The Nativity Through Abrahamic Literature: Part 12:

Salome (right) and the midwife “Emea” (left), bathing the infant Jesus, is a common figure in Orthodox icons of the Nativity of Jesus; here in a 12th-century fresco from Cappadocia.

The Virginity of Mary: Infancy Gospel of James Chapters 19-20

The following is post number 12 in my series, “The Nativity Through Abrahamic Literature”. This post centers around the virginity of Mary and comes from a text of the New Testament apocrypha, known variously as the Protoevangelium, Proto-Gospel, or Infancy Gospel of James Chapters 19-20. The translation and annotations are from the The Complete Gospels edited by Robert J. Miller. This translation is known also as the Scholars Version or SV for short. Other translations of this text are freely available, online at


1“Then I saw a woman coming down from the hill country, and she asked, ‘Where are you going, sir?’ 2“I replied, ‘I am looking for a Hebrew midwife.’

3“She inquired, ‘Are you an Israelite?’

4“I told her, ‘Yes.’

5“And she said, ‘And who’s the one having a baby in the cave?’

6“I replied, ‘My fiancee.’i

7“And she continued, ‘She isn’t your wife?’

8“I said to her, ‘She is Mary, who was raised in the temple of the Lord; I obtained her by lot as my wife. 9But she’s not really my wife; she’s pregnant by the holy spirit.’

10“The midwife said, ‘Really?’”

“Joseph responded, “Come and see.”

12And the midwife went with him. 13As they stood in front of the cave, a dark cloud overshadowed it.ii 14The midwife said, “I’ve really been privileged, because today my eyes have seen a miracle in that salvation has come to Israel.”iii

15Suddenly the cloud withdrew from the cave and an intense light appeared inside the cave, so that their eyes could not bear to look. 16And a little later that light receded until an infant became visible; he took the breast of his mother Mary.

17Then the midwife shouted: “What a great day this is for me because I’ve seen this new miracle!”

18And the midwife left the cave and met Salome and said to her, “Salome, Salome, let me tell you about a new marvel: a virgin has given birth, and you know that’s impossible!”

19And Salome replied, “As the Lord my God lives, unless I insert my finger and examine her, I will never believe that a virgin has given birth.”iv [………]