• “Then Suddenly, Everything Resumed Its Course”: The Suspension of Time in the Protevangelium of James Reconsidered

    Eric Vanden Eykel (see profile)
    Biblical Studies, Christian Apocryphal Literature, New Testament, Second Century Christianity
    Biblical studies, Christian Apocryphal Literature, New Testament
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Society of Biblical Literature 2017 Annual Meeting
    Conf. Loc.:
    Boston, MA
    Conf. Date:
    November 2017
    #aarsbl17, Infancy Gospels, Protevangelium Jacobi, Protevangelium of James, Virgin Mary
    Permanent URL:
    The second-century Protevangelium of James contains an enigmatic scene that has fascinated readers for centuries: the stilling of the natural world at the birth of Jesus. Joseph describes the spectacle as he departs the cave in which Mary is laboring: “I looked up at the vault of the sky and saw it fixed. I saw the clouds paused in amazement, and the birds of the sky were at rest […] I gazed upon the torrent of the river, and saw goats with their mouths in the water, and yet they were not drinking” (18:4-10). François Bovon’s construal of this episode is among the more persuasive and influential. He argues that its author conceives of Jesus’ birth as “the beginning of a new age, the last times.” But Bovon’s interpretation of this scene, while formative, focuses almost exclusively on the temporal (e.g., the suspension of *time*), and as such it does not pay sufficient heed to the material (e.g., the suspension of *creation*). In this paper I should like to explore the latter of these two facets in greater depth as a means of expanding Bovon’s thesis. By reading the episode in Protevangelium 18 alongside comparable instances of this phenomenon in biblical and extra biblical sources (many of which Bovon himself cites), I shall argue that the author of the episode is making certain claims not only about the age that Jesus’ birth inaugurates, but also about the body/person of Jesus himself.
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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