Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Matthew, Chapters 1-2: Jesus in da house

Chapter 1

The New Testament does not start out promisingly. The first 17 verses are Christ's genealogy, starting with Abraham. Some funny names if you're a 12 year old boy: Booz of Rachab (v. 5). Well, that's the only one, really. Apparently it has been 14 generations since the sack of Jerusalem.

The fourteenth generation since the Babylonian exile is Joseph, who we are immediately informed is a cuckold. See, his fiancée, Mary, and he, had not had sex yet, but she is found to be pregnant. She claims it's the Holy Spirit's, but Joseph is no dummy and looks into divorcing her quietly. While he's doing that, an angel of the lord visits him in a dream and convinces him it really IS the Holy Spirit's baby, and thus the biggest lie ever perpetuated is born. The angel also tells him to call the baby Jesus and insists it's the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah, even though the baby in that one was supposed to be called Emmanuel. So Joseph puts off the big night for another 9 months while Mary gestates someone else's baby. This would seem to indicate that it did indeed happen, which makes Catholic doctrine even harder for a lapsed Protestant to understand.

Chapter 2

We get right into the familiar stuff, with Herod the king and the wise men following a star. They make a wrong turn and end up in Jerusalem, thus proving the extent of their wisdom, and end up in Herod's palace. Herod hears about this and gathers his advisors to find out where this rival ruler will be born. Never mind that Herod is an adult and by the time this usurper is old enough to be a threat he'll likely be dead, what with the lack of sanitation and vaccines and all. Once they predict Bethlehem, he sends for the wise men and asks them to let him know when they've found the baby so he can come and worship, too.

The Stooges wise men get back on the star trail, which leads them directly to Jesus, who is in a house, mind, not a manger. They bow down and offer him their familiar gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Mary tries not to roll her eyes, because what she actually needs are diapers and cigarettes.

The wise men dream that Herod is up to no good, so they omit to send word back to him, which is a pretty strong argument against Four Square. Joseph also dreams about the angel, who tells him to go to Egypt before Herod can kill this damned baby who isn't even a threat to him. So the family goes off to Egypt in the middle of the night, where they stay until Herod dies, thus supposedly fulfilling the prophecy in Hosea that the saviour will come out of Egypt.

Meanwhile, this brain trust didn't even think to leave a note warning people about Herod's treachery, so while they're safe in Egypt, Herod kills off all the kids under two in a fit of rage.

Anyway, skip forward a couple of years, when Jesus is still described as a young child (v. 20) and Herod dies a natural death. The angel appears yet again and tells them it's safe to go back to Israel. This time they stop in Nazareth, supposedly because an Old Testament prophecy says that in addition to coming from Bethlehem and Egypt, the Messiah will also be a Nazarene.

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