Are the Birth Narratives in Luke and Matthew Late Additions?
by J Warner Wallace
Many critics, in an attempt to discredit the “virgin conception”, have argued that the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are simply late additions that were not present in the first versions of the gospels. These claims are typically based on (1) Efforts to find stylistic differences between the birth narratives and the rest of the text, and (2) Efforts to find subject shifts that occur immediately after the birth narratives and the remainder of the text. But these approaches to the Gospels fails to demonstrate the birth narratives are late additions for the following reasons:
The Style Is Consistent with Luke’s Approach
The argument based on stylistic differences is typically leveled against the Gospel of Luke. Critics claim that the Greek language used in the birth narrative section of Luke’s gospel is far more Semitic than other sections. According to these skeptics, Luke’s early chapters read like chapters from the Old Testament (they sometimes compare Luke to the First Book of Macabees), and the content of this section includes Jewish customs and practices that are introduced without explanation. But the fact that this section of the Gospel is stylistically or linguistically different than other sections does not necessarily mean that it was a late addition. Luke told us he compiled the information for his Gospel from a number of divergent sources:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Luke has assembled a series of eyewitness narratives from a number of different eyewitness sources to present us with the truth of the birth narrative…
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