Welcome to Week 2 of Google Jesus. If you’re just joining us, jump right in and check out this week’s assignment. And if you like, check out some of last week’s sites as well. I encourage you to join in this online learning community by setting up a Google account. That way you can add your comments and questions as we study together online.
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This week’s lesson is centered on the birth of Jesus. You’ll find a variety of viewpoints in the sites we’re visiting. Don’t worry if you don’t agree with all the ideas you come across. You’re not suppose to. Engaging other differing viewpoints will challenge you and help you put your own understanding into perspective. So let’s get started.
Read Matthew, Chapters 1 – 2 and Luke, Chapters 1-2. How are the two stories alike? How are they different? Make a list you can refer to in future studies.
After you have completed your list, compare it with that of New Testament scholar, Felix Just. (Click here)
For a bit if a surprise, see the reconstruction of a typical Judean home and find out what Luke probably meant when he said there was no place for Joseph and Mary in the “inn.” Scroll down to the December 18, 2007, post at Stephen Pfann’s blog site until you come to his entry “A New Light on an Old Story.” (Click here)
Reflect on the historicity of the “virgin birth” and its meaning for contemporary Christians by reviewing the sharply contrasting views of two ministers/New Testament scholars, Bishop John Shelby Spong and Ben Witherington. (Click here) and (Click here)Listen to an interview about the Christmas story with popular author, teacher, and Jesus Seminar fellow, Marcus Borg. (Click here)
Watch a brief video lecturette by Brian McClaren on the meaning of “Son of God” in a first century context. Scroll down and choose the video "Who is Jesus". It will take a moment for the video to load. (Click here)
Judge who has the better argument for the birth place of Jesus from a historical perspective by reading the articles of Steve Mason and Jerome Murphy O’Connor in Biblical Archaeology Review. (Click here) and (Click here)
Finally, check out how contemporary Judaism understands the concept of “Messiah” by visiting Judaism 101. (Click here)
Online Question of the Week
How did this series of assignments add to your understanding of the historical Jesus? Did they present any challenges? Raise any questions? Share a comment.
Reading Assignment – Jesus and the Land
Read Chapter 2, pp 39 – 70 (Note: we’ll discuss the baptism of Jesus next week.)
Do you agree or disagree with the author’s conclusion that Matthew’s version of the birth of Jesus best fits historically with what really happened? Explain your reasons.