Thursday, December 14, 2023

Another Reason Why The Nazareth Location Of Jesus' Conception Wouldn't Have Been Fabricated

I've written a lot about the evidence for Jesus' residence in Nazareth, going back to the time of his early childhood, such as here and here. Bart Ehrman has gone as far as to refer to Jesus' upbringing in Nazareth as "certain": "Little can be known about Jesus' early life, but one thing that can be said for certain is that he was raised in Nazareth, the home village of Joseph and Mary." (The New Testament [New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012], 269) What I want to do here is bring up another line of evidence for both the Nazareth residence and its earliness.

I've argued elsewhere that Micah 5:2 likely refers to the figure there as being born in Bethlehem. But somebody could take it to mean that the figure predicted in the passage is supposed to come from Bethlehem in the sense of being conceived there. The placement of Jesus in Nazareth at the time of his conception opens the door to doubting his fulfillment of Micah 5 under that reading of the passage. Even for those who think Micah 5 only requires a birth in Bethlehem or some other association with Bethlehem later in life, not conception there, the ability for others to disagree and raise the objection under consideration is significant. The easiest way for the early Christians to have handled this issue and others, if they weren't constrained much by what actually happened in history, would have been to place both the conception and the birth in Bethlehem. You don't have to get Jesus to Bethlehem if you place him there to begin with.

There are many other reasons for accepting the historicity of Jesus' residence in Nazareth and the timing of the residence early in his life, such as the evidence discussed in my posts linked above. The line of evidence I'm focused on in this post is just one among others. There's a lot of weight to the cumulative effect of all of these considerations.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

More Evidence For The Historicity Of Matthew 2:16

I wrote about some evidence for the passage's historicity in a thread several years ago (including in the comments section). In a post last year, I discussed a recent book by Sabine Huebner that addresses some issues related to the infancy narratives, including Matthew 2:16. People in the ancient world had a lot of reasons to discern, remember, and keep records of how long it took to travel from one location to another (e.g., people operating businesses whose success depended on issues of timing). One of the chapters in Huebner's book is about travel in the ancient world. Though she isn't focused on Matthew 2:16, she provides some examples of how issues of how long a journey takes would come up in a variety of contexts, such as letters sent between relatives arranging a meeting with one another (e.g., approximate Kindle locations 2838 and 3163 in Papyri And The Social World Of The New Testament [New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019]). Knowledge about how long journeys should take was somewhat common in the ancient world, including among people of lower social status. In fact, Huebner's chapter is focused on the lower classes. So, it seems that the fact that the magi's journey should have taken much less than two years was easily accessible to Matthew and his original audience. For a discussion of the significance of that situation, see the first thread linked above.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Response To Bart Ehrman's Webinar Against The Virgin Birth

It aired at 2:00 P.M. Eastern time today. It consisted of three segments, two presentations that were a little over an hour each and one session of questions and answers that lasted a little under an hour. I saw all of it other than about the first seven minutes of the first presentation, which I missed due to technical problems. The video isn't available for replay yet, but should be later this week. I plan to watch those first seven minutes at that point, then post any further comments that are warranted. But given the small amount of time involved and the nature of the webinar as a whole, I doubt that I missed much in those first several minutes.

When I provide documentation of something said during the webinar, I'll refer to the section involved and the approximate minute within that section. I don't have a video to play back at this point to get more precise numbers. So, "(second presentation, 21:00)" refers to something at roughly 21 minutes into the second presentation, "(questions and answers, 3:00)" refers to something about 3 minutes into the segment with questions and answers, etc.