Did Mary have a midwife at Jesus’ birth? by Jim Denison, PhD for Denison Forum
Just in time for Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, a group of children out for a walk recently discovered a two-thousand-year-old oil lamp poking out of the ground in northern Galilee. In other archaeological news from the Holy Land, detailed inscriptions of the Old Testament King Hezekiah, including dozens of lines and hundreds of letters, have now been decipheredin what is being called a “monumental” discovery.
And the Times of Israel reports that Israeli archaeologists are excavating an ancient tomb traditionally associated with Salome; early tradition suggested that she might have been the “midwife” at Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
Did Mary really have a midwife for the birth of Jesus?
The question actually says more about Christmas than meets the eye.
Was three-year-old Mary fed by an angel?
This tradition began with a second-century book called the Protevangelium of James. To be clear, it does not actually claim that Salome was Jesus’ midwife. Rather, it reports that she was met by the true midwife, who claimed to have witnessed the miracle of a virgin giving birth.
Salome did not believe this could be true, so she examined Mary for herself and found that she was indeed still a virgin. She was then judged for her unbelief: “Behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire.” She cried out to God for help, and she was cured.
What are we to think of this? The book also claims that when Mary was three years old, she was fed by an angel in the temple; Joseph was chosen to be her husband after a dove flew out of a rod he was holding; and a mountain was “cleft” so the infant John the Baptist could be hidden there from the murderous King Herod. The book also purports to have been written by James, a claim the early church rejected, as it did the book itself.