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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Sun Dec 29, 2019 3:19 am
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Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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Rome built itself on logic, on a superb communication system. A census would give important details of population numbers, used for military purposes or taxation. The simplest way of obtaining information would be for a magistrate and his officers to set up stations and record information, then send it to the Emperor. Rome would have details of colonies thousands of miles away. Joseph would go to his nearest station wherever he lived and Rome would do the rest. Roman efficiency!

Luke's much debated census under Quirinius has people travelling vast distances to some supposed birth town, then back home again. If another census took place, the same wandering of nations would be involved. If a governor ordered such migrations he would possibly lose his head.

Given the importance Luke gives to the census, it is surprising that we are not told about Joseph performing the registration. And if Mary was incapacitated, she would not have been required to travel. One wonders how the hundreds of poor (always with us) managed to make similar journeys.

It is reasonable to assess Luke's tale as rubbish, without probing its supernatural elements.

Does this condemn his entire gospel? Is the explanation for Luke's Bethlehem location a case of fitting a tale to a name in Scripture?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Sun Dec 29, 2019 3:28 am
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Re: Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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[Replying to post 1 by marco]


It seems unfair to pick on Luke when Matthew is worse but let's stick with him.

We have evidence of Rome's efficiency. In order to reconcile the problems of Herod being dead before the census some say there may have been two censuses. That would mean further wanderings of subject people. Only an idiot nation would require this unnecessary disruption to its order, and Rome prided itself on its "pax Romana."

Because we are alerted to fictions at the very start of Luke's gospel we can then look at the genealogy of Jesus, carefully traced right back to Adam, and perhaps place a tiny question mark.

When we notice we're not out of the first chapter, do we need to read any further?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Mon Dec 30, 2019 1:11 pm
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This excellent topic is a little slow to kick off …!

Visiting angels and embryo-implanting Holy Ghosts certainly LOOK like fiction …

But we can't PROVE that they didn't happen …

So there is scope for "faith" to take hold in the certain minds.

Scurrying stars are quite another matter altogether.

While I readily accept that the magic of the "Nativity" is just make-believe, I've never considered the logistical implications of moving one's pregnant virgin (or incontinent grandmother) to some distant polling station for the purpose of Roman officials counting our heads and nett worth.

It takes quite a leap of faith to believe that the Empire would even consider allowing masses of the populace (and their luggage and commodes) in frontier provinces to swarm around so they could be counted.

I'm going to try and squeeze this one into my overstuffed fiction suitcase too.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:23 am
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Re: Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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marco wrote:

Rome built itself on logic, on a superb communication system. A census would give important details of population numbers, used for military purposes or taxation. The simplest way of obtaining information would be for a magistrate and his officers to set up stations and record information, then send it to the Emperor. Rome would have details of colonies thousands of miles away. Joseph would go to his nearest station wherever he lived and Rome would do the rest. Roman efficiency!

Luke's much debated census under Quirinius has people travelling vast distances to some supposed birth town, then back home again. If another census took place, the same wandering of nations would be involved. If a governor ordered such migrations he would possibly lose his head.

Given the importance Luke gives to the census, it is surprising that we are not told about Joseph performing the registration. And if Mary was incapacitated, she would not have been required to travel. One wonders how the hundreds of poor (always with us) managed to make similar journeys.

It is reasonable to assess Luke's tale as rubbish, ...


If the census is not true story, have you any idea why would it be added to the Gospels? I don’t see any need to write it, if it really didn’t ever happen.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:23 am
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Re: Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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1213 wrote:


If the census is not true story, have you any idea why would it be added to the Gospels? I don’t see any need to write it, if it really didn’t ever happen.


The reason it was created is to justify Joseph's 100 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and so make use of the supposed prediction:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

The game, it seems, is to hook on to a quote, and find a place for it in Christ's itinerary through life.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:07 am
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The magical star of Bethlehem is also pure fiction. There is no possible way any star could behave or be observed in the manner described in the story.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:23 am
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Re: Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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marco wrote:
Does this condemn his entire gospel?
If the census was fictional, I would say it most likely does. The author begins his account by claiming that he has "investigated everything carefully from the beginning" (1:3). If the author was saying that his careful investigation turned up an event which didn't take place, he couldn't have been writing under divine inspiration.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:06 am
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Re: Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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marco wrote:

The reason it was created is to justify Joseph's 100 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and so make use of the supposed prediction:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

The game, it seems, is to hook on to a quote, and find a place for it in Christ's itinerary through life.


Ok, thank you, that is fine attempt. Even if we would assume that someone just made up the whole story, he could have done that without making up s story of census. It would have been easy to just say Jesus was born in Bethlehem and later lived in Nazareth. If the census would be a lie, people during that age could have easily rejected the whole story, if it has so obvious “lie”. That is why I just don’t see it plausible that it was imaginary census.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:00 pm
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Re: Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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1213 wrote:

marco wrote:

The reason it was created is to justify Joseph's 100 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and so make use of the supposed prediction:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

The game, it seems, is to hook on to a quote, and find a place for it in Christ's itinerary through life.


Ok, thank you, that is fine attempt. Even if we would assume that someone just made up the whole story, he could have done that without making up s story of census. It would have been easy to just say Jesus was born in Bethlehem and later lived in Nazareth. If the census would be a lie, people during that age could have easily rejected the whole story, if it has so obvious “lie”. That is why I just don’t see it plausible that it was imaginary census.



Censuses did take place. Writing at least 50 years after Christ died or even 100 years after the reported Nativity he would have had few to contest his writing. Of course there were plenty of people who did not accept Christianity - do they count? It would be sufficient for Luke to have heard of a census at some point in the past and to associate that with Bethlehem. You think it unlikely that Luke wrote fiction? Try reading this without smiling, especially the lyrics of the angels and the verbatim words of the shepherds!



" Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,


“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

The English word for this is naivety.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:32 pm
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Re: Can we deduce the nativity events are fiction?

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1213 wrote:
Ok, thank you, that is fine attempt. Even if we would assume that someone just made up the whole story, he could have done that without making up a story of census. It would have been easy to just say Jesus was born in Bethlehem and later lived in Nazareth. If the census would be a lie, people during that age could have easily rejected the whole story, if it has so obvious “lie”. That is why I just don’t see it plausible that it was imaginary census.

Emphasis mine.

What you've just described is Matthew's Gospel. The Jesus family started in Bethlehem, fled to Egypt, then settled in Nazareth rather than Bethlehem. Each Gospel deals with Bethlehem differently.
  • Mark seems not to know the Bethlehem expectation at all. Jesus is mentioned as being from Nazareth a single time and in passing in Mark 1:9.
  • Matthew has the Jesus family start in Bethlehem in verse 2:1. The angel warns Joseph, they flee to Egypt ("Out of Egypt I called my Son!") and return to Palestine. Joseph was afraid of Archelaus (2:22), so they settled in Nazzareth instead of returning to Bethlehem.
  • Luke, as we've seen, had the family make a round trip. They started in Nazareth, went to Bethlehem, then returned to Nazareth.
  • John seems to know of the Bethlehem expectation, but dismisses it in 7:40-43:
    Quote:
    Many of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, said, “This is truly the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “What, does the Christ come out of Galilee? Hasn’t the Scripture said that the Christ comes of the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So a division arose in the multitude because of him.

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