What we need to do is ignore Luke when it comes to looking at Matthew. All
that both knew was that Jesus had been born not long before Herod died in
4BCE. Luke just made a mistake when he referred to the 6CE census in
connection with Jesus' birth. The Infancy Narrative of Matthew is a creation
based upon Davidic messianism, a developing and fluid early Christology and
the narrative structure of divine/heroic births (portent, threat to childs
life, escape, sudden appearance as a man). Ignore Luke as he didn't know
Matthew and was doing his own thing. This is the reason the two don't match
and have caused such headaches.
My socio-historical studies into late first century BC Judaea has made clear
that if Matthew's account was historical we'd have seen a social revolt of
very large proportions. Imagine what would happened if an eastern embassy of
astrologers marched into Jerusalem, proclaimed the arrival of the king of
the Jews, the messiah? Only the Emperor could appoint kings so he would have
gone ballistic, plus it would have led to a revolt against the hated Herod
and we'd have the First Revolt against Rome 60 years early.
Throw in a supposedly stellar event of ultra rare proportions and its then
surprising that we hear of nothing from anyone other than Matthew (who wrote
85 odd years after the event). Nothing in Josephus, no Latin writings
telling the tale of the time someone from the east (the Parthian empire,
Rome's most powerful enemy) annoyed Augustus and Herod, no hint of any
unrest, nothing in the reception history of Matthew within Patristic
writings, and so on. We can ignore the fallacy of the argument from silence
as the blaring silence of history is just too improbable. The social
conditions of the time would not have allowed Mt 1-2 to have happened as it
It never happened as its just a clever story written around a common
literary device using Davidic messianism. It's a theological prologue.
Behalf Of Stephen C. Carlson
Sent: 17 May 2006 20:36
Subject: Re: [XTalk] Matthew's Infancy Narrative
At 02:27 PM 5/17/2006 -0400, Zeba Crook wrote:
>>How about 4 Kgdms 20:1 or 1 Macc 2:1?
>I don't have access to 4 Kgdms where I am. Can you provide your
>analysis of the passage?
4 Kgdms 20:1 (LXX) has EN TAIS hHMERAIS EKEINAIS HRRWSTHSEN EZEKIAS
EIS QANATON. It corresponds to 2 Kgs 20:1 of the Hebrew Bible, which
relates events that occur in an unspecified part of the reign of
Hezekiah, mostly likely prior to the actions of Sennacherib in ch. 19.
This phrase is just looks like a vague indication of time.
>1Ma 2:1 is interesting and looks a lot like Matt 3:1. It does not tell
>us how long it took Mattathias to appear on the scene. It also does not
>tell us how long the persecution lasted. But we can safely assume that
>it was during the persecution that Mattathias came along, ie, at the
>same time. Rikk suggested earlier that "In those days" refers to the
>fact that Jesus was still living in Nazareth when John began his
>mission, and that it doesn't matter whether he happened to be 25 years
>older. So, still, I see the 1 Ma use of the phrase as less open ended
>than Matt's use of it. But I'll grant that it's the closest parallel
>I've seen yet.
Thanks. I like Rikk's suggestion as to the antecedent of "in
those days" in Matt 3:1, and it looks likes it can be just
vague enough not to pin Matthew down to any particular date.
If anything the phrase seems to tell us more about when Matthew
was written than when John appeared, because lumping together
the first twenty-odd years of the first century becomes easier
and easier to do with one's further temporal distance from
Stephen C. Carlson
Author of: The Gospel Hoax,
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