That the Gospel of James depends on Matthew and Luke, and not the other way around, is easily demonstrated. For example, Joseph’s decision to dismiss or divorce Mary quietly (James 14:4) recalls a nearly identical remark in Matthew’s account (Matthew 1:19), but in James it makes little sense since marriage is never contemplated. It does fit the situation in Matthew, however, suggesting that Matthew is the source.

Furthermore, this gospel answers a question that only arises when both the Matthean and Lukan birth accounts are known. Matthew contains Herod’s murder of the infants (Matthew 2:16–18), but does not mention the birth of John. Luke mentions both the births of Jesus and John (Luke 1:57, 2:7), but does not include the murder of the infants. But reading both canonical gospels, a question arises: How did John escape Herod’s soldiers? The Infancy Gospel of James answers this question, revealing that the author knew of the two canonical birth stories.