I’ve been interested to read the Protoevangelium of Saint James recently, not something I’ve come across before (to my shame). It is just one of a wide collection of Early Christian writings, many of which can be found here, which are fascinating and confusing in turns.Also extremely interesting is Eberhard Arnold’s ‘The Early Christians in their Own Words’ which is available as a free ebook from Plough.
The Protoevangelium tells the story of Mary, and her relationship with Jesus from a very different perspective to the one which I am used to hearing. Mary is represented as a virgin dedicated to the temple, and eventually given over to the much older Joseph, a widower, to be his ward. She becomes supernatutrally pregnant, and they are suspected of having been up to no good – but found to be innocent. It goes on to tell the nativity story, its a really interesting read actually.
Off the back of it, I’ve bought a copy of Margaret Barker’s ‘Christmas The Original Story‘ which I am looking forward to reading. I am intrigued by the different perspectives on the Christmas story, and the way that the events surrounding the virgin birth are often presented as just as much of an article of faith as the pregnancy/birth itself.
It helps to gain a wide perspective on the stories, and to me at least it in no way detracts from the importance and vitality of the divinity of Jesus or his life, death, and resurection.
I note too that Margaret Barker is speaking at Greenbelt this summer – we’ll be there, should be good!