Monday, February 24, 2014

And the number of them, after their genealogy by their generations (Luke 3)

The first issue the SAB brings up in Luke 3 is the harsh language John the Baptist uses in reference to the people who come out to see him. While in some of the parallel accounts the phrase "generation of vipers" is used for the Pharisees, here it seems to be addressed to the crowd in general. I'm not sure what to comment on this; yeah, it's pretty harsh. Also, verse 9 has some pretty harsh phrasing, although I'm not convinced that the SAB is right in identifying it as a verse about salvation. I think John the Baptist is talking about a purely earthly judgment, although I could be wrong.

John the Baptist talks to three groups of people, and basically he tells each one to be (in their own way) kind and generous. The group that the SAB makes no comment on, the publicans, is an interesting case that I feel like addressing. Publicans were tax collectors, and the way that they made a living is that Rome would assess a tax to a certain region, and the publicans would tell people what they had to pay to make their quota. It was a common, Roman-approved method of collecting that a publican would charge people more than Rome needed, and then keep the difference for their personal income. It's a cultural thing that was well-known in Biblical times, so it's never quite explained, although it's crucial to understand whenever Jesus associates with "publicans and sinners". (The Apostle Matthew was a publican before he followed Jesus; it wasn't a profession that people tended to like for obvious reasons.)

The SAB does comment on the soldiers, and brings up a very good point. How does it make sense to tell soldiers to "Do violence to no man," when that's essentially their job? I suspect that this is a problem with the translation, as many other versions of this passage say something like "Do not extort money from anyone." The Greek word that the KJV translates as "violence" seems to have a meaning more akin to harassment than actual physical harm. I think that all three things that the soldiers are admonished to do boil down to, "Don't abuse your authority." (When he says "be content with your wages", I think it's not about whether or not their wages are fair, but about whether they may be tempted to supplement their income by extortion of commoners.)

Yes, verse 17's mention of "fire unquenchable" is almost surely a reference to eternal judgment, but that's a big issue that I'm not going to go into here. If the reader really wants my insight on Hell, there are surely a few entries elsewhere with that tag.

How did God address Jesus at his baptism? I'm sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again here that slight changes in wording from one version of a Bible story to another don't bother me, so I'm not sure what to say when they seem to bother the SAB.

Who was Jesus' grandfather on his father's side? It was Jacob. Long explanation in the last two paragraphs of this post.

Who was Zerubbabel's father? This is an interesting point, as throughout the Bible, Zerubbabel is referred to as the son of Shealtiel, with the exception of 1Chronicles 3:19, where his father is claimed to be Pedaiah. If you look at the context of the oddball verse, you'll see that Pedaiah and Shealtiel were brothers, with the latter being the first-born in the (now defunct) royal line. This suggests a possible resolution: if Shealtial had died childless, it would have been necessary for one of his brothers to sire a son and with said son being Shealtiel's heir apparent. It may have been that Pedaiah was Zerubbabel's biological father, while Shealtiel was his legal father, in order to carry on the royal line. (Of course what's really odd is that these names should show up in both genealogies, given the point I bring up in the next paragraph.)

It seems from re-reading my Matthew 1 post that I missed the question "From which of David's sons was Jesus descended?" although in some ways, I think I answered it there. As I explained in that post, the two genealogies are of Joseph and Mary, and each of them were descended from a different son of David.

It was hinted at, but not an actual note in Matthew 1 when I covered it, but "How many generations must a bastard wait until his offspring can enter the congregation of the Lord?" The answer is ten, and the SAB only arrives at a supposed contradiction by counting wrong; Phares is the first generation, so David ends up being tenth. Besides, I'm not at all clear as to what the Deuteronomy passage is saying; I really should ask someone who would know better, like a Rabbi.

Who was Salah's father? is an interesting one; especially in Matthew's genealogy, there is a tendency to telescope generations and leave people out, but here, we have an instance of someone being added in. I don't know why this would be and have no response to this one.

Was Enoch the seventh from Adam? Again, this is a counting error on the part of the SAB; Enoch is seventh from Adam if you start counting with Adam as "one".

How many sons does God have? This is a tricky one. I'm going to refer it back to my post in Genesis 6, where I explain that it has no simple answer, but it has a lot to do with poetic language.

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