December 31, 2019

Jews should be read Judeans in our Bibles and lectionary, and this correction could help us eventually bury the criminal absurdity that Jewish people killed Christ. The lights of Christmas and Hanukkah are dimmed by hatred and violence in Trumpland. Once more, another antisemitic attack in this country turns bloody. Sadly, hate crimes committed against Jews in the U.S. have been rising for years. We American Christians would sure like to believe that we are safely removed from the possibility… Read more

December 30, 2019

Fulfillment of biblical prophecies, such as Isaiah’s promised birth of Emmanuel by the “virgin,” isn’t what most Christians think. Fulfillment passages are littered about the first two chapters of “Matthew.” Fulfillment of what exactly? In this post we explore the “fulfillment passages” in the Matthean Infancy Narrative, oldest of all Christmas stories. Hopefully we can clear up some mistaken notions about Biblical prophecy, what fulfillment of prophecy actually means, and related issues. We have been exploring the Infancy Narratives of… Read more

December 25, 2019

Away in a Manger, the old American Christmas carol, gets reimagined as “Away with the Manger.” “Jacob!” [Scrooge] said imploringly. “Old Jacob Marley, tell me more! Speak comfort to me, Jacob!” “I have none to give,” the Ghost replied. From “A CHRISTMAS CAROL,” by Charles Dickens We 21st century Western Christians need to get away from ideas and imagery that merely comfort us rather than challenge! How we need to grow out from a congenial imagined Jesus of sentimentality into the real Jesus who shakes us up, makes things uncomfortable,… Read more

December 23, 2019

Christmas in the Gospel called “Matthew” is the earliest expression on record of Jesus’ birth, and it sharply contrasts with our contemporary holiday observances of comfort and joy. All December this blog, guided by the fine scholarship of John Pilch and the Context Group, has gone very deep into the two Infancy Narratives. These stories are the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ conception, birth, and childhood. Looking at these spuriously familiar Christmas stories with eyes keyed to Mediterranean cultural context is… Read more

December 20, 2019

Pregnancy can be deadly in the Bible, but honorable people might lie about it in order to save face and lives, and this is on display in Matthew 1—2. In our previous post, we spoke about how Matthew 1—2 is a horror story. We explored the dire circumstances poor Matthean Mary languished under, the threat of honor killing. Far from Christmastime joy, cheerfulness and merrymaking, her pregnancy occasioned terror. Indeed, the Matthean Infancy Narrative is just one of many Biblical… Read more

December 18, 2019

Horror stories fill the pages of Scripture, but none so prominently as the Infancy Narrative of “Matthew.” Horror movies at Christmas! This year’s remake “Black Christmas” is the just the most recent entry in quite a list. “Krampus.” “Silent Night, Deadly Night.” “Gremlins.” “Jack Frost.” These are just a few cinematic stories, some good, most terrible. Many Christians and even lovers of campy Hallmark Christmas-themed pornography for certain U.S. women family movies complain about this. Why is Halloween horror obnoxiously… Read more

December 17, 2019

Marriage in the Bible, as between Mary and Joseph in the Christmas stories of “Matthew” and “Luke,” is quite a different union than 21st century Americans expect. Marriage and the Gospel Christmas stories—let’s talk about the Holy Family! Last time, we shared that there are many good reasons not to treat the Gospel Infancy Narratives of Matthew 1—2 and Luke 1—2 as modern fact-precise biographies. Throughout December we have explored why we shouldn’t attempt harmonizing “Matthew” with “Luke.” We have seen… Read more

December 13, 2019

True throughout, but with only some facts—that’s the Gospel Infancy Narratives of “Matthew” and “Luke.” True? But how, if it’s not all factual? In the previous post, and throughout the past two weeks, we have demonstrated that treating Matthew 1—2 and Luke 1—2 and Luke’s genealogy as biographically precise historical records would be wrong. For many Catholics and other Christians who cannot distinguish what is true and what is factual, this is most disheartening. Many ask: what good are these… Read more

December 11, 2019

Genealogies in the Gospels, hardly factual, are about establishing Jesus’ honor, not his actual patrilineal descent. Genealogies are hardly the most exciting topic for American Bible readers. But our Middle Eastern ancestors in the faith delighted in them. Understanding them helps ground our Christmas Bible readings. Last time, and over several posts in this series, we have raised serious doubts about the historicity of the two infancy narratives found in Matthew 1—2 and Luke 1—2. Stories of births and childhood… Read more

December 10, 2019

History?—Discrepancies and contradictions preclude treating either Matthew 1—2 or Luke 1—2 as historically accurate in every detail. History and fact, exact and precise in every detail? Or just a pure fable? Americans have a hard time finding a middle ground between these two extremes. The Gospels are neither. In our last post we saw that the two birth accounts are very different and beyond reasonable harmonization. So many events and things mentioned by one of these Gospels is completely missing… Read more

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