So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Thor
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So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Thor »

I stumbled upon this article about how wrong people are in their beliefs regarding the birth of Jesus. And after reading it I can`t get the article out my mind. A biblical scholar has written it, and sources other scholars to support it, so I feel like the obvious fool here. Do I actually understand so little.
Perhaps someone can elaborate for me where I miss the mark.


https://theconversation.com/what-histor ... esus-89444
What history really tells us about the birth of Jesus

I might be about to ruin your Christmas. Sorry. But the reality is those nativity plays in which your adorable children wear tinsel and angel wings bear little resemblance to what actually happened.

Neither does your average Christmas card featuring a peaceful nativity scene. These are traditions, compilations of different accounts that reflect a later Christian piety. So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Firstly, the actual birth day of Jesus was not December 25. The date we celebrate was adopted by the Christian church as the birthday of Christ in the fourth century. Prior to this period, different Christians celebrated Christmas on different dates.

Contrary to popular belief that Christians simply adapted a pagan festival, historian Andrew McGowan argues the date had more to do with Jesus’s crucifixion in the minds of ancient theologians. For them, linking Jesus’s conception with his death nine months prior to December 25 was important for underscoring salvation.

So what really happened....? Why would someone believe this obvious mythical themed account of something can be rationalized to actual historical event.?

I mean, different Christians celebrated Christmas on different dates is to be expected because of the differences. Becoming the Imperial standard gave it uniformity. The idea of ancient symbolic festivals/celebrations relating to dates are just funny. They are based on observations of the divine order in the heavens. I wonder how many who actually knows why the death of Jesus keeps changing dates ;)

Not that this date issue bothers me. What really got me was this section.

The inn

Only two of the four gospels in the Bible discuss Jesus’s birth. Luke recounts the story of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, the couple’s journey to Bethlehem because of a census and the visit of the shepherds. It features Mary’s famous song of praise (Magnificat), her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, her own reflection on the events, lots of angels and the famous inn with no room.

The matter of the inn with “no room” is one of the most historically misunderstood aspects of the Christmas story. ACU scholar Stephen Carlson writes that the word “kataluma” (often translated “inn”) refers to guest quarters. Most likely, Joseph and Mary stayed with family but the guest room was too small for childbirth and hence Mary gave birth in the main room of the house where animal mangers could also be found.

Hence Luke 2:7 could be translated “she gave birth to her firstborn son, she swaddled him and laid him in the feeding trough because there was no space for them in their guest room.”
If I would say the birth of Jesus is loaded with mythical images more than some documented actual event; Astrologers, signs in the heavens, divine kingship, miracle birth. It would be called fringe theory.

One biblical scholar quoting another saying Mary gave birth in the main room of a house...because the guest room was too small...

When Eusebius says birth of Jesus was in a cave/rock/grotto, as those before and after him. I imagined it corresponded with accepted scripture.
Why would Stephen Carlson say this? And why is it quoted by another scholar?

You see, I feel there is something obvious I am missing?
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Secret Alias
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Secret Alias »

I know at the "Last Xmas" I gave you my heart. But the very next day, you gave it away
Thor
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Thor »

Lol. You got me humming on that song at least. Perhaps it is me. For some reason smug pop trash articles still annoys me.
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Secret Alias
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Secret Alias »

My mom and my wife's step dad actually died the December 25th George Michael died and were playing that song ad nauseum (please no condolences a long time ago). It's weird how a song title like 'Last Xmas' takes on a new (and previously unrecognizable) meaning because of context.
Thor
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Thor »

I did not even know George was dead. I only remember the 80`s George, so never saw him fade. Now I know I miss things.
Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

Thor wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:58 am Why would Stephen Carlson say this? And why is it quoted by another scholar?
Carlson, The Accommodations of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: Κατάλυμα in Luke 2.7
Thor
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Thor »

Thank you.

I read it but still confused. Translation is beyond my knowledge. I only notice he uses historical context to support it. Making me believe he regards Luke as a historical account. The Article went like this:
Thor wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:58 am
What history really tells us about the birth of Jesus

I might be about to ruin your Christmas. Sorry. But the reality is those nativity plays in which your adorable children wear tinsel and angel wings bear little resemblance to what actually happened.

Neither does your average Christmas card featuring a peaceful nativity scene. These are traditions, compilations of different accounts that reflect a later Christian piety. So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?
Early Church fathers said his birth was in a cave. Eusebius confirmed it with his insight into the Biblical cannon. I assume they would know what "really happened" if it was a historical account. It is not a late tradition, it is the tradition. To take some elements of one text and build a historical account and present it as what really happened is just to wild for me.
Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

Thor wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:02 pm Early Church fathers said his birth was in a cave. Eusebius confirmed it with his insight into the Biblical cannon. I assume they would know what "really happened" if it was a historical account. It is not a late tradition, it is the tradition. To take some elements of one text and build a historical account and present it as what really happened is just to wild for me.
The earliest reference to the church tradition seems to come from Justin (Dialog With Trypho 78). However, Justin's reference appears to be an interpretation of Luke 2:7. I have no idea from where he got the cave.

But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, ...

On a linguistic level, Carlson's interpretative translation of the phrase "διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι" (because
they did not have room in their place to stay) seems better to me, but he may have missed some deeper meanings (imho) intended by Luke.
schillingklaus
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by schillingklaus »

The Protevangile of James already contains the birth in the cave.
gryan
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Re: So what really happened at that so-called “first Christmas”?

Post by gryan »

Re: Carlson's interpretation of the "manger"

"Yet Mary’s accommodations did not have room
for giving birth, so the birth had to occur elsewhere, in a place that included a
manger. This detail does not mean, as it would to Western Europeans, that
Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable or barn, because mangers were also found
in the main rooms of first-century Judean village houses. Typically, the main
room was divided into two sections at different elevations separated by about a
meter. The animals were housed in the lower section, the people slept in the
upper section, and mangers were located between them."

Carlson, The Accommodations of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: Κατάλυμα in Luke 2.7
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