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Pope's book on Jesus debunks Christmas myths
November 22nd, 2012
02:25 PM ET

Pope's book on Jesus debunks Christmas myths

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

(CNN) – It's Christmas, but not as you know it: a new book by released this week by Pope Benedict VI looks at the early life of Jesus - and debunks several myths about how the Nativity really unfolded.

In "Jesus of Nazareth - The Infancy Narratives," the pope says the Christian calendar is actually based on a blunder by a 6th century monk, who Benedict says was several years off in his calculation of Jesus' birth date.

According to the pope's research, there is also no evidence in the Gospels that the cattle and other animals traditionally pictured gathered around the manger were actually present.

Full Story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (577 Responses)
  1. rich richie

    its easy u all know about Christianity and its inconsistencies well proved now by the pope him self on CNN....but why don't u know about Islam now.not what u see on CNN,not what your mum said nor your paster or priest said and not what u see some Muslims neighbors of yours do....noooo nay,,, what have u searched your self...i dare u do....find the true,i swear nothing makes any sense as Islam does,those guys know the whole truth.....even if it will hurt,just like Santa-clause when u 12 year or the rats that gives money to the de toothing kid in our Ugandan myth , u deserve to know the truth.....and if no scientist has come out and disproved the divine origin of this universe logically then there must be a mighty some one behind it and that Creator or what ever it is,HE has a way, a straight path to Him and we are obliged to know it....so my adverse to u is look hard for the true coz it is clear from false,even if u may hate it!!, but but look with with an open mind and an open heart...i wish all..

    December 25, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  2. Michael Haskins

    Zandigra – That is idiotic – learn to think logically – evidence of non-existance, although not possible, is supported by the necessity of violation of all known laws of physics to enable the existance of such a being, as well as the complete lack of evidence for the existance of such a being not only throughout recorded history, but throughout the entire cosmos as afr as we can detect. STRONG probability for NO supernatural beings. NO evidence for.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  3. Michael Haskins

    The Pope debunks Christian myths – OXYMORON – it is ALL a myth – grow up.

    December 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  4. CSX

    The world is racing to hell and this is the best he can do? It would be amazing if he read even the book of Romans and became saved. In other words souls getting saved is first mission.

    November 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      You can't be saved. There is nothing to be saved from. It is just a myth you keep telling yourself because you can't fathom that all religions are man-made, and designed to control your behavior. Most fail miserably, but the biggest religious failure is anything based on the bible. Christians are the most hypocritical and self righteous arogant and immoral group I have ever had to deal with. There is no hell, there are no gods, they are just stories to scare you. Most of us grow up to realize this, but the weak minded like you still buy this crap.

      November 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • CJ

      I agree. Someone should debunk the business of people having to confess to priests. Priests can't absolve you of your sin anymore than a tree can or a lamp can. Going to the confessional boxes is such a lot of garbage. Who came up with that plan? Show me in the Bible where it tells you to confess to some guy and that guy can forgive you of your sins. So, Mr. Pope, who cares if there were animals in the stable. Wow..what a significant contribution to mankind!

      December 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • CJ

      Or how did the idea of all the little statues come about? I love it when the Mexican drug cartels or the gang members kill innocents, go to the church, do the sign of the cross, confess to the priest, and then go out and repeat their acts of violence believing they are okay with God. Strange...VERY strange.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  5. motionlessinpink

    The Catholic Church has never taught the December 25th was Jesus' actual birth date. The date was selected when the Liturgical Calendar was created. Roman Catholics are not Fundamentalist, not even close. Catholics don't use the King James version of the Bible. It is missing several books in the Old Testment that are included in the Tora. The King James version was translationed from the catholic text. It was written after Henry VIII broke with Rome and created the Church of England. The Protestant faith began to develop at that time. You know Martin Luther, John Calvin. If you're going to try and be insulting at least have the sense not to be so totally ignorant. It's interesting that so many people who spew hatred and ridicule about the Roman Catholic Church know practically nothing about it. You just repeat the same ridiculous garbage that you hear other uninformed people saying. And you call us sheep ? please.

    November 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  6. Horus

    These myths have been debunked for quite some time. You headline should be "Pope finally admits myths about Jesus"

    November 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  7. gregg

    who listens to the Pope hidier of child molestors

    November 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • sam stone

      catholics do

      November 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  8. aurelius

    I'd say it's based on BS!, just like any religious claim. For anyone with a brain instead of a mushroom, read d'Olbach, Helvetius, Diderot, and the master of all, Voltaire. Infinitely more persuasive than the Bible, the Talmud and the Koran put together. But if you shake at the sight of a cross, stay away from those writings; it's too hazardous to your health.

    November 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Michael Haskins

      Hazardous to your DELUSION. Beneficial to your (mental) health.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  9. Sutalleesue

    Grover is just another reason that the folks that vote for Republicans need their oil changed and their battery charged or replaced. This man has more power over the sheepish Republicans in congress than the speaker or the minority leader. However, if I had to choose between the mealy mouthed minority leader from Kentucky or the teary eyed speaker of the house it would be a hard decision.

    November 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  10. dcmoses

    Jesus was aries born in aptil and reborn so to speak in december. The 12 tribes are astrology signs and judea is aries which refers to Jesus in revelations as well as the chosen one of this age.... guess who!

    November 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  11. Happy Holiday

    Ramas Day
    Zeusmas Day
    Mithramas Day
    Vishumas Day
    Taomas Day
    Christmas Day
    Black Friday
    Cyber Monday
    A rose by any other name, just shop till you drop.

    November 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  12. Mac

    9 Million year old Hipo, fried by Valcano.

    November 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  13. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Save yourselves some money. See the following information from contemporary NT/history scholars versus those
    who still suffer from the Three B Syndrome, Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Christianity e.g. B16:

    Christmas, the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.

    As per most contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a mamzer, the result of a pre-marital relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with (Professor Bruce Chilton in his Rabbi Jesus) and there were no angels, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

    Mark's gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the event.

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272, "The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is virtually nil (ditto for Matt. 1: 18-25, Matt. 2. 1-23)"

    See also, http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=007_Of_Davids_Lineage

    Conclusion: the holyday of Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

    So after thorough analyses of the NT Christmas passages, what are a few of the conclusions of some of the top contemporary NT scholars?

    Matt 1:18-25: From Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 123-124, "The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical". Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    "Lüdemann [Jesus], (pp. 261-63) discounts Luke's account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the pro-creation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the v-irginal conception. "

    Then there are these additional conclusions:

    Professor Bruce Chilton

    "In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000)], Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural pa-ternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus' life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus' self-ident-ity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

    John Dominic Crossan

    "In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

    "In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke's account of Jesus' conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard "pagan" birth legends while investing great effort in the defence of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

    "I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. "

    "The following ancient parallels to Jesus' miraculous conception should be noted:

    Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)

    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]

    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]

    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]"

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva
    in the brain of Jupiter.

    – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    November 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Priest

      Idiot

      November 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • old golfer

      Good post. Also, were it not for Constantine there probably would have been any Christian religion. Thanks.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Reality

      Jesus like many was in the right place at the right time. There was a lot of economic-driven assistance and "necessary accessories" without which Jesus would have been just another forgotten Jewish radical.

      To wit:

      Paul of Taurus was first of the "necessary accessories". He recognized early on the great wealth of Roman and Greek Gentiles so he wrote his epistles raising Jesus and his embellished life from the dead and the Gentiles "ate it up". His promise of the imminent second coming was shear brilliance in gathering much silver and gold (the prime necessary accessory). The Romans got jealous ending the life of the first necessay accessory.

      Pilate, although not the founder of Christianity, was another "necessary accessory i.e. he could have easily sent Jesus to the salt mines.

      Constantine and his swords finished the "necessary accessory" scenario.

      November 27, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Isaid Pardon?

      Impressive reading list. Now take the known evidence, the factual references from reliable contemporaries, the shear statistical evidence of the historical man Jesus and see where logic leads you. I highly commend your collection of evidence from diverse sources; now ditch the preconceived conclusions – any of them – and let the evidence speak to an open mind.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • tldnr

      Abraham was as real as Jesus. Please, let us not only dispel the myth of Christianity but also the myth of the parent religion of Christianity, Judaism.

      December 15, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  14. axolotl

    Nobody can debunk Christian myth like the Pope, eh?

    November 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  15. maddad

    Everyone knows there was this big explosion and everything as we know it just came into being. But since there was nothing to explode, before the explosion; tell me again how that all happened! Even scientists say matter can neither be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another; so something has always existed. We only differ on the what or who has always existed!

    November 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Do you have a point?

      November 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Horus

      So if it's unknown then some god, or group of gods must have done it.....

      November 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Primewonk

      There was no explosion. Apparently, you are as ignorant about cosmology as you are about evolution.

      November 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      I have been saying the same thing for years. There was "nothing". Then "nothing" just blew up. No one lit the match. And then the "nothingness" turned into the universe, the stars, the solar systems, the planets, the Sun, and the Earth just decided to magically pop up a bunch of various creatures. Yeah, sound s like that really happened. Very scientific !!! I have a better explanation....GOD made it.

      November 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  16. boocat

    When is he going to debunk the "immaculate conception?"

    November 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Reality

      Never will B16 vitiate the immaculate conception since that would eliminate original sin and the need for baptism. That would then start the ball moving for removing 2000 years of christian mumbo jumbo. This B16 is not willing to do since the his "divine" authority would also come into question.

      What some of the more astute Catholic professors are saying:

      "The story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic.

      This story was composed in the 900s BCE and functions as an etiology (explanatory myth) . In the 900s Israel was self ruling, under King David and Solomon. The people were no longer at war and the question" Why are we not happy?" may have been asked. The short answer is sin. (Look at 1 Kings 11 for some clues into why the story depicts Eve sinning first and then tempting Adam [Solomon]).

      Original Sin as symbolic of the sins of our origins - in our
      families and in the broader society, both of which affect each person
      profoundly. The "sins of our origins" approach helps to account for certain
      patterns of sin in particular families and societies.

      Baptism does not erase original sin since the sin does not exist. Yes, the old "laundry of the soul," approach to Baptism is no longer accepted.

      Infant Baptism is only a rite of initiation and commits parents and godparents to bringing up the child in a Christian home."

      November 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  17. Djinn

    Nimrod, Tammuz and Semiramis duh

    November 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  18. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    WHAT! JESUS WASN'T BORN ON CHRISTMAS! QUICK! GET BILL O'REILLY ON THIS. HE'LL GO AFTER THAT ATHEIST IN ROME WHO DARES PREACH AGAINST WHAT HAS TO BE THE TRUTH!

    There. Did I sound like a foaming-at-the-mouth Fundamentalist who believes the Bible was actually written in King James English?

    November 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Darw1n

      LMAO

      November 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • A Reasoner

      The caps lock provided a nice touch of authenticity. There will be large crosses falling from bimbo necks at Fox.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  19. Eric G

    Please provide any verifiable evidence that your god exists.

    November 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Zandigra

      Please provide any verifiable evidence that He doesn't.

      November 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  20. cabinboy1916

    Oakspar77777. Thank you for your insights on religion. I will be 96 tomorrow, am not a religious man, probably as I worked in the science world as a civil engineer. It is good to see thoughtful postings instead of the hogwash usually presented here.

    November 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Huebert

      Happy early birthday. :)

      November 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Dirty Budha

      Happy Early Birthday!

      November 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Rob

      A very HAPPY 96th birthday to you!! What an accomplishment. I personally do not believe in any organized religion, and I also think it's nice to see a post that's intelligent. I hope you enjoy your special day!

      November 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      happy birthday

      November 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.