ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.
ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my personal virtual library, where i collect information, which leads in my view to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation of the origin of the physical Universe, life, biodiversity

You are not connected. Please login or register

Birth of Jesus: Gospels of Matthew and Luke Compared

Go down  Message [Page 1 of 1]



Birth of Jesus: Gospels of Matthew and Luke Compared



Mattew: Herod died and his son Herod Archelaus (4 BC) became king after Jesus was born.
Luke: Quirinius was after Archelaus  6 Ad and later
also I d like to discuss with you prophecies about jesus in old testament,  made a list and other stuff
Reply: The Problem of Luke 2:2 "This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria"
One of the greatest difficulties in the Bible, in terms of its accuracy, is the census mentioned in Luke 2:2—a census that purportedly led Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, where Jesus would be born. In conclusion, facile solutions do not come naturally to Luke 2:2. This does not, of course, mean that Luke erred. In agreement with Schürmann, Marshall “warns against too easy acceptance of the conclusion that Luke has gone astray here; only the discovery of new historical evidence can lead to a solution of the problem.”

Matthew and Luke have different accounts of the birth of Jesus. In fact, the accounts are so different that the only things Matthew and Luke agree on are that Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth and that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The rest of the information is different.

The two gospel writers record different things because they were writing to two different audiences. Matthew was a Jew who wrote to the Jews about Jesus, a Jew. Luke was the only Gentile writer of the entire Bible. He was a physician who never met Jesus. He learned all he knew from the other gospel writers.

Matthew and Luke both recorded valuable information. Do not think their information is in conflict with the other. Neither is wrong. They shared information from their own perspective.

The events didn't happen at the same time or in the same place. For instance, the shepherds and wise men did not show up at the birth of Jesus at the same time. Also, there were more than three wise men.

Matthew's Gospel
Matthew traces Jesus' roots back to Abraham to emphasize his role as the Jewish Messiah.

Matthew doesn't record the angel speaking to Mary as Luke does. On the other hand, Luke doesn't record the angel speaking to Joseph in a dream. Matthew did so mainly because Matthew had a Jewish audience. Joseph was faithful to the Jewish law and was considering divorcing Mary quietly instead of exposing her to public disgrace. Therefore, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told Joseph some things the angel did not tell Mary, according to Luke's gospel.

The angel told Joseph, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew, like Luke, does say Jesus was born in Bethlehem. However, Matthew does not record the journey to Bethlehem or give the reason Joseph had to go when Mary was about to give birth. We find out those details in the Gospel of Luke.

Matthew doesn't mention there not being any room in the inn or a manger. After telling about the angel speaking to Joseph, Matthew jumps right into telling the story about the Magi, or wise men. He gives more details about them than he does about the birth of Jesus which includes Mary and Joseph fleeing from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape Herod. If you read the story carefully, you will see that Jesus is no longer a baby when the wise men arrived with their gifts. It took them about two years for their caravan to get to Bethlehem after stopping in Jerusalem. Jesus was no longer a baby, and His parents were living in a house at that time.

Matthew doesn't record the journey to Bethlehem at all, but he records them leaving the city and going back to Nazareth. It is surprising that Matthew didn't record how Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem so Jesus could be circumcised when He was eight days old because it was a Jewish law.

Luke's Gospel
What we know about the birth of Jesus comes mostly from Luke 2:1-39. Luke gives much more information than Matthew. Luke traces Jesus' ancestry all the way back to Adam. Luke says His family lived in Nazareth and went to Bethlehem for a census required by Caesar Augusta that all the world should be taxed in their own city. Matthew didn't give us that information.

When the baby was born, Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. Matthew left that out of his gospel.

Shepherds were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night when an angel of the Lord came upon them and told them the good news that in the city of David a Savior was born. Then the angel gave the shepherd a sign that they would find the babe lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. After the angel left, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to see what had come to pass. They found Mary, Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. The shepherds returned to their fields glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel told them.

Major Differences
Matthew tells what was important to him and his audience. Luke tells some of the same stories from his perspective.

Matthew has the dream of Joseph. Luke has the Annunciation to Mary.

Matthew told about the flight to Egypt. Luke told about the journey to Bethlehem and being there.

Matthew tells the story of the wise men. Luke tells the story of the shepherds.

Matthew and Luke give Joseph’s genealogy but in different ways. Matthew gives Jesus' genealogy only back to Abraham, the first Jew. Luke gives the genealogy as far back as he could. He traces Jesus' ancestry back to Adam, the first man God created.

Matthew doesn't show readers what happened after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Unless you read the Gospel of Luke, you would not know that there was no room for Mary and Joseph and Jesus was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger. Matthew was silent about those things.





Do the narratives of Jesus’ birth contradict each other?

Only two of the gospels give an account of the happenings surrounding Jesus’ birth. Matthew 1–2 gives information about Joseph and includes the story of the magi from the East. Luke 1–2 does not mention the magi but focuses on Mary and various others (Elizabeth, Zacharias, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna) who praised God for the Incarnation.

Various people have claimed that the books of Matthew and Luke contradict each other and that the narratives of Jesus’ birth are in opposition. The claim is specious, and the details provided by Matthew and Luke are easily reconciled into a comprehensive whole.

First, here are the details that Matthew and Luke unquestionably agree on:

Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18, 23, 25; Luke 1:27).
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee (Matthew 2:23; Luke 1:26; 2:4).
Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4–7).
After Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth (Matthew 2:23; Luke 2:39).

Second, here are the details that are unique to each writer:

The magi visit Jesus (Matthew 2:1–12).
Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s cruelty (Matthew 2:13–18).
A group of shepherds visit Jesus in the manger (Luke 2:8–20).
Joseph and Mary make a trip to the temple in Jerusalem in fulfillment of the Law (Luke 2:22–39).

Those who claim to see a contradiction in the narratives of Christ’s birth usually point to Luke 2:39, which says, “When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth,” and Matthew 2:21–23, which says that Joseph and his family went to Nazareth on their return from Egypt. According to the critics, Luke, who says nothing about the flight to Egypt, indicates that Jesus was taken to Nazareth directly from the temple; and Matthew, who does not mention the temple observances, says that Jesus was taken to Nazareth directly from Egypt.

It’s important to acknowledge that silence does not equal denial. Luke’s omission in his narrative of the flight to Egypt cannot be construed as evidence that it never happened. Luke never says that Joseph and Mary did not go to Egypt; he simply doesn’t comment on the event. Matthew never mentions the shepherds of the nativity—are we to assume because of Matthew’s omission that no shepherds came? Also important is the fact that neither Matthew nor Luke claim that he is penning an exhaustive account of every detail surrounding the birth of Christ.

The question then is, does Luke’s narrative allow for enough time for a trip to Egypt? Between the circumcision of Jesus and the trip to the temple was 32 days—about a month. Trying to fit a trip to Egypt and back in that time frame is problematic. A better way to reconcile Matthew’s and Luke’s narratives is to place the flight to Egypt after Jesus’ appearance in the temple. This assumes that Joseph and Mary remained in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth and that they had a place to stay—the “house” of Matthew 2:11.

Luke 2:39 says, “When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.” Note that Luke does not say that they immediately returned to Galilee, and there is no reason to insert that word into the verse. (One could just as easily insert the word eventually.) The fact is that Luke doesn’t specify how much time elapsed. He simply says that, after their visit to the temple, Joseph and Mary settled in Nazareth. It could have been days later. It could have been months. If we place the flight to Egypt in the middle of Luke 2:39, we have a workable chronology:

1) After visiting the temple, Joseph and Mary return to Bethlehem. (In the month since Jesus’ birth, Joseph had probably sought temporary work there, and that work had become more permanent, perhaps. It’s also quite possible that Joseph was planning to resettle his new family in Bethlehem, thinking it would be good for the Son of David to be reared in the City of David).

2) Simeon and Anna begin spreading the news that they have seen the Messiah in Jerusalem (Luke 2:25–38).

3) Sometime later, the magi arrive at Jerusalem and confirm the news on the street that the Messiah has been born (Matthew 2:1–2). Herod sends the magi on to Bethlehem, where they find young Jesus (Matthew 2:3–11).

4) The magi return home a different way, and Joseph is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:12–13).

5) After a while, Herod figures out that the magi have disregarded his wishes, and he orders the slaughter of all males two years old and younger near Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). The “two-year” computation indicates that Jesus could have already been that old.

6) Herod dies in 4 BC.

7) Joseph brings his family back from Egypt (Matthew 2:19–21). Out of fear of Herod’s son, Joseph changes his plan to settle in Bethlehem and instead moves back to Galilee (Matthew 2:22–23).

There is nothing in the above chronology that contradicts either Matthew or Luke. The only way to find a contradiction between Matthew 2:21–23 and Luke 2:39 is to make assumptions based on a preconceived bias against the veracity of Scripture.

Some critics find another supposed contradiction in the genealogies associated with the narratives of Jesus’ birth. Matthew 1:16 says that Joseph’s father was Jacob; Luke 3:23 says that Joseph’s father was Heli. There are several theories, but the best answer to this seeming discrepancy is that Luke is recording Mary’s genealogy and Matthew is recording Joseph’s. There was no Koine Greek word with the exclusive meaning of “son-in-law,” and so Joseph is called the “son of Heli” due to his marriage to Heli’s daughter, Mary. Joseph was a “son” by marriage.

The gospels were written by four different men to four unique audiences, so it is natural that they would include different details concerning the life of Christ. But their writing was superintended by the Holy Spirit, who guaranteed that what each wrote was the absolute truth. There are differences, but they can all be harmonized. The narratives of Jesus’ birth found in Matthew and Luke are not contradictory but complementary.



Back to top  Message [Page 1 of 1]

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum