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.

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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?

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I have decided to ...

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Did Jesus Write Anything in the New Testament?

I have mentioned two apocryphal letters forged in the name of Jesus himself, one written to a King Abgar and the other, well, dictated to the cherubim in heaven from the cross.  Several readers have asked me about New Testament examples, one in the famous story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8, and the other the seven letters allegedly dictated by Christ in Revelation 2-3.

As to the first, yes, as many of you already know, even though ...

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Jesus and Hell

The second of my two boxes today from the new edition of my textbook.  This one of even more pressing importance: what did Jesus think of hell?

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Another Glimpse Into the Past

Box 15.8  Hell in the Teaching of Jesus

Jesus sometimes indicates that on the Day of Judgment sinners will be cast, unburied, into the most unholy, repulsive, God-forsaken place that anyone in Israel could imagine, the valley known as “Gehenna.” He says, for example that ...

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The Value of Eyewitness Testimony

The first of today’s two-short-posts from new “Boxes” in my New Testament textbook, on a matter of vital importance to anyone interested in knowing about the historical Jesus.

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What Do You Think?

Box 13.3  The Value of Eyewitness Testimony

 

If you want to know about something that happened in the past – whether in a criminal trial or just among your family and friends – you almost always prefer to learn what an eyewitness saw or heard.   ...

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The Difference Between Eschatology and Apocalypticism

QUESTION

I have recently been reading John Meier’s books and he almost always calls Jesus (and John the Baptist), eschatological prophets (once stating Jesus having a “tinge of apocalypticism” or something to that effect). And you always refer to Jesus as an “apocalyptic prophet”.   Do you make any distinction  in the terms “eschatological” and “apocalyptic”?

 

RESPONSE

Ah, it’s a good question.  These terms are an endless source of confusion for people – even scholars sometimes.  I think the problem is that different scholars ...

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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.

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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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If Jesus Wasn’t Really Raised from the Dead, What Happened?

I’m celebrating my birthday today, a sparkling young 63.  No cards or happy wishes necessary.  Just send cash.   But it occurred to me to look through old posts done on my birthday, and there was this interesting one from six years ago, on a very hot topic indeed!   Very provocative.   So here you are — be provoked on my happy day!

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One of the first books that I have re-read in thinking about how it is the man Jesus ...

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Did Jesus Believe Sinners Would Be Annihilated? The Sheep and the Goats

The most difficult passage that I will need to deal with in my discussion of Jesus’ view of the afterlife is the famous teaching about the last judgment of the “Sheep and the Goats,” found only in the Gospel of Matthew, there are reasons for thinking it is something Jesus actually said.   Doesn’t it teach eternal torment for the wicked, instead of annihilation?  I’ve concluded that the answer is no.  See if you find my reasoning persuasive.

The passage comes at ...

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Gehenna: Where You Do Not Want to Go

This is the second of my two posts on Gehenna.  My ultimate point in this discussion is that when Jesus talked about people ending up there, he did not mean they would roast forever in the first of hell, but that they would end up very badly indeed because (a) they would not receive burial and (b) even worse, their corpses would be thrown into the most hideous literally-god-forsaken place a Jew could imagine.

The earliest evidence from outside the Hebrew ...

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