Saturday before Epiphany

Collect of Saturday before
Epiphany
Lectionary: 209

When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi... the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.


Many Christians regard the Bible as "the book of answers." There's much to be said for that. Writers set out to answer questions. They may struggle to explore new, hitherto unknown mysteries, or simply to rephrase old truths for a new audience. The authors of the Bible -- a collection of many writings representing many centuries, written in two languages (Greek and Hebrew) with occasional Aramaic phrases -- intended to answer certain questions. 
The challenge for the modern reader is to know, "What were the questions?" If readers ask questions the authors never considered they may come up with answers but they might not represent anything like the message of Revelation. 
As for instance in the two genealogies of in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. A curious reader might ask, "Who was Jesus' agnate grandfather?" Saint Matthew names Jacob, the son of Matthan, the son of Eleazar, the son of Eliud. Saint Luke names Heli, the son of Matthat. the son of Levi, the son of Melchi.
The lists of these gospel writers agree that Joseph "was thought to be the father" of Jesus. But they don't seem to agree where there's no room for disagreement. A man can have only one agnate grandfather, great-grandfather, and so forth. 
The Evangelists do not tell us where they got these genealogies. They certainly didn't make them up. We're sure of that because there was no reward for creativity in that ancient culture, as there is in ours. They never heard Ezra Pound's famous dictum, "Make it new." Most religions, including today's  Christianity, regard novelty with grave suspicion. 
Matthew and Luke were answering different questions for their Christian communities. Matthew wanted to demonstrate that Jesus was truly a Jew, the son of Abraham; and, more importantly, the Son of David. Every Jew knew he could not be the Messiah if he were not the son of David. Luke agreed that Jesus is the Son of David and Abraham, but his gospel addressed the gentile world. So he showed how Jesus is the son of Adam, who was the ur-son of God. As son of Adam he is akin to every other man on the face of the earth. If their lists don't agree neither author was concerned about that; they arrived at the same place: Jesus is the Son of God.
The remark about Jesus age of thirty and his genealogy conclude the prehistory of Jesus' ministry. Because we are familiar with these stories, we know this "Son of Adam, Son of God" before he begins his ministry in the Jordan River. We are ready now for the Feast of HIs Baptism, which this year falls on Monday. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.