TXAB’s bible-reading plan.

by K.W. Leslie, 28 December 2022

Whenever the new year approaches, Christians resolve to read the bible. The entire bible, not just the parts we like best: Genesis to maps, as the old joke goes. (See, when you buy a bible in print, most of them have maps of Israel and the Roman Empire in the back. Yes, explaining the joke makes it less funny. Yes, deliberately making the joke less funny is ironically funny. Yes, this is metahumor. I’ll stop now.)

Christians tend to pick up a bible-reading plan of some sort, and most of the time it goes through the scriptures in a year. Which, I insist, is far too long. I prefer you do it in a month. Yes it’s totally possible; the bible’s a big fat inspired book anthology, but it doesn’t take an entire year to read. What book do you take an entire year to read?—unless you chop it into bite-size bits so small you’re spiritually starving. No wonder so many Christians lose track and lose interest.

Now if a month seems too extreme for you (especially if you don’t read), y’know what you could do: Read the bible at your own speed. Read it till you’re done. However long it takes you to get it done. Might be three months. Maybe two. Then again you might surprise yourself and finish it in one.

That’s where TXAB’s bible-reading plan comes in. It’ll help you read it at whatever speed you’re going.

Pinpointing Messiah’s birthplace.

by K.W. Leslie, 22 December 2022

Matthew 2.3-6.

Because the magi brought Jesus three gifts, Mt 2.11 people presume there were only three magi. We’ve no evidence of that. It seems way more likely there were a lot more magi than three. Three rich foreigners in Jerusalem would’ve caused a minor stir, ’cause rich people came to Jerusalem every day to go to temple. People therefore assume these guys came with massive entourages—dozens of camels per guy, hundreds of servants, as befit an oriental sultan. But again, these weren’t kings; they were magi seeking a king.

The actual king, Herod bar Antipater, wanted to know what this was all about, so he consulted his own wise men—the leaders of the Judean senate. This’d be the head priest, whom he appointed personally: Either Simon bar Boethus, Herod’s brother-in-law, who died that year; or Matthias bar Theophilus, who only served a year before Herod replaced him with Simon’s brother Joazar. The priests, whose field of expertise was the temple, not the Law, brought scribes with them.

Matthew 2.3-6 KWL
3 Hearing this agitates King Herod,
and all Jerusalem with him.
4 Gathering all the people’s head priests and scribes,
Herod is asking them, “Where’s Messiah born?”
5 They tell Herod, “In Bethlehem, Judea,
for this was written by the prophet:
6 ‘You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are in no way the least of Judah’s rulers.
For a leader will come from you
who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Mi 5.2

For centuries, Pharisees had been collecting bible passages which they considered Messianic prophecies, which they believed foretold a great king who’d take over Israel, conquer the world, and inaugurate God’s kingdom. True, some of these “prophecies” were great big stretches. This one, which comes from Micah, isn’t really a stretch. Yeah, there are gonna be people who insist Micah was really talking about King David ben Jesse, who was also born in Bethlehem; that was the leader—a literal shepherd!—who eventually shepherded Israel. But no, Micah wasn’t speaking of David. He was speaking of a king like David, who’d rule till the end of the world. Mc 5.4 A much greater king.

Pharisees believed in a coming Messiah, but Sadducees didn’t—and the head priest, his family, and the chief priests who worked under him, were almost entirely Sadducee. But they weren’t unaware of what Pharisees believed, so when Herod asked ’em about Messiah, they could easily tell him what the Pharisees claimed: “Oh, he’s gonna be born in the next town over. In Bethlehem.”

The magi show up.

by K.W. Leslie, 21 December 2022

Matthew 2.1-3.

A fact too many Christians forget is our words Messiah and Christ both mean king. We tend to translate these words literally—as “anointed [one]”—and forget what Jesus was anointed to do, and presume he was only anointed to save us from sin. He did that too, but he didn’t need any anointing for that. Anybody can do great things. But Hebrew and Christian custom is to anoint people to lead.

Because Messiah means king, you couldn’t just wander ancient Israel and call yourself Messiah. It’s a loaded title. It means you’re king. It also heavily implies the person who currently holds that job (unless he’s your dad and he arranged for your anointing, like King David ben Jesse did with his son Solomon 1Ki 1.32-40) is not king. Not the legitimate king, anyway. He’ll have to be overthrown.

In 5BC the king of Judea was Herod bar Antipater, and a lot of people were entirely sure he wasn’t the legitimate king. For the past century and a half the head priests had taken over the role of king, but 32 years before, the Romans made Herod king. He was neither a priest nor related to King David; he was an Idumean (i.e. Edomite) whose people had been grafted into Judea, and whose father worked for the Romans. God didn’t anoint him king; Marc Antony had.

And Herod was super paranoid about anyone who might try to overthrow him. ’Cause many had tried, and failed. Herod’s own family members, including his own kids, tried and failed. He knew the Judeans didn’t want him there. It’s why all his palaces were fortresses, in case he had to defend himself from his own countrymen; it’s why most of his bodyguard were Europeans, not fellow middle easterners. So you don’t wanna get on Herod’s bad side. Caesar Augustus used to joke he’d rather be Herod’s pig than his son. (Herod executed three of his sons, and since Judeans didn’t eat pork, Augustus’s comment was quite apt.)

How’d baby Jesus get on Herod’s bad side? Well, you might know parts of the story, and if you don’t I’m gonna analyze the story a bit. It begins with some people whom the KJV calls “wise men.” Contrary to the Christmas carols, these weren’t kings.

Matthew 2.1-3 KWL
1 At the time Jesus is born in Bethlehem, Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
look: Magi from the east come to Jerusalem,
2 saying, “Where’s the newborn king of the Judeans?
For we see his star in the east,
and we come to worship him.”
3 Hearing this agitated King Herod,
and all Jerusalem with him.

Triggering Herod was dangerous, but the magi didn’t know any better. More about Herod later, though if you want his backstory I already wrote about it.

These wise men are magi (Greek μάγοι/máyë) whom our nativity crêches tend to depict them as two white guys and a black guy, wearing either turbans or European-style gold crowns. Matthew states they came from the east, so they were Asian, not European and African. (“But they could’ve been Europeans and Africans who went east study with the magi!” Yeah, unlikely.) There’s also a common western assumption they were kings, but there’s no evidence of this.

King Herod the Worst.

by K.W. Leslie, 20 December 2022

When Jesus was born, Judea was ruled by “Herod the Great,” as he’s commonly called. I don’t know who first gave him the title “the Great,” and loads of people—myself included—have pointed out the man was far from a great human being; he was a murderous tyrant. As achievements go, he did get way more done than the subsequent members of the Herod family. But in terms of character he’s the worst. Hence the title of this piece.

Lemme backtrack through history by way of introduction. So Isaac ben Abraham had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Jacob’s descendants became Israel, and Esau’s descendants became אֱדוֹם/Edom, a nation located just southeast of Judah, which likewise spoke Hebrew and likewise did a rotten job of worshiping the LORD. And yes, they did know and worship the LORD; one of Edom’s more devout examples was Job. Yes, that Job. The guy with the book about him. (No he didn’t live before Abraham’s day; that’s just a weird young-earth creationist belief. All the names in his book are Edomite, and his book was written in sixth-century Hebrew.) Edom had a really long history of being subservient to Israel: First it was conquered by King David ben Jesse, 2Sa 8.14 and made a tributary state to Israel. When Israel split into Ephraim in the north and Judah in the south, sometimes Edom was ruled by one, sometimes the other; either way they weren’t big fans of Israelis. They rejoiced when Babylon conquered Judah in the early 500s BC, and were annoyed when the Babylonian Jews returned to found Judea in the 400s.

In the 300s BC, the Edomites themselves were exiled from their land—shoved out by the conquering Nabatean Empire. They were forced to resettle west of their old land, in southern Judea. This land became Ἰδουμαία/Iduméa—which is simply the Greek word for Edom. In 110BC, king and head priest John Hyrcanus 1 of Judea decided to take the land back, conquered Idumea, and told the Idumeans—who are ethnically the same as Judeans, y’know—they could stay there only if they followed the Law. Historians like to describe it as forcibly assimilating them, but the Idumeans could’ve fled to Egypt you know. But they didn’t; they stayed. By Jesus’s day they had largely assimilated into the rest of Judea. They’re Jews now.

(Yeah, there are various Christians who claim Jordanians are descendants of the Edomites. They’re not. They are descendants of Abraham; just not through Esau.)

Anyway 37 years after the Judean conquest, an Edomite named ܗܶܪܳܘܕ݂ܶܣ/Horódos was born to a former governor of Idumea, Antipater bar Antipas, in 73BC. Herod (Greek Ἡρῴδης/Iródis, Latin Herodes) was Antipater’s second son. His mother was Kyprós, a Nabatean noblewoman related to King Aretas 3 of Nabatea. Historians sometimes call Herod an Arab because they confuse Edomites with Arabs, or speculate the Idumeans weren’t really Edomites, but only claimed to be so they could relocate in Judea. Conspiracy theories regardless, Herod was a descendant of Abraham on both sides.

When God became human.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 December 2022
INCARNATE 'ɪn.kɑrn.eɪt verb. Put an immaterial thing (i.e. an abstract concept or idea) into a concrete form.
2. Put a deity or spirit into a human form, i.e. Hindu gods.
3. ɪn'kɑr.nət adjective. Embodied in flesh, or concrete form.
[Incarnation ɪn.kɑr'neɪ.ʃən noun, reincarnation 're.ɪn.kɑr.neɪ.ʃən noun.]

Most of our christology lingo tends to come from Greek and Latin. This one too. Why? Because that’s what ancient Christians spoke… and over the centuries westerners got the idea Greek and Latin sound much more formal and sanctimonious than plain English. But they absolutely weren’t formal words in the original languages. When you literally translate ’em, they make people flinch. Incarnate is one of those words: In-carnátio is Latin for “put into meat.”

Yep, put into meat. Nope, this isn’t a mistranslation. And it’s an accurate description of what happened to Jesus. The word of God—meaning God—became flesh. Meat.

John 1.14 KJV
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

This isn’t a temporary change, solely for the few decades Jesus walked the earth. When Jesus was resurrected, he went right back to having a flesh-’n-bone body. When he got raptured up to heaven, he still had, and has, his flesh-’n-bone body; he didn’t shuck it like a molting crustacean. It’s who he is now. God is now meat. Flesh, blood, spit, mucus, cartilage, hair, teeth, bile, tears. MEAT.

God doesn’t merely look human. Nor did he take over an existing human, scoop out the spirit, and replace it with his Holy Spirit. These are some of the dozens of weird theories people coined about how Jesus isn’t really or entirely human. Mainly they were invented by people who can’t have God be human.

To such people, humanity makes God no longer God. It undoes his divinity. He’d have to be limited instead of unlimited. And these people, like most humans, define God by his power. Power’s what they really admire, really covet, about God: His raw, unlimited, sovereign might. Not his character, not his goodness, not his love and kindness and compassion. F--- those things. God has to be mighty, and they can’t respect a God who doesn’t respect power the way they do.

So that, they insist, is who Jesus really is. Beneath a millimeter of skin, Jesus was secretly, but not all that secretly, all that raw unlimited power. He only feigned humanity, for the sake of fearful masses who’d scream out in terror if they ever encountered an undisguised God. He pretended to be one of us. Peel off his human suit, and he’s really omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omni-everything.

To such people incarnation dirties God. It defiles him. Meat is icky. Humanity, mortality, the realness of our everyday existence, is too nasty for God to demean himself to. Sweating. Aching. Pains and sickness. Peeing and pooping. Suffering from acne and bug bites and rashes. Belching and farting. Sometimes the trots from bad shawarma the night before. Waking up with a morning erection.

Have I outraged you yet? You’re hardly the first. But this, as we can all attest, is humanity. Not even sinful humanity; I haven’t touched upon that at all, and I needn’t, ’cause humans don’t have to sin, as Jesus demonstrates. I’m just talking regular, natural, physical humanity. When God became human, he became that. And people can’t abide it.

Yet it’s true. God did it intentionally. He wanted us to be with him. So he made the first move, and became one of us.

Christology: What we understand about Jesus.

by K.W. Leslie, 12 December 2022

Christology is a branch of theology, and the christ- prefix should give you the hint it specifically has to do with Christ Jesus.

Historically, christology has been about who Jesus is. Because Jesus came to earth and said some profound things about himself, and it took us Christians a few centuries to hash out those ideas.

I know; plenty of Christians insist they’re pretty self-explanatory ideas. They read the bible, and it’s plain as day! But that’s because they, like most people, greatly lack self-awareness: It wasn’t plain as day when they first became Christian. (It certainly wasn’t plain as day before they became Christian—which is why they weren’t Christian!) It became plain as day after they were exposed to Christians who explained Jesus to them, and after they were exposed to the Holy Spirit who made ’em stop rejecting every little thing they heard, stop insisting they knew it all, shut up, and listen, dangit.

It’s still not plain as day to a lot of Christians. For all sorts of reasons. They lack the humility to listen to other people or the Spirit, try to figure out Jesus for themselves, invent some “clever” ideas which are really just old heresies that’ve been tried and rejected ages ago, and won’t listen to anyone who tries to correct ’em. Some of ’em simply never read their bibles—never read the gospels, never read the Sermon on the Mount, presume Jesus thinks exactly the way they do and shares all the same prejudices, and proclaim that instead of Jesus.

Yeah, much of the reason Christianity has a thousand denominations is because Christians don’t agree about Jesus, what he teaches, and what he emphasizes. They’re not seeking Jesus’s input; or as theologians are gonna put it, they have a weak christology. They don’t value who he is, and don’t care what he’s about. They have their own ideas.

So let’s look at christology. Which examines a few particular areas of Christian theology:

  • What Jesus teaches and does—both in the first century, back in time before he came to earth, in the future during the End Times and millennium and New Earth, and of course what he’s doing right now.
  • Sin, how it affects humanity, and precisely how Jesus conquers it.
  • God’s kingdom, ’cause Jesus is after all its king. Also how he’s its king.
  • Jesus’s family. Particularly his mom, who’s a person of huge interest within Roman Catholicism. Likewise what she did and is doing.

But most of our focus in christology is how Jesus is the primary lens through which we understand God himself. Humanity doesn’t understand him correctly without Jesus.

Jesus, our Immanuel.

by K.W. Leslie, 09 December 2022

Isaiah 7.14, Matthew 1.22-23.

In the middle of the Joseph story, the author of Matthew inserted this comment.

Matthew 1.18-19 KWL
22 (All of this happened so it could fulfill
God’s message to the prophet, saying,
23 “Look, the maiden will have a child in the womb,
and will birth a son,
and they will declare his name to be Immanúël,” Is 7.14
which is translated “God is with us.”)

So let’s jump from the first century of our era, to the eighth century BC, for that story.

If you’re not familiar with the nation of Ephraim, that’s because the writer of Kings preferred to call it “Israel.” It’s the nine northernmost tribes of Israel, which split from Jerusalem and were run by the king of Samaria. Back round the year 735BC, the king of Samaria, Peqákh ben Remalyáhu (KJV “Pekah the son of Remaliah”) joined forces with Radyán of Damascus, Aram (KJV “Rezin the king of Syria”) to attack Jerusalem. 2Ki 16.5 This was one of the first campaigns of the Assyro-Ephraimite War… which eventually destroyed Samaria. The Assyrians dragged all the cities of Ephraim into exile, and all the country-dwellers left behind either moved south to Jerusalem, or evolved into the Samaritans.

While Jerusalem was under seige, the prophets Isaiah ben Amóch and his son Sheüryahsúv had come to King Akház ben Yotám (KJV “Ahaz son of Jotham”) with good news from the LORD: Ephraim and Aram’s plans would ultimately come to nothing. But Akhaz—who wasn’t the most devout of kings—really didn’t know how to take the encouragement.

Isaiah 7.10-17 KWL
10 The LORD’s word to Akház, saying,
11 “Request a sign from your LORD God.
Make it deep as a grave,
or make it high as outer space.”
12 Akház said, “I won’t ask.
I won’t test the LORD.”
13 Isaiah said, “House of David, listen please.
It takes little for you to tire people,
because you also tire God.
14 For this, my Master himself is giving you a sign.
‘Look, a pregnant maiden gave birth to a son.
She declared his name Immánuël/‘God with us.’
15 He’ll eat curds and honey,
and learn to reject evil and choose good.
16 But before the boy learns to reject evil and choose good,
the nations you fear are laid waste
before the face of these two kings.’
17 The LORD is bringing upon you, your people, and your father’s house
days which haven’t been
since the days Ephraim turned away from Judah to Assyria’s king.”

God had Akház’s back. Proof? Little Immánuël. And Matthew quotes this prophecy because Jesus is like little Immánuël.

Joseph, father of Jesus, prophet.

by K.W. Leslie, 08 December 2022

Matthew 1.18-21.

The idea of Mary being a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, doesn’t work for a lot of people nowadays. “She was a virgin? Yeah right. She totally had sex with somebody. And then lied about it, and said God did it, and that sucker Joseph believed her.”

Clearly they’ve not read the gospels, because Joseph clearly didn’t believe her.

Matthew 1.18-19 KWL
18 The genesis of King Jesus is like this:
His mother Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph,
before coming to live together,
is found to have a child in the womb
from the Holy Spirit.
19 Her man Joseph, a right-minded man,
not wanting to make a show of her,
intends to privately release her.

Joseph knew you don’t just “have a child in the womb from the Holy Spirit.He knew how babies are made.

Greek myths abound of stories where Zeus disguised himself so he could have sex with Greek women, and produce théhi-human hybrid spawn who grew up to be famous Greek heroes. And more than likely, all the women who contributed to this myth of a horny god raping various noblewomen in the Greek Empire, had simply had sex with somebody, and blamed Zeus rather than suffer the usual consequences of non-marital sexual activity.

Of course if you read the myths, you’ll notice when women claimed Zeus impregnated them, the Greeks didn’t believe ’em either. They took out their outrage upon their wives and daughters all the same. Banished ’em, imprisoned ’em, sealed ’em in a coffin and threw them into the sea. (Then, say the myths, Zeus had to smite them for their unbelief.) The ancients knew exactly how babies are made. The “Zeus did it!” story never worked.

And the “God did it” story didn’t work on Joseph either. To his mind, Mary clearly had sex—and not with him. And she was trying to blame the Holy Spirit, of all people. But the Spirit isn’t Zeus! He’s not gonna transform himself into bulls and geese so he can rape silly teenage girls. The very idea is the most ridiculous, offensive sort of blasphemy.

Mary’s apparent infidelity and outrageous excuse aside, Joseph was what Matthew calls δίκαιος/díkeos, which the KJV translates “just” and the NIV “was faithful to the law.” It means as I translated it: Right-minded. He’s the type of person who always seeks to do the morally right thing. He didn’t wanna be vengeful, and expose Mary to public ridicule. He simply wanted this relationship to be over with.

Betrothals among first-century Israelis were a contractual agreement between the husband and wife’s families. (The husband would provide this, the wife that.) But all it took to end these agreements, was for the husband to declare, “I divorce you” three times, and bam, the contract was null, the couple would stop living together, and the wife would go back to her parents. So Joseph figured he’d do that. Not in the town square; probably just in front of their parents.

So yeah, let’s put aside this idea that the ancients were naïve idiots who’d believe such stories. They didn’t. Devout Israelis in particular, whose God isn’t at all like that. Joseph didn’t believe the virgin-conception story any more than any pagan nowadays.

But something flipped him 180 degrees—so much so that he legally adopted Mary’s kid and raised him as his own. This something was a prophetic dream—and from what we know about prophetic dreams, it wouldn’t have worked on Joseph unless

  1. he was stupid, or
  2. he had multiple experiences with prophetic dreams, and his experiences taught him they were reliable.

Me, I’m pretty sure it’s that second thing.

How Joseph became Jesus’s father.

by K.W. Leslie, 07 December 2022

Matthew 1.18-25.

The gospel of Luke tells of Jesus’s birth from Mary’s point of view, but Matthew does it from Joseph’s. Which is useful, ’cause it gives us a better picture of Jesus’s dad and what kind of person he is.

And let me preemptively say yes, Jesus’s dad. Way too many Christians try to downplay Joseph of Nazareth, and say he’s only Jesus’s foster father, only step-father, but his real dad is God.

No; Jesus’s biological dad is God. But God himself chose Joseph to be the guy to raise Jesus. And the guy who raises you is your actual dad. Doesn’t matter what custom and law say.

Although custom and law, in first-century Israel, likewise considered Joseph to be Jesus’s actual dad. And no, not because of any subterfuge on Joseph’s part; not because Joseph pretended to father Jesus or anything like that. Once you read the gospels, once you learn the historical background, you’ll realize Joseph is Jesus’s legal father. No foster- nor step- prefix needs to be added.

First the text.

Matthew 1.18-25 KWL
18 The genesis of King Jesus is like this:
His mother Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph,
before coming to live together,
is found to have a child in the womb
from the Holy Spirit.
19 Her man Joseph, a right-minded man,
not wanting to make a show of her,
intends to privately release her.
20 As he was thinking these things,
look, the Lord’s angel appears to him in a dream,
saying, “Joseph bar David, you shouldn’t fear
to accept Mary as your woman:
The child in her, fathered by the Spirit, is holy.
21 She will birth a son.
You will declare his name to be Jesus,
for he will deliver his people from their sins.”
22 (All of this happened so it could fulfill
God’s message to the prophet, saying,
23 “Look, the maiden will have a child in the womb,
and will birth a son,
and they will declare his name to be Immanúël,” Is 7.14
which is translated “God is with us.”)
24 After rising up from his sleep,
Joseph does as the Lord’s angel commands him,
and accepts Mary as his woman,
25 and doesn’t ‘know’ her till after she births a son.
Joseph declares his name to be Jesus.

The bit where the angel tells Joseph, “You will declare his name to be Jesus” in verse 21, and Joseph actually does this in verse 25? Naming a kid, in first-century Israeli culture, was something the child’s father, and only the child’s father, did.

Jesus’s genealogy, in 𝘔𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘸.

by K.W. Leslie, 05 December 2022

Matthew 1.1-17.

Christ Jesus has two different genealogies. I dealt with it elsewhere, so if the contradiction (or “difficulty,” as Christians prefer to call biblical contradictions) makes you anxious, go read that piece. Today I just want to look at the genealogy in Matthew, ’cause the author of that gospel decided to begin with it, ’cause he considered it important. And away we go.

Matthew 1.1 KWL
The book of genesis of King Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham.

Other translations are gonna have “Christ Jesus” or “Messiah Jesus.” Mostly because they’re going for literalness; the Greek word is Χριστοῦ/Hristú, “Christ,” which itself is a translation of מָשׁיִחַ/Mašíakh, “Messiah.” But a literal translation isn’t always the best one.

Culturally, to first-century Israelis, Hristós doesn’t merely mean “an anointed guy.” It means king. It’s a title of the king of Israel—who was, if everything had gone as it shoulda, anointed by the LORD to rule his people, same as Samuel ben Elkanah had anointed Saul ben Kish and David ben Jesse. We Christians claim Jesus was anointed by God, same as those guys, to rule Israel. And the world. So Christ isn’t merely Jesus’s last name, nor does it signify he’s a religious guru. It means he’s our king. Our only king; human kings are usurpers and false Christs, and every last one of them has got to go. Even the nice ones. Especially the ones who claim they’ve come in Christ’s name.

Pharisees had readied first-century Israelis with tales of a Messiah who’d conquer the world. If the prophecies about him meant what the Pharisees claimed—and the Pharisees weren’t wrong, were they—this’d be the guy who finally threw out the hated Roman occupiers, established Israel’s independence, then went forth to conquer a ton of territory and establish a new Israeli Empire. One even better than the Roman Empire, ’cause now it wouldn’t be run by dirty gentiles. Now gentiles would be the second-class citizens in their new Empire. Semite supremacy!

Yeah, there was a lot of nationalism and racism wrapped up in Pharisee ideas about Messiah. Unfortunately that’s still true in popular interpretations about Jesus’s second coming. But I digress. Distorted perspectives aside, “King” is still the best interpretation of Hristú.

And though Jesus is a literal descendant of both David, the third king of Israel, and Abraham ben Terah, the ancestor of the Arabs, Edomites, and Israelis, the more important thing is Jesus is the fulfillment of their relationships with the LORD. Without Abraham’s faith in the LORD these people-groups wouldn’t even exist, much less be monotheists who pursued a living God instead of ridiculous pagan myths. Without David’s loyalty to God, the LORD wouldn’t have responded with any promise to make one of his descendants the greatest king ever. There’s a lot of theological baggage in Matthew’s simple verse.

There’s a fair amount of baggage in the rest of the genealogy too.