Another reason not to harmonize the gospel nativity narratives

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by Neil Godfrey

In nice timing with my earlier post on one problem that arises when we try to harmonize Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ arrival on planet Earth, Deane Galbraith has posted a clear explanation of why the two accounts don’t harmonize anyway:

The Two Stories of Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem

And since Christmas is a time for reminiscing, here are some older posts addressing the differences from yet another perspective:


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  • Grant Willson
    2017-12-24 12:13:06 GMT+0000 - 12:13 | Permalink

    Another reason for the rejection of the Magi by Luke would be that the expensive gifts would not fit his poverty theme. Matthew doesn’t seem to have thought through that detail….or maybe Joseph just blew all the money at the camel races in Egypt!

  • Carlos
    2017-12-24 13:23:19 GMT+0000 - 13:23 | Permalink

    Good morning sirs.
    Good morning Mr. Neil Godfrey.

    Yesterday I commented in

    And again here I repeat that we MUST READ with the heart and not with the reason.

    When Mr. Grant writes about expensive gifts (see above comment), again we are falling in material aspects. And we must avoid them!

    Then, knowing a lot of ancient history and mythology and philosophy, you will see that:

    MAGI -> I prefer to use “wise men”.






    To understand this , please refer to the following video
    It is in portuguese, but very important.


    Remember that we are at the gates of a CLASH between this new religion and stoicism.



    • Carlos
      2017-12-24 13:38:41 GMT+0000 - 13:38 | Permalink

      Remember also that in aramaic only the consonants are written. Not the vowels.
      So when today (21st century) we see the word NAZARETH,
      – what do we understand?
      – what were we taught?




      Merry Christmas.
      Merry winter solstice.

    • Bob Jase
      2017-12-24 16:49:24 GMT+0000 - 16:49 | Permalink

      Well sure, as long as you are willing to retcon and redefine everything then Batman’s origin can also be harmonized into the gospels.

      • Carlos
        2017-12-24 17:09:30 GMT+0000 - 17:09 | Permalink

        Sorry if i offended you, mr. Bob Jase.

        • Carlos
          2017-12-24 17:22:32 GMT+0000 - 17:22 | Permalink

          Anyway, Batman is the Bible.

          Proverbs 21:15
          When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

          And reading carefully, we can find something similar in the Gospels.

      • Jay Raskin
        2017-12-24 18:50:26 GMT+0000 - 18:50 | Permalink

        How would you retcon the Batman origin story into the gospels? I am thinking that one of the magi looked closely at a star near the star they were following, and saw Batman’s parents on the way to the movies… What would your harmony look like?

        • Bob Jase
          2017-12-24 19:06:13 GMT+0000 - 19:06 | Permalink

          Clearly Herod sent Joe Chill to kill Bruce Wayne as part of the slaughter of the innocents, the mission was botched and Bruce’s parents were killed. Alfred then put Bruce under deep cover as Jesus, a common name, with poor parents, to cover the connection to the Wayne fortune. The Batman became the leader of the Judean Manbat’s Front beginning with his conflict with the Falcone family aka the Romans. His beloved disciple, Robin, assisted him against Judas Two-Face and other villains.

    • Doug Shaver
      2017-12-29 04:16:09 GMT+0000 - 04:16 | Permalink

      “we MUST READ with the heart and not with the reason.”

      Why? Because you say so? Can you offer another reason for my consideration?

  • Paxton Marshall
    2017-12-24 13:40:03 GMT+0000 - 13:40 | Permalink

    It is not surprising that two writers recounting events from 70-90 years previously would disagree on details. Unlike the story of the execution, there are no conceivable first hand witnesses who could have provided this info. Both accounts seem highly implausible because of the travel involved, which for poor people like them, would have almost certainly been on foot. Of all events recounted in the gospels, the murder of all children under two in a village close to Jerusalem, is one of the most likely to have been noted by other sources. The timing of the two accounts is off. The story of the magi following a star from Persia is absurd.

    Still, because there are clearly fictional elements added to round out the story, doesn’t necessarily mean the whole story is myth. The gospel writers do agree on many things. We may say that is because they copied one another, which they clearly did. But it’s possible they copied because Mark’s account agreed with their own information.

    To me, the biggest hole in the tales of the living Jesus is that Paul seems to know nothing of his life prior to the events leading up to the execution. No virgin birth, no Mary, no John Baptist, no message of social justice. Even Ignatius, writing 50 or so years later seems unaware of the events of Jesus’ life or the message of his ministry, though he does know of Mary and the virgin birth.

  • marty
    2017-12-24 19:23:34 GMT+0000 - 19:23 | Permalink

    If one takes into account that the writers where writing form different perspectives, then it could be understood. The Jews have 4 levels of interpretation, if one writer is telling the story form a Pshat level of understanding and the other is speaking form the Remez level, then they are not as different as one might imagine that does not understand the starting point of the one telling the story. Something to ponder!

  • Pingback: Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem Again: Possible Harmonizing Interpretations versus Probable Contextual Interpretations | Remnant of Giants

  • Ken Browning
    2017-12-28 18:12:46 GMT+0000 - 18:12 | Permalink

    Harmonization requires movement between probability recognition when helpful and possibility thinking when it is not. I wonder how many such thinkers even recognize the dance they dance? Further, is there really any difference between this process and conspiracy theory promotion?

    If one considers difference in sources a problem rather than an opportunity, then I don’t think one is really engaged in historical analysis.

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