Documents for the Study of the Gospels

By David R. Cartlidge; David L. Dungan | Go to book overview
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The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew

Introduction: This Gospel was written perhaps as late as the eighth or ninth century, although some would place it much earlier.

The first section of the Gospel (chs. 1–17) is based upon the Gospel of James; the third portion (chs. 25–41) relies upon the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

We have included part of the middle section of Pseudo-Matthew because it demonstrates the tendency to ascribe to Jesus the aura of the “divine man” miracle worker, and it also demonstrates the use of prophecy-fulfillment as a narrative device. This device is used in the canonical Gospel of Matthew, hence the popular title Pseudo-Matthew for this work. Pseudo-Matthew’s actual title is “The Book About the Origin of the Blessed Mary and the Childhood of the Savior.” The age and identity of the source(s) of chs. 18– 24 are not known.


10.… Joseph was in Capemaum-by-the-Sea, on the job; he was a carpenter. He stayed there for nine months. When he returned home he found Mary pregnant. Totally gripped by anguish, he trembled and cried out, “Lord God, accept my spirit, because it is better for me to die than to live.” The virgins with Mary said to him, “What are you saying, Lord Joseph? We know ourselves that no man has touched her; we know ourselves that, in her, innocence and virginity were preserved unspoiled. For she has been guarded by God; she always persists with us in prayer. Daily an angel of the Lord speaks with her; daily she accepts food from the hand of an angel. How is it possible that there should be any sin in her? For if you want us to voice our suspicion to you, this pregnancy was caused by none other than God’s angel.” Joseph, however, said, “Would you try to have me believe that an angel of the Lord impregnated her? It is indeed possible that someone dressed up as an angel of the Lord and tricked her.” As he said this, he wept and said, “With what aspect am I to go to God’s Temple? With what pretext am I to visit the priests of God? What am I to do?” After he said this he made plans to hide her and set her aside.

11. When he planned to arise in the night and flee, so that he could live in hiding; behold, in that very night, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to accept Mary as your wife, because that which is in her womb is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son who will be called Jesus; he will save his people from their sins.”


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Documents for the Study of the Gospels
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