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Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη

Who was Josephus?
Maps, Graphics

War, Volume 1
War, Volume 2
War, Volume 3
War, Volume 4
War, Volume 5
War, Volume 6
War, Volume 7

Ant. Jud., Bk 1
Ant. Jud., Bk 2
Ant. Jud., Bk 3
Ant. Jud., Bk 4
Ant. Jud., Bk 5
Ant. Jud., Bk 6
Ant. Jud., Bk 7
Ant. Jud., Bk 8
Ant. Jud., Bk 9
Ant. Jud., Bk 10
Ant. Jud., Bk 11
Ant. Jud., Bk 12
Ant. Jud., Bk 13
Ant. Jud., Bk 14
Ant. Jud., Bk 15
Ant. Jud., Bk 16
Ant. Jud., Bk 17
Ant. Jud., Bk 18
Ant. Jud., Bk 19
Ant. Jud., Bk 20

Apion, Bk 1
Apion, Bk 2


Gospel of--
-- Nicodemus
-- Peter
-- Ps-Matthew
-- James (Protevangelium)
-- Thomas (Infancy)
-- Thomas (Gnostic)
-- Joseph of Arimathea
-- Joseph_Carpenter
Pilate's Letter
Pilate's End

Apocalypse of --
-- Ezra
-- Moses
-- Paul
-- Pseudo-John
-- Moses
-- Enoch

Clementine Homilies
Clementine Letters
Clementine Recognitions
Dormition of Mary
Book of Jubilees
Life of Adam and Eve
Odes of Solomon
Pistis Sophia
Secrets of Enoch
Veronica's Veil
Vision of Paul
Vision of Shadrach

Acts of
Andrew & Matthias
Andrew & Peter
Paul & Perpetua
Paul & Thecla
Peter & Paul
Andrew and Peter
Thomas in India

Daily Word 2018


Sundays, 1-34, Year A
Sundays, 1-34, Year B
Sundays, 1-34, Year C

(Ordinary Time)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 1)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 2)
Wks 12-22 (Year 1)
Wks 12-22 (Year 2)
Wks 23-34 (Year 1)
Wks 23-34 (Year 2)

Saints Days


Clement of Rome

Ignatius of Antioch

Polycarp of Smyrna

Barnabas,(Epistle of)

Papias of Hierapolis

Justin, Martyr

The Didachë

Irenaeus of Lyons

Hermas (Pastor of)

Tatian of Syria

Theophilus of Antioch

Diognetus (letter)

Athenagoras of Alex.

Clement of Alexandria

Tertullian of Carthage

Origen of Alexandria

Protevangelium of James

A warm, colourful, late 2nd century meditation on the life of the Virgin Mary, based partly on the canonical Gospels but embroidered with various Old Testament threads, to fill out what our Gospels omitted about Our Lady's background. I have edited the text and added a title for each paragraph.
Patrick Rogers

About the Protevangelium

01. Joachim's Grief at being Childless

02. Anna Mourns her Childless State

03. Lamentation of Anna

04. Angel's Promise to Anna

05. Joachim's Offerring; Anna gives birth to Mary

06. How The Infant Mary Was Blessed by the Priests

07. Aged three, Mary is Joyfully Presented for Temple Service

08. After Nine Years in the Temple, Mary has to leave it at Twelve

09. Finding a Husband for the Virgin Mary: Joseph at first Reluctant

10. Mary in the Temple, weaving the Curtain for the Holy of Holies

11. Annunciation to Mary, at the Well

12. Mary, blessed by the Priest and by Elizabeth; Pregnant and in Seclusion

13. Joseph's Dismay and Reproach; Mary's Reply

14. Joseph's Dilemma answered by an Angel

15. Priest accusses Joseph and Mary of Breach of Trust

16. Joseph and Mary, under Trial by Ordeal, are proved Innocent

17. Joseph's Dilemma at the Census: How to enrol Mary?

18. In a Cave outside Bethlehem; the World Stood Still

19. The Midwife, the Luminous Cloud and the Miraculous Birth

20. Salome attests Mary's Virginity, "post partum"

21. The Magi follow their Star

22. Slaughter of the Innocents; Elizabeth hides inside the Mountain

23. Zechariah the Priest, father of John the Baptist, is murdered by Herod

24. Zechariah is Mourned; Simeon takes his Place

25. Written by James, in Jerusalem

01. Joachim's Grief at being Childless

In the records of the twelve tribes of lsrael was found Joachim, a very rich man, who doubled his temple-offerings twofold, saying: Let my surplus be of benefit to all the people, and let me offer to the Lord for the forgiveness of my sins. Now the great day of the Lord was near, and the children of lsrael were bringing their offerings. And Rubim stood up against him saying: "It is not right for you to bring your offerings first, since you have given Israel no children." And Joachim was very grieved, and went to consult the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: "I will see whether I am the only one not to have procreated in lsrael." He searched and found that all the righteous in lsrael had raised up posterity. He called to mind about the patriarch Abraham, how at the very end God granted him a son, Isaac. And Joachim was very grieved, and did not come into his wife's presence but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying to himself: "I will take neither food nor drink until the Lord my God looks upon me, and prayer will be my food and drink."

02. Anna Mourns her Childless State

Now his wife Anna mourned twice as much, and doubly lamented, saying: "I will grieve for being a widow as well as being childless." But the great day of the Lord was near; and Judith her handmaid said: "How long will your soul be crushed? See, the great day of the Lord is near, and it is wrong for you to mourn. Here, take this head-band, given to me by the woman who made; for it is wrong for me to wear it, as I am a handmaid, and it is fit for a queen." But Anna said: "Go away; for I have no use for such things, for the Lord has brought me very low. I'm afraid some wicked person has given it to you, and you want to make me share in your sin." And Judith said: "Why should I harm you, seeing that the Lord has shut up your womb and given you no fruit in Israel?" So, though Anna was still very grieved, she put off her mourning garments and washed her head, and put on her finery and about the ninth hour went down to the garden to walk. There she saw a laurel tree, under which she sat and said this prayer to the Lord, "O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as you blessed the womb of Sarah, and gave her a son, Isaac."

03. Lamentation of Anna

Gazing upwards, she saw a sparrow's nest in the laurel, and lamented within herself: "Alas the one who begot me, and the womb which produced me! For I am accursed and reproached among the children of Israel, and they have driven me in mockery from the temple of the Lord. Alas! what am I like? I am unlike the birds of the sky, because even the birds of the sky have progeny in your sight, O Lord. Alas! what am I like? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth bear fruit before you, O Lord. Alas! what am I like? I am not like these waters, because even these waters bear fruit before you, O Lord. Alas! what am I like? I am unlike the earth, for even the earth brings forth its fruits in season, and blesses you, O Lord."

04. The Angel's Promise to Anna

Then an angel of the Lord came near and said: "Anna, Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer, and you will conceive, and have a child; and your child will be spoken of in all the world." And Anna said: "As the Lord my God lives, whether I have a boy or a girl, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it will minister to him in holy things all the days of its life." Then two angels came and told her: "See, Joachim your husband coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord came down to him with the message: 'Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard your prayer Go down from here; for your wife Anna will conceive.' And Joachim went down and told his shepherds: "Bring me here ten lambs without spot or blemish, to give to the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, as a gift for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people!" Then Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood near the gate, and saw him coming, and she ran and clung to his neck, saying: "Now I know that the Lord God has blessed me very much. For no longer shall I be a widow, and I who was childless, will conceive." And Joachim rested that first day in his house.

05. Joachim's Offerring Accepted; Anna gives birth to Mary

On the following day he brought his offerings, saying within himself: "If the Lord God is showing me his favour, the plate upon the priest's forehead will manifest it to me. So he looked closely at the head-plate of the high priest as he went up to the altar of the Lord, and saw no sin in himself. Then Joachim knew that the Lord has blessed him; and he went down to his own house.And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious to me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house.

And after nine months Anna bore a child. And she said to the midwife: "What have I delivered?" and she said: "A girl." And Anna said: "My soul has been magnified this day!" and she laid her down. And in due time, Anna was purified, and she suckled the child and called her name Mary.

06. The Infant Mary's Careful Nurturing, and How She Was Blessed by the Priests

The child grew stronger day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to see if she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her arms; and she caught her up, saying: "As the Lord my God lives, you will not walk upon the ground until I bring you to the temple of the Lord." Then she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, allowing nothing common or unclean to pass through her. And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews to be her companions.

When she was a year old, Joachim made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all of Israel. Joachim then brought the child to the priests, who blessed her, saying: "God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be repeated in all generations." And all the people said: "So be it, so be it, amen!" Then he brought her to the chief priests who blessed her: "O God most high, look on this child, and bless her with a blessing which will last for ever." And her mother took her into the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and gave her the breast. And Anna made this song to the Lord God: "I will sing to the Lord my God, for he has looked on me, and has taken away the reproach of my enemies. The Lord has given me the fruit of his righteousness, singular in its kind, and richly endowed me. Who will tell the sons of Rubim that Anna suckles a child? Hear, hear, you twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna gives suck!" She laid her to rest in the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and then went out and ministered to them. And when the supper was ended, they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.

07. Aged Three, Mary is Joyfully Presented for Temple Service

The months went by, and when the child was two years old, Joachim said: "Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, to pay the vow that we have made, in case perhaps the Lord send for us, before our offering is received." Anna replied: "Let us wait for the third year, so that the child may not need father or mother." So Joachim agreed: "Yes, let us wait." And when the child was three years old Joachim said: Invite the pure daughters of the Hebrews, and let them each take a lamp, and stand with the lamps burning, so that the child may not turn back, and let her heart be captivated by the temple of the Lord." This they did did until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest welcomed her, kissed her, and blessed her, saying: "The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, in these final days, the Lord will manifest his redemption to the children of lsrael." Then he set her down on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her, so that she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

08. After Nine Years in the Temple, at twelve, Mary has to leave it

Her parents went down full of wonder and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as like a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. But when she was twelve years old a council of the priests decided: "Now that Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord, what will we do about her? For now perhaps she may defile the sanctuary of the Lord." And they said to the high priest: "You who stand by the altar of the Lord, go in, and pray about her; and whatever the Lord shows you, that is what we will do." So the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed about her. And an angel of the Lord stood near him, saying: "Zechariah, Zechariah, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let each of them bring his staff; and then whoever the Lord will signal, let her be his wife." So the heralds went out throughout all of Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all hurried together.

09. Finding a Husband/Protector for the Virgin Mary: Joseph at first Reluctant

Joseph too threw away his axe, and went out to meet them; and when they had gathered, they came to the high priest, each with his staff. Then taking the staffs of them all, he entered into the temple, and prayed; and having ended his prayer, he took the staffs and came out, and gave them back to them: but there was no sign in them. Then Joseph took his staff last; and lo! a dove came out of the staff, and flew upon Joseph's head. So the priest said to Joseph, "You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord." At first Joseph refused, saying: "I already have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. Let me not I become a laughing-stock to the children of lsrael." But the priest said to Joseph: "Fear the Lord your God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up for resisting Him. Now Joseph, take care that the same does not happen in your house!" Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping. And he said to Mary: "See, I have received you from the temple of the Lord; and now I leave you in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and then come back to you. The Lord will protect you."

10. Mary again in the Temple, to weave the Curtain for the Holy of Holies

A council of the priests decided: "Let us make a veil for the temple of the Lord." And the high priest said: "Gather to me some undefiled virgins of the family of David." So the officers went away to look, and found seven virgins. And the priest remembered the child Mary, that she was of the family of David, and undefiled before God; so the officers went and brought her. When they brought them into the temple of the Lord, the priest said: "Select by lot who will spin the gold, and the white, and the fine linen, and the silk, and the blue, and the scarlet, and the royal purple." The royal purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary, and she took them, and went off to her house. And at that time Zechariah was dumb, and Samuel was in his place until the time that Zechariah spoke again. And Mary took the scarlet, and span it.

11. Annunciation to Mary, at the Well

Mary took the pitcher, and went out to fill it with water. Then she heard a voice saying: "Hail, you who have received grace; the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" She looked round to right and left, to see where this voice came from, and trembling she went back to her house, where put down the pitcher; and taking the purple, she sat down and drew it out. Then an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying: "Fear not, Mary; for you have found grace before the Lord of all, and you will conceive, according to his word." Hearing it she wondered: "Will I conceive by the Lord, the living God? Or will I bring forth as every woman brings forth?" And the angel of the Lord said: "Not so, Mary; for the power of the Lord will overshadow you. Therefore the holy one to be born of you will be called the Son of the Most High. And you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." And Mary said: "See, the servant of the Lord, in his presence: let it be to me according to your word."

12. Mary blessed by the Priest and by Elizabeth; Pregnant and in Seclusion

When she making the purple and the scarlet, she took them to the priest. And the priest blessed her, saying: "Mary, the Lord God has magnified your name, and you will be blessed in all the generations of the earth." Then with great joy Mary went away to Elizabeth her kinswoman, and knocked at the door. When Elizabeth heard her, she threw away the scarlet, and ran to the door and opened it; and seeing Mary, she blessed her, saying: "How comes this to me, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? For that which is in me leaped and blessed you." Mary had forgotten the mysteries of which the archangel Gabriel had spoken, and gazed up into sky, saying: "Who am I, O Lord, that all the generations of the earth should bless me?" And as she remained three months with Elizabeth, day by day she grew bigger. Then being afraid, Mary went away to her own house and hid herself from the sons of Israel. She was sixteen years old when these mysteries happened.

13. Joseph's Dismay and Reproach; Mary's Reply

Mary was in her sixth month when Joseph came back from his building. On entering his house, when he found her big with child, he struck his face and threw himself on the ground in sackcloth, and wept bitterly. He cried, "How will I look on the Lord my God? What will I say to Him about this maiden? I received her a virgin from the temple of the Lord, and I have not watched over her. Who is it that has hunted me down? Who has done this evil thing in my house, and defiled her virginity? Has not Adam's story been repeated in me? For just as Adam was singing God's praise when the serpent came and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me." Joseph left aside the sackcloth and called Mary, and said to her: "You who have been cared for by God, why have you done this and forgotten the Lord your God? Why have you brought your soul so low, you that were brought up in the holy of holies, and were fed by the hand of an angel?" She wept bitterly, saying: "I am innocent, and have known no man." But Joseph asked: "Who caused that which is in your womb?" And she said: "As the Lord my God lives, I do not know how it came to me."

14. Joseph's Dilemma answered by and Angel

Feeling greatly afraid, Joseph retired from her to consider what he should do about her. For he said: "If I conceal her sin, I shall be opposing the Law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the children of lsrael, what if that which is in her be from an angel, I will be risking innocent blood to the fate of death. What will I do with her? I will put her aside secretly." And during the night ! an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, saying: "Be not afraid about this maiden, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she will bring forth a Son, and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." When Joseph arose from sleep, he glorified the God of lsrael who had given him this grace; and he kept her with him.

15. Priest accusses Joseph and Mary of Breach of Trust

Then Annas the scribe came to him to ask,"Why have you not appeared in our assembly?" Joseph said, "Because I was weary from my journey, and rested the first day." But when the man turned and saw that Mary was with child, he hurried away to the priest and told him: "Joseph, whom you trusted, has committed a grievous crime." When the priest asked him "How so?" he answered, "He has defiled the Virgin whom he received from the temple of the Lord, and has married her in secret, without telling the children of lsrael." When the priest asked: "Has Joseph done this?" Annas the scribe said: "Send officers, and you will find that the Virgin is with child." The officers went and found it as he had said; and they brought her with Joseph to the tribunal. Then the priest said: "Mary, why have you done this? and why have you brought your soul low, and forgotten the Lord your God? You that were reared in the holy of holies, and were fed by the hand of an angel, and heard the hymns, and danced before him, why have you done this?" She wept bitterly and said, "As the Lord my God lives, I am pure before him, and do not know a man." And the priest asked Joseph: "Why have you done this?" And Joseph said: "As the Lord lives, I am innocent about her." Then the priest said : "Tell no lies but speak the truth. You have married her in secret, and have not revealed it to the sons of Israel, and have not bowed your head for a blessing, that your seed might be blessed." And Joseph was silent.

16. Joseph and Mary, under Trial by Ordeal, are proved Innocent

When the priest said: "Hand overthe Virgin whom you received from the temple of the Lord!" Joseph burst into tears. Then the priest said: "I will have you drink the water of the Lord's ordeal, and he will show your your sins." So the priest took the water and gave Joseph to drink and sent him away to the hill-country; but he returned unharmed. And he gave some to Mary also to drink, and sent her away to the hill-country; and she too returned unharmed. At this, all the people wondered that no sin appeared in them. And the priest said: "If the Lord God has not made manifest your sins, neither do I judge you!" and he sent them away. So Joseph took Mary, and went away to his own house, rejoicing and glorifying the God of Israel.

17. Joseph's Dilemma at the Census: How to enrol Mary? She is both Sad and Happy

Then there came an order from the emperor Augustus, that all in Bethlehem of Judaea should be enrolled. Joseph thought: "I will enroll my sons, but what will I do with this maiden? How will I enroll her? As my wife? I am ashamed. As my daughter then? But all Israel knows that she is not my daughter. Let the day of the Lord show us what the Lord wills." So he saddled the donkey, and set her on it; and his son led it and Joseph followed.

When they had come within three miles, Joseph turned and saw her looking sorrowful and said to himself: "Likely that which is within her distresses her." Then again he turned and saw her laughing, and he asked her: "Mary, how is it that I see in your face at one time laughter, at another time sorrow?" And Mary told Joseph: "Because I see two peoples with my eyes; the one weeping and lamenting, and the other rejoicing and glad." When they came into the middle of the road, and Mary said to him: Take me down off the donkey, for that which is in me is pressing to come out." As he took her down from off the donkey, he asked her: "Where better can lead you, to cover your privacy? This place is deserted."

18. In a Cave outside Bethlehem; the World Stood Still

He found a cave there, and led her into it; and leaving his two sons beside her, he went out to seek a midwife in the district of Bethlehem. (I, Joseph, was walking and not walking; and I looked up into the sky, and the sky seemed astonished; and I looked up to the summit of the skies, and saw it standing, and the birds of the air keeping still. And I looked down on the earth, and saw a trough lying, and work-people reclining: and their hands were in the trough. And those that were eating did not eat, and those that were raising did not carry on up, and those that were conveying anything to their mouths did not convey it; but the faces of all were looking upwards. And I saw the sheep walking, and the sheep stood still; and the shepherd raised his hand to strike them, and his hand remained up. And I looked on the current of the river, and I saw the mouths of the kids resting on the water and not drinking, and all things in a moment were driven from their course.

19. The Midwife, the Luminous Cloud and the Miraculous Birth

And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: "Where are you going?" And I said: "I am seeking an Hebrew midwife." And she asked me: "Are you of Israel?" When I said "Yes" she asked me: "Who is it that is bringing forth in the cave?" I answered, "She is my betrothed." As she asked me: "Is she not your wife?" I said to her: "It is Mary, who was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife. And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit.")

When the midwife asked, "Is this true?" Joseph said: "Come and see." And the midwife went with him and they stood in the cave, and a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave. The midwife said: "My soul has been magnified this day, because my eyes have seen strange things - for salvation has been born to lsrael." Immediately the cloud disappeared from the cave, and a great light shone in it, so that the eyes could not bear it. After a while that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from his mother Mary.

The midwife shouted, "This is a great day to me, because I have seen this strange sight." As the midwife went from the cave, Salome met her, and she told Salome, "I have a strange sight to relate to you: a virgin has brought forth - a thing which nature does not allow." Then Salome said: "As the Lord my God lives, unless I thrust in my finger, and search the parts, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth."

20. Salome attests Mary's Virginity, "post partum"

And the midwife went in, and said to Mary: "Show yourself; for no small argument has arisen about you." Then Salome put in her finger, and shouted, "Alas for my wicked unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and lo! my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire." And she knelt before the Lord, saying: "O God of my fathers, remember that I am descended from Abraham and Isaac and Jacob; do not make a show of me to the sons of Israel, but restore me to the poor; for you know, O Lord, that in your name I have done service, and have received my reward at your hand." Then an angel of the Lord stood near her, telling her: "Salome, the Lord has heard you. Put your hand to the infant, and carry it, and you will have safety and joy." Salome went and carried it, saying: "I will worship him, because a great King has been born to lsrael." Then she was immediately cured, and left the cave justified. And a voice said: "Salome, Salome, tell not the strange things you have seen, until the child has come into Jerusalem."

21. The Magi follow their Star

When Joseph was ready to go into Judaea, there was a great disturbance in Bethlehem of Judaea, for Magi came, asking: "Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him." When Herod heard this, he was much disturbed, and sent officers to the Magi; and he sent for the priests, and examined them, saying: "How is it written about the Christ? Where is he to be born?" And they said: "In Bethlehem of Judaea, for so it is written." As he sent them away he asked the Magi, "What sign have you seen about the king that has been born?" And the Magi said: "We have seen a star of great size shining among these stars, and obscuring their light, so that the stars did not appear; and so we knew that a king has been born to Israel, and we have come to worship him." And Herod said: "Go and seek him; and if you find him, let me know, in order that I also may go and worship him too." As the Magi left, the star which they had seen in the east went before them until they came to the cave, and it stood above the cave. And the Magi saw the infant with his mother Mary; and they took from their bag gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by the angel not to go into Judaea, they went into their own country by another road.

22. Slaughter of the Innocents; Elizabeth hides inside the Mountain

And when Herod knew that he had been tricked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers with the orders, "Slay the children from two years old and under." And hearing how the children were being killed, Mary was afraid and took the infant and swaddled him, and put him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking for a hiding place for him. And there was no place of concealment. Then, groaning with a loud voice, Elizabeth said, "O mountain of God, receive mother and child." And immediately there was a cleft in the mountain, which received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.

23. Zechariah the Priest, father of John the Baptist, is murdered by Herod

As Herod searched for John, he sent officers to Zechariah, saying: "Where have you hid your son?" He answered, "I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I do not know where my son is." And the officers went left and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod was enraged, saying: "His son is destined to be king over Israel." And he sent to him again, saying: "Tell the truth; where is your son? for you know that your life is in my hand." Zechariah said: "I am God's martyr, if you shed my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, if you shed innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord." And Zechariah was murdered about daybreak but the children of lsrael did not know that he had been murdered.

24. Zechariah is Mourned; Simeon takes his Place

At the hour of salutation the priests came, and Zechariah did not come out to meet them with a blessing in the customary way. The priests stood waiting for Zechariah to salute him at the prayer, and to glorify the Most High; and as he still did not come, they were all afraid. One of them ventured in, and he saw clotted blood beside the altar; and he heard a voice saying: "Zechariah has been murdered, and his blood will not be wiped up until his avenger come." Hearing this, he was afraid, and went out and told it to the priests. And they ventured in, and saw what had happened; and the fretwork of the temple made a wailing noise, and they rent their clothes from the top even to the bottom. They did not find his body, but they found his blood turned into stone; and they were afraid, and went out and reported to the people that Zechariah had been murdered. And all the tribes of the people heard and mourned, and lamented for him three days and three nights. And after the three days, the priests consulted about whom to put in his place; and the lot fell on Simeon. For it was he who had been warned by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death until he should see the Christ in the flesh.

25. Written by James, in Jerusalem

I, James, wrote this history in Jerusalem, after the disturbance that arose when Herod died. I withdrew into the wilderness until the disturbance in Jerusalem ceased, glorifying the Lord God, who had given me the gift and the wisdom to write this story. And grace will be with those who fear our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory to ages of ages. Amen.

About the Protevangelium

Origen mentions the Book of James (and the Gospel of Peter) as stating that the ' brethren of the Lord' were sons of Joseph by a former wife. This is the first mention of it, and shows us that the book is as old as the second century. To collect later references to it is unnecessary.

It seems that the story about the death of Zecharias (xxii-xxiv) did not originally belong to this text; for Origen and other early writers give a different account of the cause of his death: it was, they say, because, after the Nativity, he still allowed Mary to take her place among the virgins in the Temple. (from "The Apocryphal New Testament", M.R. James-Translation and Notes. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)

The Apocryphal Gospels

There were a number of gospels written in the second century AD. or later called the Apocryphal Gospels. There are 22, of which 10 are written in Greek and 12 in Latin. These can be divided into three categories: those relating to the history of Mary and Joseph, the infancy of Christ, and the history of Pilate. Most of these are based on the Protevangelium of James, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Acts of Pilate. Collection of Apocryphal Gospels. See also The Complete Gospels ed. by Miller/Funk published by Harper Collins, 1992.