Someone predicts that a child will be born at a certain time, and that the child will grow up to be a very important and powerful figure. A reigning monarch hears the story and fears that such a child has recently been born or is about to be. Seeing that as a direct threat to his own power, he attempts to destroy the child, and he has hundreds or thousands of other infants killed in the process. However, the child miraculously escapes and grows to manhood.
Elements of the same story apply to Sargon, Nimrod, Moses, Jason, Krishna, Mordred, Oedipus, Perseus, Romulus and Remus, and Zeus.
The story told in Matthew chapter 2 is hardly unique.
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This time of year we love to read and tell the Christmas story. Matthew chapter 2. As I read the story, a couple of questions come to mind that Christians should be able to answer for me.
1) Since the 3 Wise Men followed the Star all the way from the East, why did they need to stop at Jerusalem and ask for directions? Why didn't they just keep following the Star all the way to Bethlehem and Jesus, which they eventually did anyway?
2) Why didn't Herod follow the same star? It was obviously of great importance to him, and all of Jerusalem, to find the baby Jesus, so why didn't Herod go himself or send one of his minions to kill the baby Jesus? Why couldn't he or they follow the star just like the men from the East did?
Then he wouldn't have had to kill all those other little guys.
3) Go outside at night, look up, and select a star. The brightest star you can find. Now, exactly which house is the star directly over? Kinda makes the whole story pretty silly, doesn't it?
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It is widely known (or it should be) that Jesus was not born on December 25. That day was chosen by church leaders in the 4th century to coincide with existing pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.
But the winter solstice is December 21/22, not 25. Why the discrepancy? On the 21st/22nd the sun reaches its southernmost orbit. But it doesn't immediately reverse course. The sun's orbit remains unchanged for 3 days, then it begins its northward climb on December 24/25. That's the reason for the pagan celebrations on the 25th.
We don't know the day Jesus was born, but we don't even know the year! Most people logically assume he was born in the year 1 CE (common era). Not so. According to the Matthew gospel, Jesus was born in 4 BCE. Luke's gospel, however, seems to place Jesus' birth in 6 CE. So much for the Bible being infallible.
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Have you ever heard a minister admit in church on Sunday morning that Jesus was definitely not born on December 25? That nobody knows what day Jesus was born? That the whole Dec 25 thing was started by pagans, not Christians?
I've never heard a preacher say that, and I grew up in small baptist churches. All the preachers I've ever heard either stated flat out that Dec 25 is Jesus' birthday, or they were content to let the myth continue without correction. In fact, I dare say that none of the preachers I ever heard even knew the difference. I had a preacher look me straight in the eyes and state very authoritatively that the Bible was originally written in King James English. So baptist preachers are not the brightest bulbs.
You'd think that God's special spokespersons would know better. Wouldn't you? I mean, they have direct communication with the omniscient, omnipotent God and the Holy Spirit. They have the Bible to enlighten them. They have presented themselves as special people who have a deeper commitment to and understanding of God than we ordinary folks could ever hope to have.
I would think there might be a conversation something like this:
God: Psst. You know, you really should set the record straight on that Dec 25 business. Not Jesus' birthday.
Preacher: Really? Are you sure, because we've been doing Christmas on 12/25 for a long time now?
God: Am I sure? Am I sure? Are you sure you really want to ask me that?
Preacher: Okay, sorry. What day was Jesus born, then?
God: You don't need to know that. If I thought you needed to know, I would have put it in the Bible. Or something.
Preacher: Oh, come on. You can tell me. I'm your buddy.
God: Yes, I could tell you, but then I'd have to . . .
Preacher: Okay, okay, let's not be hasty. The important thing is that Jesus was born. We know that much. Born of the Virgin Mary.
God: Yeah, about that whole immaculate conception thing, . . .