from Old English, gōd spell "good news"
a writing that describes the life of Jesus

Friday, April 30, 2010

matthew 1:1-17 | son of david, son of bathsheba

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin] and his brothers
at the time of the exile to Babylon.

After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah [Jehoiachin] was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph,
the husband of Mary,
of whom was born Jesus,
who is called Christ.
["The Christ" (Greek) and "the Messiah" (Hebrew) both mean "the Anointed One."]

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

matthew | genealogy | women

It seems important to Matthew - a Jewish tax collector for the Romans, a numbers man as well as a traitor - to show that Jesus' family tree was nice and symmetrical, numerically speaking. Abraham + 14 + 14 + 14 = Messiah. I wonder if it was actually that tidy?

What seems important to me - and to the Roman census takers, who just before Jesus' birth would order every descendant of David to travel to Bethlehem, "the city of David," to be counted - is that Jesus (who just before his death the Romans would call "King Of The Jews," scrawled on a board above his head, nailed to the same post he was nailed to) was from a line of kings, including David, the other great king of the Jews.

What seems amazing is that Matthew - a traitor, as well as a numbers man, who left both behind to follow this new king of the Jews - makes a point of mentioning all those women. He's tracing the lineage of Jesus from his father, Joseph the carpenter, through all the fathers and grandfathers and not so great great-grandfathers right back to the father of the nation, Abraham himself. Father after father, begetting tribe after tribe, like stars in the sky, grains of sand in the desert. Only he doesn't stick just to the men, that symmetrical procession of fathers and sons stretching like the kings Banquo's prophecy off beyond the chronological horizon. No, Matthew - an outcast, a sinner, an enemy to his own people, unfit to be looked upon - can't help mentioning the other ones who might usually get left off the official register.

Tamar: Genesis 38. Tamar married Judah's eldest son, Er, who (according to the text) God killed because he was wicked. Judah asked his second son, Onan, to have sex with Tamar, to make an heir: he performed coitus interruptus so that there wouldn't be any offspring he couldn't claim as his own, so (according to the text) God killed him. Judah viewed Tamar as cursed, so he won't give her to his remaining son. After Judah's own wife died, he went to a prostitute: Tamar, disguised behind a veil. She asked for his staff and seal as security, then made her pregnant. Three months later, Judah learns that Tamar had prostituted herself and gotten pregnant, so he orders her burnt to death; Tamar produces the staff and seal, Judah is busted, calls her righteous. And their son, Perez, joins the royal lineage.

Rahab: Joshua 2. A Jericho prostitute who betrayed her people into the hands of the Israelite army, who destroyed her city and massacred her people but spared her life. She married Perez's great-great-great-grandson Salmon. Their son Boaz, who was a much more likeable guy than family tradition might indicate.

Ruth deserves him. She's in trouble. There's famine, she's a foreigner, her Jewish husband died, her father-in-law died, she's a no-status alien in Bethlehem who keeps her mother-in-law alive by gleaning in the barley fields. There's a bunch more complicated Jewish marriage stuff, but Boaz ends up marrying her, and another Gentile is grafted onto Jesus' family tree. And their son is the grandfather of David.

Who lusts after Bathsheba, and arranges to have Uriah her husband killed in battle so he can get away with seducing her and making her pregnant. Their first baby died. Another of David's boys, Absalom, led the country into civil war, claimed the kingship and had public sex with ten of his dad's concubines. Ultimately it was Bathsheba's son Solomon who slipped past David's eldest son to succeed him in the throne. Solomon, portrayed in Ecclesiastes as a man at the end of his days, sated with wives and concubines and wealth and power, weary of a life spent chasing after wind.

Then there's exile. Then there's a girl who gets pregnant, but not by her fiance. So he's going to break it off, only the law-obsessed ultra-orthodox neighbours might stone her to death. And he loves her, so he decides to do the right thing - with the help of an angel bearing good advice. So Joseph bears her off to Bethlehem for the aforementioned census, and she bears the aforementioned son... Details to follow.


Chester Brown

Robert Crumb

Sunday, April 18, 2010

matthew 1:18-25 | take mary as your wife

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." [Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means "the LORD saves."]

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" [Isaiah 7:14] —which means, "God with us."

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

joseph | w.h. auden | for the time being

CHORUS. Joseph, you have heard
What Mary says occurred;
Yes, it may be so.
Is it likely? No.
Mary may be pure,
But, Joseph, are you sure?
How is one to tell?
Suppose, for instance... Well...

JOSEPH. Where are you, Father, where?
Caught in the jealous trap
Of an empty house I hear
As I sit alone in the dark
Everything, everything,
The drip of the bathroom tap,
The creak of the sofa spring,
The wind in the air-shaft, all
Making the same remark
Srupidly, stupidly,
Over and over again.
Father, what have I done?
Answer me, Father, how
Can I answer the tactless wall
Or the pompous furniture now?
Answer them....

GABRIEL. No, you must.

JOSEPH. How then am I to know,
Father, that you are just?
Give me one reason.


JOSEPH. All I ask is one
Important and elegant proof
That what my Love had done
Was really at your will
And that your will is Love.

GABRIEL. No, you must believe;
Be silent, and sit still.