Tags: jesus | manger story | untrue

Theologian, Scientist: Jesus Wasn't Born in a Barn

By    |   Wednesday, 24 December 2014 02:19 PM

Jesus wasn't born in a barn, but the three wise men did, indeed, follow an celestial phenomena on their way to Bethlehem, according to a theologian and a scientist who pointed out mistranslations in the English Bible.

"I am sorry to spoil your preparations for Christmas. . . , but Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, and, curiously, the New Testament hardly even hints that this might have been the case," says Ian Paul, a British theologian who has studied the Bible in the original ancient Greek.

"The idea that they were in a stable, away from others, alone and outcast, is grammatically and culturally implausible," he added on his blog.

Paul says that Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem for a Roman census would have stayed with relatives in a typical house of that period, with two rooms — a main one for the family and a smaller room for guests. A stable would have been on a lower level, and a manger would have been a hollowed out area filled with straw where the animals would eat.

Based on evidence from the Gospels and from his study of ancient Israeli culture, Paul dismissed the biblical story of Joseph and Mary turned away from an overcrowded inn and forced to seek shelter in a forlorn stable where Jesus was born.

He argued that the story of the inn comes from a mistranslation of the Greek word, "kataluma," which actually would have referred to the guest room. So, with the guest room full, Joseph and Mary would have bunked in the family room with their hosts, Paul said.

Joseph would also have been something of a celebrity in his hometown of Bethlehem because he was descended from Israel’s great warrior king, David. Bethlehem was considered the "city of David," and Jewish prophecies foretold that the messiah would be born there.

"It would be unthinkable that Joseph, returning to his place of ancestral origins, would not have been received by family members, even if they were not close relatives," Paul wrote.

Paul is associate minister at England’s St. Nicholas Church, named for the third century bishop who much later inspired the character, Santa Claus. But that is another story.

The Bible also tells of three wise men who followed the Star of Bethlehem to recognize Jesus as a newborn king. But as with the overcrowded inn, the real meaning of the star was lost in translation from the original Greek, according to David Weintraub, an associate astronomy professor at Vanderbilt University.

The Gospels again present a confusing narrative that Weintraub attempted to unravel in an article Thursday in London’s Daily Mail newspaper

At one point on their journey, the wise men traveled from Jerusalem south to Bethlehem following a star "in the east," a phrase translated from the Greek "en te anatole," a technical term used in Greek astrology more than 2,000 years ago, Weintraub wrote.

The Gospel of Matthew presents several mysteries: the wise men saw a bright light in the sky that King Herod and other officials in Jerusalem missed; they traveled south guided by a star in the east; and the star moved before them.

Those descriptions are scientifically impossible, Weintraub wrote.

"Can we find any other explanation, consistent with Matthew's words, that doesn't require that the laws of physics be violated and that has something to do with astronomy?" he asked. "The answer, amazingly, is yes."

Weintraub said the story makes sense if the star was actually the planet, Jupiter, rising over the horizon briefly just before dawn and disappearing after sunrise.

The wise men would have noticed it, but Herod and his court would not have been looking for it. The star would appear to move because of the differences in the orbits of both the earth and Jupiter, and the star would look as if it changed directions when the earth passed Jupiter.

"Together, a rare combination of astrological events would have suggested to ancient Greek astrologers a regal horoscope and a royal birth," Weintraub wrote.

"Matthew's wise men actually undertook a journey to search for a newborn king, the bright star didn't guide them; it only told them when to set out."

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Jesus wasn't born in a barn, but the three wise men did, indeed, follow an celestial phenomena on their way to Bethlehem, according to a theologian and a scientist who pointed out mistranslations in the English Bible. "I am sorry to spoil your preparations for Christmas. ....
jesus, manger story, untrue
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2014-19-24
Wednesday, 24 December 2014 02:19 PM
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