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Was The Birth of Jesus According to Scripture
by Steve Moyse
Publisher:SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
I am writing this review in the middle of Advent, a time when many of us are re-visiting the birth narratives of Jesus in our readings and meditations. However familiar they might seem to us, there is always something new and fresh to be revealed by scripture, the living Word of God.
Steve Moyise poses an intriguing, albeit far from original question: was the birth of Jesus the fulfilment of scripture or were the Old Testament prophecies quoted by Matthew and Luke used to give the birth of Jesus messianic significance?
To explore this Moyise considers five specific groups of prophecies relating to the messiah: the idea of a "forerunner", the messiah as a Son of David, the relevance of Bethlehem and Nazareth, the prophecies relating to Egypt and Ramah and, of course, the Virgin birth. With each Moyise seeks to examine what evidence there might be to justify the connection between each prophecy and the birth of Jesus.
This is well-trodden ground of course and although there is little perhaps in Moyise's work that is breathtakingly new, his approach is accessible and succinct and valuable for that. The spectrum of theological opinion on these issues is well presented.
Unsurprisingly Moyise's conclusions are inconclusive, yet, lurking behind the text, there are larger questions that deserve greater attention than the author affords. For instance, about the nature of prophecy itself; the impact on our understanding of Jesus if it is found that there are no clear links between prophecy and our Lord's life; and the more philosophical question as to whether a story is any less revelatory of truth for not being literally true. What we understand by truth remains one of the great unresolved issues for the 21st century church.
Reviewer: David Ford (16/12/13)