I don't know how successful I'll be. I've read the first chapter (read it here) of this very slim, very easy-to-understand course book and it took a long time and called for lots of notes. And, well, I'm not reading it now, so I'm wasting time.
No, I'm not, either: I'm reviewing the material, if only for my own sake.
But I know he'll hit the ground running on Tuesday and expect us all to be prepared, know his positions and his reasons and he doesn't suffer fools (or sloths) gladly.
So, first off, he's clearly got a thing against Luke. He's long been known for not finding Acts historically reliable. In this book, because of the census flub, Luke's framework or timeline of Jesus' birth and childhood can't be trusted. The upside is this prejudice reduces his exegetical work exactly in half, then, as he treats only the testimony of Matthew's narrative. That's alright, I prefer Matthew, as well. Don't be taken in by his refined Greek prose and self-attestation (Lk. 1:3; Jn. 5:31), Luke is just some Gentile getting it all second-hand.
As I think he says that Luke also uses παιδίον, so his testimony doesn't go against his conclusions from Matthew's use of the same word. Now, on pages 2 & 3, he says that Matthew felt the Magi Story and the Flight/Return Story had actually happened, but our scholar does not believe the first one. And for that, God allowed the editor to miss a typo on page 3. Ba-dumpt-da.
So the point of chapter 1 is to show, from Scripture with lexical support from contemporary literature, that Jesus and Paul were born within a year of each other. He draws from ancient sources different than those mentioned in this ten-year-old BBL Q&A2 with more satisfying results.
I suppose the obvious question to come to my mind is who, then, clued in Herod to Christ's birth and significance if the magi were made up. And, another question, more a curiosity really, is why does Matthew 2:18, which quotes Jeremiah 31:15, use τέκνον instead of παιδίον (like the rest of Matt. 2) or even υἱος (like the LXX).
"Some confirmation of this approach is to be found in Judaism where a significant change takes place at the age of sixty. In terms of his redemption price, the value of a man dropped from fifty silver sanctuary shekels to fifteen shekels when he attained the age of sixty (Lev 27:2-7)." - page 8Hmmm, reminds me of the senior citizen discount for Belmar beach badges.
1 Fr. Fitzmyer's book review. They are known to disagree with each other and, really, I'm not sure they get along, either.
2 I'm a little surprised West would ask such a question, actually.