In this issue . . .
Q: Was Jesus born in a stable?
A: As the familiar story goes, Jesus was born among the animals in the stable because there was no room for Joseph and Mary at the inn. This portrayal of the night Christ was born is fairly common, but how does it compare to the Word of God?
First, the Bible does not tell us that Joseph and Mary made it to Bethlehem just in time for Mary to deliver. In fact, this scenario is highly unlikely since it is doubtful that the two would attempt to make the arduous 70 mile trip from Nazareth in the final stages of her pregnancy. Also, Luke 2:6 implies that they were in Bethlehem for a while before Jesus was born (“while they were there, the days were completed”).
Second, the Bible makes no mention of any innkeeper who told them that the inn was full for the night. The reason we imagine this scenario is because the translators of most English versions have chosen the word “inn” to translate the Greek word καταλυμα (kataluma), which gives modern readers the wrong impression. Jesus used this same Greek word in Luke 22:11 to refer to a “guest room.” This room is now known as the Upper Room—the scene of the Last Supper, the meal that Jesus ate with His disciples the night before His Crucifixion.
That may not sound convincing to most people who are familiar the traditional telling of the Christmas account. But consider that the Greek language has a word for hotel or inn. In fact, Luke used it in Luke 10:34, when he wrote about the Good Samaritan who took the beaten man to the “inn” (pandocheion, πανδοχειον) and paid the “innkeeper” (pandochei, πανδοχει, v. 35) to care for the man.
News to Note Quick Look
Ark Encounter: In case you haven’t heard, Answers in Genesis is partnering with Ark Encounter LLC to build what might be called the Creation Museum’s sibling: a $150-million Noah’s Ark-themed experience not far from the museum and Answers in Genesis headquarters in northern Kentucky. Read more.
Arsenic and an odd lake: We reported in February and October 2009 on scientists’ quest to find “aliens” on earth. This week’s news? They’ve found them. Read more.
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