Perspectives Of A Fellow Traveler
The Nativity Through Abrahamic Literature: Part 7: The Birth of Jesus: Luke 2:1-29
The following is post number 7 in my series, “The Nativity Through Abrahamic Literature”. This post centers around the the birth of Jesus and comes from the Gospel of Luke 2:1-20, from the New Revised Standard Version with annotations from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version 4th ed. Edition by Michael D. Coogan
Source: The Nativity Through Abrahamic Literature: Part 7: The Birth of Jesus: Luke 2:1-29
The First Gospel of the Infancy of Christ
The following accounts we found in the book of Joseph the high-priest, called by some Caiaphas:
2 He relates, that Jesus spake even when he was in the cradle, and said to his mother:
“3 Mary, I am Jesus the Son of God, that word which thou didst bring forth according to the declaration of the angel Gabriel to thee, and my father hath sent me for the salvation of the world.”
4 In the three hundred and ninth year of the era of Alexander, Augustus published a decree that all persons should go to be taxed in their own country. 5 Joseph therefore arose, and with Mary his spouse he went to Jerusalem, and then came to Bethlehem, that he and his family might be taxed in the city of his fathers. 6 And when they came by the cave, Mary confessed to Joseph that her time of bringing forth was come, and she could not go on to the city, and said, Let us go into this cave. 7 At that time the sun was very near going down. 8 But Joseph hastened away, that he might fetch her a mid-wife; and when he saw an old Hebrew woman who was of Jerusalem, he said to her, Pray come hither, good woman, and go into that cave, and you will there see a woman just ready to bring forth. 9 It was after sunset, when the old woman and Joseph with her reached the cave, and they both went into it. 10 And behold, it was all filled with lights, greater than the light of lamps and candles, an, greater than the light of the sun itself. 11 The infant was then wrapped up in swaddling clothes, an sucking the breasts of his mother St. Mary. 12 When they both saw this light, they were surprised; the old woman asked St. Mary, Art thou the mother of this child ? 13 St. Mary replied, She was. 14 On which the old woman said, Thou art very different from all other women. 15 St. Mary answered, As there is not any child like to my son, so neither is there any woman like to his mother. 16 The old woman answered and said, O my Lady, I am come hither that I may obtain an everlasting reward. 17 Then our Lady, St. Mary said to her, Lay thine hand upon the infant; which, when she had done, she became whole 18 And as she was going forth, she said, From henceforth, all the days of my life, I will attend upon and be a servant of this infant. 19 After this, when the shepherds came, and had made a fire and they were exceedingly rejoicing, the heavenly host appeared to them, praising and adoring the supreme God. 20 And as the shepherds we engaged in the same employment, the cave at that time seemed like a glorious temple, because both the tongues of angels and men united to adore and magnify God, on account of the birth of the Lord Christ. 21 But when the old Hebrew woman saw all these evident miracles, she gave praises to God, and said, I thank thee, O God, thou God of Israel, for that mine eyes have seen the birth of the Saviour of the world.
Exegeses: THE FIRST GOSPEL OF THE INFANCY OF JESUS CHRIST
1. Caiaphas relates that Jesus, when in his cradle, informed his mother that he was the Son of God. 5. Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem to be taxed, Mary’s time of bringing forth arrives, and she goes into a cave. 8. Joseph fetches in a Hebrew woman, the cave filled with great lights. 11. The infant born, 17. cures the woman, 19. arrival of the shepherds.
1. The following accounts we found in the book of Joseph the high-priest, called by some Caiaphas:
That Caiaphas was high-priest at the time of Christ’s public ministry is confirmed by Matthew 26:3, Luke 3:2, John 11:49, 18:14, and Acts 4:6.
This Gospel had been received by the Gnostics, a sect of Christians in the second century. Ocobius de Castro mentions a Gospel of Thomas (there are several books with that title) which he says he saw and had translated to him by an Armenian Archbishop at Amsterdam, that was read in very many churches of Asia and Africa, as the only rule of their faith. Fabricius takes it to be this Gospel. However, it may be the Second Gospel of the Infancy, which is directly attributed to Thomas.
Ahmed Ibu Idris, a Mohammedan divine, says it was used by some Christians in common with the other four Gospels, and it has been supposed that Mohammed and his coadjutors used its fanciful accounts of Christ’s childhood in compiling the Koran. The only “Christian” sources known to Mohammed were the Nestorians, who denied the real union between the divine and the human natures in Christ, thus virtually holding to two natures and two persons. Their founder, Nestorius, was removed in A.D. 431 from the Patriarchate of Constantinople as a heretic. He particularly disliked the expression “Mary, mother of God.” The Church council at Chalcedon asserted the truth of the phrase with the significant addition “as to his humanity.” The Church believes Christ had two natures in one person, and has decided over the ages that its belief in the Trinity and the two natures in Christ could never be explained, but only defined in such a way as to exclude heresies.
La Crosse cites a synod at Angamala, in the mountains of Malabar, A.D. 1599, which condemned this Gospel as still commonly read by the Nestorians in that country. This Gospel was first translated into English and published in 1697 by Henry Sike, Professor of Oriental Languages at Cambridge.[continued]