Early Christian legends of divine power, miraculous events, fear and admiration can inform your own spiritual journey.
The three principal infancy gospelsthe Infancy Gospel of James, the Gospel of the Infancy, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomasare accounts of the births and early lives of Mary the Virgin Mother, and Jesus. Originating in the second through fifth centuries, these apocryphal stories are fictions but nevertheless of great historical interest in terms of the beliefs and storytelling of early Christians, for they are the sources of well-known Christian legends as well as of some of Christianitys beloved heroes and heroines.
This fascinating and accessible exploration of formative influential narratives takes you deep into the early Christian religious thinking that provides the basis for Marys biography, ideas about her purity, as well as the prayers, feasts, and iconic representations that celebrate her life. These extraordinary folktales also provide some shocking imagery of the young Jesus, the incarnation of Godequally human and divineas he learns to control his supernatural powers and apply them for good.
Now you can experience the mystery and amusement of these charming folktales without any previous knowledge of early Christian history or thought. This SkyLight Illuminations edition offers insightful yet unobtrusive commentary that explains references and philosophical terms, shares inspiring interpretations, and gives you a deeper understanding of the sources of devotion Christians feel for Mary and the holy infant Jesus.
About the Author
Stevan Davies is professor of religious studies at Misericordia University and has studied the non-canonical gospels and acts for over thirty years. Among his books are The Gospel of Thomas: Annotated and Explained, The Secret Book of John: The Gnostic Gospel—Annotated and Explained (both SkyLight Paths) and The Revolt of the Widows: The Social World of the Apocryphal Acts. He has also published books about the canonical Christian scriptures including New Testament Fundamentals and Jesus the Healer: Possession, Trance and the Origins of Christianity. His website (www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/thomas.htm) is a leading Internet resource on the Gospel of Thomas.
A. Edward Siecienski, PhD is assistant professor of philosophy at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and also serves as Clement and Helen Pappas Professor of Byzantine Civilization and Religion at the college's Interdisciplinary Center for Hellenic Studies.
Table of Contents
Foreword by A. Edward Siecienski, PhD
Introduction: Tales from the Childhood of Mary and Jesus
The Gospel of James
Joachim and Anne: The Gift of Mary
Mary: The Story of Her Birth
Mary: Raised in Blessing and Purity
Joseph: Mary's Protector
Mary: Miraculous Conception
Joseph and Mary: Accused and Tested
Mary and Joseph: The Christmas Story
The Magi: In Search of a King
Herod: The Murder of Zechariah
The Gospel of the Infancy
A Cave, Not a Stable: The Nativity Story
A Sinful Mary and the Anointing of Christ
Jesus in the Temple
The Magi and Herod: Varying Views of Jesus
Into Egypt: The Holy Family in Flight
Exorcising a Deaf and Dumb Demon 83
The Bridegroom Mule: A Brother Restore
Bandits: In Them, Jesus Sees His Destiny 93
Balsams in His Path: The Holy Child Return
The Co-Wife’s Punishment
Satan’s Bite: The Young Judas Iscariot
Divine Mischief: The Boy Jesus at Play
The King, Christ and a Snake
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
The Introduction to the Gospel of Thomas
Clay Sparrows: A Dark Miracle
The Vengeful Boy: Christ in Conflict
The Young Healer Explores His Powers
Divine Carpenter: Jesus Adjusts His Elder’s Mistakes
The Pupil Teaches His Teacher
The Miraculous Physician
In the House of My Father: Jesus in the Temple
Suggestions for Further Reading