You Won’t Find *This* in the New Testament! September 29, 2013 BDEhrman2017-12-25T14:07:03-05:00September 29th, 2013|Christian Apocrypha, History of Christianity (100-300CE), Public Forum| Share Bart’s Post on These Platforms FacebookTwitterRedditLinkedInTumblrPinterestEmail Click for the Previous Post Click for the Next Post 29 Comments Wilusa September 29, 2013 at 3:16 pmLog in to Reply Great story! Am I correct in thinking that in an earlier passage, while Joseph is rushing to find a midwife, everything around him suddenly *stops* – like birds flying through the air, stopped in one place, immobile? The inference being that this is when the child is born? I know you’ve mentioned the terms “virgin conception” and “virgin birth” – used in connection with Mary – as referring to two different things. Raised Roman Catholic, the *only* term I ever heard used was “virgin birth.” But it definitely *meant* what you refer to as “virgin conception.” I doubt any modern Catholics would think Mary’s hymen was intact after giving birth. I think most people today, at least in our Western culture, define “virginity” in terms of one’s never had sex, whatever the condition of a hymen. (So in the unlikely event a woman who’d never had sex chose to have herself artificially inseminated, she could call herself a “virgin” even after giving birth!) BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 8:40 pmLog in to Reply Yup, that’s my favorite story of the whole book! Heterodoxus September 29, 2013 at 5:40 pmLog in to Reply So, according to Protevangelium Jacobi (yeah, that does sound cooler :)), immaculately conceived baby Mary was abandoned on the church steps (so to speak)? And preteen Mary was cloistered within the women’s section, where she was fed daily by a kindly (nun-like, or angel-like) caregiver, and all the while being indoctrinated in the ways and beliefs of a sanctified, young, Jewish woman? And never had sex with Joseph or any other man? If anyone seriously believes that, I’ll be happy to negotiate my asking price on a some prime swampland near me 😀 jebib September 29, 2013 at 5:56 pmLog in to Reply Considering the strength of the Marian movement in the Roman Catholic Church why didn’t this make the cut? BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 9:05 pmLog in to Reply It was probably known not to be apostolic or ancient enough. wisemenwatch September 29, 2013 at 7:00 pmLog in to Reply Salome replied, “As the Lord my God lives, if I do not insert my finger and examine her condition, I will not believe that the virgin has given birth.” Oh, doubting Salome! because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 8:41 pmLog in to Reply Yup, it’s a clear allusion to John 20:25. RonaldTaska September 29, 2013 at 9:44 pmLog in to Reply It is an “amazing passage” indeed. Thanks for explaining the meaning of “Proto-“. toejam September 29, 2013 at 10:41 pmLog in to Reply “Brace yourself!” LOL!!! Pofarmer September 30, 2013 at 2:49 amLog in to Reply At some point, you have to conclude, christianity is just weird. BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 8:44 pmLog in to Reply Most things are to outsiders! Alfred September 30, 2013 at 7:19 amLog in to Reply Greatly enjoyed the unintended reference in the last paragraph before the quotation! Amazon delivered The Bible today. Looks wonderful! talitakum September 30, 2013 at 4:58 pmLog in to Reply What I find interesting here is how these first Christians addressed the “issue” of the Jesus’ brothers: Joseph was an elderly widower with sons from a previous marriage. This means that the traditional accounts of Jesus’ brothers weren’t interpreted as they were “cousins” (like even modern apology sometimes claims). I also have a question: although we’re clearly dealing with non-historical accounts, where could this tradition about Mary (perpetual virginity) may have arisen from? Do you know any similar greek-roman or jewish precedent? Or is it just a creative (indeed!) theologumena to take the purity of Mary to the extreme? Thank you BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 8:46 pmLog in to Reply Yes, that’s why the book was not successful in western Christendom (it’s views of Jesus’ “brothers”). As to the importance of virginity to an increasingly ascetic form of Christianity, that’s a very BIG question, too long for a response here! Rosekeister September 30, 2013 at 5:36 pmLog in to Reply You’ve said the problem of suffering led to your current agnostic leaning toward atheist stance but did your studies of non-canonical early Christian writings including the Ante-Nicene Fathers contribute in any way? I’m thinking in terms of the realization that both canon and non-canon are the product of the human imagination and not divine inspiration. Just as there were questions about the virgin birth and the Proto-Gospel of James is written to answer these questions and others, so were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John written to answer questions and proclaim the beliefs of their individual communities. The NT is just a part of the world of early Christianity and Lost Scriptures is a constant reminder that the NT could have been very different. BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 8:47 pmLog in to Reply Those issues helped lead me away from a belief in the inspiration of the Bible, but not to agnosticism (since such matters are irrelevant to the question of whether God exists or not) Rosekeister October 1, 2013 at 10:35 pmLog in to Reply When you say you are agnostic are you referring specifically to the Judeo-Christian or personal God? Do you think as a human concept God can be defined in other ways or is the point that you don’t believe God language is a useful way of discussing meaning and purpose? BDEhrman October 2, 2013 at 4:47 pmLog in to Reply No, I’m an atheist in respect to the traditional Judeo-Christian God (I don’t think he exists). I’m agnostic as to whether there is some kind of greater spiritual power in the universe. Rosekeister October 3, 2013 at 12:45 am Despite agnosticism, I suspect you have thoughts and beliefs on the concept of God or a greater power but in a provisional flexible framework that you will cheerfully change as you live longer and think, learn and study more more. Do you have any thoughts on the various interpretations of the greater power as the universal process or serendipitous creativity? I think it’s clear that any concept of God cannot be a personal one due to the problem of suffering but sometimes I think perhaps the personal in God would be found in your parents, siblings, spouse and children who are the result of 13.7 billion years of evolution. BDEhrman October 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm I have no special thoughts on God as process or creativity — other than I don’t believe it but don’t know! Simeon August 15, 2015 at 12:55 am Prof Ehrman The things of God come in twos’ It is not as simple a division as theism and atheism, it is more a division of Gnosis and Agnosis, atheism cannot argue what it does not believe it can only disparage. Scripture says “All things are twofold, one opposite the other, and he has made nothing incomplete. One confirms the good things of the other, and who can have enough of beholding his glory? Sirach 42:24-26. Again it says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 The balance though is that authority does trump personal faith. Simeon EricBrown September 30, 2013 at 6:20 pmLog in to Reply I had no idea the Marian cult was so early. stephena September 30, 2013 at 8:49 pmLog in to Reply And I am so glad this nonsense didn’t make it into the New Testament! It’s too bad the ‘virgin birth’ made it in, too! Is there a more precise dating for this Gospel other than simply ‘Second Century’? Did Mariology develop in the early or late Second Century – or even later? And does this and other writings signal the beginning of the veneration of Mary, or did that come later on? (Obviously I’m not Catholic!) BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 8:48 pmLog in to Reply As with all things, scholars debate the date. But second half of second century makes good sense. timber84 September 30, 2013 at 11:00 pmLog in to Reply Some of the ideas from the Proto-Gospel of James must have impacted Catholic theology. Don’t Catholics believe that Mary remained a virgin throughout her entire life? BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 8:48 pmLog in to Reply That’s the traditional belief. ktn3654 October 2, 2013 at 6:18 amLog in to Reply Unless I am much mistaken, it is not merely a traditional belief–it remains an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, even today. Mikail78 October 1, 2013 at 3:41 amLog in to Reply Bart, very quick question. I sent you an email about this, but I didn’t hear back from you. I assume you’re VERY busy right now. I know this is off the subject, but have you considered reviewing Bill O’Reilly’s book on Jesus on this blog? We know O’Reilly isn’t a scholar on the historical Jesus, but a lot of people take him seriously. I’m not saying this is a good thing. Ha! But seriously, have you considered reviewing his new book, “Killing Jesus”. BDEhrman October 1, 2013 at 9:05 pmLog in to Reply Yes, I may do so at some point. Haven’t had the heart to look at it yet…. Leave A Comment Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.