Documents for the Study of the Gospels

By David R. Cartlidge; David L. Dungan | Go to book overview

The Gospel of James

Introduction: The Gospel of James (Protevangelium Jacobi) has been one of the most influential of all the Christian gospels. Scholars have long agreed that at least the major portion of it was written in the second century. It is one of the earliest expositions of the idea of the virgin birth, and contains also the story of the birth of Mary and the circumstances of her betrothal to Joseph. In addition, there has come from the Gospel of James a great deal of the imagery which Christian artists have used in portraying the birth of Jesus.


Protevangelium Jacobi

1.1. According to the histories of the twelve tribes of Israel, Joachim was a very wealthy man. He brought his offerings twofold to the Lord, saying to himself, 2. “This from my abundance will be for all the people, and this which I owe as a sin offering will be for the Lord God as a propitiation for me.”

3. Now the great day of the Lord drew near, and the children of Israel brought their offerings. Reuben stood up against Joachim, saying, 4. “It is not permissible for you to bring your offerings first, for you did not produce offspring in Israel.”

5. Joachim was greatly distressed, and he went to the book of the twelve tribes of Israel, saying to himself, 6. “I will look at the records of the twelve tribes of Israel to determine whether I alone did not produce offspring in Israel.” 7. He searched, and he found that all the righteous had raised up offspring in Israel. 8. Further, he remembered the patriarch Abraham, that near his last day the Lord God gave to him a son, Isaac.

9. Joachim was very sorrowful; he did not appear to his wife, but betook himself into the desert and pitched his tent there. 10. Then he fasted for forty days and forty nights, saying to himself, “I will not return, either for food or drink, until the Lord my God considers me. Prayer will be my food and drink.”

2.1. Now his wife Anna sang two dirges and beat her breast in a twofold lament, saying, “I will mourn my widowhood, and 1 will mourn my barrenness.”

2. The great day of the Lord drew near and Euthine, her maid, said to her, “How long will you humble your soul? Behold, the great day of the Lord has come, and it is not proper for you to mourn. 3. Rather, take this headband

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