The Christmas Story: The ‘stable’ Jesus was born in

Question 159, from Helen P, United Kingdom

Christmas cards and nativity scenes depict Mary and Joseph being turned away from the inn and seeking sanctuary in a stable, but I was told that Mary and Joseph stayed with ‘family’ and were downstairs with the animals which was quite normal for that time. Which is right?

One problem with harmonising the two nativity stories in Matthew and Luke is that there seems to be some disagreement over where the story begins. Matthew makes no reference to Nazareth until after the family return from Egypt when Joseph settles there for safety (Matthew chapter 2, verse 22-23). In chapter 1, verse 24, it says he (more…)

Discrepancies in the genealogies of Jesus

Question 158, from Tim, United Kingdom Tim wrote a very long question regarding the discrepancies between the genealogies listed for Jesus in both Matthew and Luke. Here’s a summary of his questions:

Why do the genealogies between David and Jesus differ so much? Why are there only 12 (or 13 if you count Jesus) generations after the exile in Matthew’s account, when the writer claims there are 14 in each era? How can the claim that one genealogy reflects Mary’s ancestry be supported? Are we told anywhere in the Bible that Mary is descended from David? Does this discrepancy cast doubt on the Bible as ‘the infallible Word of God’? (more…)

Possible occult origins of Christmas decorations

Question 157, from Samantha

Why do Christians have Christmas tree baubles when I’ve heard that they derive from “witch balls”?

Several pre-Christian traditions were reinvented, or ‘Christianised’ as Christmas was established. The date of Christmas was established as the 25 December, partly to supersede the Roman festival of Saturnalia1. And it is notable that even certain elements within the birth stories of Jesus contained in the gospels have parallels in pagan religion2. However, the link between Christmas tree baubles and so-called ‘witch balls’ is harder to prove. (more…)