John 8 and the Birth of Jesus

Fol­low­ing are some obser­va­tions on the curi­ous account of the birth of Jesus which a care­ful study of the Gospels reveal :

In John 8:31 ff., there is a debate between Jesus and the Jews about their descent from Abra­ham, who is char­ac­ter­ized as their father. In verse 39, Jesus calls into ques­tion the legit­i­ma­cy of their birth from Abra­ham and in vers­es 41 – 44 he begins to point sar­cas­ti­cal­ly to the dev­il as their real father. To this the Jews respond : We were not born ille­git­i­mate. We have but one father, God him­self.” The lat­ter clause (“We have but one father, God him­self”) is their response to the lat­ter charge of Jesus that they were the dev­il’s progeny.

Now the point, which requires atten­tion, is that in the very next response by the Jews, they doubt the legit­i­ma­cy of Jesus’ birth : Aren’t we right in say­ing that you are a Samar­i­tan and demon-pos­sessed?” (verse 48). This is anoth­er way of say­ing : Look, our birth is not ille­git­i­mate ; Yours is. We were say­ing all along that your moth­er had rela­tions with a Samar­i­tan before your birth.” Curi­ous­ly enough, John” does not make Jesus deny this par­tic­u­lar por­tion of their charge. (i.e., in vers­es 49 f., Jesus denies being demon-pos­sessed, but does not say any­thing about the first por­tion of their charge about his ille­git­i­ma­cy of birth). This clear­ly indi­cates that John acknowl­edged that the Jews had seri­ous doubts from the begin­ning about the birth of Jesus and his unwill­ing­ness to quote any response by Jesus, to deny this charge, proves that John acknowl­edged that Jesus’ legit­i­ma­cy of birth was disputed.

Fur­ther­more, a whole bunch of schol­ars, the most notable of them per­haps being Adolf von Har­nackvide : Zu Lk 1:34 – 35”, in : Zeitschrift fr die Neutes­ta­mentliche Wissenchraft, ii, (1901), 53 – 7, have argued that the tex­tu­al analy­sis reveals verse 34 – 35 of the Gospel of Luke to be post-Lucan, being an inter­po­la­tion by a lat­er scribe or redac­tor. Verse 35 has a dif­fer­ent Chris­tol­ogy (“Son of God”) from those of vers­es 32 – 33 (“Son of the Most High”), there­by sug­gest­ing a lat­er Hel­lenis­tic addi­tion to a Jew­ish nar­ra­tive. With­out this inter­po­la­tion the sequence of the annun­ci­a­tion nar­ra­tive betrays a nat­ur­al conception.Endmark


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