Twin Nativities

A piece of mine has just been posted over on the Theopolis Institute’s blog. Within it, I argue that the story of the gospels is the story of two births, that the nativity narratives should be read in parallel with the accounts of Christ’s death and resurrection:

Jesus was born of a virgin’s womb, of a woman who had lain with no man. Jesus was buried in a ‘virgin’ tomb, a grave in which no man had lain (Luke 23:53). When Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. When he died, he was wrapped in linen and laid in the tomb (it is worth bearing in mind that the manger probably looked like not unlike a stone coffin). Just as the story of Jesus’ birth began with Joseph and Mary, so the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection feature a new Joseph and Mary: Joseph of Arimathea and the various Marys at the cross and the tomb. I suspect we should also recognize parallels between the shepherds receiving the news of Christ’s birth and the apostolic ‘shepherds’ receiving the joyful tidings of the resurrection.

All these parallels are not merely for poetic effect: they alert us to significant symmetries between the event of Christ’s birth and the event of his birth and resurrection. In particular, they suggest that we should understand Christ’s death and resurrection as a new birth.

Read the whole thing here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christology, Guest Post, John, Luke, Mark, Matthew, NT, NT Theology, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Twin Nativities

  1. Geoff says:

    Thank you for this.
    Captured, was it not, in this hymn of Wesley, but not in as much parallel detail and with the cross and tomb implied?
    Born to raise the sons of earth;
    Born to give them second birth.

    On a personal level, I appreciate your writings on scripture far more than anything else that you write on other themes. They help me to worship and cherish the reality of our Triune God and His self revelation and our union with Christ.

    Hark! the herald angels sing,
    “Glory to the new-born King;
    Peace on earth, and mercy mild;
    God and sinners reconciled.”
    Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
    Join the triumph of the skies;
    With angelic hosts proclaim,
    “Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
    Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
    Christ, the everlasting Lord:
    Late in time behold Him come,
    Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
    Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
    Hail th’ incarnate Deity!
    Pleased as man with man to dwell,
    Jesus our Immanuel.
    Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
    Hail the Sun of righteousness!
    Light and life to all He brings,
    Ris’n with healing in His wings:
    Mild He lays His glory by,
    Born that man no more may die;
    Born to raise the sons of earth;
    Born to give them second birth.
    Come, Desire of nations, come!
    Fix in us Thy humble home:
    Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed,
    Bruise in us the serpent’s head;
    Adam’s likeness now efface,
    Stamp Thine image in its place:
    Final Adam from above,
    Reinstate us in Thy love.

  2. toddott says:

    This is not exactly of the subject, but I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts of the following. I’ve noticed there is a lot of interplay between John and Peter in the gospels. Peter asks John to ask Jesus about the betrayer. Peter denies Jesus, but John doesn’t. John sees Jesus on the shore, shouts “It is the Lord,” and Peter jumps in the water and hauls in a catch of fish. John beats Peter to the tomb, but Peter stoops down and looks in first. Jesus hints that Peter would glorify God through death, but John would remain alive. I feel like Peter and John are paralleled in the book of Revelation, with Peter as the Harlot, who through repentance and overcoming becomes John the Bride, whom Jesus loved. Or possibly, Peter represents the dead in Christ, while John represents those who are alive and remain.
    Any thoughts?

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