I learned something new from Parry’s article.
I have always heard it read at Xmas time from translations that have it “that will be for all people.” That sounds pretty universal. But with the correct translation which includes the article, it seems that it refers to the Jewish people, and that the good news of great joy was limited to them.
I wanted to check out the verse in extant Greek manuscripts dated from before A.D. 300, to see whether or not the article was there, but unfortunately that verse did not survive in any of them.
It was indeed about Israel’s redemption! To follow Tom Wright’s thought… what God was to do for the world at large He was doing first for and in Israel — this then follows Paul’s… “to the Jew FIRST and THEN the Greek”. It has been the evangelical praxis to read ourselves into every-nook-and-cranny of scripture, much to the deficit of a proper application of certain things.
It is my understanding that a good deal of “the world” language of the gospels in actuality speaks to and of ‘the world of Israel’ i.e., Israel of the old covenant, e.g., Jn 1:29; 3:16-17. That is to say… Israel is the primary focus. This does not preclude the secondary world of man beyond, BUT puts the emphasis squarely on Israel who were always meant to be God’s emissaries to the wider world of man. As I have advocated elsewhere… Israel’s redemption wrought humanity’s reconciliation.
Yes, it’s interesting how adding or dropping a single small word can have significant effects on the meaning!
Indeed, it’s easy to assume it’s speaking directly about us.
I hadn’t considered that before… (next part below addresses the link between Israel’s & humanity’s reconciliation )