dating the birth stories?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:48 am

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:26 am
Everyone knows that Matthew and Luke drew from Mark, everyone agrees to that. But no one seems to mind that they both drew their own material

Yet suddenly, when direction of dependency in other sources is discussed, it is the most natural and logical assumption that anyone drawing from a source that someone else has also drawn from will end with the exact same results?
Because of your lack of familiarity with the material, you are drastically misunderstanding the nature of the problem. I am not sure where to even begin.
mlinssen wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:32 am
So Ben, Ken: you both think it is a very natural conflation of Luke And Matthew to assert that the virgin Mary was from the Davidian bloodline and gave birth in a cave?
That is more like an exact (can't emphasis it enough really) verbatim copy of "just Just"
No, Justin is drawing those details from something like the Infancy Gospel of James. As I stated:
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:58 am
There is little doubt that Justin Martyr had access to a text or tradition like the Infancy Gospel of James.
Justin is drawing from something like Matthew, from something like Luke, and from something like James.

hakeem
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by hakeem » Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:01 am

The Proto Evangelium of James appears to be a late harmonisation of gLuke, gMatthew and the Memoirs of the Apostles since it contains far more embellishments than all other birth stories in or out the NT and that the additional embellishments are not found or used by any early Christian writers.

By the way, from Christian writings, it is claimed that Marcion's Son of God was without birth and without flesh, a phantom who came down directly from heaven into Capernaum so it is extremely unlikely that he [Marcion] would fabricate a story that the Son of God was born of a virgin in a cave which contradicts his own teaching.

davidmartin
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by davidmartin » Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:57 am

Ben,
Some of your objections could be answered
Supposing that gospels were in circulation at the time of composition - but they lacked birth narratives
Then, the jarring introduction of characters wouldn't be so unexpected. It was meant to fill in the gap
The James infancy gospel pre-supposes familiarity with John and the characters like Salome that suddenly appear

So the proposed dependency of it on Luke and Matthew would come down to figuring out exactly where each piece was lifted from
Conversely the other way round - would have to show how Luke and Matthew took pieces from it
What i'm trying to express is, surely there would be evidence left behind showing textually which was original? Is the cut and paste clear enough to be confident or is finer work required?

The Matthew nativity could possibly be explained by embellishing the source too
A whole choir of angels appears there compared to one in the James?

I think that no-one has seriously considered the possibility and done all the work on the texts is what ML is complaining about, compared to say the amount of work done on the NT generally so it's not given a fair hearing really even if the conclusion is exactly what you said it was!

As for dating I think my observation has value that Salome get's the Thomas treatment in this text
This helps with dating. Since there's evidence connecting Salome to opposition to childbirth in Clement and Celcus mentions Salome in connection with Carpocratians any polemic against Salome makes sense in an earlier 2nd century context when apostles represented various claimed traditions

rgprice
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by rgprice » Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:17 am

I'll say this. I agree that as it sits, the IGoJ is not likely to have preceded the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. I think the treatment of John is just too big a hurdle to get over. As Ben further clarifies, the whole narrative about John in IGoJ almost requires that the reader already have the back story from Luke in order to understand it.

I've always seen the IGoJ as a further development of the theological need to establish the purity of Jesus, given his transformation from having been unborn to having been born. The writer saw the narratives from Matthew and Luke and still felt that "birth" was too corrupting for the Son of God, even from a virgin, and thus had to further stipulate that Mary herself was ALSO born of a virgin, making Jesus' birth "extra virgin" (pass the olive oil!)

But I'll also agree that it is strange that Martyr latched onto the story from IGoJ if he also knew gMatthew. I suspect that there is something more going on here that what we are aware of today, but it may just be unrecoverable. I find it to be a very strange confluence of events, especially given that I do think Matthew was written in response to Marcion, and thus Matthew was likely written between 130 and 145, which is not far off from the IGoJ. I assume that Luke was written around 140-160, so if IGoJ is dependent on Luke it must have been written after that.

But this could also explain why IGoJ was written when it was. Many people have believed that IGoJ was written around 150-180, without attributing a real motivation to its writing. If Matthew and Luke had been around for 100-70 years prior to its writing, why was it written when it was? But if the other narratives had just been written, than that may explain why IGoJ was written when it was. It was written in reaction to their writing.

But, also, if IGoJ was written after Luke, as it seems to be, then it also means Luke must have been written prior to Martyr's Dialogue.

hakeem
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by hakeem » Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:27 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:39 am
davidmartin wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:29 am
Ben i think saw it as a harmony of Matthew and Luke.
Right. Otherwise we face the anomaly of either Matthew or Luke (or both) drawing heavily from James yet managing to avoid drawing the same materials from James. The choice is between (A) a natural conflation of Matthew and Luke by James and (B) some kind of weird conspiracy.
It boggles the mind why an anonymous writing which was falsely attributed to James of unknown date of authorship and not used or referred to by early Christians is assumed without evidence to predate any Gospel in the NT.

The Gospel of James was falsely attributed to James for the very reason, as always, to make it appear to be early when it was in fact a late writing.

All Christian writings attributed to specific apostles are late false attributions with no historical value for events surrounding Jesus just like all those in the NT.

Ken Olson
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by Ken Olson » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:17 am

This is a version of chapters 11-24 of the Protoevangelium of James adapted from Alexander Walker's translation, with my notes in brackets. I originally made this for an assignment for an undergraduate Introduction to the New Testament class I was teaching, in which the bracketed notes were Word comments, so I had to reformat it and there may be some errors.

I'm posting it to illustrate Ben's point that, if we are choosing between the options of whether the author/editor of Protoevangelium used Matthew and Luke, or whether Matthew and Luke used the Protoevangelium, we have to explain the choices they made of what material to use.

It appears to me that the author of the Protoevangelium, who claims (very improbably) to be James, presumably James the brother of Jesus, knows both Matthew and Luke's infancy narratives, and likely the rest of canonical gospels as well and has combined the individual features of Matthew and Luke's infancy stories into one story and added a great deal of material to it. He is addressing a number of issues, including the nature of Mary, how Jesus can have brothers if Mary was a virgin (they are Joseph's sons from a previous marriage) and why Mary and Jesus appear to be ignorant of all the things that happened in the infancy narratives (Mary forgot).

If Matthew and Luke based their Infancy Stories on the Protoevangelium, it's odd that they never (with some very partial exceptions) agree on the material they take. They ignore most of it and agree only on generalities (the birth was heralded ahead of time, took place in Bethlehem, etc.). But where they are in close agreement with the Protoevangelium for entire phrases, they do not agree with each other. There are two notable exceptions. The first is "you shall call his name Jesus," but then the Protoevangelium has it twice, once in the context of Lukan material and once in a context with Matthean agreement, so it's not really an exception. They've chosen different versions to include. Then there's the material from Matt 23.35/Luke 11.50-51, which Luke and Matthew have but agree on not placing it in the Infancy Narrative. So it seems either Matthew and Luke collaborated to divide up what parts of the Protoevangelium each would use or their mutually exclusive decisions are the result of an extremely improbable coincidence. (I think neither of these options is likely and that the author of the Protoevangelium used Matthew and Luke).

THE PROTOEVANGELIUM

11. And she took the pitcher, and went out to fill it with water. And, behold, a voice saying: Hail, thou who hast received grace; the Lord is with thee [Luke 1.28]; blessed art thou among women [Luke 1.42]! And she looked round, on the right hand and on the left, to see whence this voice came. And she went away, trembling, to her house, and put down the pitcher; and taking the purple, she sat down on her seat, and drew it out. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying: Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found grace [Luke 1.30] before the Lord of all, and thou shalt conceive [Luke 1.32], according to His word. And she hearing, reasoned with herself, saying: Shall I conceive by the Lord, the living God? and shall I bring forth as every woman brings forth? And the angel of the Lord said: Not so, Mary; for the power of the Lord shall overshadow thee [1.35]: wherefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of the Most High. And thou shalt call His name Jesus [Luke 1.31, Matt 1.21], for He shall save His people from their sins. And Mary said: Behold, the servant of the Lord before His face: let it be unto me according to thy word [Luke 1.38].
12. And she made the purple and the scarlet, and took them to the priest. And the priest blessed her, and said: Mary, the Lord God hath magnified [reworked Luke 1.46]; Mary’s speech given to the priest] thy name, and thou shall be blessed in all the generations of the earth [Luke 1.48]. And Mary, with great joy, went away to Elizabeth her kinswoman, and knocked at the door. And when Elizabeth heard her, she threw away the scarlet, and ran to the door, and opened it; and seeing Mary, she blessed her, and said: Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? [Luke 1.43] for, behold, that which is in me leaped [Luke 1.44] and blessed thee. But Mary had forgotten the mysteries of which the archangel Gabriel had spoken [Narrator’s explanation for why Mary and Jesus seem to be unaware of all of this later in the gospel], and gazed up into heaven, and said: Who am I, O Lord, that all the generations of the earth should bless me? [second parallel to Luke 1.48]. And she remained three months with Elizabeth; and day by day she grew bigger. And Mary being afraid, went away to her own house, and hid herself from the sons of Israel. And she was sixteen years old when these mysteries happened.
13. And she was in her sixth month; and, behold, Joseph came back from his building, and, entering into his house, he discovered that she was big with child. And he smote his face, and threw himself on the ground upon the sackcloth, and wept bitterly, saying: With what face shall I look upon the Lord my God? and what prayer shall I make about this maiden? because I received her a virgin out of the temple of the Lord, and I have not watched over her. Who is it that has hunted me down? Who has done this evil thing in my house, and defiled the virgin? Has not the history of Adam been repeated in me? For just as Adam was in the hour of his singing praise, and the serpent came, and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me also. And Joseph stood up from the sackcloth, and called Mary, and said to her: O thou who hast been cared for by God, why hast thou done this and forgotten the Lord thy God? Why hast thou brought low thy soul, thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel? And she wept bitterly, saying: I am innocent, and have known no man. And Joseph said to her: Whence then is that which is in thy womb? And she said: As the Lord my God liveth, I do not know whence it is to me.
14. And Joseph was greatly afraid, and retired from her, and considered what he should do in regard to her. And Joseph said: If I conceal her sin, I find myself fighting against the law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the sons of Israel, I am afraid lest that which is in her be from an angel, and I shall be found giving up innocent blood to the doom of death. What then shall I do with her? I will put her away from me secretly [first person version of Matt 1.19]. And night came upon him; and, behold, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream [Matt 1.20], saying: Be not afraid for this maiden, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit [Matt 1.20]; and she will bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins [Matt 1.21, partial parallel in Luke 1.31 for the naming as Jesus]. And Joseph arose from sleep [Matt 1.24], and glorified the God of Israel, who had given him this grace; and he kept her [reworked Matt 1.24].
15. And Annas the scribe came to him, and said: Why hast thou not appeared in our assembly? And Joseph said to him: Because I was weary from my journey, and rested the first day. And he turned, and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest? and said to him: Joseph, whom thou didst vouch for, has committed a grievous crime. And the priest said: How so? And he said: He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, and has married her by stealth, and has not revealed it to the sons of Israel. And the priest answering, said: Has Joseph done this? Then said Annas the scribe: Send officers, and thou wilt find the virgin with child. And the officers went away, and found it as he had said; and they brought her along with Joseph to the tribunal. And the priest said: Mary, why hast thou done this? and why hast thou brought thy soul low, and forgotten the Lord thy God? Thou that wast reared in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel, and didst hear the hymns, and didst dance before Him, why hast thou done this? And she wept bitterly, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, I am pure before Him, and know not a man. And the priest said to Joseph: Why hast thou done this? And Joseph said: As the Lord liveth, I am pure concerning her. Then said the priest: Bear not false witness, but speak the truth. Thou hast married her by stealth, and hast not revealed it to the sons of Israel, and hast not bowed thy head under the strong hand, that thy seed might be blessed. And Joseph was silent.
16. And the priest said: Give up the virgin whom thou didst receive out of the temple of the Lord. And Joseph burst into tears. And the priest said: I will give you to drink of the water of the ordeal of the Lord, and He shall make manifest your sins in your eyes. And the priest took the water, and gave Joseph to drink and sent him away to the hill-country; and he returned unhurt. And he gave to Mary also to drink, and sent her away to the hill-country; and she returned unhurt. And all the people wondered that sin did not appear in them. And the priest said: If the Lord God has not made manifest your sins, neither do I judge you. And he sent them away. And Joseph took Mary, and went away to his own house, rejoicing and glorifying the God of Israel.
17. And there was an order from the Emperor Augustus [Luke 11.21], that all in Bethlehem of Judaea should be enrolled [reworked Luke 11.21, 3.24]. And Joseph said: I shall enroll my sons [Jesus’ brothers are not Mary’s children], but what shall I do with this maiden? How shall I enroll her? As my wife? I am ashamed. As my daughter then? But all the sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter. The day of the Lord shall itself bring it to pass as the Lord will. And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it [Non-canonical]; and his son led it [the son is old enough to lead the ass], and Joseph followed. And when they had come within three miles, Joseph turned and saw her sorrowful; and he said to himself: Likely that which is in her distresses her. And again Joseph turned and saw her laughing. And he said to her: Mary, how is it that I see in thy face at one time laughter, at another sorrow? And Mary said to Joseph: Because I see two peoples with my eyes; the one weeping and lamenting, and the other rejoicing and exulting. And they came into the middle of the road, and Mary said to him: Take me down from off the ass, for that which is in me presses to come forth. And he took her down from off the ass, and said to her: Whither shall I lead thee, and cover thy disgrace? for the place is desert [Luke 9.12].
18. And he found a cave there, and led her into it; and leaving his two sons beside her, he went out to seek a midwife in the district of Bethlehem. And I Joseph was walking [Narrator introduces himself as Joseph and shifts to speak in the first person], and was not walking; and I looked up into the sky, and saw the sky astonished; and I looked up to the pole of the heavens, and saw it standing, and the birds of the air keeping still. And I looked down upon the earth, and saw a trough lying, and work-people reclining: and their hands were in the trough. And those that were eating did not eat, and those that were rising did not carry it up, and those that were conveying anything to their mouths did not convey it; but the faces of all were looking upwards. And I saw the sheep walking, and the sheep stood still; and the shepherd raised his hand to strike them, and his hand remained up. And I looked upon the current of the river, and I saw the mouths of the kids resting on the water and not drinking, and all things in a moment were driven from their course.
19. And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: O man, whither art thou going? And I said: I am seeking an Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said unto me: Art thou of Israel? And I said to her: Yes. And she said: And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? And I said: A woman betrothed to me. And she said to me: Is she not thy wife? And I said to her: It is Mary that was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife. And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit. And the midwife said to him: Is this true? And Joseph said to her [back to third person]: Come and see. And the midwife went away with him. And they stood in the place of the cave, and behold a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave. And the midwife said: My soul has been magnified this day, because mine eyes have seen strange things -- because salvation has been brought forth to Israel. And immediately the cloud disappeared out of the cave, and a great light shone in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it. And in a little that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from His mother Mary. And the midwife cried out, and said: This is a great day to me, because I have seen this strange sight. And the midwife went forth out of the cave, and Salome met her. And she said to her: Salome, Salome, I have a strange sight to relate to thee: a virgin has brought forth -- a thing which her nature admits not of. Then said Salome: As the Lord my God liveth, unless I thrust in my finger, and search the parts, I will not believe [i][John 20.25[/i]] that a virgin has brought forth.
20. And the midwife went in, and said to Mary: Show thyself; for no small controversy has arisen about thee. And Salome put in her finger, and cried out, and said: Woe is me for mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and, behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire. And she bent her knees before the Lord, saying: O God of my fathers, remember that I am the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; do not make a show of me to the sons of Israel, but restore me to the poor; for Thou knowest, O Lord, that in Thy name I have performed my services, and that I have received my reward at Thy hand. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by her, saying to her: Salome, Salome, the Lord hath heard thee. Put thy hand to the infant, and carry it, and thou wilt have safety and joy. And Salome went and carried it, saying: I will worship Him, because a great King has been born to Israel. And, behold, Salome was immediately cured, and she went forth out of the cave justified. And behold a voice saying: Salome, Salome, tell not the strange things thou hast seen [Command to secrecy], until the child has come into Jerusalem.
21. And, behold, Joseph was ready to go into Judaea. And there was a great commotion in Bethlehem of Judaea, for Magi came, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him [Matt 2.2]. And when Herod heard, he was much disturbed [Matt 2.3], and sent officers to the Magi. And he sent for the priests, and examined them, saying: How is it written about the Christ? where is He to be born? [Matt 2.4, indirect speech=>direct speech]. And they said: In Bethlehem of Judaea, for so it is written [Matt 2.5]. And he sent them away. And he examined the Magi, saying to them: What sign have you seen in reference to the king that has been born? And the Magi said: We have seen a star of great size shining among these stars, and obscuring their light, so that the stars did not appear; and we thus knew that a king has been born to Israel, and we have come to worship him. And Herod said: Go and seek him; and if you find him, let me know, in order that I also may go and worship him [Matt 2.8]. And the Magi went out. And, behold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them until they came to the cave, and it stood over the top of the cave. And the Magi saw the infant with His mother Mary; and they brought forth from their bag gold, and frankincense, and myrrh [Matt 2.11]. And having been warned by the angel not to go into Judaea, they went into their own country by another road [Matt 2.12].
22. And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under [close paraphrase of Matt 2.16]. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall [reworked Luke 2.7]. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.
23. And Herod searched for John, and sent officers to Zacharias, saying: Where hast thou hid thy son? And he, answering, said to them: I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I do not know where my son is. And the officers went away, and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod was enraged [Matt 2.16], and said: His son is destined to be king over Israel. And he sent to him again, saying: Tell the truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy life is in my hand. And Zacharias said: I am God's martyr, if thou sheddest my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, because thou sheddest innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord. And Zacharias was murdered about daybreak. And the sons of Israel did not know that he had been murdered [parallel to Matt 23.35/Luke 11.50-51, but positioned within the infancy narrative].
24. But at the hour of the salutation the priests went away, and Zacharias did not come forth to meet them with a blessing, according to his custom. And the priests stood waiting for Zacharias to salute him at the prayer, and to glorify the Most High. And he still delaying, they were all afraid. But one of them ventured to go in, and he saw clotted blood beside the altar; and he heard a voice saying: Zacharias has been murdered, and his blood shall not be wiped up until his avenger come [back reference to Zacharias in Protoevangelium 23 above]. And hearing this saying, he was afraid, and went out and told it to the priests. And they ventured in, and saw what had happened; and the fretwork of the temple made a wailing noise, and they rent their clothes from the top even to the bottom. And they found not his body, but they found his blood turned into stone. And they were afraid, and went out and reported to the people that Zacharias had been murdered. And all the tribes of the people heard, and mourned, and lamented for him three days and three nights. And after the three days, the priests consulted as to whom they should put in his place; and the lot fell upon Simeon. For it was he who had been warned by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death until he should see the Christ in the flesh [Presumes Luke 2.25, 29-32].
And I James that wrote this history in Jerusalem [Narrator introduces himself as James, writing at the time of Herod’s death], a commotion having arisen when Herod died, withdrew myself to the wilderness until the commotion in Jerusalem ceased, glorifying the Lord God, who had given me the gift and the wisdom to write this history. And grace shall be with them that fear our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory to ages of ages. Amen.

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mlinssen
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by mlinssen » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:21 am

hakeem wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:27 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:39 am
davidmartin wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:29 am
Ben i think saw it as a harmony of Matthew and Luke.
Right. Otherwise we face the anomaly of either Matthew or Luke (or both) drawing heavily from James yet managing to avoid drawing the same materials from James. The choice is between (A) a natural conflation of Matthew and Luke by James and (B) some kind of weird conspiracy.
It boggles the mind why an anonymous writing which was falsely attributed to James of unknown date of authorship and not used or referred to by early Christians is assumed without evidence to predate any Gospel in the NT.

The Gospel of James was falsely attributed to James for the very reason, as always, to make it appear to be early when it was in fact a late writing.

All Christian writings attributed to specific apostles are late false attributions with no historical value for events surrounding Jesus just like all those in the NT.
It really is completely irrelevant, regarding any and all writings concerning anything xtian, who the supposed author allegedly is and was supposed to be.
All that matters is what is in the text that we have now - and from that point there is a fixed basis to move back and forth on

The Protoevangelium of James has very peculiar agreements with Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho: the being born in the cave and the virgin bloodline going back to David is what I have from a first glance

It is also highly peculiar that Justin consistently talks of the 'kingdom of the heavens', distinctly Matthean (and Thomasine for that matter), even when he quotes John 3:3

3 Ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ “Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.”

Justin's First Apology has it slightly different:

ὰν μή αναγεννηθῇ μή, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν.

A most peculiar mash-up there with Matthew 5:20

20 λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ περισσεύσῃ ὑμῶν ἡ δικαιοσύνη πλεῖον τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν.

Verbatim (dis)agreement is the only thing that counts. All the rest consists of mostly unreliable stories from any side: everyone had a goal and a purpose and nothing, no story whatsoever, should be taken at face value
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:58 am
There is little doubt that Justin Martyr had access to a text or tradition like the Infancy Gospel of James.

Justin is drawing from something like Matthew, from something like Luke, and from something like James.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:43 am
  • Zechariah is the high priest at the time when Mary is betrothed to Joseph in the temple at age 12 (chapters 8-9). A bit later, at the decision to have Mary spin the veil (chapter 10), it is said that he is dumb and cannot speak; therefore Samuel is serving in his stead. It is not said why Zechariah is dumb.
  • Elizabeth is Mary's kinswoman (chapter 12), and she says that something leaps in her womb as Mary comes to visit her after having spun the veil. It is not said what or who is in her womb.
  • Elizabeth hides John, named here for the very first time in the text, while Herod is carrying out the massacre of the innocents (chapter 22). John is introduced as if he needs no introduction.
  • Zechariah is approached by Herod's men during their search for John, and they ask him where his son is (chapter 23); this is our first clue that Zechariah even has a son, let alone that the son is John, of the womb of Elizabeth, implying that Elizabeth is married to the high priest. Zechariah refuses to tell, and he pays the price for that refusal.
If you did not already know the full story as told in the gospel of Luke, this entire subplot would be jarring and confusing. It is not as if information is being deliberately withheld for a dramatic revelation later; the manner is rather of enjoying the luxury of assuming that the reader already knows who these people are and how they are related to each other.
Ben does have some points, yet so do I. It is very odd how Justin agrees with the protoevangelium and Matthew at the same time, and when you look at his writings and the NT references now present, there is one or two by Mark and John in each First and Second Apology and the Dialogue; a handful of Luke, and one to two dozen of Matthew

And the Dialogue chapter 78 just wants to explain way too much, and it is again odd how Bethlehem is justified:

Chapter 78. but on the occasion of the first census which was taken in Judæa, under Cyrenius, he went up from Nazareth, where he lived, to Bethlehem, to which he belonged, to be enrolled; for his family was of the tribe of Judah, which then inhabited that region.

BLB Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the City of David, which is called Bethlehem, because of his being of the house and family of David,

BLB Matthew 2:1 Now Jesus having been born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,

Proto-J 17. And there was an order from the Emperor Augustus, that all in Bethlehem of Judaea should be enrolled. And Joseph said: I shall enrol my sons, but what shall I do with this maiden? How shall I enrol her? As my wife? I am ashamed. As my daughter then? But all the sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter.
(...)
And there was a great commotion in Bethlehem of Judaea, for Magi came, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him. And when Herod heard, he was much disturbed, and sent officers to the Magi. And he sent for the priests, and examined them, saying: How is it written about the Christ? where is He to be born? And they said: In Bethlehem of Judaea, for so it is written.

Dunno, it is fishy. Justin can't posibly be quoting from the Matthew as we know him/it

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:35 am

I generally take care to say that Justin quotes from "something like" Matthew or Luke or whatever, precisely because I cannot be altogether certain about what the text looked like in his day.

It is certainly the case that our extant gospels (even including the Gospel of Peter and the Infancy Gospel of James) do not explain all of Justin's statements: not even all of his allusions or quotations. For example, he states at one point that the apostles sang hymns with Jesus after his resurrection, a detail found in none of our gospel texts. If this and other descriptions not merely mistakes or inventions on Justin's part, then we are missing some pieces.

Nevertheless, it remains the case that the vast majority (and it is not even close) of Justin's references may be found in our extant gospels (and I am including the two noncanonical gospels named above, and I suspect there may be others, such as the Gospel of the Hebrews). There were probably in existence, then, gospel texts which were at least similar to what we possess before Justin Martyr put pen to parchment.

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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:44 am

davidmartin wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:57 am
The Matthew nativity could possibly be explained by embellishing the source too
A whole choir of angels appears there compared to one in the James?
There is no choir of angels in Matthew. You are thinking of Luke. The Infancy Gospel of James, however, lacks the pericope in Luke (about the shepherds) in which the heavenly host appears.
I think that no-one has seriously considered the possibility and done all the work on the texts is what ML is complaining about, compared to say the amount of work done on the NT generally so it's not given a fair hearing really even if the conclusion is exactly what you said it was!
I feel like I have been more than fair about which texts may or may not precede our canonical gospel texts. It has long appeared to me that our canonical gospels rely at times upon sources which we no longer possess, and I am always on the lookout for those sources. I have considered the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Diatessaron, both of the main Infancy Gospels, the Marcionite Gospel, the hypothetical Q, and rather many others, including fragments from Oxyrhynchus and other sites. The ones on this list with legs, IMHO, are the Marcionite Gospel and the Gospel of the Hebrews, although I do think that some of the others may occasionally witness to earlier versions of the texts than usual. I am still up in the air about the Odes of Solomon, my main insight on those being that they may not all date to the same time period; hymnbooks tend to collect songs from different eras.

Sometimes the answers to such questions, by the way, are clear once you take a closer look at them. I was seriously predisposed to consider our extant Shepherd of Hermas as predating the canonical gospels, until I took a closer look at a few passages. That the Shepherd depends upon something like our canonical Matthew is painfully obvious, and it is similar with the Infancy Gospel of James: that it depends upon something like our canonical Matthew and Luke is quite clear (probably not quite as clear as the case of the Shepherd, but clear nonetheless). I am always happy when the easy ones come my way, because that does not happen often enough.
Supposing that gospels were in circulation at the time of composition - but they lacked birth narratives
Then, the jarring introduction of characters wouldn't be so unexpected. It was meant to fill in the gap
I think I have demonstrated that it is more than that. It is not just that the characters are introduced jarringly, it is that their relationships are presumed but not explained, and the reveal is not in any way artful or deliberate. And some of the characters, especially Elizabeth, are known only from the infancy narratives.
So the proposed dependency of it on Luke and Matthew would come down to figuring out exactly where each piece was lifted from
Conversely the other way round - would have to show how Luke and Matthew took pieces from it
What i'm trying to express is, surely there would be evidence left behind showing textually which was original? Is the cut and paste clear enough to be confident or is finer work required?
I believe I have demonstrated for you before (and now Ken has too) that, if either Matthew or Luke (or both) came after the Infancy Gospel of James, then some remarkable unpicking of materials has taken place, to the point where whoever is writing last (whether Matthew or Luke) seems to be consciously avoiding material in James which the other author (whether Matthew or Luke) has already borrowed. This is hardly a typical editorial procedure in any time period, ancient or modern.

If these arguments have failed to convince you, then so be it. I would love to see the arguments to the contrary.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: dating the birth stories?

Post by mlinssen » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:50 am

It could be possible that Luke and Matthew had the cave and the virgin bloodline at that point, and that it got changed after or during proto James got rejected

If so, then perhaps we should expect something similar to have happened to Luke regarding the Marcion rejection. Or not

I'll admit I jumped on this, I'm fairly jumpy lately. I should jump back into my Commentary but that has led to some revisions to my Translation. I'm doing a bit of running away for problems and into others - highly unusual

Perhaps I should just get back to work! That would unsolve a lot LOL

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