A Synopsis of the Apocryphal Nativity and Infancy Narratives

Second Edition, Revised and Expanded


Early Christians built on the stories of Jesus' and Mary’s birth and childhood. Their later accounts, many of them found nowadays among collections of non-canonical ('apocryphal') texts, are important and interesting. They give insights into the growth of Christian theology, especially concerning the role and status of Mary, and also the way in which the earliest stories were elaborated and interpreted in popular folk religion.
A range of the earliest accounts is presented here in fresh translations. This second edition contains some texts originally in a variety of different languages such as Armenian, Ethiopic, Coptic and Irish, not available at the time of the first edition. The texts are arranged in small units and synoptically, in order to permit readers to compare texts and to see the differences and similarities between them.
J.K. Elliott has selected and arranged the texts, and he provides introductory and concluding chapters. He also includes a full and helpful bibliography to benefit readers who may wish to pursue this comparative study more deeply.

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J. K. Elliott is Emeritus Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism at the University of Leeds, UK. He holds doctorates from the University of Oxford (D. Phil) and the University of Wales (D.D.). He is the editor of The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1993) and co-author of Art and the Christian Apocrypha (London, 2001).
'This second edition is to be enthusiastically embraced as it adds further insight to the original edition. This Synopsis provides a valuable resource for anyone seeking to view the wealth of traditions available relating to the nativity and infancy narratives as well as the developing and changing relationships among the respective traditions.'
Patrick J. Hartin, Emeritus Professor, Gonzaga University, Novum Testamentum 59 (2017)

'Elliott's new edition is a highly valuable development in comparison to his important first eidtion. He present the textual evidence in a logical form that facilitates the ease of use. This is a highly significant and erudite reference work and tool, which will facilitate much further research.'

Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh, The Expository Times 128 (5) February 2017


1 Mary’s Birth and Upbringing
2 The Annunciation
3 Mary Visits Elizabeth
4 Mary’s Pregnancy and Its Explanation
i) The Explanation to Joseph
ii) The Questioning of Joseph and Mary by the Priests
5 The Birth of Jesus
6 The Adoration of Jesus After His Birth
7 The Presentation in the Temple
8 The Magi
9 The Slaying of the Infants and the Flight to Egypt
10 Jesus as a Child

Concluding Notes

All those interested in early non-canonical Christian texts, and especially readers who wish to trace the traditions about Jesus’ and Mary’s births and early years.
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