Chapter Three: The Context of the Christmas Stories 55-78
In my real church-nerd-ness, I get really excited when we talk about the context of biblical stories. When I heard Crossan speak a few months ago it was like a series of little epiphanies set off by a fantastic storyteller. We treat history as dry, but in the hands of a gifted storyteller, this contextual information can make the stories come alive in really helpful ways.
Full disclosure, I get pretty grumpy about how much the church has taken the Nativity stories out of their context and imbued them with meaning that does not match the original authorial intent. I think Borg and Crossan provide us with a good taste of the history that underlies these stories.
I really appreciated the clarification on page 65 of “eschatological,” the term Christianity uses for the Kingdom of God. So often we talk about the Kingdom as something that is coming after some great battle, or we call it “The End of the World”. But here, the authors point to it as being about transfiguration rather than destruction. I like the image of “the Great Divine Cleanup of the World” rather than some epic mystical battle. It gives us a way to participate everyday, in offering love rather than violence.
While I do really like and value the context stuff, I did find this chapter a bit heavy, and was glad to get through it.
Questions for Reflection:
- Does Borg and Crossan’s tectonic plates illustration help your understanding of the situation these stories arose out of?
- How does this information about the context of the nativity stories change how you hear the stories?
- What in this heavy chapter had the greatest effect on your faith?