The Assumption of the Virgin
The Assumption of the Virgin
The assumption (or dormition, or falling asleep, or passing away, or transitus, or obsequies) of Mary seems to have been a belief that originated in apocryphal literature from about the fourth century onwards and had a profound effect on Christian theology and practice in both East and West. The Gelasian Decree stigmatizes as apocryphal the ‘Book called the home‐going of the Holy Mary’.
There is a large number of accounts of the death and assumption of the Virgin Mary, published in various languages (including Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic). The history of this tradition is still largely unknown, and most editors of modern translations include only a sample. The largest collection is found in Erbetta's Italian edition. The traditions about Mary are normally considered under the different language groups, and this is the method applied by M. R. James. He was of the opinion that the legends about Mary's passing originated in Egypt, and so he gave prominence to the Coptic tradition.
The standard Greek text is the one attributed to St John the Theologian (Evangelist) and edited by Tischendorf. The standard Latin is that attributed to Melito of Sardis. Tischendorf published this as his Transitus Mariae B. (Tischendorf's Transitus A is a late Italian fiction attributed to Joseph of Arimathea.)
The Arabic is akin to the Syriac and is not included below. Neither are the various Ethiopic accounts included. These also are, in general, dependent on the Syriac. So too is the Armenian. The Irish tradition also seems to have close relationships with the Syriac.
The various accounts tell of the death of Mary in Jerusalem. In the Coptic tradition Mary's corporeal assumption is a feature: there is a long interval between her death and her assumption. This tradition includes nothing of the summoning of the apostles for missionary work. Only John and Peter are present. Mary is warned of her death by Jesus, and not by an angel. In the tradition represented by the Greek, Latin, and Syriac Mary's death is announced by an angel (who in the Latin brings her a palm branch); the apostles are summoned from all parts of the world; Mary's corporeal assumption occurs soon after her death.
Tischendorf, Apoc. Apoc., pp. xxxiv–xlvi, 95–112.
A. Wenger, L'Assomption de la T. S. Vierge dans la tradition byzantine de VIe au Xe siècle (Paris, 1955) (= Études et Documents: Archives de l'Orient Chrétien 5).
Tischendorf, Apoc. Apoc., pp. xxxiv–xlvi, 113–23 (Latin A); 124–36 (Latin B: Ps.‐Melito).
A. Wilmart, ‘Assumptio Sanctae Mariae’ and ‘L'ancien récit de l'Assomption’, in id., Analecta Reginensia (Rome, 1933), 323–62 (= Studi e Testi 59).
B. Capelle, ‘Vestiges grecs et latins d'un antique transitus de la Vierge’, Anal. Boll. 67 (1949), 21–48 (Codex Colbertianus lat. 2672; Italian trans. by Moraldi, see below).
M. Haibach‐Reinisch, Ein Neuer ‘Transitus Mariae’ des Pseudo‐Melito (Rome, 1962) (= Bibliotheca Assumptionis B.V.M. 5).
Forbes Robinson, Coptic Apocryphal Gospels (Cambridge, 1896) (= Texts and Studies 4.2) (Sahidic account in the Twentieth Discourse of Cyril of Jerusalem; Bohairic accounts of the falling asleep of Mary and Sahidic fragments).
E. Revillout, ‘Les apocryphes coptes, i. Les Évangiles des douze apôtres et de Saint Barthélemy’, in PO 2, ed. R. Graffin (Paris, 1904; repr. 1946), 174–83 (summary under D below).
E. A. Wallis Budge, Miscellaneous Coptic Texts in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (London, 1915), 49–73; Eng. trans. 626 ff. (Twentieth Discourse of Cyril of Jerusalem; cf. Robinson, 25–41).
M. Chaîne, ‘Sermon de Théodose patriarche d'Alexandrie, sur la dormition et l'assomption de la Vierge’, Revue de l'orient chrétien 29 (1933–4), 273–314 (re‐edits text to be found in Forbes Robinson, 90–127).
Wright, Contributions, 18–24 (History of the Virgin Mary); 24–41 (Transitus); 10–15, 42–51 (Obsequies).
—‘The Departure of my Lady Mary from the World’, Journal of Sacred Literature 6 (1865), 417–48; 7 (1865), 110–60 (text of BM Add. 14484 with variants of BM Add. 14732 and Eng. trans.). [Re‐edited in A. Smith Lewis, Apocrypha Syriaca. The Protevangelium Jacobi and Transitus Mariae (London and Cambridge 1902), 12–69 (= Studia Sinaitica 11).]
E. A. Wallis Budge, The History of the Blessed Virgin Mary (London, 1899), 93–146; Eng. trans. ii. 97–153 (= Luzac's Semitic Text and Translation Series 4 and 5).
P. I. Daietsi, Ankanon Girkhʽ Nor Ktakaranacʽ i (Venice, 1898), 452–78.
P. Vetter, ‘Die armenische Dormitio Mariae’, TQ 84 (1902), 421–49.
M. Chaîne, ‘Liber Iohannis Apostoli de Transitu b. Mariae Virginis’, in Apocrypha de Beata Maria Virgine (Scriptores Aethiopici series 1, vol. 7; Rome, 1909; repr. Louvain, 1955) (=CSCO 39, Aeth. 22, and CSCO 40, Aeth. 23).
E.A. Wallis Budge, Legends of our Lady Mary (London, 1922), 152–67.
V. Arras, De Transitu Mariae Apocrypha Aethiopice, i (Louvain, 1973), CSCO 342, 343 (Aeth. 66 and 67) (cf. id., CSCO 351, Aeth. 68; CSCO 352, Aeth. 69).
M. Enger, Ioannis Apostoli de Transitu Beatae Virginis Liber (Elberfeld, 1854) (with Latin trans.).
Cf. Graf, i. 246–57.
de Santos Otero, Altslav. Apok. ii. 161–95 (‘Obdormatio Deiparae’).
M. van Esbroeck, ‘Apocryphes géorgiens de la Dormition’, Anal. Boll. 91 (1973), 55–75 (cf. 90 (1972), 363–9 and 92 (1974), 128–63).
Walker, 504–14 (Tischendorf's three texts).
Amiot, 112–34 (Ps.‐Melito; Arabic (extracts)).
Migne, Dictionnaire, ii, cols. 503–42 (John); 587–98 (Ps.‐Melito).
Éac, 165–88 (Discourse of John the Theologian).
González‐Blanco, iii. 5–61.
de Santos Otero, 574–659 (with good bibliography).
Erbetta, i.2, 407–632 (with full bibliography).
Moraldi, i. 807–95.
Bonaccorsi, i. 260–90 (Discourse of John the Theologian).
C. Donahue, The Testament of Mary: The Gaelic Version of the Dormitio Mariae (New York, 1942) (= Fordham University Studies, Language Series 1).
St. J. D. Seymour, ‘Irish Versions of the Transitus Mariae’, JTS 23 (1922), 36–43.
H. Willard, ‘The Testament of Mary: The Irish Account of the Death of Mary’, Recherches de théologie ancienne et médievale 9 (1937), 341–64.
M. McNamara, The Apocrypha in the Irish Church (Dublin, 1975), 122 f.
M. Herbert and M. McNamara, Irish Biblical Apocrypha (Edinburgh, 1989), 119–31 (Transitus Mariae from the Liber Flavus Fergusiorum).
M. Jugie, La mort et l'Assomption de la sainte Vierge (Vatican, 1944).
A. van Lantschoot, ‘L'Assomption de la sainte Vierge chez les Coptes’, Gregorianum 27 (1946), 493–525.
C. Balić, Testimonia de Assumptione beatae Virginis Mariae (Rome, 1948).
M. van Esbroeck, ‘Les textes littéraires sur l'Assomption avant le xe siècle’, in F. Bovon (ed.), Les Actes apocryphes des Apôtres (Geneva, 1981), 265–85 (=Publications de la Faculté de Théologie de l'Université de Genéve 4).
E. Testa, ‘L'origine e lo sviluppo della Dormitio Mariae’, Augustinianum 23 (1983), 250–62.
S. C. Mimouni, Dormition et Assomption de Marie. Hostoire des traditions anciennes (Paris, 1995) (= Théologie historique 98).
Summary of Contents
The following texts are translated or summarized, following James, ANT 194–227:
A. Summary of the Homily in Bohairic attributed to Evodius, Archbishop of Rome. Sahidic fragments also exist. From Forbes Robinson, 44–67 (but beginning at section V) and 66–89.
B. The Twentieth Discourse of Cyril of Jerusalem. In Sahidic. Summary taken from Wallis Budge, 642 ff.; cf. Forbes Robinson, 24–41.
C. Summary of the Discourse of Theodosius, Archbishop of Alexandria (AD 536–68). In Bohairic. From Forbes Robinson, 98–127, and Chaîne, ROC 29.
D. Summary of a Sahidic fragment edited by Revillout as his ‘Gospel of The Twelve Apostles’, fr. 16.
The Discourse Of St John the Divine, Trans. From Tischendorf, Apoc. Apoc. 95–112.
A. The Narrative of Ps.‐Melito, trans. from Tischendorf, Apoc. Apoc. 124–36.
B. Summary of the Narrative by Joseph of Arimathaea, taken from Tischendorf, Apoc. Apoc. 113–23.
A. Smith Lewis, Apocrypha Syriaca, 12–69. A congeries of documents divided into six books (actually only five appear, but six are promised).
B. Wright, Contributions, 18–24.
C. Wright, Contributions, 24–41.
D. Wallis Budge, History of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 97–153.
E. Four fragments (i–iv) from Wright, Contributions, 42–51; cf. his preface, 10–15. Final fragment (iv, pp. 50–1) translated in full.
1. Coptic Texts
A. The Homily Attributed to Evodius, Archbishop of Rome
The first four sections of the homily are panegyric. The narrative begins with V.
Evodius first tells of his calling by Jesus. He was with Peter and Andrew and Alexander and Rufus his kinsmen, and followed Jesus when Peter and Andrew did, and was of the seventy‐two disciples.
They lived with Mary after the Passion, as did Salome and Joanna and the rest of the virgins who were with her, and Peter sanctified an altar in the house.
VI. On the twentieth of the month Tobi they were all gathered at the altar, and Jesus appeared and greeted them. He bade Peter prepare the altar, saying, ‘I must needs take a great offering from your midst on the morrow, before each one of you goes to the place where you have been chosen by lot to preach.’ He then ordained Peter archbishop, and others, including Evodius, presbyters, and also deacons, readers, psalmists, and doorkeepers; and departed to heaven. They remained, wondering what the offering was to be.
VII. On the twenty‐first of Tobi Jesus returned, on the chariot of the cherubim, with thousands of angels, and David the sweet singer. We besought him to tell what the great offering was to be, and he told them that it was his mother whom he was to take to himself. 1 Parts of VII and VIII exist in Sahidic fragment I (Robinson, 66–9).
VIII. We all wept, and Peter asked if it was not possible that Mary should never die, and then if she might not be left to them for a few days. But the Lord said that her time was accomplished.
IX. The women, and also Mary, wept, but Jesus consoled her. She said, ‘I have heard that Death has many terrible faces. How shall I bear to see them?’ He said, ‘Why do you fear his divine shape when the Life of all the world is with you?’ And he kissed her, and blessed them all, and bade Peter look upon the altar for heavenly garments which the Father had sent to shroud Mary in.
X. 2 At this point begins Sahidic fragment II (Robinson, 70–89) and continues into XVII; it has important differences, some of these being indicated ad loc. below. Mary arose and was arrayed in the garments, and turned to the east and uttered a prayer in the language of heaven, and then lay down, still facing eastward.
Jesus made us stand for the prayer, and the virgins also who used to minister in the temple and had come to wait on Mary after the Passion. We asked them why they left it. They said, ‘When we saw the darkness at the crucifixion we fled into the holy of holies and shut the door. We saw a mighty angel come down with a sword, and he rent the veil in two; and we heard a great voice (Sah.: from the house of the altar) saying, “Woe to you, Jerusalem, who kill the prophets.” The angel of the altar flew up into the canopy of the altar with the angel of the sword; and we knew that God had left his people, and we fled to his mother.’
XI. The virgins stood about Mary singing, and Jesus sat by her. She besought him to save her from the many terrors of the next world—the accusers of Amente, the dragon of the abyss, the river of fire that proves the righteous and the wicked. (All this Sah. omits.)
XII. He comforted her and said to the apostles, ‘Let us withdraw for a little while, for Death cannot approach while I am here.’ And they went out, and he sat on a stone and looked up to heaven and groaned and said, ‘I have overcome you, O Death, who dwell in the storehouses of the south. Come, appear to my virgin mother but not in a fearful shape.’ He appeared, and when she saw him her soul leaped into the bosom of her son—white as snow, and he wrapped it in garments of fine linen and gave it to Michael.
All the women wept; Salome ran to Jesus and said, ‘Behold, she whom you love is dead.’ David the singer rejoiced and said, ‘Very dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’ (The Sahidic does not describe the moment of death, but says it took place at the ninth hour of the 21st of Tobi; and it omits David.)
XIII. They re‐entered the house and found her lying dead, and Jesus blessed her.
XIV. Jesus shrouded the body in the heavenly garments, and they were fastened to it. He bade the apostles take up the body, Peter bearing the head and John the feet, and carry it to a new tomb in the field of Jehoshaphat, and watch it for three and a half days.
(Sah. omits details: the order is merely to carry the body to the tomb, David again omitted.)
XV. Jesus ascended with Mary's soul in the chariot of the Cherubim. (Sah. merely: he hid himself from us.) We took up the body, and when we came to the field of Jehoshaphat, the Jews heard the singing and came out intending to burn the body. But a wall of fire encompassed us, and they were blinded; and the body was laid in the tomb and watched for three and a half days.
(Sah. omits everything after the blindness.)
XVI. The Jews were in terror and confessed their sin and asked pardon. Their eyes were opened and they sought but did not find the body; and they were amazed, and confessed themselves guilty.
(Here Sah. has a very confusing insertion. When the eyes of the Jews have been opened, ‘there came a great choir of angels and caught away the body of the Virgin, and Peter and John and we looked on while she was carried to heaven, until we lost sight of it. And the Jews saw it also, and confessed themselves guilty.’)
XVII. At midday on the fourth day all were gathered at the tomb. A great voice came, saying, ‘Go every one to his place till the seventh month, for I have hardened the heart of the Jews, and they will not be able to find the tomb or the body till I take it up to heaven. Return on the 16th of Mesore.’ We returned to the house.
In the seventh month after the death, on the 15th of Mesore, we reassembled at the tomb and spent the night in watching and singing.
(Sah. has only: We returned to the house.)
XVIII. At dawn on the 16th of Mesore, Jesus appeared. Peter said, ‘We are grieved that we have not seen your mother since her death.’ Jesus said, ‘She shall now come.’ The chariot of the Cherubim appeared with the Virgin seated in it. There were greetings. Jesus bade the apostles go and preach in all the world. He spent all that day with us and with his mother, and gave us the salutation of peace and went up to heaven in glory.
XIX. Such was the death of the Virgin on the 21st of Tobi, and her assumption on the 16th of Mesore. I, Evodius, saw it all. The sermon ends with a blessing.
(Sah. has: XVIII. At dawn on the eighth day after her death Jesus appeared (as in Boh.), and the fragment ends at his promise that the apostles shall now see the Virgin.)
B. The Twentieth Discourse of Cyril of Jerusalem
For ten (Robinson: fifteen) years after the resurrection, according to Josephus and Irenaeus(!), John and Mary lived together at Jerusalem. One day the Virgin bade John summon Peter and James; and they sat down before her, and she addressed them, reminding them of the life of Jesus (up to the Ascension and Pentecost). She went on to say that Jesus had come to her and warned her that her time was accomplished. ‘I will hide your body in the earth’, he had said; ‘no man shall find it until the day when I raise it incorruptible. A great church shall be built over it. Now therefore summon the virgins’.
It was done. Mary took the hand of one of them, Mary Magdalene, now very old, and committed the others to her charge.
She bade Peter fetch from the house of his disciple Birrus the linen clothes she had committed to him: James was to buy for a stater (Robinson: shekel) spices and perfumes.
John lit the lamps. Mary spread the linen on the ground and poured the spices upon it and stood and prayed, facing east; she asked to be delivered from the terrors of the next world—the dragon and the river of fire. Then she lay down facing east.
Jesus appeared on the Cherubim and bade her not fear death. And said to Death, ‘Come, you who are in the chambers of the south.’ When Mary saw him her soul leaped into the bosom of her son, and he wrapped it in a garment of light.
She fell asleep on the night of the 20th day of Tobi (Robinson: early on the 21st).
The Lord bade the apostles take the body to the valley of Jehosphaphat and set down the bier, because of the Jews, and he would hide it.
In the morning they took it out. The Jews heard the singing, and took counsel and set out with fire to burn it. The apostles saw them coming, and dropped the bier and fled. The Jews found nothing but the bier, and that they burnt. A sweet odour came from the place where the body was laid, and a voice said, ‘Let no man give himself the trouble of seeking it till the great day of the appearing of Christ.’ The Jews were ashamed and fled, and told their neighbours, but bade them tell no one.
C. The Discourse of Theodosius, Archbishop of Alexandria
I. At the moment of the Ascension Jesus charged Peter, ‘his bishop’, and John to remain with Mary till her death.
II. She was living in Jerusalem with a number of virgins. We also, the apostles Peter and John were with her.
On the 20th of Tobi we came to her and found her amazed. She explained that that night, after she had finished the ‘little office (synaxis)’, she slumbered and saw a beautiful youth about thirty years of age, and Peter and John standing at his right hand, with garments in their hands. She perceived that it was Jesus, and he told her that the garments were her shroud; and he vanished.
Then Mary makes a long discourse on the horrors of death—the river of fire, the two powers of light and darkness, the avengers with diverse faces, the worm, the unquenchable fire which three tears will put out, the ruler of darkness.
On hearing this we wept.
III. There was a knocking at the door. It was the virgins who had come from the Mount of Olives, with censers and lamps. They had been warned by a voice in the night to come to Mary, who was to die next day.
Mary bade us withdraw a little, and uttered a long thanksgiving to her son, and a prayer to be delivered from the terrors of the next world.
IV. There were thunderings and lightnings. Jesus came on a chariot of light with Moses, David, the prophets, and the righteous kings, and addressed Mary. (There is a refrain to the speech, ‘O my beloved Mother, arise, let us go hence’.)
Mary spoke words of comfort to the apostles. Jesus spoke of the necessity of death. He said that if she were translated, ‘wicked men will think concerning you that you are a power which came down from heaven, and that the dispensation (the Incarnation) took place in appearance’.
V. He turned to the apostles—to me, Peter, and to John—and said that Mary should appear to them again. ‘There are 206 days from her death to her holy assumption. I will bring her to you arrayed in this body.’
He bade them bring garments and perfumes from the altar, which were sent from heaven.
They spread them on the bed.
The Virgin arose and prayed him to receive her.
VI. She lay down on the garments, turned her face to him, and straightway commended her spirit into his hands.
He bade us prepare her for burial, and gave us three palms from paradise and three branches of the olive‐tree which Noah's dove brought to Noah, and we laid them on her body. Peter was to bear the head, John the feet. The Jews would plot against her, but they should be blinded. The body was to be placed in the stone coffin and watched, and in 206 days he would bring the soul to it.
He went up to heaven and presented the soul to the Father and the Holy Ghost. And the voice of the Holy Trinity was heard welcoming the soul.
VII. We carried the body out to the field of Jehoshaphat. The Jews saw it and took counsel to come and burn it. The apostles set down the bier and fled.
Darkness came on the Jews, and they were blinded and smitten by their own fire. They cried out for mercy and were healed, and many were converted.
We returned to Jerusalem, and often came back to the tomb.
VIII. When the 206 days were over, on the evening of the 15th, that is the morning of the 16th of Mesore, we gathered at the tomb and watched all night.
At the tenth hour there were thunderings, and a choir of angels was heard, and David's harp. Jesus came on the chariots of the Cherubim with the soul of the Virgin seated in his bosom, and greeted us.
He called over the coffin and bade the body arise (a long address).
IX. The coffin, which had been shut like Noah's ark, opened. The body arose and embraced its own soul, just as two brothers who have come from a strange country, and they were united one with another. David said, ‘Mercy and truth are met together.’
Jesus went up to heaven, blessing us, and we heard the voice of the powers singing. ‘Bring to the Lord the honour due to his name. The virgins that are her fellows shall be her company.’
D. Sahidic Fragment (Revillout No. 16)
The high priest begs to be healed. Peter says that if he believes in Jesus Christ he can be healed.
The high priest acknowledges that he and his people crucified Jesus (knowing him to be the Son of God) because he drove the traders out of the temple.
Peter bids him, if he believes, to embrace the body of the Virgin and profess his belief.
He does so and takes his own cut‐off hand and puts it to the stump and it adheres.
Peter bids him take the palm branch and go to the city and lay it on the eyes of those who are blind. He found many of them lamenting, and all who believed were healed.
Meanwhile the apostles laid the body in the tomb and remained there, to wait till the Lord should come and raise it up as he had said.
They bade the virgins go home in peace, but they wanted to stay there too. Peter and John reassured them. They asked to be blessed, and Peter blessed them.
At the third hour of the day the converted high priest came and told Peter that the Jews were still plotting to burn the body and the tomb.
Peter warned the disciples, but God sent forgetfulness upon the Jews. The apostles took courage. A voice from heaven came also promising safety.
On the 16th of Mesore we were gathered with the apostles at the tomb. We saw lightnings and were afraid. There was a sweet odour and a sound of trumpets. The door of the tomb opened; there was a great light within. A chariot descended in fire; Jesus was in it; he greeted us.
He called into the tomb, ‘Mary, my mother, arise!’ And we saw her in the body, as if she had never died. Jesus took her into the chariot. The angels went before them. A voice called, ‘Peace be to you, my brethren.’
The miracle was even greater than that of the resurrection of Jesus, which no one saw except Mary and Mary Magdalene.
We, then, the apostles, are witnesses of these things, and have added or diminished nothing.
We went to the tomb and found the garments where the body had lain; we buried them.
2. Greek Narrative the Discourse of St John the Divine Concerning the Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God
1. When the all‐holy glorious mother of God and ever‐virgin Mary, according to her custom, went to the holy sepulchre of our Lord to burn incense, and bowed her holy knees, she besought Christ our God who was born of her to come and abide with her.
2. And when the Jews saw her resorting to the holy sepulchre they came to the chief priests saying, ‘Mary goes every day to the sepulchre.’ And the chief priests called the watchmen who were charged by them not to allow anybody to pray at the holy sepulchre, and enquired of them if it were so in truth. But the watch answered and said that they saw no such thing; for God did not allow them to see her venerable presence.
3. Now on one day, which was Friday, the holy Mary came as usual to the sepulchre, and as she prayed the heavens were opened and the archangel Gabriel came down to her and said, ‘Hail, you who bore Christ our God; your prayer has passed through the heavens to him who was born of you and has been accepted, and henceforth according to your petition you shall leave the world and come to the heavenly places to your Son, to the true life that has no successor.’
4. And when she heard that from the holy archangel she returned to Bethlehem the holy, having with her three virgins who ministered to her. And when she had rested a little she sat up and said to the virgins, ‘Bring me a censer that I may pray.’ And they brought it as it was commanded them.
5. And she prayed saying, ‘My Lord Jesu Christ, who vouchsafed of your excellent goodness to be born of me, hear my voice and send to me your apostle John, that seeing him I may have the first fruits of joy; and send to me also the rest of your apostles, both those who have already come to dwell with you and those who are in this present world, in whatever land they may be, by your holy commandment, that I may behold them and bless your name that is greatly extolled, for I have confidence that you hear your handmaid in everything.’
6. And as she prayed I, John, came to her, for the Holy Ghost caught me up by a cloud from Ephesus and set me in the place where the mother of my Lord lay. And I entered and gave glory to him who was born of her and said, ‘Hail, mother of my Lord, who bore Christ our God: rejoice, for you depart out of this life with great glory.’
7. And the holy mother of God glorified God that I, John, came to her, remembering the word of the Lord which he spoke, ‘Behold your mother, and behold your son.’ And the three virgins came and worshipped.
8. And the holy mother of God said to me, ‘Pray and put on incense.’ And I prayed thus, ‘O Lord Jesus Christ who do marvellous things, do now marvellous things before her who bore you, and let your mother depart out of this life, and let those who crucified you and did not believe in you be troubled.’
9. And after I had finished the prayer the holy Mary said to me, ‘Bring me the censer.’ And she cast in incense and said, ‘Glory be to you, my God and my Lord, because in me are fulfilled all things that you promised me before you ascended into the heavens, that whenever I should depart out of this world you would come to me in glory, you and the multitude of your angels.’
10. And I, John, said to her, ‘Our Lord and our God Jesus Christ comes, and you behold him as he promised you.’ And the holy mother of God answered and said to me, ‘The Jews have sworn that when my end comes they will burn my body.’ And I answered and said to her, ‘Your holy and precious body shall not see corruption.’ And she answered and said to me, ‘Bring a censer and put incense in it and pray.’ And there came a voice from heaven and said the Amen.
11. And I, John, listened to that voice, and the Holy Ghost said to me, ‘John, did you hear this voice which was uttered in heaven after the ending of the prayer?’ And I answered and said, ‘Yes, I heard it.’ And the Holy Ghost said to me, ‘This voice which you heard signifies the coming of your brethren the apostles and of the holy powers, which is to be; for today they are coming here.’
12. And thereupon I, John, fell to prayer. And the Holy Ghost said to the apostles, ‘All of you together mount up upon clouds from the ends of the world and gather at the same time at Bethlehem the holy because of the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Peter came from Rome, Paul from Tiberia, Thomas out of the inmost Indies, James from Jerusalem.
13. Andrew the brother of Peter, and Philip, Luke, and Simon the Canaanite, and Thaddaeus, who had fallen asleep, were raised up by the Holy Ghost out of their sepulchres. The Holy Ghost said to them ‘Do not think that the resurrection has occurred. The reason why you have been raised from your graves is so that you may go to greet with an honour and wonderful sign the mother of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For the day of her departure has arrived, and she is going to abide in heaven.’
14. And Mark, who was still alive, came from Alexandria with the rest, as has been said, from their several countries.
15. But Peter, when he was lifted up by the cloud, stood between the heaven and the earth, for the Holy Ghost sustained him, and looked while the rest of the apostles also were caught up in the clouds to be present with Peter. And so all came together by the means of the Holy Ghost, as has been said.
15 3 The number 15 is, by an error, repeated in Tischendorf. And we approached the mother of our Lord and God and worshipped her and said, ‘Fear not, neither be grieved; the Lord God who was born of you shall bring you out of this world with glory.’ And she, rejoicing in God her Saviour, sat up in bed and said to the apostles, ‘Now I believe that our teacher and our God comes from heaven, and I shall behold him, and so depart out of this life, just as I have seen you come to me. And I wish that you would tell me how you knew that I was departing and came to me, and from what lands and how far you have come hither, that you have been so quick to visit me; for neither has he who was born of me, our Lord Jesus Christ, hidden it from me. For I have believed now also that he is the Son of the Most High.’
16. And Peter answered and said to the apostles, ‘Let each one certify to the mother of our Lord in what manner the Holy Ghost announced it to us and charged us.’
17. And I, John, answered and said, ‘When I was entering the holy altar in Ephesus to minister, the Holy Ghost said to me, “The time of the departure of the mother of your Lord has come near; go to Bethlehem to greet her.” And a cloud of light caught me up and set me at the door of the house where you lie.’ 18. And Peter also answered, ‘I was in Rome, and about dawn I heard a voice by the Holy Ghost saying to me, “The mother of your Lord must depart, for the time has come: go to Bethlehem to greet her”, and lo, a cloud of light caught me up, and I beheld the rest of the apostles coming to me upon clouds, and a voice saying to me, “Go all of you to Bethlehem.’ ” 19. Paul answered and said, ‘I also was abiding in a city not very far off from Rome; and the place is called Tiberia. And I heard the Holy Ghost saying to me, “The mother of your Lord leaves this world to go to the heavenly places, and ends her course by departure: but go to Bethlehem to greet her.” And lo, a cloud of light caught me up and set me where it set you also.’ 20. Thomas also answered and said, ‘I had passed through the land of the Indians, and my preaching was increased in strength by the grace of Christ, and the son of the king's sister, by name Labdanes, was about to be sealed by me in the palace, and suddenly the Holy Ghost said to me, “You also, Thomas, go to Bethlehem to greet the mother of your Lord, for she is departing to heaven.” And a cloud of light caught me up and set me with you.’ 21. And Mark also answered and said, ‘As I was finishing the service of the third hour in the city of Alexandria, while I prayed, the Holy Ghost caught me up and brought me to you.’
22. And James also answered and said, ‘While I was in Jerusalem the Holy Ghost admonished me, saying, “Be present at Bethlehem, for the mother of your Lord makes her departure.” And lo, a cloud of light caught me up and brought me to you.’
23. And Matthew also answered and said, ‘I glorified and do glorify God, for as I was in a ship and it was tossed, the sea boisterous with waves, suddenly a cloud of light overshadowed us, and overcame the billows of the tempest and made them calm, and it caught me up and brought me to you.’ 24. Likewise those who had departed this life before told how they came. And Bartholomew said, ‘I was preaching the word in the country of Thebes, and lo, the Holy Ghost said to me, “The mother of your Lord makes her departure: go therefore to greet her at Bethlehem.” And lo, a cloud of light caught me up and brought me to you.’
25. All these things the apostles said to the holy mother of God, telling how and in what fashion they came. And she spread forth her hands to heaven and prayed, saying, ‘I worship and praise and glorify your name, which is greatly extolled, O Lord, because you have regarded the lowliness of your handmaiden, and you who are mighty have magnified me, and behold all generations shall call me blessed.’ 26. And after the prayer she said to the apostles, ‘Cast on incense and pray.’ And when they had prayed there came a thunder from heaven and a terrible sound as of chariots, and lo, a multitude of the host of angels and powers, and a voice as of the Son of Man was heard, and the Seraphim came round about the house in which the holy and spotless mother of God, the virgin, lay; so that all who were in Bethlehem beheld the marvellous sights, and went to Jerusalem and declared all the wonderful things that had happened.
27. And it came to pass after that sound that the sun and the moon appeared about the house, and an assembly of the first‐begotten saints came to the house where the mother of the Lord lay for her honour and glory. And I saw many signs come to pass, blind receiving sight, deaf hearing, lame walking, lepers cleansed, and those who were possessed of unclean spirits, healed. And every one with sickness or disease came and touched the wall where she lay, and cried, ‘Holy Mary, you who bore Christ our God, have mercy on us.’ And immediately they were cured.
28. And many multitudes who were dwelling in Jerusalem out of every country because of a vow, when they heard the signs that were being done in Bethlehem by means of the Lord's mother, came to the place, seeking to be healed of various diseases; and they obtained health. And there was unspeakable joy on that day among the multitude of those who were healed, and among the onlookers, glorifying Christ our God and his mother. And all Jerusalem returned from Bethlehem, keeping a holy day with singing of psalms and spiritual songs.
29. But the priests of the Jews, together with their people, were amazed at that which was done, and were taken with bitter envy, and with vain thoughts they gathered a council and decided to send men against the holy mother of God and the holy apostles who were there at Bethlehem. And when the multitude of the Jews was on its way to Bethlehem, about a mile away, it came to pass that they saw a terrible vision, and their feet were bound; and they departed to their fellow‐countrymen and declared the fearful vision to the chief priests. 30. But they, being yet more inflamed in the spirit, went to the governor, crying out and saying, ‘The nation of the Jews is destroyed because of this woman; drive her away from Bethlehem and from the province of Jerusalem.’ But the governor was astonished at the wonders and said to them, ‘I will not drive her out from Bethlehem nor from any other place.’ But the Jews continued crying out and urged him by the authority of Tiberius Caesar that he should lead the apostles out of Bethlehem, ‘If you do not do it we will report it to Caesar.’ And, being now compelled, he sent a captain of a thousand against the apostles to Bethlehem.
31. But the Holy Ghost said to the apostles and the mother of the Lord, ‘Behold, the governor has sent a captain of a thousand against you, because the Jews have made a tumult. Go out therefore from Bethlehem, and fear not; for behold, I will bring you by a cloud to Jerusalem; for the power of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is with you.’
32. The apostles therefore rose up straightaway and went out of the house, bearing the bed of their lady the mother of God, and went forward towards Jerusalem: and immediately, just as the Holy Ghost said, they were lifted up by a cloud and were found at Jerusalem in the house of their lady. And we stood up and for five days we sang praise without ceasing.
33. But when the captain came to Bethlehem and did not find there the mother of the Lord, nor the apostles, he laid hold upon the Bethlehemites, saying to them, ‘Did you not come and tell the governor and the priests all the signs and wonders that happened, and how the apostles came out of every land? Where then are they? Come to Jerusalem to the governor.’ For the captain did not know of the departure of the apostles and the mother of the Lord to Jerusalem. So the captain took the Bethlehemites and went to the governor, saying that he had found no man.
34. Now after five days it was made known to the governor and to the priests and to all the city that the mother of the Lord was in her own house in Jerusalem with the apostles, because of the signs and wondrous things that came to pass there; and a multitude of men and women were assembled, crying out, ‘O holy virgin who bore Christ our God, forget not the race of men.’ 35. And because of this the people of the Jews, moved even more with envy, together with the priests, took wood and fire and came, desiring to burn the house where the mother of the Lord lay, together with the apostles. But the governor stood observing the sight afar off. And when the people of the Jews had come to the door of the house, behold, suddenly a force of fire came from within it by means of an angel and burnt a great multitude of the Jews, and there was great fear throughout all the city and they glorified God who was born of her. 36. But when the governor saw what was done, he cried aloud before all the people saying, ‘Of a truth he is the Son of God, who was born of the virgin whom you thought to drive out; for these signs are of a true God.’ And there was a division among the Jews, and many believed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ because of the signs which came to pass.
37. Now after all these wonders occurred because of Mary the mother of God and ever‐virgin, the mother of the Lord, while we, the apostles, were with her in Jerusalem, the Holy Ghost said to us, ‘You know that on the Lord's day the good tidings were told to the Virgin Mary by the archangel Gabriel, and on the Lord's day the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, and on the Lord's day the children of Jerusalem went forth with palm‐branches to meet him, saying, “Hosanna in the highest: blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And on the Lord's day he rose from the dead, and on the Lord's day he shall come to judge the living and the dead, and on the Lord's day he shall come from heaven for the glory and honour of the departure of the holy and glorious virgin who bore him. 38. And upon the same Lord's day the mother of the Lord said to the apostles, “Cast on incense, for Christ comes with a host of angels: and, behold, Christ comes sitting upon the throne of the Cherubim.’ ” And as we all prayed there appeared innumerable multitudes of angels, and the Lord riding upon the Cherubim in great power. And lo, an appearance of light going before him and lighting upon the holy virgin because of the coming of her only‐begotten son; and all the powers of the heavens fell down and worshipped him. 39. And the Lord called to his mother and said, ‘Mary.’ And she answered and said, ‘Behold, here am I, Lord.’ And the Lord said to her, ‘Be not grieved, but let your heart rejoice and be glad; for you have found grace to behold the glory of my Father that was given me.’ And the holy mother of God looked up and saw in him glory which the mouth of man cannot utter nor comprehend. And the Lord stayed by her, saying, ‘Behold, henceforth shall your precious body be translated to paradise, and your holy soul shall be in the heavens in the treasuries of my Father in surpassing brightness, where there is continual peace and rejoicing of the holy angels.’ 40. And the mother of the Lord answered and said to him, ‘Lay your right hand upon me, Lord, and bless me.’ And the Lord spread out his unstained right hand and blessed her; and she, holding his unstained right hand, kissed it, saying, ‘I worship this right hand which made the heaven and the earth; and I beseech your name which is greatly extolled, O Christ, God, King of the ages, only‐begotten of the Father, receive your handmaid, you who vouchsafed to be born of me, the lowly one, to save mankind by your unutterable dispensation. To every man who calls on or entreats or names the name of your handmaid grant your help.’ 41. And as she thus spoke, the apostles came near to her feet and worshipped the Lord and said, ‘O mother of the Lord, leave to the world a blessing, for you depart out of it; for you blessed it and raised it up from destruction when you bore the light of the world.’ And the mother of the Lord prayed, and thus she said in her prayer, ‘O God, who of your great goodness sent your only‐begotten Son to dwell in my lowly body, who vouchsafed to be born of me, the lowly one, have mercy upon the world and upon every soul who calls upon your name.’
42. And again she prayed and said, ‘O Lord, King of the heavens, son of the living God, accept every man who calls upon your name, that your birth may be glorified.’ And again she prayed and said, ‘O Lord Jesus Christ, who have all power in heaven and on earth, I entreat your holy name with this supplication: At every time and in every place where there is a memorial of my name, sanctify that place, and glorify those who glorify you through my name, accepting every offering and every supplication and every prayer.’ 43. And when she had thus prayed, the Lord said to his own mother, ‘Let your heart be glad and rejoice; for every grace and every gift has been given you of my Father who is in heaven and of me and of the Holy Ghost. Every soul who calls upon your name shall not be put to shame, but shall find mercy and consolation and succour and confidence, both in this world and in that which is to come, before my Father who is in heaven.’ 44. And the Lord turned and said to Peter, ‘The time has come to begin the song of praise.’ And when Peter began the song of praise, all the powers of the heavens answered ‘Alleluia.’ And then the countenance of the mother of the Lord shone above the light. And she rose up and with her own hand blessed every one of the apostles, and all of them gave glory to God; and the Lord spread forth his unstained hands and received her holy and spotless soul. 45. And at the going forth of her spotless soul the place was filled with sweet odour and light unspeakable, and lo, a voice from heaven was heard, saying, ‘Blessed are you among women.’ And Peter ran, and I, John, and Paul, and Thomas, and embraced her precious feet to receive sanctification; and the twelve apostles laid her honourable and holy body upon a bed and carried it out.
46. And behold, as they carried her, a certain Hebrew named Jephonias, mighty of body, ran forth and attacked the bed as the apostles carried it, and lo, an angel of the Lord with invisible power struck his two hands from off his shoulders with a sword of fire and left them hanging in the air beside the bed. 47. And when this miracle came to pass, all the people of the Jews who beheld it cried out, ‘Verily he is the true God who was born of you, Mary, mother of God, ever‐virgin.’ And Jephonias himself, being commanded by Peter that the wonderful works of God might be shown, stood up behind the bed and cried, ‘Holy Mary, who bore Christ who is God, have mercy on me.’ And Peter turned and said to him, ‘In the name of him who was born of her your hands which were taken from you shall be joined back on.’ And immediately at the word of Peter the hands that were hanging beside the bed of our lady went back and joined Jephonias; and he also believed and glorified Christ, the God, who was born of her.
48. And after this miracle the apostles carried the bed and laid her precious and holy body in Gethsemane in a new tomb. And lo, an odour of sweet savour came out of the holy sepulchre of our lady the mother of God: and until three days were past the voices of invisible angels were heard glorifying Christ our God who was born of her. And when the third day was fulfilled the voices were no more heard, and thereafter we all perceived that her spotless and precious body was translated into paradise.
49. Now after it was translated, lo, we beheld Elizabeth, the mother of the holy John the Baptist, and Anna the mother of our lady, and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and David singing ‘Alleluia’, and all the choirs of the saints worshipping the precious body of the mother of the Lord, and we saw a place of light, than which light nothing is brighter, and a great fragrance came from that place to which her precious and holy body was translated in paradise, and a melody of those who praised him who was born of her; and to virgins only is it given to hear that sweet melody wherewith no man can be sated.
50. We, therefore, the apostles, while we beheld the sudden translation of her holy body, glorified God who had shown to us his wonders at the departure of the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the prayer and intercession of whom may we all be accounted worthy to come into her protection and succour and guardianship, both in this world and in that which is to come; at all times and in all places glorifying her only‐begotten Son, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.
A. The Narrative of Pseudo‐Melito
I. Prologue. Melito, servant of God, bishop of the church of Sardis, to the brethren who are established in peace at Laodicea, reverential to the Lord, greeting.
I remember that I have often written concerning a certain Leucius, who, after he had been a companion of the apostles with us, with alienated sense and rash mind departed from the way of righteousness and put into his books many things concerning the acts of the apostles, and spoke many and diverse things of their mighty deeds, but concerning their teaching lied much, affirming that they taught otherwise than they had, and establishing his own wicked position as if by their words. Nor did he account this sufficient, but also corrupted with an evil pen the departure of the blessed Mary ever‐virgin, the mother of God, so that it is unlawful not only to read but even to hear it in the church of God. We therefore at your petition have written simply those things which we heard from the apostle John, and have sent them to your brotherhood, believing no alien doctrines which sprout out from heretics, but that the Father is in the Son, the Son in the Father, the triune person of godhead and undivided essence abiding; and that not two natures of man were created, a good and a bad, but that one good nature was created by a good God, which by the fraud of the serpent was corrupted through sin, and restored by the grace of Christ.
II. When therefore the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the life of the whole world hung on the tree of the cross pierced with nails, he saw standing beside the cross his mother and John the evangelist, whom he loved more than the other apostles because he alone of them was a virgin in body. To him therefore he committed the charge of the holy Mary saying to him, ‘Behold your mother’, and to her, ‘Behold your son.’ 4 John 19: 26–7 . From that hour the holy mother of God continued in the especial care of John as long as she endured the sojourn of this life. And when the apostles had divided the world by lot for their preaching, she abode in the house of his parents beside the Mount of Olivet.
III. 1. In the second year after Christ had overcome death and had ascended into heaven, on a certain day, Mary, fervent with desire of Christ, betook herself alone into the refuge of her dwelling to weep. And lo, an angel shining in a garment of great brightness stood before her and uttered words of greeting saying, ‘Hail blessed of the Lord, receive the greeting of him who granted salvation to Jacob by his prophets. Behold this palm branch. I have brought it to you from the paradise of the Lord, and you shall cause it to be carried before your bier on the third day when you will be taken up out of the body. For behold, your Son with the thrones and the angels and all the powers of heaven awaits you.’ 2. Then Mary said to the angel, ‘I ask that all the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ be gathered together to me.’ And the angel said, ‘Lo, this day by the power of my Lord Jesus Christ all the apostles shall come to you.’ And Mary said to him, ‘I ask that you would put your blessing upon me, that no power of hell may meet me in that hour in which my soul goes out of the body, and that I may not see the prince of darkness.’ And the angel said, ‘The power of hell shall not hurt you; but the Lord your God has given you an eternal blessing. I am his servant and messenger, but do not think that the power not to see the prince of darkness can be given by me, but only by him whom you bore in your womb, for his is all power, world without end.’ And thus saying, the angel departed with a great light. 3. Now the palm‐branch shone with exceeding brightness. Then Mary took off her garments and clothed herself in her best raiment, and taking the palm which she had received from the angel's hand she went out into the Mount of Olivet and began to pray and to say, ‘I was not worthy to receive you, Lord, if you had not had mercy on me; nevertheless I kept the treasure which you committed to me. Therefore I pray you, O king of glory, that no power of hell may hurt me. For if the heavens and the angels quake before you every day, how much more a man created of the earth, in whom there is no good save what he has received of your bounty. You, Lord, are God, blessed for ever, world without end.’ And having thus spoken, she returned to her dwelling.
IV. 1. And behold, suddenly, while Saint John was preaching at Ephesus, on the Lord's day, at the third hour, there was a great earthquake, and a cloud raised him up and took him out of the sight of all and brought him before the door of the house where Mary was. And he knocked at the door and immediately went in. When Mary saw him she rejoiced greatly and said, ‘I pray to you, my son John, remember the words of my Lord Jesus Christ wherewith he commended me to you. For behold, on the third day I am to depart out of the body and I have heard the counsels of the Jews who say, “Let us wait until the day when she who bore that deceiver shall die, and let us burn her body with fire.’ ” 2. So she called Saint John and took him into the secret part of the house and showed him her grave‐clothes and that palm of light which she had received from the angel, and charged him to cause it to be borne before her bier when she should go to the tomb.
V. And Saint John said to her, ‘How shall I alone prepare your burial unless my brethren and fellow apostles of my Lord Jesus Christ come to pay honour to your body?’
And lo, suddenly, by the commandment of God, all the apostles were lifted up on a cloud and taken away from the places where they were preaching and set down before the door of the house where Mary dwelt. And they greeted each other and marvelled, saying, ‘Why has the Lord gathered us together here?’
[Other manuscripts read: And Paul, who was turned from the circumcision and taken with Barnabas to minister to the Gentiles, came with them. And when there arose among them a godly contention, which of them should first pray to the Lord to show them the cause of their coming, Peter exhorted Paul to pray first. Paul answered, saying, ‘It is your office to begin first, since you were chosen of God to be a pillar of the church, and you are before all in the apostleship; but it does not befit me at all, for I am the least of all of you, and Christ was seen by me as of one born out of due time, and I do not presume to count myself equal with you; yet by the grace of God I am what I am.’]
VI. Then all the apostles, rejoicing with one mind, finished their prayer; and when they had said Amen, lo, suddenly the blessed John came and showed them all these things. And the apostles entered the house and found Mary and greeted her, saying, ‘Blessed be you of the Lord who made heaven and earth.’ And she said to them. ‘Peace be to you my most beloved brethren. How did you come here?’ And they told her how they had come, each one of them being lifted up on a cloud by the Spirit and set down in that place. And she said to them, ‘God has not deprived me of the sight of you. Behold, I go the way of all the earth, and I doubt not that the Lord has now brought you hither to give me comfort in the anguish that is to come upon me. Now therefore I beseech you that we all keep watch together without ceasing, until the hour when the Lord shall come and I shall depart out of the body.’
VII. And they sat about her comforting her, and for three days gave themselves to the praises of God, then lo, on the third day, about the third hour of the day, sleep fell upon all who were in that house, and no one at all could keep awake, except the apostles and three virgins who were there. And behold, suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ came with a great multitude of angels, and a great light came down upon that place, and the angels were singing hymns and praising the Lord. Then the Saviour spoke saying, ‘Come, you most precious pearl, enter into the receptacle of eternal life.’
VIII. 1. Then Mary fell on her face on the ground, worshipping God, and said, ‘Blessed be the name of your glory, O Lord my God, who have vouchsafed to choose me, your handmaid, and to commit to me your secret mystery. Remember me, therefore, O king of glory; for you know that with all my heart I have loved you and have kept the treasure committed to me. Receive me, your servant, and deliver me from the power of darkness, and let not any assault of Satan meet me, neither let me see ugly spirits coming to meet me.’ 2. And the Saviour answered her, ‘When I was sent by the Father and for the salvation of the world was hung on the cross, the prince of darkness came to me; but as he was not able to find in me any sign of his work he departed vanquished and trodden down. When you see him, you shall see him according to the law of mankind whereby the end, even death, is allotted to you; but he cannot hurt you, for I am with you to help you. Come without fear, for the heavenly host awaits you to bring you into the joy of paradise.’ 3. And as the Lord thus spoke, Mary arose from the ground and laid herself on her bed, and giving thanks to God she gave up the ghost. But the apostles saw her soul, and it was of such whiteness that no tongue of mortal men can worthily express it, for it excelled all whiteness of snow and of all metal and silver that shines with great brightness of light.
IX. 1. Then the Saviour spoke saying. ‘Arise, Peter, and take the body of Mary and bear it to the right‐hand side of the city toward the east, and you will find there a new sepulchre in which you shall place it, and wait till I come to you.’
2. And when the Lord had spoken, he delivered the soul of the holy Mary to Michael, who was set over paradise and is the prince of the people of the Jews; and Gabriel went with them. And immediately the Saviour was received into heaven with the angels.
X. Now the three virgins who were there on guard took the body of the blessed Mary to wash it after the custom of burials. And when they had stripped it of its apparel, that holy body shone with such brightness that it could indeed be touched as a rite, but the appearance could not be looked upon for the exceeding flashing of light; and a great splendour appeared in it, and nothing could be sensed when the body was washed, but it was most pure and not stained with any manner of defilement. And the body of the blessed Mary was like the flowers of the lily, and a great sweetness of fragrance issued from it: nothing like that sweetness could be found elsewhere.
XI. 1. Then the apostles laid the holy body upon a bier and said to one another, ‘Who shall bear the palm before her bier?’ Then John said to Peter, ‘You who were before us in the apostleship ought to bear this palm before her bed.’ And Peter answered him, ‘You only of us are a virgin chosen of the Lord, and have found such favour that you lay on his breast; and he, when he hung for our salvation on the tree of the cross, committed her to you with his own mouth. You therefore ought to carry this palm; and let us take up the body to bear it to the place of the sepulchre.’ 2. Afterwards Peter lifted up the head of the body and began to sing, saying, ‘Israel has come out of Egypt. Alleluia.’ And with him the other apostles bore the body of the blessed Mary, and John carried the palm of light before the bier. And the rest of the apostles sang with exceedingly sweet voices.
XII. 1. And behold a new miracle. There appeared a very great cloud over the bier like the great circle seen about the splendour of the moon; and a host of angels was in the cloud sending forth a song of sweetness, and the earth echoed with the sound of that great melody. Then the people came out of the city, about fifteen thousand, and marvelled and said, ‘What is this sound of such sweetness?’ 2. Then someone stood up and told them, ‘Mary is gone out of the body, and the disciples of Jesus are singing praises about her.’ And they looked and saw the bier crowned with great glory and the apostles singing with a loud voice. And behold, one of them who was a prince of the priests of the Jews was filled with fury and wrath and said to the rest, ‘Behold the tabernacle of the man who troubled us and all our nation, what glory it has received.’ And he came near and tried to overthrow the bier and cast the body on the earth. And forthwith his hands dried up from his elbows and stuck to the bier. And when the apostles lifted the bier, part of him was hanging loose and part stuck to the bier, and he was wrung with extreme torment as the apostles went on and sang. But the angels who were in the clouds smote the people with blindness.
XIII. 1. Then that prince cried out saying, ‘I beseech you, holy Peter, despise me not in this so great necessity, for I am tormented with great pains. Remember when the damsel who kept the door knew you in the judgement hall and told the rest that they might challenge you, how then I spoke good on your behalf.’ Then Peter answered and said, ‘It is not for me to give you anything; but if you believe with your whole heart in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom this woman bore in her womb and continued a virgin after the birth, the mercy of the Lord, which by his great pity saves the unworthy, shall heal you.’
2. To this he answered, ‘Do we not believe? What shall we do? The enemy of mankind has blinded our hearts, and shame has covered our faces that we should not confess the mighty works of God; especially when we cursed ourselves, crying out against Christ: “His blood be on us and on our children.’ ” Then Peter said, ‘See, that curse will hurt him who continues not to believe in him, but to those who turn to God mercy is not denied.’ And he said, ‘I believe all that you say to me: only I beseech you, have mercy on me lest I die.’
XIV. 1. Then Peter made the bier stand still and said to him, ‘If you believe with your whole heart in Jesus Christ, your hands shall be loosed from the bier.’ And when he had said that he did, straightway his hands were loosed from the bier and he began to stand on his feet; but his arms were still withered, neither did the pain depart from him. 2. Then Peter said to him, ‘Go near to the body and kiss the bed and say, “I believe in God and in the Son of God whom this woman bore, that is to say Jesus Christ, and I believe all the things that Peter the apostle of God has told me.’ ” And he came near and kissed the bed, and forthwith all pain left him and his hands were made whole. 3. Then he began to bless God greatly and to speak from the books of Moses testimonies to the praise of Christ, so that even the apostles themselves marvelled and wept for gladness, praising the name of the Lord.
XV. 1. But Peter said to him, ‘Take this palm at the hand of our brother John, and go into the city, and you will find people blinded; and declare to them the mighty works of God, and whosoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, lay this palm upon his eyes and he shall see; but whosoever does not believe shall continue to be blind.’ 2. And when he had done so, he found many people blinded and lamenting thus, ‘Woe unto us, for we are become like the men of Sodom who were stricken with blindness. Nothing remains for us now except to perish.’ But when they had heard the words spoken by the prince who was healed, they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and when he laid the palm upon their eyes, they recovered sight; but whosoever continued in hardness of heart died. And the prince of the priests went to the apostles and gave back the palm and reported all that had come to pass.
XVI. 1. But the apostles carrying Mary came into the place of the valley of Josaphat which the Lord had showed them, and laid her in a new tomb and shut the sepulchre. They sat down at the door of the tomb as the Lord had charged them; and lo, suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ came with a great multitude of angels, and light flashing with great brightness, and said to the apostles, ‘Peace be with you.’ And they answered and said, ‘Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we have hoped in you.’
2. Then the Saviour spoke to them, saying, ‘Before I ascended to my Father I gave you a promise, saying that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Now this woman I chose out of the twelve tribes of Israel by the commandment of my Father, to dwell in her. What then do you wish me to do to her?’ 3. Then Peter and the other apostles said, ‘Lord, you chose this your handmaid to become your immaculate chamber, and us your servants for your ministry. All things you foreknew before the worlds with your Father, with whom to you and the Holy Ghost there belong equal Godhead and infinite power. If therefore the power of your grace can bring this about, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you having overcome death reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your mother and take her with you rejoicing into heaven.’
XVII. 1. Then the Saviour said, ‘Be it done according to your will.’ And he commanded Michael the archangel to bring the soul of the holy Mary. And behold, Michael the archangel rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and the Lord said, ‘Rise up, my love and my kinswoman: you who did not suffer corruption by union of the flesh shall not suffer dissolution of the body in the sepulchre.’ 2. And immediately Mary rose up from the grave and blessed the Lord, and fell at the Lord's feet and worshipped him, saying, ‘I am not able to render you worthy thanks, O Lord, for your innumerable benefits which you have vouchsafed to grant to me, your handmaid. Let your name be blessed for ever, redeemer of the world, you God of Israel.’
XVIII. 1. And the Lord kissed her and departed, and delivered her to the angels to bear her into paradise. And he said to the apostles, ‘Come near to me’, and when they had come near he kissed them and said, ‘Peace be to you; as I have been always with you, so will I be even to the end of the world.’
2. And as soon as the Lord had spoken he was lifted up in a cloud and received into heaven, and the angels with him, bearing the blessed Mary into the paradise of God.
But the apostles were taken up upon clouds and returned every one to the lot of his preaching, declaring the mighty works of God and praising the Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost in perfect unity and in one substance of the Godhead, world without end. Amen.
B. Narrative by Joseph of Arimathaea
1. Before the Passion the Virgin asked Jesus to certify her of her death on the third day before it, and to receive her with his angels. 2, 3. He promised that this should be so.
4. In the second year after the ascension she was constantly praying. On the third day before her death an angel 5 One MS reads Gabriel. came and gave her a palm and told her of her departure.
5. She sent for Joseph of Arimathaea and other disciples, and told them, and then washed and arrayed herself as a queen. Three virgins were with her—Sepphora, Abigea, and Zael. The apostles were already dispersed about the world.
6. At the third hour, thunder, rain, earthquake. John was suddenly brought from Ephesus and entered the chamber and greeted her. She said, ‘Dearest son, why have you left me for so long?’
7. All the disciples except Thomas now arrived on clouds and greeted her.
8. They were John, James his brother, Peter, Paul, Andrew, Philip, Luke, Barnabas, Bartholomew, Matthew, Matthias surnamed Justus, Simon the Canaanite, Jude and his brother, Nicodemus, Maximianus. 6 This must be the legendary Maximin of Aix en Provence who figures in the late legend of Mary Magdalene's mission to Marseilles.
9. Mary asked, ‘Why have you all come?’ Peter said, ‘It is for us to ask you. None of us knows. I was at Antioch, and now I am here.’ And all told where they had been. 10. Mary told them the reason, that she was to depart on the morrow, and asked them to watch and pray with her. So they did, all night, with lights and psalmody.
11. On the Sunday at the third hour Christ came down with a host of angels and took the soul of his mother. Such was the light and fragrance that all fell on their faces and none could rise for an hour and a half. 12. As the light receded, the soul of Mary was taken up with it, with singing; and as the cloud went up, the earth shook, and all in Jerusalem saw the death of Mary in one instant.
13. Then Satan entered into them and they took arms to burn the body and kill the apostles; but they were struck blind, and smote their heads against walls, and hit one another.
14. The apostles took up the body to bear it from Mount Sion to the valley of Josaphat. As they went, a Jew named Reuben tried to upset the bier, but his hands withered at the elbow and he had to go on into the valley weeping and crying, for his hands stuck to the bier. 15. He began to ask the apostles to pray for him that he might be saved and become a Christian. They knelt and prayed, and his hands were loosed and he was healed. He was baptized at once, and began to proclaim Christ.
16. Then the apostles laid the body in the tomb with great honour, weeping and singing for pure love and sweetness. And suddenly a light from heaven shone round about them, and as they fell to the earth the holy body was taken up by angels into heaven (the apostles not knowing it).
17. Thomas was suddenly brought to the Mount of Olives and saw the holy body being taken up, and cried out to Mary, ‘Make your servant glad by your mercy, for now you go to heaven.’ And the girdle with which the apostles had girt the body was thrown down to him; he took it and went to the valley of Josaphat. 18. When he had greeted the apostles, Peter said, ‘You were always unbelieving, and so the Lord has not suffered you to be at his mother's burial.’ He smote his breast and said, ‘I know it and I ask pardon of you all’, and they all prayed for him. 19. Then he said, ‘Where have you laid her body?’, and they pointed to the sepulchre. But he said, ‘The holy body is not there.’ Peter said, ‘Formerly you would not believe in the resurrection of the Lord before you touched him: how should you believe us?’ Thomas went on saying, ‘It is not here.’ Then in anger they went and took away the stone, and the body was not there; and they did not know what to say, being vanquished by Thomas's words. 20. Then Thomas told them how he had been saying mass in India (and he still had on his priestly vestments), and how he had been brought to the Mount of Olives and seen the ascension of Mary and she had given him her girdle; and he showed it. 21. They all rejoiced and asked his pardon, and he blessed them and said, ‘Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.’
22. The same clouds which had brought them now carried them back, as we read in the Acts about Philip who baptized the eunuch, and as Habakkuk was brought to Daniel and taken back.
23. It is wonderful that Christ should do such things (miracles are enumerated).
24. I am that Joseph who laid the body of the Lord in my tomb and saw him rise again, and always watched over his most holy temple, even the blessed Mary, ever‐virgin, before the ascension of the Lord and after it; and upon this page and in my heart have I written the things that came out of the mouth of God, and how the aforesaid matters came to pass, and I have made known to all the Jews and Gentiles what I saw with my eyes and heard with my ears, and as long as I live I shall not cease to proclaim them.
Her assumption is this day reverenced and honoured throughout all the world; let us constantly pray to her that she remember us before her most merciful son in heaven, to whom is praise and glory for infinite ages. Amen. 7 One MS has a statement that any Christian who has this writing in his house will be safe from various afflictions—lunacy, deafness, blindness, sudden death—and will have the protection of the Virgin at his end.
4. The Syriac Narratives
Book I, after a panegyrical introduction, tells how the narrative was found. It was attested in autograph by James, bishop of Jerusalem. Two apostles wrote each of the six books, and they were entrusted to John.
His copy was found at Ephesus, attested by the Twelve and the Seventy‐Two, and written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
Book II. In the year 344 (of the era of the Greeks), on the third day of the latter Teshrin (September), being the third day of the week at the third hour, Mary went to the tomb.
The Jews immediately after the Passion had closed it with great stones and forbidden resort to it on pain of death. They also hid the cross, spear, sponge, robe, crown of thorns, and nails.
The priests told the guardians of the tomb to stone Mary if she came there again. They said, ‘Do it yourselves.’ On the Friday Mary burnt incense there; Gabriel came down and told her of her approaching death. (There is no mention of a palm.)
The guards informed the priests that Mary had come again. The priests asked the governor to forbid her.
At this time Abgar of Edessa (converted by Addai) wished to destroy Jerusalem because of Christ's death, and came as far as the river Euphrates, but hesitated to cross it. He wrote to the procurator Sabinus, who sent the letter to Tiberius, who was greatly moved against the Jews. The Jews were alarmed. They said to the governor, ‘Forbid Mary to go to the tomb.’ He said, ‘Forbid her yourselves.’ A long abusive speech of the Jews to Mary follows.
She left Jerusalem and went to Bethlehem with her three virgins, Calletha daughter of Nicodemus, Neshra daughter of Gamaliel, Tabitha daughter of Archelaus. (There is a description of the service which these did to Mary; Gabriel tells her to go to Bethlehem.)
On Friday Mary burnt incense and prayed that John might be sent to her. John was brought from Ephesus. His arrival and conversation with Mary.
The other apostles were brought. 8 Here we are following the Greek text pretty closely.
John received the apostles. They each told Mary how they had come. Mark was performing the service of the third hour. Matthew says, ‘I have given and am giving glory to God’, and so on. The Greek, however, does not give the speeches of those who had been raised from the grave to come, but the Syriac does for Philip, Simon, Luke, and Andrew. And after Andrew, Bartholomew (not already dead) follows, as in the Greek.
There was a great concourse of angels, and the Bethlehemites in fear went and told the governor and the priests.
Book III. All the great signs attracted people from many quarters. Before this many used to come to the Virgin to be healed. (Five instances are given of cures.)
There was now a festival at Jerusalem, and many sick went out to Bethlehem to be healed. 2,800 were cured (cf. Greek ch. 28).
On the 21st of Teshrin II in the night, men rose up to attack the house. Angels of fire descended from heaven (cf. Greek ch. 29).
The priests insisted on Mary's banishment by the governor. He sent a chiliarch to Bethlehem with thirty men. The Spirit told the apostles to take Mary to Jerusalem. They did so and held a five days' service.
Meanwhile the chiliarch found nothing at Bethlehem, and the priests said this was due to magic. 9 This last is not in Greek chs. 31–3, which is otherwise represented well.
After the five days, Mary's presence in Jerusalem was realized. The Jews wished the governor to burn the house; he told them to do so themselves, and watched from a distance. The attackers were scorched and burnt. The governor declared his belief in Christ (cf. Greek chs. 34–5). Here the Syriac has a very long digression not represented in the Greek, and belonging properly, it seems, to the story of the Cross.
Caleb the Sadducee, who was a secret believer, whispered to the governor that he should adjure the Jews by the God of Israel to tell them their real opinion about Jesus.
So all Jerusalem was assembled; and there follows a long altercation between the believers and unbelievers before the governor. Eventually some of the latter are forced by scourging to tell how they had hidden the cross and the other items. The governor has the place obstructed with great stones.
He then goes to see Mary. He greets the apostles, and they tell him how they came there. Mary at his request tells him the story of the Annunciation. The governor left Jerusalem and went to Rome and told the emperor, and the account of all this was written down by disciples at Rome, who also wrote to the apostles telling them of various miracles (seven are told) which Mary had wrought.
The text then leaps to ch. 45 of the Greek, omitting (in this place) all notice of the death of the Virgin.
The Spirit told the apostles to bear her to a place where there were three caves, and to lay her on a bench there and await his bidding.
Jephonias, ‘strong and tall, and handsome of figure’, attacked them, and was smitten and healed (but Mary is not dead yet, for she speaks to him). Peter gave a dry rod to Jephonias and sent him to the Jews. The rod blossomed. He healed a man born blind, and many others (cf. Greek chs. 45–7, and Latin chs. XII–XV). The Greek does not have the healing of the Jews, and the Syriac has distorted it.
The apostles laid Mary in the eastern cave and held a service of three days and nights. Some Jews came to the cave; three ventured in, and were burnt and swallowed up. Many believed, but the priests threatened and bribed them.
This, which concludes Book III, is badly confused in the Syriac, which has made the great mistake of saying that the apostles bore the Virgin to the cave before she was dead.
Book IV. While the apostles were ministering to Mary in the cave the Spirit spoke to them and told the story of the Annunciation. He spoke also of the date of her death, and then told how Sunday is the day of the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Entry, Resurrection, Ascension, and Judgement (cf. Greek ch. 37).
Eve, Anna, Elizabeth, Adam, and other patriarchs now came and greeted Mary, and then the procession of heavenly chariots, and then Christ. His words to her, and her answer. Her kissing of his hand, and prayers and blessing and death, are as in Greek chs. 38–44, but the blessing is far longer.
Then the body was prepared for burial. Twelve chariots took up the apostles and bore them all to paradise; and they returned thence and ordained a commemoration of her three times a year (cf. Greek ch. 49).
After this is a very long disquisition on the rules which the apostles made about the commemoration.
When they had come back to the cave they agreed to write a book in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and commit it to John; and, with more unimportant matter following on this, the book ends.
Book V. This is a diffuse account of the Virgin's visit to paradise. One paragraph tells of her seeing Gehenna.
John and Peter were with her, and she revealed everything to John and told him to write it: it would be made public at the end of the world.
Christ then says he will tell her what is to happen at his second coming, but nothing is told. Mary answers with thanksgiving and prayer. Book V ends. Book VI does not appear.
A prefatory section declares the apostles to be the witnesses and authors of what follows.
The story then begins, and gives a shorter form of what we have had, in this order:
Mary goes to the tomb. The Jews threaten to stone her. She asks Jesus to take her out of the world. The angel comes to tell her her prayer is heard. The guards of the tomb report this. The Jews ask Sabinus the governor to banish her. He refers them to her. They come and abuse her. She goes to Bethlehem with the three virgins (named as in A). She prays that John may be sent. He comes. The other apostles arrive. They begin to tell how they came. The first fragment ends in John's narrative. It was left unfinished by the scribe.
This begins in the middle of the dispute between believers and unbelievers before the governor, and the story follows the course of A down to the point where the apostles lay Mary in the cave. Here the first fragment ends.
The second fragment does not seem to have an exact textual equivalent in A.
Chariots of light and saints arrive, and Mary is borne to paradise.
The apostles return to the Mount of Olives, and pray to be allowed to ordain a commemoration of Mary.
And so with rather a long doxology the book ends.
It is, so far as we have it, far more compact and coherent than A or D.
D 10 This is mainly identical in content with A but has points of its own.
Mary goes to the tomb.
The Jews plot to kill her, close the cave, set guards on it.
The guards report it.
Mary goes to Bethlehem with the three virgins (as above).
The Jews hid the cross and the other items, and asserted that ‘here are buried the Book of Moses and the box of manna and the rod of Aaron and the mantle of Elijah’, so that if miracles did happen there, they could be attributed to those relics.
Abgar's letter. Sabinus is angry with the Jews. Mary prayed that the apostles might be sent.
Then the others. The statement that they came and the circumstances of their doing so are put into one narrative, not repeated as in A.
After the apostles had greeted Mary, Anna, Elizabeth, Adam, and others, came, and all the various orders of saints and angels; and Christ. This dialogue and her prayers are rather shortened, but essentially as in A.
Mary died and her soul was taken up.
Then we have a bad dislocation.
The believers in the city went to the governor and told him the truth about Jesus and the Jews. He was angry with the chiefs, and beat them and told them not to harm the Christians. This is a condensation into a few lines of the dispute before the governor. Yet this dispute occurs later on. Here, however, we have the sequel.
The governor visited Mary with his sick son (who was healed). The apostles told him of their miraculous coming. The governor went to Rome and told the emperor, and the believers there wrote down the wonderful record. This is a shorter form of A.
A paragraph on the age of Mary (52) follows.
The apostles said, ‘Let us make a distinction between the burial of believers and non‐believers, and make a beginning with Mary’. They prepared her body for burial, and set out in procession.
The Jews saw it and bribed the governor not to interfere with them. They also bribed a gigantic soldier of his, Yophana, to go with them and attack the bier.
Then we have the affliction and cure of Yophana, who goes back to the governor, and he laughs at the Jews.
The apostles laid the body in the cave.
Peter asked the multitude to set guards over it. He also spoke to the believers of the glory of Mary.
The Jews plotted and put a number of dead bodies in the cave, but in vain; and then tried to burn the body, but were burnt themselves.
Then the apostles brought out the body and laid it on a bier.
Then came all the chariots of light, and the body was put in a chariot of light, and it and all the apostles went up to Paradise.
And the cloud took them back to Jerusalem. And they wrote down all the triumphs of the Virgin and sent the books everywhere, and ordained three yearly commemorations; and were taken back to the places whence they had come.
Then a homiletical paragraph. It introduces the revelation of John about the Virgin in paradise—A, Book V.
The Jews thought the body was still in the cave, and they went in and did not find it. Many believed.
The unbelievers (again?) put dead bodies in the cave.
The believers told the governor, and he sent Yophana, who confiscated all the goods of the offenders.
Visions of angels, multitudes of sick healed: six miracles narrated, as in A. The healing of 2,800 people.
Plot to attack the house. Descent of angels of fire. All this is in A.
The priests insisted on the banishment of Mary. The chiliarch sent. The apostles bore Mary to Bethlehem (read Jerusalem). The five days' service. The house in Jerusalem attacked, the besiegers burnt, the governor's declaration of belief.
The dispute between believers and unbelievers before the governor. The hiding‐place of the cross obstructed.
Afterwards the disciples of the apostles wrote (to various places) with an account of the departure of Mary, and took it with them to Byzantium.
And then a series of miracles is narrated, which are nearly all identical with those in A.
i. Wright, pp. 10–15. The appearance of the Lord to his mother: her last words and death. Her soul is delivered to Michael. Peter begins to speak to Christ.
The funeral procession. Jews are blinded, and he who tries to overset the bier has his arms fixed to it. They are restored. Peter gives him a staff with which he heals 5,000 blinded people.
ii. Wright, p. 42. First long fragment. Paul is speaking, and telling a long story about Solomon, who had been told by a demon that a certain young man would die. A form of this story occurs in the Testament of Solomon.
The apostles ask Paul to go on speaking. They say, ‘Our Lord has sent you to gladden us during these three days’. Paul asks them what they will preach when they go forth, and is answered by Peter, John, and Andrew. He criticizes them as too severe, and recommends a gentler policy. They are angry.
And as they were all sitting disputing before the entrance to Mary's tomb, Jesus appeared and justified Paul's view, as against the others.
He summoned Michael and bade him bring forth the body of Mary into the clouds. They were all carried to paradise.
The apostles then asked the Lord to show them the place of torment, reminding him of his promise that on the day of the departure of Mary they should see it.
They were all taken on a cloud to the west. The Lord spoke to the angels of the pit, and the earth sprang upwards and they saw the pit.
The lost souls saw Michael and begged for respite. Mary and the apostles fell down and interceded for them. Michael spoke to them, telling them that at all the twelve hours of the day and of the night the angels intercede for creation. The angel of the waters intercedes for the waters. Here the fragment ends.
iii. Wright, p. 48. The next fragment is a story told by Michael to Mary about the concealing of the bones of Joseph in the Nile by Pharaoh and their discovery by Moses. It seems as if this must have been told in answer to some inquiry of Mary's about her own body, and therefore it should be placed earlier in order.
iv. Wright, p. 50. 11 This last fragment, which may be part of an apocryphal gospel, is translated in full. . . . them according to their wish. And he sent by the hand of the apostles to them (to ask) whether these things were not so?
And he said, ‘These are the shepherds of the house of Israel, who are praying for the sheep, that they may be sanctified and made glorious before the sons of men; and themselves they are not able to sanctify, because they exalt themselves like the strong. Did I not give them many signs?’
And the apostles said, ‘Lord, lo, they beseech and pray, and repent, and kneel upon their knees. Why do you not hear them?’ Our Lord said to them, ‘I too was willing to hear them, but there is deception in them (as) you too know.’
And when Jesus wished to show the apostles for what reason he did not hear them, he took them up into a mountain and let them become hungry. And when the apostles had gone, they asked him, saying to him, ‘Lord we are hungry; what have we then to eat in this desert?’ And Jesus told them to go to the trees which were before them. And he said to them, ‘Go to those trees which are opposite us, whose branches are many and fair and beautiful at a distance, and from them you shall get food.’ And when the apostles went, they did not find fruit on the trees.
And they returned to Jesus and said, ‘Good Teacher, you sent us to those trees which are opposite us, and we went and found on them no fruit, but only branches which were fair and beautiful, but there was no fruit on them.’
And Jesus said to them, ‘You have not seen them, because the trees grow straight upwards. Go therefore at once, because the trees are bending themselves, and you shall find on them fruit, and get yourselves food.’ And when they went, they found the trees bending down, but they did not find fruit upon them.
And they returned again to Jesus in great distress and said to him, ‘What is this, Teacher, that we are mocked? For at first you said to us, “You shall find trees which are straight, and there is fruit on them”, and we found none. Why are we mocked? But it is fitting that you should teach us what this is that has happened; for we think that what you wished to teach us is false; for by a visible power the trees were laid hold of and bent down. If this be a temptation, make known to us what it is.’
And Jesus said to them, ‘Go and sit under them, and you shall see what it is that abides on them, but you shall not be able to bend them again.’ And when the apostles went and sat under the trees, straightway the trees threw down stinking worms. And the apostles came again to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you wish to lead us astray or to turn us away from you. . . ?’
1 Parts of VII and VIII exist in Sahidic fragment I (Robinson, 66–9).
2 At this point begins Sahidic fragment II (Robinson, 70–89) and continues into XVII; it has important differences, some of these being indicated ad loc. below.
3 The number 15 is, by an error, repeated in Tischendorf.
5 One MS reads Gabriel.
6 This must be the legendary Maximin of Aix en Provence who figures in the late legend of Mary Magdalene's mission to Marseilles.
7 One MS has a statement that any Christian who has this writing in his house will be safe from various afflictions—lunacy, deafness, blindness, sudden death—and will have the protection of the Virgin at his end.
8 Here we are following the Greek text pretty closely.
9 This last is not in Greek chs. 31–3, which is otherwise represented well.
10 This is mainly identical in content with A but has points of its own.
11 This last fragment, which may be part of an apocryphal gospel, is translated in full.