Infancy: The Virgin Grown Big

As often in the apocryphal literature, characters who are mentioned in the Biblical text also appear in the apocryphal stories. So, in this story about the prosecution of Mary and Joseph, you see see Annas, who is mentioned in the Bible and who also figures prominently in the medieval tradition of the Passion Plays which dramatize the crucifixion of Jesus.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Infancy Gospels unit. Story source: The Lost Books of the Bible, edited by Rutherford H. Platt, Jr. (1926): The Protevangelion of James.


The Virgin Grown Big




AND when her sixth month was come, Joseph returned from his building houses abroad, which was his trade, and entering into the house, found the Virgin grown big: then smiting upon his face, he said, "With what face can I look up to the Lord my God? Or, what shall I say concerning this young woman? For I received her a Virgin out of the temple of the Lord my God, and have not preserved her such! Who has thus deceived me? Who has committed this evil in my house, and seducing the Virgin from me, hath defiled her? Is not the history of Adam exactly accomplished in me? For in the very instant of his glory, the serpent came and found Eve alone, and seduced her. Just after the same manner it has happened to me."

Then Joseph, arising from the ground, called her, and said, "O thou who hast been so much favoured by God, why hast thou done this? Why hast thou thus debased thy soul, who wast educated in the Holy of Holies, and received thy food from the hand of angels?"

But she, with a flood of tears, replied, "I am innocent, and have known no man."

Then said Joseph, "How comes it to pass you are with child?"

Mary answered, "As the Lord my God liveth, I know not by what means."

Then Joseph was exceedingly afraid, and went away from her, considering what he should do with her; and he thus reasoned with himself: "If I conceal her crime, I shall be found guilty by the law of the Lord; And if I discover her to the children of Israel, I fear, lest she being with child by an angel, I shall be found to betray the life of an innocent person: what therefore shall I do? I will privately dismiss her."

Then the night was come upon him, when behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said, "Be not afraid to take that young woman, for that which is within her is of the Holy Ghost; and she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins."

Then Joseph arose from his sleep, and glorified the God of Israel, who had shown him such favour, and preserved the Virgin.

Then came Annas the scribe, and said to Joseph, "Wherefore have we not seen you since your return?"

And Joseph replied, "Because I was weary after my journey, and rested the first day."

But Annas turning about perceived the Virgin big with child and went away to the priest, and told him, "Joseph in whom you placed so much confidence, is guilty of a notorious crime, in that he hath defiled the Virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, and hath privately married her, not discovering it to the children of Israel."

Then said the priest, "Hath Joseph done this?"

Annas replied, "If you send any of your servants, you will find that she is with child." And the servants went, and found it as he said.

Upon this both she and Joseph were brought to their trial, and the priest said unto her, "Mary, what hast thou done? Why hast thou debased thy soul, and forgot thy God, seeing thou wast brought up in the Holy of Holies, and didst receive thy food from the hands of angels, and heardest their songs? Why hast thou done this?"

To which with a flood of tears she answered, "As the Lord my God liveth, I am innocent in his sight, seeing I know no man."

Then the priest said to Joseph, "Why hast thou done this?"

And Joseph answered, "As the Lord my God liveth, I have not been concerned with her."

But the priest said, "Lie not, but declare the truth; thou hast privately married her, and not discovered it to the children of Israel, and humbled thyself under the mighty hand (of God), that thy seed might be blessed." And Joseph was silent.

Then said the priest (to Joseph), "You must restore to the temple of the Lord the Virgin which you took thence."

But he wept bitterly, and the priest added, "I will cause you both to drink the water of the Lord, which is for trial, and so your iniquity shall be laid open before you."

Then the priest took the water, and made Joseph drink, and sent him to a mountainous place. And he returned perfectly well, and all the people wondered that his guilt was not discovered.

So the priest said, "Since the Lord hath not made your sins evident, neither do I condemn you."

So he sent them away. Then Joseph took Mary, and went to his house, rejoicing and praising the God of Israel.





(800 words)





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