Sunday, December 23, 2012

TSP 29: "The First Christmas: The History and Theology of Jesus' Birth in Matthew and Luke"


With Christmas upon us, The Sacred Page Podcast turns to look at the birth narrative of Jesus in Matthew and Luke.

Are the infancy narratives hopelessly contradictory? Were they simply invented out of whole cloth? Why are there so many hymns in Luke 1-2? Why did Luke not tell us about Magi? Why did Joseph seek to divorce Mary? Was he really suspicious of her?

Find out the answers to these and many other questions in this podcast.

For more on Joseph, see this post.

Listen on iTunes or click the link below.

Your comments are welcome as always in the comment box. 


4 comments:

Bruce Killian said...

Dear Dr. Barber,
I would like to disagree with you on the Star of Bethlehem being an angel, rather than a real star. First, I agree that in the Scriptures, angels and stars are closely linked, to the point that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between them.
But, the magi saw His star as it rose and Jesus identifies His Star as the Bright Morning Star (Rev 22:16). Second, the bright morning star can and does do things that only it can do, for example be seen during the day, in fact all day long (as the day star) 2 Pet 1:19)
The proof for this star is almost entirely Biblical, what is not biblical is what is known of the heavens using only one’s eyes to make observations. Once you understand the star of Bethlehem you realize it identifies Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and on passover eve points out Jesus’ house as evening approaches. That is why Joseph is not there when the magi visit. But that night just like Israel fled Egypt on passover, the Holy Family flees to Egypt, but in reverse. Jesus is Just 3 month old like Moses was when he went to Egypt from Goshen. The sun moon and stars bow down to Jesus at His birth and at His death. That star also dramatically supports Jesus’ birth on Christmas and His circumcision on Jan 1, AD 1.
Later during Jesus’ ministry that star presents the cross as the ladder to heaven, just after Jesus told His newest disciples they would see the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Yesterday I posted a video to start to support my articles on this topic at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xHE9U3Pq4o
Grace and peace,
Bruce

Michael Barber said...

Bruce:

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your feedback.

I think there are a number of difficulties with your approach. I'll just point out two.

First, how do you know that the morning star of Rev 22 is the same thing as the Christmas star? I think you have to be careful about just connecting every passage relating "star" imagery. In Isaiah 14 the morning star is the King of Babylon. Tradition links the star to Lucifer. Obviously, not every reference to a star then should be linked.

You suggest that Revelation 22 should be identified with the Christmas star. You wrote that Jesus identifies "his star" with the morning star. However, in Revelation 22:16, Jesus says that HE is the morning star. Clearly, Jesus is NOT the star in Matthew, for he is in the manger! I don't see how the two stars--the one from Matthew 2 and Revelation 22--are linked. Where in Revelation 22 do you see any evidence that the Christmas star is in view?

Second, while I don't think there's evidence that the star in Revelation 22 has anything to do with Christmas, we might also point out that just because the morning star can do things other stars cannot (e.g., be seen in the day), that does not mean that it can do everything the star is described as doing in Matthew. The Magi see the star moving and it comes to rest over the place Jesus was born. As I explain in my podcast, this is no typical star! Not even a morning star acts in this way. The Christmas star is "low-hanging"--i.e., you can identify the place directly under it. It is rather difficult to identify which star is directly over a certain place!

I'll have to do a post on this for Epiphany, but this was in fact the understanding of the earliest writers, e.g., Irenaeus, Origen, Ephraem, as well as other major doctors such as Chrysostom and Aquinas. I don't think they were all wrong on this.

Thanks again for your comment, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

Michael Barber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Killian said...

Dr. Barber,
Thank you for taking the time to write a response. You do not need to respond to this, but I have answers to all of your objections. The video presents only an introduction to the evidence more evidence is on my web site.

Jesus only identifies one star with Himself and the magi saw his star. Isaiah 14 does refer to a morning star, but not the bright morning star, Isaiah 14 refers to Mercury, I knew this and do not link every reference to a star by any means. I discuss Mercury and Lucifer in my article on the great signs of Revelation 12, which I discovered and understand because of the Star of Bethlehem.

Jesus in Revelation 22 was answering the question He posed when He asked, “How can the Christ be the son of David?” He quoted Psalm 110:1, but Psalm 110:2 refers to a scepter and verse 3 in the Douay (which is Psalm 109:3) “from the womb before the day star I have begotten thee.” The day star is other name of the bright morning star and Jesus was identified as separate from that star. Jesus said, I am the gate and He said, I am the vine. How do I know that a vine is the vine or that a gate is the gate? Does this vine bear fruit? Does that gate lead to God? Does the Star of Bethlehem deepen our understanding of Jesus? Yes, because it opens the door to linking Jesus’ entire life and ministry to passover and to the calendar, see www.scripturescholar.com/ChronologyJesus.pdf

The bright morning star can and did do what Matthew described the Christmas star do. It did rise, then it did move through the sky during the day and in the afternoon went before them in the direction of Jesus’ house and because it is the only star that can touch the horizon, it was low-hanging—it could identify the place directly underneath of it because the only requirement for that location is that it be on the horizon from the point of view of the magi. So if an angel could go to Jesus’ home in a straight line, Venus could also appear to go to that home. It is very likely that Jesus’ home was outside of town possibly near the ridge.

Do you not think it interesting that that the bright morning star rose on Jesus’ first passover and then on the day of His resurrection 32 years later see www.scripturescholar.com/VenusStarofBethlehem.pdf. It also marks the sign Jesus told the disciples they would see in John 1:51 and that sign was the cross as the ladder to heaven on which hung the Lamb of God see www.scripturescholar.com/LambofGod.pdf.

Since the lights in the heavens were put there to be signs, and because the angels would descend on the son of man does it seem beyond understanding that God created a star with the purpose of pointing out Jesus?
The fathers of the church do support a Dec 25, 1 BC birth of Jesus and circumcision on Jan 1. So this star of Bethlehem proposal supports and is strongly linked to Tradition.
And since stars and angels are strongly linked in the Bible, one can also say an angel or messenger, led the magi to Jesus without contradiction. The bright morning star is an angel that could lead to Jesus. But the bright morning star was a message pointing to the Lamb of God, our Passover, that was sent before the foundation of the world. The morning stars sang together at the foundation of the world Job 38:7 and Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world Rev 13:8.
If you have more objections, email and I’ll send my phone number to simplify communication.
Grace and peace,
Bruce