The Apocryphal Jesus: Legends of the Early Church

By J. K. Elliott | Go to book overview

3
Jesus' Parents

This chapter marks a step backwards chronologically as it includes stories about Mary and Joseph which precede Jesus' birth. However, as it also contains accounts of the parents' deaths, the chapter is out of the chronological sequence of the section by jumping forward! The chapter is divided into two parts: (a) Mary, (b) Joseph.


(a)
Mary

The earliest of the four New Testament Gospels, Mark, refers only once to Jesus' mother by name. She is not an active participant in any of Mark's stories. It is only when the other canonical Gospels were written a decade or more later than Mark that we find Mary's role enhanced. The birth stories in Matthew and Luke obviously make her the most prominent character apart from Jesus himself. A sumMary of those nativity accounts prefaces our introductory notes in Chapter 1. The Annunciation scene ( Luke 1: 26-38), in which Mary is addressed by the angelic visitor with the words 'Blessed are you among women', both reflects and itself encouraged Mariology and Mariolatry. It is in Luke also that Mary delivers the hymn known as the Magnificat. Outside the birth stories, Matthew and Luke, like Mark, have no further active part for Mary to play. In the Fourth Gospel, however, she is present at the wedding in Cana ( John 2: 1-10) and she appears at her son's crucifixion. Later (according to Acts 1: 14), she seems to have been a prominent member of the Jerusalem church. No details about this period of her life are forthcoming. The New Testament gives no information about Mary's parentage, birth, or

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