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Old 20 September 2013, 09:14 AM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,403

I don't see much reason to doubt that Jesus (a preacher by that name in early first-century Palestine) existed, but the nativity story is probably not historical. I'm reading A History of Christianity by Diarmid McCulloch, and he points out several aspects of it that don't make any historical sense. The first Roman census in that area was a decade after the death of Herod, for one thing, and Roman censuses didn't work like that - people didn't have to move around to the "place of their ancestors" because that makes no sense. It goes with the idea that Jesus was descended from David via Joseph, because Joseph was his father when it suits the narrative.

There's apparently disagreement later in the Bible about where he was born anyway, with John recording people in Jerusalem arguing that Jesus was born in Galilee, with others arguing that the Messiah was meant to be born in Bethlehem, and the other gospels repeatedly referring to him coming from Galilee or Nazareth. Since he was known as "Jesus of Nazareth" that seems reasonable. The nativity story - which doesn't ring true in other ways either - is the only part of the Bible where he's referred to as being born in Bethlehem.

Perhaps to some, not being born in Bethlehem means he's "not the Messiah" and therefore implies that Jesus (Christ) didn't exist because whoever this bloke from Nazareth was, he couldn't have been the real Jesus?
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