The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is one of the most unusual gospels in the Christian tradition. Instead of the compassionate Jesus so familiar to us from the biblical Gospels, readers are confronted with a very different Jesus - a holy terror who kills and wounds adults for trifling faults. Why is Christ portrayed in such an 'unchristian' fashion? Cousland addresses exactly this issue. He presents an overview of the various features of the Infancy Gospel before separating the representation of Jesus into three main roles: child, holy terror and saviour. He elucidates these roles by placing them in the context of the literary framework of the Gospel of Thomas, and also within the larger setting of the Greco-Roman world.
Cousland shows that, despite the tripartite and very separate nature of these three roles, they can be reconciled together if Jesus is regarded as a deity, not simply as an exceptional human being, and if his divinity is understood to include both Greco-Roman and Jewish-Christian conceptions of the divine.