The nativity stories lack historical evidence but should be read as theology

This article is based on a recent interview with UCB Radio, where Jon the freelance theologian was asked about the historicity of the nativity stories recorded in the gospels.

Generally the consensus among New Testament scholars is that Mark was the first gospel to be written and Matthew and Luke were then written drawing heavily on Mark as source material. But Mark does not have any stories about Jesus’ birth. Instead it opens with John the Baptist announcing the imminent arrival of the Messiah.

If Matthew and Luke were written later, where did the ‘infancy narratives’ come from, and, more crucially, why do they differ on key details. (more…)


The Christmas Story: a round-up of answers to questions


Risking belief in Jesus by encouraging belief in Santa

This article is based on a recent interview with UCB Radio, where Jon the freelance theologian was asked whether Christian parents should encourage their children to believe in Father Christmas / Santa Claus.

A recent news story about a child’s letters to Santa being discovered 80 years later offers a great glimpse into childhood in the 1930s. The 5 year-old girl who wrote the letters asked for “nice toys and a hymn book”. How many kids would ask for a hymn book now? (In fact, who uses hymn books now that we have PowerPoint?)

But should Christian parents encourage their children to believe in Santa Claus? I think it’s a dangerous game to play. I recently read an atheist blogpost describing Santa as “the ultimate dry run” and encouraging their child to dismiss belief in God. It’s a thought-provoking read. (more…)