The Birth of Jesus in Matthew and Luke

I have uploaded a table comparing the stories of Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke, the only two Gospels to address the issue. If you have a chance today, take a look at it and think about what it implies about the authors’ perspectives on this event.

Click the link below to see the table.

Birth Stories

A Preview of Sunday, February 1, 2015

Topics for Discussion

  • The Pre-Easter vs Post-Easter construct by Borg
  • Competing Biblical narratives of Jesus with a focus on competing birth stories as an exemplar to the challenges of Biblical literalism.
  • Who was the historical Jesus and what was the cultural context in which He lived?
    • Where was the physical territory of Jesus’ life?
    • Who controlled the territory?
    • What was (were) the dominant religion(s) of the people?
    • What languages did the people largely speak?
    • What was the economic structure?

Suggested Readings

  1. Borg
    • Chapter 2: from opening What Manner of Man? The Pre-Easter Jesus to The Adult Jesus: A Sketch
  2. Bible
    • Jesus’ birth – Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:1-20
  3. Maps
    • Look at maps of ancient Galilee

A Preview of Sunday, January 25, 2015

Topics for Discussion

  • Differences in the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke
  • Images of Jesus
    • Fidelistic
    • Moralistic
  • Parallel Stories – What do the differences mean?
  • From belief to relationship
  • The Pre-Easter vs. Post-Easter Jesus

Suggested Readings


Chapter 1, cont. from How I See Jesus Now to end of chapter


Two ways to follow Jesus: John 3:16, Matt 7:1 & Luke 6:31

Parallel Genealogies: Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 (click to view these passages)

Defining Scripture in the 21st Century

I have uploaded the presentation that I will use on Sunday, January 18 so that you can view it online. Feel free to share it with anyone you want, but some parts may be difficult to understand outside the context of our discussions in class.

You can find the presentation here.

1/18/2015 Comment: I’ve corrected the links in this post. The presentation displays properly now.

2nd Week – Jan 18, 2015

Your comments provided the class with some great fodder for some engaging discussions in the weeks ahead. Since several comments spoke directly to how the Bible was developed, Michael is preparing a presentation in response to those questions and to discuss your additional questions.

In preparation for this coming Sunday, we suggest these readings:


Chapter 1: from opening Meeting Jesus Again through the section titled Seminary and Beyond.


1st Corin. 13:11

Questions from Opening Sunday

On Sunday, January 11, 2015, we wrote responses to three questions. What follows is a compilation of the responses you provided. In a number of cases I had to guess at which question some of you intended your comment to address. If I got it wrong, just let me know and I’ll move your response to a more fitting place. You can contact me using the “Contact Us” link at the top of the page.

What are you curious about?

  • How do we nurture our congregation to become even more alive and joyful and welcoming to new members?
  • How can we re-form a church to move beyond being a force for divisiveness?
  • Religion as mental illness
  • Canon fodder, and how not to be it
  • Curious about how and why (history, need) Christianity took hold and grew (in the 1st century).
  • How does being a person of progressive faith differ from being a compassionate humanist?
  • The lectionary
  • What are key/basic elements in progressive faith?
  • How do I strengthen and build my relationship with God?

What questions do you have about the Bible, Jesus, or God?

  • Doubts about the resurrection / ascension story – What was happening (history, people, need) to inspire this profound story?
  • How were these stories passed down – altered – in 1st and 2nd centuries?
  • How do we see divinity and what it means in a modern world?
  • Immaculate conception
  • Translations decided
  • How can we see these elements [key/basic elements of progressive faith?] in our beliefs and understanding of God and Jesus?
  • Who makes lectionaries?
  • How [are we to] understand literal stories?
  • Is Jesus literally God incarnate?
  • How much to take literally so that I can continue to be a Christian. What are basic doctrines of a progressive Christian?

What do you hope we cover in this class?

  • Is there a movement of the Spirit in Scripture that is essentially feminine? What attributes of Jesus, the Son, and God the Father might be illuminated to give room for more feminine images?
  • Does our organizational structure, physical building, and order of worship restrict us from fuller involvement in our local community?
  • A sense of still being in but not of the world, while being able to embrace neighbors rather than traditional separateness – where is our identity?
  • Learn more about the Bible
  • I need some contemplative time — otherwise I consider this an assignment — so wait!
  • I’m interested particularly in the “supernatural deeds attributed to Jesus. How do we understand / interpret these? Is it possible to reject the supernatural elements (miracles, raising the dead, etc.) of Christianity and still be Christian?
  • Is there a point at which the bible became ‘fixed’ — passages weren’t added or deleted? (As opposed to being revised/reworded to become more contemporary (i.e. Good News Bible)?
  • How are people to interpret the Bible when most don’t have an historical background / knowledge?
  • Is there still truth in some of the scripture that we may believe is not literally true?

Opening Day (Jan. 11, 2015)

It was wonderful to have all of you this morning in class. I regret the technical difficulties that prevented our remote participants from joining us, but I was delighted to see so many of you in the face-to-face meeting.

Questions and Information for Sunday 1/11/2014

On Sunday we will introduce ourselves, think a little about why we are offering this class and why you have decided to attend, then we will look at a bible passage that has been used for centuries to silence dissent among Christians and consider how to understand it in a more accurate and fair manner. Here are some things to think about between now and Sunday:

  • What are you curious about?
  • What questions do you have about the Bible, Jesus, or God?
  • What do you hope we cover in this class?

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, either in person or online!

Introduction to the Class: Basics for Progressive Christians

Tomorrow morning (Jan. 4, 2015) at 9:30 we will do an introduction to the class at Binkley. Here are some of the things we will present:

  1. An overview of the class (as can be found on the class page here at this site.)
  2. A brief discussion of our use of technology to enable remote participation (Google Hangouts, website integration, social media).
  3. An introduction to the book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time.

We would love to see you there at 9:30 tomorrow, but if you can’t make it, just show up on the 11th!