Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Skeptic Month: Holy Postpartum Discrepancies!

Only two of the Gospels record Jesus’ birth – Matthew and Luke. They come at the story from different perspectives and there are no real problems between the two, until we read about the events that came after the birth.

In Matthew’s account, there is some major stuff going on! The wise men come to see the child in Bethlehem, and are warned in a dream to not return to Herod because he’s planning an outrage of epic proportions. Likewise, Joseph is told to take his family and flee to Egypt because Herod is looking to destroy the child.

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt and Herod slaughters all the male children under two years old in Bethlehem and surrounding areas. Once Herod dies, Joseph and his family return to Nazareth. Matthew points out that this was done so that the word of the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: "Out of Egypt I called My Son."

In Luke’s account, Jesus is circumcised eight days after the birth and they remain in the area of Jerusalem for about forty days (to complete the time of purification) and then they take Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Nazareth and the child ". . . grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him."

No dramatic flight to Egypt. No devastating slaughtering of the children.

Why the difference? Did Luke simply choose to leave out a few major details because he didn’t consider them germane to his purpose in writing the story? Or was he ignorant of the additional stories in Matthew?

Are they reconcilable? Or are these just two versions of the same myth?

To understand what's going on this month at Pastor Kip, click here.


Kristin said...

I find these entirely reconcilable. Luke has detailed events, but Matthew's weren't so much. Matthew's account of the flight to Egypt could well have happened after the Kings' visit - and would explain what funded the trip. Luke's account is careful to write the observance of Judaic rituals, lest anyone who first read Matthew's account believe they were lost in the whirlwind.

Both aspects serve a role. They dovetail nicely.

Pastor Kip said...

I agree, Kristin. These two accounts are reconcilable simply because they do not technically contradict each other.

It does bother me, however, that they seem to be completely different in tone and details. Luke's account is run-of-the-mill family fare, while Matthew's account is a page out of a Quentin Tarantino script (forgive the hyperbole).

Kristin said...

Kip, it makes sense, though, doesn't it?

God reaches out to each of us personally and must value our personalities to some extent. Luke, the methodical detail oriented one, wrote what God had him write. But, Matthew, of a different type entirely, wrote what God had him write. Both of the men would have seen the same events with different importance in their mind. For Luke, it was the observance of specific rituals, for example. For Matthew, it was the action!

Wouldn't we also have the same kind of differences were you and I to be the ones God inspired to write about an event like that?

OJB said...

Again, they just made it up. The anonymous gospel writers worked many years after the alleged events occurred. They worked with either no written records at all or very minimal records. So, of course, they had to make it up. Clearly the stuff mentioned in Matthew didn't happen because something that significant would have been reported in non-Biblical sources as well.

I think you can see the problems with your belief system (the stuff you reported during "Skeptic Month" shows just the tiniest fraction of the problems with Christianity). I invite you to join us atheists - truth is so much better that fiction!