Pope Benedict Questions Some Christmas Traditions

Place of Jesus Birth?

Representation of Cave Grotto, Vatican City, January 2010


The latest book from Pope Benedict XVI questions a couple of Christmas traditions:

‘Jesus Of Nazareth:” Pope’s Final Book On Jesus Claims No Animals In Manger; Virgin Birth Was Historical Truth

Religion News Service | By Posted: 11/21/2012…

In his book, Benedict sidesteps the extrabiblical legends and focuses solely on what’s contained in the Gospel accounts of the New Testament.

The three wise men from the Christmas story, Benedict concedes, could be inspired by a “theological idea” rather than by a “historical event,” though he says he prefers a more literal interpretation of the biblical account…

Benedict also recalls that, according to the Gospels, there are no animals in the Bethlehem stable to warm the newborn Jesus. But, he adds, no Nativity scene would be complete without them.

Benedict remains convinced that the Gospel narrative of Jesus’ birth and infancy is not just a symbolical account or mere “meditation.”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/21/jesus-of-nazareth-pope-benedict-book_n_2167994.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl6%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D237006

Killjoy Pope crushes Christmas nativity traditions: New Jesus book reveals there were no donkeys beside crib, no lowing oxen and definitely no carols November 21, 2012…St Peter’s Square itself regularly has a giant scene at Christmas and has displayed an array of animals at the heart of the Vatican, but the Pontiff is certain that is wrong…

And he also admits that Jesus would have been born years earlier than the Christian calendar states.

For years, many historians have said Jesus would have been born around 4BC, but for the Pope to admit a flaw in something so fundamental to Catholic faith is surprising. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2236195/New-Jesus-book-reveals-donkeys-crib-lowing-oxen-definitely-carols-Christmas.html#ixzz2CtxHN2To

I agree that the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ virgin birth and infancy are not just symbolic, but are literal accounts.  And I also agree that the number of “wise men” who came to see Jesus is not limited to three according to scripture (Matthew 2:1-16).  Also, it is nice that the Pope admits that Jesus was born several years B.C., because He was.

But there are many other traditions associated with Christ’s birth, including the fact that it is seems impossible that He could have been born in the Winter or in a below ground cave that it is not clear if the Pope addressed.  And, of course, symbols that many now associate with His birth, like Santa Claus and Christmas trees were not related to Jesus’ actual birth by any of the early Christians either.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include the following:

Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity? Was Jesus born in a below ground cave? Was Jesus born below the “Church of the Nativity”? Were the wise men there?
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Is Keeping Christmas a Sin? Is keeping Christmas acceptable for true Christians? What are some scriptures to consider?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?

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