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As we have seen in previous weeks, the Gospels are remarkably similar in many respects, particularly the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In these accounts, the chronology, geography, and scenes are often alike. John’s Gospel also intersects with the synoptics at critical points. Because of their similarities we can read the Gospels side by side, experiencing what is called a harmony of the Gospels. This helps us form a basic understanding of the sweep of the narrative and events of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Learning about the fundamental story line of the Gospels and considering how the narrative of Jesus’ earthly ministry progresses are important for any theologian. Read and view the following resources in order to better understand a harmony of Jesus’ life, beginning with Christ’s pre-incarnation, birth, and childhood.
Begin by reviewing the Strauss textbook reading and the video lecture.
Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus, pages 499–513
Then, please read from Green, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels:
“Birth of Jesus (Links to an external site.)”
“Genealogy (Links to an external site.)”
“Herodian Dynasty (Links to an external site.)”—only the “Herod the Great” section (“Herod’s Family Origins” and “Herod’s rule”)
“Songs & Hymns (Links to an external site.)”—only the “Magnificat” section (Mary’s Song)
To help you grow in your understanding, you will demonstrate how accurately and thoroughly you understand Christ’s birth as it was presented in the “Birth of Jesus” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and the other articles. To begin, consider the insufficient short summary below, in which you need to fill in the blanks:
Short Summary: To consider Jesus’ birth, it is helpful to first consider Mary’s song, which reveals significance about Christ, that he __________. It is also illuminating to consider Jesus’ genealogy, which reveals this important concept, that _______________. Jesus’ birth occurred in the first century BC, near the time of Herod the Great who was known for________ . Jesus’ birth likely occurred around this date _________, which can be supported by these two facts: (1) _____________ and (2) ____________. His birth or early childhood varies between Matthew and Luke’s account, since Matthew’s intent seems to present ____________, while Luke seems intent to present _________. In any case, the Old Testament features prominently in Christ’s birth by _________. In final analysis, Christ’s birth is overwhelmingly significant for Christians in that _____.
What do you think about that short summary and its missing details? Open a new blank document on your computer and, without referring to course readings or personal notes, jot down a few ideas that come to mind regarding how you might fill in the blanks.
Next, compare your ideas and what you initially read in Green’s article on the “Birth of Jesus” and the other articles. Use both Green’s and additional articles to help you further improve the definition. Record where you looked and what you discovered that was useful in your document. Finally, craft a fully effective summary of Jesus’ birth from what is posted above. Each blank you fill in should not exceed 10 words—so both conciseness and clarity are important throughout.