Continuing the series currently archived here . . . .
There are more interesting questions than the one I addressed in the previous post about that bizarre “birth” of Jesus in the Ascension of Isaiah (Asc. Isa.). What is the point of creating such an odd explanation for how the Son of God made his entrance to the world?
Orthodox Christian theology has Jesus save the world by means of the incarnation. The Asc. Isa., however, teaches that this is not how Jesus saved and has no room for Jesus literally becoming a man. God’s will was for Jesus to rescue humanity by having him hide his glory behind a mere human appearance and so by means of this deception to defeat the angelic powers. (Norelli 1993, p. 53)
Recall how the Son of the Beloved sloughs off a layer of his glory as he passes through each of the seven heavens on his descent so that he appears no different from the inhabitants of each realm.
Notice, too, how the description of Jesus’ birth turns into a vision for Joseph and Mary:
It came to pass that when they were alone that Mary straight-way looked with her eyes and saw a small babe, and she was astonished.
And after she had been astonished, her womb was found as formerly before she had conceived.
And when her husband Joseph said unto her: “What has astonished thee?” his eyes were opened and he saw the infant and praised God, because into his portion God had come.
And a voice came to them: “Tell this vision to no one.”
So it is through revelation that Joseph and Mary understand and know that Jesus is not a man like other humans. (Norelli 1993, p. 53)
In the previous post we saw the possible link between Isaiah 53:2 and the miraculous appearance of the child. Enrico Norelli explores further the Asc. Isa.‘s sources for this scene and the message it was meant to convey.
We saw in another earlier post Norelli’s reasons for rejecting the view that the Asc. Isa. was adapting the nativity scene in the Gospel of Matthew. He argues that the Asc. Isa. was most likely written about the same time as that canonical gospel (or before it).
Comparing with the Acts of Peter
The Asc. Isa. continues (Charles’ translation): Continue reading “More on that very strange birth of Jesus in the Ascension of Isaiah”