Gospel Beginnings

1. Matthew's genealogy seems arbitrary.

2.  Matthew connects Jesus back to Abraham, the ancestor of Jews, but doesn't explain who Abraham is.  And why start with Abraham?

3. Why does Matthew connect Jesus's family to Jewish leaders if Christianity is trying to differentiate itself from Judaism?

4. Why is John the Baptist so prominent in all the gospels, but especially so in Luke? He even mentions his parents!

5. John's beginning echoes the beginning of the Torah: "In the beginning God created . . ." It is interesting how much the gospels reference the Hebrew Bible.

6. Why does John equate Jesus with the "Word"? "Logos" is a word occurring in Greek philosophy; is this how John is using it?

7. Luke's gospel seems the most "literary" and maybe shows a Roman or Greek background.

8. Luke's gospel has a dedication to his patron. Why don't the others?  And who is Theophilus?

9. In a patriarchal society ancestry is very important, so Matthew's beginning is logical. But why not the others?

10. Why does Matthew call Jesus the "Messiah" without explaining what that means?  Is "Son of God" the same thing, which is what he is called in Mark?

11. It seems that the "Christmas story" is a blend of Matthew and Luke.

12. None of the gospels recount a context for Jesus: his culture, his background, his social and political environment.

13. All the gospels place much emphasis on Jesus's baptism, but none explains what baptism is.

14. The gospel of Luke is the only one that seems aware of an audience.

15.  John's beginning seems to emphasize divinity much more than the other three gospels, stating that Jesus was with God in the beginning.

16.  By beginning with a story other than that of Jesus, the gospels establish that there is more to the story of earliest Christianity than just Jesus.

17.  Why does Matthew emphasize the number 14?

18.  Why doesn't Mark have a birth story?  And John doesn't either!

19.  Luke actually says he wasn't an eyewitness, so why is his story reliable?