2 Samuel 7:1-16; Luke 1:26-38
How strange that in the space of just one recent week a book reviewer in the New York Times mentions the "frisson-inducing" discovery only nine years ago of a ninth century BC stele referring to the "House of David," thus issuing "a stony rebuff to those who think that David is a mythical figure," while another reviewer, writing about Thomas Cahill's new book, raised seriously the question of whether the historical person called Jesus of Nazareth ever existed. These are the challenges that Christian interpreters and believers must meet every day now. Which of our scriptures are to be regarded as "historical" and which as "mythical"? Raymond Brown wrote amusingly in a footnote of being called on the phone every Christmas by reporters who wanted to know "what really happened." Brown would reply, one imagines with some asperity, that they would do well to ask instead what the real message of the stories was.
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