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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Comparing and Contrasting The Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke both contain accounts of Jesus’ early life in what bible scholars refer to as the Infancy Narratives. Similarities occur in that they are both telling the same tale; minor differences and
changes in focus do exist however. The Matthean and Lukan gospels do not cease to work toward the elucidation of Christ's childhood and divinity.

The common bonds shared between the gospels of Matthew and Luke are many. Both narratives chronicle the angelic visitations that prophesied the virgin birth, that he would be savior, and that he would be named Jesus. Both tell of the conception of the baby Jesus by the Virgin Mary to the Holy Ghost. Matthew and Luke tell of Mary's pregnancy during her betrothal to Joseph. The when and where the birth takes place correlate (Bethlehem and after Mary and Joseph have come to live with one another).

While Matthew and Luke had many similarities, the differences were there. One example of such a difference would be the location of the story. In Matthew, Mary and Joseph live together in Bethlehem and the child is born there at Joseph's house. In Luke however, the couple resides in Nazareth and must travel to Bethlehem where they are denied a room at the inn and forced to bring Jesus into the world in a barn. Another event that is often associated with the birth of Jesus is that of the Magi. These wise men feature prominently in the Gospel of Matthew, however, they do not feature at all in the Gospel of Luke. Perhaps the most crucial difference is the inclusion of Herod in Luke. Herod's fear of the prophecy colors Matthew's telling with angelic visions, mass slaughter, and the eventual death of the king. Luke does not mention Herod at all. The focus on the roles of Mary and Joesph differ as well. Mary plays a more prominent role in Luke than she does in Matthew. Mary is shown to be a consenting and faithful participant in the conception of Christ, while in Matthew her reaction to such a responsibility is not mentioned. Matthew instead gives more attention to Joseph. Matthew tells of Joseph’s visits from the Angel foretelling the birth of Jesus, the exile due to Herod, the family’s return, and subsequent settlement in Nazareth. Luke gives accounts of John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus at the inn, and Jesus’ circumcision, while Luke tells of the wise men, Herod’s murder of the children.

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