Jesus Was Not From the Lineage of David!

The ancient and medieval church believed that Jesus’ humanity was a new creation, and therefore sinless. The ancients commonly believed that the woman contributes nothing to the physical being of the baby to be born. Ancient people thought the child was only related to the father. The mother was nothing but a receptacle for the male sperm, which grew to become a child, which we now know to be a false understanding of genetics. Since this is so, it makes a mockery of the attempt to harmonize the genealogies of Jesus given in Luke (3:23-37) and Matthew (1:1-17). They cannot be legitimately harmonized anyway, but the best attempt is to argue that Luke traces Jesus’ royal lineage back through Mary, while Matthew traces his lineage back through Joseph. Even if this is the case, there are additional serious problems:

If Jesus’ royal lineage is to be traced back through Mary, as it’s claimed Luke does, then Mary was just the receptacle of God’s seed, contributing nothing. And if that’s so, how can Jesus legitimately be of the Davidic lineage? However, if Jesus’ royal lineage is to be traced back through Joseph, as it’s claimed Matthew does, and if Joseph was not the father, then we have the same problem. In either case, how can Jesus legitimately be of the Davidic lineage?

Today, with the advent of genetics, most Christian thinkers try to defend the virgin birth on the grounds that the humanity of Jesus was derived from Mary, and his sinlessness and deity were derived from God. Today’s Christian thinkers do this because they now know Mary must have contributed the female egg that made Jesus into a man. But even with this new view, it doesn’t adequately explain how Jesus is a human being, since a human being is conceived when a human male sperm penetrates a human female egg. Until that happens we do not have the complete chromosomal structure required to have a human being in the first place.

39 comments:

vynette said...

Once it is realised that the New Testament writers recorded that Jesus of Nazareth was born out of wedlock, and that translators have played a few games with certain texts to prop up post-apostolic doctrines, the apparent conflict between the two genealogies disappears.

Matthew provides a genealogy to demonstrate that Jesus was not the son of Joseph (for a very compelling reason that has absolutely nothing to do with virgin-birth) while Luke's genealogy provides the name of Jesus' biological father to prove his descent from King David and his right to the title "messiah."

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Once again, science provides a knockout punch to a religious claim.

Has religion ever beat science on explaining anything?

Answer: NO

Jason said...

Jesus was born out of wedlock?

Mat 1:19 "Then Joseph her husband..."

Jason said...

Hi John,

Mary was the receptacle of God's seed, as you correctly stated. I'm not sure though why she needed to 'contribute' anything (or even what that means).

The lineage of both parents can be traced back to David because they're both from the line of Judah. Perhaps I'm missing something...?

Shygetz said...

The line (or House) of Judah contains many members who are not descendents of David. David came several generations after Judah. Indeed, at the time of the Exodus, there were 74,600 adult descendants of Judah (Genesis 29:35). All of them had their own lineages, only one of which became the line of David.

Jason said...

Absolutely. I thought I had a point but I've since lost it :)

Hallq said...

Actually, if you think about it carefully, the odds are very good that Jesus was descended from David, even though the Biblical genealogies are junk. As Richard Dawkins explains in The Ancestor's Take, given enough time, 80% of us will be the ancestor of everyone in the population. Throw in the fact that David was a polygamist, as were Solomon and perhaps David's descendants for who knows how many generations thereafter, and David's chances of being Jesus' ancestor are even better.

vynette said...

Jason,

"Mat 1:19 "Then Joseph her husband..."

The word translated here as "husband" means either "man," "husband," or "sir" in Greek, just as the word translated "wife" means either "woman" or "wife.

Verses 18-20 show that Mary was pregnant before they officially "came together." In spite of this, Joseph was told not to fear taking Mary to be his "woman."

"But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife..."

twinertia said...

Also, please keep in mind that Jesus had two (2) ancestors cursed by Yahweh never to inherit the throne of David (Coniah, in Jeremiah 22:28-30, and Jehoiakim, in Jeremiah 36:30).

Another relative, Nathan (in 1st Chronicles 29:1 and 1st Chronicles 28:5), keeps Jesus out of the conga line because his brother Solomon was chosen to helm the ship.

Larry said...

This is a very pointless point, that Jesus shouldn't have existed because he only should have received half of the DNA required for a human. You are not going to convince Christians that Jesus was born out of wedlock. How do you know that God did not give the other half of DNA, that is necessary for life and prevent Mary's original sin from being given to Jesus?

It is a ridiculous claim that science provided a "knockout punch" to a religious claim. In order to provide a "knockout punch", you would need to get a sample of Jesus', Joseph's, and Mary's DNA to prove that both are the parents. When should we expect the results?

The Lineage Loophole
http://www.direct.ca/trinity/loophole.html

‘It’s not science’
http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/0228not_science.asp

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/04/06/feedback-questioning-the-bible

Jason said...

I agree with Larry re: Jesus being born out of wedlock.

Yynette, you're implying that every reference to "husband" or "wife" when discussing Mary and Joseph should actually be "man" or "woman"? In other words, this makes sense to you:

Mat 1:16 "And Jacob begat Joseph the man of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

Mat 1:19 "Then Joseph her man, being a just man..."

Mat 1:20 "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy woman..."

Mat 1:24 "Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his woman:"

Plain and simple, this is ridiculous. On what grounds are you claiming the logical English words "husband" and "wife" should be substituted for "man" and "woman"?

investigate said...

Vynette...you are being disingenuous with the translation.

The word husband translates in the Greek as a phrase "man of her". The verse you quoted re taking Mary as his "wife" translates "woman of you". The phrase denotes the marital status.

John...your post, with respect, is also obtuse. If God exists, then creating a unique perfect human male chromosome with which to fertilise Mary's egg is hardly a difficult act.

The problem with all the anti-miracle, anti-prophecy line of argument is that one first has to prove that a supernatural God is impossible. Long before you get down to the tin tacks of which God or which sacred book, you still have to establish that the existence of any God is impossible.

If you can't do that (and no one has) then at best you have an interesting theory but with no weight.

You guys seem to be attempting cartwheels through a cat door in a bid to explain away things that are ultimately trivial if God exists.

Virgin Birth? Not a problem. Resurrection? Not a problem.
Prophecy? Not a problem.

I had to laugh at the circular reasoning on a Wikipedia discussion page the other day about the book of Micah. Asked for a source for his claim that Micah was dated late, the editor responded that this seemed to be the general view, because it contained fulfilled prophecy, and as we all know prophecy can't happen, therefore the book must have been written afterwards.

Spanish Inquisitor: The Bible 3500 years ago stated the Creator of the universe exists in a realm outside Time. Thanks to cosmology, humanity has only discovered in the past 40 years that Time only exists inside our universe. Whatever it sprang from was timeless.

Keep looking for that knockout punch, my friend. :)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Investigate:
No, sir, it is your post that is 'ingenuous.' It is not necessary to prove 'a supernatural God is impossible,' because it is not 'possible' to prove that the world was not created on June 16th of this year, complete with evidences of a 'past.' (Which would make the entire Christian story part of that 'creation.')

With this type of skepticism, no argument is meaningful. (A similar point can be made about solipsism. The entire Universe could exist inside my brain -- or yours, if you exist and are reading this. These ideas are non-disprovable, as well as being fruitless.)

If, one the other hand, we accept that 'reality is objective and that man's perceptions -- through his senses and instruments -- have a certain correlation to that objective reality,' then we can procede with our discussion. (It's called a 'postulate' or an 'axiom.')

Even granted this, a supernatural being or beings is possible. Have you ever heard of the "Flying Spaghetti Monster." The whole thing, now, has become a hilarious parody of organized religion, but if you've ever looked up the original letter to the Kansas Board of Education that started it, you'll see that it makes a very important philosophical point. It's available at
http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

This is why, granted that no conception of a God ever formulated is, by this definition, impossible, it is up to the believer to demonstrate his idea is not merely 'possible' but supported by some evidence. And he can't do it by saying 'the Bible says it, that ends it.'

After all, the idea that God should send his only-begotten son to Earth to usher in a New Age comes not from Judaism but from Zoroastrianism.

(And those people who ignore my point because they see Zoroastrianism today as an almost dead relic with only a few believers forget two facts. That Zoroastrianism was the religion of the Persian Empire, and that the Holy Land was under Persian control for some centuries before the Romans booted them out. In fact, Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic, and Aramaic is a form of Persian.

(It is not surprising that the religion of a conquered country is influenced by that of the conquerors. It always happens -- usually with some reverse influence as well. Look at Santeria (voodoo), for example. Originally totally 'pagan,' in its current form it includes many Christian influences, including the use of saints. Many Christian saints have become figures in the Santeria pantheon.)

In fact, the influence of Zoroastrianism on all three 'Abrahamic religions' has been shown, so, is the argument for the 'virgin birth' and the Divine Sonship of Jesus 'the Bible says it' -- when the Old Testament says nothing of the sort -- or 'the Avesta says it.'

Jennifer said...

Well, here I am again...hope you don't mind me chiming in.

Has anyone asked the Jews how they trace lineage? I'm surprised there is no recognition of them here.

From what I understand, they trace it through the mother's line. A Jewish man married to a non-Jewish woman does not leave a Jewish lineage. Jews only come from women...if a woman brings forth a child from a non-Jewish man that child is still considered a Jew even if he/she is illegitimate.

Prup,
The Zoroastrian argument is weak and I am wondering why you are using it?? Please don't take offense to this, but I thought you were smarter than that!
Zoroastrianism, being a religion based on one eternal god, is not the beginning of Judaism or Islam. It's a nice idea for those who want to point a finger in history and say, "Look! There it is!" And yes, Christians do it too...we all do...but our conclusions based on history can only go so far no matter what we believe.

I'm wondering if anyone can explain what is required in order to claim one is a descendant in the line of David? Do you know David's ancestry?

Shygetz said...

Jennifer,

The Jews trace religous lineage through matrilineal descent (i.e. the question of who is a Jew) only in the case of mixed marriages, which were considered void, thus rendering the child illegitimate; however, they probably did not begin doing that until the Second Temple period, which was around 515 BCE-70 CE. So, Jesus would have been some somewhere in the middle of this period. The Talmud, which is the written source for this practice, was compiled in 2nd century CE. In Jew-Jew marriages, the lineage is paternal. Also, the tribe of a child passes through the father; only the Jewish identity in mixed unions passes through the mother.

Jennifer said...

Shygetz,
What do you think of this?

Jennifer said...

Also, I am aware of the compilation of the Talmud but I don't think the timing supports any discrepancy with ideology. The Talmud was a written form of teaching to pass on traditions and to explain beliefs so those traditions and beliefs must have been around before the compilation.

Because Mary's genealogy isn't given, it is just assumed that she is also from the line of David.

investigate said...

Prup...you expect me to take seriously your Zoroastrian proposition??

The earliest extant manuscripts date from the 13th century AD, which leaves plenty of time for the Christian story to have been well and truly absorbed by Zoroastrianism, rather than the other way around.

I mean, really? You guys are trying to rip holes in the Gospels which have far better archaeological cred than any religious document of that time, yet you'll bend over backwards for the Axial fantasies?

Next you'll be telling me all about Apollonius, or Mithras...the orthodox academic consensus (even among the liberal and non-believing wing) is that these other religions borrowed memes from the much more successful Christianity, in order to coast on its coat-tails and say, "me too!"

"Belief in divine revelation and the recording of that revelation in books was in the air, and the Christians, of course, were the most widespread propagators of the idea of 'Holy Writ'. It may have been because of the example of the Christians that the Zoroastrian church assembled and canonised its writings." - Dr Richard Frye...

Heck...Zoroaster wasn't even a figment in his great grandparents' imaginations when Isaiah and Micah were prophesying about Messiahs...he wouldn't be born for another century or so..(the generally accepted date by scholars is between 600-550BC)

You were saying, Prup?

Jennifer said...

Investigate,
That's a good point to make out loud. Another point is that the temple at Migdol and other supposed "proofs" of the origins of monotheism are only just recent finds of varying sources of ancient belief in one god.

Because other civilizations made a claim to one god only further supports the validity of such a belief. If God created the world, He would have been the first source of belief in any sort of god. Monotheism did not begin with the Jews, it began with the first people.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Investigate:
Can you please give me the source of the Richard Frye quote? He's certainly a scholar I need to investigate -- though his expertise seems more to be in the Islamic period of Persia, and I have to wonder whether he would have been a faculty member or guest lecturer at the number of Muslim Universities that hired him -- since they are not known for 'fostering the spirit of free inquiry' especually when it comes to the origins of Islam.

As for the substance of the quote, using as my authority R.C. Zaehner's THE DAWN AND TWILIGHT OF ZOROASTRIANISM, the oldest parts of the Avesta date -- in their current form --to the 9th Century. These were obviously written summaries of the original, which might have been transmitted orally. The main argument against this having been a later construction is the antiquity of the form of the language, so ancient that the later parts seem to have been written by people who barely understood the original.

Thus, to quote Zaehner,
"The language of the Avesta very soon seems to have become a purely liturgical language which was no longer spoken and only very imperfectly understood. Thus whereas in the Gāthās we feel that what we cannot explain is due to our own ignorance, we can feel tolerably certain that in the Vidēvdāt what appear to be gross grammatical blunders are genuinely so. Indeed, in the Vidēvdāt we have the impression that the authors are not only writing in a language that is not their own, but are doing so in one the rudiments of whose grammar they had quite failed to master."


As for the Isaiah and Micah prophecies, I assume you are, since you mention them, willing to take Joseph's challenge.

I'll simply point out to you that the idea of the Messiah was not a religious figure but a political-military leader who would reestablish the 'Kingdom of David.' He would be accompanied by a religious leader who would testafy to his Messiahship but would not necessarily be religious himself. (I again mention Bar Kochba and Akiba.)

investigate said...

I'm not sure whether Frye is still there, but he was: Dr. Richard Frye, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

His essay covers the Sasanian period and is on the web at http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/emperor_ardeshir_history2.php

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I'll check him out, but he did die recently. And Pres. Ahmadinejad okayed his request to be buried in Iran. I do thank you for pointing me in his direction. I'll check out the articles, and questia has at least one book and a collection of essays he edited.

investigate said...

Now, given that Bar Kochba was not born in Bethlehem, he wasn't really a credible Messianic candidate despite Akiva's urgings, and history shows he lost, which pretty much sums it all up.

No-one disputes that Jews were expecting a warrior king to rise up...but that expectation was born more of hope and desperation than the content of the OT Messianic prophecies.

The Christian identification of the Messiah with Christ is valid, IMHO, based on the evidence that does exist. Sure, we can argue around the fringes of exactly what is a prophecy and what isn't...but there remain some that are indisputable in their prophetic nature and that Jesus appears the fulfillment of them.

Joseph said...

"...but there remain some that are indisputable in their prophetic nature and that Jesus appears the fulfillment of them."

Investigate, I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. The more I study the "proof texts" that Matthew and the other Gospel writers use to bolster their case for Jesus being Messiah, the more I am convinced there is little or no case at all.

Take the Bethlehem "prophecy" for example. Matthew quotes Micah 5:2 as referring to the town in which Messiah would be born. However, reading the Micah passage carefully, it is refers not to town (Bethlehem as a town didn't exist in Micah's day, as far as I know) but to a particular clan that this messiah figure would be related to (see 1 Chron. 4:1-9 for a genealogical listing of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem). Micah says in that same chapter that this ruler will bring about victory for Israel as a nation and a lasting peace. Jesus accomplished neither of those objectives. Thus, his followers were left to radically reinterpret the Hebrew scriptures so that his unfulfilled messianic ambitions and horrifically short life "fit."

investigate said...

Thanks for that Joseph. If I may comment:

Allegation 1: the town of Bethlehem did not exist in Micah’s day (720BC).

This passage from the Palestinian municipality governing Bethlehem today should lay that claim to rest:

“Three thousand years before the birth of Christ, Bethlehem was already known as a Canaanite settlement. Canaanite tribes who settled in Palestine, built small cities surrounded by walls for protection against the attacks of raiders. One of these cities was Beit Lahama known today as Bethlehem. So, the word Bethlehem is derived from Lahmo the Chaldean god of fertility, which was adopted by the Canaanites as Lahama. In accordance with the Canaanite practice of building temples to their gods, they built a temple for Lahama on the present mount of the Nativity which overlooks the fertile valleys of the region. Walls, ramparts and other structures in different sites in Bethlehem clearly establish its Canaanite origin 3000 years before the birth of Jesus.

“Bethlehem was mentioned around 1350 BC in the Tell al-Amarna letters, from the Egyptian governor of Palestine to the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It was depicted as an important staging and rest stop for travelers from Syria and Palestine going to Egypt..."

Allegation 2: Bethlehem refers to the clan, not the place.

Farrell Till overlooks a fundamental point here. If you read the Book of 1 Chronicles carefully, you’ll see Till’s assertion “that a person named Bethlehem was an Old Testament character descended from Caleb” probably does not stack up. It hinges on the Hebrew word ab, translated as “father”. But whilst it did mean biological father, the word also meant “chief” or “leader” and is repeatedly used in that context in the Bible.

Of the 53 references to Bethlehem in the Bible, 51 refer to the village and two refer to an individual, prefixed in both cases as “father of Bethlehem”. But in each case, the supposed “father” of this individual named Bethlehem is a different person. In one case it is a man named Salma, in the other it is a man named Hur. Far more likely that the proper translation of “father” in this context is “leader”, which implies that Salma and Hur were both leaders of the town of Bethlehem in their respective generations.

Even if Micah is referring to a Bethlehem “clan”, it is a virtual certain bet that this clan resided in…well, Bethlehem.

Often, disputes over the accuracy of the Bible swing on the meanings of obscure words, and the Micah prophecy is a perfect example.

You’ll recall in the paragraphs above the significance of the word ’lp, translated as “thousands” or “clans”. Adding to the problem of translating ancient Hebrew is the fact that the Jews did not have any written vowels before 700AD. Ths, schlrs hv t gss th mssng vwl nfrmtn s th mnng s vbl.

Kenneth Kitchen, a Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and expert on the ancient Near East, sets out a clear example of how this small Hebrew word can confuse:

“In Hebrew, as in English, words that look alike can be confused when found without a clear context. On its own, ‘bark’ in English can mean the skin of a tree, the sound of a dog, and an early ship or ancient ceremonial boat. Only the context tells us which meaning is intended.

“The same applies to the word(s) ’lp in Hebrew. 1) we have ’eleph, ‘thousand’, which has clear contexts like Gen. 20:16 (price) or Num. 3:50 (amount). But 2) there is ’eleph for a group – be it a clan/family, a (military) squad, a rota of Levites or priests etc…And 3) there is ’lp, a leader, chief, or officer.”

Kitchen then spells out the obvious kinds of problems, many of which are cited as “errors” in the Bible:

“The question has been asked by many: Are not the ‘six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty people’ in such passages as Num. 2:32 actually 603 families/squads/clans, or leaders with 550 members or squads commanded? Or some such analogous interpretation of the text?

“It is plain that in other passages in the Hebrew Bible there are clear examples where ’eleph makes no sense if translated ‘thousand’ but good sense if rendered otherwise, e.g., as ‘leader’ or the like. So in 1 Kings 20:30, in Ahab’s time a wall falling in Aphek could hardly have killed 27,000 men; but 27 officers might well have perished that way. In the previous verse (29) we may equally have record of the Aramean loss of 100 infantry officers in one day (with concomitant other losses?), rather than the loss of 100,000 troops overall.”

knerd said...

John,

Maybe the New Testament writers were more interested in showing the importance of Jesus than setting out the authentic historical record.

Did the evangelists write literal nonsense and we are now modern and intelligent enough to see that? Or did they write profound, metaphorical and sacred stories that we now stupidly take literally?

From our post-modern and sophisticated vantage point, it may be easy to miss what might really be going on within the genre of "gospel."

Shygetz said...

investigate, you have ignored the point that Jesus did fulfill many of the prophecies about the Messiah, and that some of the prophecies that he supposedly DID fulfill actually had nothing to do with a Messiah.

Has Israel had everlasting peace since Jesus? Has the Law of God been written on the hearts of the House of Israel and the House of Judah?

The answers are obvious.

Shygetz said...

sorry, should have been "Jesus did NOT fulfill many of the prophecies".

Must type slower.

Joseph said...

Bravo, Investigate! This is the kind of discussion I find stimulating. I obviously have some more reading and research to do before giving an adequate response, though you may very well be correct in several of your assertions. Did you look up the 1 Chronicles reference? I didn't see you address the geneology which lists Bethlehem Ephrathah as person, not a place. You are right, there is a village (or villages) called Bethlehem referenced fairly early in Scripture (Joshua 3:15 references it as belonging to the Tribe of Zebulun).

Having said that, the debate is still over whether (1) Micah had in mind the same city that Jesus was born in and (the real clincher) whether (2) Micah had Jesus in mind at all (prophetically speaking, of course). As Shygetz echoed, there are several important aspects of the Micah prophecy that Jesus certainly did not fulfill, which are markedly more important than being born in a town called Bethlehem.

Joseph said...

knerd said, "Maybe the New Testament writers were more interested in showing the importance of Jesus than setting out the authentic historical record."

Read the preface to the Gospel of Luke and tell me whether the author makes literal, historical claims:

Luke 1:1-4, "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."

Take note of such statements as:

* "those who from the first were eyewitnesses"
* "I myself have carefully investigated"
* "everything from the beginning"
* "know the certainty"

It doesn't sound to me like Luke expects his readers to take his Gospel in any other way BUT literally. Nice try.

investigate said...

Thanks Joseph...yes, I did review the 1 Chronicles genealogy, which is built in to my comment although perhaps not explicitly.

"Ephrathah" means bountiful or fruitful, and was used as a girl's name as well as an adjective for the area around Bethlehem (and possibly elsewhere).

1 Chron 2:19 records "Caleb married Ephrath, who bore him Hur".

At 2:24, the name is used to describe a place, possibly a village founded by Caleb: "After Hezron died in Caleb Ephrathah..."

1 Chron 2:50 talks of "The sons of Hur the firstborn of Ephrathah", tracing Hur's maternal link here.

2:51 calls Salma "the father of Bethlehem"...but the use of "father of" in these verses appears to be a mistranslation, because "leader of" makes more sense. Shobal for example is called "father of Kiriath Jearim" and "Hareph the father of Beth Gader". Kiriath and Beth Gader. Beth Gader is only referred to once in the Bible, and translators have presumed it is a person. Beth means "city" however, and most other similar references turn out to be towns. I think what the verse is really trying to say is that Hur's sons became the chiefs of several settlements (including Beth Lehem).

1 Chron 4:4 records that Hur is "father of Bethlehem", but there is no genealogy for a "Bethlehem" as a person, so again I suggest the correct translation of "ab" is not father in this context but "leader".

Shygetz...Israel will get its peace when the final portion of the Messianic prophecies are fulfilled. After all, one of the prophecies was that Israel and Judah had to be united under one leader and all the Jews brought back from the diaspora..in Christ's time Israel and Judah were still not a united Kingdom if I recall correctly...but they are now.

The Messianic mission is a work in progress, begun with the earthly Christ and concluding with the return of Christ.

investigate said...

PS..there appear to be two villages named Bethlehem. The major one is the one we all know and love. The tiny no longer existant one was in the territory of Zebulun, close to Galilee

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

Interesting. Thank you for enlightening us, Investigate. Of course, since I don't read ancient Hebrew I cannot offer a counter argument to your specific points on the Chronicles geneology (not that I'm doubting your research).

Going back to Micah for a moment, where is the link between Bethlehem Ephrathah and the Bethlehem that existed in Jesus' time? We're assuming they were the same, but was it recognized by this name? Or are you suggesting that process of elimination (there being several Bethlehems at one time, but only one in the first century) leads us to that conclusion? I'd love to read a scholarly treatment of the Micah reference and do a little more digging on the Bethlehem issue myself. Can anyone recommend a scholarly article on the subject?

To your last statement about the Messianic mission being a work in progress, this is where I truly have the most difficulty accepting the Christian faith. The problem of evil and the apparent silence of God since the New Testament was written creates serious doubt in my mind about whether the Messianic vision of Micah is really in progress at all.

knerd said...

Joseph, you conclude your response to my post by writing "It doesn't sound to me like Luke expects his readers to take his Gospel in any other way BUT literally. Nice try."

We should not assume that the "literal, historical claims" Luke makes in his account would mean the same thing to a modern, historical biographer.

The gospels were not intended to describe the past as much as effect the present.

When Luke seems to be claiming that his gospel is based on eye-witness testimony, the 21st Century reader has to realize that would include visions, dreams as well as predictions "discovered" in the Hebrew Bible.
We are looking in on an ancient worldview. In the genre of a gospel, truth is not the same thing as historical, factual accuracy.

Joseph said...

knerd, that's certainly one take on it. I'm currently revisiting early church history for my own edification and finding that many of the church fathers seemed to take the events as historical (according to their understanding of that concept--agreed, not the same what our understanding would be). To be clear, most evangelicals (at least the most vocal and influential) believe the Gospels record historical events meant to be interpreted literally. My arguments will be tuned to debunk this perspective (you may have inadvertently helped me in doing this), since I am most intimately familiar with the fundamentalist Christian interpretation of Scripture.

Shygetz said...

Shygetz...Israel will get its peace when the final portion of the Messianic prophecies are fulfilled. After all, one of the prophecies was that Israel and Judah had to be united under one leader and all the Jews brought back from the diaspora..in Christ's time Israel and Judah were still not a united Kingdom if I recall correctly...but they are now.

The Messianic prophecies were specific that the Messiah would accomplish these things during his lifetime. Jesus did not accomplish them.

The tribes of Israel and Judah have NOT been united; there are more divisions (physical, theological, political, etc) in Judaism than at any time previous in history. There is no kingdom in Israel; there is a democracy (and thanks to contact with the Greeks, the ancient Jews knew the difference). The Diaspora continues, with no signs of ending. Your Messiah failed.

Birdman said...

I'm no scholar, but this all seems eerily similar to "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel" as Jesus warned "his" first century Scholars. First of all, marriage in biblical times occured at the engagement, not the ceremony; secondly, who cares about lineage. The real question should be "is the resurrection an actual, verifiable, historical event"? If THIS can be shown true, then all the subjective reasoning and polite philosophical, intellectual jousting can be put to rest. Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic or HE's Lord. Everything hinges on the historical evidence surrounding the Resurrection. Disprove that and "I'LL" become an "Atheist, Agnostic" or WHATEVER....

mesirois said...

Basic concepts are flawed in this attempted justification,
This is not Rocket science, nor any science, this is based on history

1. Jesus was Mary's son not Joseph's as he was conceived of the Holy Spirit
2. Mary's line was of David (not disputed)
3. Therefore Jesus was of Mary's line only and a descendant of Joseph
4. Jesus was not "born out of wedlock" as Mary was married to Joseph at the time of His birth