Matthew's Infancy Narrative
- Hello List:
I'm trying to make sense of Matthew's infancy narrative. Can any one
help me? I have in my head that 6-4 BCE is the typical range offered
for the birth of Jesus, but I'm suddenly confused by this, esp. with
respect to Matt.
Matt. says that Herod was alive when Jesus was born, and then that when
he died (4 BCE) the family was able to leave Egpyt for the Galilee.
There is no hint about how long they were in Egypt. It seems that the
scholarly estimation of 6-4 BCE assumes they were in Epypt for very
little time: a few months at least and 2 years at most. Presumably
Herod's killing children under 2 is part of the puzzle, but it does not
say that this happened two years before he died, only that the Magi had
given Herod a two year range for the birth of the king of the Jews.
Then you get to Matt 3:1, after the family has settled in Nazareth, and
we're told that "In those days" John's mission began. In what days?
The closest antecedent is in the days when they settled in Nazareth. If
Jesus was born in 6-4 BCE, this means Jesus is still a child (3 at the
most) when John starts his mission, which strikes me as wildly
improbable. The other alternative is that Matthew has patched together
events that occurred far apart together with very vague markers: "In
those days", "Then Jesus came", "Then Jesus was led" and therefore does
not give an accurate rendering of the timing of the events.
The only other piece of relevant data I can think of in terms of the
birth of Jesus is that Luke 3:23 says he was "about 30" when he began
his mission. But as specific as this sounds, it still does not tell us
what year it was when he turned 30. Even the reign of Pilate offers a
10 year window (26-36 CE).
Am I forgetting something that allows us to date the birth of Jesus at
6-4 BCE, and if that's accurate, how are we to understand Matthew's "In
those days" at 3:1?
Zeba A. Crook
Religion and Classics
2a Paterson Hall
1125 Colonel By Drive
613-520-2600, ext. 2276
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- At 06:00 PM 5/29/2006 -0400, Gordon Raynal wrote:
>On May 29, 2006, at 10:58 AM, Ken Olson wrote:Though this "Luke" seems to have had a very impressive library (Mark,
>> My own take would be that Luke had known Mark, which had
>> been THE gospel to him, for some time when Matthew came into his
> I doubt this because from my perspective one can make far more sense
>of the construction of the Luke-Acts work directly in relationship to
>copying from Mark and Q and also in relationship to John (1-20), and
>probably G. Mary, an edition of G. Thomas, and some of the other
>fragmentary gospels and by then, decades old preachings and teachings
>on key texts in TANAK as related to Jesus. Despite such as Mark G.'s
>position that it's a better case that Luke got a lot of his material
>from Matthew, as you know I think the whole issue of the use of the
>Sayings materials makes much more sense in terms of understanding their
>presence in Q and then the utilization and redaction independently by
>Matthew and Luke.
Q, John I, Mary, Thomas, etc.), I am struck that it nonetheless lacked
the most popular gospel of the second century even after it had been
circulating for 20-30 years.
The existence of Q in the form that is most commonly accepted is
based on the relative independence of Matthew and Luke. This premise
has ramifications on their relative dating, because the further apart
in time the compositions of Matthew and Luke become, the less
reasonable it becomes to postulate their mutual ignorance of each
As in any reduction to absurity, this exercise does not tell us
which assumption is off. It could be that Q never existed, or
that Q was smaller (a la Ron Price), or that Luke was written
earlier, or that Matthew was written later, etc. Nevertheless,
it is a good idea to step back from the jigsaw puzzle and see if
the individual pieces actually do fit together to form a coherent
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
Author of: The Gospel Hoax, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932792481