The Life of Mary and Birth of Jesus
The Ancient Infancy Gospel of James
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When it comes to the biography of Mary, the New Testament raises more questions than it answers. Matthew and Luke tell of Jesus' birth but are silent on the rest of Mary's life. Despite this biblical omission, many episodes from her life decorate churches around the world and have become well known to her admirers. The source of these revered stories and famous artworks is the Infancy Gospel of James. Circulated among Christians for centuries, this ancient document was eventually rejected by the Catholic Church and never became part of the New Testament. Yet it is the only source of detailed information on Mary's life and is believed by many historians to have influenced Christian art more than any of the four Gospels! The Life of Mary and Birth of Jesus contains the entire text of this infancy Gospel as well as color reproductions tracing the influence of the Gospel on Western and Byzantine art. Author Ronald F. Hock, a professor of religion at the University of Southern California, probes the unanswered questions of who actually wrote the Gospel (which is attributed to Jesus' brother James) and why.
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