Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Written Sources Behind The Opening Of Luke's Gospel

Two of the biggest misconceptions people have about Christmas issues are that there wasn't much interest in Jesus' childhood in the earliest decades of church history and that whatever information circulated on the subject prior to the gospels of Matthew and Luke was only disseminated orally. An effective way of addressing both of those misconceptions simultaneously is to focus on the sources Luke cites in the first few verses of his gospel.

Christmas And Paganism

Michael Jones (InspiringPhilosophy) has been doing some good work on the subject and has recently put out more videos about it. Here's a shorter one. Here's one that's longer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

John The Baptist's Knowledge Of Jesus' Childhood

Luke 1 is corroborated by other sources in a lot of ways, such as the ones discussed here. But what I want to focus on in this post is how the other gospels seem to support what Luke says about John the Baptist's knowledge of Jesus' childhood.

For one thing, John's popularity in his public ministry as an adult makes more sense if the events of Luke 1 really happened. John wasn't performing miracles as an adult, as far as we can tell, and there's no other competing hypothesis that makes comparable or better sense than the historicity of Luke 1 does as an explanation of John's early popularity in his adult ministry. What all four gospels and other sources say about John's adulthood becomes more coherent in the context of Luke 1.

Matthew 3:14 suggests that John the Baptist was already familiar with Jesus in some manner. While we can think of multiple ways in which such a familiarity could have arisen (e.g., Divine revelation to John around the time when the Matthew 3 passage occurred), the most natural explanation in Matthew's context is what happened in chapters 1-2. John not only was expecting the Messiah before Jesus' public ministry began, but also already held a high view of Jesus in particular.

Similarly, John 1:15 implies that John knew that he was born before Jesus, as Lydia McGrew explains here. That's a significant piece of information to have about Jesus, especially if John and Jesus were closer rather than further apart in age, since that greater closeness in age would make discerning who was older more difficult.

So, though neither Matthew nor John discusses how closely related John and Jesus were in their youth, they both suggest that John had substantial knowledge about Jesus' childhood, which offers some corroboration of Luke 1. And aside from the details found in the opening of Luke's gospel, it's significant that John seems to have so much knowledge of Jesus' childhood and already holds such a high view of Jesus at the start of his public ministry. That goes against the wedge Raymond Brown and others have tried to drive between the infancy narratives and the accounts of Jesus' adulthood, as I've discussed elsewhere.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

How To Argue For A Traditional Christian View Of Jesus' Childhood

A few years ago, I wrote a post outlining how to concisely argue for a traditional view of the childhood of Jesus as a whole. Since then, I've written other posts outlining various ways to begin arguing for subcategories within that larger context. I want to provide a collection of links to those posts here. I intend to update this post with more links in the future if there's more material to add. You may want to check back periodically for updates.

A Geographical Argument For Christmas
Even Without The Miracles, Jesus' Childhood Was Unusually Memorable
A Premarital Pregnancy In Nazareth
Start With Nazareth Rather Than Bethlehem
Magi Who Arrived Late
The Credibility Of Jesus' Relatives As Witnesses

Magi Who Arrived Late

My last few posts have been addressing various approaches Christians can take to begin making an argument for a traditional Christian view of Jesus' childhood. In this post, I want to focus on the issues surrounding the star of Bethlehem, a subject that gets a lot of media attention every year and a lot of attention in other contexts. I wouldn't recommend starting with the argument I'm going to outline below if you're having a discussion about Christmas issues in general. But if the discussion is about the star and matters that are closely related, then the argument I'm about to summarize would be a good one to begin with.

It's useful to focus on the two issues highlighted in the title of this post. Why does Matthew mention magi rather than some other individual or group? And why do they arrive late (Matthew 2:16)? For a further discussion of those two issues and more evidence for the star material in Matthew's gospel, see here. Combining the two issues I'm focused on, such as I've done in the title of this post, is a good, concise way of articulating some of the reasons we have for believing Matthew's material on the star and related issues. You can expand on the two issues I've brought up here, such as by adding the other ones discussed in my post linked above, but it's often helpful to begin with a smaller number of issues.