Measured Against Reality

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nativity and Thanksgiving

I found a little booklet of Christian Christmas gift idea laying on a table. I think it’s kind of funny, that people make so much money off of religious paraphernalia. If I recall, Jesus had something of a problem with that.

But what I found absolutely hysterical is a book called Why a Manger? It’s description reads, “Drawing from their meticulous research, authors Bodie and Brock Thoene tell the story of the nativity using historical truth to help readers see Christmas in a whole new light.”

Their research must not have been too meticulous, since the contradictions in the Gospels themselves are pretty damning evidence against the story, the total lack of historical corroboration for any of the claims of Matthew’s narrative is just icing on the cake (Matthew’s is the one traditionally told, Luke’s is almost entirely different).

If you’re curious, the good folks over at Debunking Christianity have a good write-up of the evidence against the traditional narrative.

The ridiculous things that people can convince themselves of will never cease to amaze me.

Speaking of traditional narratives, I went to my six-year-old sister’s Thanksgiving “play” today, and part of it was a telling of the Thanksgiving story. What surprised me was how accurate the thing actually is (at least based on my understanding of it, which is from mostly-reliable sources). It really does make a good story.

It’s just too bad that the first relationship between natives and colonists didn’t set the tone for the next three hundred years.

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3 Comments:

  • There's more to Thanksgiving than just feasting...this is the time when we all get together with our families and remember all the things we are thankful for...and of course thank the Almighty for all His wonderul blessings....i'd also ask you to visit my Thanksgiving Blog sometime and share the spirit anf joy of Thanksgiving...have a great time on Thanksgiving!!!

    By Blogger Sean Carter, at 9:21 PM, November 21, 2006  

  • Would you still consider Christmas a purely religious event? In Singapore at least, most people, regardless of religious beliefs, celebrate Christmas. I have non-Christian friends in America who celebrate Christmas too. The point I'm trying to make is that commercialization of Christmas isn't exactly the fault of Christians; it's the fault of greed.

    I know this isn't exactly a rebuttal of what you said, since you didn't explicitly state that it was a problem of Christians and Christianity in general that Christmas is so commercialized. You merely said that Jesus would have a problem with that, which I completely agreed with. Maybe I'm just nitpicking, but I kinda felt that you were implicitly poking fun at Christianity, from the way you chose to phrase your words.

    Anyway, have you read Lee Strobel? There're apologetics out there which provide just as strong arguments that there are no contradictions and that the historical events which formed the backdrop of the Nativity did occur. How would you know which one to believe?

    Alright, I'll be fair and go read up on the article through the link you provided. But maybe you should read some apologetics too (good ones, I must admit some really suck) for some objectivity. Although how objective one can be when it comes to religion, one really can't tell..

    By Blogger JeNn, at 10:28 PM, November 22, 2006  

  • Okie I read up on the article that you provided, and I think I'd better provide a point-by-point rebuttal to show that the two gospels really aren't that different.

    1) "In chap. 1, the Lucan story of John the Baptist (annunciation to Zechariah by Gabriel, birth, naming, growth) is absent from Matthew."
    Granted. What I don't agree with is that this can be labelled a "disagreement". When two witnesses describe a criminal, one may describe him in greater detail than the other, but it doesn't mean that the two don't corroborate, n'est-ce pas?
    Besides, if the two accounts were completely the same, it'd warrant more suspicion than if each were told from the writer's perspective.
    People are different. They perceive things differently and remember some things more strongly than others. The two gospels merely reflect what was thought to be important to note down by the writers. The important thing is, despite that, they still agree on many parts. That's more convincing than if they were exactly the same.

    2)"According to Matthew, Jesus’ family live at Bethlehem at the time of the conception and have a house there (2:11); in Luke, they live at Nazareth"
    Nah, that's a false statement. Luke 2:4 clearly states that Jesus' family was at Bethlehem at the time of the conception. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but his hometown is Nazareth. The writer of the article has used an inconsistent time frame to come to his erroneous conclusion.

    3) "In Matthew, Joseph is the chief figure receiving the annunciation, while in Luke, Mary is the chief figure throughout."
    The way it was phrased - "chief figure" - makes it look like there's a contradiction. However, if you go back to the gospels, you'd find that it's just a difference in emphasis.
    Just because Matthew, for example, din't talk about how Mary reacted when the Holy Spirit came to her doesn't mean that he denied it ever happening.

    4) "The Lucan visitation of Mary to Elizabeth and the Magnificat and Benedictus canticles are absent from Matthew."
    See rebuttal #1. Again, a reflection of different perspectives, but not of conflicting/mutually exclusive ones.

    5)"At the time of the annunciation, Mary is detectably pregnant in Matthew, while the annunciation takes place before conception in Luke."
    My word. This is exasperating..The two annunciations aren't even the same. OF COURSE they would take place at different times. Sheesh.
    (In Matthew, the annunciation was to Joseph, while in Luke, it was to Mary. Seems like it's the article that's contradicting itself, hmm..)

    6) "In chap. 2 in each gospel, the basic birth and postbirth stories are totally different to the point that the two are not plausibly reconcilable. Matthew describes... and a peaceful return of the family to Nazareth."
    Frankly, I can't see how it's not reconcilable. There're no contradictions, they're not mutually exclusive.. What's the problem?
    By the way, it *isn't* the 'family house'. There's nothing in the Bible, as far as I can see, that said that the house belonged to Joseph and family. And herein lies the biggest so-called "problem" with the two gospels. In one, it's a house; in the other, it's an inn. Well, an inn *is* a house of sorts, no? Not entirely irreconcilable either.

    I'm too lazy to rebut the rest. Put it this way. If I, a 17-year-old student from Singapore, can refute the first six "claims", it isn't exactly an argument that holds much water. Sorry, but this is a terrible case of nit-picking, and demands an unrealistic account of the Nativity.

    By Blogger JeNn, at 11:03 PM, November 22, 2006  

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