Today “Radio Free Mormon” continues with its newest episode “Radio Free Christmas”. This will be a nice segue between the recent Historical Jesus episodes and the celebration of the birth of our Lord. In Celebration of Christmas, Radio Free Mormon gives us the rest of the story on the nativity story in Radio Free Mormon fashion.
As with all guest hosts, this Episode does not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Reel or Mormon Discussion Podcast.
Like this episode and others we have had from guest hosts, Such contributions are highly desired. My mission with Mormon Discussion Podcast is to bring great perspectives of Mormon History & Culture that helps struggling Latter-day Saints reconcile difficulties while being encouraged to stay in the Church. If you wish to contribute either a Blog Post or a Audio Podcast Episode please do and send to me at ReelMormon AT gmail DOT com for consideration.
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I’m surprised at the lack of comments on this podcast. All the other episodes have several comments.
I’ve really liked every episode I’ve listened to. I’m only about 2-3 shy of listening to them all. They’re very good and informative.
I see the pattern very clearly to discredit the LDS church and any of its claims to authority. While this does destroy faith for some I don’t have issue with it.
What I do take issue with is this episode and it’s faithless approach to discredit the Gospels and what they teach about Christ.
You mentioned that Isaiah 7:14 couldn’t be talking about Christ and that Matthew uses several Old Testament verses to show that Jesus is the Christ, but that many of those verses are out of context.
Jesus himself told the Nephites to study the words of Isaiah because they have multiple meanings. Not just pertaining to Isaiah’s day only.
3 Ne. 23:1-3
And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
2 For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.
3 And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.
14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Didn’t the Book of Mormon say that Christ would be born of a virgin as well?
1 Ne. 11:18, 20
18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
You had also hinted that Matthew was trying to force the connection between Christ and Moses. When Moses himself said that there would come another prophet like him and hat it would be Christ.
Nephi makes the connection clearly in 1 Ne. 22:20-21
20 And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
21 And now I, Nephi, declare unto you, that this prophet of whom Moses spake was the Holy One of Israel; wherefore, he shall execute judgment in righteousness.
My last beef with this episode is your conclusions about Christ not being the Son of David or of Davidic heritage.
You reference Matt. 22:42-45
42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.
43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
Christ isn’t saying that he’s not from David’s lineage here, but making the greater point that he’s God’s Son.
The LORD [God, the Father] said but my Lord [Christ], Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool
I’ve really enjoyed the series, however I wish this episode would’ve been approached from a different light or perspective.
I just came across this and think you’ll find it very enlightening …
A correct interpretation of Luke 2:2 requires taking into account a key item of historical information of a most practical nature: any census of subjects (as opposed to citizens) of the Roman Empire was carried out for tax purposes, to determine the taxable base of each subject. In such a census, people to be registered were not expected to travel but to do exactly the opposite: stay in their homes and wait for the census officer, who was above all a tax assessor. Josephus, in his description of precisely the census ordered by Quirinius in 6 AD, explicitely states that the registered people had their possessions assessed (AJ 18.1 and 18.2). And it is evident that Joseph did not have properties in Bethlehem, otherwise he and Mary would not have had to seek shelter in a manger for Mary to give birth.
NOW Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to he a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus’s money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-pesuaded by Joazar’s words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it. Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, (1) of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, (2) a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; […]
WHEN Cyrenius had now disposed of Archelaus’s money, and when the taxings were come to a conclusion, which were made in the thirty-seventh year of Caesar’s victory over Antony at Actium, he deprived Joazar of the high priesthood, which dignity had been conferred on him by the multitude, and he appointed Ananus, the son of Seth, to be high priest;
Therefore, the historically informed translation of Luke 2:2: “hautē apographē prōtē egeneto hēgemoneuontos tēs Syrias Kyrēniou” is “this registration took place before Quirinius was governing Syria”. Note that rendering “prōtē” as “before” is consistent with the established translation of the end of Jn 1:15: “hoti prōtos mou ēn” = “because He was before me”.
Thus, noting from Acts 5:37 that Luke was fully aware of the event of Quirinius’ census, its nature and its consequence, namely the uprising of Judas the Galilean, the reason of his mentioning the event in Luke 2:2 becomes crystal clear: state for the record that he was not talking about that census. I.e., Luke is saying: “Given that in a Roman census of imperial subjects people remain at their homes, I state for the record that the census that prompted Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem was before Quirinius ordered his infamous one.”
How then could it come to pass that Luke’s statement was interpreted for centuries in exactly the opposite way as he meant it? Because of complete unawareness of historical context. I imagine that anyone living in the Roman Empire at that time would find this discussion hilarious to the point of ridiculous, and think: “How can these guys not understand that a census of subjects of the Empire (as opposed to Roman citizens) is for tax purposes, and that people must wait for the census officer at their homes? How else could the census officer reckon the taxable base of each person other than by having a look at his property?”
On the other hand, the census that prompted the travel of Joseph and Mary was ordered by Herod and obviously restricted to the territory ruled by him. It approximately coincided in time with a global census ordered by Augustus in 8 bC, but was of different nature. Whereas Augustus’ 8 bC global census was restricted to Roman citizens and for statistics, not tax, purposes , the motive of the Census ordered by Herod in 7/6 bC was that all his subjects should swear fidelity to Caesar and King (AJ 17.42) . Together with the record of the oath, people were registered for an egalitarian contribution per capita in the way ordered by Ex 30:11-16, in which the possessions of each person were not taken into account.
In the context of a registration ordered by Herod, and knowing his profile, the order that all descendants of King David should register in one place was wholly plausible and logical, as it allowed Herod to know all potential claimers to the throne of Israel (and hence potential threats to his position). Furthermore, it is highly likely that the duty to travel to the city of their ancestors was in force only to King David’s descendants, because of the people in general Luke says that “all went to be registered, each to his own town” (Lk 2:3), not “each to the town of his ancestors”.
 Res Gestae Divi Avgvsti Chapter 22 (The Deeds of Divine Augustus) translated by Thomas Bushnell, BSG. Available online at: http://classics.mit.edu/Augustus/deeds.html#71
 Armand Puig i Tàrrech, “Jesus: An Uncommon Journey : Studies on the Historical Jesus”, Mohr Siebeck, 2010. Chapter 2 “The Birth of Jesus”, Section 4 “A More Judaico Census Decreed by Herod”, pp 74-84. Partially available online at: http://books.google.com/books?id=elFp5tRSUH0C