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Mary, Gender, Protoevangelium of James, Infancy Gospel of James


Despite its somewhat misleading title, The Protoevangelium of James is an unofficial gospel about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although many contemporary Christians may not know it, this text is where we find many ideas surrounding Mary. Like many early Christian writings, the identity of the author is unclear, but based upon the writing, it would seem the author had firsthand knowledge of the events recorded. The Protoevangelium of James, also known as The Infancy Gospel of James, outlines the divine circumstances surrounding Mary’s birth and upbringing and reports that she lived a very holy childhood. In this paper, I analyze how the Infancy Gospel of James has shaped Mariology: her holy status, her perpetual virginity, her interaction with the midwife Salome after Jesus is born, and the overall significance of the narrative for Christians today. Labeling The Protoevangelium a fully Feminist text proves difficult due to its contribution to the harmful cultural dichotomies about women within the church. Despite this, I will argue that the text retains meaning for contemporary readers, particularly because of its egalitarian qualities, which are relevant for a twenty-first-century Christian audience that yearns for more representation of marginalized groups, including women.