I often hear it said that Luke got his history wrong in Luke 2:1-6. He refers to "the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria". It is said that there was no such census; it never took place.
This is a serious charge to levy against a gospel writer who is historically impeccable when he records any fact for which we have independent records, and who says (Luke 1:1-4) that he worked hard to check everything out with primary eye witnesses.
Much ink has been spilled on this. However, the commentary on Luke by Darrell Bock is thorough and contains a helpful excursus examining this question at length. For my own future reference, and for the benefit of others, here's a summary of his argument.
Luke's resurrection account comes in Luke 24:1-12. In common with Mark, Jesus himself does not make an appearance in the account of the empty tomb.
Instead, we encounter the experiences of various other people. Significantly, as you read Luke's account, there is an emphasis on the words spoken by a number of individuals. Language of speaking, of words, of sayings dominates the account.
Children's Bibles are great. They retell key stories from the Bible in a way that children can readily follow. Each one has its own editorial policy, aiming for a particular reading age and style, with consistent illustrations.
But they're a minefield. When you try to summarise to remove extraneous details, it's easy accidentally to remove the most important thing. Like Jesus forgiving the sins of the paralysed man in Matthew 9:1-8.
When you have extra details that need a little explanation, it's easy to do so in a way that removes the most important tensions of the narrative. Like this example ...:
Several years back I wrote about a discovery that the carol, While Shepherds Watched not only fits to the tune of On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at, the Yorkshire folk tune, but that may even have been the original tune.
Angels don't normally have names in the New Testament. Why does Luke tell us that it was the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary? Let's think this through.
In a couple of week's time, the Lectionary gospel reading will be Luke 7:11-17:
Soon afterwards, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’
Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17)
There's much debate as to exactly what that means. Jesus couldn't mean that adults have to be like children in every sense, as we could never be short enough. (Well, most of us couldn't — you know who you are.) In what sense “like a child”?