When I was a little girl, I used to visit Great Aunt Mary. She was my maternal grandmother’s sister and lived in the apartment above my Aunt Alice and her family in a two-flat in Chicago. She was old and eccentric and her health wasn’t the best. Sitting at her table nibbling on cookies she would jabber about what – I don’t remember – and then doze. The doze I do remember. In the middle of a sentence, her head would droop and she would slip in to a soft snore that would last a couple of minutes or more. That left me with not much to do except to keep nibbling and looking around the room. One day I thought to use this down time to snoop. In her bedroom I came across a book, small, black, the pages were edged in gold. A red ribbon was attached and served as a book mark. On the cover were the words, “The Childhood of Jesus”. I picked it up and took it back to the table. Aunt Mary was still sleeping.
I found that the pages contained stories of Jesus that I had never seen before. In the bible, we read about his birth in Bethlehem, then it jumps forward to a scene at age twelve when he was left behind by his parents in Jerusalem. The next time we see Jesus in the bible he is ready to settle into his career as preacher and savior of the world. About those in between years there is nothing known, or so I thought, until that day at Aunt Mary’s kitchen.
It might shock people to know that stories were written about Jesus that weren’t chosen to be part of the Bible. Browsing in a used bookstore recently, I came upon a book The Lost Books of the Bible. It is a collection of non-biblical texts that have been around for anyone to read, but not treasured as the stories in the bible. I opened the book to find “The Gospel of the Birth of Mary” and found this to be the very story I had read in Aunt Mary’s little book years ago.
Since then, I have been investigating other writings, some are archeological finds of the last century. A few have been around for years but not translated until recently. It is fascinating to me to read other people’s memories of Jesus besides those recorded in the Bible.
I can’t help but wonder how it was that Aunt Mary had this little book.