OK, several readers have asked me why I don’t think the story of Jesus’ violent rejection in Nazareth, according to Luke 4:16-30, is historically reliable. The short version is that Luke has taken a story from Mark and expanded it significantly in light of his own literary and theological interests so that the account of the attempted assassination is not multiply attested and it does not pass the criterion of dissimilarity. It looks instead to be a story that Luke has come up with to make a point, a very important point, for his larger narrative.

First thing to note (this is frequently noted!): Luke has changed the placement of the story. Mark, Luke’s source, places it almost exactly halfway through Jesus’ public ministry in chapter 6 (the ministry is chs. 1-10 of Mark). For Mark it is all part of the “misunderstanding” motif: Jesus’ family misunderstands who he is (they think he’s crazy), so do the Jewish Leaders (they think he’s possessed by Beelzebub), so do his townsfolk (they think he’s simply the local TEKTON), and so do his disciples (who are clueless who he is…).

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