Christmas myth and reality

According to most biblical scholars and historians, Jesus was actually born in the spring of the year March / April. The celebration of Christmas was timed by the early church fathers at the council of Nicaea to coincide with the pre-existing Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice recognized by most early agricultural societies.
Rudolph is actually a female, as male reindeer shed their antlers each year, and only the females of the species retain their antlers all year round.
Santa Clause is actually just a fat bastard in a red suit invented by the Coca Cola Corporation as a marketing strategy kept alive by the retail industry to feed their greed for profits and keep us consumers in debt.
Being merry is not a part of Christmas for way too many people, as statistics show us there are more cases of depression and attempted suicide etc. than any other time of year, caused by social conditioning and unrealistic expectations.
Any more out there?

LOL, take a drive out to Ridley, there’s a whole whack of coal there for your stocking this year.

Really its something for the kids to look forward to every year Santa comming to give them presents eating the cookies/milk. Not to mention thinking that he has a magical sleigh that flies with reindeer pulling it.
Christmas would really suck for the kids if they had nothing to believe in, same with the easter bunny. and all of the “fictional” characters that we tell them exist. If you want to go ahead and ruin it for your kids go ahead i will keep telling mine that they exist. Yes i do agree that there is more attempted suicides, and more stressfull time of the year, but I will also be teaching them its not all about presents.
It should be about family as well and time you wouldnt normally spend with them. Not to mention the turkey dinner but thats only my opinion.

I don’t get the whole virgin birth story.

Paul doesn’t mention any miraculous birth and his letters are the earliest writings about Jesus.

Mark doesn’t mention any miraculous birth and his gospel is the earliest story about Jesus.

John doesn’t mention any miraculous birth. In fact he says something like Jesus was around from the beginning.

Only Matthew and Luke tell the birth story and they differ in some details.

Gods mating with mortals is not unusual. Zeus ravished many women. Often he came disguised. Not sure who had it easier. Mary explaining to Joseph that it was the spirit of the Lord that made her pregnant or Leda telling Tyndareus that it was some swan.

And I am curious how Mary did get pregnant. As a virgin, no sex was involved, but was it done through some elaborate in vitro method. Was there a sperm and an egg? Did a fetus just materialize?

Was Jesus human? Half-human, half-god? All god who had been around for ever and just decided to make his entrance through a birth canal and spend over half his time on earth “growing up”?

I get confused so easily.
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Virgin Birth? The Lord works in mysterious ways!

You can’t understand because your faith isn’t strong enough.

Wake up sheeple! That’s what they want you to think!

Oh wait, wrong conspiracy theory.

From johnshore.com
Joseph: How do you feel, Mary?

Mary: Pregnant. Very pregnant.

Joseph: Are you comfortable? Do you have enough hay?

Mary: I do, thank you. And thanks for doing such a thorough job cleaning that feeding trough. I can’t believe our baby’s first crib will be a feeding trough.

Joseph: No, no: it’s not a feeding trough. It’s a manger. Remember: not trough. Manger.

Mary: You’re so funny. That is a better name for it.

Joseph: We’re lucky we even got that. I can’t believe how crowded the inn is.

Mary: Everyone’s traveling because of that stupid census. Why can’t we just mail something in saying who we are? Why do we have to come all the way to Bethlehem to register?

Joseph [disdainfully]: Caesar.

Mary: I wish it would hail on Caesar. [Warmly touching her belly]: Oh, well. Our little guy here will have a thing or two to say about the way things are run.

Joseph: Apparently. You know, I still can’t over what the angel said to me that night.

Mary: Tell me again! I love that story.

Joseph: Well, I was sleeping, just like any other night—you remember that night; I stayed up late because I’d eaten that bad chicken?

Mary: I do remember that. You poor thing.

Joseph: So I’m finally asleep—when all of a sudden this vision of an actual angel was before me. In a voice like all the music in the world played at once, the angel said to me, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Mary: Wow.

Joseph: I know. That’s was pretty much my response.

Mary: It’s unbelievable.

Joseph: Which is why I didn’t exactly share it with the neighborhood.

Mary: It’s so hard to believe.

Joseph: And before that you’d had your whole miracle.

Mary: Tell me about it. Talk about divine intervention.

Joseph: And the angel who came to you said what, again?

Mary: He said not to be afraid, that I had found favor with God. “You will be with child,” said the angel, “and give birth to a son. And you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Joseph: Wow.

Mary: I know.

Joseph: Well, at least we don’t have to worry about picking out a name for the boy.

Mary: Right. “Larry” is out. [Joseph laughs.]

Joseph: You know, I still wonder what my angel meant by “he will save people from their sins.” Do you wonder about that?

Mary: How could I not?

Joseph: What is that about, you think?

Mary: I have no idea. I guess … that people will stop sinning?

Joseph: But do you really think that’s possible?

Mary: Well, we can’t start doubting the angels now.

Joseph [chuckling lightly]: No, let’s not. But how do you think that whole “save people from their sins” thing is gonna work, exactly?

Mary: Maybe everyone will just start being … really, really nice all the time?

Joseph: I guess. Or maybe our son will make it so that people don’t want to sin?

Mary: Or maybe that they can’t?

Joseph: And how’s he gonna effect everybody? That’s a lot of people.

Mary: Maybe he’s going to travel a lot?

Joseph: Maybe it’s not going to be everyone who stops sinning. Maybe it’s just going to be us. My angel did say he’d save his people from their sins. Who’s more of his people than us? Maybe he’s just going to stop us from sinning.

Mary: That’d be nice.

Joseph: Be a change for me, anyway. You wouldn’t even notice a difference.

Mary [playfully slapping him]: Stop it. Besides, it won’t be just us. Remember: “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever”? That’s not just us.

Joseph: It’s all so unbelievable.

Mary: It is. I just don’t know what to expect. Is he going to be born with wings? Is he going to come out talking? Wearing a crown? What?

Joseph: Well, we know we’ve been told not to worry. So whatever happens, it’ll be okay.

Mary: I know it will. I can feel it.

Joseph: I love you, Mary. So much.

Mary: I love you, too. You’re such a good, good man.

Joseph: Once our baby boy is born, things are going to be different for us.

Mary: In some ways.

Joseph: I guess they’ll be different for everybody.

Mary: It seems so. [Pause.] I just hope he’s all right.

Joseph: What do you mean?

Mary: I hope that no one hurts him.

Joseph: Hurts him? Why would anyone hurt him? He will be great, and called the Son of the Most High. Why on earth would anybody want to hurt him?

According to Tony Bushby, author of ’ the secrets in the Bible’ and ‘The Bible fraud’ He and several other ancient linguistic experts who analyzed ancient Aramaic and Hebrew texts the word used in the original scriptures actually meant young unmarried woman and not “virgin” necessarily, and was misinterpreted by early biblical translators when many of the scriptures were translated into Greek and Latin. The whole virgin birth idea was also already used by several other ancient religions that pre-dated Christianity, ( Sumerian, Assyrian and Egyptian ) hardly original.
Speaking of conspiracy theories(MiG) and confusion (D White), I can’t wait until Easter. Muahaha.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/76069/bees.gif

If I ran the risk of being stoned to death for having an affair and getting pregnant I’d try for the whole divine intervention angle too. Especially if the baby came out black.

Just sayin.

If we are going to discuss myth and reality, I thought it might be worthwhile going to the actual source. As I mentioned, only Matthew and Luke have the Christmas story.

In Matthew, the first two chapters deal with the birth of Jesus.

The first chapter is the genealogies. The genealogies list 42 descendants of Jesus ending with “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born”. The genealogies work back to show that Jesus was a descendant of David – important to the prophecies – but if Joseph is not the actual father of Jesus, and note that the text calls him the husband of Mary not the father of Jesus, then how is prophecy fulfilled?

Mary was betrothed to Joseph and “before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.” Joseph was too nice a guy to “put her to shame” but before he could “quietly” divorce her, an angel appears to him in a dream and tells him “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Joseph decides to keep Mary, but “knew her not until she had borne a son”. (Does the “until” mean that Mary was not a lifelong virgin?)

The wise men show up at Herod’s court asking where they can find the king of the Jews for they have seen his star in the east.

Herod gets his priests together and they determine it must be Bethlehem. They quote from Micah.

Herod tells the magi to go find the child so he can go worship him as well.

The star takes them to a HOUSE where they fall before the babe and offer gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In a dream the magi are told not to return to Herod. Joseph has a dream warning them that Herod is out to get Jesus and that they should flee to Egypt.

In a rage at being tricked, Herod orders the death of all children less than two years. (The historical Herod was a man capable of doing this, but there is no other account of this event.)

When Herod dies, an angel appears to Joseph and they return but not to Bethlehem in Judea, but to Nazareth in Galilee. (That supposedly fulfills another prophecy. I say supposedly because there is some controversy on how to interpret the older verses.)

Anyway, that’s it. No census, no “no room” at the inn, no stable, no manger, no shepherds. That must be in Luke which I will report on later.

And that’s where it gets strange.

Luke says that the birth took place during the census. But we know that the census didn’t happen until after Herod’s death.

So now you have the Bible contradicting itself. Again. But that’s ok, because, you know, you’re not supposed to take it literally, right? Just when it’s politically convenient to do so.

ie: no gay marriage, it says so right in the Bible! Divorce? No, that’s against the Bible too, but you’re not supposed to take it literally!

Luckily, most people never actually read the Bible, so they don’t even know the contradictions exist. They’re told what to think by the “experts” instead. Sheeple. Sorry! I keep getting those mixed up!

Luke is way more interesting than Matthew, and has way more information in its two chapters devoted to the birth of Jesus.

Unlike Matthew it does not start with the genealogies. Luke places the genealogies at the end of chapter three just as Jesus is about to start his ministry. The genealogies begin with an interesting phrase: “being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph”. I like that “as was supposed.” Luke then says that Joseph was the son of Heli, the son of Matthat which is different from Matthew who says he was the son of Jacob. Not sure if that is a big deal or not.

Back to the first chapter. Instead of starting with Mary, Joseph and Jesus, we learn about the family of John the Baptist. A priest, Zechariah, was married to Elizabeth who was barren. One day, while Zechariah was serving in the temple, the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah and told him that Elizabeth "will bear you a son.”

I love Zechariah’s response. “How will I know this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” Seems like a reasonable response, but Gabriel is ticked. He makes Zechariah mute because “you did not believe my words.” Unable to talk, Zechariah goes home and, not surprisingly, Elizabeth becomes pregnant.

Sixth months later, Gabriel visits “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph”. He tells her that “you have found favour with the lord and you will bear a son.” Like Zechariah, Mary is bewildered and asks “How shall this be when I have no husband.” Now, does Gabriel strike her dumb like he did to Zechariah. Nope. He just explains that nothing is impossible for the lord.

While both are still pregnant, Mary visits Elizabeth and when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb.” Elizabeth praises Mary as the mother of Jesus and Mary praises the lord.

Soon after, John is born. When the priests ask for the baby’s name, Elizabeth says “John”. The priests are confused because there are no Johns in the family. They ask Zechariah who calls for a tablet. He writes, “His name is John.” Zechariah’s mouth is opened and he praises the lord and prophesizes the greatness of his son.

That was a long chapter. And I can’t find anything about how Joseph reacted to Mary’s pregnancy which was important enough for Matthew to comment on.

I will write about Chapter Two later.

Speaking of Christmas and the Bible, here’s a Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: “Why I’m an atheist.”

blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/ … n-atheist/

“You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.”

[quote=“MiG”]
They’re told what to think by the “experts” instead. [/quote]

Quite the generalization. I■ve been involved in my faith for 43 years now and not one person has ever told me what to think about it. Although I share many common beliefs with the users on this forum ( in some shape or form) I felt compelled to speak out against the very conformity you allude to ( or is it elude? )when speaking in regards to a persons faith.

The ¨literal¨ argument can be used in many instances these days. The bible is an easy target.

Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Everyday.

Iḿ off the soapbox. Merry Christmas, and health and happiness in the new year.

So you’ve never listened to a priest or minister talk about the bible at church? Isn’t that what they’re doing, interpreting things?

Chapter Two looked long but the last half of it deals with events after the Christmas story which I will leave out.

During the reign of Quirinius, a census was taken and all people had to return to their ancestral home to be counted. Joseph, from the house of David, had to go to Bethlehem. The census of Quirinius took place about 6 AD but Matthew has Jesus born during Herod’s reign. Herod died in 4 BC, 10 years earlier. Most historians believe that Matthew’s version is more likely to be true.

At least the next part is familiar. While in Bethlehem, “she gave birth to her first-born … and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Does first-born mean that she gave birth to others? Was Mary a life-long virgin or did Jesus have siblings?)

And the next part is familiar. An angel visits a group of shepherds and brings them the good news of the birth of a “Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Angels sing and the shepherds visit the stable and tell those present what the angels had said.

And that is it. No star. No magi. No escape to Egypt.

Now we might be able to reconcile Matthew’s and Luke’s story into one. And I suppose, there must have been a reason for Mark and John to leave out these events entirely. I don’t know. It just would have been a whole lot easier if these authors - who were supposedly writing the inspired words of God – could have reconciled them for us.

[quote=“MiG”]

So you’ve never listened to a priest or minister talk about the bible at church? Isn’t that what they’re doing, interpreting things?[/quote]

It■s always insightful listening to a priest/ minister´s take on a certain reading in the bible. Quite often, there can be a few teachings intertwined in the story. Having said this, I am, by no means, a theologian.
At my age, I´ve heard a lot of interpretation. This does not significantly alter¨ what to think¨ in terms of my faith. Contrary to a ton of perception, the people who attend a service on the weekend are not following the person in front of them off a cliff. The majority are older people that have lived a lot of life.

I gotta go. Always a pleasure

Ah, I get it. You said “not one person has ever told me what to think about it.” But you probably meant that “not one person has ever convinced me to alter it!”

Sure, they can tell you what to think all they want, but ultimately, it’s your mind, right?

I misunderstood what you said to mean that you’ve never heard anyone telling you what to think.

The conversation between Mig and Grey Hair reminded me of an anecdote I read somewhere. It involves two Jews so it might have been in the book Why Bad Things Happen to Good People but it doesn’t matter.

The elderly Jews are heading to the synagogue and the first says. “Abraham, we have been going to synagogue together for all these years. But you don’t believe in God. I go to commune with God. So why do you go?”

And Abraham replied, “Well Jacob. I go to commune with you.”

People go to church for several reasons. My father was far from a religious man. He hated “Bible thumpers”. He couldn’t just close the door on a Jehovah Witness; he would verbally attack them. And he didn’t believe in God, at least the god as depicted in the Bible. But every so often, he would decide to go to church for several weeks at a time. I know he went to the Unitarian (I went too) and I know he went to the United and there was a third that he went with friends.

I don’t recall his giving an explanation, but I am almost certain he wasn’t searching for god. But he was searching for some truth. And he would be the kind of guy who would not just say “that was interesting” about a sermon. He would want to discuss it and argue it and clarify it and figure out what it meant for him. After a while he would quit going. I am assuming because there was no discussion or clarity.

I have no problem with whatever reason people go to church. We all have to find our way. So I can totally respect what Grey Hair says.

But, Mig also makes a valid point. People don’t read the Bible carefully. So some churchgoers are easily manipulated by the “experts” who will cherry pick verses to suit their needs and to rally the troops. For example…

Not sure which federal election (2004? 2000?) but the reform/conservative candidate had made some comments opposing gay marriages. This was when gay marriages were a hot topic. I went into the office of the candidate to ask for clarification. “What exactly is wrong with allowing two people to marry?” The candidate wasn’t in – so this isn’t an indictment of the candidate – but the person who answered my question referred me exclusively to the Bible.

Given the contradictions throughout the Bible, using the Bible as your sole argument, is really no argument at all.

I just hope that there are sufficient numbers of non-fundamentalist people (like a Grey Hair) who might be willing to speak up if a minister were solely using Biblical text to support a controversial topic.

The biggest thing with most organized religions, aside from priests and ministers is not them telling you what to think necessarily, but nor do they encourage reading, studying or learning about the Bible and scripture. We are often told what the interpretations of the church are, which too often are taken completely out of context or simply do not make any sense when read literally.
My problem with all this comes from the fact that the Bible that we know ( New Testament ) is claimed to be divine or inspired and to be the word of god yet clearly written by mortal men. Here I am referring only to the new testament as the old testament or Torah has remained virtually unchanged since written. The new testament how ever has been translated numerous times through out history, from Aramaic to Hebrew, to Greek to Latin then into Italian, German, English, etc. Also several times the Catholic church early Popes completely re wrote the entire book, Also the books and scriptures that were selected by the church to be included in the official version, actually excluded more than were included, the gospels of Mary Magdalene, Philip, the Apocrypha, etc. etc.
You do the math on this, I am not certain, and nor am I any scholar on the subject, only another simple fool, but it seems to me that the version that we know now resembles very little of the original, and the resulting stories and content have been somewhat skewed.