Christian Story of Jesus’s Birth Is a Myth Born of Politics

From Alternet:

The Advent season is a fun time. For many Christians, it is the happiest season of the year. The joy comes from the anticipation: “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her king.”

I do not desire to dim the lights of Christmas, but it might be helpful to some to hear what the stories of Jesus birth are really about.

There are four versions of the life of Jesus. We call them the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Only two of the versions say anything about the birth of Jesus.

Mark, the first of the Gospels, begins the Jesus story with Jesus as an adult. John, the last Gospel written, likewise says nothing about the birth of Jesus. Matthew tells the birth story in only a few short paragraphs. Luke’s version of the beginnings of Jesus is four times as long as that of Matthew.

Those two versions are very different. Luke plays with a much larger cast. His flair for the dramatic is pronounced. He includes an abundance of poetry and music with the support of angelic hosts.

Reconciling the two versions has been tried by many, but never with success. They are two different stories. They each have their own distinctive version of the events that surrounded the birth of Jesus.

[Read more at Alternet]

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  • tony

    having read the full article i can say what a load of crap – there is NO evidence for what this article claims.
    why do you state as fact that which is only your opinion?
    your pig-headed atheists loyalties are showing through once again.

    • emperorreagan

      Huh?

      Facts in the article: which gospels have birth stories, time frame the gospels were written, difficulty for theologians in resolving the differing accounts of the gospels, the abundance of birth stories to claim divine right in the ancient world, etc. And the author does, in fact, make a rational argument as to the “whys” of the birth stories. It is an interesting theory – one that has significantly more supporting evidence than the claim of a virgin birth.

      It also seems that the guy who wrote the article is far from an atheist, unless atheist means “one who does not read the Bible in exactly the same fashion as I do.”

      • Tuna Ghost

        Eh, in his defense there was some factually inaccurate stuff. For instance: “First century Christians remembered very well that according to Jesus “You shall love the Lord your God with heart, mind, soul, and strength.” Jesus was their Lord. They did not have divided loyalties.”

        There was actually a very large variation in the beliefs of early Christians in the first couple centuries. Some didn't believe he was divine, some didn't believe he was human, some didn't believe he ever actually manifested in the flesh as a real person, some thought that Christ was pretty great but that John the Baptist was the real deal (Mandaeans, who were the longest lasting Gnostic sect. The Iraq war forced them out of their homes and it's likely that the Mandaean community is pretty much lost forever, thank you W) etc. etc. etc.

    • Word Eater

      The author is a Christian:
      Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska.

      Also, his claims to fact do not change what you, as an individual, are allowed to believe.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PDDVWRQVUPMKRGHURIEQVNYWHQ Sean

      a person of faith wanting evidence for something……I guess thats a start.

  • Ryan

    Previous comment Tony didn't read the whole article. If he did, he would have seen that it was concluded with a devout faith in Christian teachings. However, it was written by a Christian with enough clarity to know that the means by which Christianity was promoted and by which the Jesus story was sold borrowed from political language of the time. Simple lesson. Not inflammatory unless you're someone who immediately rejects the ideas of others.

  • Synapse

    I'll never understand the liberal christian attitude where they basically accept that the bible is completely/mostly made up, but still believe/accept Jesus. As if Jesus couldn't have been made up too, or as if he even remotely represents what the 4 gospels present such a person as being. There's no evidence Jesus was ever a real person, or if he was, that anyone anywhere noticed him at all.

    • Tuna Ghost

      that's not exactly true, a more accurate statement would be that there is as yet no evidence that isn't Christian or somehow infuenced by Christians, which many consider to biased to be counted. One of these days someone is going to produce an article on Disinfo detailing the troubles regarding the historicity of Jesus and I'll be able to stop correcting people when they make sweeping generalizations. It's often said that a similar argument would be to say that there is no real evidence Socrates ever existed, since all the (rather meager, as it turns out) sources for his existence are Athenian.

      What's that you say? People are actually arguing against the historocity of Socrates? Well then. Hmm.

      As for no one noticing him, most scholars believe that the sources for the synoptic gospels were written around 70 BCE (or earlier, depending on who you believe) a mere 30 or 40 years after his supposed death. So if his cult was flourishing at the time, that's a pretty short gap for a religion based on nothing to suddenly spring up. I suppose stranger things have happened in history, but I (and the majority of scholars, apparently) do not have a hard time believing that a jewish teacher lived and taught in the area and times and had a message loosely based on what can be found in Gospels and was eventually put to death for Sedition against Rome, and that a religion grew from later interpretations of his teachings. I mean, looking back the history of the area, and given the politics of the time, is that really difficult to believe?

      • Synapse

        It's not difficult, but I believe there is more to it than that. Most scholars place Paul just before the temple was destroyed, who fails to mention the majority of the story that comprises the gospels themselves. That is an interesting idea on it's own. Aside from that, a 30-40 year gap (longer if you're more conservative with the estimated date of the gospels coming out) is relatively small in time, but considering the ideology of who Jesus is thought to be, this is a very long time indeed to say that people were amazed by the idea of Jesus, and then no one discussed him (especially not the people the gospels claim he has extensive interaction with or his followers which you would expect would be very excited about this amazing person). At best, it shows that the idea that composed Jesus was being altered and mended over time, possibly from no one at all. Possibly morphing from another, previously known sect, into something new. There is also the possibility that Jesus could have been around much earlier, and the narrative in the gospels was simply to put him in relatively recent times.

        So I guess what I was saying is not that it's hard to believe there was ever someone around that was used as a pseudo template, but rather that the ideas that comprised Jesus were entirely compiled over time, to reflect whatever ideas people wanted to impose on such a god, until it no longer even remotely reflected the possible original person who may have taught anything, who's name may or may not have been Jesus. And this is where I am confused that so many liberal christians are rather insistent on doubting the events, but simultaneously pushing the idea that the conception of Jesus was a real person.

  • telson

    This article shakes the tradition about the birth of Jesus.:

    http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/starofBethleh

  • Steve M

    cant we accept yahshua(Jesus) as a person as we do Moses? he was a defender of oppressed people misguided and severely taken advantage of. he opposed meaningless Taxing on people he gave food to the poor and hungry.. you can put truth to the story of robin hood why not for Yahshua? just accept him as a man if you do not believe in Yahweh. i mean why would politicians use a man who opposed the exact corrupt thing they are doing to us today. i mean Christmas please….that’s not even his supposed birthday its an Egyptian celebration for Horus.

  • Steve M

    cant we accept yahshua(Jesus) as a person as we do Moses? he was a defender of oppressed people misguided and severely taken advantage of. he opposed meaningless Taxing on people he gave food to the poor and hungry.. you can put truth to the story of robin hood why not for Yahshua? just accept him as a man if you do not believe in Yahweh. i mean why would politicians use a man who opposed the exact corrupt thing they are doing to us today. i mean Christmas please….that's not even his supposed birthday its an Egyptian celebration for Horus.

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