How To: Miss Your Chance At Fame

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According to 3 Would-Be Holy Books That Got Left Out of the Bible

Book:
The Infancy Gospel of James
Didn't Make the Cut: Because prequels are never as popular as the original story (we're looking at you, Mr. Lucas).
The Infancy Gospel of James focuses on the early life of the Virgin Mary and is the source of most extra-biblical traditions about her. Here, Mary is a miracle baby, born to aging parents and sent to live with priests. And Joseph isn't her husband, but a widower who agrees to be her guardian after the priests decide that she's a bit too, well, female to stay at the Temple. When Mary turns up pregnant, the priests have her and Joseph pass an honesty test by drinking blessed water that will make them sick if they lie. Most odd though, is the author's decision to have Salome, best known for asking for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, improbably fill the roll of Holy midwife.

Book: The Gospel of the Egyptians
Didn't Make the Cut: For being a little too ascetic.
Only parts of this Gospel survive, but these bits advocate self-denial and celibacy in order to kill ties to the body, break the cycle of birth, and theoretically return man to a sinless, androgynous state. Sounds like fun. Thankfully, early church leaders weren't too fond of the idea either; many gospels left out of the Bible share these beliefs. Another thing apocryphal gospels share: Salome. She appears here as one of the women who finds Jesus's tomb empty on Easter morning.

The Book: Transitus Mariae
Didn't Make the Cut: Because reunion specials are even less popular than prequels.
Supposedly an account of the death of the Virgin Mary, the Transitus Mariae is only one of many works that tell roughly the same story. Here, the death of Mary leads to an Apostle reunion, as all 12 are transported to her deathbed from around the globe and even from beyond the grave. Jesus, too, puts in an appearance, leading a train of angels from Heaven to receive both His mother's soul and body. Before the body can be taken up, however, the author fits in a bit of anti-Semitism, having a Jew who dares to touch Mary lose both his hands. Mercifully, the Apostles intervene (possibly remembering that they, themselves, are Jewish) and restore the man's appendages.

September 4, 2007 - 5:10am
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