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Brother Gilbert Joseph
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    The Infancy Narrratives: A Hebrew Catholic Opinion

    The differences between the Infancy sections of Matthew and Luke’s Gospel accounts are due to the authors selecting those events that would most fit the audience and purpose of their Gospel. Luke’s Gospel is addressed to Theophilus who is most likely to be the former High Priest and a Hellenistic influenced Jew as is St Luke according to some scholars.[1] [2] Matthew’s audience is more Judean and Pharisee in composition. The genealogy of Matthew is that of St Joseph and the genealogy of St. Luke is that of Our Lady. They reflect the differences of approach and audience where Matthew’s Infancy is showing Jesus as the Davidic Messiah son of David and son of Joseph and Luke’s Infancy, Jesus as the son of Mary (Miriam), the living Ark of the Covenant (Luke 1:35,42). Luke’s Infancy is more priestly and Temple based and focused on the Divine Presence. Matthew’s Gospel focuses on Jesus as the messianic son of Joseph and son of David who fulfills the Biblical prophecies of the coming King Messiah.

    The clearest evidence of the shadow of the cross in Luke’s Infancy is the Benedictus of Simeon in Luke 2:34-35 where Jesus is set for the fall and rise of Israel and a sign of contradiction with a Marian insight of the sword piercing Mary’s soul at the foot of the Cross. Matthew 1:21 also contains this shadow of the Cross in referring to the child’s future as the one who will save from sin. However to balance this rather Dominican and Western Roman Catholic emphasis on the shadow of the Cross one could also emphasis the light of the Resurrection linked to the mystery of the Incarnation which is a more Franciscan and Eastern Orthodox approach. While Paul does focus on Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) he also proclaims in Romans 11 that “resurrection of Israel” as well as “attaining the resurrection” in Philippians 3:10-12.

    In regards to the genealogies of the two Gospels-there are diverse opinions on this. However, I would agree that Matthew’s one is the line of St Joseph from Solomon and Mary’s lineage is in Luke. Heli or Eli refers to Eliakim or Joachim the father of Our Lady from Nathan a brother of King Solomon. However the Zohar and other Jewish writings state that Nathan didn’t have any children but according to the Jewish law of yibum (Levirate marriage) Nathan’s wife Hephzibah had a son with Solomon who was considered the yibum son of his brother Nathan. The Zohar states that the Messiah will be descended from the woman Hepzibah. No doubt Salathiel was also a yibum son of the House of Solomon but biologically from the House of Nathan.

    Question: Does an overemphasis on the differences between the two Infancy accounts by some scholars show more their theological prejudices rather than a critical and respectful exegesis of the texts?

    [1] Professor E.Earle Ellis, The Gospel of Luke (USA: Eerdmans, 1980), 52-4
    [2] John Wenham, “The Identification of Luke.” Evangelical Quarterly 63, no. 1 (1991): 3-44.