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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.

Arundel 404 (Liber de Infantia Salvatoris)

J. K. Elliott

This text (British Library Arundel 404) is one of two medieval Latin infancy gospels published originally by M. R. James, Latin Infancy Gospels (Cambridge, 1927). The other, in the chapter library of Hereford Cathedral, is also printed there in full, as the Hereford Manuscript. The Hereford manuscript attributes authorship to James, Arundel 404 to Matthew (cf. the similar confusion with Pseudo‐Matthew). The Gospel in these two alternative forms is yet another derived ultimately from the earlier apocryphal infancy stories, the Protevangelium of James (= PJ), Pseudo‐Matthew, and the Gospel of the Birth of Mary. It is another possible descendant of the long‐lost Latin translation of PJ, but we cannot be certain how far the material in Arundel 404 common to PJ came from PJ directly or whether it reached Arundel 404 from Pseudo‐Matthew. 1 See Gijsel's article in Bibliography below. But the version found here in Arundel 404 (a smoother version of the Hereford manuscript) gives a Latin rendering hitherto unknown. (The Liber de Infantia in Thilo and Tischendorf is a different work (now known as Pseudo‐Matthew).)

James is of the opinion (Latin Infancy Gospels, p. xiii) that in the Gelasian Decree the Liber de nativitate Salvatoris et de Maria vel obstetrice may refer to the text known in the Arundel manuscript. (Here he differs from the view expressed in ANT, p. 22, that this title in the Decree could refer to Pseudo‐Matthew or PJ.)

Arundel 404 is prefaced by the spurious correspondence between Jerome and the Bishops Cromatius and Heliodorus that is also to be found in manuscripts of Pseudo‐Matthew and the Gospel of the Birth of Mary. 2 For translations of these letters, see above, under Pseudo‐Matthew. James, ANT 71–2, gives a translation of another letter (from Jerome to the Bishops) sometimes prefacing manuscripts of the Gospel of the Birth of Mary. I have not included this text. These letters were used to support and commend various infancy stories, and whatever their original context they seem especially to have been attached to unorthodox works such as Arundel 404.

James, Latin Infancy Gospels, tries to link this infancy gospel with the Gospel of Peter, claiming they both come from the same, docetic, source. Lagrange's review is sceptical of linking the two merely because of a common docetism. The chapters translated below (72–4), where most of the unique material is to be found, reflect second‐century Greek docetic tendencies and may well be the raison d’être for the original composition, namely to give a Gnostic or docetic view of Jesus’ birth.

Arundel 404 contains the Zacharias story in full (equivalent to PJ 10, 22–4) suggesting that if PJ was indeed one of its sources then it was a longer text of PJ that was used. One other disputed section of PJ, namely the speech of Joseph (PJ 18. 2), is different in Arundel 404 where that speech is put into the mouth of the midwife. Elsewhere, if PJ was used, it has been adapted or replaced with material known to us in Pseudo‐Matthew. In an interpretation of the two peoples of PJ 17 Arundel 404 ch. 61 identifies them as Jews and Gentiles as in Pseudo‐Matthew 13 (not angels and demons as in the Armenian infancy narrative).

The translation of chs. 72–4 is from M. R. James's edition.

Notes:

1 See Gijsel's article in Bibliography below.

2 For translations of these letters, see above, under Pseudo‐Matthew. James, ANT 71–2, gives a translation of another letter (from Jerome to the Bishops) sometimes prefacing manuscripts of the Gospel of the Birth of Mary. I have not included this text.

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