If one is genuinely interested in the background of the Birth Narratives, one of the definitive works on the topic is by Raymond Brown in his classic, The Birth of the Messiah. It is a heavy hitter and he admits to having to his own caution not to offend the Magesterium of the Church and get himself bounced. Father Brown removes any doubt as to the intent and mistakes made my the authors of the Birth Narratives that would not be tolerated today. He even takes Ernest Martin, of WCG fame , to task for his unfortunate literalism which lead Ernest Martin to all sorts of calculations about the Star of Bethlehem etc.
The Birth Narratives of Jesus as found in Matthew and Luke are fascinating. I would like to point out one aspect of the genealogies which lead from Abraham to Mary. I would like to point out that in this genealogy are four WOMEN, which of itself is rather unheard of in genealogies of this type. But what is more interesting is that the four are not the women one would expect. There are no Sarahs, Leahs or Rachels. No Deborahs or even Eves, though she might make the cut on this one. The four women included are all fallen women with questionable backgrounds. They were as included in the text....
"The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah."
To refamiarize yourself...
Tamar- Tamar was accused of prostitution on account of her pregnancy. Upon hearing this news, Judah ordered that she be burned to death. Tamar sent the staff, seal, and cord to Judah with a message declaring that the owner of these items was the man who had made her pregnant. Upon recognizing his security deposit, Judah released Tamar from her sentence and accordingly she was able to give birth to twins, Perez and Zerah. Perez is said to be the ancestor of King David. The Genesis narrative also makes a note that Judah did not have further sexual relations with Tamar. (Genesis 38:24-30)
Ruth the Moabitess, (a Gentile through whom no heir to the Messiah could come.) the great-grandmother of David, and, according to the Gospel of Matthew, an ancestress of Jesus. The Moabites were descended from the incestuous relations between Abraham's nephew Lot and his oldest daughter after the destruction of Sodom (Gen. 19:33-38)
Bathsheba (Hebrew: בת שבע, Bat Sheva, "daughter of the oath") (Arabic: بثشبع, "ابنة القسم") was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and later of David, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. She is most known for the Bible story in which King David took her to sleep with him. (But they were not really sleeping:)
Why fallen women? Because it was not uncommon for the early Church to have to defend Jesus birth as not illegitimate and Jesus a bastard is why. In John 8 we have an argument that goes wildly out of control between Jesus and the Pharisees over who really can claim God as their Father. It ends up Jesus telling them their father is the Devil and they are all liars. The Pharisees respond with stones. So much for turn the other cheek. Just before this knockdown, we have the story inserted many years later and not in any originals showing that texts were indeed edited along the way to fit agendas, of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. Jesus basically reminds the men they all have done it too in one way or the other and they slink away. All is forgiven. Was the author responding to his misunderstanding of the charge in John 8:41 that unlike Jesus, the Pharisees were not born of Fornication? Maybe.... The spin off doctrines of trying to keep Mary a Virgin and thus herself clean and Jesus perfect have been many. One embellishment of a story leads to the need for many more to explain how the last one could be.
I recall a several brilliant questions from a teen to me once which left me only with, "Wow..great questions!" I was asked how old Mary was when she had Jesus. Tradition says below the age of 16 and maybe as young as 12. He asked if that wasn't a crime? Prolly! He then asked me who was Mary's husband when she had Jesus? Well we might say Joseph but he was not the father of Jesus . It was God according to the story. He then asked me why that would not be considered fornication on God's part since God may have been the father but not the husband... See what I mean about one story leading to another to explain the last one! He finally asked me a third question about the text that says Mary was with child "by the Holy Spirit." Ummm...Mr. Diehl, who's child was this? God's or the Holy Spirit's? The problem gets bigger if you imagine the HS as a third person of the one mysterious thing. Another topic where one answer produces the need for more stories. I liked that kid! He's probably an Episcopal Priest somewhere now! He would probably understand this...and be ok with it too.
At any rate, tis the season to hear the story over and over and I know if you were in WCG or are in the Splinters, you not only won't hear much of the story but you certainly won't hear the why and how of them and the fascinating politics going on behind the scenes which required them to be inserted in the text. Let's face it, if the geneologies lead from God or Abraham or Adam and Eve back to Jesus, without miraculous stories, then why do we need them? The fact is that the geneologies were probably much older in the text than the come later Birth Narratives suited for another time. Rather than remove them, because they were already so popular, they just let it be complete with all the conflict doing so would bring theologians and thinking Christians for the next 2000 years.