Travel Plans for the Holidays: On to Bethlehem with 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 17–18

17. “Then there was a summons from Herod the King [or Augustus] to record how many people there were in Bethlehem of Judea. And Joseph was compelled to return from Nazareth to Bethlehem. So Joseph said, “I will record my sons, but what should I do about the girl? How will I record her? As my wife? I am ashamed to do that. But as my daughter? The sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter. This day of the Lord will accomplish as it wishes.

And he prepared a donkey and put the girl on it and his son led it as [Samuel and] he followed after. Once they came about three miles from the city, Joseph turned and say her looking despondent and said to himself, “Perhaps what is in her is causing her pain.” And then Joseph turned back again and say her laughing and said, “Mary, what is this that I see your face now in laughter and then suddenly in pain?” And she said, “Joseph, I see two people with my eyes, one weeping and mourning and one rejoicing and feeling glory.”

Then they arrived near the middle of the journey, and Mary said to him: “take me down from the donkey, for that which is within me is pressing me to come out.” And he took her down and said to her, “Where will I take you and hide your impropriety, since this place is empty?”

18. Then he found nearby a cave and took her into it and stationed his sons near her as he left to seek a Hebrew midwife in the area near Bethlehem. “Now I, Joseph, was walking and I was not walking. I looked up into the curve of heaven and I saw it stop still. And I looked into the sky and I saw it still, all the birds of the sky had deserted it. And I looked toward the earth and I saw a dish lying there and workmen were placing it there. Their hands were in the vessel. Those who were chewing were not showing and those who were lifting food were not lifting it and those who were pressing something to their mouth were not pressing it. But everyone had their faces looking upward. I saw flocks which were being driven, but the sheep stood still. And The shepherd raised his hand to strike them, but his hand did not come down again. And I looked at the flowing of the river and I saw kids there and even though they had their mouths right next to the water, they did not drink. And then, all of a sudden, everything returned to its normal course.

17.1 Κέλευσις δὲ ἐγένετο ἀπὸ (τοῦ Ἀόστου) Ἡρώδου τοῦ βασιλέως ἀπογράψασθαι, ὅσοι εἰσὶν ἐν Βηθλεὲμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας. (ἠναγκάζετο δὲ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπελθεῖν ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ εἰς τὴν Βηθλεὲμ καὶ εἶπεν) καὶ εἶπεν Ἰωσήφ: ἐγὼ ἀπογράψομαι τοὺς υἱούς μου. ταύτην δὲ τὴν παῖδα τί ποιήσω; πῶς αὐτὴν ἀπογράψομαι; γυναῖκα ἐμήν; ἐπαισχύνομαι. ἀλλὰ θυγατέρα; οἶδαν οἱ υἱοὶ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν θυγάτηρ μου. αὐτὴ ἡ ἡμέρα Κυρίου ποιήσει, ὡς βούλεται. 2 καὶ ἔστρωσεν τὸν ὄνον, καὶ ἐκάθισεν αὐτὴν καὶ ἧλκεν ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἠκολούθησεν Σαμουήλ (αὐτός). καὶ ἤγγισαν ἐπὶ μίλιον τρίτον, καὶ ἐστράφη Ἰωσὴφ καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν στυγνὴν καὶ ἔλεγεν: ἴσως τὸ ἐν αὐτῇ χειμάζει αὐτήν. καὶ πάλιν ἐστράφη Ἰωσὴφ καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν γελοῦσαν καὶ εἶπεν: Μαριάμμη, τί ἐστίν σοι τοῦτο, ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπόν σου βλέπω ποτὲ μὲν γελοῦντα ποτὲ δὲ στυγνάζον; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ: Ἰωσήφ, ὅτι δύο λαοὺς βλέπω ἐν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς μου, ἔνα κλαίοντα καὶ κοπτόμενον καὶ ἔνα χαίροντα καὶ ἀγαλλιῶντα. 3 καὶ ἤλθωσεν ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς ὁδοῦ, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Μαριάμμη: κατάγαγέ με ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄνου, ὅτι (τ)ὸ ἐν ἐμοὶ ἐπείγει με προελθεῖν. καὶ κατήγαγεν αὐτὴν ἐκεῖ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ: ποῦ σε ἀπάξω καὶ σκεπάσω σου τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην, ὅτι ὁ τόπος ἔρημός ἐστιν;

181 Καὶ εὗρεν ἐκεῖ σπήλαιον καὶ εἰσήγαγεν αὐτὴν καὶ παρέστησεν αὐτῇ τοὺς υἱοὺς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ζητῆσαι μαῖαν ( Ἑβραίαν) ἐν χώρᾳ Βηθλεέμ. 2 ἐγὼ δὲ Ἰωσὴφ περιεπάτουν καὶ οὐ περιεπάτουν. καὶ ἀνέβλεψα εἰς τὸν πόλον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ εἶδον αὐτὸν ἑστῶτα, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀέρα καὶ εἶδον αὐτὸν ἔκθαμβον, καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἠρεμοῦντα. καὶ ἐπέβλεψα ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ εἶδον σκάφην κειμένην καὶ ἐργάτας ἀνακειμένους, καὶ ἦσαν αἱ χεῖρες αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ σκάφῃ. καὶ οἱ μασόμενοι οὐκ ἐμασῶντο, καὶ οἱ αἴροντες οὐκ ἀνέφερον, καὶ οἱ προσφέροντες τῷ στόματι αὐτῶν οὐ προσέφερον. ἀλλὰ πάντων ἦν τὰ πρόσωπα ἄνω βλέποντα. 3 καὶ εἶδον ἐλαυνόμενα πρόβατα, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα ἑστήκει: καὶ ἐπῆρεν ὁ ποιμὴν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ τοῦ πατάξαι αὐτά, καὶ ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ ἔστη ἄνω. καὶ ἀνέβλεψα ἐπὶ τὸν χείμαρρον τοῦ ποταμοῦ καὶ εἶδον ἐρίφους καὶ τὰ στόματα αὐτῶν ἐπικείμενα τῷ ὕδατι καὶ μὴ πίνοντα. καὶ πάντα ὑπὸ θῆξιν (θήζει, θίζει, θρίζιν, ἔκπληξιν) τῷ δρόμῳ ἀπηλαύνοντο.

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