Saturday, July 19, 2014

Myth-Folklore Unit: Infancy Gospels

Overview. In this unit you will read the Biblical accounts of the birth and childhood of Jesus as told in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, and then you will read two of the most influential infancy gospels, The Protevangelion of James and The First Infancy Gospel (both found in Platt's The Lost Books of the Bible), which explore those events in great detail. The extra-Biblical texts build on existing Biblical details to create stories about the marriage of Mary and Joseph, the birth of Jesus, and the many miracles that Jesus performed both as a baby and as a young boy. While these books did not form part of the Bible, they were widely known throughout the Middle Ages and provided the inspiration for many works of art, such as the medieval illustration below which shows the pagan idols toppling to the ground in abject terror at the arrival of the infant Jesus into Egypt.

Language. The first part of his unit consists of selected passages from the gospels of Luke and Matthew in the King James Bible but without too much trouble you could find the same passages in the Bible translation of your choice. The remainder of the unit consists of modern English translation of the ancient apocrypha, and the language used should not pose any particular problem.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Infancy Gospels. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

Notes. This unit does not have notes on every page yet, so please feel free to ask questions if something is not clear — and your questions will help me write better notes, too! You can ask your question by leaving a comment, just like at any other blog. You can also rate each page with the star ratings checkbox at the bottom of each post. Your feedback and questions are much appreciated!

Connecting Units. If you are interested in Biblical legends, I strongly recommend the Folklore of the Holy Land unit coming up in the Middle East module, which features Jewish, Christian and Islamic folklore, centered on the city of Jerusalem.

Read More. In this unit, you read only part of the Infancy gospel tradition. If you want to read more, especially about the legends of Mary's earlier life, you can find those books included in Platt's The Lost Books of the Bible online. For a quick glance at the table of contents, see the online book presented at Sacred Texts Archive.

Additional Resources. Be sure to look at the Wikipedia articles on the Protoevangelium of James and the general overview in the New Testament Apocrypha article.



READING A:
  1. The Annunciation (Luke)
  2. The Nativity (Luke)
  3. The Young Jesus (Luke)
  4. The Wise Men (Matthew)
  5. Mary and Joseph (James)
  6. The Virgin Grown Big (James)
  7. The Birth of Jesus (James)
  8. The Nativity (Infancy Gospel)
  9. The Wise Men (Infancy Gospel)
  10. The Idol (Infancy Gospel)
  11. Miracles Along the Way (Infancy Gospel)
READING B:
  1. Curing the Leprosy (Infancy Gospel)
  2. The Mule (Infancy Gospel)
  3. The Two Robbers (Infancy Gospel)
  4. The Rival Women (Infancy Gospel)
  5. Jesus the Healer (Infancy Gospel)
  6. Jesus the Exorcist (Infancy Gospel)
  7. The Boy Judas (Infancy Gospel)
  8. Jesus and Joseph (Infancy Gospel)
  9. Jesus and the Serpent (Infancy Gospel)
  10. Jesus and the Boy on the Housetop (Infancy Gospel)
  11. Jesus and the Schoolmaster (Infancy Gospel)
  12. Jesus and the Philosophers (Infancy Gospel)





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