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Re: [XTalk] Infancy Narratives

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... Having just finished grading 150 final exams I can take a breather to wish all a happy New Year & reply (briefly I hope) to Bob s citation of Ray Brown.
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 3, 2002
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      Bob Schacht wrote:

      > Rather than respond item by item to your strenuous attempt to refute any
      > common tradition to both Matthew and Luke, I here provide Raymond Brown's
      > list of 11 points shared by the two infancy narratives (Birth of the
      > Messiah, 1977, p. 34f.):

      Having just finished grading 150 final exams I can take a breather to wish
      all a happy New Year & reply (briefly I hope) to Bob's citation of Ray
      Brown.

      First let me point out that my prior post was framed only as an ad hoc
      reaction to Mark Cameron's argument tracing the star of Bethlehem to a
      hypothesized common pre-synoptic "tradition about Jesus' birth." It was not
      intended to be an exhaustive comparative analysis of the infancy narratives
      much less a critique of Brown's *Birth of the Messiah.* I have neither time
      nor interest in pursuing either right now. I'm afraid, other projects are
      more pressing. But since Bob has put Brown's list of 11 alleged "common
      points" in Matt 2 & Luke 2 on the table, here's my comments one those items.

      First, it should be kept in mind that Brown himself formulated these points
      & that they are not the sort of verbatim or structural parallels in Matt &
      Luke that could be cited as evidence of these two synoptists working from a
      preformed common *birth story* (a more precise term than "infancy narrative"
      since infancy covers several years of life). Second, several of the common
      details are isolated words loaded with christological /messianic
      significance (e.g., Davidic descent, Holy Spirit, Bethlehem) at least some
      of which are found in pre-synoptic christological formulae that have nothing
      to do with any birth story or infancy tradition about Jesus (e.g., Rom
      1:3-4). Others are narrativized elaborations of the virgin motif of LXX Is
      7:14 or traditional features of ancient Jewish/Xn hagiographic story-telling
      (angel). Others were basic biographical data about HJ that was public
      knowledge apart from any birth story (Mary, Joseph, Nazareth). Finally,
      Herod was the well-known name of a long-lived infamous ruler which any first
      c. writer who had any sense of history could invoke to give a story
      historical verisimilitude. I readily admit that all these items were part of
      pre-synoptic tradition. What I deny, however, is that these had coalesced to
      form a common tradition about HJ's birth prior to the composition of
      independent infancy narratives by Matt & Luke. One would have to be able to
      produce evidence of the structure of a common narrative behind Matt 1-2 &
      Luke 1-2 to convince me of that.

      Now for Brown's points:

      > 1. The parents to be are Mary and Joseph who are legally engaged or
      > married, but have not yet come to live together or have sexual relations
      > (Matt 1:18; Luke 1:27,34).

      This is a paraphrase of Matt; the Lukan verses stress Mary's virginity
      without mentioning cohabitation. In either case this point is historicized
      christology rather than pre-natal biography. If it were the latter one would
      be hard pressed to explain why GJohn makes no reference to it.

      HJ's mother's name was widely known to be Mary. As a Palestinian Jew he was
      also probably known by a patronym (in this case as "son of Joseph"). But it
      became axiomatic for early Xns even before Paul that Jesus was to be
      proclaimed "Son of God" (Gal 1:15). Therefore, the identification of Jesus
      as "son of Joseph" became christologically problematic for some literal
      minded Xns. For people generally think that a person can have only one true
      father. If God was to be affirmed as Jesus' only *real* father then it had
      to be explained how he came to be known as "son of Joseph" in a way that
      precluded the possibility of Joseph's paternity. Since almost all marriages
      in the ancient world were arranged when people reached puberty, the dating
      of Jesus' conception to the period of his parent's betrothal, coupled with
      insistence that they had not yet had intercourse, provided a natural logical
      explanation that could have easily occurred to different theologically
      motivated authors who were working on the same problem with the same minimal
      biographical data (HJ's parents' names). Whether this was an instance of
      simultaneous discovery of the same solution by totally independent
      researchers (as often happens) or whether it had already begun to circulate
      among "preachers of the word" that influenced Luke and Matt is impossible to
      determine.

      > 2. Joseph is of Davidic descent (Matt 1:16,20; Luke 1:27,32; 2:4 [cf.
      > Romans 1:3-4]

      Davidic descent was practically axiomatic for any messianic candidate in
      ancient Judaism. And Jews historically traced lineages through the paternal
      line (with names of mothers often passing unknown). The fact is Matt & Luke
      do not provide Joseph with the same lineage & even disagree on the name of
      his own father (HJ's legal grandfather). Thus it is evident that they were
      not working from common genealogical information. Joseph's Davidic descent
      is again fundamentally a christological development since it enabled Xns
      (after Mark) to assert that Jesus was in fact (legally) "of the line of
      David" & hence a legitimate candidate for the messianic figure alluded to in
      various passages of Hebrew scripture.

      > 3. There is an angelic announcement of the forthcoming birth of the child
      > (Matt 1:20-23; 1:30-35).

      This is an abstraction from two completely different narratives of
      revelations to Joseph on the one hand (Matt) & Mary on the other (Luke)
      using the time-honored convention of divine announcements in Jewish
      story-telling. It overlooks the great differences in the Matthean & Lukan
      narratives. Matt's "angelos" is non-personified voice that Joseph hears in a
      dream. Luke's is the archangel Gabriel who is deputized to visit Mary much
      like the angelic visitors to Abraham & Sarah who announced Isaac's birth.
      There is no common narrative tradition behind these two stories.

      > 4. The conception of the child by Mary is not through intercourse with her
      > husband (Matt 1:20,23,25; Luke 1:34)

      This is not really a separate point but simply a reiteration of Brown's
      first point. Cf. my response to that.

      > 5. The conception is through the Holy Spirit ( Matt 1:18,20; Luke 1:35).

      Again historicized christology. Rom 1:4 stands near the beginning of this
      theological trajectory with the HS proclaimed as the agent in Jesus'
      resurrection from the dead. Mark links that moment to his baptism. Matt &
      Luke are the *first* authors to associate the HS with Jesus' conception.
      Again it matters not whether this was the result of independent
      brainstorming on their part or the result of each drawing on a later stage
      of christological argumentation that prevented any period in Jesus' life as
      being interpreted as devoid of the HS. The point is it is not common
      tradition about Jesus' conception known to Paul, Mark or the author(s) of
      GJohn (where the HS is given/sent only by the resurrected Jesus).

      > 6. There is a directive from the angel that the child is to be named Jesus
      > (Matt 1:21; Luke 1:31)

      What name would you expect? The fact is this person was named Yeshua. If
      anyone asked who gave him that name & why, it would be natural for Jewish
      Xns to claim that God did because of the inherent theophorous connotations
      of the root name Yeho-shua (YHWH saves). And angels were the conventional
      agents for conveying divine intentions.

      > 7. An angel states that Jesus is to be Savior (Matt 1:21; Luke 2:11)

      This is simply a Hellenistic christological inference base on etymology of
      Yeho-SHUA. The use of the fish (IXQYS) by early Xns as a visible creed shows
      that the identification of Jesus as "Son of God" (QEOU YIOS) & "Savior"
      (SOTHR) was a common christological formulation without any reference to a
      birth story. In this case, Matt & Luke are simply providing a historicized
      explanation of the common creed of Greek speaking Xns in the latter part of
      the 1st c. CE.

      > 8. The birth of the child takes place after the parents have come to live
      > together (Matt 1:24-25; Luke 2:5-6)

      Which explains why HJ would have been known as "son of Joseph" but also
      protects him from the stigma of being an obvious *mamzer* (bastard), which
      would have led to ostracization by religious Jews & prevented him from being
      accepted as Messiah.

      > 9. The birth takes place at Bethlehem (Matt 2:1; Luke 2:4-6)

      An obvious Davidic motif (Micah 5:2). The important thing is that Matt &
      Luke totally disagree about how Joseph & Mary came to be there when Jesus
      was born. Matt assumes they had a house there (which a star could "stand
      over") which they left only because they were warned to flee from Herod & to
      which they did not return only because they feared Archelaus. Luke just as
      explicitly assumes that Joseph & Mary were residents of Nazareth who made
      the 100+ mile temporary trek to Bethlehem only because of Quirinius' census.
      He explicitly stresses that they found no regular lodging there & returned
      to Nazareth little more than a week after HJ's birth (Luke 2:7, 39). There
      is certainly no "common" tradition of Jesus birth behind such contradictory
      scenarios.

      > 10. The birth is chronologically related to the reign (days) of Herod the
      > Great (Matt 2:1; Luke 1:5)

      Denied. Luke 1:5 dates Zechariah's priesthood to Herod's reign. Herod is
      never mentioned in Luke in conjunction with Jesus' birth. See my previous
      post for more on this.

      > 11. The child is reared at Nazareth (Matt 2:23; Luke 2:39)

      But again Matt & Luke have no common narrative element that accounts for
      this. The assumption that Jesus grew up in Nazareth is simply a normal
      deduction from the fact that he was known as Jesus (bar Joseph) of Nazareth.

      > I think it is rather unlikely that Matthew and Luke independently invented
      > all of these parallels.

      IMHO *if* they were dependent on any earlier "tradition" it was in the
      character of christological assertions rather than historical narration.

      Shalom!

      Mahlon

      Mahlon H. Smith
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ 08901

      http://religion.rutgers.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html

      Synoptic Gospels Primer
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
    • Bob Schacht
      ... You are conflating two issues here. My assertion was that Matthew and Luke seem to be drawing from a common *source.* I did not claim that it was an
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 3, 2002
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        At 06:51 PM 1/3/02 -0500, Mahlon H. Smith wrote:
        >Bob Schacht wrote, after listing Raymond Brown's common elements of the
        >Infancy (sic.: Brown's term) narratives:
        >
        > > I think it is rather unlikely that Matthew and Luke independently invented
        > > all of these parallels.
        >
        >IMHO *if* they were dependent on any earlier "tradition" it was in the
        >character of christological assertions rather than historical narration.

        You are conflating two issues here. My assertion was that Matthew and Luke
        seem to be drawing from a common *source.* I did not claim that it was an
        *historical* narration, although it might include historically useful
        information. It may be that the common source was primarily Christological
        in nature.

        Thank you for taking the time to respond, and may you have a very happy new
        year!

        Bob


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Mahlon H. Smith
        ... invented ... . ... I m not ready to concede a common source behind Matt & Luke s account of Jesus birth either, since this implies that these gospel
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 4, 2002
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          > >Bob Schacht wrote, after listing Raymond Brown's common elements of the
          > >Infancy (sic.: Brown's term) narratives:
          > >
          > > > I think it is rather unlikely that Matthew and Luke independently
          invented
          > > > all of these parallels.

          I countered:

          > >IMHO *if* they were dependent on any earlier "tradition" it was in the
          > >character of christological assertions rather than historical narration.
          .

          To which Bob replied:

          > You are conflating two issues here. My assertion was that Matthew and Luke
          > seem to be drawing from a common *source.* I did not claim that it was an
          > *historical* narration, although it might include historically useful
          > information. It may be that the common source was primarily Christological
          > in nature.

          I'm not ready to concede a "common source" behind Matt & Luke's account of
          Jesus' birth either, since this implies that these gospel stories are
          traceable to a single coherent preformed pattern of information whether
          textual or oral. I don't regard that as an accurate analysis of two
          narratives which weave a handful of common motifs into mutually
          contradictory scenarios. There simply is no isolatable "common source"
          behind the Matthean & Lukan birth narratives either akin to the Q material
          or to the Johannine Signs Gospel. All one has here is a few of the same
          christologically loaded ideas that are developed by twp authors in opposite
          directions. That only shows that Matt & Luke were writing at the same stage
          of early christological speculation & were free to creatively develop a few
          of the same ideas into quite different scenarios without fear of being
          charged with distorting the details of prior tradition about HJ's birth.

          If anyone cares to credit a hodgepodge of loosely related key words such as
          Mary, Joseph, betrothed, virgin, Jesus, son of God, Savior, Holy Spirit,
          Davidic descent, Bethlehem, Nazareth & angel to a "common source," I simply
          ask that person to try to reconstruct how these terms were linked in that
          hypothesized source that permitted Matt & Luke to write what each in fact
          did. I think the most one can come up with is that the Jesus who was known
          as son of Joseph & Mary and grew up in Nazareth was "really" (a) Son of God
          & (as his name implied) Savior because he was filled with the HS from the
          moment of his conception & (b) satisfied predictions of a Davidic messiah
          born in Bethlehem. Moreover, the Matthean & Lukan insistence on Mary's
          virginity at the time of Jesus' conception (and the lack of this motif in
          Mark & John) is a valuable clue for tracing the "source" of this information
          to a rather late *Hellenized* Sitz that was influenced by the LXX version of
          Isa 7:14. In short, this represents not so much a "common birth tradition"
          or even a "common source" traceable to the cultural Sitz in which HJ was
          probably born so much as a common thread of apologetic argumentation by two
          rather late Greek-speaking Xn authors writing about the same (rather late)
          period in the evolution of the Greek-speaking church's christology.

          *If* one posits a "common birth tradition" or a "common source" behind Matt
          & Luke's narratives then one has to be prepared to explain (a) how/why Matt
          and/or Luke were able to take such liberty with it as to come up with
          historically conflicting interpretations & (b) why both Mark & John show no
          knowledge of key elements in that traditional "source" (Mary's virginity,
          conception by the HS, Jesus' birth in Bethlehem). That was the point
          concerning analysis of the probable history of a trajectory of information
          (my specialization as a historian of ideas) that led me to get sucked into
          this thread in the first place.

          Shalom!

          Mahlon

          Mahlon H. Smith
          Department of Religion
          Rutgers University
          New Brunswick NJ 08901

          http://religion.rutgers.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html

          Synoptic Gospels Primer
          http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

          Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
          http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
        • Antonio Jerez
          After being away from Sweden for almost four months in a row and passing through countries like Spain, Jamaica, Marocco and Egypt it is a delight to be home
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 5, 2002
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            After being away from Sweden for almost four months in a row and passing through
            countries like Spain, Jamaica, Marocco and Egypt it is a delight to be home again and
            finding that X-talk is still going strong. I was also delighted to see that Mahlon is back on
            the list after a long absence. I have a little quibble with a thing Mahlon wrote a couple of days
            ago.

            > *If* one posits a "common birth tradition" or a "common source" behind Matt
            > & Luke's narratives then one has to be prepared to explain (a) how/why Matt
            > and/or Luke were able to take such liberty with it as to come up with
            > historically conflicting interpretations & (b) why both Mark & John show no
            > knowledge of key elements in that traditional "source" (Mary's virginity,
            > conception by the HS, Jesus' birth in Bethlehem). That was the point
            > concerning analysis of the probable history of a trajectory of information
            > (my specialization as a historian of ideas) that led me to get sucked into
            > this thread in the first place.

            Although I don't believe in a common source behind the infancy narratives (except
            for Luke having read GMatthew and getting inspiration from that gospel) I don't see
            at all why the fact that GJohn has no infancy narrative would speak against the hypothesis
            that Matthew and Luke could have used a common "infancy" source. I am quite convinced
            that the author of GJohn knew the synoptics and was not the least unaware of things like
            Mary´s virginity, Jesus conception by the HS and his birth in Betlehem. But a closer look
            at John´s gospel and his special Johannine theology makes me think that John had good
            reasons for leaving out the infancy story from his narrative. First of all I don´t think John
            was very keen on repeating what others had already done - he is much too imaginative for
            that, as can be shown through the whole of the gospel where he subtly alludes to the synoptic
            tradition and refashions it. Secondly, since John as already from the start made Jesus into the
            pre-existent Logos who becomes flesh and decends to earth I do not think it would suit his
            purposes to repeat the synoptic infancy narraives. Jesus is already before conception as spiritfilled
            as anyone can get and it would be a kind of anticlimax to have him born in a manger.

            I would heartily like to recommend a recent book by James F. McGrath that has functioned
            as a real eyeopener to me and has made me see GJohn in a totally new light. The name
            of the book is "John´s apologetic christology - legitimation and development in Johannine
            christology" (Camebridge University press 2001). I don't think anyone has explained as
            convincingly as McGrath the reasons why the author of GJohn chose to create Jesus the
            way he did. He also puts John's peculiar christology into a firstcentury cultural context that
            makes almost all the previously puzzling pieces fall into place. A strength of McGrath's book
            is also that he has a keen eye for seeing the way John is interacting with the synoptic tradition
            and his reasons for leaving out things or going beyond the synoptic tradition.

            Best wishes

            Antonio Jerez
            Göteborg, Sweden
          • bjtraff
            ... As I have said in my previous post, I agree with Mahlon that when we look at the two birth narratives as given in Matt and Luke, we are not likely to be
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 7, 2002
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              --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Mahlon H. Smith" <mahlonh.smith@w...> wrote:

              > First, it should be kept in mind that Brown himself formulated
              > these points & that they are not the sort of verbatim or structural
              > parallels in Matt & Luke that could be cited as evidence of these
              > two synoptists working from a preformed common *birth story* (a
              > more precise term than "infancy narrative" since infancy covers
              > several years of life).

              As I have said in my previous post, I agree with Mahlon that when we
              look at the two birth narratives as given in Matt and Luke, we are
              not likely to be seeing the end product of what has been produced
              from a single common source. The differences in the two narratives
              are so great that they not only preclude such a possibility as being
              even plausible, but make the idea that Matt and or Luke knew of the
              other's gospel extremely unlikely. That said, I still have some
              difficulty with several of Mahlon's ideas, and would like to recap
              them here.

              > Second, several of the common
              > details are isolated words loaded with christological /messianic
              > significance (e.g., Davidic descent, Holy Spirit, Bethlehem) at
              > least some of which are found in pre-synoptic christological
              > formulae that have nothing to do with any birth story or infancy
              > tradition about Jesus (e.g., Rom 1:3-4).

              Agreed, and again I made a similar point myself.

              > Others are narrativized elaborations of the virgin motif of LXX Is
              > 7:14 or traditional features of ancient Jewish/Xn hagiographic
              > story-telling (angel).

              Here is one of my biggest concerns with Mahlon's thesis. It is
              widely accepted that the formula citation of Isaiah 7:14 was a
              redactional innovation created by Matthew alone, working from the
              LXX. Quite simply, the virginal conception cannot be drawn from any
              Jewish hagiographic story, and without evidence that Matthew was
              offering not his own understanding of Isaiah 7:14, but, rather, an
              interpretation that was widely enough known that Luke could actually
              assume it is astonishing in my view. The angelic annunciation is,
              indeed, very common in OT traditions and need not be elaborated upon,
              but the idea of a virgin actually conceiving and giving birth to the
              Messiah is, so far as we can tell, a Matthean innovation. In fact,
              in Raymond Brown's _The Birth of the Messiah_ (Doubleday, 1993),
              Brown tells us specifically that such a reading of Isaiah 7:14 was
              NOT to be taken from the Septuagint. Brown concludes:

              "There was nothing in the OT (including the Hebrew and the Greek of
              Isa 7:14) that would have suggested the obstacle of a virgin who was
              not to have marital relations with her husband… Here I would stress
              that it (the idea of the virgin conception) was not the creation of
              either Matthew or Luke, but seems to have come to them both from a
              pre-Gospel tradition." (BBM, pg. 161).

              "…there is no reason to believe that the LXX of Isa 7:14 either
              referred to a virginal conception or was so interpreted by Jews. It
              is Christian exegesis, witnessed in Matt 1:22-23, that has
              reinterpreted Isa 7:14 in light of an *existing* (emphasis mine)
              Christian tradition of the virginal conception of Jesus."
              (Ibid. pg. 534)

              In other words, the concept of the virginal conception predates both
              Matt and Luke, and this makes using this admittedly christological
              statement highly problematic when trying to date these two gospels.
              After all, if the virginal conception was known to Christians before
              Matthew or Luke was written, both gospels could, on the basis of this
              piece of evidence, at any time after the idea was first introduced to
              the Church. Further, the idea that Luke read Isaiah 7:14 in the same
              way as did Matthew is without support in any possible reading of
              Luke's infancy narrative with which I am familiar.

              > I readily admit that all these items were part of
              > pre-synoptic tradition. What I deny, however, is that these had
              > coalesced to form a common tradition about HJ's birth prior to the
              > composition of independent infancy narratives by Matt & Luke. One
              > would have to be able to produce evidence of the structure of a
              > common narrative behind Matt 1-2 & Luke 1-2 to convince me of that.

              Two points:

              First, if, as you admit, the virgin conception idea pre-exists the
              Gospels, then using it as a means to postulate and justify a late
              dating for either Matthew or Luke seems unwarranted. Second, Brown
              does offer an outline of what Matthew's pre-Gospel source may have
              looked like. As I do not know if you are familiar with it at this
              point, I will not go into it in much depth, but his hypothesis
              strikes me as very reasonable (See BBM, Table VII pg. 109). In
              effect, the pre-Gospel sources looks very much like Matthew's
              account, minus the formula citations of OT Scripture. As Brown
              notes, if one removes these OT citations from the text, it not only
              retains its coherence, but actually becomes more readable than
              Matthew's final composition.

              In my own case, I found Brown's arguments convincing, while at the
              same time, I do not think a similar construction of Luke's pre-Gospel
              source is as easily derived. One thing is certain, he did not use
              Matthew's source.

              > This is a paraphrase of Matt; the Lukan verses stress Mary's
              > virginity without mentioning cohabitation. In either case this
              > point is historicized christology rather than pre-natal biography.
              > If it were the latter one would be hard pressed to explain why
              > GJohn makes no reference to it.

              This is a small point, but as other scholars have proposed in the
              past, John's theology of a pre-existent Christ/Logos hardly requires
              a virginal conception or birth. Quite simply, we have no reason to
              expect John to mention this kind of information, even if he knew of
              it.

              > Since almost all marriages
              > in the ancient world were arranged when people reached puberty, the
              > dating of Jesus' conception to the period of his parent's
              > betrothal, coupled with insistence that they had not yet had
              > intercourse, provided a natural logical explanation that could have
              > easily occurred to different theologically motivated authors who
              > were working on the same problem with the same minimal
              > biographical data (HJ's parents' names). Whether this was an
              > instance of simultaneous discovery of the same solution by totally
              > independent researchers (as often happens) or whether it had
              > already begun to circulate among "preachers of the word" that
              > influenced Luke and Matt is impossible to determine.

              Given your admission that it is impossible to know if the virginal
              conception was a coincidental creation of Luke and Matt working
              independently, or that it existed in an earlier source(s), I see no
              reason why we should use it as Mahlon has in dating either Matthew or
              Luke late.

              > Davidic descent was practically axiomatic for any messianic
              > candidate in ancient Judaism.

              This is simply not the case. The DSS have shown us that the Messiah
              could also have been thought to been from the line of Aaron, through
              the tribe of Levi. To rule out the possibility of a non-Davidic
              Messiah in 1st Century Palestine is simply reading beliefs from this
              period of time anachronistically and through a now dominant Christian
              world view.

              > And Jews historically traced lineages through the paternal
              > line (with names of mothers often passing unknown). The fact is
              > Matt & Luke do not provide Joseph with the same lineage & even
              > disagree on the name of his own father (HJ's legal grandfather).
              > Thus it is evident that they were not working from common
              > genealogical information.

              Agreed.

              > Joseph's Davidic descent
              > is again fundamentally a christological development since it
              > enabled Xns (after Mark) to assert that Jesus was in fact
              > (legally) "of the line of David" & hence a legitimate candidate for
              > the messianic figure alluded to in various passages of Hebrew
              > scripture.

              While the Davidic descent is obviously a christological development,
              it is clearly one that dates back to before Paul (Romans 1:3-4).
              Thus, we cannot use it as a means to date the Gospels late.

              > > 10. The birth is chronologically related to the reign (days) of
              > > Herod the Great (Matt 2:1; Luke 1:5)
              >
              > Denied. Luke 1:5 dates Zechariah's priesthood to Herod's reign.
              > Herod is never mentioned in Luke in conjunction with Jesus' birth.
              > See my previous post for more on this.

              I have already covered this point off in a previous post (replying to
              Mahlon's point). Suffice to say, Luke's giving us Jesus' age
              (Luke 3) at "about 30 years of age" during the "fifteenth year of the
              reign of Tiberius" (ca. 27-29CE) makes Jesus' birth during the reign
              of Herod the Great most probable. Thus, Luke 1 and Luke 3 (against
              Luke 2) should serve as evidence that Luke's source agreed with
              Matthew's, and Jesus was most likely born during the reign of Herod,
              and then most probably 5-4 BCE.

              In conclusion, I am not necessarily saying that all of Brown's 11
              parallels are historically accurate pieces of information. Brown
              does not claim this either. But he does show how they exist in a pre-
              Canonical Gospel source(s), and on this basis we should not use their
              inclusion in Matthew and Luke as reasons for dating these gospels as
              being necessarily late creations.

              Brian Trafford
              Calgary, AB, Canada
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