Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy 

While those of you who have read my previous posts are scrambling to put together a model of a first century Bethlehemite home complete with guest room and attached stable, I am departing slightly from the Nativity scene itself as I turn to Matthew’s genealogy which precedes his passing reference to Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.

In his genealogy of Joseph’s line, Matthew includes references to four women from Abrahamic/Davidic line. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah (or Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon).

Why does Matthew mention these women at the beginning of his gospel? As with most good storytelling, there is no single right answer to this question. That is, I think Matthew likely had multiple reasons for highlighting these women at the beginning of his gospel. In this post, I have no intention of being exhaustive because that would be exhausting.

Who is Tamar? Continue reading “Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy “

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Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part IV: Jesus, Why Don’t Your Disciples Wash Their Hands? Were You Born in a Barn?

The popular version of the Christmas story has a full-term Mary riding into Bethlehem on a donkey. When Mary and Joseph arrive in town, they are told that the local inn is full and must settle for a nearby barn for shelter. That very night, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, Jesus. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.

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In Part III, I addressed the problem that there is no “inn” in Luke’s narrative. The word that is translated inn is more accurately translated “guest room”. The idea of the inn likely comes from the British imagination which is also the likely source of the assumption that the manger must be located in a barn. In a way, it is a bit surprising that a Pub never worked its way into the popular narrative. And after Jesus was born, Joseph went to the local pub and handed out cigars. (The New Cockney Version) No, maybe not. Continue reading “Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part IV: Jesus, Why Don’t Your Disciples Wash Their Hands? Were You Born in a Barn?”

Advent, Christmas, and Nativity Part III: Because there was no room in the . . . Hey, where’s the Inn?

In the previous post in this Advent series, I suggested that Mary was not likely full-term on the 70 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. So, she was a lighter load for the little donkey that may or may not have made the journey with them. I have also saved Joseph, the patron Saint of Canada, from any accusations of being so insensitive as to make his full-term wife ride a donkey.

It is possible that Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem.But depending on how far along she was in her pregnancy, she may have even have walked at leisure alongside her husband. Is that such a bad picture to have leading up to the Nativity? These newlyweds strolling along the path to Bethlehem, enjoying one another’s company, and talking about plans for the future. Maybe Joseph was filling his wife in on the quirks of his family in Bethlehem. Continue reading “Advent, Christmas, and Nativity Part III: Because there was no room in the . . . Hey, where’s the Inn?”