“Will I Conceive Like Other Women?” Mary and Gabriel in the Protoevangelium of James

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James, 10–11

10.“There was another council of the priests where they were saying, “Let’s make a veil for the temple of the Lord.” Then a priest said, “Call to me her seven unsullied maidens from the tribe of David.” So his assistants went out and looked for seven and found six. Then the priest remembered that Mary was from the tribe of David and was unsullied. So his assistants went and brought her back.

The priest led the virgins into the temple of the Lord and said, “Draw lots for me here as to who will weave the gold and unsullied cloth and the silk and linen and hyacinth and the red and the undiluted purple. The red and purple lot fell to Mary. She took it and went to her home. In that season, Zakharias went silent. Mary took the red and was weaving it.

11. Later, she went out with a pitcher to fill it with water, and , look, there was a voice speaking, “Greetings, most gracious one, the Lord is with you and you are blessed among women.” Then Mary was looking left and right for where the voice came from. Filled with a tremble, she returned to her house where she put the pitcher down, took up the purple again, sat down on a seat and was working it. Then, look, an angel of the Lord appeared and said to hear, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace from the Lord openly and you will conceive from his word.”

Once Mary heard this, she responded, asking, “Will I conceive, as every woman bears children?” and the messenger responded to her, “Not, in that way, Mary. For the power of God will cast a shadow over you and from that a sacred child will be born from you who will be called the Son of the Highest. And you will give him the name Jesus. For he will save his people from their sins.” And Mary said, “Look, I am the slave of the Lord. May it happen according to your word.”

10.1 Ἐγένετο δὲ συμβούλιον τῶν ἱερέων λεγόντων: ποιήσωμεν καταπέτασμα τῷ ναῷ κυρίου. καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἱερεύς: καλέσατέ μοι ὧδε ἑπτὰ παρθένους ἀμιάντους ἐκ φυλῆς Δαυίδ. καὶ ἀπῆλθον οἱ ὑπηρέται καὶ εὕρησαν ἑπτά (εὗρον ἕξ). καὶ ἐμνήσθη ὁ ἱερεύς, ὅτι Μαρία ἐκ φυλῆς Δαυίδ ἐστι καὶ ἀμίαντός ἐστιν. καὶ ἀπῆλθαν οἱ ὑπηρέται καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτήν. καὶ εἰσήγαγεν αὐτὰς ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐν τῷ ναῷ κυρίου καὶ εἶπεν: λάχετέ μοι ὧδε, τίς νήσει τὸ χρυσίον καὶ τὸ ἀμίαντον καὶ τὸ βύσσινον καὶ τὸ σηρικοῦν καὶ τὸ ὑάκινθον καὶ τὸ κόκκινον καὶ τὴν ἀληθινὴν πορφύραν. καὶ ἔλαχεν τὴν Μαριὰμ τὸ κόκκινον καὶ ἡ ἀληθινὴ πορφύρα. καὶ λαβοῦσα ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς. τῷ δὲ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ Ζαχαρίας ἐσίγησεν. Μαριὰμ δὲ λαβοῦσα τὸ κόκκινον ἔκλωσεν.

11.1 Καὶ λαβοῦσα κάλπιν ἐξῆλθεν γεμίσαι ὕδωρ, καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ λέγουσα: χαῖρε κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ, εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξί. καὶ περιεβλέπετο δεξιὰ καὶ ἀριστερά, πόθεν αὕτη ἡ φωνὴ ὑπάρχει, καὶ ἔντρομος γενομένη ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς. καὶ ἀναπαύσασα τὴν κάλπην ἔλαβε πάλιν τὴν πορφύραν καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καὶ εἷλκεν αὐτήν. 2 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐπέστη λέγων αὐτῇ: μὴ φοβοῦ, Μαριάμ, εὗρες γὰρ χάριν ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συλλήψῃ ἐκ λόγου αὐτοῦ. ἀκούσασα δὲ Μαριὰμ διεκρίθη ἐν ἑαυτῇ λέγουσα: ἐγὼ συλλήψομαι, ὡς πᾶσα γυνὴ γεννᾷ; 3 καὶ λέγει πρὸς αὐτὴν ὁ ἄγγελος: οὐχ οὕτως, Μαριάμ: δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐπισκιάσει σοι, διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννόμενον (ἐκ σοῦ) ἅγιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς ὑψίστου, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν: αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν. καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ: ἰδοὺ ἡ δούλη κυρίου: γένοιτό μοι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου.

The Annunciation (detail) by Philippe de Champaigne

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