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89 chapter project: Matthew

Discussion in 'Religion and Faith' started by paradox3, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Today we begin with Matthew 1. Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start . . . (as the song goes.)

    First my biases when it comes to scripture.

    I consider the Bible to be a human construction. Period. It is the record of Judaism and Christianity's search for God and their struggle to know God. It is our core document and our sacred story. Inspiration by God is apparent throughout but I don't see inspiration present in every single story. The assembly of the canon as we know it was also the work of human hands.

    Like the Jewish people, I believe we are called to wrestle and dance with scripture.

    WC members with different approaches are most welcome to post on these threads. Right now I am not seeking to debate how we read the Bible. I am interested in what everyone takes away from the passages.

    I am personally growing weary of the literal vs. metaphorical discussion. Marcus Borg's words about metaphor were most encouraging to me when I first read them but that was several years ago. As I read through the gospels I will try to keep my mind open to whatever they might be saying to me.

    In particular, I am looking for answers to my questions about the faith perspective of Jesus of Nazareth. On another thread @Mendalla pointed out I seemed to be using the lens of His humanity rather than His Divinity. I think this is another bias of mine although my Christology is not the lowest you will find around here.
     
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  2. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Largely my view, too. Where we might differ is what "God" actually is. I am not convinced there is one, at least a personal one, and tend to use the paradigm that "God" is a metaphor we use to define our relationship to fundamental forces of existence, whether physical, spiritual, or moral. So Jesus is as much or as little Divine as any of us since "God" is not a literal reality (though I'm open to changing that view if something gives me a reason to do so).

    I'll get into Matthew later. Nice day, might go for a walk in a bit.
     
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  3. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Matthew 1: 1-25

    Summary: The first chapter of Matthew has two distinct sections . . . the genealogy of Jesus and his birth to the Virgin Mary.

    The genealogy describes 42 generations. There are 14 generations from Abraham to David; 14 generations from David until the captivity in Babylon: and 14 generations from the captivity until Jesus. It establishes that Jesus is of the house of David. Five women, including Mary are mentioned on this family tree.

    The birth narrative tells us that Mary was betrothed to Joseph and was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. We are assured that Mary and Joseph did not conceive this child together. Joseph wanted to put Mary away but did not want to expose her to public ridicule. While he was pondering these things, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. He awoke and married her but they did not have sexual relations until after the birth of Jesus.

    This was in keeping with Old Testament prophecy (a virgin will have a son and call him Emmanuel) and Jesus is to save his people from their sins.
     
  4. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Discussion: It seems that the writer of Matthew wished to establish Jesus' credentials. Jesus comes from the house of David and was born of a virgin, according to prophecy.

    Does his family tree establish him as fully human? The passage does not suggest that Joseph was his father but the genealogy includes characters of some notoriety. They behaved in very human ways over the generations.

    It has been many years since I have pondered the old Sunday School lesson of Jesus being fully human and fully divine.

    Thinking of the character of Joseph, I wonder who the earthly father of Jesus actually was. If it was Joseph, he seems rather cowardly in his haste to put Mary away. Yet he listened to the voice of God's messenger and did the right thing in the end. If Mary had sex with another man (consensual or otherwise) Joseph becomes a man of great compassion and forgiveness.

    Either way I like this guy Joseph.

    Thoughts?
     
  5. Waterfall

    Waterfall Well-Known Member

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    Seeing as the Holy Spirit is supposedly female. or the feminine part of God...is this a new way to get pregnant?
     
  6. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    I had forgotten about the convention of referring to the Holy Spirit (and also Wisdom) as female.

    Doesn't really work for Matthew 1, does it? :eek:
     
  7. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful afternoon here & I am back now from a walk myself. When I was outside I was mulling over what effect being parented by Joseph might have had on Jesus and the development of his character.
     
  8. GeoFee

    GeoFee I am who I am becoming...

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    I have not thought much about Joseph’s influence on Jesus. My thoughts tend towards Mary as a primary influence on Jesus. I see him as an infant in her kitchen. Absorbing her spirit of care.
     
  9. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I can see that too. This is very interesting to contemplate. . .
     
  10. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    But Joseph was the Dream Master ... the psyche behind the scene in Egypt .. if you connect some spots they were in with flaming terrorists ... despots?

    Some webbing might be helpful ... aboriginal Jesse'd ...
     
  11. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Matthew 2: 1- 23

    The second chapter of Matthew contains 4 well-known narratives.
    1. The visit from the wise men of the East
    2. The flight of the Holy Family by night to Egypt
    3. The massacre by Herod of all children under the age of 2 in and around Bethlehem
    4. The return from Egypt with the Holy Family settling in Nazareth.

    This chapter refers to a supernatural event as the star in the sky stops to point the way to the baby Jesus. It also contains 3 instances of communication in dreams by angels and 4 statements of fulfilled prophecies. One fulfilled prophecy concerns the death of the children:

    Matthew 2: 17-18 NRSV

    Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
    "A voice was heard in Ramah,
    wailing and loud lamentation,
    Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be consoled,
    because they are no more."

    IMO this is one of the most poignant verses in the whole bible.
     
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  12. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Reflection on Matthew 2.

    How are we to understand this chapter? Is it persuasive writing? Mythology? A personal faith statement of the gospel writer?

    It certainly continues the message of Matthew 1 that Jesus will be a highly significant individual. Wise men from the East bring him valuable gifts and Herod the King is alarmed by his birth. Prophecies are fulfilled in him. We also see Joseph continuing to respond to God's call and providing care and protection to Mary and the infant.

    And now for some comic relief:

    "We three Kings of Orient are
    One did smoke a rubber cigar
    It was loaded
    And exploded
    Lord knows where they are!" :)
     
  13. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    For contemplation.

    Have you ever known a mother lamenting for her children who are no more?

    Could the purpose of including this prophecy be to foreshadow Mary at the foot of the cross?
     
  14. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps something to do with fallout from a heavenly state and recall only when burned out by life as it is ... mostly gravitas and upstanding avarice!

    Recall is immanent when ancient panes are replaced ...
     
  15. Waterfall

    Waterfall Well-Known Member

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    I suppose it makes more sense for the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom upon her for the raising of Jesus.
     
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  16. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Mary and Joseph certainly have important roles in the story. This is not something I have ever thought much about.

    So far, in Matthew, we have heard very little about Mary. Joseph seems to be a wise and faithful individual.
     
  17. chansen

    chansen Pleasant Enough

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    How little sense does something have to make, for this to make *more* sense?
     
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  18. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Question: Do you know what would have happened if it had been Three Wise Women instead
    of Three Wise Men?

    Answer:

    1. They would have asked for directions.
    2. They would have arrived on time.
    3. They would have helped deliver the baby.
    4. They would have cleaned the stable.
    5. They would have made a casserole.
    6. They would have brought practical gifts.

    I did not make this up. :)
    It has been floating around for a few years but I like it.
     
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  19. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Thus floaters like Po a Taost?
     
  20. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Matthew 1 & 2 are myth-making to my eye. There's just too much of the "this happened to fulfill prophecy" thing happening to be anything else. And that's not diminishing the importance of the story in any way. A myth is an important story that is not literally true. I celebrate Christmas and I happily read both Matthew and Luke's birth narratives as part of that. I just don't think Jesus was really born that way. Most likely, Joseph and Mary got up to some hanky-panky pre-marriage and what comes naturally of that happened. Alternatively Mary was having some fun on the side (or maybe it wasn't fun, maybe the "angelic conception" wasn't consensual) and Joseph, being the gentleman he was, nonetheless still kept her and still took her as his wife, raising the child as his own. The details don't really matter, since it's the myth that informs our understanding of things today, but recognizing that it is myth and that Jesus most likely did have a human mother and father, does matter. And that can play into our understanding of the myth and what meaning we take away from it.

    Speaking as a writer, if I was turning Matthew into a modern novel, I'd put the begats as a prologue. They function that way, setting the stage for the historic event about to happen. Then I'd segue into the story of Mary and Joseph as the first few chapters, fleshing them out as characters of course. They are kind of two-dimensional here, esp. Joseph.

     
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