In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.
Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you! [Blessed are you among women.]” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favour with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus. mHe will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God. ”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.Luke 1:26-38
There are many controversies surrounding this passage of Scripture. I don’t intend to address them all. In fact very few of them really. ” Never spend more time on a critic than you would a friend.”
As I said in Bible Gem 741 you either accept the factuality of the virgin birth or you don’t. Of course it is controversial. Virgin birth is something extraordinary. It is recorded in God’s Word. You either accept it or you don’t. I can’t persuade you “on the basis of the evidence”. It is similar to what I shared with you in Bible Gem 324 when I told you the story of sharing with my friend Shenol. “There are some things of God that are just too deep to explain. I am happy with that. I am pleased that God has teaching that I can’t get my mind around; that boggles my mind. I am more satisfied with that fact than if I could explain everything about God in human terms. I am more content having a God who is unexplainable rather than a God who is completely explainable.” That wouldn’t satisfy me.”
There are some things that beyond my ability to comprehend but that does mean they are myth, nonsense or impossible to be real. It simply means I am not able to grasp the depth of them or gain an understanding of how these things can be. But that is alright. I can happily turn such things over to God. That is not a “cop out”; it is simply being wise with the time I have available and what I choose to put my efforts into. So I will leave the matter of proving the “virgin birth” here.
Two other controversies that pop up in this section are those of the textual element [Blessed are you among women] in verse 28 and the mismatches between Luke and Matthew. I will look briefly at verse 28 here and will leave the Matthew / Luke comparisons until later.
Learn to notice what is happening in your bible with the text before you. Notice that [Blessed are you among women.] is greyed out. Written faintly. That is because it doesn’t appear in the majority of Greek texts on this verse. It does however appear in verse 42. No one is deliberately omitting a portion of the word of God. What is happening here is that text experts are seeking to establish what Luke actually wrote in verse 28 given the textual evidence. There are many who get caught up in Majority Text Theory at this point and on other more controversial verses in other places in the Bible. Their conclusion is that there is a plot to adulterate our Bibles and therefore we should all return to the King James Version in English because that is the only correct version. That is what they claim. That’s nonsense but I really don’t want to spend the time getting into the debate here. I think it is a storm in a tea cup. If I get a hail of protest about this I will know I need to take time to explain it all in a series of Gems but I suspect most people are not interested in whole debate. So I will conclude with the comment . . . .
Suffice to say I am aware of the controversy. It is not something that warrants the time. It is a time wasting debate to say the least. For that reason I choose to by-pass it.
I know my rather summary dismissal of these important issue may annoy or anger some of you. I am merely trying to make acceptable progress through the book of Luke and not get bogged down with red herrings. I don’t think for one minute that I can change the viewpoint of those who hold their criticisms concerning the virgin birth or their viewpoint on the majority text issues dearly. So in order to make the main thing the main thing let’s move on. Don’t get bogged down with the criticism and lose sight of the gems.
Now Before I leave this passage allow me to address a textual issue:
Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you! [Blessed are you among women.]” (Luke 1:28)
The element, “Blessed are you among women” which is greyed out, was indeed in the text of early Greek manuscripts of Luke at verse 42. But in later manuscripts it was added to verse 28 as well. It is clear given the history of the documents available that earlier texts don’t include but later texts do. This has been added by a scribe who wanted to include the extra element in both places. But it is not likely that Luke wrote it into his account in verse 28; but it is for certain he included it in verse 42.
The way Basil Brown would describe it I thought was helpful. He asked what we would do if we missed the lecture the next day. We told him we would get the notes from a friend. He asked us if there was a better way. We said of course, “Get the lecture notes directly from him.” He said there is a better way. What is it? The answer is to get the notes from everyone in the class. If we had everyone’s notes he told us we could reconstruct the exact words that he had spoken to the class the day before. One person would get the first sentence perfectly but not the second sentence. Another would get the first partially and the second also partially. Someone else would capture the second sentence completely. In such a process we could reconstruct the exact words that were spoken. We could even go one better again if we wanted to and that would be to get the notes from the students who did the class last year. If we did the same with their notes we could not only get the words he said to the same class last year but we could track any changes that he introduced from year to year. Even if we got the lecturers notes directly him from we would not necessarily have the exact words he said. He may well have departed from the notes. Added some more explanation extra to what he had in the notes or skipped some and told the other students this wouldn’t be in the exam.
That is the kind of power that is available to us with the 29,000+ documents we have of the New Testament in existence. By comparing documents of the New Testament we can track accurately what has happened to the text of the New Testament over time. This is the skill or approach of Textual Criticism: Mapping and determining the changes or alterations to the New Testament over time.
This particular example in Luke 1:28 is not important. Nothing really hangs on it so I don’t wish to elaborate any further.
Caste you mind back to what I have said about Matthew and Luke in terms of their source. Remember my comments on Q or Quelle. Somehow we have to account for the shared elements of Matthew and Luke. It is either because of a shared written source (Quelle) or it is shared oral source. That is the question. But in saying that Matthew and Luke shared material it is also clear that they were not sharing the material in real time. Knowing what each is writing at the time of writing. They are unaware of what each other is writing. If that were not so then Luke, who is the thorough one, would include elements from Matthew and seek to harmonize what he had written with Matthew.
If arrested for trusting God would there be enough evidence to convict you?Ian Vail
Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if sometimes God hands you a shovel?Rick Godwin
Stop being a prisoner of your past and start becoming the architect of your future!Anon
Concentrate on making the main thing the main thing and allow the trivial to pass into oblivion.Ian Vail