Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
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.
I don't know about the passing monarch custom, though any such person would have brought along a small army & lots of luggage! [But building roads was easy: tell your peasants they need to volunteer. Now!]
The Isaiah quote is about God making a 'highway' for the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon.
More about this later, but there's a strong, widespread sense among 1st Century Jews that ~'We really haven't returned, either from exile or divine disfavor-- not if God is still subjecting us to foreign rule and taxation.' 'Sins' are seen as the original cause of the exile, as well as its continuation.
John is baptising in the Jordan, the river where the Jews under Joshua are said to have first entered the Promised Land.
If you consider the actual words in Isaiah, they say that Israel has already paid double for all her sins; all is forgiven and Jerusalem is to have peace. That's written in-or-around the honeymoon of Persian rule, when the exiled Jewish elite were returning with permission to rebuild the Temple.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the Heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from Heaven, "Thou art my beloved son; with thee I am well pleased."
First of all, why is there a genealogy at this point? Who rates genealogies in the Bible? Patriarchs and royalty, David for example.
but it is odd that his fellow villagers are said to refer to him as "the son of Mary",
I've heard another explanation for that one. It also explains why a woman's name periodically pops up on the begat lists.
We don't know anything about Joseph's life pre-Mary or post Jesus age 12. Gospel writers pretty much write him out of the story. He was a ride to Egypt, not much more.
Having more than one wife was common especially given deaths related to childbirth. Using the same name for more that one child in a family was common.
So, if Joseph had 2 wives, say Martha and Mary and each had a son named Yeshua, the only way to distinguish them was to say 'Yeshua bin Mary' or 'Yeshua bin Martha'.
Just a thought.
This one sounds less likely than a virgin birth. Yeshua was a common name, but other names were available, a whole Bible full of names.
Given that "son of Mary" seems to be a feature of newer manuscripts rather than older ones... I think we've got a little retroactive theological editing going on.
The Medieval Jewish story may go back all the way, or it could be a later response to Christian birth stories.
What we have beyond doubt-- is something just a little irregular about Jesus' birth, in the two (inconsistent) stories we've been given. The vision (Mary's) or the dream (Joseph's) that reassures them that this birth is God's will-- could be just an echo of the stories of Moses' birth-- but we've got two otherwise incompatible stories that agree there was serious doubt whether Joseph should marry the woman, because she was with child & not supposed to be.
The Roman punitive expedition was fact. If Mary had been a victim of that... She wouldn't get stoned-- not in a village where she could call out, and have nobody near enough to help-- and certainly not anyone prepared to fight off Roman soldiers.
If Mary did travel from Nazareth, so that Jesus actually was born in Bethlehem, the explanation of "Luke" is entirely backwards. (No one traveled to a place they'd formerly lived to be taxed, but to the place where they lived and owned land.) Traveling to the far end of the country, so the neighbors wouldn't talk about an inconveniently-timed conception, that makes some sense. It also makes sense that the neighbors would talk anyway. So maybe they really did call him "son of Mary," when they wanted to disparage him. None of our manuscripts is old enough to say for sure.
Full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan, and for forty days was led by the Spirit up and down the wilderness and tempted by the devil.
Then Jesus, armed with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee; and reports about him spread throughout the countryside. He taught in the synagogues and all men sang his praises.
It's probably pretty ho-hum news by now, to anyone who's looked into it, that Jesus in this passage is portrayed as proclaiming a Jubilee Year: Release of debts and debt-slaves, return of foreclosed property to the original owners.
There was a general stir of admiration; they were surprized that words of such grace should fall from his lips. "Is this not Joseph's son?" they asked.