Thursday, August 04, 2005

Witherington on the Birth Narratives

I read this and thought it was quite interesting from an apologetic point of view:

We need to dismiss the view that the stories in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 are of some ilk different from other Gospel stories. In fact, they reveal the same mixture of the mundane and the supernatural we find elsewhere in the Gospels, and the stories are narrated with the same sort of theological perspectives as well. Like the passion narratives, the birth narratives, particularly Matthew's, are interlaced with scriptural citations precisely because these were portions of the Jesus story that would most need justification and explanation. Early Jews were not looking for a messiah miraculously born of a virgin [...] There is no evidence that early Jews saw [Isaiah 7:14] as a prophecy about a virginal conception [...] The notion of the virginal conception seems already to have existed prior to Matthew's connection of the idea with this Isaianic text, as its independent attestation in Luke without such a scriptural connection confirms [...] When all is said and done, it is easier to explain the Gospel evidence on the assumption that the virginal conception was a historical event that the Gospel writers tried to explain, albeit somewhat awkwardly, than to assume that this is a theological idea dreamed up by some early pious Christian.

(Witherington III, Ben, New Testament History: A Narrative Account, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001)

P.S. take note Ben Witherington, a newcomer to blogging has recently started bloging on biblical stuff worth reading. About time - I have high hopes for more.


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