Thursday, July 1, 2010

I...Am Your Father! Luke Chapters 1, 3, 5

Part 1 of my "I...Am Your Father!" series.

As I mentioned in my previous series, most biblical scholars believe that Matthew and Luke were partly derived from Mark and another, hypothetical document known in the biz as "Q". So reading Luke is a lot like re-reading Matthew and Mark. I'll stick to the unique parts of Luke, and of course, things that I may have missed in Matthew and Mark, plus anything else that occurs to me while I read this nonsense.

Chapter 1, also known as "Living On Roller Skates"

In Chapter 1, Verse 26, God sends an angel to Mary in Nazareth, which is in Galilee. In Chapter 2, Verse 4, we find that Joseph is also in Nazareth. The two run along to Bethlehem, in Judea, to register for a census. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. In Verse 39, the whole family goes back to Nazareth. So we have the story starting in Nazareth, then going to Bethlehem, then back to Nazareth.

Let's go back to Matthew. In Chapter 1, Verse 1, we see that Jesus is born in Bethlehem. In Verse 14 the family moves to Egypt. When God tells Joseph, in Verse 20, to go back to Israel, where does Joseph take the family? Verse 22 tells us that he intended to go to Judea (presumably because that's where the family had lived before). Joseph of course gets a non-specified warning from God, and takes the family to Nazareth. So we have the story starting in Bethlehem, then going to Egypt, then going to Nazareth.

I'm sure that Christians who want to "harmonize" the two gospel accounts will say that there is no conflict here: they start in Nazareth, per Luke, then go to Bethlehem for Jesus' birth, then they go to Egypt per Matthew, then they finally land in Nazareth. All harmonized, right?

I don't think so. If the story started in Nazareth, which is in Galilee, then why, when God tells Joseph to head back to Israel, does Joseph head for Judea? According to Luke, the only reason they went to Bethlehem was for the census. It makes no sense for Joseph to go from Egypt back to Judea. Why wouldn't he head directly for Galilee, to go back to the place where he lived before?

Chapter 3
  • Verse 9: John the Baptist announces that "...every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." Does this pronouncement apply also to Yahweh and Jesus?
  • Verses 10 - 11: John instructs this "brood of vipers" that "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." Why is it that Christians in general, at least in the West, live quite comfortable lives while there are billions of people in the world, a huge portion of them children, who are naked and starving? Is it because the instruction came from John rather than Jesus? No, there are plenty of things that Jesus instructed his followers to do that they never do. For example, see Matthew 5:39-42.
  • Verses 7, 9, 17, and 18: We're a "brood of vipers." If we don't produce good fruit we'll be cut down and thrown into the fire. Jesus will come soon and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. And Luke says that John was preaching the good news. Jeez, good thing he didn't have any bad news for us.
Chapter 5
  • Verses 1 - 11: Jesus instructs Simon (Peter) to put his net back into the water after Simon had already given up on fishing for the day. He catches a huge load of fish, enough to strain his net. How do we know that Jesus wasn't just some ET with good technology? If I could go back in time with a sonar device, I could help Simon completely empty the Sea of Galilee of fish in just a few years. Not that I'd want to damage the ecosystem in that way; that job is being handled just fine by modern Christians, who think that the end of the world is a good thing.
  • Verses 14 - 15: About this secrecy thing. Jesus is God, right? He wants to keep his identity secret, obviously, but just as obviously, it doesn't work. How is it that the will of God is so easily thwarted?
  • Verse 17: "And the power of the Lord was present for [Jesus] to heal the sick." You have got to be kidding me. With statements like this, Christians still believe that Jesus is the Supreme Being? Obviously, Luke didn't think so, if he thought it necessary to mention that healing power happened to be available at that time. If Jesus were God, one might think that his power would be there at all times, and that it would be so obvious that no one would ever think to mention it in this explicit way.

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