Daily Archives: 2017-12-28 23:34:10 UTC

The Year of the Nativity: Consensus, Harmonization, and Plausibility

Herod the Great

Yes, it does seem odd for Vridar to have so many Christmas posts this year. I normally watch the holidays go by and think to myself, “I should have written something about that.”

In any case, I promise this will be my last Christmas post of the year, which should be an easy vow to keep, since it’s already the 28th.

In a previous post, I wrote about the date of the nativity. This time we’ll look at the year of Jesus’ birth. Considering all the ink scholars have spilled over this subject, and all the contortions many of them have gone through to push for specific dates that “work” (even so far as to move the death of Herod to 1 BCE), it’s a wonder there is a consensus. And yet, almost everywhere you look, you’ll find the date range of 6 to 4 BCE.

Only the most diehard apologist would try to harmonize Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of the nativity. They diverge at nearly every point. Moreover, most critical scholars recognize the birth stories as legends. Both Matthew and Luke contain two momentous events which, had they actually occurred, would have given us a precise date for Jesus’ birth. In Matthew, Herod the Great slaughters all the young children in Bethlehem. In Luke, Augustus calls for “all the world to be taxed.”

Neither of these events happened, and therein lies the problem. They are legendary accounts told for religious, doctrinal reasons. And here’s a good rule of thumb: Once you’ve tossed rotten fruit into the dumpster, don’t climb back in to see if you can find some edible bits. In other words, resist the temptation to find a kernel of truth in fictional accounts, especially when you have absolutely no corroborating external evidence. There’s no shame in saying, “We don’t know, and we may never know.read more »

The Most Important Story in the World

Now you will know that I really do, as I have tried to point out a number of times, read sources from the full range of the political spectrum. The desperate headline of a story from The American Conservative reads:

Yemen’s Humanitarian Catastrophe: The Most Important Story in the World

The American Conservative has possibly published more stories on the ongoing and deteriorating crisis in Yemen than any other media organization I know. I think they have done so daily. So I can understand the addition of “The Most Important Story in the World” to get attention.

From the latest by Daniel Larison,

The country’s humanitarian crisis was already one of the world’s worst by the end of 2015, and by this time last year it had eclipsed every other catastrophe on the planet. Today the multiple, overlapping disasters of mass starvation and a record-setting cholera epidemic easily make the suffering of Yemen’s civilian population the largest crisis and most important story in the world. More than eight million people are on the verge of famine, and at least another nine million don’t have enough to eat. Over one million have contracted cholera, and that number will keep rising if things remain as they are. All of this has come about in large part because of the deliberate choices of the Saudi-led coalition and their Western patrons, including the U.S. . . . .

The United States of America is around about the bottom of my priority list of countries I would like to visit, sorry. The reasons are many. But when I read the above then for a moment I find myself wishing I really were in the United States right now.

If I were in the USA today then I would be pulling out all stops to find and establish contacts with other persons concerned about what the Yemenis are suffering right now, and then work with those like-concerned persons to begin to raise local awareness of what is happening and why; and then to establish links with like-minded groups across the nation; and then to co-ordinate and brainstorm ideas for raising public (and media) awareness; and to organize, step by step, ways to bring crowds out into the streets, to get media attention, with a view to making the entire movement seriously national — and trying to damn well put serious media pressure on f..king Trump to use the power and influence he claims to have with the Saudis to actually DO something positive … for those Trump and co probably don’t really even know are real people because they are so low on his scale of what is indicative of relevance and importance …. for the Yemenis.