• “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
    Bible. 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, Biblical studies, Christian Apocryphal Literature, New Testament
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    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:
    6 years ago
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