The Infancy Gospels of Jesus: Apocryphal Tales from the Childhoods of Mary and Jesus—Annotated & Explained

Presents influential apocryphal stories about the young Jesus and tales that provide the basis for Mary's biography and ideas about her purity. Will give you a deeper understanding of the devotion Christians feel for Mary and the holy infant Jesus.

Translation and Annotation by Stevan Davies
Foreword by A. Edward Siecienski

5½ x 8½, 176 pp | 978-1-59473-258-4

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Early Christian legends of divine power, miraculous events, fear and admiration can inform your own spiritual journey.

The three principal infancy gospels—the Infancy Gospel of James, the Gospel of the Infancy, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas—are accounts of the births and early lives of Mary the Virgin Mother, and Jesus. Originating in the second through fifth centuries, these apocryphal stories are fictions but nevertheless of great historical interest in terms of the beliefs and storytelling of early Christians, for they are the sources of well-known Christian legends as well as of some of Christianity’s beloved heroes and heroines.

This fascinating and accessible exploration of formative influential narratives takes you deep into the early Christian religious thinking that provides the basis for Mary’s biography, ideas about her purity, as well as the prayers, feasts, and iconic representations that celebrate her life. These extraordinary folktales also provide some shocking imagery of the young Jesus, the incarnation of God—equally human and divine—as he learns to control his supernatural powers and apply them for good.

Now you can experience the mystery and amusement of these charming folktales without any previous knowledge of early Christian history or thought. This SkyLight Illuminations edition offers insightful yet unobtrusive commentary that explains references and philosophical terms, shares inspiring interpretations, and gives you a deeper understanding of the sources of devotion Christians feel for Mary and the holy infant Jesus.

“Very much recommended for a greater understanding of the three principal infancy gospels.”

Midwest Book Review

“Accessible and insightful … helps us appreciate the imaginative storytelling in these narratives as well as their piety and theological content—and even their occasional humor. An ideal starting point for the study of these fascinating gospels.”

Robert J. Miller, author, Born Divine: The Births of Jesus and Other Sons of God

“Clear, accurate, and fun to read.... I love this book! Weaves solid historical scholarship with a deep appreciation for folk traditions and fiction. Gives us a sense of the creativity involved in thinking about the infancy of Jesus and his mother, Mary. I will assign it for students next semester.”

Jane Schaberg, professor of religious and women’s/gender studies, University of Detroit Mercy

“Filled with incidents that are magical, touching, humorous, even shocking, but always entertaining. Davies’ translations are appropriately idiomatic, and his comments are informative and insightful by comparing these stories not only to pagan, Christian, and Jewish parallels but also to versions of some of the stories in the Qur’an.”

Ronald F. Hock, professor of religion, University of Southern California