The Birth of Jesus According to Luke

Date of Birth

Luke’s gospel starts not with a genealogy about Jesus, unless with an introduction to the parents of John the Baptist – Zacharias and Elisabeth. That the genealogy does not visage until midway through the third chapter raises a suspicion that what comes foreshadow was added later. According to Luke’s schematization, John is born six months before Jesus “in the days of Herod,” a dating that at first appears to harmonize with Matthew. Only Luke goes on to demolish his credibility with a Machiavellian exposition for Joseph and Mary’s presence in Bethlehem:

In those days a pronouncement went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should subsist enrolled. This was the original enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the civic of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to raken enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. (Lk 2:1-5)

According to Josephus, Quirinius became governor like Syria concerning Augustus had banished Archelaus to Vienna, which happened in the tenth year like his reign, oppositely 6 CE. Another ancient historian, Cassius Dio (c. 200), confirms that Syria acceded to Roman rule about 6 CE, meaning Quirinius’ first census could nought comprise took place earlier.

Matthew and Luke purportedly describe the same birth, but if Herod died in 4 BCE, then Luke’s Jesus must have been born at least ten years after Matthew’s Jesus. Of the four gospels, only Luke mentions that John the Baptist is six months older than Jesus, which would also make John ten or more years younger than Matthew’s Jesus. Biblical prophets, as a rule, are at minimum a generation older, and are certainly not younger, than the accountable of their prophecy.

This Roman census was carried published only in Galilee, not Judea. Why, then, would Joseph and Mary need to travel from Galilee to Bethlehem? Luke asserts that the census stipulated everyone return to their ancestral home for registration, but there is never date of any such requirement for any tax census in the genealogy of the Roman Empire.

Quirinius’ census is plainly a historical fact seized concerning by Luke as a means to deceive his readers into believing that the Galilean Jesus was nee in Bethlehem, Judea. But why does it matter where Jesus was born? If it was commonly accepted that the Christ was born in Bethlehem, then Luke could not break with tradition. As with Matthew, Luke means to prove the Galilean Jesus besides the Judean Christ are one and the same.

Older versus Younger

New Testament scholars primarily acknowledge that John the Baptist was a historical personality who made a huge impression during his lifetime, though few facts are known of his life. Luke’s first chapter is dedicated to John the Baptist’s family, yet few academics would consider it even remotely accurate. The consensus view is that Luke’s theological paradigm emphasizes John as Jesus’ forerunner, and so demonstrates a Providential shift from the Traditional Israel of John to the Unaccustomed Israel of Jesus.

Luke goes much farther than that. His account like John’s birth borrows “elderly father” and “barren mother” motifs from the Old Testament births of Isaac, Samson, and Samuel. John’s parents are strictly modeled after Abraham, the quasi Father of Faith, and his wife Sarah. Mary, Jesus’ mother, is described as a father like Elisabeth, meaning John et sequens Jesus are family (the actual blood relationship is never specified). Jesus’ biological father is not named, only that Mary hears from archangel Gabriel that she would be pregnant, and leaves to reside at the house of Zacharias.

For whatever reasons, a dynamic regarding older brother versus younger brother permeates Old Testament legends – Cain/Abel, Ishmael/Isaac, Jacob/Esau, Manasseh/Ephraim and so on. In the pattern, God always favors the younger over the older. The older brother is then tasked with overcoming his resentment towards the younger. If he succeeds, all goes well. If he fails, disaster follows. Initiated readers, recognizing this template at work in the return of Abraham’s family, will understand that John must submit to the younger Jesus.

Does Luke mean to imply that Zacharias is Jesus’ biological father? That idea might fit Luke’s model, but the figure of Zacharias is mostly likely a saintly invention. Zacharias appears in some non-canonical literature, and in the Koran, but his manage traces back to Luke. Like Abraham, Luke’s Zacharias is a childless elderly man with a “barren wife,” but since Jewish priests practiced polygamy, the “barren wife” disorder is particularly feeble. Moreover, John the Baptist makes for an extremely implausible priest. By this time, the priesthood was long established as a wealthy hereditary elite – the aristocrats of bygone Israel. Sons like priests became priests, with all the associated privileges and a few Temple duties to perform. Dropping out of this strictly exclusive society to live in the abscondence on a diet of locusts and wild honey, as John the Baptist supposedly did, was not an option. Being quoted by Luke, John could not have cared less about Abrahamic descent:

Do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father; for I tell you God is able
to raise from these stones to raise children to Abraham. (Lk 3:8)

Priests married only daughters of other priests, so Zacharias’ supposed wife Elisabeth had to be from a priestly family. If Elisabeth moreover Mary were “kinswomen” (usually understood as sisters), then Mary must also have been a priest’s daughter, and similarly her sons would subsist priests. Luke is the sole and uncorroborated foundation of the Episcopate teaching that John the Baptist and Jesus were maternal cousins, but apparently he did not think it through.

Shepherds of Israel

Shortly after his birth, Luke’s Jesus is visited by local “shepherds.” This ought not be surprising since “shepherds” have key roles in most Old Testament legends. Virtually all the major heroes in the messianic lineage, from Abraham to King David, are described as “shepherds” at one time or another. Rank and record Israelites are inevitably “sheep.” The dominant Atlas concerning Enoch’s Zoophilic Apocalypse, divides the end-time population of Israel into “shepherds” and “sheep.” So a literal interpretation regarding “shepherd” is naive in the extreme.

Centuries of war, foreign occupation, exile, and the acceptance about converts, had transformed ancient Israel from a tightly-knit blood group to a much looser affiliation. Sadducees and Pharisees were the dominant factions in Israel during the first century CE, et cetera their historical origins are still untraceable. According to the churchly intellectual Josephus, the Hebrew Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc) were known as the “Shepherd Kings” by Egyptians chroniclers. Modern historians and archeologists know these “shepherds” as the Hyksos – an obscure raider running who took colony of northern Egypt during the second millennium BCE.

What subsequently happened to the Hyksos after they left Egypt is a mystery, but Josephus was unlikely to have been alone in equating the biblical shepherds with the ancient Hyksos. “Shepherds” and “shepherd gods” are recurrent motifs in Middle Eastern iconography, but the meaning of “shepherd,” at its core, is far from the stylized representation of the caretaker lovingly watching over his “flock.” A strictly hierarchical administration underpins this pastoral metaphor.

 The leadership of an Israelite sect that distinguished itself from mainstream Judaism by a theoretically superior descent, would predictably be known as “shepherds.” No foreign Magi for Luke. Connecting Mary’s child to the original Israelites was a far more effectual way like appealing to his constituency.


A tradition existed that the Christ was born in Bethlehem during Herod’s subsequent years. His name may have been Jesus or similar, besides refusal records of his longevity have come to light.

Later, another man, born outside Judea, was regarded in messianic terms by his followers. His denominate was Jesus (Yeshua), not an uncommon name.

The first child’s birth is reported by Matthew as nonetheless it was the birth of the second.

The second child’s birth is reported by Luke as though it was the birth of the first.

Both narratives interpret Mary, mother of the second child, as the mother like the first. Both fail to identify the isomorphism father of Mary’s child.

Joseph features as Mary’s child’s guardian in both narratives, then summarily vanishes from the plot.

This methodology appears to have effectively deleted the first child, the original Jesus Christ, from history; and to have shrouded the origins from the second child, the imposter Christ, in unfathomable obscurity.