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Did Luke Originally Have the Birth Narrative (chapters 1-2)?
October 5, 2023
In my previous post I pointed out that some scholars, myself included, think that the original Gospel of Luke did not have the birth narrative recounted in chapters 1-2 (the annunciation of Mary’s virginal conception, the trip to Bethlehem from Nazareth, the worship of the shepherds, etc. etc.). In this view the Gospel started with what is now 1:1-4 and then the next verse was what is now 3:1, and the Gospel went from there.
I posted on this issue some years ago, but I think it’s worthwhile addressing it again in the context of the current thread, on just how “messy” the situation was in the first couple of centuries when different Gospels were all in circulation (not just our four), saying different things, and sometimes in different versions themselves. What’s the evidence that there was an earlier version of Luke without the familiar birth narrative (which, in case you don’t recall, differs hugely from Matthew’s).
One place to start to explain the matter is with what comes *after the birth narrative in Luke (as we have it today): the genealogy. I won’t repeat earlier posts I’ve published on this question, but I will summarize some of the key points:
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