The Non-Canonical Gospels
“Ioacim (Joachim) and Anna are Mocked”
Infancy Gospel of James, or Protevangelium
I. 1. In the histories of the twelve tribes of Israel it is written that there was one Ioacim, exceeding rich: and he offered his gifts twofold, saying: That which is of my superfluity shall be for the whole people, and that which is for my forgiveness shall be for the Lord, for a propitiation unto me.
2. Now the great day of the Lord drew nigh and the children of Israel offered their gifts. And Reuben stood over against him saying: It is not lawful for thee to offer thy gifts first,-forasmuch as thou hast gotten no seed in Israel. And Ioacim was sore grieved, and went unto the record of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: I will look upon the record of the twelve tribes of Israel, whether I only have not gotten seed in Israel. And he searched, and found concerning all the righteous that they had raised up seed in Israel.
3 And Anna was sore grieved and mourned with a great mourning because she was reproached by all the tribes of Israel….
III. 1 And looking up to the heaven she espied a nest of sparrows in the laurel-tree, and made a lamentation within herself, saying: Woe unto me, who begat me ? And what womb brought me forth for I am become a curse before the children of Israel, and I am reproached, and they have mocked me forth out of the temple of the Lord?
The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary
CHAP. 2- And it came to pass that the festival of the dedication was at hand; wherefore also Joachim went up to Jerusalem with some men of his own tribe. Now at that time Issachar was high priest there. And when he saw Joachim with his offering among his other fellow- citizens, he despised him, and spurned his gifts, asking why he, who had no offspring, presumed to stand among those who had; saying that his gifts could not by any means be acceptable to God, since He had deemed him unworthy of off-spring: for the Scripture said, Cursed is every one who has not begot a male or a female in Israel.
The Bible and Commentary
The Bible never states anywhere that some of the great prophets of God had descendants. Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, etc., nor Hosea, whose wife was a prostitute, ever had children. It is not necessary to have children to be qualified as “righteous” before God.
It is difficult to believe that all Hebrews (“because she was reproached by all the tribes of Israel…”) had concern over Anna’s inability to bear a child.
Ioachim and Anna
The Non-Canonical Gospels
“Anna Gives Birth”
Infancy Gospel of James, or Protevangelium
VI. 1 And day by day the child waxed strong, and when she was six months old her mother stood her upon the ground to try if she would stand; and she walked seven steps and returned unto her bosom. And she caught her up, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, thou shalt walk no more upon this ground, until I bring thee into the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her bed chamber and suffered nothing common or unclean to pass through it. And she called for the daughters of the Hebrews that were undefiled, and they carried her hither and thither.
2 And the first year of the child was fulfilled, and Ioacim made a great feast and bade the priests and the scribes and the assembly of the elders and the whole people of Israel. And Ioacim brought the child to the priests, and they blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child and give her a name renowned for ever among all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it. Amen. And he brought her to the high priests, and they blessed her, saying: O God of the high places, look upon this child, and bless her with the last blessing which hath no successor.
3. And the priest received her and kissed her and blessed her and said: The Lord hath magnified thy name among all generations: in thee in the latter days shall the Lord make manifest his redemption unto the children of Israel. And he made her to sit upon the third step of the altar. And the Lord put grace upon her and she danced with her feet and all the house of Israel loved her.
VIII. 1 And her parents gat them down marveling, and praising the Lord God because tile child was not turned away backward.
And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as a dove that is nurtured: and she received food from the hand of an angel.
The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary
CHAP. 4- Thereafter he appeared to Anna his wife, saying: Fear not, Anna, nor think that it is a phantom which thou seest. For I am that angel who has presented your prayers and alms before God; and now have I been sent to you to announce to you that thou shalt bring forth a daughter, who shall be called Mary, and who shall be blessed above all women. She, full of the favour of the Lord even from her birth, shall remain three years in her father’s house until she be weaned. Thereafter, being delivered to the service of the Lord, she shall not depart from the temple until she reach the years of discretion. There, serving God day and night in fastings and prayers, she shall abstain from every unclean thing; she shall never know man, but alone, without example, immaculate, uncorrupted, without intercourse with man, she, a virgin, shall bring forth a son; she, His hand-maiden, shall bring forth the Lord--both in grace, and in name, and in work, the Saviour of the world.
CHAP. 6- And when the circle of three years had rolled round, and the time of her weaning was fulfilled, they brought the virgin to the temple of the Lord with offerings. Now there were round the temple, according to the fifteen Psalms of Degrees, fifteen steps going up; for, on account of the temple having been built on a mountain, the altar of burnt-offering, which stood outside, could not be reached except by steps.
…the virgin of the Lord went up all the steps, one after the other, without the help of any one leading her or lifting her, in such a manner that, in this respect at least, you would think that she had already attained full age. For already the Lord in the infancy of His virgin wrought a great thing, and by the indication of this miracle foreshowed how great she was to be. Therefore, a sacrifice having been offered according to the custom of the law, and their vow being perfected, they left the virgin within the enclosures of the temple, there to be educated with the other virgins,
CHAP. 7- But the virgin of the Lord advanced in age and in virtues; and though, in the words of the Psalmist, her father and mother had forsaken her, the Lord took her up. For daily was she visited by angels, daily did she enjoy a divine vision, which preserved her from all evil, and made her to abound in all good. And so she reached her fourteenth year; and not only were the wicked unable to charge her with anything worthy of reproach, but all the good, who knew her life and conversation, judged her to be worthy of admiration.
“Anna Gives Birth”
22. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
25. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
28. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31. Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35. (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
36. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37. And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
24. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.
25. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
26. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
40. And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.
41. And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
42. And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:
43. And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.
In the Non-Canonical Text:
1. The High Priest praised Mary while she was yet a toddler, recognising her uniqueness among all generations, and that redemption would be manifested through her later in life.
The text shows that she was loved by everyone, just as she is praised and adored by certain denominations these days.
2. It looks like the writer of this text tried to prove that Mary was sinless right from birth and perpetual virgin, and that she had taken a rightful position in heaven near her son, Jesus.
3. The writer gives a picture of the “altar of burnt offering” as having steps: Mary sat “… upon the third step of the altar…”
4. Mary was living inside the Temple and an angel from the Lord fed her on daily basis.
In the Bible:
1. Jesus (not Mary) was recognized as the unique child who was to be the Redemption of Israel. This acknowledgement came not from the priesthood of the Temple, but by Simeon and Anna.
Nothing is mentioned about the uniqueness of Mary or Joseph, for they are not (and cannot be) portrayed as co-redeemers of humanity with Jesus. Neither can they be placed on the same level of praise or worship and must not be prayed to.
4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
(See also Deuteronomy 5:9)
(Jesus says…)I and my Father are one.
Acts 4:12 (referring to Jesus)
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Here we read that redemption was found in Jesus, not Mary.
2. Mary was “highly favoured” by God in being chosen as the person through whom the redemption of mankind would come, but not taking the position of Jesus who is the only sinless representative of the human race.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
3. The altar did not have any steps. In Solomon’s Temple, the altar was about 5 meters high, and it had a ramp from the eastern side.
4. It was only the privilege of the tribe of Levi to serve near the altar inside the Tabernacle and later in the Temple itself. Nobody from another tribe was allowed to come near the altar, and especially not girls or women.