Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nativity

When Cara was two years old, Lisa observed her reciting Jesus’ nativity. Lisa penned as Cara spoke. Below are Cara’s words.
“Mary and Joseph went to the man at the boss-house and said, ‘Boss, do you have any place for Mary to sleep?’
“‘No.’
“Then they went to the other boss and said, ‘Do you have any beds for Mary?’
“‘No.’
“And Mary said, ‘My baby is about to come out.’
“And the boss said, ‘You can sleep with my animals.’
“But Mary said, ‘It’s too dirty.’ So Mary and Joseph went to the stable, and nothing licked her or bit her, and then Baby Jesus came out!’
“The animals were so happy, and they loved him. And the angels came, and the shepherds came, and the kings came, and the camels came because they have humps to hold water.
“We are so happy that Jesus was born. He is a wonderful baby.
“Baby Jesus is the Son of God!” — Cara age 2½
The word translated, “manger” in Luke 2 is translated “stall” or “stable” in Luke 13. A search of the LXX shows that the word consistently means stall or stable. Looking at the Hebrew words behind the Greek Septuagint, they likewise means stall, stable, or sheepfold.
Context influences but does not change the literal meaning of words. Tradition influences translations, but often tradition obscures the truth and beauty of Scripture. Looking at the context of Luke 2, we see the angels surprising the shepherds, saying,
Fear not! for behold I announce to you good news – great joy which shall be to all the people. For to you was born to day a deliverer who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this is the sign to you: you shall find the babe being swaddled, lying in a stable.
Luke 2:10-12 (AB)
Tradition broadens the meaning of the Greek word, phatnh, to mean “manger” or “feeding trough.” By so doing, tradition obscures the poetry of Scripture, which instead tells us that Jesus, the Lamb of God, was born in a sheepfold – the most likely place for shepherds to search.
Tradition may correctly capture the humility of Jesus’ birth, but it misses the the powerful image of Jesus’ humble birth portending his sacrificial death.
Perhaps, John the Baptist knew of Jesus’ humble beginning when upon seeing Jesus, declared, “See, the Lamb of God! the one carrying the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (AB)

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