Protoevangelium of James Chapters 16, 17, and 18 - Thoughts

So last night and this morning I read through three more chapters of the Protoevangelium of James. Some thoughts:

  1. Back then they had some fancy water. We have spring water, artesian water, glacial water, etc. We even have holy drinking water. They had something better back then: τὸ ὕδωρ τῆς ἐλέγξεως κυρίου (16:1). Roughly translated "the water of the conviction of the Lord", this water would make clear your sin in a given circumstance. How handy would that be? As a side note, if you actually drink that holy drinking water and I find out about it, I will lose any respect for you.

  2. As it turns out, the Protoevangelium of James is a truly important historical work. We now have proof of what all of us married men with children know: pregnant women tend to have serious mood swings (even Mary).

    καὶ ἤγγισαν ἐπὶ μίλιον τρίτον, καὶ ἐστράφη Ἰωσὴφ καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν στυγνὴν καὶ ἔλεγεν· ἴσως τὸ ἐν αὐτῇ χειμάζει αὐτήν. καὶ πάλιν ἐστράφη Ἰωσὴφ καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν γελοῦσαν καὶ εἶπεν· Μαριάμμη, τί ἐστίν σοι τοῦτο, ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπόν σου βλέπω ποτὲ μὲν γελοῦντα ποτὲ δὲ στυγνάζον; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ἰωσήφ, ὅτι δύο λαοὺς βλέπω ἐν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς μου, ἔνα κλαίοντα καὶ κοπτόμενον καὶ ἔνα χαίροντα καὶ ἀγαλλιῶντα.

    Closing prayer: Please don’t let me catch a lot of flack for this one.

  3. I think chapter 18 has turned out to be the most difficult chapter yet. The syntax is still quite easy, but the vocabulary is not. σκάφην in 18:2 and ἐπίφους in 18:3 are both giving me problems. The former I can solve by conjecturally emending the to a masculine σκάφος. The latter I don’t even recognize.

  4. I was a little surprised to see Mary’s name spelled Μιριάμμη in 17:2. It is normally spelled Μαριάμ. Of course the spelling of her name is generally not something I pay attention to, but given the recent to-do about Marys I thought I would bring it up. As a general rule I wait on investigating these crack-pot theories on how some Mary or other is married to Jesus, or that they found Jesus’ tomb. Since they always turn out to be hoaxes, it is hard to justify spending time on them except to say to people "stop being crazy." Of course, researchers do need to follow up these leads and go wherever the evidence takes them, but with limited time I just can’t always chase after the τὸν σκυβάλον τῶν βοῶν (pardon my Greek) that those things tend to be. Can’t stick my head and the sand and won’t always, but I must watch my time.


Nathan Stitt 2008-04-16 04:23:46

RE: "the water of the conviction of the Lord" When I read this passage in Prot. Jas. I immediately was reminded of the ritual found in Numbers 5:11-31. Do you agree or think that some other situation applies?

Eric 2008-04-17 07:50:49

Hmmm...probably. About to post on this.

Brian Germann 2008-06-28 02:57:42


Holy Drinking Water is a multi-faith product which is designed to promote good behavior.  It offers no devine power other than the knowledge that one is drinking Holy Water or Blessed Water.  We hope that this would cause individuals to pay more attention to their behavior knowing what they have consumed.

This product is founded by Law Enforcement Officers who discovered that many people don't carry the types of objects that once reminded them of God and to be kind to one another.  We hope something like Holy Drinking Water, which every one seems to carry with them today, will take up that void.

Best of Regards,