026 Parallels

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This page forms part of the resources for 026 Name of Page in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 026 Literature | 026 Parallels | 026 Commentary | 026 Poetry | 026 Images | 026 Synopsis


Sirach 28:2-5

/2/ Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done,
and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.
/3/ Does anyone harbor anger against another,
and expect healing from the Lord?
/4/ If one has no mercy toward another like himself,
can he then seek pardon for his own sins?
/5/ If a mere mortal harbors wrath,
who will make an atoning sacrifice for his sins?

Note also the reflections on debt and creditors in Sirach 29, especially vv. 1-7

Counter-traditions re paternity of Jesus

The GJohn is well-known for its complex and highly-developed theology. Less recognized is the same Gospel's capacity to preserve historical nuggets that would otherwise be lost to us. One of those may be surfacing here in the reference to Jesus as the "son of Joseph" and the comfort with which the Johannine story-teller can describe Jesus' opponents as saying they know his "father and mother."

In chapters 6, 7 and 8 we find casual references to Jesus' parentage or birth place that are at odds with the later Christian tradition:

son of Joseph, we know his father and mother ...

6:42 They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"

not born in Bethlehem

7:40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, "This is really the prophet."7:41 Others said, "This is the Messiah." But some asked, "Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he?7:42 Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"7:43 So there was a division in the crowd because of him.7:44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

at least we know our father!

8:39 They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did,8:40 but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.8:41 You are indeed doing what your father does." They said to him, "We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself."

not yet 50 years of age

8:56 Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad."8:57 Then the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"8:58 Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am."

It is not clear just what the tradition behind GJohn knew about Jesus' family origins, but it is hard to imagine that a Christian author who was familiar with either Matthew or Luke could have written these words. It may simply be that we need to acknowledge that within the first 100 years there were Christians who had no trouble speaking of Joseph as Jesus' biological father, and did not know (or did not accept) the tradition of Jesus being born at Bethlehem. In GJohn the most complex Christology and the simplest biology stand side by side.

Even in Luke we find casual references to Joseph as Jesus' father, as at (6) above: Luke 2:27,33,41,48:

Luke 2:27

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law,

Luke 2:33

And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.

Luke 2:41
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.

Luke 2:48

When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety."

Luke 4:22

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

Thomas Jefferson

And the day will come,

when the mystical generation of Jesus,
by the Supreme Being as His Father,
in the womb of a virgin,
will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva

in the brain of Jupiter.

-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.