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NON-CANONICAL ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

place; and there was an immense cloud­ burst so that many people were in dan­ ger of dying. The fire was extinguished and Thecla was saved.

23

But Paul was fasting with One­ siphorus and his wife and chil­ dren in an open tomb on the path they were taking from Iconium to Daphne. After many days had passed and they were still fasting, the children said to Paul, “We are hungry.” They had no money to buy bread, because Onesipho­ rus had left the things of the world in order to follow Paul, along with his entire household. So Paul took off his outer garment and said, “Go, child, buy plenty of bread and bring it back here.” As the child was making his purchases, he saw his neighbor, Thecla. He was amazed and said to her, “Where are you going?” She replied, “I have been saved from the fire and am looking for Paul.” The child said, “Come, I will take you to him. For he is mourning you, praying and fasting for six days already.”

24

As she approached the tomb, Paul was kneeling and praying, “Father of Christ, do not allow the fire to touch Thecla, but be present with her, because she is yours.” But she, standing behind him, cried out, “Father, maker of heaven and earth, Father of your beloved child Jesus Christ, I bless you because you have saved me from the fire, that I might see Paul.” When Paul rose up he saw her and said, “O God who knows the heart, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I bless you because you have so quickly heard what I had to ask.”

25

There was great love inside the tomb, with Paul, Onesiphorus, and everyone filled with joy. They had five loaves, vegetables, and water, and

they rejoiced in the holy deeds of Christ. Thecla said to Paul, “I will cut off my hair and follow you wherever you go.” He replied, “The time is shameful and you are beautiful; another temptation may overtake you worse than the first, and you may not be able to endure but behave like a cowardly man.” Thecla said, “Only give me the seal in Christ, and no temptation will touch me!” Paul replied, “Thecla, be patient and you will receive the water.”

26

Paul sent Onesiphorus and his entire household back to Icon­ ium, and took Thecla with him into An­ tioch. As they were entering the city, a certain leader of the Syrians named Al­ exander saw Thecla and was inflamed with passion for her, and began entreating Paul with money and gifts. But Paul said, “I do not know the woman you are speak­ ing of, nor is she mine.” Since Alexander was a powerful man, he began embracing her in the street. But she resisted him and was looking for Paul. Bitterly she cried out, “Do not force yourself on a stranger, do not force yourself on a slave of God. I am a leading citizen of the Iconians, and since I did not wish to marry Tha­ myris, I have been exiled from my city.” She grabbed hold of Alexander, ripped his mantle, and pulled the crown from his head, making him an object of derision.

27

Even though Alexander loved her, he was ashamed of what had happened to him; and so he led her to the governor. When she admitted she had done these things, he condemned her to the wild beasts. But the women there were astonished and cried out before the judgment seat, “A wicked judgment! An unholy judgment!” Thecla asked the gov­ ernor to be allowed to remain chaste until

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