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The Gospel of Mary and the Protevangelion of James proved
Apocryphal, because of the many idle and fabulous Things which they contain. A Collection of these. The Protevangelion is Apocryphal, because it contains several Contradictions; and both are so, because they are not in the Syriack Version.
ARG. V. THE Gospel of the Birth of Mary, and the
Protevangelion of James, are Apocryphal by Prop. IX. because they contain things ludicrous and trilling, fabulous and filly relations. To collect all these would be almost the same as transcribing the whole books themselves; because, besides what is taken out of the received Canonical books, they contain little but things of this nature. I shall think it sufficient to present the reader with a few remarkable instances.
A Colle&tion of several trifling Stories and fabulous Rela
tions in the Protevangelion of James, and the Gospel of the Birth of Mary.
In the Protevangelion are the following. 1. The story of Joachim's fasting forty days and forty nights in the wilderness (ch. i.), appears an idle forgery in imitation of the fast which Mofes and Christ kept of forty days and nights in the wilderness, Exod. xxiv. 18. Matt. iv. 3.
2. The prayer of Anna (c. iii.) seems very trifling; and if it were really conceived by her, yet very unworthy the notice of an inspired writer.
3. The Virgin's walking nine fleps at fix months of age, ch. vi.
4. God's sending down power from heaven to the Virgin to leap and dance upon the third step of the Altar, ch. vii.
5. The Virgin's being fed, and receiving her food from the hand of an angel, ch. viii. 6. A dove flying out of Joseph's rod, and lighting upon
his head, ch. ix. : 7. The Virgin's hearing the angels fongs, ch. xv.
8. The ceasing of all sorts of motion at our Saviour's birth, and the ridiculous account of the astonishment of the air, fowls stopping in the midst of their flight, men who sat at table not eating, their hands lift up to their mouths, and not having power to put any thing in, their eyes all upwards, the shepherd's lifting up his hand to smite the sheep, and his hand continuing lift up, the kids with their mouths at the water, and not being able to drink, ch. xviii.
9. Elizabeth's praying that the mountain pould open, and the mountain opening accordingly to receive her, ch. xxii.
In the Gospel of the Birth of Mary, I only observe the idle ac
count, 1. Of the Virgin's familiarity with angels, and her receiv." ing daily visits from them, c. vii.
2. Of the dove's descending from heaven, and pitching upon the top of Joseph's rod, c. viii.
3. Of the Virgin's knowing the countenance of the angels,
ARG. VI. The Gospel of the Birth of Mary, and the Protevangelion of James, are Apocryphal by Prop. XIV. because they appear plainly to be stolen or transcribed out of several parts of the received and Canonical Scriptures. I shall endeavour to shew the fact first, and then the force of the consequence.
As to the fact, it seems evident by the instances following.
Instances in the Protevangelion of accounts borrowed from the
Canonical books. 1. Joachim's fafting forty days and forty nights, ch. i. seems to be taken from the fast of Moses, Exod. xxiv. 18. Elijah, 1 Kings xix. 8. and our Saviour, Matt. iv. 2. who are recorded to have fasted during the fame space of time precisely.
2. The story of Anna's barrenness, her praying for a child (ch. ii. iii.), her devoting him to the temple (ch. iv.), seems all to be taken from the history of Hannah (1 Sam, i.), where we meet with the very fame relations.
3. The account of Joachim's making a great feast, when the child, which his wife after long barrenness had brought forth, was a year old, ch. vi. seems to be taken from the like history of Abraham's making a feast, when Ifaac the child, which Sarah after long barrenness bare to him, was weaned, Gen. xxi. 8.
4. Anna's being made to sing a fong of praise on account of her child, seems to be founded on Hannah's prayer or song, 1 Sam. ii. 1, &c. ' and the thoughts are agreeable, as the phrase is taken from that of Rachel, Gen. xxx. 23.
5. The story of Zacharias the High-priest being dumb, (ch. x.) is formed from that of Zacharias, the Baptist's father, Luke i. 20, 62, &c.
6. The angel's falutation of the Virgin (ch. xi.), is the fame, and in the very fame words, with that, Luke i. 28.
7. The angel's relation to Mary (ch. xi.) of the conception and birth of Christ, and of the conception of John by Elizabeth, is exactly the same with that in Luke i. 30-39, and expressed in almost all the same words.
8. The account of Mary's going to Elizabeth, the child's leaping in her womb thereupon, her speech to Mary, & c. seems plainly taken out of Luke i. 39, &c.
9. Joseph's reasoning concerning Mary's being with child, and the angel's appearing to him (ch. xiv.), is a plain paraphrase of Matt. i. 19, &c.
10. The charge from heaven given to Salome not to publish the miracle wrought for her by touching Chrif (ch. 20.), seems taken from our Saviour's frequent commands to those for whom he wrought miracles, not to publish what he had done for them, and particularly from that charge which he gave
a The verb 300nn which we translate prayed, would be better rendered sang, or praised in songs, as the word nizon Pf. lxxii. 20. must neceffarily be taken for fongs,
or psalms, which is derived from the
See Matt. viii. 4. ix. 30. xvii.
upon the working the very fame miracle (viz. curing a withered hand), Matt. xii. 16.
11. The history of the wise men, with its various circumItances and consequences, ch. xxi. and Herod's killing the children, ch. xxii. appears a manifest transcript of the second chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, only with this considerable difference, that the circumstance of our Saviour's being wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger at his birth, because there was no room in the inn, which is related by St. Luke (ch. ii. 7.), is here most aukwardly applied to Mary's biding the child from the search of Herod, and that in the very words of St. Luke; a plain instance of a forgery.
12. The story of Simeon (ch. xxiv.), viz. his having a revelation that he should not die till he should see Christ, seems to be taken from Luke iv. 26. not only because the sense, but the very
words in the Greek are the same.
Instances in the Gospel of the Birth of Mary of accounts bor.
rowed from the Canonical books. 1. The History of Joachim and Anna devoting their child to the service of God in the temple, ch. i. and vi. is the same with that of Anna, 1 Sam. i. See the former instances, Numb. 2.
2. The phrase, ch. iii. Thy prayers are heard, and thine alms come up before God, which is made use of by the angel to Joachim, is the very fame with that which the angel made ufe of to Cornelius, Acts X. 4.
3. The character given to Anna, Luke ii. 37. viz. that she did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers, is manifeftly borrowed hence, and made by the angel to be the future character of the Virgin Mary, c. iv.
4. The compendium of the song of praise, which Joachim and Anna sang to God for the promise of a child, viz. that he exalted the humble, is borrowed from the fong of Mary, Luke i. 52. in which she praised God for the promise of her bringing forth Christ.
5. The angel's falutation to Mary (ch. ix) is the same with that, Luke i. 28, 29.
6. Joseph's hesitating what to do (ch. x.) is a manifest paraphrase of Matthew i. 19.
From these instances it is very evident that the author or authors of the Gospel of the Birth of Mary, and the Protevangelion of James, formed a very large part of those books from, and accommodated them to, several histories of the Old and New Testament. It is manifest they borrowed their circumstances hence, and for the most part applied them to other different stories, which, as it is impossible ever to have happened by chance or without design, manifestly demonstrates the whole composure to be a mere fable and fiction; and confequently Apocryphal: for as inspiration and extraordinary affistance is needless in such a case, fo to fuppofe a person infpired who composes out of another's work, and publishes it as his own, is to make the Holy Spirit concur to the production of a mere cheat and imposture. They are therefore Apocryphal by Prop. XIV.
ARG. VII. The Protevangelion of James is Apocryphal by Prop. VII. because there are in it several contradictions. For instance,
Ch. xi. We read, that the angel came to Mary, gave her a particular account of her conception, and the manner of it; and yet ch. xiii. when Joseph accuses her of being with child, fhe folemnly swears, she was utterly ignorant how she came to be with child. This is so palpable a contradiction, that I know not any thing can be said in favour of it, unless that the Virgin lied in denying her knowledge; but this cannot be supposed consistent with the opinion the author of this book had of the Virgina.
Ch. xvii. xviii. It is said the place where the Virgin brought forth was in a desert place, and in a cave; but this is not only contrary to Scripture and fact, but to another part of the Protevangelion, where the author transcribing the se
a This I find; fince my first writing, is also observed by Rivet, as a contradiction, and what proves the
book spurious. Critic: Sacr. l. 1. C. 4. p. 131.