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Why Are There Multiple Christmas Stories?

A Bible and Beyond Discussion

Monday, December 26, 2022
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Presenter: Dr. Shirley Paulson with Dr. Robert J. Miller
Host: Hillary Barner

Why Are There Multiple Christmas Stories?

Monday, December 26, 2022

Our month-long celebrations of Christmas repeat “the story” of Jesus’s birth through Christmas carols, church sermons, and bedtime stories. But in fact, there is no official single story to tell! The biblical accounts in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke have some similar features, such as Mary and Joseph attending the birth. But the details in both accounts are actually contradictory. Did the infant Jesus go to Egypt, or did his little family head to Jerusalem? The Protevangelium of James and other Infancy Gospels also tell stories of Jesus’s birth and early childhood, and yet again, they are also contradictory. Why would such an important event not have been recollected more accurately? And, in fact, there are not very many stories at all, considering the unusual and important nature of the event. Why wouldn’t Paul or the Gospels of Mark and John have included it? Our Bible and Beyond Discussion will include a closer look at all the ancient texts we do have and consider what kind of historicity we might be able to glean from these.

Texts used for this discussion:

The Gospel of Matthew 1 – 2:18
The Gospel of Luke 2:40
The Protevangelium of James summary
The Protevangelium of James text (chapters XVI – XX)