Protoevangelium of James

This work is spurious, it is a total forgery, and was not written by the Apostle James. It dates to at the earliest the mid-2nd century, that is 150 years after the last Apostle John died! It is a pseudepigraphical work that purports to give information on Jesus’ early life and Mary His mother’s life that was not written in the Bible.

The Gospel of James (or the Protoevangelium of James) is a second-century infancy gospel telling of the miraculous conception of the Virgin Mary, her upbringing and marriage to Joseph, the journey of the couple to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, and events immediately following. It is the earliest surviving assertion of the perpetual virginity of Mary, meaning her virginity not just prior to the birth of Jesus, but during and afterwards, and despite being condemned by Pope Innocent I in 405 and rejected by the Gelasian Decree around 500, became a widely influential source for Mariology.

This work became enormously important in Marian studies. Although the Magisterium of the Catholic church rejects it as trustworthy it is to this day still used widely by Catholic theologians, clergy, apologists, and regular laity. It is usually the go-to text, the first thing brought up, when one challenges the notion of Mary being an ever-virgin.

The Protoevangelium of James presents Joseph as a man much older than Mary. It explains the occurrences of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in Scripture by saying they were Joseph’s children from a previous marriage (he’s a widower). This narrative is a wicked affront to the truth of Scripture. Joseph was not an elderly man! Catholics envision an elderly man having sex with a 13 or 14-year-old Mary to shock and horrify our modern sensibilities, although in biblical times men were quite often much older than their wives. The linguistics of Scripture is crystal clear, as I demonstrated in a recent blog post you can read below, that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were physical blood relatives, not stepchildren.

To further reinforce the notion of Mary’s alleged ever-virgin status, this work has Mary consecrating herself to God at a young age to be a “temple virgin”. This entire concept is utterly alien to Scripture. Not once in Scripture does such a scenario occur.

By the way, the belief that Mary was an ever-virgin is not a belief held by the Early Church despite what Catholic apologists assert. The scholarly consensus of all available data shows that the belief in Mary as an ever-virgin first appeared in the 4th century – a staggering 300 years after the time of the New Testament Church.

The earliest evidence for the teaching that Mary was a perpetual virgin occurs in the writings of the early church father Jerome who was born in A.D. 347 and died about A.D. 419. Prior to Jerome there is no evidence that the early church taught anything other than the scriptural record – that Jesus had siblings.

It’s sad to see what low regard many Catholics hold sacred Scripture. They obviously do not believe in its sufficiency or inerrancy. We see how historically, and in modern times, they are so eager to latch onto any narrative presented by any work which bolsters Magisterium’s claims. Clearly, they hold the Magisterium in higher regard than Scripture.

Another dogma of the Catholic church that this false infancy gospel supports is the notion of Mary’s immaculate status. The so-called Immaculate Conception is the idea she was born without the stain of original sin and remained without sin her entire life. This idea is utterly blasphemous and contradicts Scripture which says that Christ alone was without sin. Allegedly Mary’s parents, Joachim and his wife Anna (or Anne), never had sexual intercourse to conceive her. Just as the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary producing an ovum without male sperm, so too was Mary conceived in the same way. This is beyond blasphemous! It attributes one of the greatest miracles of Scripture as applying equally to Mary as well. This just feeds into the blasphemous and unbalanced cultus of Mary which views her as quasi-divine. She is ever-virgin, she is immaculate. These are divine attributes!

It’s sad to see how spiritually blind and deceived some people are. Both Orthodox and Catholics support the blasphemous doctrine of Mary being an ever-virgin. We must continue to stand on Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura) and give it its rightful place of preeminence and the only infallible authority for Christians.

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