Luke 3.1-6


In the 15th year of the Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, when Herod was prince of Galilee, his brother Philip prince of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias prince of Abilene, during the High Priesthood of Annas and Caiphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

And he went all over the Jordan valley proclaiming a baptism in token of repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the prophecies of Isaiah:

A voice crying aloud in the wilderness,
"Prepare a way for the Lord;
clear a straight path for him.
Every ravine shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill leveled,
the corners straightened
and the rough ways made smooth.
All humankind shall see God's deliverance."

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In a patriarchal society being called  the "son of ________(insert mother's name) " was the same as being called a bastard.  They knew who his mother was.....she gave birth to him...but the son...first be called after his mother was an insult suggesting no one knew who his father was. 

I don't remember which gospel but it was suggested by the Pharisees that Jesus was born of fornication"....we are  not born of fornication".

I think the rumor was spread in the first century that Jesus may have been the product of Mary's rape by a Roman soldier....Nazareth was after all just a few miles from Tiberius I think...Joseph may have been employed there as it was a new city being built....Joseph DID want to put Mary away quietly...he knew Jesus was not his.

In Jewish society a bastard child was not accepted in any me...that the man Jesus was God's disclosure to humanity and a of the lowest of the low...."yet God highly exalted him...."   At his baptism "You are my son, today I have begotten you".....makes Jesus even more accessible to me as the Word made flesh....humanities reject was God's Son.

Nazareth was on the direct route that Roman soldiers took when they (viciously) put down a Jewish 'rebellion' a few years 'BC'-- which is certainly within the range of dates for Jesus' conception-&-birth. They lined the main route for miles with thousands of crosses.


The Medieval Jewish legend we know about... can't be directly traced back-- and there are also less-credible Jewish references in the same sources, saying that he was a magician who'd learned a few tricks in Egypt, or who misused The Name to work miracles and lead Israel astray.


But yes, the passage in John you mention... suggests that nonChristian Jews some decades after Jesus' death were calling Jesus illegitimate.


If only that particular gospel weren't so dubious a source for his actual life.... we might conclude something. But we don't know if Jewish opponents had been saying this all along, or just took it up as a rejoinder to Christian claims. And unlike the later source, it says nothing of who his father was said to be.


I agree, it seems somehow right that Joseph's willingness to marry a woman who would ordinarily been subject to disgrace-- would be the occasion for God to send great mercy into the world. Whatever truth or error there might be in our speculations, that much seems clear.

Luke 4.31->


Coming [Should this read, 'coming back?'-- In the last section, people were already talking about what he'd done there!] down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, he taught the people on the Sabbath, and they were astounded at his teaching, for what he said had the note of authority.

Now there was a man in the synagogue possessed by a devil, an unclean spirit. He shrieked at the top of his voice, "What do you want of us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-- the holy one of God."

Jesus rebuked him: "Be silent," he said, "and come out of him."

Then the devil, after throwing the man down in front of the people, left him without doing him any injury.

Amazement fell on them all and they said to one another: "What is there in this man's words? He gives orders to the unclean spirits with authority and power, and out they go!" So the news spread, and he was the talk of the whole district.

On leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. Simon's mother-in-law was in the grip of a high fever; and they asked him to help her. He came and stood over her, and rebuked the fever. It left her, and she got up at once and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had friends suffering from one disease or another brought them to him; and he laid his hands on them one by one, and cured them. Devils also came out of many of them, shouting, "You are the son of God!"

But he rebuked them and forbade them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

When day broke he went out and made his way to a lonely spot. But the people went in search of him, and when they came to where he was, they pressed him not to leave them.

But he said, "I must give the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, for that is what I was sent to do." So he proclaimed the good news in the synagogues of Galilee.

How does this fit together?


Returning to that story behind the story...

(Several posts were leading into this,  a couple months ago, which might have been better called: 1) the problem, 2) God prepares a response,  3) Where's it going?, and Hmmm. )

We've arrived at Jesus proclaiming "the good news" in the synagogues of Galilee.

Whatever this means, it's popular, at first ("We'll put the roast lamb concession right there under the big sign, 'This way to the Healer'!"...); but then it turns out to not be exactly what Jesus' hearers had in mind.

He brings up familiar stories. Elijah had cursed Israel with a drought because its rulers had been worshipping Baal; he'd gone off to Sidon when that drought dried up his own water supply. Naaman, whom Elisha cured of leprosy, had been an Assyrian general, a feared and hated enemy of Israel.

This "Kingdom of God," as everyone understands it, is to be the restoration of Israel, free again at last, under the rule of Israel's God, everyone at last reconciled to Him... But Jesus is including foreigners in the story, not as enemies to be driven out and conquered, but as people whom God intends to share in the benefits.

That isn't an unknown interpretation, in the many 1st Century variations of Judaism; way back in the story of Abraham (where all this starts) God says that his descendants are to be a blessing to every family on Earth. And in Isaiah 49.6: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the Earth."

But that's not the way people around here feel about it. About thirty years ago, the Romans marched through this part of the country, and lined the local roads with 2000 agonised young men, dying on crosses. What happens to the young women isn't even mentioned. Since then, the local rulers (and high priests) appointed by the Romans continue to be a burden on the locals, in addition to the Romans' own demand for tribute. Somewhere among the stories Jesus tells his home-town neighbors, he really strikes a nerve.


And he drives out sickness and "demons". He's restoring the natural order of Creation wherever he goes... but what exactly are these "demons" doing in the story? This is the same word, basically, as Socrates uses to describe his own daemon. Not necessarily evil beings, although these in particular seem bent on outing Jesus as the Messiah-- not an identity convenient for him to acknowledge. (Both Matthew and Mark have it that John the Baptist has recently been imprisoned by Herod Antipas, evidently for disapproving of Herod's political divorces & marriages.)

"Demons" seem unusually prevalent in 1st Century Palestine. Do we diagnose such conditions differently; should we? Or was there some reason that (whatever they might or might not be) there really were more examples to be found then?

All this background is new to me and seems very interesting and helpful. I am as puzzled as you are about the plague of demons. Perhaps they were no more common 2000 years ago but Jesus and/or the apostles were more interested and more willing to spend time with the suffering "possesed" people.


I've wondered whether Jesus' success with people who were candidates for exorcism in his day, for diagnosis and medication in ours-- stems from his no-fault, harm-reduction outlook... pulling no punches in speaking of the rulers' conduct, while making misconduct and suffering... matters to be simply seen, repented, forgiven.


The wickedness of the rulers was not necessarily greater... but having more invested in maintaining and denying said wickedness, more to gain from it, they were less able to recognize or repent of it.


Crossan has speculated that occupation by a foreign power... makes for strong internal conflict between the spirit of one's national culture, and the spirit being inculcated by the invaders-- which can manifest generally whenever two irreconcilable identities are fighting for control of one small, overwhelmed person.

Luke 5.1-11


One day as he stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the people crowded upon him to listen to the word of God, he noticed two boats lying at the water's edge; the fishermen had come ashore and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he went on teaching the crowds from his seat in the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and let down your nets."

Simon answered, "Master, we were hard at work all night and caught nothing at all, but if you say so, I will let down the nets." They did so, and made a big haul of fish, and their nets began to split. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They loaded both boats to the point of sinking. When Simon saw this he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go, Lord, leave me, sinner that I am!" He and all his companions were amazed at the catch they had made; so too were his partners James and John, Zebedee's sons.

"Do not be afraid," said Jesus to Simon. "From now on you will be catching men." As soon as they had brought the boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Our meeting has been considering QuakerQuest. I am wondering if discomfort with the imagery in this passage may connect with reluctance of some Friends to do anything remotely resembling proselytizing.

The fear of being up to here in strange fish? Oh no, we wouldn't want anybody peculiar in our Meeting!


I didn't think there was anything to say about this passage; it just wanted to come next so I let it. But something like what you say does seem to be going on between our M&O and Outreach committees. Big fuss about whether we should publicly call ourselves "Quakers" or "The [not very] Religious Society of Friends," and I think it's all about fear for our reputation(s).


Jesus wasn't worried about that, and collected an odd bunch of people. We started off trying to prove a 17th Century point about whether live people can give up Sin-- and now we're still washing the outside of the cup, hiding behind silence, functioning as a club for Good People.

Forrest I agree with everything you said. I was talking about the fish presumably caught against their will.
"Against their will"? You mean, what if we sent out Quaker press gangs? "Okay, you, hold still and be quiet!"?

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