Vol.IX No.VI Pg.6
August 1972

The Two Accounts

Robert F. Turner

Here is a quote from James Orr, The Virgin Birth of Christ, pp. 83f, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1914. The thought is good, and may prompt more careful study of the Bible text.

If the stories are true at all, there are, in the nature of the case, only two persons from whom they can ultimately have come in their detail, viz.: Joseph and Mary themselves. This...., is precisely the conclusion to which we are pointed by the internal structure of the narratives.

When we look carefully into the two narratives, we find that they have just this character-- that this, indeed, is the most remarkable thing about them-- that the narrative of Matthew is given throughout from the standpoint of Joseph, and the narrative of Luke is from the standpoint of Mary.

In Matthew... the whole story is concerned with Joseph. It tells of his shock at the discovery that Mary was about to become a mother; of his perplexity and proposed action, of which no one could have known but himself; of the divine disclosure to him in a dream; of his taking Mary to wife, his naming Jesus, and his subsequent conduct as the guardian of mother and child. Mary... has no independent place in the narrative She appears only in her relation to Joseph, and as the mother of the babe whose protector Joseph became.. Even the birth of Jesus is not narrated in an independent sentence, but in subordination to the statement of Josephs relation to his wife. (Matt. 1: 24-25) In the incidents that follow Joseph takes the lead. This is the more striking that; quite evidently, it is the miraculous conception and Virgin Birth of Christ which is the pivot on which the whole narrative turns.

In Lukes narrative.., these relations are precisely reversed. Joseph does not appear in Lukes story except incidentally, as the person to whom Mary is betrothed. The story, led up to by the account of Zacharias and Elisabeth, is all about Mary. We are told of the Annunciation to Mary by the angel, and of her reply; of her visit to her kinswoman Elisabeth, and of what passed between the friends; of Marys Magnificat: of the shepherds; of how Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (Lu. 2:l9)

It is she that Simeon specially addresses in the Temple; she who when Jesus is found in the Temple with the doctors, speaks the gentle word which drew from Him the answer Wist ye not that I must be in my Fathers house? (Lu. 2:49) And again it is recorded that she kept all these sayings in her heart. (2:51) In these chapters, in short, we seem (to be) looking through a glass into Marys very heart. Her purity of soul, her delicate reserve, her inspired exultation, her patient committing of herself into Gods hands to vindicate her honour, her deep, brooding, thoughtful spirit-- how truth-like and worthy of the fact is the whole picture; how free from everything sensational; how far removed from the legendary Mary of the Apocrypha.....