The Gospel of James is also sometimes known as the Infancy Gospel of James or the Protevangelium of James. The author is traditionally believed to be James, the stepbrother of Jesus Christ. Some scholars believe that, based on their literary criticism, the work is pseudonymous and was composed some time in the second century A.D.
The contents of the book describe the birth and childhood of Mary the mother of Jesus, her coming of age and betrothal to Joseph, and the birth and early childhood of Jesus. Much of the story expands on what is told of these events in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. One of the primary themes is the work and grace of God in Mary's life, Mary's personal purity, and her perpetual virginity before, during and after the birth of Jesus, as confirmed by the midwives after she gave birth.
While the Gospel of James has never been part of the New Testament canon, it does provide the basis for many of the hymns used in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, and for much of their teachings concerning Mary.