The story of the birth of Jesus appears only in Matthew and Luke.
The Book of Matthew was written at least 80 years after Jesus’ birth. The Book of Luke was written at least 85 years after Jesus birth. Pray tell, how did either of them know what to say? There were not there at the birth of Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit/Ghost you say? Then why is Matthew’s story completely different than Luke’s story?
This is the nativity story according to Matthew 1:18-2:23:
This is the nativity story according to Luke 2:
- Matthew: Jesus was born under the reign of Herod who died in 4 BC.
Luke: Jesus was born after Cyrenius instituted the tax (6 AD) that Caesar Augustus decreed
- Matthew: has wise men from the East bring gifts
Luke: has shepherds abiding in the field, no gifts
- Matthew: A star leads the wise men to the house in which Jesus is born.
Luke: An angel of the Lord points the shepherds to the city of David, where Jesus is born in a manger
- Matthew: Joseph and Mary are already in Bethlehem, then Jesus is born
Luke: Joseph must return to his forefather’s homeland in order to be taxed.
- Matthew: King Herod decrees that all children 2 and under living in Bethlehem and and in all the coasts thereof be murdered.
Luke: No mention of King Herod or the massive infanticide.
- Matthew: Immediately after birth, Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee to Egypt to escape King Herod’s decree.
Luke: While still in Bethlehem, Jesus is circumcised 8 days after his birth, after the circumcision Mary spends 8 days being “purified” and a pair of Turtledoves are sacrificed, all according to the Law as presented by Moses (and important only to Jews – no one else gives a hoot). Then, at least 16 days after the birth of Jesus, they all went to Nazareth.
- Amazing! Impossible!
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) Luke 2:4
HOW did Joseph know that he should return to the city of David, Bethlehem? How did Joseph know that he was of the lineage of David? Joseph is the 28th generation after David. Do you know who your grandfather 28 generations ago was? How did Joseph know? Why did he go to the city of his great *28th grandfather and not to the city of his great * 42nd grandfather, Abraham? Why stop at the middle of the generations?
- Roman Taxation
The Romans would have no interest in sending people back to the home of their ancestors to be taxed. Imagine the chaos as every Roman citizen returns to the birthplace of their grandfather 42 generations ago. “And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.” That means that every Roman male had to figure out where his deepest male ancestor was born, every Roman female had to figure out where her deepest male ancestor was born. How would they begin to know where to go?
Let’s say they got the information from the Church of Latter Day Saints database in Salt Lake City, Utah. So now, we have every Roman citizen carrying bags of money (to pay the tax) all around the “world” (Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. ) in order to arrive at “his own city“. Utter nonsense. All the Romans cared about was getting their tax from the citizenry. Only the Jews cared about where ancestors lived and only if it related to their super hero, David – who was one of history’s most detestable men.
Anyone doing today, what David is alleged to have done, would be in a mental institution for the criminally insane. (See David Should be Reviled, Not Revered).
- Lineage to David or Holy Spirit?
Since Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, Joseph’s lineage is immaterial. The human Joseph was not the father of Jesus.
Which of the two stories, Matthew’s or Luke’s is true? Neither is true. Each relates an event that did not happen!
- Herod (who died in 4 BC) did not mass murder children under two.
- Augustus Caesar (reigned in 6 AD) did not require everyone in the Roman Empire to return to the home of the ancestors (which level of ancestor?) to be taxed.
Both of those events are literary conceits put in the story to allow the author to insert a fulfillment of prophecy.
How Many Virgin Births In History?
Luke and Matthew both contain the story of a virgin birth. If you choose to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus then you surely also believe in the virgin births of Ra, Zeus, Zoroaster, the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, Perseus, Romulus . . . even Augustus, Pythagoras, and Alexander the Great all were the subject of miraculous birth claims.
Horus was known to all of ancient Egypt as having been born of the virgin Isis and his conception and birth was considered one of the three great mysteries or mystical doctrines of the Egyptian religion.
Innumerable virgin births are described (with 83 citations) in this Wikipedia article, “Miraculous Births”
The ancients who believed in the virgin births of their gods believed as strongly as Christians. Why were they wrong and Christians right?
Same Story – Two Perspectives?
It is certainly probable that two different reporters covering the same events would pick and choose different details or which minor aspects to emphasize. That is not the case here. It is not a matter of telling similar stories with only a few differing details or points of emphasis. They are telling completely different stories. One of the authors is not telling the truth. We suspect that neither is telling the truth. It is already clear that the authors could not have been instructed by the Holy Spirit because of the two different stories. The ONLY overlapping details are the angelic annunciation and that it happened in Bethlehem, which was needed to satisfy Micah 5:2, which is often interpreted by Christians as being a prophecy of Jesus.
The story of the birth of Jesus contains verifiable historical inaccuracies.
- “They go to Joseph’s ancestral home to be counted in the census”. Joseph’s ancestral home – yeah right. And why do the Romans care a whit about anyone’s ancestral home? All the Romans wanted was to know how many were in a city so they could know their tax collectors weren’t holding out on them.Concern about one’s ancestral home is a Jewish conceit only. It was included in the story to link Jesus to David – no matter that Joseph wasn’t even Jesus’ biological father. That inconvenient fact is ignored.There is no way a peasant like Joseph could know his genealogy all the way back to David. How would he know which is the first home of his (which) ancestor? Which ancestor?And this ancestral home nonsense ignores all the other people in the region at the time. Presumably, they too would have to know the home of their prime ancestor. the whole region would have been in turmoil. Thousands of people going about trying to find their “ancestral home” How would everyman know in what city his foremost ancestor lived?. This is a contrived conceit to get Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, in order to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. Once again an attempt to connect Jesus with “the house of David”.For an irrefutable proof of how wrong this whole birthing story is and a complete debunking of all counter arguments , see “The Date of the Nativity in Luke (6th ed., 2011) by Dr. Richard Carrier
- The scenario of Luke 2:1-7 is unrealistic:
People would not be required to travel in order to register for tax purposes (it would be the taxation officials who would travel, as they had to link property to its owners), and Joseph, as a resident of Galilee rather than Judaea, would not have been affected by the census in any case.
- There was no mass murder of babies under age two under the reign of Herod. (Matt 2:16). There is no other external historical source, Jewish or otherwise, to confirm what would have been a horrendous holocaust. Josephus, who documented Herod’s life in detail, did not make any mention of this monumental event.
- Bethlehem of Galilee is less than ten miles on foot from Nazareth. Perhaps the most important reason to suspect the accuracy of Matthew and Luke is that Bethlehem in Judea did not exist as a functioning town between 7 and 4 BCE when Jesus is believed to have been born. Archaeological studies of the town have turned up a great deal of ancient Iron Age material from 1200 to 550 BCE and lots of material from the sixth century CE, but nothing from the 1st century BCE or the 1st century CE.
- The leading star is a literary invention of the author of the Gospel of Matthew, to, yet again, claim fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy (Numbers 24:17). Proof of “literary invention”? Follow this…
- 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
- 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
- The Impossibility of the “follow the star” story
- “Wise” men came from the East. That means they were traveling West.
“… seen his star in the east”. The star, in order to lead them would have to have been in the west!
- In his infinite ignorance, the author of Matthew believed that stars were little points of light just above his head. In that case it would be possible to “follow a star”.
But you know it is impossible to follow a star. Have you ever tried following a star? You can’t do it. What star is over your house right now?
How did they follow the star in the daylight?
- “Wise” men came from the East. That means they were traveling West.
- You celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25, but no biblical scholar believes that Jesus was born on that date. The date, December 25 was chosen to coincide and compete with pagan festivals that celebrated the beginning of longer days and the reappearance of the SUN!
- Jesus was not born of a virgin. There were/are numerous fables about virgin births, but the true fact is, without artificial insemination, no one is born of a virgin.
Jesus of Nazerath Born in Bethlehem?
Note the contrivance of both authors to get Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem. Why is he not known as Jesus of Bethlehem? Because the Old Testament contained prophecy that the Jewish Messiah would be born in Bethlehem so Matthew and Luke put him in Bethlehem, one by fiat, one by contrivance of a tax/census.
In their zeal to prove that Jesus really came from the line of David, (which was only important to Jews – no one else cared a wit) was the messiah and King of the Jews, both Matthew and Luke provide a genealogy that “proves” Jesus is derived from King David’s bloodline. The problem is, they give two different genealogies. From David through Jesus, the genealogies are completely different. Apologists work hard to come up with sufficient spin but why is that necessary in a book written by God? Hmm, maybe it wasn’t written by God.
Even worse is the fact that neither of these genealogies matches the Old Testament (1 Chron 1-3). Matthew’s comes closest, but it’s still different in several areas. He omits several names from his list: Ahaziah, Jehoash, Amaziah, and Jehoiakim. This might not be such a problem, but it becomes more of one when we read verse 17:
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
The statement here is not true. First of all, according to Matthew’s list, there are only 13 generations between the deportation and Christ, unless you count Jechoniah again. But the bigger problem is that Matthew presents this statement as though this were a divinely guided pattern showing us that Christ truly came at the appointed time. But he only gets these numbers by omitting people from the genealogy. Therefore, his statement is not factually true. There was no pattern in the genealogy as it is recorded in the Old Testament
The story of the birth of Jesus contains an interesting thought.
If Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are one than it must be true that Jesus (in the form of the Holy Spirit) had sex with his own mother to give birth to himself (in the form of Jesus); then he (Jesus) sacrificed himself to himself (god) to save us from himself (in the form of God). We think that is a very accurate rendition of the story of Jesus.
Or, as Kevinator (see comments below) so succinctly put it:
Mary was impregnated by her unborn son so he would be born in order to kill himself in order to save us from himself.
The Fabrication is SO obvious
In the earliest Gospel, Mark, Jesus just appears as an adult, no mention of Jesus’ birth:
“And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan’. Mark 1:9
That is Mark’s first reference to Jesus. There is no mention of the birth story even though Mark’s gospel appeared first, before Matthew, Luke and John. Ten to fifteen years later, Matthew, then Luke realizing that they can’t have Jesus appear out of whole-cloth, concoct two separate, inconsistent, impossible stories to explain his birth. They then ignore the rest of his life until he just appears as a full adult; just like in Mark. John just has Jesus appear out of whole-cloth, a full grown Messiah.
The consensus is that the whole birth story is a fiction concocted 80 to 90 years (Matthew wrote after Mark) after the “birth” of Jesus (4 BC or 6 AD) to provide a back story for Jesus, once this charismatic preacher (al la David Korish, Jim Jones and others) was thought to be the Messiah by his mesmerized followers.