In the previous post I began to discuss (as a review for many readers of the blog) the historical problems with the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke.  The point of the discussion is that the stories cannot be accepted as historically accurate.  This is a huge issue mainly for fundamentalist Christians and conservative evangelicals – and those they have managed to persuade that if a story does not describe what actually happened, then it is worthless and should simply be thrown out.

For others – whether theologians, pastors, parishioners, or simply lay-folk interested in Christianity – the stories are important for other reasons, for example in the ideas they are trying to convey.

In any event, here is the second post dealing with the historical problems that arise when you compare the two accounts to one another.


It may be possible to reconcile these accounts if you work hard enough at it.  I suppose you’d have to say that after Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth, as in Luke, they decided to move into a house in Bethlehem, as in Matthew, and a year or so later the wise men arrived, leading to the flight to Egypt, and a later decision, then, to relocate again to Nazareth.  But if that is the way you choose to read the two accounts, you should realize that what you’ve done is create your own “meta-narrative” — one not found in any of the Gospels.  That is, you have decided to write a Gospel of your own!

Moreover, this approach doesn’t solve other historical problems posed by the texts, problems that appear nearly insurmountable, no matter how many meta-narratives one decides to create.  For purposes of illustration, I’ll…

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