Was the gospel of Luke historically accurate?

Can’t believe I missed this.

Scripture being most of what we have in terms of first-century Jewish writings may have been true fifty years ago, but it certainly isn’t now.
And treating them the same as other sources is something a real student of the scriptures needs to learn; we have to approach them as human literature first of all because that is how they came to the original audience(s).

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Bauckham makes a strong argument with aspects many would find surprising.

Isn’t language interesting? :smiley:


So what? It’s okay to be a scholar.

Do you think Cargill is the first person to notice problems with this census? Biblical scholars have wrestled with this census issue for over a century! And I see no evidence that you have real all of the article. Please read the article carefully to see the glaring problems with the census.

Luke implies that Mary and Joseph are already living in Bethlehem. There is no mention of a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Jesus is born at home. No mention of a stable. The holy family has to flee to Egypt, and only when they return to Israel is Nazareth even mentioned. Joseph makes his home in Nazareth only then.

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How many more times!

That is not how the Holy Spirit works.

You have a false view of how Scripture was written and how it works.

It is neither God’s words, nor God vetted. it is human venerated and, unfortunately, human worshipped.


PS Scripture is proven by living it not studying it.
Dissection means that the subject is dead. Scripture is living and breathing, I am not prepared to do an autopsy yet.


The way we read Luke is influenced very much by popular conception.

Luke says Jesus was born “while they were there [in Bethlehem]”. There was no room in the guestroom of the house, so he was born in the main room where also the animals stay. So Luke does not portray them as having just arrived.

See this picture:


I personally don’t have a dog in this fight. As a unitarian Christian, I wouldn’t change anything if Jesus was the biological child of both Joseph and Mary and born in Nazareth.

But the differences between the accounts are not as large as some present them to be.

And if you look at the similarities:

  1. Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the great.
    (Matthew and Luke)

  2. His (adoptive?) father was Joseph and his mother Mary.
    (Matthew and Luke)

  3. He was born in Bethlehem.
    (Matthew, Luke and John*)

  4. He was raised in Nazareth.
    (All gospels)

  5. He was of the line of David
    (All gospels and Paul)

*In my opinion John makes use of dramatic irony:

7:40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. (NIV)


Good reply. While much of the Bible is historical, many consider the Nativity accounts to be mainly theological in nature. Historian Jon Meacham, a Christian, had a good article about the Nativity accounts in Newsweek some years ago. Maybe I can find it.

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That is because you think that the trinity fractures God. Jeus must be only human? That would make the salvation coming from a man and not from God. At best God “owns” the sacrifice because He ordained it, But He has no direct connection any more than sacrificing an animal or bird.

As far as I am concerned there is no Gospel if Jesus was not God incarnate.


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physical evidence after 1960 was the pilot stone…that’s what I’m talking about. Do you not know when the pilot stone was found? Pilate stone - Wikipedia

one would have to ask the question…“If Christ was born in a house, why the manger?” Logically, i think its pretty obvious that if an inn keeper says "sorry i have no more room for you: and a child ends up being born in a manger, one surely would have to conclude the rather obvious…he was probably born somewhere where mangers are usually kept. Given a manger is a feed trough, it shouldn’t come as any surprise when a great number of rational individuals use lifes experience to lay claim to the place of His birth being a stable rather than a house! (irrespective of whether or not the stable is attached to a house).

I do not think its unscientific to also use some scientific deduction, although it now appears to me that you are saying that theory even with evidence is taboo? Id suggest that also has disastrous ramifications for Evolutionary Theological belief.

BTW, the location of Christs birth may very well have been in cave…it was not uncommon for animals to be kept and fed from mangers located in prepared caves.

We do know that he was in a house by the time the Magi arrived though.

You assume that is my reasoning. For me it has more to do with a strong belief in Sola Scriptura, and my research of the historical development of Christological thinking.

Yahweh saved the Israelites from Egypt through Moses. So for me that is not a problem. But even if it was necessary that God himself atoned for our sins, a binitarian or modalistic monarchianist Christology is also possible.

And atonement theories come into play here.

“Thurow argues that Jesus must be humanity’s creator on the basis that as genuine representative he has to be causally responsible for humanity’s error. Thus, if Christ creates humanity with the potential to go wrong, then he can accept responsibility for them actually going wrong. However, this also pushes in the other way. For example, when the government cracks down on a company for misbehaving, it would surely present a conflict of interest if the governor leading the charge was also the CEO of the company. If Jesus is God then, he is both the generator of humanity as well as the offended governor who holds humanity accountable. Someone does not need to be casually responsible for a situation to take responsibility for it; they just need to be in the position of responsibility. If that person is a duly appointed representative of the group, he must take responsibility for what they’ve done in the past as well as the present.”

Why Did Jesus Die? Exploring the Multifaceted Biblical Doctrine of the Atonement from a Biblical Unitarian Perspective, theory nr. 7.

So because Jesus is the representative of humankind (as the Messiah and the Second Adam), he is able to atone for our sins.

But this is getting off-topic. If you want to discuss this further, please start a new topic!

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Peasants kept their animals in their own house. So every house would have had a manger.


Luke 2:7

Mark 14:14

Luke 10:34

Kataluma means the guest room of a house, pandocheion means inn. Why would Luke use two different words for the same thing?

People in the Middle-East are extremely hospitable, especially for family. The villagers of Nazareth would have never allowed for a woman who is about to give birth to deliver her child in a stable.

This is probably what Luke meant: The guest room was full with other visiting family members. So to give Mary some privacy, the hosts let her give birth in their own room. Then baby Jesus was placed in a warm spot, the manger. The animals would be outside during the day.

That assumes a perfect understanding of said scriptora. I do not think that exists. Besides, As I understand Unitarianism, it involves a specific view of John’s prologue, amongst other things, and a strict misunderstanding of the idea of Jesus being 100% man and 100% God (which admittedly is mathematically impossible)

Bin there, done that, maybe not with you but other Unitarians, so unless there is a chance of you changing there is little point (Obviously I am also set in my thinking)


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There’s a strong argument that Jude originally wrote that Jesus saved the people out of Egypt, which fits with the Yahweh Who walked on Earth being the pre-incarnate Christ. Binitarianism starts in the Pentateuch.

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Interesting – and not unlikely.


yes i understand this, however, why would a manger (an animal feed trough) be stored in the living space of the house? This is not a logical or sensible place for an empty feed trough. The trough would be stored in the “stable” (obviously a modern description)…the animal feed itself may have been stored either in the main house or in a separate room to the animals for obvious reasons (keep the animals from “feeding themselves” at will)

So i have problems with the image showing the feed stocks up the stairs…that is simply wrong to me…and given my wife and i both have horses,

  1. It is not sensible to have to carry the feed trough itself from room to room. That is simply not something that i have ever done my self nor have i seen any farmer do it this way…its empty, there is simply no reason to move the feed trough from the “stable”
  2. i think we are following in the traditions of millennia of experienced individuals who know what cattle and horses do when it comes to gaining access to food by themselves, so the animal feed would possibly be kept in the main house or a separate room to the animals, however, given that vermin are a significant problem around feed stocks, i very much doubt in those days, given houses were not sealed up like they are today, that animal food that would be attractive to vermin would be kept anywhere near human living spaces.

Sorry, but your entire imagery here simply doesnt gel with me considering my experience around farms and farm animals and building and construction over the years. This brings me back to my statement elsewhere on these forums about individuals who don’t know how to change car tyres…these kinds of beliefs come from a place of inexperience and are not sensible. I do not think one could apply 3rd world country standards to Jewish settlements of the day…the Jews were fastidious in their cleanliness because of the Mosaic traditions given at Sinai…so keeping houses in a state of slum with animal faeces and food lying around attracting vermin simply doesnt fit the bill.

Back onto the topic at hand…

I am of the opinion that the argument against the historical accuracy of Luke is highly problematic.

  1. Lukes gospel has a very high correlation with the gospel of Matthew (who knew Jesus personally)
  2. Luke was a close confidant of the apostle Paul
  3. Paul knew Peter and probably most of the other apostles well enough that i strongly doubt that he did not know the historicity of Christs ministry or indeed Christs lineage…especially since Paul was a pharasee…a man of the law and highly educated in Jewish history. It is almost certain that Paul would have been quite familiar with the lineages put forward by Matthew and Luke. I am convinced its unlikely that the closeness of the apostles in their interactions would have allowed for historical inaccuracies in Lukes writings.

I know that the genealogies are thrust forward as evidence here, however, that is what for me makes it even more unlikely that Lukes gospel isn’t accurate. The fact that his contemporaries almost certainly already knew of the writings of Matthew and those genealogies, and they did not question and correct what appears to be a glaring error, that suggests they did not believe the genealogies were/are in fact in conflict. This leads to a fairly simple conclusion…they are not in conflict because they are not the same lineage. It may simply be for example that:

  1. One is a record of the royal bloodline and the other biological or
  2. One is concerned only with Mary’s bloodline whereas the other follows the Jewish tradition of bloodline through the father (despite Joseph not really being Christs father)

BTW, i have an update to my above comment…

In Genesis Chapter 3, the promise “he will crush the serpent’s head” is made to Eve…it is through her seed that the Messiah would come to settle the debt for disobedience…not Adams. God promised Adam that the ground would be cursed. So the genealogy through Mary’s bloodline by Luke is consistent with the promise made indirectly to Eve in the Garden of Eden that the Messiah would come through her lineage (i say indirect because it was spoken to the Serpent)

Adam was part of the equation by default, however, this challenges the claim that Christ must be through male lineage…that is not what was prophesied in Genesis Chapter 3!

It had to be through male lineage because that was how “the house and line of David” worked – it didn’t have to be a blood lineage, just a legal male heir.

Remember the Messiah had several tasks to manage, not just the first one.


God must comply to human legality?

Or is it more a case of. “It says it in Scripture so we must find a way for that to be correct!”

“David’s line” matters to Judaism. The only lineage that matters to the Gospel is God’s.


Good news! I found my favorite article about the birth of Jesus!

It was written by Jon Meacham, a believer and a presidential historian. He won the Pulitzer prize for one of his books. The article first appeared in Newsweek in 2004, where he was the editor. He used to belong to my church but now is canon historian at the National Cathedral.

Anyway, enjoy the article. It’s long but deserves a careful reading: The Birth of Jesus


The fact is that He does when it comes to His kingdom. He supplied a king even though it wasn’t a good idea, then he made a promise to one king in terms that fit how that culture did things, which bound Him to act in accord with that commitment.

It matters to everyone since the Messiah wasn’t just for Jews. Being of David’s line was part of the “credentials” the Messiah had to show; perhaps more importantly it was part of putting the “threefold office” – prophet, priest, king – back together into one.

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