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Birth of Jesus: Juniata Religion Professor Analyzes Gospel of Matthew

(Posted January 14, 2008)

Robert Miller, Rosenberger Chair of Christian and Religious Studies

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Robert Miller, Rosenberger Chair of Christian and Religious Studies at Juniata College, will illustrate how the Gospel of Matthew contains hints that Jesus had a human biological father in a talk, "The Illegitimacy in the Gospel of Matthew" at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Miller's talk is part of the Bookend Lecture Series, which features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata faculty.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was conceived outside of marriage. Christianity has interpreted Matthew's Gospel of Jesus' birth as the proclamation of a virgin birth foretold by prophecy.

Miller, a Biblical scholar who is a longtime member of The Jesus Seminar, will discuss many of the clues within Matthew's story that indicate Matthew believed that Jesus had a human biological father. He also will discuss how Matthew's story tells of God overcoming the scandal of Jesus' illegitimacy.

Miller joined the faculty at Juniata in 2003. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1975 from St. John's College in Camarillo, Calif. He spent a year pursuing theological studies at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo from 1975 to 1976. Miller earned a master's degree in religious studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1978 and went on to earn a master's degree in philosophy from the Claremont Graduate School in 1980. He earned a doctorate in religion from the Claremont Graduate School in 1986.

He is a member of the Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars who debate what Jesus, as a historical figure, may have said or done during his lifetime. He was promoted to full professor at Juniata in 2006. Before coming to Juniata, he was a professor of religion and philosophy at Midway College in Midway, Ky. from 1988 to 2000. He received the Trustees Award for Faculty Excellence in 1996 and was promoted to full professor in 1999. In addition, Miller was named President of the Faculty in 1996 and 2000.

Miller's research and teaching interests are centered on biblical studies. He also is interested in courses on early Christianity, Islam, women in religion and Native American religions. Miller is the author of "Born Divine: The Births of Jesus and Other Sons of God" (2002) and "The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics" (1999). He also served as editor and contributor for the books "The Apocalyptic Jesus: A Debate" (2001) and "The Complete Gospels (1992)."

He has published scholarly articles and essays in such journals as Biblical Theology Bulletin, Journal of Higher Criticism, New Testament Studies and Journal of Biblical Literature.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.