(10 votes, average: 4.80 out of 5) You need to be a registered member to rate this.
The Gospel Before the Gospel: The Proto-Gospel of James
October 11, 2023
In this thread I’ve been talking about some of the more famous Gospels that are not in the New Testament. I move now to one that I’ve talked about on the blog before, but it’s been a few years so it’s worth talking about again. It is arguably the most influential Gospel outside the canon: the Proto-Gospel of James (which scholars call the Protevangelium Jacobi — a Latin phrase that means “Proto-Gospel of James,” but sounds much cooler….).
It is called the “proto” Gospel because it records events that (allegedly) took place before the accounts of the NT Gospels. Its overarching focus is on Mary, the mother of Jesus; it is interested in explaining who she was. Why was *she* the one who was chosen to bear the Son of God? What made her so special? How did she come into the world? What made her more holy than any other woman? Etc. These questions drive the narrative, and make it our earliest surviving instance of the adoration of Mary. On the legends found here was built an entire superstructure of Marian tradition. Most of the book deals with the question of how Mary was conceived (miraculously, but not virginally), what her early years were like (highly sanctified; her youth up to twelve (lived in the temple, fed every day by an angel), her betrothal to Joseph, an elderly widower with sons from a previous marriage, the discovery of her pregnancy and the “proof” that she (and Joseph) were both pure from any “sin” (such as, well, sex).
Unlock 4,000+ Articles Like This!
Get access to Dr. Ehrman's library of 4,000+ articles plus five new articles per week about the New Testament and early Christianity. It costs as little as $2.99/mth and every cent goes to charity!