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Explain the relationship of the infancy narrative of either Matthew or Luke to the gospel it prefaces.infancy narrative of EITHER Matthew or Luke to the Gospel it prefaces.

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Introduction

Explain the relationship of the infancy narrative of EITHER Matthew or Luke to the Gospel it prefaces. Comment on the use of this imagery in Christmas celebrations today. Of the four Gospels only Matthew and Luke introduce the infancy narrative. For the purposes of this essay I have chosen to consider the Gospel of Luke as this is the nativity story I am more accustomed to. I will endeavour firstly to briefly examine the two Gospels outlining their differences and why this is so. Based on this explanation I shall explain the relationship of the infancy narrative to the Gospel it prefaces and finally consider the use of imagery in Christmas celebrations today. At the outset it helps to remember the purpose of these Biblical accounts. They are not biographies; they are Gospels. The distinction is important. In a biography, the author may fill hundreds of pages, endeavouring to show how his subject developed into the figure that is so well-known. it is different with the Gospels. Of the four Gospel records, Matthew's and Luke's are the only two that tell of Jesus' birth and childhood. Their aim, however, is not to show how Jesus developed into the man he did. So Matthew and Luke did not draw on Jesus' childhood in order to explain what kind of man he became [http://www.beliefnet.com]. ...read more.

Middle

He follows the more classic historical approach that his non-Jewish audience might have recognized. In Luke, the infancy narrative begins with the story of the birth of John the Baptist. Elizabeth and Zechariah are elderly and without a child. Yet Elizabeth conceives and an angel tells Zechariah that the child's name will be John. Six months later the angel Gabriel comes to Mary to explain that she will give birth to a child with the help of the Holy Spirit and to tell her that Elizabeth is also pregnant [Harris]. When Mary visits Elizabeth, the older woman feels her child leap in her womb. Elizabeth says to Mary, " all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb" [Luke 1:42] Then Mary sings praises to God, in words which have come to be known as the Magnificat. The story of the birth of Jesus follows. We hear of Joseph and Mary travelling to Bethlehem, finding no room in the inn, and taking shelter in a stable. During the night Jesus is born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, and shepherds are directed by angels to come and adore him. There's no mention of a star, or of wise men, or of the slaughter, or of fleeing to Egypt or Nazareth. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is seen especially in his healing of the centurion's servant in Capernaum [7:1-10], his raising the widow's son in Nain [7:11-17], and his anointing by a sinful woman at a Pharisee's house [7:36-50]. During the celebration of Christmas, familiar images are recalled in hymns and scripture about the birth of Jesus. In the popular mind, the appearance of herald angels, shepherds abiding in the fields, the star of Bethlehem, the virgin Mary giving birth in a stable, and the adoration of the Magi, have all been melded into one Christmas story. In reality, there are in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, two distinct and at times contradictory stories of Jesus' birth. As mentioned previously there is no mention of the star nor of the Magi [Smith, 2000, http://www.faqfarm.com/Q/, http://www.moonchild.ch/Holidays/XChrist2.html]. In addition over time, artists have added details not found in the Bible stories, including the animals of the stable. Luke is regarded as the Gospel written for the gentiles, a Greek audience of non-Jews. Unlike, Matthew's Gospel, Luke contains few quotes from the Old Testament. Hebrew words are translated into Greek. The gospel of Luke reminds us that poverty is not a mark of human failure or divine rejection. The origins of the church are very humble and poor. This is clearly demonstrated in the infancy narrative and is mirrored throughout Luke's gospel. The gospel story shows that the kingdom of God is not for those who claim to have earned salvation because of their success in the world, but for those who have faith. ...read more.

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