THE GOSPEL OF JAMES
(COMMONLY CALLED THE PROTEVANGELIUM)
Tr. by. B. H. Cowper
[Extracted from his Apocryphal Gospels, pp. 1-26.]
Chs.: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25
The Apocryphal Gospel to which we have given the first place, is extant in several Greek manuscripts, the oldest of which may belong to the eleventh century. It is also found in Arabic, and part of it in Coptic. Its date and authorship are unknown.
Dr. Tischendorf thinks it may belong to the middle of the
second century. Some have thought it was known to Justin Martyr (Trypho,
Ch. 78), to Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, Bk. vii.), and Origen (on
Matth.), and perhaps Tertullian (de Scorpiaco, sec. 8), but we cannot
be certain. Gregory of Nyssa and Epiphanius, however, either had it, or a
closely similar book. Later authors often allude to it.
The title varies in the copies. It is often ascribed to James, though what James is not always stated.
The name Protevangelium was given to it by Postel, who brought it to Europe, soon after which it was printed in Latin (1552, 1555, etc.), and in Greek (1564). Jeremiah Jones translated it into English (1722).
The book contains an account of Joachim and Anna the parents of Mary, and of the wonderful circumstances attending her birth (chaps, i.-v.). Mary is said to have been presented to the Lord at three years old, and brought up in the temple. Here, as in imagining the mother's name, and the birth of the child in answer to prayer, the ideas were probably taken from the history of Samuel. When twelve years old, Mary is placed under the protection of Joseph (chaps, vi.-x.). The annunciation and conception, the jealousy of Joseph and his troubles in consequence of her condition, and the nativity, are narrated at length (chaps, xi.-xxi.). The visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, the slaughter of the children by Herod, the escape of John, and the murder of his father, occupy the rest of the book, which closes with a subscription professing to tell the author and occasion of the work (chaps, xxii.-xxv.)
THE GOSPEL OF JAMES;
COMMONLY CALLED THE PROTEVANGELIUM OF JAMES
The Birth of Mary, the Holy Mother of God and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ.
In the histories1 of the twelve tribes of Israel there was one Joachim,2 who was very rich, and he offered his gifts two-fold, saying, There shall be of my substance for all the people, and for my forgiveness with the Lord as a propitiation for me. And the great day of the Lord drew nigh, and the children of Israel offered their gifts. And Reuben the high priest resisted him, saying, It is not lawful for thee to offer thy gifts first, because thou hast not produced seed in Israel. And Joachim was very grieved, and went to the genealogy of the twelve tribes of the people, saying, I will see the genealogy of the twelve tribes of Israel, whether I alone have not produced seed in Israel. And he sought and found that all the righteous had raised up seed in Israel; and he remembered the patriarch Abraham, that at the last day God gave him his son Isaac. And Joachim was very grieved, and did not show himself to his wife, but betook himself into the wilderness, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights,3 saying in himself, I will not go down either for meat or for drink, until the Lord my God shall visit me; and prayer shall be my meat and drink.
Now his wife Anna grieved with double grief, and lamented with a double lamentation, saying, I will bewail my widowhood, and I will bewail my childless condition. And the great day of the Lord drew nigh, and Judith her maiden said. How long dost thou humble thy soul? Behold the great day of the Lord is at hand, and it is not lawful for thee to mourn ; but take this headband, which the lady who made it gave to me, and it is not proper for me to put it on, because I am a servant, and it hath a royal character. And Anna said, Leave me, and, I would not do thus, and. The Lord hath greatly-humbled me. Perhaps some crafty person gave thee this, and thou hast come to make me partaker in thy sin. And Judith said, Why shall I curse thee, because the Lord hath closed thy womb, so as not to give thee fruit in Israel ? And Anna was very grieved, and folded up her mourning garments, and anointed her head, and put on her wedding garments, and about the ninth hour went down into her garden to walk, and she saw a laurel tree, and sat under it, and supplicated the Lord, saying, God of our fathers, bless me, and hearken to my prayer, as thou didst bless the womb of Sarah, and gavest her a son, Isaac.4
And as she looked towards heaven she saw a nest of sparrows in the laurel tree, and she made a lamentation in herself, saying, "Woe is me; who begat me? and what womb bare me? For I have become a curse before the children of Israel, and I am reproached, and they revile me from the temple of the Lord. Woe is me; what am I like unto? I am not like the fowls of heaven, for even the fowls of heaven are fruitful before thee, Lord. Woe is me ; what am I like unto? I am not like these waters, for even these waters are fruitful before thee, Lord. Woe is me; what am I like unto? I am not like this earth, for even the earth produceth its fruits in its season, and blesseth thee, Lord.
And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying unto her, Anna, Anna, the Lord hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt conceive and bring forth, and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said. As the Lord my God liveth, if I bring forth either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall minister to him all the days of its life. And behold, there came two angels saying unto her, Behold, Joachim thy husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying, Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God hath heard thy prayer; go down hence; for, behold, thy wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down, and called his shepherds, saying, Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot and blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God. And bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; also a hundred goats for all the people. And behold, Joachim came with his flocks, and Anna stood at the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran and hung upon his neck, saying, Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me greatly; for behold, the widow is no more a widow, and I that am childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house.
Now on the morrow he offered his gifts, saying in himself, If the Lord God be propitious to me, he will make the plate on the priest's forehead manifest to me. And Joachim offered his gifts, and observed the plate on the priest's forehead, as he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself, and Joachim said, Now I know that the Lord is propitious to me, and hath pardoned all my sins.5 And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were accomplished, and in the ninth month Anna bare a child. And she said to the midwife, What have I borne? and she said, A girl. And Anna said. This day my soul is magnified; and she laid it down. And when the days were accomplished, Anna was purified, and she gave the child the breast, and called its name Mark.
And the child increased in strength from day to day, and when she was six months old her mother set her on the ground, to try if she could stand; and having walked seven steps she came to her lap. And she caught her up, saying, As the Lord my God liveth, thou shalt not walk upon this earth, until I bring thee to the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her chamber, and suffered nothing common and unclean to pass by her, and called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they led her about. And the child's first birthday came, and Joachim made a great feast, and called the priests and scribes, and elders, and all the people of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests, and they blessed her, saying, God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her a name eternally to be named in 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, God most High, look upon this child, and bless her with a last blessing which hath none to follow it. And her mother took her up to the sanctuary of her chamber and gave her the breast. And Anna made a song to the Lord God, saying, I will sing a song to the Lord my God, for he hath visited me, and hath removed from me the reproach of my enemies; and the Lord hath given me the fruit of his righteousness, [fruit which is] peculiar and very rich before him. Who shall tell to the children of Reuben that Anna giveth suck? Hearken, hearken, ye twelve tribes of Israel, for Anna giveth suck. And she laid it to rest in the chamber of her sanctuary, and went out and served them. And when the supper was ended they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.
And months were added to the child; and the child became two years old, and Joachim said. Let us conduct her to the temple of the Lord, that we may render the vow which we vowed, lest perchance the Lord refuse us, and our gift become unacceptable. And Anna said. Let us wait till the third year, that the child may not require its father or mother. And Joachim said. Let us wait. And the child became three years old, and Joachim said. Call the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and let them take a lamp apiece, and let these be burning, that the child may not turn back, and its heart be taken captive from the temple of the Lord. And they did thus until they came up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed and blessed her, and said. The Lord hath magnified his name in all generations: with thee at the end of days, the Lord will manifest his redemption to the children of Israel. And he set her upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God bestowed grace upon her, and she danced about on her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.
And her parents went down wondering, and praising the Lord God, because the child did not turn back. And Mary was like a dove brought up in the temple, and received food from the hand of an angel. And when she became twelve years old, there was held a council of the priests, who said, Behold, Mary is become twelve years old in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance the sanctuary of the Lord be defiled? And they said to the high priest. Thou hast stood at the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray for her, and whatever the Lord shall manifest to thee, that also will we do. And the high priest entered, taking the breastplate into the holy of holies, and prayed for her. And behold the angel of the Lord stood by, saying unto him, Zacharias, Zacharias,6 go forth and summon the widowers of the people, and let them take a rod apiece, and she shall be the wife of him to whom the Lord shall show a sign. And the criers went out through all the region of Judea round about, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran together.
Now Joseph cast down his axe and went out to meet them. And having assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking the rods; and he received the rods of all, and entered the holy place and prayed; and when he had finished praying, he took the rods, and went out and delivered them to them; and there was no sign among them. But Joseph received the last rod, and, behold, a dove went out of the rod, and flew upon the head of Joseph. And the priest said to Joseph, Thou hast been allotted to receive the virgin of the Lord to keep with thyself. And Joseph refused, saying, I have sons, and I am old, and she is a girl. Let me not become ridiculous to the children of Israel. And the priest said to Joseph, Fear the Lord thy God; and remember what God did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah, how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up because of their gainsaying. And now, fear, Joseph, lest this should come to pass in thy house. And Joseph feared, and took her to keep with himself.
And Joseph said unto Mary, Behold, I have received thee from the temple of the Lord, and now I leave thee in my house, and go to build my buildings, and will come to thee. The Lord will protect thee.
And there was a council of the priests, who said, Let us make a curtain for the temple of the Lord. And the priest said. Call me undefiled virgins of the house of David. And the servants went and sought and found seven virgins. And the priest recollected the girl Mary, that she was of the tribe of David, and was uncorrupt before God. And the servants went and brought her. And they led them into the temple of the Lord; and the priest said, Cast me lots, who shall spin the gold, and green, and fine linen, and silk, and blue, and scarlet, and true purple. And the true purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary, and she took it and went away to her home. And at that time Zacharias became speechless, and Samuel was in his stead, until Zacharias spake. And Mary took the scarlet and spun it.
And she took the waterpot and went out to draw water; and behold a voice, saying, Hail, thou favoured one/ the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. And she looked about right and left, to see whence this voice came. And becoming afraid, she went away to her home, and set down the waterpot; and taking the purple she sat on her seat and spun it. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour before the Lord, and thou shalt conceive from his word. And when she heard she disputed in herself, saying. Shall I conceive from the Lord, the living God, and bear as every woman beareth? And the angel of the Lord said, Not so, Mary; for the power of the Lord will overshadow thee; wherefore that holy thing which is born of thee, shall be called the son of the Most High; and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. And Mary said. Behold, the servant of the Lord is before him; be it unto me according to thy word.
And she wrought the purple and the scarlet, and took it to the priest. And the priest blessed her, and said, Mary, the Lord God hath magnified thy name, and thou shalt be blessed in all the generations of the earth. And Mary was glad, and went away to Elizabeth, her kinswoman;7 and she knocked at the door; and when Elizabeth heard, she threw down 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? for, behold, that which is within me, leaped and blessed thee. And Mary was unaware of the mysteries which Gabriel the Archangel8 told her, and she looked up to heaven, and said, "Who am I, Lord, that all the generations of the earth shall bless me? And she spent three months with Elizabeth. And day by day her condition became more manifest; and being afraid, Mary went to her house, and hid herself from the children of Israel. Now she was sixteen9 years old when these strange things happened.
And her sixth month came, and, behold, Joseph came from his housebuilding; and entering his house he found her pregnant. And he smote his face, and threw himself upon the ground on sackcloth, and wept bitterly, saying. With what face shall I look at the Lord my God? and what shall I entreat concerning this damsel? for I received her a virgin from the temple of the Lord, and have not kept her. Who hath circumvented me? Who hath done this evil in my house, and defiled the virgin? Is not the history of Adam repeated in me? for just as Adam was at the hour of his thanksgiving, and the Serpent came and found Eve alone, and deceived her, so also hath it befallen me. And Joseph arose from his sackcloth, and called Mary, and said to her, Thou that hast been cared for of God, why hast thou humbled thy soul, thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and received food at the hand of an angel? And she wept bitterly, saying, I am pure and know no man. And Joseph said to her, Whence then is it that thou art pregnant? and she said. As the Lord my God liveth, I know not whence it is come to me.
And Joseph was greatly afraid, and separated from her, and reasoned what he should do with her. And Joseph said. If I hide her fault, I find myself fighting with the law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the children of Israel, I fear lest that which is in her is angelic,10 and I shall be found betraying innocent blood to the sentence of death. What, then, shall I do with her? I will secretly divorce her from me. And night overtook him; and, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Be not afraid about this damsel; for that which she hath conceived is of the Holy Spirit; and she shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. And Joseph arose from sleep, and glorified the God of Israel, who had granted him this favour, and he kept her.11
And Annas, the scribe, came to him, and said. Why hast thou not appeared in our council? And Joseph said, Because I was wearied with the journey, and rested the first day. And he turned and saw Mary pregnant. And he went running to the priest, and said to him, Joseph, whom thou hast attested, hath greatly transgressed. And the priest said, "What is this? And he said. The virgin which he received from the temple of the Lord, her he hath defiled, and hath hidden his marriage, and not made it known to the children of Israel. And the priest answered and said, Hath Joseph done this? And Annas the scribe said. Send servants, and thou shalt find the virgin pregnant. And the servants departed, and found as he said; and they brought her away along with. Joseph to the place of judgment. And the priest said, Mary, why hast thou done this? and wherefore hast thou humbled thy soul, and hidden thyself from the Lord thy God; thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and didst receive food at the hand of an angel, and didst hear 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 I know not a man. And the priest said to Joseph, What is this that thou hast done? And Joseph said. As the Lord liveth, I am pure in regard to her. And the priest said. Bear not false witness, but say the truth. Thou hast hidden her marriage, and not made it known to the children of Israel, and hast not bowed thine head under the strong hand, that thy seed might be blessed. And Joseph was silent.
And the priest said, Restore the virgin which thou receivedst from the temple of the Lord. And Joseph wept very much. And the priest said, I will cause thee to drink the water of the Lord's reproof, and it shall manifest thy sins before thine eyes.12 And the priest took and gave it to Joseph to drink, and sent him into the hill country; and he returned quite sound. And he also gave it to Mary to drink, and sent her into the hill country; and she returned quite sound. And all the people wondered that sin was not seen in them. And the priest said, If the Lord God hath not manifested your sins, neither do I judge you; and he released them. And Joseph took Mary, and went to his house rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.
And there was a command from Augustus the king, that all who were in Bethlehem of Judea should be enrolled.13 And Joseph said, I will enrol my children, but what shall I do with this damsel? How shall I enrol her? As my wife? I am ashamed to do it. As my daughter? But all the children of Israel know that she is not my daughter. The day of the Lord will make plain how the Lord willeth it. And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it, and his son led it, and Joseph followed. And they came within three miles. And Joseph turned and saw her sad, and he said in himself. Perhaps her burden troubleth her. And Joseph turned again, and saw her laughing; and he said to her, Mary, what aileth thee, because I see thy face at one time laughing, and at another time sad? And Mary said to Joseph, I see two peoples with my eyes, one weeping and lamenting, and one rejoicing and exulting. And they came in the midst of the road, and Mary said to him. Take me down from the ass, for my burden urgeth me to be delivered. And he took her down from the ass, and said to her. Whither shall I take thee, and hide thy shame? for the place is desolate.
And he found a cave there,14 and took her in, and set his sons by her, and he went out and sought a midwife in the country of Bethlehem. And I Joseph walked, and I walked not;15 and I looked up into the air, and saw the air violently agitated; and I looked up at the pole of heaven, and saw it stationary, and the fowls of heaven still; and I looked at the earth and saw a vessel, and workmen reclining by it, and their hands in the vessel, and those who handled did not handle it, and those who took did not lift, and those who presented it to their mouth did not present it, but the faces of all were looking up; and I saw the sheep scattered, and the sheep stood, and the shepherd lifted up his hand to strike them, and his hand remained up; and I looked at the stream of the river, and I saw that the mouths of the kids were down, and not drinking; and everything which was being impelled forward was intercepted in its course.
And I saw a woman coming down from the hill country, and she said to me, man, whither art thou going? and I said, I am seeking a Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said to me. Art thou of Israel? And I said to her. Yea. And she said. And who is it that bringeth forth in the cave? And I said, She is espoused to me. And she said to me. Is she not thy wife? And I said to her. It is Mary who was brought up in the temple of the Lord, and she was allotted to me to wife, and she is not my wife, but hath conceived by the Holy Spirit. And the midwife said to him. Is this true? And Joseph said to her. Come and see. And the midwife went with him. And they stood in the place where the cave was, and behold a bright cloud overshadowed the cave. And the midwife said. My soul is magnified to-day, because my eyes have seen strange things; for salvation is born to Israel. And suddenly the cloud withdrew from the cave, and there appeared a great light in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it. And gradually that light withdrew until the babe was seen, and it came and took the breast from its mother Mary. And the midwife cried out and said, To day is a great day to me, for I have seen this novel sight. And the midwife went out of the cave, and Salome met her; and she said to her, Salome, Salome, I have a novel sight to tell thee: A virgin hath brought forth, which is not in accordance with the course of nature.16 And Salome said, As the Lord my God liveth, except I put out my hand and examine her, I will not believe that a virgin hath brought forth.
And the midwife went in, and said to Mary, Arrange thyself; for there is no small contest about thee. And Salome stretched out her hand to her, and she shrieked, and said. Woe to my wickedness and unbelief, for I have tempted the living God; and lo, my hand is on fire, and falls away from me. And she bowed her knees to the Lord, saying, O God of my fathers, remember me that I am of the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. Make me not an example to the children of Israel, but restore me to the poor; for thou knowest, Lord, that in thy name I performed my cures, and received my reward from thee. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying to her, Salome, Salome, the Lord hath heard thee, present thy hand to the child, and lift it, and it shall be to thee salvation, and joy. And Salome came near, and lifted him up, saying, I will worship him, for he is born a great king to Israel; and lo, Salome was straightaway healed, and went out of the cave justified. And, behold, a voice, saying, Tell not the strange things thou hast seen until the child shall enter into Jerusalem.
And behold Joseph made ready to go into Judea. And there was a great tumult in Bethlehem of Judea; for Magi came, saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him.17 And when Herod heard, he was troubled; and sent his servants to the Magi, and sent for the high priests, and examined them, saying, How is it written concerning the Christ? Where is he born? They say to him, In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written. And he dismissed them. And he examined the Magi saying unto them. What sign did ye see of the king that is born? And the Magi said, We saw a very great star shining among these stars and dazzling them, so that the stars were not seen. And thus we knew that a king was born unto Israel, and came to worship him. And Herod said. Go and search ; and if ye find him, tell it me, that I too may come and worship him. And the Magi departed. And behold, the star which they saw in the East, led them until they came to the cave, and stood at the entrance of the cave. And the Magi saw the child with his mother Mary, and they took out of their scrip, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned by the angel not to go into Judea, they went to their country by another way.
And when Herod knew that he was deceived by the Magi, he was angry and sent assassins, saying unto them. Slay the infants from two years old and under.18 And when Mary heard that they slew the infants, she was afraid and took the child and swathed it and put it in a crib for oxen. And Elizabeth, who heard that John was sought for, took him and went up into the hill country, and looked for somewhere to hide him; and there was no place of concealment.19 And Elizabeth groaned and said with a loud voice, Mount of God, receive a mother with her child. And suddenly the mountain was divided and received her. And light shone through to them; for the angel of the Lord was with them, preserving them.
And Herod sought after John, and sent his servants to Zacharias, saying, Where hast thou hidden thy son? And he answered and said to them, I am the minister of God, and I am busied with the temple of the Lord, I know not where my son is. And the servants went away and reported to Herod all these things, and Herod was angry and said, His son is going to be king of Israel. And he sent to him again, saying, Tell the truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy blood is under my hand. And Zacharias said, I am a witness for God, if thou dost shed my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, for thou sheddest innocent blood in the porch of the Lord's temple. And about daybreak Zacharias was slain; and the children of Israel knew not that he was slain.
But at the hour of greeting the priests went, and the blessing of Zacharias did not meet them according to custom. And the priests stood waiting for Zacharias, to greet him with prayer, and to glorify the Most High. And when he tarried they were all afraid; but one of them ventured and went in and perceived near the altar, blood congealed, and a voice saying, Zacharias is murdered, and his blood shall not be wiped out until his avenger cometh.20 And when he heard the word he was afraid, and went out and told the priests; and they ventured and went in and saw what had occurred. And the wainscotings of the temple shrieked out, and were cleft from top to bottom. And they found not his body, but found his blood turned into stone. And they were afraid and went out, and told the people that Zacharias was murdered. And all the tribes of the people heard, and mourned for him, and lamented three days and three nights. And after the three days the priests took counsel to appoint some one instead of him. And the lot fell upon Simeon;21 for he it was who was admonished by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, until he saw the Christ in the flesh.
Now I, James, who wrote this history in Jerusalem, because a tumult arose when Herod died, withdrew myself into the wilderness, until the tumult ceased in Jerusalem, glorifying the Lord God who gave me the gift and the wisdom to write this history. And grace shall be with those who fear our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.
1 The author might have more properly said
'genealogies' or 'records,' as his object is simply to intimate the purely
Israelitish descent of Mary's parents.
2 Some think that Mary's father was called Heli, understanding Luke iii. 23, to mean as much. Jerome supposed he was called Cleophas; but we have no evidence that the name Joachim was given him before the appearance of this document. In like manner the name Anna is quite without authority, although both it and Joseph have been adopted by the Greek and Roman churches. Reuben also, as the name of the high priest, is supported by no authority.
3 Comp. Matt. iii. 1.
4 Comp. 1 Sam. i. 9-18.
5 Comp. Ex. xxviii. 36-38.
6 According to this, Zacharias was the high priest; but the copies differ, and some do not represent him as such.
7 Luke i. 39-56.
8 In Luke i. 26, Gabriel is simply called an 'angel,' and so some read here.
9 The copies vary, reading 14, 15, 17, and even 18, as well as 16.
10 For 'angelic' another reading is 'holy.'
11 Matt. i. 18-21.
12 Num. V. 17.
13 Luke ii. 1.
14 This cave is mentioned by Justin Martyr. (Trypho, 78.)
15 Here Joseph himself is introduced as the narrator.
16 Latin, "quem non capit natura ipsius, et virgo raanet virgo." The Greek is "What her nature doth not contain." I give the probable sense.
17 Matt. ii. 1-12: Mic. v. 2.
18 Matt. ii. 16-18.
19 No such story is traceable in the New Testament.
20 The idea that the blood of a murdered man cannot be washed out is very ancient; it frequently appears in the writings of early Christian travellers, and still prevails to some extent even in England.
21 The New Testament leads to the conclusion that Simeon was not a priest. Luke ii. 25-32.