In answer to Franklin's arguments concerning the non-compatibility between the New Testament infancy narratives it should be first noted that there are eleven major points which are shared by the two accounts which include: Joseph is of Davidic descent (Matt 1:16,20; Luke 1:27,32; 2:4); conception through the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18.20; Luke 1:35); the child is to be named Jesus (Matt 1:21; Luke 1:31) and the birth takes place in Bethlehem (Matt 2:1; Luke 2:4-6) (Brown 1993:34-35).
Despite the similarities, the two accounts are quite different. Only Luke depicts the story of Zechariah, Elizabeth and the birth of John the Baptist. Luke also tells us about the census which brings Joseph to Bethlehem, the visit of the shepherds, the presentation of Jesus as the Temple and the visit of Jesus with his parents to the Temple at the age of twelve. On the other hand, Matthew concentrates on a different set of circumstances of which Luke makes no mention: the star, the magi, Herod's plot against Jesus, the massacre and the flight and return from Egypt.
The attempt to harmonize these apparent differences into one story has often met with less than success. "Commentators of times past have harmonized these different details into a consecutive narrative, so that the ordinary Christian is often not even aware of a difficulty when Lucan shepherds and Matthean magi fraternize in the Christmas scene" (Brown 1993:35).7
In Matthew's gospel the theological motifs of the first two chapters "anticipate the theology of the rest of the Gospel" (Brown 1993:585). Among these are the presence of God, (1:23;18:20;28:20); the universal appeal, rule of the Messiah (2:1-12;8:11;28:19); the Davidic and Son of God Christology, (1:1;3:17;14:33); and continuity with the Old Testament, (1:23;2:6;4:13-16).
Conzelmann virtually ignored the contribution of the Lukan infancy narratives to the rest of the gospel and Acts because it did not fit into his account of the threefold salvation history of Israel (3:1-4:13); Jesus (4:13-22:3) and the church (22:3 through Acts). However, Brown maintains that just as Acts 1-2 provides a smooth transition between the Jesus-led disciples to the Spirit-led Church, Luke 1-2 supplies a much needed segue from the story of Israel to the story of Jesus.
7 Although Brown raises some questions about the historical and miraculous details of the accounts (1993:36) he nevertheless sees "value" in the recovery "of the infancy stories as theology" (1993:37). This is the foundation of Brown's seven-hundred and fifty-two page book on the birth of the Messiah: "The infancy narratives do make sense as part of their respective Gospels will be the leitmotif of this commentary" (1993:38).