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Christology:

Some Questions on the Life of Christ

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Question #1: 

I enjoy looking things up on your website, but though I tried to locate an answer to this question, I was unsuccessful at finding it. SDA's say they believe Jesus is God, while simultaneously demoting Him to someone who still could have failed, and someone who was made of our carnal flesh as we are to the point that He had to learn obedience (Hebrews ch 5). I wanted to know your comments about those words "learned obedience" because there must be a difficulty with the exact translation? Jesus is God, so I cannot fathom Him having to "learn" it. Would "take on" be a better way of putting it? What does the Greek say?

Response #1: 

I'm not particularly well-versed in the finer points of Seventh Day Adventist doctrine, but as you describe their position I would have to say that they are indeed flirting with, as you put it, "demoting Jesus". The orthodox, biblical position is that Jesus is both God and, since the incarnation, a genuine human being. However, by way of His virgin conception and birth, He did not come into this world with the same "carnal flesh" as all of the rest of us have since as a result of His unique birth He alone in world history was born without a sin nature. But that does not mean He didn't experience pain or hunger or exhaustion or sadness – clearly He did (e.g., Matt.4:2; Jn.4:6; 11:35). Both sides of this equation are thus important, namely, His sinlessness and His true humanity capable of suffering what we suffer. It is equally important not to underestimate either who and what our Lord is, or what He had to undergo on this earth for us in carrying out the Father's plan of salvation. The gauntlet He had to run just to get to the cross – a life of intense preparation and obedience, a ministry opposed more than any in the history of the world, all of which happened to Him prior to His being judged at Calvary for our sins – cannot and must not be underestimated. So on the one hand we should not fail to appreciate that He is God as well as a true human being and as such could not possibly fail in His mission to save us from our sins, yet on the other it is also generally not sufficiently appreciated just what Jesus had to go through in this life, how incredibly difficult and painful and onerous His earthly life was – because for us to be saved He had to actually accomplish His perfect life and ministry. So there was never a chance of Jesus failing in His mission, but He went through the most incredible personal tribulation in order just to get to the cross to die in our place, being judged there at Calvary for all our sins. The expiation of those sins by our Lord is of course something we cannot really fully appreciate in respect to what that took as He hung there in darkness undergoing judgment on our behalf, facing the flames of hell to wash those sins away. But we can at least appreciate His prior personal experience of the grinding reality that is human life in the devil's world, understanding from what the gospels tell us that His road through it was much tougher than any other human being has ever had to walk.

There will be much more about this in the upcoming part 4A of Bible Basics: Christology, but here is an (unedited) portion which contains the quote from Hebrews you ask about, an admittedly difficult passage to understand, especially merely from English translations:

Jesus thus not only is truly human, having become a genuine man in order to die for our sins on the cross, but He also knows precisely what we are going through in this world, having endured the worst of it and having drunk its tears by the bucket-full (Is.53:3), yet without sin:

For we do not have a High Priest who is not able to sympathize with our weaknesses, since He too was put to the test in all things just as [we are], [only] without sin. Hebrews 4:15

(7) [Jesus our High Priest] who in the days of His flesh[ly life] (i.e., while He was on earth prior to the resurrection), having offered up prayers and petitions with powerful shouting and with tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and having been hearkened to on account of His devoutness, (8) although being [God's one and only] Son, nevertheless came to understand [firsthand in His Humanity] from what He suffered [what] obedience to God [truly is] (i.e., what it takes for a human being to be obedient to God), (9) and, once He was perfected (i.e., perfectly completed His course), became the source of eternal salvation for all who are obedient to Him (i.e., believers). Hebrews 5:7-9

As God, Jesus knows full well what we are going through here in this world of pain and tears. But it is an inestimable comfort to realize that He also fully understands from our perspective as a true human being what it is we are facing and suffering and enduring, and that He did the same – only of course to a degree beyond anything we can imagine and without a single slip. Therefore our Lord is both the perfect example to us of how we ought to negotiate this world, and at the same time the perfect confidant, being able sympathize with us in our suffering, having previously undergone the worst of what this world has to offer personally.

On Christology generally, please see now also Bible Basics 4A: Christology.

In the Name of the One who showed us how to walk and gain the victory in this temporary world of dust, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

What did Mary and Joseph do as far as work goes? How old were they when they first found out that Mary was pregnant with Jesus?

Response #2: 

Scripture doesn't have much to say about the early life of our Lord but we do know a few things from the Bible. Critics of our Lord's early ministry called Him "the carpenter" (Mk.6:3), and "the carpenter's son" (Matt.13:55) as the Greek word tekton has traditionally been translated. However, the word tekton means literally "producer" or as we might say "artisan", and even though it is most commonly used to refer to workers in wood, one also finds it in Greek used to refer to all manner of craftsmen, included stonemasons and blacksmiths. It seems more than likely from the two verses cited that Joseph had some sort of craft and that our Lord in the traditional manner apprenticed to that craft. The fact that Joseph was of Bethlehem yet lived in town in Nazareth far away in the north from his ancestral inheritance undoubtedly means that he was not working the land as a farmer. It would have been very unusual according to the customs of the time if Mary were to have had a profession of her own, and nothing in scripture indicates that this was the case. However we can imagine her being involved in every aspect of the family concern aside from the actual work of crafting whatever was being crafted, perhaps even managing the business side of it (a common enough thing for woman to do in antiquity). It is also good to remember that Joseph and Mary had a large number of children, all of whom were, of course, younger than our Lord, the first born (Matt.13:56; Mk.6:3). Therefore Mary had plenty of work to do in the home.

As to the ages of Jesus' mother and step-father, we aren't given anything definitive in scripture. However, I think we can discern from the fact that they had many additional children that Mary at least was fairly young. According to the customs of the time, for her to have been a teenager and Joseph somewhat older would have been very normal. Since it seems clear that Joseph had died by the time our Lord began His earthly ministry at about age 30 (see the link: "What about Joseph?"), it stands to reason that Joseph was most likely at least a decade older than Mary (and may have been older still). Positing ages of, say, 18 and 30-something for Mary and Joseph respectively certainly fits the historical facts we are given. You will find more about these issues at the following Ichthys links:


The Life of Christ (in part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series)

Mary, Joseph, and Nazareth.

Why did Jesus choose John over James to take care of His mother Mary?

The Early Life of Jesus and His Preparation for Ministry (from BB 4A)

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:  Happy Easter! I have a question. Have you ever heard of the following controversy, that Jesus really died on Wednesday, and not Friday? That Thursday was a high day, of the Passover, and considered a special "Sabbath"?  Here it is:

"If Jesus was crucified on Friday there is no way that He could have been in the earth for 3 days--we have no Biblical basis for thinking that Jesus meant only two nights plus part of another day. If Jesus were in the tomb only from late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning, then the sign He gave that He was the prophesied Messiah was not fulfilled. The Chronology of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection

Tuesday: Jesus ate the passover meal with His disciples ( at the beginning of Nisan 14, Jewish reckoning) and instituted the New Covenant symbols ( Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus was then betrayed by Judas, arrested and during the night brought before the High priest.

Wednesday: Jesus was crucified and died around 3 PM ( Matthew 27:46-50). This was preparation day for the annual not weekly Sabbath, which began at sunset (Mark 15:42;Luke 23:54;John 19:31) Jesus' body was placed in the tomb just before sunset ( Matthew 27:57-60).

Thursday: This was the high-day Sabbath, the first day of Unleaven Bread (John 19:31;Leviticus 23:4-7). It is describe as the "Day of Preparation"( Matthew 27:62)

Friday: The high-day Sabbath now past, the women brought and prepared spices for anointing Jesus' body before resting on the weekly Sabbath day, which began at sunset (Mark 16:1;Luke 23:56).

Saturday: The women rested on the weekly Sabbath, according to the 4th commandment (Luke 23:56;Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus rose near sunset, exactly three days and three nights after burial fulfilling the sign of Jonah and authenticating Jesus' messiahship.

Sunday: The women brought spices early on the morning while it was still dark( Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Jesus had already risen (Matthew 28:1-6;Mark 16:2-6;Luke 24:2-3; John 20:1) He did not rise Sunday morning, but near sunset the day before"


I have always read that the Jews reckoned time differently than we do now, that if someone was in the grave parts of three days and three nights, then that is considered three full days and nights. I wondered if you know anything about this, how accurate it is. I realize that, by Jewish reckoning, Jesus must have risen from the dead on late Saturday, since it was still dark when the women came to the tomb, though I think, by the time the angels spoke to them, it was becoming light, and by the time Jesus spoke to Mary Magd., it was getting a little bit light. Plus it's kind of hard to celebrate Easter in pitch darkness.

God's blessings to you.

Response #3:  This one seems to be "making the rounds". As addressed below, H.W. Hoehner's Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1977) does the best job of any source I know of considering the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday hypotheses, and showing definitively why the traditional Friday scenario is by far the most likely.

I have posted a response to a similar question in the past and will give the links below, but let me point out the main two difficulties I see with this Wednesday chronology. First, Thursday is not and as far as I know has never been described as the "day of preparation" – this phrase in Greek refers to the daylight hours of Friday in preparation for the regular Sabbath. I suppose it would not have been impossible for the phrase he paraskeue to refer to the daylight portion of any day before a Sabbath for those special festival occurrences, but usage is what determines meaning, as Horace said long ago, usus, quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi ("usage, in whose power is both the law and the standard of discourse", Ars Poetica, 71-72). In fact, there is no evidence of which I am aware to suggest that he paraskeue ever meant anything else than Friday, and in Modern Greek it is the word for Friday (absent the definite article), that is, the "day before the Sabbath" (Saturday). Thus if it meant something different in the context of holy week, that would be unique and worthy of note, especially since then it would have been an additional and second paraskeue on top of Friday's daylight hours (and it seems incredible that there would have been no comment in scripture about that fact to avoid any confusion with two such days if such were the case). But in fact all indications of scripture are to the contrary:

1) Mark 15:42 calls this paraskeue "prosabbaton" or "pre-Sabbath"; this suggests a normal Friday, and one would certainly expect a different explanation in Mark than "that is, the-day-before-the-Sabbath" if it were an unusual rather than the regular Sabbath.

2) Luke 23:54-55 compared with 24:51 shows the sequence "paraskeue, Sabbath, first day of the week" with no discernible gap given between the three days. The only way to read this in my view is as "Friday, Saturday, Sunday".

3) Matthew 27:62 through 28:1 presents a similar picture, and Matthew uses the definite article with the word paraskeue, indicating the day of our Lord's crucifixion was indeed THE day of preparation, namely, the normal paraskeue, the daylight hours of Friday (rather than some other, additional paraskeue).

So when your correspondent says that in his/her view Thursday was both the first day of the feast of unleavened bread and the day of paraskeue (preparation for the weekly Sabbath), I find it impossible that this or any other Thursday in its daylight hours could or would have been described as THE paraskeue (which by definition as shown above precedes Friday rather Thursday night), and that makes the Wednesday scenario unworkable.

The second main difficulty I see with both the Wednesday and Thursday scenarios is that they are wrongly motivated. The desire seems to be to make the events of holy week square with the prophecy of Jonah, "three days and three nights in the grave" (Matt.12:40). But the problem is that since Christ arose at dawn but gave up His spirit "about the ninth hour", that is, in the middle of the afternoon, no scenario can yield "exactly" three days and three nights: Thursday still falls short by a few hours, and Wednesday would be a good portion of an extra day. It is far better in my view to understand that in the Hebrew view as in many ancient cultures a part of the whole often stood for the entirety of the whole. Counting inclusively, Friday, Saturday, Sunday = three day-nights, even though Saturday was the only complete 24 hour period. The need to fulfill "exactly" the prophecies of the Messiah seems to be a major "itch" behind this strange interpretation, but our definition of "exactly" is often not that of scripture. And I know of no one who has doubted the Messiahship of Jesus solely (or even partially) on the basis of a Friday to Sunday as opposed to Wednesday or Thursday time period spent in Sheol.

Here are the links mentioned above:

Thursday versus Friday Crucifixion.

"The Crucifixion" (in SR 5)

The Festival of First-Fruits (in SR 5)

In the Lord Jesus, who died to cleanse us from our sins and rose that we might have God's righteousness forever.

Bob L.

Question #4:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Hi, a blessed Christmas to you! Which brings me to a question: We know Jesus wasn't born on Dec. 25, and I also know the reasons that Dec. 25 was chosen as the date to celebrate it, and that there were several reasons. However, do you know if what this correspondent of mine writes (pasted below), quoting a book, about when Jesus WAS born, is accurate? Is the Hebrew word for "manger" "sukkot"? Just wondering if you know anything about this, about Zechariah and the date when he would have been in the temple, etc.:

"I have seen many other works on figuring when the time of year Y'shua was born this one continues to come out on top also the word Manger in Hebrew is a sukkot. Biblical Evidence Shows Jesus Christ Wasn't Born on Dec. 25 History convincingly shows that Dec. 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. But is it possible that Dec. 25 could be the day of Christ's birth? "Lacking any scriptural pointers to Jesus's birthday, early Christian teachers suggested dates all over the calendar. Clement. . . picked November 18. Hippolytus . . . figured Christ must have been born on a Wednesday . . . An anonymous document[,] believed to have been written in North Africa around A.D. 243, placed Jesus's birth on March 28" (Jeffery Sheler, U.S. News & World Report, "In Search of Christmas," Dec. 23, 1996, p. 58). A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that Dec. 25 is an unlikely date for Christ's birth. Here are two primary reasons: First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:7-8). Shepherds were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke's account "suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night" (p. 309). Similarly, The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues "against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted" shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night. Second, Jesus' parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating. Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, "the important fact then . . . to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism" (William Walsh, The Story of Santa Klaus, 1970, p. 62). If Jesus Christ wasn't born on Dec. 25, does the Bible indicate when He was born? The biblical accounts point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus' birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist. Since Elizabeth (John's mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John's father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year (The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200). It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (verses 23-24). Assuming John's conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John's birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus' birth. GN (Excerpted from the booklet, Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Really Matter Which Days We Keep?) [btw the end of September is when Sukkot falls]

Thanks for your help. God bless you.


Response #4:
 

To begin, the word sukkot is not a proper translation for "manger" – at least not when you understand what "manger" is translating from the Greek of Luke chapter two. Because of our highly stylized Christmas traditions, most people think that a "manger" is a barn. In fact, the Greek word Luke uses is phatne, and a phatne is a "feed trough". In his rendering of the Greek New Testament into Hebrew in order to better evangelize his fellow Jews, the great Hebrew scholar Franz Delitzsch translated phatne not with sukkot but with 'ebhus (the Hebrew word for "feed crib"). This famous passage "and so they laid the babe in a phatne" is meant to be an explanation not of why Mary and Joseph were in a barn (scripture never says they were: cf. Matt.2:11 where they are said to be in a "house" which is not inconsistent with this being the "inn"), but instead has everything to do with Jesus. True, the text says there was "no place", but the word topos or "place" can in Greek easily be a place-to-put-the-baby rather than a place for them all to stay (although it may sound odd to some in English, this another example of first language conditioning reception of a translation into a mistranslation). Not planning to be still in Bethlehem when Mary delivered, the couple did not bring a proper crib, and this was not the sort of accouterment one could expect to find readily at hand in every lodging house in the ancient world (or even in today's motels). As a result, Mary and Joseph used a simple wooden feed-trough to lay the baby in. The problem is English, not Greek; and also Latin is partially responsible for the mix-up, for in the Vulgate phatne, a word that cannot mean "barn" in Greek, was (acceptably) translated praesepium, a word which, like many Latin words, is highly flexible and means an enclosure of any shape or size or purpose (thus capable of being used to translate trough, or barn, or inn, or almost anything with sides). The KJV and its predecessors didn't help things by using the English word "manger" (no doubt influenced by the Latin), a word which can mean a feed trough but also the building in which it is found (cf. French manger, to eat). The point of the story is really all about Jesus, not about the inconvenience to his earthly mother and step-father. If we want to glorify them (Mary in particular), then calling attention to their humility and privation makes the whole barn scene nice. What scripture is really doing, however, is focusing the story on our Lord. He is the One whose situation is breathtakingly humble, and, correctly interpreted, this privation of the feed-trough applies to Him and Him alone. The sign given to the shepherds was that they would find a newly born, newly swaddled baby lying in a manger (not his parents dwelling in one).

Secondly, we don't know what the weather was on that particular December. Snow in Jerusalem is an incredibly rare occurrence (though it does occasionally happen). Consuming valuable stores of supplies was something that in a tight agricultural situation was to be avoided whenever possible. So, quite to the contrary of what is suggested here, if the weather had been good at that time, there is every reason to suppose that what these shepherds were doing was reasonable.

Third, there were reasons why Joseph was in Bethlehem at the last minute in December (please see the link: "Mary, Joseph, and Nazareth"). Now the Roman census regime was a two year process with the first year being the "year of enrollment" wherein a person had to register as the basis for scrutiny and payment in the second year (failing to do so was apparently a serious malfeasance). In my view, Joseph had delayed going to Bethlehem earlier because he had hoped to let Mary give birth first but when the time crunch hit at the end of the year and she still had not delivered he was left with no other choice than to hasten to Bethlehem before finding himself in violation of the Roman decree. He was probably hoping to be back in Nazareth in plenty of time for Mary to deliver, but there were apparently complications which affected the speed of the journey. This is all shorthand for what I'm already in print on. Please see the following links on all this: 1) in SR#5: "The Birth of Christ"; 2) in SR#5 "The Census". My view, fleshed out in the links noted, is that, indeed, Christ was born in late in 2 B.C., and December is a possible birth month when all of the chronological facts given about His life and the life of John the baptist are taken into consideration.

Fourth, this is an interesting point. However, to put any weight upon it we would have to assume that the priestly divisions and their order of service during the time of Christ were exactly the same as they had been when first established (1Chron.24). This is more problematic than it may seem since, of course, the first temple had been destroyed and the entire temple rite and priesthood had had to be reconstituted some 70 years after the fact (cf. Neh.11-12). A bigger problem is the assumption that the divisions began at the beginning of our calendar year. There was, of course, an civil year in the Hebrew calendar which began in December-January, but also a religious year which began in March-April. All that 1st Chronicles tells us is the order of the divisions, not their starting points (and there are two possible calendars to choose from as just pointed out in any case). If we assume that the division of Abijah, being the eighth (1Chron.24:10), served four months into the year (and actually as much as two weeks less, the time of the service of division #8), then what we need to do is to add nineteen months to the start of the year to get our Lord's birth month (i.e., 4 for the division, 6 for Elizabeth's progression, 9 for Mary's term), yielding on the civil calendar July, and on the religious calendar October. However, all Luke 1:24 says on the score of Elizabeth's conception is "and after these days, Elizabeth his wife conceived" – how long after is not stated. If we take the religious calendar as our start point, and allow approximately six weeks for "after these days", we find ourselves in December. So this argument, while valuable and interesting, cannot be dispositive without our assuming that Elizabeth became pregnant almost immediately, something that scripture's words "after these days" certainly does not suggest.

Until part 4A of Bible Basics, Christlology, is available, please see the following link for much more on this and related question: Events surrounding the birth of Christ.

Hope this helps.

In our Lord Jesus.

Bob L.


Question #5:

Dear Dr. Luginbill--Thanks for your input. Actually, I don't think most people think "manger" means barn. I always thought, from the time I was little, that "manger" meant a feeding trough, maybe of wood, or maybe hewn out of the side of a cave, which were supposed to be used for stables, in Bethlehem, though that is speculation. And we infer from "manger" that Jesus was born in a stable, since only stables or barns would have mangers, and that the stable may have been connected with the inn.

You said sukkot is not a proper translation for "manger." But you didn't say WHAT it translates as. My correspondent is talking about the Hebrew, not the Greek. Do you happen to know the Hebrew word for "manger", or, what does Sukkot mean, in Hebrew? That is the Festival of Booths or Tabernacles, when people lived outdoors for a week, wasn't it? In commemoration of living outdoors for more than 40 years, wandering in the wilderness?

God bless.


Response #5:
 

In my experience and observation, you are pretty exceptional in this correct understanding of the matter. The only reason for the popularity of the whole cresh/manger thing is this widespread misunderstanding (consider the popular hymn "Away in a manger" which is clearly talking about a barn). Reading Luke aright has Joseph, Mary and Jesus in an inn/house, but with the baby in a feed trough which has been brought in from the barn for that purpose.

Sukkoth does mean booth/enclosure (and it is the word for the festival Booths/Tabernacles) so this would be a Hebrew back-translation of the English misbegotten notion that a manger is a barn/booth/enclosure. Delitzsch (mentioned in my previous response) who understood both the Greek text and what the best Hebrew words to represent it would have been doesn't use sukkoth but 'ebhus (feed crib). I think your correspondent's idea is that if Jesus were born in a sukkoth, it makes sense that His birthday would have been on the holiday represented by that name rather than in December, but it may be overestimating this argument even to call it reverse logic. As I say in the previous response, in this he/she is mistaken because sukkoth as a translation for phatne is a mistake based upon an English/Latin misunderstanding.

Thanks for your e-mail, and Merry Christmas again,

Bob L.


Question #6: 

Thanks for your reply. It's an interesting perspective...I'm not sure I agree with you, but it is interesting. I looked in our English-Greek interlinear, and it says, "and laid Him in a manger, because there was not for them place in the inn." Our BibleWorks 4.0 says it means "place, any space marked off, room..." plus, some other meanings, such as a place to live, etc. I understand what you are saying, and you could be right. After all, Luke didn't say that they were in a stable, just that they laid Jesus in a manger, BECAUSE there was no place for them in the inn. But neither does he say that there was no place to LAY him in the inn. So, either one would make sense, if you ask me.
 

Response #6: 

As per the last e-mail, it is the Greek word topos and the English translation of it that has people confused about this. I translate "they didn't have any place [i.e., to lay Him] in the inn". Nothing in the Greek text suggests there was any other problem with their accommodations except for the fact that they didn't have proper infant cribs. It is only because of the fact that an English "place" in the sense of a "place to stay" is so dominant in our Anglo-centric thinking that it makes it hard for us to imagine that the topos (which as far as I know is never used in that sense of "a room to stay the night" in Greek) might mean something else (in fact, it means here a "place to lay the baby"). As far as the Bible is concerned, neither Joseph or Mary or Jesus ever even entered a barn – they may have done so, but that isn't what the text is saying.

Yes, sukkoth does mean booths.

BibleWorks and other biblically focused works will of course have "room" as a possibility since that is how they are translating this passage and allowing for the "traditional" interpretation of it; so that evidence is circular (i.e., but for this passage they would not have the translation "room" as a possibility since the word doesn't mean that in Greek except in the general sense that any space can be called a topos; there are a lot of Greek words for "room in a house" and topos is not one of them). The way in which the English translation of the verse is rendered is thus also important. The way it is being "set up" by English versions including your interlinear prejudices the view. A perfectly good (and in fact superior) Greek translation is "they lay Him in a phatne because they didn't have a place in the inn", where the causal clause thus suggests that the "place" must have to do exclusively with Jesus rather than His parents (i.e., the lack of a room in an inn didn't logically necessitate using a phatne so that this would otherwise be a nonsensical explanation). The traditional assumption of "a place for them to stay" is logical in English, but not at all a slam-dunk in Greek. To wit, Luke 2:7 says that Mary and Joseph "lay Him in A manger"; the absence of the definite article is important. If this were talking about the barn associated inn – which in the mistaken hypothetical it would seem to have to be since otherwise why mention the inn – then it should be THE barn (i.e., not "a" barn/manger). Now if you agree that the phatne is a feed trough, it would seem to me that then the evidence all plays my way. The "sign" is all about the phatne – that is the only thing given to the shepherds whereby they may know that the child the find in Bethlehem will be the right one. This is a case of confused tradition plain and simple, but I think it is important to lay stress where the Bible lays it: on Jesus and His humble birth, not on his parents, one of whom of course is often falsely glorified over the Lord Himself.

You too should have this attitude which Christ Jesus had. Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for. Yet in spite of this [co-equal divinity He already possessed], He deprived Himself of His status and took on the form of a slave, [and was] born in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even [His] death on [the] cross [for us all].

Philippians 2:5-8

In the Savior of the world, our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.


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