Early Christians built on the stories of Jesus' birth found in the New Testament. 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; it includes some rare Irish material. 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 an introductory chapter to the genre. He also includes a full and helpful bibliography to benefit readers who may wish to pursue this comparative study more deeply.
J.K. Elliott is Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism at the University of Leeds, UK. He holds doctorates from the universities of Oxford and of Wales. He is editor of
The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1993) and co-author of
Art and the Christian Apocrypha (London, 2001). He is currently at work with a French team investigating the textual history of Mark's Gospel.
"...the book is a welcome contribution to scholarship on Christian apocryphal literature. This handsome volume with English renditions that are easy to read will be a handy reference tool for those wishing to make comparisons between the various texts without having to track down critical editions and individual translation. [..] Libraries will no doubt want to have this on their shelves, as it will be a good starting point for research on the nativity and infancy narratives for those uninitiated into the sometimes esoteric study of Christian apocrypha." – Nicole Kelley, in:
Review of Biblical Literature (2007) "J. K. Elliott has performed a useful service by collecting in a convenient form all the major sources that narrate some part of the story of the nativity, infancy, and childhood of Jesus... Overall this is a fine instrumentum studiorum that will be used with appreciation and profit by anyone investigating the topics it covers." – Michael W. Holmes,
Bethel University, in:
A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism (2008)