Tomorrow in my graduate seminar on the early Christian apocrypha we finish translating the Proto-Gospel of James (aka: the Protevangelium Jacobi). We have done about five or six chapters a week for each of the past few weeks; next week we begin to translate the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, another really great text.

In an earlier post I mentioned one of the most significant passages of the Proto-Gospel, where the midwife Salome doubts that a virgin had given birth (note: she does not doubt whether a virgin could have *conceived* [although no doubt she *would* have doubted it!]; what she doubts is that a woman could give *birth* and still have her hymen intact. That, obviously, would be impossible), and gives Mary a postpartum examination only to find that in fact she really is still a virgin (i.e., “intact”).

Immediately before that amazing scene is another that I find at least as entrancing. In it, Joseph himself describes – in the first person – what happened when the Son of God came into the world. This was such a cosmic event, that time stopped. And Joseph describes how, by explaining what he saw at that moment.


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