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What Two Different Views of the Genealogical Records of
Jesus ? One affirming, and one denying the historical reliability of the accounts thereof in the First and Third Gospels. According to the latter view, the division in Matthew into three sets of fourteen generations, six times the sacred number seven, savors of artifice. Luke has eleven times seven generations. The first list, mounting up to Abraham and representing Jesus distinctly as Israel's Messiah, is thought to have originated in Jewish Christian circles. The other, going up to “ Adam, the son of God," and attaching Jesus to the whole human race, would seem to have been revised in a Gentile Christian spirit. It is now generally conceded by students on either side that the ancestral names in the two accounts are irreconcilable.* From the circumstance that Jesus wore a seamless coat, Dr. Ewald argues that Mary was of the priestly tribe. St. John, her nephew, was known to the high priest, etc. f
It has been remarked that the effort to trace the line of Jesus to David is characteristic of the deference which writers in all monarchical countries pay to “ blood”; that, before the oral traditions had crystallized into biography, the recorded yearnings for a coming prince would naturally give shape to a popular belief that one who so well filled the ideal for the Messiah must certainly have descended from that royal soul, David; that little can be inferred from the meagrély reported disclaimer: “ If David then called him Lord, how is he his son?”
From the whole record, it would seem that one inference is unavoidable ; namely, that the genealogical writers themselves entertained no doubt that Joseph was the father of Jesus.
* See Schleiermacher's Essay on Luke, p. 45. See also Harper's Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.
† Ewald's Life of Jesus Christ (Glover's translation), pp. 54, 353.
Otherwise, the descent of Joseph would not have been in the least to the point.
There may be some grounds for supposing that Joseph and Mary were not in poor circumstances.*
But it will not be denied that facts in the after-life of Jesus are symbolized in the accessoies — whether legendary or historical
=of the nativity alleged. He is cradled in a manger: he will never find so much as a place to lay his head, until, persecuted on every side, he drops it weary and thorn-pierced on the cross. The event that earth passes by unnoticed is celebrated with intensest joy and brightest radiance in heaven. The tidings are brought to humble shepherds : it will be the ambition of Jesus to befriend the poor and simple.
It may here be remarked that, independently of either the canonical or uncanonical Gospels, Christ stands an historical person. The testimony therefor is (1) that of Paul; (2) that of Josephus, who in his Antiquities t speaks of James as the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ; and (3) Tacitus, who in his Annals I mentions Christus, who in the reign of Tiberius was put to death as a criminal by the procurator, Pontius Pilate. Some, however, have considered the two latter to be interpolations. But, considering the whole context of Tacitus, while it is improbable (but not impossible) that so candid and philosophical an observer, narrating as early as in the first century, would, in adverting to Nero's accusing the Christians of setting fire to Rome, accept the current slanders of popular heathen prejudice against the character of the Christians, it seems more improbable that any “monk on pious fraud intent” would so overdo the job as to write down Christianity a “baneful superstition."
* See Mr. Conway's Idols and Ideals, App. Essay, p. 17.
What Two Views concerning the Annunciation to Mary, the
Star-heralding, and the Angel-chorus? (1) That these were veritable historical and supernatural occurrences.
(2) That they are the poetic legendary outgrowth of the loving imagination of the friends and followers of Jesus, when he became famous. The adherents of this view have argued that no prediction that Mary would bear a son who would sit on “the throne of his father David,” as a temporal ruler, has ever been fulfilled; that Mary's song * is a reproduction of Hannah's; f that Gabriel — from the ranks I “that stand in the presence of God,” S arranged like the royal court of an Oriental monarch, and whom the tongue of Zacharias or of any other mortal must, on peril of being struck dumb, beware of interrupting with bothersome requests for proofs — is borrowed from some apocryphal writer (so, also, as to the “ Gabriel” that came to Mary, and the angel in Joseph's first dream **); that Mary, if unequivocally told by an angel from heaven that her son was going to be a leader worthy of following, would not be very like most mothers, if she did not • ponder” the message to sufficient purpose thenceforth invariably to heed it,- to recognize the lofty significance of his personality instead of afterward aiding and abetting his unbelieving and protesting brothers; that, if she made the journey to the hills of Judea and had an interview with her aged cousin Elizabeth under such circumstances as Luke mentions, the relations of the two and of their two sons would have been such that Jesus would not have been received by
* Luke i., 46-55. † I. Sam. ii., 1-10.
Perhaps of the supposed seven chiefs, Michael, Raphael, Uriel, etc. $ Luke i., 19.
|| Daniel ix., 21; X., 15. Luke i., 26.
** Matt. i., 24.
John at Jordan as a stranger; that perhaps the “star” got into an Ebionite document in the hands of the Matthew evangelist from the words in the Balaam legend," a star that rises out of Jacob”; that, had the moving star and the shining choir been literal entities when the Messianic expectation was at a feverish height, the news would have spread like fire, and history would never have shown the general public to have been ignorant of such remarkab'e phenomena ;* that such prodigies had in centuries of Oriental tradition been associated with the birth of many a greatly adored personage (as, for instance, the star of Æneas and the thirty-two signs of the conception of the Buddha); that not merely in the case of Moses, Romulus, and Cyrus, had impending danger been one of the afterthought properties in the stage-setting of an infant whose future lifedrama had proved sensational; that the fact that Luke, Josephus, and other historians ignore the Matthew episode of the slaughter of the innocents (which, if occurring, could not escape being a horridly renowned political event) confirms the suspicion of artifice in the Ebionite's redactor, eager to fetch in some application † of Jeremiah's Rachel refraining from weeping for children that should “come again from the land of the enemy”; # that it is strange the star left the “ wise" men in uncertainty at Jerusalem, inquiring whereabouts, etc.; that it is absurd that the crafty Herod, if afraid the Magi would not return, aroused their suspicions by a secret summons, and sent no scout to observe them, or that in so small a place as Bethlehem he could not easily have discovered the particular house and child that had been honored by so distinguished a visit, and thus avoided a senseless wholesale massacre, or that so notorious a crime would have escaped the pen of Josephus, who gives a minute account of the atrocities perpetrated up to the very last moment of Herod's life ; in fine, that the details of the Matthew narrative in this regard show the narrator to be too intensely Jewish partisan to be safely credited thereon without corroboration. Concerning the possibility of making the Luke framework fit the Matthew incidents of the nativity, or conversely, there has been much discussion.
Did Mary so ponder as immovably to believe that the Messiah should see the light of life through her ? The Gospels leave us too
* As to the stars, arising from a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, 747 U.C., see Glover's note in Ewald's Life of Jesus Christ, p. 350.
* Matt. ii., 17. I Jer. xxxi., 15, 16.
$ See Harper's Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.
clearly to think the opposite. There was a time long after this, when Christ was already a teacher, when she wavered between him and his brethren, who did not believe in him; when she went out with them to draw him away from his course, and bring him back to her narrower circle of home life, as one who was hardly in his right mind. Firm, unwavering trust, that knows no passing cloud, is a work of time with all who have an inner personal nearness to the Saviour; and it was so with Mary. She reached it only, like us all, through manifold doubts and struggles of heart, by that grace from above which roused her, ever anew, and led her on from step to step.-Dr. Cunningham Geikie (Life and Words of Christ, chap. ix.).
The angel's salutation is given by Luke in almost the very words of the seer Tiresias to the mother of Hercules: “Be of good cheer, thou mother of a noble offspring. Blessed art thou among Argive women!”
What are the miracles of law's imagined violation to the miracles of inviolate law? The miraculous birth of Jesus! As if every birth into this world were not a wonder past enough to stir
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. His immaculate conception! Thank God, that century-living slur upon the purity of all the mothers in the world but one is hastening to its doom! - John White Chadwick (The Man Jesus, p. 42).