Cricket is supposed to have originated some 300 years ago in England, but it is

just possible that the game zealously followed all over the British Commonwealth, is

older than currently thought. The story, told by the distinguished kaghakatsi

Armenian professor Dr Abraham Terian, was first released online by the Australian

Associated Press, and has been picked up around the world, with both the reverent

and irreverent, having a field day with the intriguing revelation.

               Terian   stumbled   across   the   snippet   in   an   ancient Armenian   manuscript,   The   Gospel   of   Infancy,   housed in   the   manuscript   library   of   the   Armenian   Patriarchate   of   Jerusalem.   He   has   since   translated   the   book into English and it has been published by the Oxford University Press.                Terian   notes   that   long   before   the   English   launched   cricket   three   centuries   ago,   similar   games   were being   played   as   early   as   the   8th   century   in   the   Punjab   region,   as   Derek   Birley   writes   in   his   "Social   History of English Cricket."                But   he   says   that   there   is   good   reason   to   believe   that   similar   games   were   played   in   the   Middle   East long before that time.               Terian,   who   was   born   and   grew   up   in   the Armenian   Quarter,   in   the   Old   City   of   Jerusalem,   and   who   was recently   a   visiting   professor   at   the   Hebrew   University   of   Jerusalem   as   Fulbright   Distinguished   Chair   in   the Humanities,   says   the   Gospel   was   translated   into   Armenian   in   the   6th   century   from   a   much   older   lost Syriac original.                It   contains   a   passage   that   tells   of   Jesus   playing   what   may   well   be   the   precursor   of   cricket,   with   a   club and ball.                Dr   Terian   discovered   the   manuscript   more   than   a   decade   ago   at   the   Saint   James Armenian   Monastery in the Old City of Jerusalem.                He   has   now   identified   the   same   passage   in   a   couple   of   other   manuscripts   of   the   same   gospel,   of   which some   40   copies   exist   in   various   archival   collections   in   Europe   and   the   Middle   East,   including   the   oldest copy   now   in   Yerevan.   The   latter   manuscript   is   dated   1239   (no.   7574,   Madenataran   collection),   while   the undated Jerusalem manuscript is considerably later (no. 1432, in the Saint James collection).               AAP   quotes   Dr Terian   as   saying   the   gospel   relates   how   Jesus,   at   the   age   of   nine,   had   been   apprenticed to a master dyer named Israel in Tiberias, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.                "Jesus   is   instructed   to   watch   Israel's   house   and   not   leave   the   place   while   the   master   goes   away   on   a tour   to   collect   clothes   to   be   dyed.   But   no   sooner   has   Israel   left   the   house,   than   Jesus   runs   out   with   the boys," Dr Terian says, AAP reports.                "The   most   amazing   part   of   the   story   of   the   nine-year-old   Jesus   playing   a   form   of   cricket   with   the   boys at   the   seashore,   is   that   he   would   go   on   playing   the   game   on   water,   over   the   sea   waves,"   which   Dr   Terian says echoes allusions to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee, as told in the gospels.                "Jesus   would   take   the   boys   to   the   seashore   and,   carrying   the   playing   ball   and   the   club,   he   would   go over   the   waves   of   the   sea   as   though   he   was   playing   on   a   frozen   surface,   hitting   the   playing   ball.   And watching   him,   the   boys   would   scream   and   say:   'Watch   the   child   Jesus,   what   he   does   over   the   waves   of the sea!' Many would gather there and, watching him, would be amazed.                "When   Joseph   heard   this,   he   rushed   there   and   said:   'Son,   what   work   are   you   doing?   Your   master   has gathered everything in the house and has entrusted it to you.'                "Jesus   said:   'I   have   done   all   that   my   master   instructed   me.   I   shall   wait   for   his   return.'   Joseph   did   not hear what Jesus told him.                "When   Jesus   came   to   his   mother,   Mary   said   to   him:   'Son,   have   you   done   all   that   your   master instructed?'      Jesus said: 'I have done everything and nothing is missing.'      Mary said: 'I have noticed that this is the third day that you have not entered that house.'"                As   soon   as   the   last   words   were   spoken,   Israel   shows   up,   and   Jesus   has   to   account   for   what   he   has done in the master’s absence. A fascinating miracle-story ensues.                "Of   course,   the   story   echoes   allusions   to   Jesus’   walking   on   the   Sea   of   Galilee,   as   told   in   the   canonical gospels.   But   the   apocryphal   story   shows   that   for   a   ball   game   even   Jesus   would   forget   work   and   would   go to have fun with the boys, for days," Terian adds.        
Armenian Jerusalem
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
playing fields of Jerusalem?
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