Its the Catholic Church that gives most importance to the Virgin Mary among all the Churches. But yet they fail to give an account of her early life in their version of the bible. Here I have tried to give a brief account of the early life of Mary until the birth of Jesus. The information comes from the Gospel of James, who is said to be the brother of Jesus (Son of Joseph). This gospel gives us an entirely different view on Mary, Joseph and the events during the birth of Christ.
Parents of Mary (Introduction)
Joachim was an extremely rich man. He always brought a double offering to the Lord. Joachim and his wife Anna did not have children for a long time. Once Joachim was discouraged from giving his offering to the Lord first, by a man called Reubel, because he has not conceived a child in Israel. Joachim became extremely frustrated and went away to the history of the twelve tribes of his people, saying to himself, “I will look in the history of the twelve tribes of Israel and see whether I am the only one who has not conceived a child in Israel”. To his disappointment he searched and found that all the righteous people had raised children in Israel. He reminded himself about the patriarch Abraham and that the Lord God gave his son Isaac to him in his last days.
Then, Joachim was extremely frustrated and did not appear to his wife, but gave himself to the desert and pitched his tent there. He fasted forty days and forty nights. All the while, Joachim was saying to himself, “I will not go down for food or drink until the Lord my God visits me; prayer will be my food and drink.”
Anna also became extremely frustrated went down to her garden to walk around. She saw a laurel tree and sat down under it. And after a rest, she petitioned the Lord, saying, “God of my ancestors, bless me and hear my prayer, just as you blessed our mother Sarah and gave her son Isaac to her”. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood in front of her, saying, “Anna, Anna, the Lord God has heard your prayer. You will conceive and give birth and your child will be spoken of everywhere people live”. Anna said, “As the Lord God lives, whether I give birth to either a male or a female child, I will bring it as an offering to the Lord my God and it will be a servant to him all the days of its life”. Next, two angels came, saying to her, “Look your husband Joachim is coming with his flocks”. For an angel of the Lord had gone down to Joachim, saying, “Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard your prayer. Go down from here. Look, your wife Anna has conceived in her womb”. After nine months (Another book says seven months), Anna gave birth to a baby girl.
At the Temple of the Lord
When the child turned three she was taken to the temple of the load. While Mary was in the temple of the Lord, she was fed like a dove and received food from the hand of an angel. When she turned twelve, a group of priests took counsel together, saying, “Look, Mary has been in the temple of the Lord twelve years. What should we do about her now, so that she does not defile the sanctuary of the Lord our God?”
As the high priest was praying for a way, an angel of the Lord stood before, saying, “Zachariah, Zachariah, depart from here and gather the widowers of the people and let each one carry a staff. And the one whom the Lord God points out with a sign, she will be his wife.”
After all the widowers have gathered, Zachariah received everyone’s rod and went into the temple and prayed. When he was finished with the prayer, he took the rods and went out and gave them to each man, but there was no sign among them. Finally, Joseph took his rod. Suddenly, a dove came out of the rod and stood on Joseph’s head. And the high priest said, “Joseph! Joseph! You have been chosen by lot to take the virgin into your own keeping.”
Joseph replied, saying, “I have sons and am old, while she is young. I will not be ridiculed among the children of Israel”. But fearing God, Joseph took her into his own possession. And he said to her, “Mary, I took you from the temple of the Lord and now I bring you into my house. I am going out to build houses, but I will come back to you. The Lord will protect you”.
At the house of Joseph
As one day she took the cup and went out to fill it with water. A voice suddenly said to her, “Rejoice, blessed one. The Lord is with you. You are blessed among women”. Mary looked around to the right and the left to see where this voice came from. Trembling she went into her house. Setting down the cup, she took the purple thread and sat down on the chair and spun it. Suddenly, an angel stood before her saying, “Do not be afraid Mary. You have found grace before the Lord of all. You will conceive from his word”. Upon hearing this, however, Mary was distraught, saying to herself, “If I conceive from the Lord God who lives, will I also conceive as all women conceive?” And the Angel of the Lord said, “Not like that, Mary. For the power of God will come over you. Thus, the holy one who is born will be called son of the most high. You will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”. Mary said, “See, I am the servant of the Lord before him. Let it happen to me according to what you say”. These mysteries happened when she was sixteen.
In the sixth month of her pregnancy, Joseph came from his house-building and went into the house to find her swelling. And he struck his face and threw himself on the ground in sackcloth and wept bitterly, “How can I look to the Lord God? What will I pray about her, for I took her as a virgin from the temple of the Lord and did not guard her? (4) Who has set this trap for me? Who did this evil in my house? Who stole the virgin from me and defiled her. Then, she wept bitterly, saying, “I am pure and I did not know a man”. And Joseph said to her, “Where did this thing in your womb come from then?” But she said, “As the Lord my God lives, I do not know where it came from.”
In this sleep an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, saying, “Do not fear this child. For the child in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son for you and you will call his name Jesus. For he will save his people from their sins”. Joseph arose from his sleep and glorified the God of Israel who had given grace to him. And he guarded the child.
When the priests came to know what had happened, they led Mary with Joseph to the law court. Joseph and Marry swear that they have done nothing wrong. The high priest said, “I will give you the water of the Lord’s wrath to drink and it will make your sin clear in your eyes”. And taking the water, the high priest gave it to Joseph to drink and sent him out into the desert. And he returned unharmed. After wards he made the young girl drink also and sent her out into the desert. And she came back unharmed. And all the people were astonished that their sins were not revealed. And the high priest said, “If the Lord God has not revealed your sins, I will not judge you either.” And he released them. And Joseph took Mary and went away to his house, rejoicing and praising the God of Israel.
Birth Of Jesus Christ (Jammanuel)
Then, there was an order from the Emperor Augustus to have everyone in Bethlehem of Judea be registered for a census. Joseph said, “I will register my sons. But this child? What will I do about him? How will I register him? And my wife? Oh, I am ashamed. Should I register her as my daughter? The children of Israel know that she is not my daughter. This day, I will do as the Lord wants.” And he saddled his donkey and sat her on it and his son led and Samuel followed. When they came to the middle of the journey, Mary said to him, “Joseph, take me off the donkey, the child pushing from within me to let him come out”. He found a cave and led her there and stationed his sons to watch her, while he went to find a Hebrew midwife in the land of Bethlehem. He saw a woman coming down from the mountain and she said to him, “Man, where are you going?”
He said “I am seeking a Hebrew midwife.”
Replying, she said to him, “Are you from Israel?”
And he said to her, “Yes.”
Then, she said, “And who is giving birth in the cave?”
And he said, “The one who has pledged to be married to me.”
And she said to him, “She is not your wife?”
And he said to her, “She is Mary, the one who was raised in the temple. I won her by lot to be my wife. She is not yet my wife, but has a fetus from the Holy Spirit.”
And the midwife said, “Really?”
And Joseph said to her, “Come and see.”
So the midwife went with him. And they stood near the cave and a dark cloud was hovering over the cave. And the midwife said, “My soul glorifies this day, for today my eyes have seen a miracle: salvation has come to Israel”. And immediately, the cloud withdrew from the cave and a great light appeared in the cave so that their eyes could not bear it. And a little while later the same light withdrew until an infant appeared. And he came and took the breast of his mother, Mary. And the midwife cried out and said, “How great this day is for me, for I have seen this new miracle.”
You are encouraged to read further. Remember that to be a good Christian one have to be a truth seeker. The primary source of information comes from the Gospel of James in the book ‘Lost Scriptures’ by Barth D. Ehrman. I have also provided a link to a PDF version of the Gospel below. The PDF version seems to be missing some details though. The actual gospel goes a little further.
Please feel free to post your comments and opinions.
- Gospel of James (PDF)
- , BooK: Lost Scriptures by Barth D. Ehrman