden the whole people cried out and say: "Destroy this magician"; but he (the hêgemôn ) did not say anything concerning Paul. Then the hêgemôn sat in council, and he arose, he and his companions, and they called Thecla, and say to her: "Why art thou not to thy betrothed according to the law of the Iconians?" And Thecla was standing and looking on Paul, and she answered not a word to the hêgemôn. Then her mother cried out and saith: "Burn the fool in the midst of the theatre, that all the women who see her, those whose doctrine this is, may be afraid." And when the hêgemôn heard (this), he was very sorry for her. Then he commanded, and they scourged Paul, and cast him out of the city and he condemned Thecla to be burned with fire in the midst of the theatre. And the hêgemôn arose and went to the theatre, he and the whole people, that they might see Thecla being burned with fire. And as a sheep on the mountain seeks its shepherd, so Thecla too was seeking that she might see where Paul was. And whilst she was looking among all that crowd, she saw the Lord Jesus the Messiah, who was sitting beside her in the likeness of Paul. And Thecla answered and saith: "Thus indeed hath Paul come and seated himself opposite me, as if I were not able to bear whatever may come upon me." And she was looking upon him, and her eyes were gazing intently at him; and the Lord rose up thence and ascended unto Heaven, And the youths and maidens brought faggots and placed (them) in the theatre, that they might burn Thecla; and they brought her into the theatre naked. And when the hêgemôn saw her, he wept, and was astonished at the strength that was in her. And they piled up the faggots, and the youths laid hold of her that she might ascend the pile. And as soon as Thecla ascended (it), she stretched out her hands in the form of the Cross, and ascended the pile. And when the flames of fire rose, not even an atom of her hair was singed, because the Spirit of God had compassion upon her; and the sound of its roaring went up from the earth; and a rain cloud overshadowed (them), and hailstones and water were poured out abundantly, and many of those people, who were sitting and looking on, perished; and the fire was extinguished, and Thecla preserved alive.
And Paul was fasting, he and Onesiphorus, with his wife and children, in a sepulchre which was open by the roadside of the Iconians. And when they had been many days fasting, the youths say to Paul, "We are hungry;" and they had not wherewith to buy for themselves bread, for Onesiphorus had left his house and his property, and he and his household had gone forth with Paul. Then Paul stripped off his tunic, and gave (it) to a boy, and said to him: "Go, sell (it), my son, and buy bread in abundance, and come (back)." And the boy went to buy bread; and he saw Thecla their neighbour, and was astonished, and said to her: "Thecla, whither art thou going?" She saith to him: " After Paul I am going, for I have escaped from the fire." And the boy said to her: "Come with me, and I will lead thee to him; for he is supplicating and weeping and fasting, lo, these six days, and begging of God concerning thee." And Thecla came with him to the sepulchre, and entered and stood over Paul, and found him kneeling on his knees and praying and saying: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, I beg of Thee, let not the fire touch Thecla, but extinguish it from her, because she is Thine." And Thecla, whilst she was standing beside him, opened her mouth and saith: "Father, who hast made Heaven and earth, Thou Father of the Holy (One), I praise Thee, who hast made me, and hast preserved me alive that I might see Paul." And Paul arose and saw her. And Paul answered and said: "God, the Searcher of hearts, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, I praise Thee because what I asked of Thee Thou hast rescued from the fire, and hast granted me to see Thecla, me and these persons who are with me; and in Thy hands it is an easy thing to deliver from all distress one who praises Thy name for ever."
And Paul was glad and rejoicing with those persons who were with him. And the boy had brought them five loaves of bread, and herbs and water and salt; and they were rejoicing in the pure works of the Messiah. And Thecla saith to Paul: "I will cut off my hair, and go after thee, whither thou goest." He answered and said to her: "It is a hard struggle, and thou art beautiful. (Take care) lest yet another trial come upon thee, which is worse than the first, and thou bear it not." And Thecla said to Paul: "Give me only the sign of God, and temptation shall not come nigh unto me. "Paul saith unto Thecla: "Be patient, and thou shalt receive thy water (of baptism)."
And Paul sent away Onesiphorus with his family, and he went to his home. And Paul took hold of Thecla's hand, and those persons who were with him, and they entered into Antioch. And as they were entering and going along, one of the chief men of Antioch,— Alexander was his name, and he had great influence in Antioch,—saw Thecla and was enamoured of her, and was trying to seduce Paul, and was counselling him that he should give him much silver and gold and he should give him Thecla. And Paul answered and said to him: "I do not know this woman of whom thou speakest, if she be a woman as thou sayest, nor is she mine." And because Alexander was powerful, he came and embraced Thecla in the middle of the street; and she did not endure (it), but was seeking for Paul, and cried out bitterly and said to him: "Do not force the stranger! Do not force the handmaid of God! I am a noble's daughter of the city of Iconium; and because I did not wish to belong to Thamyris my betrothed, they drove me out thence." And she laid hold of Alexander, and tore his garments, and pulled off from him the golden crown of figures, which was placed on his head, and dashed it to the ground, and left Alexander standing naked. And because he loved her, and also because he was ashamed of what she had done to him, he went at once and made (it) known before the hêgemôn. And when the hêgemôn heard that Thecla had done these things, and she confessed what she had done to him, he sentenced her and ordered that they should cast her to the beasts; for Alexander was exhibiting spectacles to the city. And when all the inhabitants of the city heard this, they were astonished, and cried out in complaint before the tribunal and said: "Evil is the doom of Thecla." And Thecla came and stood before the hêgemôn , and made him swear that she should be kept in purity until they threw her to the beasts. And the hêgemôn , when he heard this thing, said to Thecla: " Go whither thou pleasest, and be in safe keeping." And there was there a rich queen, whose name was Tryphaena, whose daughter was dead; and she came and took Thecla, and was keeping her, and it was a consolation to her that she saw Thecla.
And when the beasts were brought into the theatre, (men) came for Thecla, to take her away from the house of Tryphaena; and they led her to the theatre. And they brought (her; and) stripped her, and put a cloth round her loins, and made her stand naked, and brought in against her a huge lioness. And queen Tryphaena was standing beside the door of the theatre, and was weeping for her. And the lioness came (and) drew near to her, and was licking her, whilst Thecla was standing (there). And the whole people were astonished at her and at the power which God had given her. And they wrote on tablets and showed (them) unto all the people who were sitting (there); "Thecla they have called a violator of the temples, because she cast down the crown of Caesar from the head of Alexander, who wished to do uncleanness with her." And all the people were crying out there with their children, and saying: "Thy help, O God, (we implore) against the wickedness which has been (done) in this city." And again they let loose upon her other beasts, and again they did not come near her. Then she went forth from the theatre, she and these beasts; and straightway came queen Tryphaena and took Thecla; because her daughter, who was dead, had appeared in a vision of the night and showed herself to her mother, saying: "My mother, take in my stead this Thecla, the stranger and the persecuted, that she may pray for me, that I may pass into the place of the righteous."
And when Tryphaena had taken her,—firstly, because she was grieved that tomorrow they were again going to throw her to the beasts; and next, because her soul was moved with compassion for her daughter who was dead,—the queen saith: "A second time, Thecla, there is mourning in my house. Pray, and beg of God; that he may have mercy on thee and may deliver thee from these beasts; and pray and beg of God also for my, daughter, that she may live; for thus I saw in my dream." And at that moment Thecla arose, and lifted up her voice, and said: "God, who art in Heaven, the Father of the Most High, grant to queen Tryphaena, according to her wish, that her daughter may live for ever." And when the queen heard these things, she sat in mourning, and was weeping and saying: "This beauty of thine, Thecla, tomorrow again the beasts will devour it."
And when it was dawn, Alexander ran (and) came to lead Thecla away, because he was giving the (exhibition of) beasts to the city at the theatre. And he answered and said: "Lo, the hêgemôn is sitting, and the whole people are hurrying us; give us Thecla who is (sentenced to be) devoured by the beasts, (and) we will carry her off." And Tryphaena cried out at him bitterly; and at the sound of the cry which she uttered at him, he fled. And the queen answered and saith: "Thy help, O God, (I implore); for lo, twice is there mourning in my house, and I have no one to help me; for my daughter lives not, who is dead, and there is none of my kinsmen to stand at my side, and I am a widow. Go, Thecla! Thy God will help thee."
And again the O hêgemôn sent young men for her to fetch her down. And queen Tryphaena did not let go her hold of Thecla, but was taking her by the hand; and going (with her), and saying to her: "My own daughter I accompanied and conveyed to the tomb; and thee, Thecla, lo, I am accompanying and leading, that the beasts may devour thee." And Thecla wept bitterly and groaned before God, and said: "My Lord and my God, I believe in Thee, for I took refuge with Thee and Thou didst deliver me from the fire; and now grant Thou a recompense to Tryphaena, because her soul has had compassion upon Thy handmaiden and she has kept me in purity." And at that moment there was a great confusion, and the sounds of the cracking of many whips, which they were cracking at the beasts, and the sound of the outcry of men and women, who were saying, "Bring out the violator of the temple of the gods." And some of them were saying: "This city will be destroyed for the wickedness which it has done; the hêgemôn has ruined us all; for bitter is the sight which we behold here, and evil is the doom of Thecla."
And the young men came and took Thecla away from the hands of queen Tryphaena, and led her into the theatre to throw her to the beasts. And they brought (her), and made her stand in the midst of the theatre, and stripped (her), and took away her clothes, and put a cloth round her loins; and she was standing naked, and said: "My Lord and my God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, Thou art the Helper of the persecuted, and Thou art the Companion of the poor; behold Thy handmaiden, for lo, the shame of women is uncovered in me, and I stand in the midst of all this people. My Lord and my God, remember Thy handmaiden in this hour." Then they brought in against her a leopard, which was very savage; and again they brought in against her a lioness. And Thecla was standing with her arms spread out in the form of the Cross. And the lioness ran towards her, and when it reached her, it came (and) lay down at her feet. And the leopard came to her, to attack her, and fell down before her and burst. And again they brought in against her a bear,which was very strong; and it ran at Thecla. And the lioness, which was crouching at her feet, arose, and sprang upon the bear and rent it. And again (they let loose) a lion which was trained to run at men, which belonged to Alexander; and it ran at Thecla. And the lioness, which was crouching beside her, arose, and met the lion; and the two sprang upon one another, and after a little (while) the two killed each other. And the women specially sat in sorrow, who were sitting there and looking on, and saying: "The lioness too, which was helping Thecla, is dead."
And again, lo, they let in upon her many beasts. And when Thecla, standing
(there), saw that they were letting in upon her many beasts, she spread out her
hands and stood praying. And when she had finished her prayer, she turned
backwards, and saw a reservoir which was full of water. And Thecla answered and
saith: "Lo then, it is time to wash myself." And she lifted up her
hands and saith: "In the name of Jesus the Messiah, lo, to-day, the last
day, I am baptised." And when the women, who were sitting (there), saw
(this), and the whole people, they wept and say to her: "Do not cast
thyself into that water, for evil are the beasts that are in it." And the hêgemôn
too, when he saw her, wept, that the beasts, who were in that water,
should devour this beauty. And Thecla leaped, and fell into the water. And the
beasts, which were there, when they saw the flash of light, died, and floated
upon the surface of the water. And there was around her, and overshadowing her,
a cloud of lightning, so that Thecla could not be seen (to descry) whether she
And when the women, who were sitting in the theatre, saw that other beasts were being let in at Thecla, which were worse than the former, they broke out into wailing and say: "Thy help (we implore), O God! What do we see in this city?" And then these women came and cast perfumes upon Thecla; there were some who cast spikenard, and some sweet-marjoram (amaracus), and some tarphūsē; and they were throwing perfumes into the midst of the theatre upon Thecla. And the beasts, which they had let loose at her, came up to her, and sat down around her, behind her and in front of her, and lay down and slept; and not one of them harmed Thecla. And again Alexander ran (and) came and said to the hêgemôn: "I have two bulls, which are very strong and savage; let us bring them and bind between them this (woman who is) doomed to be devoured by beasts, so that perchance they may become furious and destroy her." And the hêgemôn said to Alexander: "Go and do whatever seems good unto thee." And he sent and had the bulls fetched; and they brought Thecla from among the beasts, and took hold of her, and threw Thecla upon her face, and took hold of her feet and bound her between the two bulls. And they brought spits and put them in the fire, and made the spits hot with fire, and laid them upon the thighs of the bulls, that they might become furious and in their anger destroy the captive. And the bulls, because of the pain they suffered, sprang up suddenly; but a flash of fire ran and consumed the ropes which were fastened to the feet of Thecla, and Thecla sprang up and stood beside the bulls, as if she had no pain and as if she had not been bound. And when the hêgemôn and the whole city saw the great marvels which God had wrought with Thecla, they praised God for what they had seen. And queen Tryphaena, who was standing by the door of the theatre, fainted away and fell down on the ground,, because she thought that Thecla was dead. And when her slaves saw that she had fainted and fallen down, they broke out into wailing, and rent their garments and say: "The queen is dead." And when the hêgemôn heard them say "The queen is dead," (he stopped the games,) and the whole city trembled. And Alexander was afraid, and he ran (and) came and said to the hêgemôn: "Have pity on me, sir, and also on this city, and release this (woman, who was) doomed to be devoured by beasts, that she may go away from us, so that the city too may not perish, lest perchance, when Caesar hears of these things which we have done, he may destroy the city; for queen Tryphaena is of the family of Caesar, and lo, she was standing beside the door of the theatre, and she is dead." Then the hêgemôn said: "Bring Thecla before me." And the young men ran and brought Thecla from the midst of the beasts, and made her stand before the hêgemôn on the tribunal. And the hêgemôn answered and said to Thecla: "Who art thou? And who was there beside thee, that not one of these beasts came nigh unto thee?" And Thecla said: "I am the handmaiden of the living God, and He who was beside me is the Son of the living God, in whom I have believed, by reason of whom not one of those beasts came nigh unto me; and He is the limit of life; for He is a companion to all the persecuted, and to those who have no hope, He is hope and life. I tell thee then, hêgemôn, and these men who, lo, are standing before thee, that he who does not believe in God—for, lo, ye have seen the great things of God, what He hath done to His handmaiden,— he who does not believe in Him shall die for ever."
And when the hêgemôn heard these words from the mouth of Thecla, he ordered them to bring clothes for her; and the hêgemôn said to her: "Thecla, take off the cloth that is wrapped round thy loins, and take these garments which I have had brought for thee." And Thecla answered and saith to the hêgemôn: "He who has clothed me with power amid these beasts, He will clothe me at the Day of Judgement with life." And Thecla took off the cloth that was wrapped round her loins, and took the clothes and put them on. And the hêgemôn made criers proclaim to the whole people: "Thecla, who is God's, and Thecla, who is righteous, I have released and given unto you." And the women, who were sitting there in the theatre, shouted out with one voice, and offered praise (unto God), and said: "God is One, and the God of Thecla is One, who has preserved her alive, and brought her forth from the midst of all these beasts." And with the voice of the women who shouted the whole city trembled. And straightway they ran (and) announced it to queen Tryphaena; and she ran (and) came and met Thecla, and embraced her and kissed her and said to her: "My daughter Thecla, now I believe that the dead live, and now I believe that my daughter lives. Come then with me to my house, my daughter Thecla, and everything whatsoever I have, I will assign to thee by deed." And Thecla went with her and entered into her house, and rested there eight days, and taught queen Tryphaena all the commandments of God. And the queen believed in God, and a great many of her handmaidens; and there was great joy there.
And because Paul was dear unto her, Thecla sent and was seeking him everywhere. And when they had found him, they came and said to her: "Lo, he is in the city of Myra." And she arose and departed from the house of queen Tryphaena, and dressed herself like a man, and the queen's handmaidens. And she went and entered into the city of Myra, and found Paul sitting and teaching the commandments of God, And Thecla stood beside him. And when Paul saw her and the people who were with her, he was astonished; for Paul thought that a new trial was come upon him. And Thecla answered and saith to him: "I have received baptism; for He who commanded thee to preach, commanded me too to wash myself." And straightway Paul arose, and took her and all the people who were with her, and led her to the house of Hermseus. And Paul and Thecla, and the people who were with them, sat down; and she narrated to themeverything that they had done with her; and Paul marvelled greatly at the power which was given to Thecla ; and all who were standing there and hearing what God had done with her, were greatly confirmed and established. And straightway they all arose, and praised God, who works great things in every one who believes in Him and does His commandments. And they prayed and besought of God for queen Tryphaena, and said: "Our Lord and our God, the Father of the Most High, reward queen Tryphaena, who has had compassion upon Thy handmaiden, and kept her in purity." And Thecla said to them: "I am going to the city of Iconium." Paul saith to her: "Go and teach there the commandments of God." And when queen Tryphaena heard that Thecla was going to the city of Iconium, she took much clothing and gold, and sent (them) to Thecla. And Thecla took the clothing and some of the gold, and sent (them) to Paul for the service of the widows and for those who were in want of them.
And Thecla went (and) entered into the house of Onesiphorus, and fell upon her face on the place where Paul used to sit and teach the commandments of God; and she was weeping and saying: "O Lord, our God and the God of this house, in which light shone upon me from Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, who aided me in prison, and delivered me from the fire, and preserved me from among the furious beasts, and helped me before the hêgemôn, and gave me my baptism, and gave me purity that I might live for ever, and might go into the glories which are kept for me and for those who keep the commandments of God in righteousness—He is one God the Most High, who sitteth upon the throne of the cherubim, to whom be praises for ever, Amen and Amen." And after these great things which God had done with her, she learned there in the city of Iconium that Thamyris her betrothed was dead, but her mother Theocleia alive ; and she sent and called her and saith to her: "My mother Theocleia, if thou canst believe, believe that there is one God, the Lord in Heaven; and if thou lovest wealth and gold and silver that perish, lo, they are given unto thee from this hour; but if thou wilt believe that there is one God in heaven, and that there is no other god but He, thou shalt be able to live and to observe whatever I say unto thee; for lo, I stand before thee, who have escaped from the fire, and have escaped from the furious beasts, and have escaped from before the hêgemôn, for my God and my Lord helped me, and gave me power to endure all these things." And all these things did she testify unto her mother; and she departed from the city of Iconium, and went to Seleucia, and there too she enlightened many persons by the word of God, and lay down to sleep in a quiet resting-place.
Peace be with you, servants of Jesus the Messiah, who keep His commandments in purity, that the Father may recompense you with all that He hath promised unto you through His Son, who is our King.
Here ends (the history of) Thecla, the disciple of the Apostle Paul.
[All footnotes and biblical references have reluctantly been omitted apart from these. The footnotes in the printed edition show very many text variants with words and clauses omitted in one manuscript or another, or additional text added. Note that a complete reprint of this book with all notes, page divisions and Syriac text can be bought online by visiting Gorgias Press, (and search on Wright)]
1. See ... Clark's Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. xvi., p.279.
This text was transcribed by Colin Tunnicliffe, UK, 2004. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
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