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. 2Smart4Tea

    Who cares when this fictional character was "born"? It's like wondering about the birthday of the Great Pumpkin – it's kind of a waste of time.....

    November 25, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  2. 200 TON HAMMER

    Here's a truth when you keep useing lies and
    Others blacks with European behind it all too
    Hurt or used toxic things too hurt blacks because
    They hold DNA Y CHROMOSOME that links them
    To the Middle east like king David and king
    Solomon's Temple it makes you wonder why
    That all thosed mixed babies from non blacks
    come out black.

    November 25, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • messenger

      There is white and there is not white. We call not white black.

      November 25, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  3. Mac

    THE BIBLE IS A FABLE FIND YOUR TRUE FAMILY with the National Geographic DNA family tree test OK

    November 25, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      DNA Y CHROMOSOME Speaks Truth through
      the Black race not European false religion
      WISDOM'S. IS saying a lot its like putting together a jig saw puzzle by language culture
      food and nearest kin tribes by elders of each
      Groups around the world.

      November 25, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  4. Mac

    Metal Universe created 4.5 billion years ago according to experts. Oldest rock formation 4.5 billion years old Quebec
    Canada Aye.

    November 25, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • SixDegrees


      November 25, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  5. 200 TON HAMMER

    The Vatican supported the Transatlantic slavery
    too the west for over 300 years the past leaders of the phony Pope leaders was no different from slave salesman and slave ownership the Vatican is a fake azz false idolatry hates the fact its been exposed as one big fairy lies

    November 25, 2012 at 3:09 am |
  6. 200 TON HAMMER

    No super natural earthquake engulfed the European
    Gentiles religion into the bottom of the earth
    Crust forever well maybe in the next 1,000 days or
    as long as it take too finish off the European Vatican
    Gentiles religion lies for good.

    November 25, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  7. Holy Man

    Wow, so Benedict is admitting that the Church is fallible. Careful, Benedict - that's a slippery slope. Next thing, we'll find out that Mary WASN'T born of a virgin and actually DID have other children.

    (To those who don't know, the Catholic Church has made up all sorts of stuff that isn't in the Bible so they can worship Mary as a separate deity - nowhere in the Bible does it say that Mary's mother had an immaculate conception, nor does it say that Mary remained a virgin her entire life. The Catholic Church literally made that stuff up.)

    Even worse, we might one day find out that praying to saints is exactly the same as worshiping a golden calf - it is blasphemy to believe that anyone other than God hears our prayers, according to the Bible.

    We might even find the Church one day decreeing that women are indeed human beings, although I wouldn't hold my breath on that one.

    November 25, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Casey

      Well... you are very wrong about certain comments. Catholics do not worship Mary, or the Saints. This is often spread by people who, for whatever reason, just have a bone to pick with the Church. Catholics do not pray to Saints. We may ask a saint to pray for us, on our behalf... because since they are favored by God... because they lived such great lives... it never hurts to have someone put in a good word for you. You either know nothng about the Church, or are just spewing out the same ole junk in order to serve your own purpose. Finally... in case you couldn't tell... the Church has always strived for finding the truth. This is in fact, one of the main reasons it exists... they study, perform research, and investigate in a very broad range of topics... not just Theology. Yes.. they are slow to change... and very careful in changes of doctrine because it's not a great idea to jump in on the flavor of the week... until it is fully vetted. The Church has always seeked the truth, and we are unafraid of it. Now... hateful people will always use whatever they can to bash or tear down somthing else.. and that is what about 85% of this board is about... hateful people... spewing vitriol. All we can do is pray for you... and indeed all of us.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • damian

      well catholic says that we they ask saints to pray on behalf but how com a saint will pray if they are all in rest wating for God's call to be resurrected? a man knows nothing after passing away, catholic have been teaching that people go to heaven or purgatory when this is a big lie. the only one that can pray for us is Jesus, no one else.

      November 25, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • HM

      Well put. Yours is accurate information. Glad to see people are free from the false teachings of the Catholic Church. Very soon all their lies will be laid bare for the world to see.

      November 25, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • SixDegrees

      The church doesn't claim infallibility across the board; only within very narrow constraints related to doctrine. More importantly, none of the topics discussed in the pope's book are doctrinal in nature; they are all part of secular mythos that have grown up around Christmas. There is also nothing new here; the church and many other scholars have been well aware of the impossibility of fixing a date for Jesus' birth for millennia, due to a near complete lack of detail in that regard in the bible. The pope is merely summarizing still-circulating stories and debunking them.

      November 25, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Fernando

      That's right Damian. Only Jesus can pray to Jesus that Jesus doesn't cast us into the Hell that Jesus created because Jesus loves us and wants us to live for eternity in His Heaven unless we do not believe in and honor Him, whereupon He will vomit us up and into the everlasting agony of Hell which He prays we do not go to because He loves us so much even though we are born evil and vile in His eyes and require being born again so that He does not condemn us to a fiery eternity and, rather, can love us in Heaven for ever and ever, Amen.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Sane Person

      Catholics do indeed worship Mary. They pray to her directly. 'Hail Mary' is a direct request for her to intervene on your behalf. They erect statues of her, have frescos of her, name churches after her. The Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima. "The soul which recommends itself to Me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish". Etc. Rational people consider that worship. Catholics believe the meaning of the word "worship" is something else and break it down into 3 sub-segments. (The vast majority of catholics dont even know this) They are very skilled at manipulating words, like a lawyer, or politician. "It depends on what the word 'is', is." The fact that they have been forced to acknowledge yet another error in their code, is simply more proof that they make it up as they go along to preserve thier power and income sources.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  8. MikeP

    I guess those dam Jehovah Witnesses got it right again....and NO I'm not one...just surrounded by them:) Enjoy the folks

    November 25, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • 1225

      I know a few Jehovah's Witnesses and they are super nice people. They just have some weird beliefs their elders have chosen to be faithful to. When a group of people follow one persons beliefs in any religion because they come off all knowing and intelligent and full of their own faith, it's a dangerous situation. Like we have seen many times throughout the years. And oh yes, everybody wants to be a preacher (reverand). People fill the TV Churches and send millions of dollars because they prey on your spiritual weakness and your guilt, so you try to buy your way into heaven and appear righteous.

      November 25, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Michael

      Even a blind squirrel will find an acorn from time to time. Seriously though, as a Catholic who attended 12 years of Catholic elementary and high school, it was no secret that many Christian tranditions coincided with pagan traditions during the early years of the Church and that early Christians did so for the reason that by doing so it was easier to convert pagans to Christianity that way. The fact that many people are surprised by this now probably has a lot to do with their lack of religious education or curiousity. The fact that the Pope chose now to write a book reporting this does not mean that he only now came to understand this, despite any Christian bashing that Jehovah Witnesses may conduct. But given the "suprise" of so many, it proves the value of the Pope's book. I dare say, that if someone other than the Pope had written such a book, it would not have gotten the same amount of publicity and more people would have remained in the dark about this.

      November 25, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • TG

      Jehovah's Witnesses recognized that Christmas was pagan in 1926 and discarded it as a religious celebration. It was at the behest of the Catholic church that Christmas became an accepted tradition, though it is the combination of the Roman festival Saturnalia (observed from Dec 17-24) and the celebration of Mithra, Persian god of light (observed on Dec 25) The Catholic church continues to observe this pagan celebration, rather than following God's words to "touch nothing unclean".(2 Cor 6:17)

      November 25, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      "God's words to "touch nothing unclean".

      Those are the words of Paul of Tarsus. There is no evidence that they are the words of any god.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • ironwolf56

      TG: Better to have some fun on co-opted pagan holiday than live as boring clones who pretend even our birthdays don't exist like Jehovah's Witnesses do.

      November 25, 2012 at 2:11 am |
    • I wonder

      I wonder if we should be encouraging more Christians to become J Dubs. They are a pretty docile sort: they don't get into politics - they don't even vote; they don't over-breed; they rarely take up spaces in college enrollment; and they don't compete much in the financial/economic/business world. Those pesky front-porch invasions are annoying, but perhaps are a useful trade-off to get them out of public government.

      November 25, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • justme

      thanks mike. i wish people would discuss JWs beliefs with them instead of parroting what someone told them. also the pope still has it wrong when he says no angels were there singing out. he may want to read Luke's account but the reason I chime in here is to encourage all to find what the bible really teaches. you can do that at your "doorstep" or at your local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses or go to jw.org for a private look at the beliefs and "1225" you may find their beliefs are not so weird at all but completely based on the bible.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • justme

      1225; not sure if you will see this but i have found many of your comments interesting but a few flawed like peter beginning the cath.church. not so. their belief and propaganda to have Peter put on a pedestal. like Jesus said "they are all brothers" and no one is above another. mistake to take Matt 16:out of context. Peter was one of twelve foundation stones and Jesus was and is the Rock. What Peter did with the keys is another lesson.

      November 27, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  9. 1225

    What's so shocking about this news, it's been known all along. King Herod died in 3 or 4 BC which puts Jesus birth around the same time (because King Herold had all boys ages 2 and under put to death when he found out Jesus was born. Although some scholars say it didn't happen) So Jesus had to be born before Herod's death. December 25th is also wrong. But you can read up on that.

    November 25, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • SixDegrees

      There's nothing shocking or new here for people even slightly familiar with such things. A lot of people are not, however, so the pope decided to collect the various secular mythos that have grown up around Christmas and debunk them – not for the first time, but simply in summary.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  10. ash

    Its true In the bible it says that the sheep was out in filed the middle of the night and Palestine is in the northern hemisphere in December its cold the sheep could not be out at this time of the year, and the angel told marry to shake the palm tree and palm will fall so she can eat that can’t be December.
    Christmas is a began holiday the birth of the sun.

    November 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • FYI


      Bethlehem (and much of Israel/Palestine) has a Mediterranean climate - average low temperatures for December are 45F/7C - not horribly cold.

      Don't know about the harvest time for all the different dates which are grown there... and I don't really care enough to search for it.

      November 25, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  11. ClosetIguana

    When the Catholic Church determines that someone that was a member of Hitler's Youth Group would be their best choice as their Pope you really gotta discount pretty much everything they do. Serious a member of Hitler's Youth Group is the best they could come up with?

    November 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  12. ash

    duh we Muslims knew thins 1400 years ago from the Qur'an this video is 30years old watch and see


    November 24, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  13. Nietodarwin

    I've noticed that all the xstians ain't posting so much, since the election. (maybe they're busy eating out trying to save Chick Fil A from bankruptsy ) Reason will prevail, RELIGION AND IGNORANCE ( yes that is redundant) are beginning to fade away.
    Their numbers are growing fewer and fewer, and more and more people are WAKING UP and willing to admit there is no "god" and start living for humanity. Renouncing a belief in "god" is a better feeling than any drug , any prayer , and soon we'll all "see the light"

    November 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Michael

      Speaking of ignorance, Obama got 50% of the Catholic vote while Romney only got 48%. So much for your generalization that Christians as a whole are disappointed with the election results. Kind of strange though that you seem to take take personal joy in believing that your entire existence in any form will end upon your death.

      November 24, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      European religion is phony actors inside big
      Ugly goofy buildings built by retard
      Gentile European who think king David was a red headed European who spoke Latin as his birth language in the middle east.European religious people are like a 400 pound anchor dragging in the sand wanting the 12 Hebrew Isrealite Tribes to all sing kombiyah
      at their lame hang another picture up cannonized a lame Gentile fake leader of a has been lame their whole life

      November 25, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Fernando

      Michael: Kind of strange though that you seem to take take personal joy in believing that your existence in any form will continue upon your death. You scared of the worms?

      November 25, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  14. Bob C.

    How about the myth upon which the Catholic church is based – all of it?

    November 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  15. Bishop Hairy Palms

    If you can't trust the Catholic Church with your children, what can you trust them with?

    November 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  16. Bishop Hairy Palms

    The Catholic Church is an international crime syndicate that exists for the dual purposes of robbing the gullible and molesting the innocent.

    November 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  17. huskiemom

    The archangel Gabriel told Mary that she was with child during the spring solstice. The spring solstice is in March, the 3rd month on the calendar. Now what is the normal gestation time? 8.5 months to 9 months, bringing Jesus' birth to December.

    November 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Bishop Hairy Palms

      Why did God knock up a virgin who was engaged to someone else?

      November 24, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Bob C.

      Um, honey: it's all a big lie. The Catholic church set the birth of Jesus to be at the same time of the pagan holidays of the Winter Solstice, which the Romans called Saturnalia. It was the church's attempt to stamp out paganism by usurping their holiday; I guess it worked.

      November 24, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Bob C.

      Does "husky" mean hefty, as in big as a cow? I'm guessing that you are.

      November 24, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • 1225

      I don't remember anything about the Spring Solstace being spoken about, but I did hear that Jesus is the reincarnation of
      the Greek Goddess Isis son HORUS. He was born 3,000,000 years before Christ on December 25, to a God, Taught religion, performed miracles, etc. LOOK IT UP. I don't know if he is actually a reincarnation or two different deities with similar backgrounds. I know King Constantine took over the Christian religion and chose Matthew, Mark, Luke and John out of the many Christian gospels written. He had the Gnostic gospels burned and many of the Gnostics were killed. It's too long to get into, but there is much more to the Christain religion that is questionable, yet people are so blind in their faith they cannot fathom an untruism.

      November 25, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Steve

      There's only one ARCHANGEL! And His name is Michael! Michael is described as having his army of angels, and so is Jesus. Obviously w a little research you'll find that Michael is Jesus Heavenly name! ARCHANGEL is in the singular.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Well, no. The bible is completely non-specific about when the annunciation occurred, and even about whether it coincides with the inception of Jesus. The date was placed in late March, near the vernal equinox, only in 525 AD, for symbolic reasons rather than because of any biblical evidence.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • SixDegrees

      "There's only one ARCHANGEL! And His name is Michael! "

      Incorrect. There are at least three archangels (angels of high rank) recognized in the christian church: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Note, also, that Satan is also considered to be an archangel.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  18. Dr. Woolrich

    Good information – we need more serious scholarship. Pox against the regular denizens of this ignorant site.

    November 24, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Pox upon," dear. Not "pox against."

      November 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Aw, the good doctor wishing illness upon others. How very christian.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  19. #1JesusFan

    NOT TRUE!!!!

    Real Christans pay NO attention to the Pope.The Pope is the leader of Catholics.And Catholics are not true Christians. Let these heathen pagan Catholics believe what they want.Who believes them anyway?These are the guys who worship hearts and Mary and Saints.Pfffft!!!

    Protestants are the one true sect of Christanity and we say everything is fine!!

    November 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • PFUI


      Well, pin a rose on your nose, princess.

      November 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • huskiemom

      Screw you.

      November 24, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • 1225

      That's not exactly try. St Peter founded the first Catholic Church and the offshoots of that were the Protestants.

      November 25, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Bob C.

      And real people pay no attention to fools like yourself who believe in mythical supernatural beings that can raise the dead and read our thoughts.

      November 25, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Casey

      You are wrong... the Catholics do not worship Mary or the Saints. Mary is certainly important, and is often asked to pray for us to the Lord... but she is not worshiped. Same goes for the Saints. This is a myth spread by those who do not understand the Catholic Church, and/or just want to spread untruths to serve their own agendas. Very un-Christian.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Christian hatred and bigotry in full flower.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  20. Bishop Hairy Palms

    It's a well known fact that the Pope hid and protected pedophiles.

    Who cares what he has to say about anything?

    November 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • huskiemom

      I think you're a little upset that you were not in the right place at the right time.

      November 24, 2012 at 10:31 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.