Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MATTHEW vs LUKE On The Nativity -- by Richard C. Speaks

Was Jesus really born of a virgin in King David's hometown of Bethlehem? The Gospels of Mark and John are silent on the subject of JC's immaculate birth. They both suggest that JC's birthplace wasn't Bethlehem, but Nazareth (Mark 6:1-5, 14:67, & John 1:37-46, 7:40-52, 19:19). Matthew and Luke both agree that JC was born in Bethlehem of the virgin Mary, but they tell conflicting accounts about all the details and incidents surrounding that divine event.

In a court of law such contradictory evidence would be catastrophic to the case for JC's Bethlehemic birth, as well as His Davidic linage. But blind faith is disdainful of any truth that questions, or conflicts with dogma. The believers just blur this disunity into a unified Xmas card tradition that borrows imagery from both versions; with three wise men following the Xmas star to Bethlehem, and baby Jesus in a manger, surrounded by bowing shepherds, and a choir of euphoric angels.

This is not gospel. This is a hybrid. A Christian crazy-quilt constructed, out of necessity, to cover up all the contradictions of Matthew and Luke. I think that's why the New Testament compilers stuck Mark's gospel between the two, when chronologically it should have come first, not Matthew. It was a put there to help obscure these glaring contradictions about JC's origins.

Matthew was the most dramatic, and had to be read first to imprint specific details (that exist no where else) upon the willing minds of believers, so they can harmonize the whole mess for themselves in their minds, and disregard the things that don't fit. People often see what they want to see. Even when it's not really there.

The only way to see through this smokescreen of dogmatic tradition is to examine both gospels individually with open eyes and an open mind.

Matthew begins with JC’s genealogy from Abraham down to Joseph.
"...and Jacob fathered Joseph, the husband of Mary." (1:1-17) Luke waits until the last half of chapter 3 (3:23-38). Luke’s contradicts Matthew's from the branch of King David all the way down to JC, "being the son, as it was thought, of Joseph, son of Heli." Luke’s genealogy was written in reverse order, starting with JC’s non-biological father, Joseph, and working all the way down to “Adam, the first son of God.” Matthew claimed that JC's Davidic branch was Solomon. Luke said it was Nathan. They couldn't even get the name of JC's paternal grandfather right. Some apologists have attempted to explain this away by claiming that Luke's genealogy is actually Mary's linage, but the text makes is quite clear that this was Joseph's family tree, not his wife's.

Let’s take a closer look at these miraculous birth stories.


MATTHEW 1:18-2:23

In Matthew's gospel, Joseph lives in Bethlehem. He doesn’t have to travel to get there. He's already there! The star of Bethlehem shines down upon Joseph’s house in Matthew(1:20, 24/ 2:9-11). The wise men come to Joseph's house, were Jesus was born.

The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage.
MATTHEW 2:10,11

Matthew doesn't mention any Augustus ordered taxation, and/or census. Matthew also neglects to report the miraculous birth of John the Baptist, which preceded JC's miraculous birth according to Luke. In Matthew, JC meets JTB for the very first time at JC's baptism. Luke claims the two were first cousins, and even precedes JC's miraculous birth with a miraculous birth story for cousin JTB. They don't appear to have any family connection in Matthew's version.

In Matthew's gospel the angels speak to Joseph, clearing up the matter of his blushing bride's suspicious pregnancy, and other important information, but Mary is left out of the heavenly loop (1:20-24, 2:13, 2:22). King Herod hears about the birth of JC, the Messiah and future king from Matthew's traveling wise man (How wise was that?), and he orders the murder of all they baby boys in the land (2:16-18). Being forewarned of this atrocity by a angel in a dream, Joseph flees Bethlehem with his family, and sojourns in Egypt to fulfill ancient prophecies (2:13-15). Too bad the angels neglected to warn everybody else! Sometime later, Joseph departs from Egypt, upon hearing of Herod's unlamented demise in another dream, and he moves his family to Nazareth (To fulfill another prophecy)(2:19-23). After that Matthew never mentions JC's un-dad again.


LUKE 1:26-2:21

In Luke, Joseph lives in Nazareth, and must travel with his pregnant wife, Mary, to Bethlehem to pay taxes, and be counted by Augustus’ census. (2:1-6). There is no room at the Inn, and JC is born in a manger (2:7). No wise men come lavishing gifts, but a bunch of scruffy shepherds abandon their flocks just to come into town, and fawn over cute little baby Jesus. They don't bring any gifts, and they don't stick around long, lest their flocks go astray (2:8-20).

In Luke's gospel Joseph and Mary stayed eight days in Bethlehem, and they were never in any danger. They even took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for His (oddly necessary) circumcision, along with the ritual blood sacrifice of 2 turtledoves (2:21-38). After that they return home, in Nazareth, without further incident (2:39). No star of Bethlehem. No wise men. No jealous Herod. No mass-murdered baby boys. No flight into Egypt. No drama.

In Luke's account the angels talk to almost everybody, but poor, confused Joseph (Zacharias: 1:11-22, Mary: 1:28-38, shepherds: 2:9-15). Luke's Joseph gets the silent treatment from on high, just like the rest of us.


The Apocryphal Gospels THE PROTEVANGELION (13:1-12) and I INFANCY (1:4-21) both claim that Jesus was born in a cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem. God was even kind enough to pause time itself, so Joseph could run and fetch a midwife. The book of MARY also states that Joseph resided in Bethlehem.

And now the ninth month from her conception drew near, when Joseph took his wife and what other things were necessary to Bethlehem, the city from whence he came.
MARY 8:13

In the QURAN (Suras 3:45-59 & 19:16-36) we get yet another version of JC's immaculate birth that never mentions Joseph, or the town of Bethlehem. As a matter of fact, Muhammad referred to JC as the "son of Mary" almost every time. And that's quite a bit. "Isa, the son of Maryam." There's something fishy about Muhammad's overuse of this title. If JC wasn't the son of Allah, and he wasn't the son of Joseph...? Was Muhammad implying that the son of man was a bastard? Mary was a single mother, according to the Prophet. And she gave birth to JC alone, and in secret under a date tree. Very fishy.

In the Book (Quran), tell (the story of) Maryam (Mary), when she went away from her family (for prayer) to a place in the East (her chamber). She placed a screen (to hide herself) from them. Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her in the form of a man of respect in every way.

She said: “Verily, I ask for shelter from you with (Allah) Most Gracious: (Do not come near me) if you guard (yourself) against evil.”

He said: “I am a messenger from your Lord, (only to announce to) you, the gift of a righteous son.”

She said: “How shall I have a son, when no man has touched me, and I am not immodest (or indecent)?”

He said: “(It will still be) so. Your Lord says: ‘That is easy for Me. And (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign to men and a Mercy from Us.’ It is a matter (already) ordered.”

So she started to carry him (baby Jesus in her womb), and she went (to rest) with him to a far place.
And the pains of childbirth took her to the trunk of a palm-tree: She cried (in her pain): "Oh! If I had died before this! If I was a thing forgotten and not (even) seen!"

Then (a voice) cried to her from under (the tree): “Do not feel sad! Because your Lord has made (for you) a stream underneath you. And shake towards yourself the trunk of the palm-tree. It will drop fresh ripe dates (fruits) upon you. So eat and drink and cool (wet your) eye. And if you see any man, say, ‘I have promised solemnly to (Allah) the Most Gracious, and this day I will not enter into talk with any human being.’”

At the end she brought the baby to her people, carrying him (baby Jesus in her arms). They said: “O Maryam (Mary)! Truly an amazing thing have you brought! O sister of Haroon (Arron)! Your father was not an evil (adulterous) man, and your mother was not an immoral woman!”

Then she pointed to the baby (Jesus). They said: “How can we talk to one who is only a child in the cradle?”

He (the baby Isa) said: “Indeed I am a servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He (Allah) has made me blessed where ever I be, and has commanded for me prayer and charity as long as I live. He(Allah) has made me kind to my mother, and not arrogant or miserable. And peace is on me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I will be raised (again) to life!”

Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary) was like this. (It is) a statement of truth, about which they dispute (without any use). It is not suited for (Almighty) Allah that He should father a son. Glory to Him (Allah)! When He determines anything, He only says to it, “Be”, and it is.

(Isa said:)
“And surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord. His (Alone) you therefore worship (and serve). This is the Straight Path.”
SURA 19:16-36

In the Apocrypha, and the Quran, JC was born with the power of speech. Just like the Buddha. Matthew and Luke wisely kept all of JC's miracles post-baptism.

Which version of the Nativity is true? Probably none of them. I'm not saying that there wasn't a real human being named some Aramaic version of Jesus bar Joseph behind all this mythology. The Jesus tomb, found at the foot of the Mount of Olives in 1980, proves that much. There might have even been a real human being, from some forgotten long ago, upon which the legendary Hercules was based. A remarkable person, or persons, who's exceptional qualities and deeds inspired repetitions, as well as inventions from the traveling bards of old. Time, and countless re-tellings have a way of turning men into demi-gods. That's probably how Paul Bunyan got so damn tall! Like JC, Hercules was also said to be the son of the god of gods. People used to worship Hercules too. They had faith in him long ago. Today Hercules is just a myth. A fictional character found in comic books and bad B-movies. Lot's of fictional characters are based upon real people. But fact is fact, and fiction ain't.

I should know. The Buddha and I have the same birthday! If they got the date right, that is. We all know they didn't get JC's birthday right. It wasn't during the Winter Solstice. Unless Luke was also wrong about the shepherds in the fields tending their sheep. Who can say?

The inconsistencies of the Gospels is reason enough cast doubt on their claims that JC was in fact: God sacrificing Himself to Himself. Even Muhammad had problems buying into such non-sense. The suicidal avatar of the Almighty God? What a downer! 

O People of the Book! Do not commit excesses in your religion: Nor say anything except the truth about Allah. Messiah Isa (Christ Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary) was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He sent down to Maryam (Mary), and a Spirit created by Him: So believe in Allah and His messengers. Do not say ‘Trinity: Stop (saying so): It will be better for you: Because Allah is One Allah: Glory be to Him: (Far Supreme and Glorious is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And, Enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. Messiah (Christ) does not find it unworthy to serve and worship Allah, nor do the angels (find it unworthy), those (angels) nearest (to Allah): Those who find His (Allah’s) worship unworthy and (those who) are arrogant -- He will collect them all together to Himself (to answer for their actions).
SURA 4:171,172

Truly, in blasphemy are those who say that Allah is Messiah (Christ), the son of Maryam (Mary). Say (to them): “Who then has (even) the least power against Allah, if His Will was to destroy Messiah (Christ), the son of Maryam (Mary), his mother, and all -- Every one that is on the earth? And to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He (Allah) creates whatever He pleases. For Allah is able to do all things.”(Both) the Jews and the Christians say: “We are sons of God, and His beloved.” Say: “Why then does He punish you for your sins? No, you are only men (mere human beings) -- Of the (other) men He has created. He forgives whom He pleases, and He punishes whom He pleases. And to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. And to Him is the final goal (of all).”
SURA 5:17,18

And remember! Allah will say (on the Day of Judgment): “O Isa (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say to men, ‘Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’? He (Isa) will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right to say. If I had said such a thing You would indeed have known it. You know what is in my heart, even though I do not know what is in Yours. Truly, You fully know all that is hidden and unseen. Never did I say to them anything except what You did command me to say, which is, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them while I lived among them. When You did take me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.
SURA 5:116,117

And the Jews say Uzir (Ezra) is a son of God, and the Christians say Messiah (Christ) is the son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (In this) they tell what the disbelievers of the old (days) used to say. Let Allah’s curse be on them. How they are deceived away from the truth! They hold their priests and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and (they hold as Lord) Messiah (Christ), the son of Maryam (Mary); yet they were ordered to worship only One Allah. There is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him. (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).
SURA 9:30,31

They say, “Allah has fathered a son!” -- Glory be to Him! He (Allah) is Self-Sufficient! His are all things in the heavens and on earth! No reason do you have for this (lie about Allah)! Do you say about Allah what you do not know?
SURA 10:68

The Christians have faith that JC was God made flesh. The Muslims and Jews have faith that he was not. As for me, I require proof. Faith is belief without proof. A placebo.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


Pre-programmed blinders and circular logic are what faith is all about. That's why Christians are so concerned about their children's early religious indocturnation, and in limiting their educational parameters. Too much objective thinking might spoil their brain-washing.

Skeptic Bible Study: The Jesus Timelinehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBufxLab5ns&feature=related


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