Understanding Jesus' Heritage - Implications for Religous Education

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Sandra Schneiders (as cited in Ryan, 2012), describes the bible as “…an integral, even normative, part of living tradition”. This can be seen particularly in the use of the infancy narratives which tell the well-known Christmas story, in Catholic religious groups today – individual parishioners, churches and Catholic Education institutions. The text is used and heavily relied upon to inform believers and those wishing to gain insight into the Catholic religion, on the faith. It appears through contemporary scholarship, however, that the infancy gospels of Matthew and Luke present to their readers, different themes, conflicting information and two very different accounts of the significant birth and early life of Jesus. It is therefore important, to view the gospels of Matthew and Luke as separate sacred stories, rather than a historical recount of events.

The story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew begins with tracing his genealogy as Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of Abraham and of David (Matthew 1:1). The aforementioned in Matthew serves as a way of presenting Jesus’ Jewish roots (Mason, 2009). Matthew is presenting to the readers, the connection between Jesus’ heritage and the promises made to Abraham;
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12).
The theme of Jesus’ genealogy is paramount here, as it shows the promises and prophecies announced in the Hebrew bible (or Old Testament) being fulfilled. The p...

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Murphy-O’Connor, J. (2009). Where was Jesus born? Bethlehem, of course. In Sara Murphy, (Ed.), The first Christmas: The story of Jesus’ birth in history and tradition (pp. 49-57). Washington: Biblical Archaeology Society.

Ryan, M. (2012). Jesus and the Gospels. Hamilton, QLD. Lumino Press.

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