"Great Catch of Fish," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Birth of Jesus
Luke 2:1-14 [15-20] Commentary
by Emerson Powery
Christmas is the season when Christians remember the birth of Jesus as God’s greatest gift to humankind.
Not everyone, however, considers this celebration in the same way. In the ancient world, the Roman Empire viewed births as potential providers of service. As Luke relays the story, great gifts often come in surprising packages and reactions vary.
Luke was the only Gospel writer to situate Jesus’ birth on the Greco-Roman calendar. Augustus was emperor; Rome’s census was in process; Quirinius was Rome’s governor of the region of Syria, the area covering Judea. The reference to these leaders and the event of this public inspection mark dates in the ancient world. But this is not only about commemorating the historical event (see below). Luke did not ignore the miraculous for the mundane.
Jesus was born in the messianic lineage of David, through Joseph (who plays a minor one in the Gospel of Luke) (Luke 2:4). Attachment to David’s lineage provides its own claim-to-fame in an honor-shame society in which such connections establish the trajectories of the family’s ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL248: Birth of Jesus
December 24, 2016
This podcast on Luke 2:1-14 [15-20], the Narrative Lectionary reading for Dec. 24, 2016, features Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Matt Skinner.