- Part 1, an introduction.
- Part 2, in which we found that Paul, the earliest Christian writer, either didn’t know about a virgin birth story or didn’t think it important enough to mention, even obliquely.
- Part 3, in which we found that Mark, the earliest written gospel, likewise does not know a virgin birth story, and his portrayal of Jesus’ family makes it sound like they didn’t know of one either.
- Part 4, in which we found that Matthew and Luke, while agreeing on several key details, tell virgin birth stories that are not compatible with each other.
We’re not quite done with Matthew and Luke yet. What do they tell of Jesus’ family life? We found that useful when looking at Mark. Gerd Ludemann’s book Virgin Birth? The Real Story of Mary and Her Son Jesus will be our guide through these stories.
Given Mark’s place as the first gospel and the basis for both Matthew and Luke, it’s unsurprising to find a version of the Markan story in which Jesus asks, “Who are my mother and brothers?” It honestly makes more sense in Mark, where Jesus’ statement is preceded by the fact that his family thinks he’s crazy and wants to take him away – again, an odd decision for a family who would know of his supernatural origins. Matthew perhaps knows this and excises that introductory narrative in his telling (12:46-50). Ludemann notes that Matthew also changes the circumstances in which Jesus is told of his family’s arrival. Both of these changes help lessen the strain between Jesus and his family portrayed in Mark 3:31-35.
Like Mark, Matthew also tells of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown. Again, he makes some significant alterations, primary of which is the description of Jesus’ family. In Mark 6, the members of the synagogue say: “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t he Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” But in Matthew 13, it becomes: “Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? Aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? And his sisters, aren’t they here with us?”
Matthew’s addition of Joseph into the story is interesting. Continue reading Was Mary Really a Virgin? Part 5