Infancy Narrative – Differences in Gospels of Luke and Matthew

It is common knowledge that Luke 1 – 2 and Matthew 1 – 2 are different from each other in many respects. The following differences are often noted:-

  1. Whereas Matthew makes no mention of the infancy of John the Baptist, Luke presents stories about Jesus’ infancy and those of John the Baptist in a parallel manner.
  2. Very little of Matthew 2 is found in Luke.
  3. The genealogy of Jesus is different in Matthew and Luke.
  4. In Matthew the figure of Joseph is emphasised and it is Joseph who receives the divine communications. But in the Lukan account it is Mary who receives the message from heaven and it is from Mary’s point of view that Luke records details of Jesus’ infancy.
  5. According to Matthew, Bethlehem was the place of Joseph and Mary, and they went and lived in Nazareth only because of certain circumstances. However, according to Luke, their home town is Nazareth and they go to Bethlehem for the enrolment.
  6. Just as Matthew 2 has no place in the Lukan account, many of the Lukan stories about Jesus’ infancy, and the hymns Magnificat, Benedictus and Nunc dimittis are not found in Matthew.

These and other differences between the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke can be explained from the different theological perspectives of each evangelist.

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