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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. ezinnj

    There is no proof of anything related to Jesus's birth. Sheesh. Come on, man!

    November 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Maybe not the specifics of his birth, but he was mentioned in passing by Josephus. Had this been an insert by early Christian authorities, it would have probably had more specifics and would picture him in a more positive angle than Josephus did.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Joe

      Josephus' writings mention Jesus twice. One merely saying James was his brother, which cannot determine that it was talking about any kind of divine being, and the other talks about him doing miracles, being the christ and what not, which by the way is generally thought to be a complete forgery and added in later by Eusebius in the fourth century.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • justme

      Do you think Matthew, Luke, Peter, Paul, John, James and Jude would lie?

      November 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Re: "Do you think . . . would lie?" YES!

      November 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  2. GQ

    Come on People you never even follow BIBLE so stop comenting

    November 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Bob

      That's not true many of the people posting are former xtians which is why they know it's a brainwashing cult.

      November 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Just because someone is a "former" Christian doesn't mean they are familiar with the Bible. The majority of the "Biblical Quotes" out of their mouths are actually from Ben Franklin, Shakespear, Milton, Omar Khayam and other non-Biblical sources.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • End Religion

      Nonsense. Atheists on this blog have repeatedly shown they are more aware of scripture than the religious.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      it is a public forum. if you want people to stop commenting, here's what you do....walking into heavy fast moving traffic

      November 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  3. KMc

    How about the fact that Christmas (before it was renamed) was actually mentioned in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 10) thousands of years before Christ's birth, and was condemned by God? I find it odd that everyone seems to be avoiding THAT elephant in the room. Come on people, dust off your bibles, read some history books, look at the facts.

    November 26, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • RD

      Um, read the passage again. It's talking about idols, not decorating a tree to spruce up the living room (no pun intended).
      Verse 3 talks about CARVING. Verse 5 calls them "scarecrows" that cannot talk or move.
      It is eisegesis to impose your own views into the text rather than study it and draw meaning from the text.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Bob

      KMc christians don't want to recognize the fact that their xmas is a stolen holiday, their christ wasn't born on that day and it's all a lie. People before christianity came along were using evergreens to celebrate Ra, winter solstice, etc. That's why these idiots keep on lying to themselves, supporting the greed and gluttony of xmas while proclaiming their righteousness, it's hilarious.

      November 26, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Oakspar77777

      (1) That verse has nothing to do with Xmas trees – they are about carving wooden idols (which were then adornedwith silver or gold – since gold and silver plating is cheaper than pure metal!).

      (2) Even if they were Xmas trees – we (Christians) already know that the Xmas tree has nothing to do with Christmas, it is a syncranistic acceptance of pagan traditions done to help convert pagans and held onto by pagon converts. Read a history book sometime.

      (3) Yes, the date was moved from the traditional date (March) to the new tradional date (December) to overlap some pagan holidays – again, to help convert the pagans who were more likely to convert when they didn't have to give up their feasting, singing, and gift giving with conversion.

      Note that much of this is still in effect. There are plenty of people willing to give up Christmas (so long as they keep their feasting, giftgiving, and other traditions). There are plenty of Christians willing to give up all that other stuff for a somber reflection on the birth of Christ (that's why the Puritans worked to outlaw Xmas celebrations as frivolous and distractive).

      November 26, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Bob

      "There are plenty of Christians willing to give up all that other stuff for a somber reflection on the birth of Christ"

      That's why there were record sales this year for xmas, there is no way xtians are going to give up their greed, it's built into our society.

      November 26, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Dude, you gotta stop drinking that Kool-Ade they serve at your Church. Jeremiah was one of those books that was allowed into the Bible by order of Emperor Constantine because it served the purposes of the Orthodox Church at the time. Had the Arians gained supremacy over the Orthodox, that book would not have been put in.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • End Religion

      RD said: "It is eisegesis to impose your own views into the text rather than study it and draw meaning from the text."

      Either every word of the bible is to be taken literally or its entirety is up for interpretation. If it is to be interpreted by anyone, then anyone's view of the garbage in the bible is as good as anyone's else.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  4. KMc

    How about the fact that Christmas (before it was renamed) was actually mentioned in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 10) thousands of years before Christ's birth, and was condemned by God? I find it odd that everyone seems to be avoiding THAT elephant in the room.

    November 26, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  5. A Christian

    Sorry, but the pope and catholics alike should not be focusing on the date Jesus was born. But rather, maybe they should focus on how to STOP THEIR PRIESTS from s c r e w i n g little boys when no one is looking. He's not my "pope" – he's just a man. But Jesus IS my savior and end times tell that "love will run cold and there will be many false prophets." I guess the pope and catholics as a whole fall into that category. How can you believe in a religion that is still going after its very priests have been molesting little boys for centuries? ...My three cents. Merry CHRISTmas!

    November 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • zumaque1

      I attended the only southern baptist boarding school and have been involved in many Baptist and Methodist churches. The pastors have to quietly deal with incest, molestations, etc of the most unbelievable kinds and perversions. The catholic church has people in it, so sin is going to happen. I am sure the secular world bad acts are statistically just as often.

      November 26, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    November 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      November 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian

      November 26, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 26, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  7. 200 TON HAMMER

    ASHANTI TRIBES OF WEST AFRICA

    November 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  8. 200 TON HAMMER

    YAHOODEE YAHOODEE YAHOODEE AKA BLACK HEBREW ISREALITE BY black Arabs who force SHEMITE Hebrews into slavery talk with the black true Arabs of Arabia dedanites as they are known.they study wahabisms

    November 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  9. 200 TON HAMMER

    Well I guess Genesis 12:3 is right I will bless those that bless thee.and curse those that curse thee.that covenant was spoken into Abraham life and future seeds of his Hebrew bloodline kombiyah my lord kombiyah.

    November 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  10. IslandAtheist

    Science debunked religion.

    November 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      I hadn't encountered a scientific refutation of the Sermon on the Mount, and I'm not quite clear on how that would even be structured.

      November 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Mickey1313

      6degrees, the only proof that jeebus was real comes from the bible. Their is no historical reference to jeebus, and that includes the fact that the roman government kept track of all punishments, like crusifiction

      November 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  11. morgan

    Well, we do know that the 25th of Dec was a festival observed by pagans. Placing Christmas on that day was a political move to make it easier to sway over people who were part of the "Yule" following. Jesus was born in the late spring or summer because shepherds still had their flocks in the fields. It has been reported by many others that the church persuaded many Yule followers to begin observing Christmas on the 25th because it coincided with their previous festivities. Clever if you think about it.

    November 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      The book isn't referring to the date. It's referring to the year.

      November 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Also, you don't need the machinations of an evil cabal to wind up with two holidays sharing the same date. The same has happened here recently, when a late-summer festival that had been taking place on a particular week for years got merged with another event that had begun more recently, and originally celebrated a couple weeks earlier. Some bright lad noted that a whole lot of people were turning out for both, and it would be mutually beneficial for all to merge the two into a single date, while retaining their individual names and characters. This isn't subversion; it's just common sense. "Hey, the Romans are having their big Saturnalia bash that week; why don't we join up with them and have an even bigger party!"

      November 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  12. mike

    Mary would nave went to the stable to have her baby on purpose. . That was the traditional place to have a baby in those days. You had everything you needed there. Milk, hay, water, a manger crib, warmth from the animals, and whatever else they used.

    November 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  13. Jon Snow

    There is also no evidence that Jesus was the son of god. Thanks you.

    November 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • mike

      Actually there is. And the historical Jesus is better than the biblical one. Venus was in conjunction with Jupiter, putting on a spectacular light show for a long time. All the world was talking about it. It was in the constellation over Israel. It fit ancient Hebrew scripture foretelling the birth of a king in Bethlehem, the birth place of David. Astronomers of the day knew it was a conjunction,but were astonished when a third tiny star shot out from the conjunction and went in the opposite direction of all other stars (planets). Jupiter being the father star and Venus being the mother, we definitely have the people thinking it is a special birth being portended. The day the tiny star shot out was the day the Jewish religious high ups would have been getting married. The same year Joseph would have married Mary. Mary was a tapestry worker for the temple- very high up. Joseph is largely forgotten due to the mystic of the unwed mother. But during that time there arose a group of Jewish priests that gained some political power. Herod allowed it. But Herod often made crazy decisions and they were afrid so they moved from Jerusalem to to Bethlehem.Not the same Bethlehem today, but close by. They elected a leader, Joseph. Jesus became famous for fitting all the signs and scripture as the awaited on messiah. Caligula,the Roman emperor also fit, that is why he through he was a god, And one of the Herod's, the real evil one that killed John the Baptist, presided over Jesus's second trail himself, mocking Jesus, saying let me see you do a trick, magician. He knew the people saw Jesus as the messiah.

      November 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Just Curious

      LOL! Mike, that is just absolutely hilarious! I am literally laughing at you right now!

      November 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Beezins

      Yet, you probably celebrate Christmas.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Mickey1313

      Mike, u r a crackpot. And your argument fails.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      mike, your "proof" is simply ravings of a lunatic. Your assertions are anything but proof.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  14. TYRANNASAUR

    Pope's book on Jesus debunks Christmas myths................

    He should have gone all the way and debunked the myth of there ever being a Jesus since there are no eye witnesses or any other kinds of proof.....all references about this said person are taken from the bible or other such works of fiction.

    November 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      T H E P E T I T I O N S I T E has one to remove Marco Rubio from the science committee
      sign it

      November 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  15. 200 TON HAMMER

    Kombiyah is it from Europe or is it Hebrew from Hebrew speaking blacks who settled in the HAMITE country of africa there is a difference between HAMITES and SHEMITES.

    November 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Fernando

      HAMITES are the real reason Hebrews do not eat pork and SHEMITES are a major cause of burning bushes.

      November 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      Yeah and have you notice the temple has not been rebuilt in Jerusalem its been 64 years and still no temple on mount MORIAH they are still praying at the western wall it does not add up.I guess they are waiting for all those 12 tribes of the Hebrew Isrealite too return one. Of the biggest is in the united states of America 46 million Hebrew Isrealite and growing from the tribe of yudah
      until then that temple will be built in the right spot gentiles will build one but not in the right spot

      November 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  16. 29realblackman29

    HOW CAN YOU ELECT SOMEONE TO BE CLOSEST TO GOD – THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE BIGGEST CHURCH OUT THERE AND HAS SO MANY MEMBERS BUT WHERE WERE THEY WHEN THESE LITTLE BOYS WERE BEING MOLESTED ??? AND WHY DID THE VATICAN ACT LIKE THEY DID NOT KNOW ??? THE POPE IS SUPPOSE TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON IN HIS CHURCH. I BET HE KNEW ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY WAS BEING COLLECTED

    November 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • LinCA

      @29realblackman29

      http://theoatmeal.com/pl/minor_differences/capslock

      November 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      Its European wannabe fake flaky dagon fish head wearing mitre hat the European will never come clean at that ice box call a Vatican they turn away from not stopping the real Hebrew Isrealite from going into slavery in the west from west africa gold coast of Ghana and south Africa

      November 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • TYRANNASAUR

      Of course since religion is all about control and money through guilt and shame.

      November 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  17. 29realblackman29

    HISTORY ALSO STATES THAT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST WAS AT A TIME WHEN THE NEW HARVEST WAS IN PROCESS(SPRING). PLACEING X-MAS AT THE END OF THE YEAR WAS DONE FOR BUSINESS SAKE NOT FOR JESUS. WAKE UP PEOPLE

    November 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  18. 200 TON HAMMER

    Yeah and I believe the lemba tribes in south africa is real deal Hebrew Isrealite from the tribe of LEVITES same As MOSHE or Moses for European robot religious gentiles

    November 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  19. michael

    this is total bullshi# the pope can't say that these things because inless he was there how can h prove that these things did not happen.

    November 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Research. Logic. Rational thought.

      By your reasoning – and I use the term loosely – you weren't there when you were conceived, therefore you do not exist.

      November 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Mickey1313

      But 6d, the pope is in no way shape or form a scholar. He is in fact the dark lord of the sith.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  20. NorthVanCan

    Religion is so yesterday!

    November 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      I wish that were completely true. Our only hope for survival as a species is to get rid of religion. Forcing a child into a RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE. We need to make it illegal for these mentally ill people to drag innocent children into a church for this brainwashing.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Oakspar77777

      It is yesterday, it is still here today, and all those yesterdays before today lead me to believe it will be here for a long time to come.

      Why would mankind want to get rid of religion?

      What else would teach ethical behavior? What else would comfort when there is no hope? What else would inspire man into conflict (from which most of mankind's growth comes from)?

      A placid world without religion would be prone to stagnation or else would simple reinvent religion in other ways to create the conflict that leads to growth (look at the global warming debate to see two warring religions of belief without any ties to the old religions).

      There is no utopia, there has never been a utopia, and there shall never be a utopia on this world among this humanity.

      Those people of religion dragging their children into places of worship are "brainwashing" (most would call it teaching) the tennents of their faiths – and are doing their best to influence THEIR ONE CHILD / CHILDREN into the faith of their choice.

      You, sir, seem to be in favor of taking ALL OF HUMANITY'S CHILDREN into your tent of belief and teaching them (most would call it brainwashing) into your faith of choice (Atheism).

      November 26, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Huh?

      Oakspar77777 you are one negative person and it's this type of negativity that is so bad for our society. Religious people find it very annoying that people don't need God to be good, as science has now incontestably proved.

      For millennia, we've been brainwashed into believing that we needed the Almighty to redeem us from an essentially corrupt nature. Left to our own devices, people would quickly devolve into beasts, more violent, tactless, aggressive, and selfish, than we already are.

      Today, we know that this isn't true. With the discovery of mirror neurons by Italian neuroscientist Giaccomo Rizzolatti in the 1990s, we now have physiological proof of why - and how - our species became hard-wired for goodness. Mirror neurons are miraculous cells in the brain whose sole purpose is to harmonize us with our environments. By reflecting the outside world inward, we actually become each other - a little bit; neurologically changed by what is happening around us. Mirror neurons are the reason that we have empathy and can feel each other's pain. It is because of mirror neurons that you blush when you see someone else humiliated, flinch when someone else is struck, and can't resist the urge to laugh when seeing a group struck with the giggles. (Indeed, people who test for "contagious yawning" tend to be more empathic.) These tiny mirrors are the key to most things noble and good inside us.

      It is through mirror neurons - not God - that we redeem ourselves, achieve salvation, and are "reborn" in virtuous ways once co-opted by religions. Evolution knew what she was doing. A group of successful cooperators has a much higher chance of thriving than a population of selfish liars. In spite of what we read in the headlines, the ratio of bad to good deeds done on any given day across our planet holds at close to zero any day of the year. Although we are ethical works-in-progress, the vast majority of us are naturally positive creatures - meaning not harmful to our environments - most of the time in most of the ways that matter. And God has nothing to do with it.

      Spirituality does but God doesn't. Evolutionary psychologists tell us that our brains are hard-wired with a five-toned moral organ that focuses on a quintet of ethical values - one of which is purity, or sacredness. In a world that can sometimes be disgusting, we evolved an upper tier of emotional longing - the aspiration for purity - to keep us balanced in this satyricon of carnal delights (where animality beckons and frequently wins). Our need for sacredness is part of our ancient survival apparatus, and manifests in what we call faith, the need to connect with that sacred dimension. This has been the primary purpose of religion, of course - to congregate people for the Greater Good - but God has been, in fact, the divine carrot. The important part was communion, a context in which to transcend ourselves, if only for an hour on Sundays. Without this ability "to turn off the Me and turn on the We," moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt tells us, our species would still be wandering around as groups of nomads, unable to create a civilization.

      Aside from mirror neurons, there's oxytocin, the molecule of connection (also known as the molecule of love). It's fascinating to learn that the vagus nerve produces more oxytocin when we witness virtuous behavior in others that makes us want to be better people ourselves. We are wired by nature to be elevated at the sight of other people's goodness, mirror neurons and oxytocin conspiring to improve the species. Miraculous though it is, this natural human phenomenon has nothing to do with theology.

      November 26, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • End Religion

      oak, you're a poor excuse for a human being. Thanks for helping us create more atheists!

      November 26, 2012 at 1:57 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.