The letter text is reconstructed by Konstantin von Tischentuch from fragments he discovered in a cluster of graves near ancient Edessa. The letter was also known in early Christianity: Eusebius succeeded in extracting the letter from the archives of Edessa where it was kept together with the only other extant letter by Jesus. But as the Church Fathers, headed by Augustine and Jerome, reached a decision that Jesus himself was too illiterate to leave anything in writing (and so by divine providence the formation of christological doctrine was conveniently left to them), the letters were deemed to be false or ‘apocryphal’ and disappeared into oblivion until von Tischentuch's rediscovery.
The letter text is fragmentary, and the context of the missing fragments could indicate that they were perhaps removed intentionally.
The letter is translated from Syriac. The fact that both the extant letters by Jesus are written in this language is a strong indication that Syriac was the language Jesus himself spoke, not Aramaic as is commonly assumed.
I really […]
as I typed this, a little square angel with a blue face popped up on my screen and said ‘It looks like you're writing a letter. Would you like help?’ I am not really good at writing, in fact I have done it only once before, and then Ananias the courier helped me, so I have opted to ‘get help with writing the letter’.