Mt 2:1-2 1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2"Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him."
TJ 2:1-5 1When Jmmanuel was born in the stable at Bethlehem, in the shelter in the land of the Jews during the time of Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, behold, wise men arrived in Jerusalem from the Orient and asked: 2"Where is the newborn king of wisdom of the Jews? 3We have seen a bright light in the sky and heard a voice saying, 4'Follow the tail of the light, because the king of wisdom of the Jews is born, who will bring great knowledge.' 5Therefore we have come to adore the newborn king of wisdom."
TJ 2:1-5 1Da Jmmanuel geboren war im Stall zu Bethlehem, in der Herberge im jüdischen Lande zur Zeit Herodes Antipas’, Tetrarch von Galiläa und Peräa, siehe, da kamen Weise vom Morgenland nach Jerusalem und sprachen: 2«Wo ist der neugeborene Weisheitskönig der Juden? 3Wir haben am Himmel ein starkes Licht gesehen und eine Stimme gehört, die sprach: 4‹Folget dem Schweif des Lichtes, denn der Weisheitskönig der Juden ist geboren, der also wird grosses Wissen bringen›. 5So sind wir gekommen, den neugeborenen Weisheitskönig anzubeten.»
THE PROBLEMS. First, it has been pointed out that this mention of Bethlehem as the birthplace is quite incidental, as if it should have been mentioned earlier. Joseph was probably not from Bethlehem if, later, he and his family returned from Egypt to Galilee; so an earlier explanation was due as to why they went to Bethlehem.
Second, how could any celestial object, such as Jupiter, for example, indicate to magi who dwelled somewhere east of Palestine that a baby of great interest for them was born in Judea? A prominent astronomical display of any sort would not begin to be able to convey enough information and motivation to stir the magi into such an action. The "star" would need to tell them that a very special baby was born, that they needed to travel outside their own country to find him, that he was somewhere in Judea, and that they should start their journey right away. If astrological charts, for example, could reliably impart such detailed information, people all over would have been traveling every which way over the centuries for enlightenment based upon the positions of the planets and stars.
Further, why is the star called "his" star? Clearly, this "star" is something the magi saw with their own eyes and was not an angel in a dream. Why would they connect it to a messiah born somewhere? This was a sufficiently important question to be asked within the commentary by J. A. Broadus.
It is sometimes thought that a verse in Numbers is relevant, spoken by Balaam:
Nm 24:17 ...a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a sceptor shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab, and break down all the sons of Seth.The thought is that it became part of the messianic tradition and was then utilized by the writer of Matthew, in which case it represents a Matthean redaction. However, this star refers to some descendant of Jacob, not to a star in the sky. It seems to refer at the same time to a "sceptor" who would rise out of Israel, again not to a star in the sky, and moreover, to a person who would be concerned with smiting Moab and the sons of Seth.
SOLUTION. The TJ's mention of the birth having taken place during the reign of Herod Antipas is quite startling. However, its discussion will be delayed until the topic of Mt 2:19-20.
In the TJ Bethlehem, and the reason for the travel of Joseph and Mary to that city, were mentioned in its previous eight sentences. This section was omitted by the writer of Matthew, probably because it related to events occurring at the time Herod Antipas began to rule, whereas, for reasons to be discussed, the writer wished to alter Antipas into King Herod, and perhaps also because he wished Jesus to have been born in a house rather than in a stable.
The bright light in the sky was what we now call a UFO, not a star. The voice they heard might have emanated from the UFO itself, or may have been implanted by its ET occupant(s) into the magi's minds. This possibility is evident to anyone who has studied the UFO phenomenon.
Regarding "his" star, we see that from the TJ verse the magi would know that the bright light in the sky, which had appeared to them but not to Herod or the Jewish clergy, was associated with the newly born king of wisdom of the Jews. So, of course, would any reader, such as the writer of Matthew. The latter couldn't very well refer to this "star" as "a star," which would be too vague, or to "the star," which would lack a previous introduction. So he chose "his star."
Concerning the TJ's phrase "king of wisdom," it should not be too surprising, since Jmmanuel became known as a man of great wisdom (Mt 13:54), and since similar phrasing was known and utilized in those days, such as the "king of righteousness" and "king of peace" phrases in Heb 7:2.
From the viewpoint of the hoax hypothesis, this TJ verse could be but a part of New Age thought. However, since it is fully consistent with the rest of the TJ and shows plausibility due to the reality of today's UFO phenomenon, while the Matthean verse is deficient in plausibility, the nod must go to the TJ. PHoax ≈ 0.45.
Mt 2:4-6 4and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he [Herod] inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 6'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'"
TJ 2:9-11 9Herod Antipas called together all the chief priests and scribes from among the people and inquired of them where Jmmanuel should have been born. 10And they replied: "In Bethlehem, in the Jewish land; for thus it was written by the prophet Micha (Micah): 11'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of the Jews, are by no means the least among the cities in Judea, for from you shall come forth the king of wisdom, who will bring great knowledge to the people of Israel so that they may learn and serve Creation.'"
TJ 2:9-11 9Herodes Antipas liess versammeln alle Hohenpriester und Schriftgelehrten unter dem Volke und erforschte von ihnen, wo der Jmmanuel sollte geboren sein. 10Und sie sagten ihm: «Zu Bethlehem im jüdischen Lande, denn also steht es geschrieben durch den Propheten Micha: 11‹Und du Bethlehem im jüdischen Lande bist mitnichten die kleinste unter den Städten in Juda, denn aus dir soll kommen der Weisheitskönig, der grosses Wissen zum Volke Israel bringt, auf dass es lerne und der Schöpfung diene.›»
DISCUSSION. There is a very minor problem associated with Matthew's "scribes of the people," which doesn't make as much sense as the TJ's "scribes from among the people." However, the verse comparison is shown as another example of Jmmanuel's knowledge of what the prophet had actually said differing from what the Old Testament says. Actually, Matthew's version of it is not very faithful to the OT either (Beare, pp. 78-79), but the TJ's version differs much more in speaking of a "king of wisdom" rather than a ruler who could be thought of as the Messiah. Again the TJ indicates that the Old Testament verse is inaccurate.
The TJ names the prophet as Micah (see Mi 5:2), which of course is correct, while Matthew does not mention the prophet's name. One could conjecture that the writer of Matthew did not fully approve of this minor prophet, perhaps due to his having preached against the use of sacrificial offerings (Mi 6:6-8), whereas from Mt 5:23 and 8:4 one may notice that the writer of Matthew did approve of the rites of sacrifice, probably because of the prescriptions for it within the Torah. Hence he may have omitted the prophet's name out of disapproval. See other instances of this editorial behavior under Mt 28:1. PHoax ≈ 0.5.
The above use of the word "Creation" in the TJ to represent true God, or the Universal Consciousness, may indeed have been the term used by the most important prophets that was later "corrected" by the custodians of the sacred literature into the personal god: El or Elohim or Yahweh. In the writing called 2 Baruch: The Book of the Apocalypse of Baruch the Son of Neriah, written by Baruch the scribe of Jeremiah, there are two or three instances of use of the word "creation" that may, however, have survived the later editing. The key one is:
14:17 When of old there was no world with its inhabitants, you did devise and speak with a word, and forthwith the works of creation stood before you.
This is from the translation of the Syriac (Aramaic) by R. H. Charles in 1896. Here, "creation" is used in the same sense that Jmmanuel and the TJ use the word: the Intelligence responsible for the origin of all things—all works. The relevance of this finding is increased upon realizing from study of the Meier UFO contactee case, and from further study of the TJ, that Jeremiah was one of the past lives of Jmmanuel (others were Enoch, Isaiah, and Elijah). The sentence could apparently be allowed to survive without further editing because it is worded such that "you" refers to "LORD."
Mt 2:7 7Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared.
TJ 2:12 12Thereupon, Herod Antipas called the wise men secretly and diligently asked them when the bright light with the long tail had appeared in the sky.
TJ 2:12 12Da berief Herodes Antipas die Weisen heimlich und erkundete mit Fleiss von ihnen, wann das starke Licht mit dem langen Schweif am Himmel erschienen wäre.
THE PROBLEMS. Beare (p. 79) noted that there seems to be no reason why the meeting between Herod and the visitors should have been held in secret. Further, there seems no point in the writer of Matthew having mentioned it as being held in secret.
Also, if this "star" had been any astronomical object, it would have been visible in Jerusalem for any or all to view over a period of at least several successive nights. Yet, Herod and others in Jerusalem for some reason hadn't seen the "star." Herod needed to ask the magi when it had appeared in the sky. Something is very wrong here. This consideration alone rules out any astronomical object as being the "star."
SOLUTION. The TJ (2:12) is very similar, except for two key differences. First, as noted already, the reference is to Herod Antipas, not King Herod, his father, to be discussed (later) in conjunction with Mt 2:19-20. Second, it is clear that something beyond ordinary understanding was involved: since the light with the long tail was able to point out a particular stable within a city, it was clearly no comet, star, or planet. Regarding Beare's criticism, after the compiler of Matthew had altered the TJ's description of the "UFO" into a star, the need for secrecy would not have existed in his story. The compiler simply forgot to omit "secretly" from his text when copying from the TJ text.
Herod's invoking of secrecy here is the same behavior that occurs today within governments, the church hierarchy and the scientific establishment regarding any outstanding UFO appearances. Almost no official openly acknowledges the occurrence of anything displaying intelligence and supernatural power within his jurisdiction but over which he, his institution or his nation has no control or explanation. Herod's desire for secrecy was then likely for the purpose of keeping the number of people to a minimum who knew of this threatening event, so that his own fear and inadequacy to deal with it would not become known.
The TJ account, as in Matthew, makes it clear that this Herod desired to learn from the magi where the newly born was located and to do away with him, not worship him, for fear of the powers he might later wield. Thus it might be thought that Herod's meeting with the magi was likely kept secret also so that word would not spread that he feared the baby. If so, however, Herod's supposed action subsequently of having all male babies in Bethlehem under the age of two killed would have given away his fear. But under discussion of Mt 2:16-18 we shall see how this massacre of the infants could not have been a real event.
As to how the writer of the TJ learned that the meeting had been held in secret, one can only surmise that one of the magi mentioned it to Mary or Joseph, who in later years told it to Jmmanuel, who later passed on the information to his disciple-writer. Another possibility however, recently brought to my attention, is that Gabriel (Jmmanuel's father), through ET advanced technological powers of observation, had monitored the events, and in later years informed his son all about it.
It might be considered that the first problem was accidentally solved by the TJ; however the second one, which is even more obscure, gives the TJ a definite edge over Matthew in historical plausibility. PHoax ≈ 0.35.
Mt 2:9 9When they [the magi] had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was.
TJ 2:14 14After they [the magi] had listened to Herod Antipas, they departed. And behold, the light with the long tail, which they had observed in the Orient, moved ahead of them with a high singing sound until it reached Bethlehem and stood directly over the stable where the infant was born.
TJ 2:14 14Als sie nun Herodes Antipas gehört hatten, zogen sie hin; und siehe, das Licht mit dem langen Schweif, das sie im Morgenland gesehen hatten, zog mit hohem Singen vor ihnen her, bis dass es kam und stand zu Bethlehem senkrecht über dem Stall, da das Kindlein geboren war.
THE PROBLEM. Beare (p. 80) noted that a star cannot give any such guidance. Certainly a star or planet cannot stand still over a village or over a particular stable, nor in any way designate a particular spot within a crowded city.
SOLUTION. Many nighttime UFO sightings either involve reports of a lighted "tail" or a solid appearing light beam extending behind or down from the object. Modern UFO reports also mention a kind of humming noise associated with the UFO, in a substantial fraction of all cases, which could correspond to the "high singing sound" of the TJ verse.
The problem with the Matthean verse, not existent in the TJ verse, is sufficiently severe that we estimate PHoax ≈ 0.25. It may be classified as a problem of "Matthean fatigue," in that the writer of Matthew replaced the "bright light with the long tail" in TJ 2:3-4,12,14a with "star;" but in this verse he followed the TJ too closely in imparting behavior to this "star" that no natural celestial object could ever duplicate. This caused the problem, which he could have alleviated if, for example, he had originally called the object a pillar of fire, as in Ex 13:21-22.
Mt 2:10 10When they [the magi] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
TJ 2:15 15When they saw this they were filled with great joy.
TJ 2:15 15Da sie dies sahen, wurden sie hocherfreut.
THE PROBLEM. This Matthean verse was noted by Davis to be a likely redaction, because it appears out of proper context in the narration. The re-sighting of the star definitely ought to have occurred before or within the preceding verse, immediately following the audience with Herod. That is, the star would have been visible to the magi during their 8-10 mile trek south to Bethlehem, and not re-sighted only upon reaching the city.
SOLUTION. In the TJ cognate, "this" refers to the magi noticing that "the light with the long tail" which had gone ahead of them to Bethlehem had come to a stop, hovering directly over a stable. Their joy was that of learning that their long quest was over, and that the newly born child they had sought was in the stable. Thus within the TJ context its parallel verse does not suffer from Davis's criticism.
This Matthean problem is quite obscure, and not likely to have been noticed by some New Age hoaxer. PHoax ≈ 0.3.
Mt 2:11 11And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him...
TJ 2:16 16Then they went into the stable and found the young child with his mother, Maria, and with Joseph. And they fell down and worshiped the infant...
TJ 2:16 16Alsdann gingen sie in den Stall und fanden das Kindlein mit seiner Mutter Maria und dem Joseph, und sie fielen nieder und beteten es an und brachten ihre Schätze dar, die da bestanden aus Gold, Weihrauch und Myrrhe.
THE PROBLEMS. The participial clause "And going into the house" is peculiar in that no house has been previously mentioned, only a "place" in verse 9. And even there, in the Greek text, "place" is not explicitly stated, but rather, literally, "it [the 'star'] stood over where was the child." Suddenly this undefined place has turned into the house. At this point one may thus suspect that some careless editing of his source by the writer of Matthew was responsible for his not having invented "a house" previously for verse 9.
Second, this event occurred sometime well into the night, as the magi had to travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (several miles), and during their travel there the "star" had been visible. Would the magi have been able to navigate the road in the dark by no more than the light from one or more stars? And where was Joseph? Would it not have been he who would have greeted them and welcomed them into the stable?
SOLUTION. Evidently the writer of Matthew, in this early stage of compiling his gospel, had a problem with his King of the Jews having been born in a manger rather than in a more royal setting. And so in Mt 2:9 he omitted this information from his gospel. (It would not be until 18-19 chapters later in his gospel that he would, in his editing, compose verses that would counter this early tendency, namely: "the first is last and the last first," and that to be great one must first be a servant.) Then, in the present verse he needed to say just what kind of abode the magi had entered to see the child, and so he turned the TJ's stable into a house, causing this little known problem. One may notice that the writer of Luke, who apparently gained some access to the TJ after the writer of Matthew was through using it, had no problem with Jesus being born in a stable.
The second set of problems doesn't occur within the TJ, since the bright light, being a UFO at low altitude, must have lit up their route at night all the way to the stable. And Joseph was there. Why did the writer of Matthew omit mention of Joseph here? It seems likely he did so in order that he could picture him two verses later as having been asleep so as to have been in a position to have dreamed of an angel. If so, this raised a more serious problem than it solved, for surely Joseph would have been present and awake while the magi bestowed their presents. Estimated probability: PHoax ≈ 0.35.
Mt 2:12-14 12And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they [the Magi] departed to their own country by another way. 13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt.
TJ 2:17-22 17However, the voice again rang out from the light high above, saying that they [the Magi] should not return to Herod Antipas because he planned evil for the young child. 18And they returned to their homeland by another route. 19After the three wise men had left, behold, the celestial son Gabriel appeared to Joseph, saying: 20"Arise and take the infant and his mother Maria with you and flee to the land of Egypt. Stay there until I beckon you, because Herod Antipas is planning to seek out the young child and kill him, since he fears that this babe might wield terrible power. 21While you are in the land of Egypt, I will send my messenger to Herod Antipas to teach him the truth." 22And Joseph arose and took the young child and his mother by night and escaped under the guidance of the celestial son Gabriel in the descending light, which fled with them to the land of Egypt.
TJ 2:17-22 17Also aber erklang wieder die Stimme hoch oben vom Lichte her, dass sie nicht wieder sollten zu Herodes Antipas gehen, da er Böses für das Kindlein sinne. 18Und sie zogen auf einem anderen Weg wieder in ihr Land. 19Da die drei Weisen aber hinweggezogen waren, siehe, da erschien der Himmelssohn Gabriel dem Joseph und sprach: 20«Stehe auf und nimm das Kindlein und seine Mutter Maria zu dir und fliehe nach Ägyptenland und bleibe allda, bis ich dir’s sage, denn Herodes Antipas geht damit um, dass er das Kindlein suche und es töte, da er fürchtet, das Neugeborene möge schreckliche Macht ausüben. 21Derweil du in Ägyptenland weilst, sende ich meinen Abgesandten zu Herodes Antipas, ihn der Wahrheit zu belehren.» 22Und Joseph stand auf und nahm das Kindlein und seine Mutter zu sich in der Nacht und entwich unter Führung des Himmelssohnes Gabriel in das niedersinkende Licht, das mit ihnen nach Ägyptenland entfloh.
THE PROBLEMS. Mt 2:13-14 has been criticized for the implausibility that a dream by itself would be enough to cause a man and his wife to get up in the middle of the night with their baby to start out on a long journey into a different country. Although dreams have often caused people to take various actions, in this case the family could not very well have fled in the darkness of the night; they would have had to wait at least until the light of dawn.
Also, the same problem as in Mt 1:20 occurs here, to wit, the reader is alerted to an angel appearing to Joseph before mention that it is in a dream. Again, for the same reason, this arouses suspicions that "in a dream" was a hasty insertion.
A further little problem is that dreams by their very nature are full of illogical aspects. That is why they need interpretation if one wishes to try to understand them. Yet this "dream" is logical, with a clear instruction being followed with a rational reason for the instruction. The same could be said for the Old Testament dreams mentioned in Gn 20:3-7, 31:11-13,24 and 1 Kgs3:5-14, after which this dream may have been patterned.
The actions of the Magi (Mt 2:12), on the basis of just a dream, can be questioned on similar grounds. Surely only one of them had had the dream; would not the other(s) have objected to a sudden change in travel plans that would no doubt lengthen their return journey? And this dream apparently had no angel in it to make it extra impressive. One may then ask, why no angel here?
SOLUTION. In the TJ, Joseph's reaction is natural. As a secondary contactee having had a couple previous contacts with an alien who had proven trustworthy, and who was considered to be an angel, he would take the angel's sensible command to him very seriously indeed. The real event was much more convincing than a dream could be, and furthermore the alien's aerial vehicle was there for them to enter into, continually reinforcing the reality of it all. The implication of the TJ verse does seem to be that the UFO transported them to Egypt, though this is not made absolutely clear. If not so transported, they could still have traveled by night with the UFO's light to guide their way.
The TJ allows us to understand why the writer of Matthew did not place any angel into the Magi's dream. No angel/alien had appeared to them, only the same voice stemming from the light in the sky that they had heard at the start of their journey. Thus the compiler did not need to invent a dream-angel here. It seems that the alien/angel did not wish to risk shocking the Magi by appearing physically in front of them, and so waited until they had departed before appearing again to Joseph.
Although the dream problem with Mt 2:13-14 was referred to earlier under the discussion of Mt 1:20, there were additional reasons for rejecting that verse as being genuine. Here the key reason of implausiblity occurs under different circumstances and should not disqualify the above TJ verses from entering into the estimation of overall odds. Matthew has definite problems, the TJ does not, for those who are aware of the reality of the UFO phenomenon, so we estimate PHoax ≈ 0.4.
It is interesting that TJ 2:19 mentions in passing that the number of wise men had been three. Matthew omits this detail, and it has only been inferred by readers, from the number of gifts being three, that the number of the Magi had been three. The TJ confirms this inference. Is there any reason why the writer of Matthew would have omitted this information, referring only to "they," unless it be oversight on his part? One strong possibility is that he was aware of one or more nativity stories of illustrious persons in centuries previous wherein more than three important figures had visited the birth site. For example, Confucius, who was born in the 6th century B.C., is said to have been visited by five old men, who came down from heaven, at his birth. One mythologist, Kersey Graves, even likens these five men to the Magi. He also notes that at the birth of Krishna (the avatar of Vishnu) a whole chorus of angels came and visited. At the birth of Socrates an unstated number of magi came, offering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Thus, the writer of Matthew may well have avoided mention of the small number of magi who visited Jesus so as to avoid downgrading Jesus' stature relative to Confucius or some other personage.
Mt 2:15 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."
TJ 2:21-23 21"While you are in the land of Egypt, I will send my delegate to Herod Antipas to teach him the truth." 22And Joseph arose and took the young child and his mother by night and escaped under the guidance of the celestial son Gabriel in the descending light, which fled with them to the land of Egypt. 23Here they remained until Herod Antipas had a change of mind and his inner fear abated.
TJ 2:21-23 21«Derweil du in Agyptenland weilst, sende ich meinen Abgesandten zu Herodes Antipas, ihn der Wahrheit zu belehren.» 22Und Joseph stand auf und nahm das Kindlein und seine Mutter zu sich in der Nacht und entwich unter Führung des Himmelssohnes Gabriel in das niedersinkende Licht, das mit ihnen nach Ägyptenland entfloh. 23Sie blieben allda, bis Herodes Antipas Gesinnungswandel trieb und sich die Angst in ihm verflüchtigte.
THE PROBLEM. Matthew's prophetic quotation here is well known by scholars to derive from Hos 11:1 (..."out of Egypt I called my son"), and refers either to the Jewish people having been led out of Egypt in the Exodus, to Moses who led them out, or to Jacob who was renamed Israel. Thus it did not apply to a future Messiah, and being in the past tense it is clear that it did not refer to anything that would occur in Jesus' time. Hence it is not a prophecy that an author telling a true story would have logically referred back to as being fulfilled. It instead appears to be an inapt insert by the writer of Matthew.
Furthermore, Joseph and family were headed toward Egypt while Moses was heading away. Davis has commented upon this discrepancy, saying, "Why is a citation narrating the fulfillment of a return from Egypt (occurring in vss. 19-21) attached to the narration of a flight into Egypt in vss. 13-15? This incongruity of situation and quotation gives evidence of the quotation's secondary insertion."
SOLUTION. The TJ cognate is 2:23; 2:21-22 are repeated so the reader will understand the TJ's explanation of why Herod (Antipas) had the change of heart. The Matthean citation is an addition made by the compiler, who was of Jewish background, apparently because he desired to liken Jesus to Moses in stature. Jesus was to be the "greater Moses." However, we see how the TJ verse gave impetus for the compiler to insert unattributed scriptural material referring to Egypt, and that he did not make up the whole story of the flight to Egypt, as many scholars believe.
The estimation of odds here is most relevant for TJ 2:23 versus Mt 2:15. The unique circumstances described by the TJ verse, which does not suffer from the serious Matthean problem, points towards the originality of the TJ verse. Accordingly, I estimate PHoax ≈ 0.2.
Mt 2:16-18 16Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under... 17Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18"A voice was heard... Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more." TJ [No cognate]
THE PROBLEM. Beare (p. 82) felt that this massacre story was made up just as a setting for the verse from Jeremiah. Although in this instance Matthew's compiler did indicate the source of his citation, he did not do it any justice, as the Jeremiah citation deals with "children" who were actually young adults—old enough to go by themselves to an enemy land—and who the LORD said would return. Its non-historicity is now quite widely acknowledged, since it appears in no other literature, not even that of Josephus, the historian of that locale and era.
The phrase, "two years old and under," doesn't make sense, as the killing task would have been much more managable if the maximum age had been set at just a few weeks. The excessively high, two-year age would appear to have been assigned by the writer of Matthew so that the story of Rachel's children (Jer 31:15-17) would be less inappropriate—as many as two of her youngest children might qualify as being no more than 2 years old.
SOLUTION. One may readily understand how the TJ's story of Herod (Antipas) wishing to kill the baby Jmmanuel would have brought to the mind of the writer of Matthew the Exodus story of the evil Pharaoh ordering all newborn Hebrew baby boys to be killed (Ex 1:22), and of Moses's escape from this fate. So to enhance the parallel between Moses and Jesus, this writer invented the above story of the very young male children in Bethlehem being slain. And in an attempt to support this invented story, he drew upon Jer 31:15.
The fact that these Matthean verses are not in the TJ is consistent with the latter being genuine; a literary hoaxer might not have known of the above arguments against Matthew. PHoax ≈ 0.45.
Mt 2:19-20 19But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20"Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead."
TJ 2:25-26 25Now that Herod Antipas and his followers had changed their attitude, behold, the celestial son Gabriel appeared again before Joseph in the land of Egypt, and said, 26"Arise and take the young child and his mother Maria and move to the land of Israel; all those who sought the child's life have had a change of heart."
TJ 2:25-26 25Da aber Herodes Antipas und sein Gefolge anderer Gesinnung geworden waren, siehe, da erschien der Himmelssohn Gabriel wieder bei Joseph in Ägyptenland und sprach: 26«Stehe auf und nimm das Kindlein und seine Mutter Maria zu dir und ziehe hin in das Land Israel; sie alle sind anderer Gesinnung geworden, die dem Kinde nach dem Leben standen.»
THE PROBLEMS. This is now the third time that the angel is supposed to have spoken to Joseph in a dream, to take some action that would affect his future life and that of his family. Surely by this time either Mary or Joseph or both would demand some real-life information to help them decide if the threat of death for their infant was over. Surely they could have learned through normal means that King Herod had died.
And why is the angel referred to as an angel, when it can be inferred to be the very same angel as the one who appeared to Joseph at Mt 2:13, and presumably, then, the same as the angel in Mt 1:20? In its second and third referrals, it should have been articulated as the angel. For example, when the angel of Mt 28:2 is introduced, it is an angel (anarthrous), but when mentioned again, in Mt 28:5, it is quite properly the angel. Similarly, when the wise men are first mentioned, they are quite properly "wise men" (anarthrous); at their next mention they are properly referred to as the wise men. The writer of Matthew obviously knew of this basic use of grammar.
Finally, concerning dreams, we all know how they are relatively illogical, and don't usually make sense unless interpreted in some manner. See, e.g., Gn 41, where Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh. The dreams of Mt 1:20, 2:12,13,19 all violate this common knowledge, thus appearing not to have been dreams after all. Although one might try to categorize these dreams as being of the prophetic or precognitive type, in real dreams of that type the subject visualizes or experiences the future, or potentially future, scene. Instead, these Matthean dreams would require hypothesizing existence of a new category of dream—one in which the dreamer visualizes nothing but a personage who tells him what to do.
Also, we may notice that the Matthean verse 2:20 parallels all too closely a phrase from Exodus:
Ex 4:19 And the LORD said to Moses in Midian, 'Go back to Egypt; for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.'
The fact that Moses was told to go back to Egypt while Joseph, Mary and child were told to go back to Israel did not spoil the relevance of the Exodus verse for the compiler of Matthew any more than did the similar situation with respect to his Hos 11:1 reference in Mt 2:15. This compiler is seen to have grasped for any analogy to Moses that he could find.
Further, in the relatively short time Joseph, Mary and child are believed to have been in Egypt, is it at all likely that not just Herod but the others around him would have died?
SOLUTION. One sees that Joseph's decision to return was indeed based upon real-life information, which came from an alien they must have come to trust, and not from a dream.
The alien in both this and the previous angelic incident was the celestial son Gabriel, whereas in the encounter of Mt 1:20 it had been a different celestial son. So the writer of Matthew, in allowing that the first two angels were different, used "an angel" in both cases. He then followed suit for the final angel of the Nativity; since he hadn't used "the angel" for the second encounter with Joseph, he could hardly have used it for this final encounter.
Regarding Herod Antipas, not King Herod. The verse of TJ 2:26 is what brought to the compiler's mind the verse of Ex 4:19. He was again intent to demonstrate that Jesus was no less important than Moses by pointing out a scriptural similitude. However, the analogy would be too far-fetched unless the men seeking to commit the murder had died. History would be too grossly violated if the compiler of Matthew wrote that Herod Antipas had died at that time. (See the TJ verses under Mt 2:1-2,4-6,7,9,15 for mention of Antipas.) The compiler could simply rectify this problem by changing the name Herod Antipas wherever mentioned in the TJ into King Herod in his Matthean nativity narratives, as King Herod had died many years before (in 4 B.C.). In fact, all he needed to do was insert or substitute the title "King" once or twice and omit "Antipas" wherever it occurred in that section of the TJ. This he did in writing Mt 2:1,3,9,12,13, and in his own invented verses: 15,16,19,22.
This would mean that Jmmanuel/Jesus was born around A.D. 6, not 6 B.C., if the census of Caesar Augustus mentioned in Lk 2:1-2 actually occurred during the known reign of Quirinius, governor of Syria, as Luke (and the TJ) both imply. One scholar and history professor, T. P. Wiseman, has suggested, apparently for the first time in the academic literature, that the decree from Caesar Augustus indeed not only occurred in A.D. 6, but was the same as the decree that went out at that time for the purpose of collecting a 5% inheritance tax from Roman citizens; the Syrian-Judaic census and the Roman-empire census would plausibly have been taken at the same time. Wiseman thus gives two reasons for believing that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod Antipas, not King Herod. Previously there had been only one reason (the known timing of the reign of Quirinius), which was insufficient to overcome the Matthean tradition involving King Herod.
Antipas is commonly believed to have ruled over Galilee from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39, and is known to have acquired the dynastic title of "Herod" in A.D. 6. Thus, the TJ, along with Wiseman's suggestion, provides three reasons for agreeing that Jmmanuel/Jesus was born around A.D. 6.
One verse contradicting this solution is Lk 1:5 ("In the days of Herod, king of Judea..."). It can be explained as one of the considerable number of errors made by the writer of Luke, in this case occasioned by his starting to follow the text of Matthew in the Infancy narrative before creating his own text for it. This purported error is compensated by the reference in Acts 5:37 to Judas the Galilean initiating his uprising "in the days of the census." This uprising is believed to have occurred in A.D. 6, and so further dates the decree of Caesar Augustus to that year. The interested reader will be able to find much literature discussing attempts to resolve this dating problem. However, as of the present writing scholars remain totally unaware of the likelihood that the writer of Matthew altered the Herod Antipas of his source document into King Herod.
Not only is the TJ verse consistent with the dating estimates from Luke, but it indicates a solution to the dating discrepancy so novel that it had not previously been mentioned in any literature I'm aware of. PHoax ≈ 0.15.
Mt 2:22 22But when he [Joseph] heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.
TJ 2:28 28The celestial son Gabriel brought them back to the land of Galilee.
TJ 2:28 28Der Himmelssohn Gabriel brachte sie zurück ins galiläische Land.
THE PROBLEMS. As has been pointed out by Davis, the Matthean verse contradicts its immediately preceding verse, which has Joseph, Mary and child already back in the land of Israel, which included Judea and Galilee. That is, if Joseph had been afraid to go to Judea, and had not yet gone to Galilee, he would not yet have been in the land of Israel, where Mt 2:21 places him.
Also, in saying "he withdrew to the district of Galilee," this verse suddenly leaves out the main thought of where they—mother and child, as well as Joseph—went. And why was it Galilee they went to? From the Gospel of Luke one assumes that Galilee is where Joseph and Mary had lived before (Lk 1:26), but this does not answer the question for Matthew, since we find that Matthew preceded Luke, and Matthew does not previously tell us where Joseph had lived. This should have been done in the vicinity of Mt 1:18, where Joseph becomes the focus of the story. Although Mt 1:18 was already criticized for that reason, the criticism is repeated here by asking, why wasn't the city or region in which Joseph had resided mentioned earlier, so that one would understand why it was Galilee he returned to from Egypt?
Finally, it is not clear how Joseph would have known that Archelaus, the new ruler of Judea, was more fearsome (if he was) than Antipas, the new ruler over Galilee and Perea (see Beare, p. 84).
SOLUTION. From the TJ's solution to the nativity dating problem, we find further reasons that this verse involves redaction. Archelaus was forced to relinquish his reign over Judea and was exiled from Jerusalem to Gaul just before the census of A.D. 6. Hence, the first portion of this verse is a secondary Matthean redaction designed to provide some historical support for the primary redaction that swapped King Herod for Herod Antipas.
The TJ cognate is only barely correlated with the Matthean verse and is free of these objections. It is clear, in the TJ, that their trip back from Egypt to Galilee was in Gabriel's "metallic light." This, plus the compiler's renaming of Herod Antipas to King Herod, explain the motivation for the main redactions made in this verse.
Concerning the lack of earlier mention in Matthew of Joseph's place of residence, a likely solution is that the writer of Matthew would have preferred it if Joseph had not been living in Galilee. From Is 9:1 we learn that Galilee was known as a land of the gentiles (or of the "nations"), and that Nazareth tended to be scorned by Israelites (Jn 1:46). Thus, from the writer's anti-gentile perspective that Jesus was the Son of the God of Israel who taught his disciples to "go nowhere among the gentiles" (Mt 10:5), and taught that he "was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 15:24), it would be preferable to avoid, as far as possible, mention of Mary's husband having dwelt in Nazareth. Hence, prior mention of Joseph's dwelling place was omitted. Although "Galilee of the gentiles" from Isaiah is mentioned favorably in Mt 4:15, it is plausibly argued that Mt 4:14-16, and so also Mt 12:17-22 and 28:18-20, were added later by the translator of Hebraic Matthew into Greek, at a time when it was realized that Matthew should be made more palatable for gentiles so that it could compete more favorably with Luke and Mark. This is consistent with none of these three pro-gentile passages appearing in Mark or Luke. The extent to which Galilee or Nazareth was inhabited by gentiles instead of Jews is not well known; however, the important factor here is the influence that Isaiah's mention of Galilee as the "land of the gentiles" would have had upon the writer of Matthew.
Matthew's problems here are the kind one may look for even in rather well executed redactions, but are more abstruse than what a literary hoaxer can be expected to recognize and correct within his own fabrication. PHoax ≈ 0.2.
Mt 2:23 23And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."
TJ 2:29 29There they dwelled in the city called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken by the prophets would be fulfilled, "Jmmanuel shall be called the Nazarene."
TJ 2:29 29Daselbst wohnten sie in der Stadt, die da heisst Nazareth, auf dass erfüllet würde, was da gesagt ist durch die Propheten: ‹Jmmanuel soll der Nazarener heissen.›
PROBLEM. NT scholars have long been perplexed over which prophet(s) may have spoken the above words about "a Nazarene." Recently, an interesting case was set forth by M.J.J. Menken that the primary source is Jgs 13:5,7, where God tells the barren wife who would give birth to Samson:
...you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be called a Nazarite to God from birth.Coming from the book of Judges, and combined with the prophecy of Is 7:14, this could be considered as coming from "the prophets," without a specific prophet being mentioned, and referring to the former prophets before Isaiah's time. Menken pointed out that the verse could have been utilized by the writer of Matthew to draw attention to "the prophetic prediction of Jesus' being conceived without the intervention of a human father," just as Samson had been. The close similarity between Nazarite/Nazirite, Nazarene/Nazorean and "from Nazareth" then added to the relevancy of the verse.
However, Jesus wasn't known as a Nazarene, or as a prophet from Nazareth, but rather as the prophet from Nazareth (Mt 21:11). Further, the beginning of the verse states that "he," referring to Joseph, went to Nazareth while it should have referred to Joseph, Mary and Jesus, or "they." In addition, in "He shall be called a Nazarene," "he" literally refers back to Joseph when the entire context demands that it refer to Jesus. These three minor flaws constitute the problem.
SOLUTION. Menken may have had it right, but of course could not envision that the source had been Jmmanuel's dictation to Judas. Jmmanuel knew about his own special conception by an alien (ET) father, and knew from the Scriptures about Samson's. However, even more important he knew the correct form of the Isaiah prophecy (Is 7:14) and of Is 11:1, namely, "there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse [the father of David], and a branch [Nazarene?] shall grow out of his roots." The Hebrew word for "branch" sounds like "netser," which is quite similar to "Nazarene." In fact, St. Jerome thought it should have been translated as "Nazarene" rather than "branch." In addition, from Zec 6:12 one has:
...Behold the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall build the temple of the LORD."It seems most likely that it was Jmmanuel himself who put this all together for Judas to write down, using a play on words. The plural "prophets" was used, since it referred to the former prophets in the book of Judges as well as to Isaiah and perhaps Zechariah. The importance of "prophets" being plural here has been stressed by Gundry.
It is surmised that the writer of Matthew noticed the connection to the verse about Samson's conception, and so was favorably inclined towards the verse. However, to make it match more closely the verse of Judges, and draw attention to it, he altered "the Nazarene" into "a Nazarene." And in substituting something different for "Jmmanuel," he chose "he." The writer seems to have been reluctant to call the boy "Jesus" when he was still a helpless baby; perhaps he felt the name Jesus should be reserved for the man/Son-of-God/Messianic figure he worshiped. In making these alterations he incurred the other flaw, which perpetuates the inaccuracy he made in using "he" instead of "they" in Mt 2:22b.
Since this verse could be argued the other way around, that a literary hoaxer here improved upon Matthew, we set PHoax ≈ 0.5. However, it doesn't seem very likely that a literary hoaxer bent on a New Age agenda would have noticed these flaws in Matthew.
The overall odds favoring the TJ being a hoax from the accumulation of the above odds just within Matthew's 2nd chapter is only 0.0002.
|Go Back to:||Make Comment in:||Go On to:|
|Verse Comparison, Introduction & Index||my Blog||Matthew 3|
1. Hill, David, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972). Or see Carson, D.A., "Matthew," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1981), p. 71.
2. Broadus, John A., Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1886), p. 17.
3. In Walters, Ed & Walters, Frances, The
Gulf Breeze Sightings (New York: William Morrow, 1990), photos 11
and 24, a blue light beam extending down from the UFO was photographed
in color. Similar beams of various colors emanating from UFOs have been
witnessed by others, e.g., the beam that knocked Travis Walton to the
ground and then "beamed him up," as portrayed in the movie "Fire in the
Sky," which was based upon a true UFO abduction account witnessed by
six others who were with Travis at the time.
See also Guenther's website and search for cases like those of 29 Sept. 1952 (Southern Pines, NC), 7 Oct. 1954 (Beruges, France), 1 Nov. 1957 (Provencal, LA), 16 Nov. 1965 (Luverne, MN), 7 May 1967 (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 6 March 1969 (Glenwood, MO), and 13 Aug. 1970 (Kastrup, Denmark). See also this link (the 12 April 1950 memo, part g.).
4. Davis, "Tradition and redaction," op. cit. p. 417.
5. This criticism was made by Marcus Borg in a videotaped class in Religious Studies he taught at Oregon State University in 1989. It is a logical, down-to-earth criticism.
6. Crow, Carl, Master Kung: The Story of Confucius (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1937), p. 45.
7. Graves, Kersey, The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors, 6th Ed., (New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, Inc., 1971), pp. 63-67.
8. Borg, Marcus, Jesus: A New Vision (San Francisco: Harper and Rowe, 1987), p. 166, footnote 4.
9. Davis, "Tradition and redaction," p. 414.
10. Gundry, Robert H., Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), p. 33.
11. Grant, Michael, Herod the Great (New York: American Heritage Press, 1971) pp. 12, 248; Sandmel, Samuel, Herod (New York: Lippincott Co., 1967), p. 262; and Goulder, Michael, Midrash and Lection in Matthew (London: SPCK, 1974), pp. 239-240, 397.
12. Wiseman, T. P., "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus...." NTS 33 (1987), pp. 479-480.
13. Hoehner, Harold W., Herod Antipas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1972), pp. 105-106.
14. Blomberg, Craig, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987), p. 195. See also this link.
15. Davis, "Tradition and redaction," p. 407.
16. See Josephus, Antiquities XVII, xii, par. 2, and the very beginning of XVII.
17. Menken, Maarten J. J., "The sources of the Old Testament quotation in Matthew 2:23." JBL 120 (2001), pp. 451-468.
18. Jerome, in Letter No. LVII to Pammachius, "On the Best Method of Translating."
19. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary, pp. 39-40.