Sometimes I decide well in advance what topics I plan to cover in the next issue of Grace & Knowledge. Other times the central themes emerge as the issue is in preparation. Issue 21 definitely falls into the latter category. The two main topics of this issue are not ones that I initially had earmarked for any special attention.


The first of those topics is the genealogy of Jesus. In two previous issues (numbers 15 and 17) we have addressed questions that arise from the genealogies recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. (Why does the name "Cainan" appear twice in Luke's list? Why does Matthew trace a line through King Jeconiah of Judah when Jeconiah's line was apparently cursed?) We discuss further puzzles from these genealogies in the current issue, responding to questions posed to us by readers of the earlier articles. (For example: How can one account for the differences in the two genealogies? Is Luke's genealogy the genealogy of Mary?) Although there is not enough data to provide definitive answers to all of the questions prompted by Matthew 1 and Luke 3, it is fascinating to investigate the questions and find out about some of the possible answers. We have learned a great deal in our search for answers, and we hope that you do too.


The second topic is sports, both the ancient Roman version (gladiatorial games) and the modern American version (baseball). My interest in the gladiatorial games was sparked when I attended a lecture on the role of exotic animals in Roman entertainment. In preparing a report on the lecture, I did some extra background research on the Roman games and the role of Christianity in finally bringing them to an end. My report appears in this issue.


When I was a boy growing up in northern Ohio, we divided the year into three parts. Spring and summer were for baseball, autumn for American football, winter for basketball, and the children in our neighborhood spent many happy hours playing whatever sport was currently in season. In high school I didn't have the talent to compete in any sport, but I did have a part-time job with the local newspaper, the Wooster Daily Record, reporting on my high school's football and basketball games. After high school I gave up sportswriting and concentrated on my studies, but I have maintained an interest in sports, especially baseball. In the current issue of Grace & Knowledge I briefly return to that old interest in an article about baseball-and baseball writing-in 1908.


After writing about the Roman gladiatorial games and modern baseball, I find it interesting to compare the two. There are some definite parallels. Cities in current-day America, like those in ancient Rome, expend considerable resources in constructing stadiums for their sporting events, and those events are viewed by large and vocal multitudes. In both settings, sports have sometimes brought out the worst in human nature. There are also some notable differences. In particular, the Roman games were often bloodbaths, with hundreds of people and animals meeting violent deaths. In contrast, baseball players suspected of trying to injure other players have always faced punishment and public censure. I believe this difference results from a high regard for human life that is an important pillar of our Judeo-Christian heritage. May we always value and guard that heritage.


Issue 21


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01 Aug 2006, 18:19.