The Birth of Jesus in Luke

As I indicated yesterday, I’m doing a series of posts leading up to Christmas, dealing with the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament.   Here’s a discussion of the one most familiar to people, found in the Gospel of Luke.


As I’ve indicated, it is only Matthew and Luke that tell the tales of the infancy narrative, and the annual “Christmas Pageant” that so many of us grew up seeing is in fact a conflation of the two ...

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What Can We Know about Jesus’ Birth?

Browsing through holiday-season blogs from previous eras, I came across my first small thread on Christmas from exactly six years ago.  I had forgotten about this.  Some of the material has shown up occasionally in the intervening years, but maybe it’s a good time to repost a bit of it.  Here is the first: an account of what we can, and cannot, know about Jesus’ birth.  Bethlehem?  Virgin?  Date?   Or even… year?


I have decided to ...

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The De-apocalypticized Jesus of the Gospel of John


An important request I received recently!



At some point, I would like to hear more about the Gospel of John not having an apocalyptic view of Jesus.



This question relates closely to the work I’ve been doing on the views of the afterlife in the early Christian tradition.   As I’ve pointed out on the blog many times before, John was the last canonical Gospel written, probably 60-65 years after Jesus’ death.  One of the most striking things about John’s account of Jesus ...

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Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise?

Here is an interesting question I have received closely connected with the work I’ve been doing on the different views about the afterlife – what happens to us when we die? – in the early Christian tradition.  It has to do with a key verse that has been much debated over the years, a verse found only in Luke’s Gospel, in which Jesus assures the “robber” being crucified with him, that he will that day awaken in paradise.  Or *is* ...

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Jesus’ Apocalyptic Message in Matthew

Yet another “box” in the new edition of my textbook on the New Testament, this one a rather factual reflection dealing with the heightened apocalypticism found in the Gospel of Matthew.


Another Glimpse Into the Past

Box 8.3  Jesus’ Apocalyptic Message in Matthew

As we will see in greater detail in Chapter 16, apocalypticism was a popular worldview among Jews in the first century. Apocalyptic Jews maintained that…

The rest of this post is for blog ...

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Did Jesus Call Himself God?

I am posting two brief posts a day giving the short boxes I include in the new edition of my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.   This particular one deals with a topic I’ve addressed several times on the blog, in view of my book How Jesus Became God.


What Do You Think?

Box 10.5  Did Jesus Call Himself God?

It is an interesting to ask: “What did Jesus say about ...

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How Reliable are Oral Traditions?

Another box in my upcoming new edition of my textbook.




Something to Think About

Box 5.3  How Reliable Are Oral Traditions?

If stories of Jesus’ words and deeds were in oral circulation year after year before being written down, how do we know whether they were changed significantly over time?  One way to answer the question is to see how “oral cultures” preserve their traditions generally.

In written cultures, such as ours…

The rest of this post ...

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Mapping the Diversity of Earliest Christianity

Here is a question I received recently.



One of my favourite pieces on the blog is your post from 13 July 2015 titled ‘Earliest Christian Diversity’ on the work of Destro and Pesce. I find it fascinating and thought-provoking whenever I re-read it. It’s like new information hidden in plain sight..  Did you ever do any follow-up research or expansion on this topic? (Sorry if you did and I missed it.)



I have to admit, I had forgotten ...

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What’s the Story of Lazarus and the Rich Man All About?

In my previous post I summarized an Egyptian story about a rich man and a poor man who both die, with the poor man having a fantastic afterlife and the rich man suffering horrible torture.  The poor man was righteous and so was rewarded, the rich man was a sinner and so was punished.  Is that what the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16 is also all about – rewards for the righteous and punishment for ...

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The Fate of the Rich and the Poor: Another Story

In trying to unpack the understanding of the afterlife found in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, it is important to realize that Luke presents the story as a parable – a simple, imaginative story meant to illustrate a deeper spiritual lesson.   It is not a literal description of reality.

It is true that Luke does not actually call it a parable, but that’s true of most of the parables Jesus tells in this Gospel.  This section of Luke’s ...

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