Nativity of Jesus

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Nativity of Jesus
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{{Other uses|Nativity of Jesus (disambiguation)}}{{pp-move-indef}}{{short description|Birth of Jesus}}File:Adoration of the sheperds - Matthias Stomer.jpg|thumb|300px|Adoration of the Shepherds by Dutch painter Matthias StomerMatthias Stomer(File:Meister von Hohenfurth 002.jpg|thumb|300px|Medieval miniature of the Nativity c. 1350){{Jesus| in Christianity}}The nativity of Jesus or birth of Jesus is described in the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts differ, but agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod the Great, his mother Mary was married to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention.{{sfn|Isaak|2011|p=144}}{{sfn|Robinson|2009|p=111}}Luke's version says the birth took place during the Census of Quirinius, mentions an annunciation to the shepherds, the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and gives the name of the angel who announces the coming birth to Mary (the archangel Gabriel). Matthew's version mentions the arrival of the Magi, the flight into Egypt by the family, and the Massacre of the Innocents by King Herod.{{sfn|Robinson|2009|p=111}} The consensus of scholars is that both gospels were written about AD 75-85,{{sfn|Lincoln|2013|p=40}} and while it is possible that one account might be based on the other, or that the two share common source material, the majority conclusion is that the two nativity narratives are independent of each other.{{sfn|Robinson|2009|p=111}}The nativity is the basis for the Christian holiday of Christmas and plays a major role in the Christian liturgical year. Christian congregations of the Western tradition (including the Catholic Church, the Western Rite Orthodox, the Anglican Communion, and many other Protestants, such as the Moravian Church) begin observing the season of Advent four Sundays before Christmas, the traditional feast-day of his birth, which falls on December 25.Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Church observe a similar season, sometimes called Advent but also called the "Nativity Fast", which begins forty days before Christmas. Some Eastern Orthodox Christians (e.g. Greeks and Syrians) celebrate Christmas on December 25. Other Orthodox (e.g. Copts, Ethiopians, Georgians, and Russians) celebrate Christmas on (the Gregorian) January 7 (Koiak 29 on the Coptic calendar)WEB,weblink 29 كيهك - اليوم التاسع والعشرين من شهر كيهك - السنكسار,, as a result of their churches continuing to follow the Julian calendar, rather than the modern day Gregorian calendar.WEB,weblink Orthodox Christmas Day in the United States,, The artistic depiction of the nativity has been an important subject for Christian artists since the 4th century. Artistic depictions of the nativity scene since the 13th century have emphasized the humility of Jesus and promoted a more tender image of him, as a major turning point from the early "Lord and Master" image, mirroring changes in the common approaches taken by Christian pastoral ministry.

Date of birth

{{See also|Date of birth of Jesus|Chronology of Jesus#Year_of_Jesus'_birth}}The date of birth for Jesus of Nazareth is not stated in the gospels or in any secular text, but a majority of scholars assume a date between 6 BC and 4 BC.JOURNAL, James DG, Dunn, Jesus Remembered, Eerdmans Publishing, 2003, 324, The historical evidence is too ambiguous to allow a definitive dating,Doggett 1992, p579: "Although scholars generally believe that Christ was born some years before AD 1, the historical evidence is too sketchy to allow a definitive dating". but the date has been estimated through known historical events mentioned in the Gospels of Luke chapter 2 and Matthew or by working backwards from the estimated start of the ministry of Jesus.Paul L. Maier "The Date of the Nativity and Chronology of Jesus And Virgin Mary." in Chronos, kairos, Christos: nativity and chronological studies by Jerry Vardaman, Edwin M. Yamauchi 1989 {{ISBN|0-931464-50-1}} pp. 113–129New Testament History by Richard L. Niswonger 1992 IBN 0-310-31201-9 pp. 121–124 {{bibleverse|Luke|2:1|KJV}} states that Jesus was born when "Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria." All that is generally accepted is that Jesus was born before 4 BC, the year of Herod's death.

Place of birth

File:Nativity Church15.jpg|thumb|180px|left|Altar in the Church of the NativityChurch of the NativityThe Gospels of both Matthew and Luke place the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.s:Bible (American Standard)/Matthew#2:1|Matthew 2:1]].s:Bible (American Standard)/Luke#2:4|Luke 2:4]].
Although Matthew does not explicitly state Joseph's place of origin or where he lived prior to the birth of Jesus,Virgin Birth of Chris by J Gresham Machen 1987 {{ISBN|0-227-67630-0}} p. 193
the account implies that the family lived in Bethlehem, and explains that they later settled in Nazareth.BOOK, Joseph F. Kelly, The Birth of Jesus According to the Gospels,weblink 2008, Liturgical Press, 978-0-8146-2948-2, 43, However, s:Bible (American Standard)/Luke#1:26|Luke 1:26–27]] clearly states that Mary lived in Nazareth before the birth of Jesus, at the time of the Annunciation.Matthew by David L. Turner (Apr 15, 2008) {{ISBN|0801026849}} page 98
The Gospel of Luke states that Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed him in a manger “because there was no place for them in the inn", but does not say exactly where Jesus was born.BOOK, Brown, Raymond Edward, Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke, 1977, Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y., 978-0-385-05907-7, 401, The Greek word kataluma may be translated as either “inn” or “guestroom”, and some scholars have speculated that Joseph and Mary may have sought to stay with relatives, rather than at an inn, only to find the house full, whereupon they resorted to the shelter of a room with a manger. This could be a place to keep the sheep within the Bethlehem area, called "Migdal Eder" ("tower of flock") as prophesied by prophet Micah in (Micah 4#Verse 8|Micah 4:8).Migdal Eder and the Lord's first coming in the Book of Micah. This teaching by Rabbi Mike L Short.In the 2nd century, Justin Martyr stated that Jesus had been born in a cave outside the town, while the Protoevangelium of James described a legendary birth in a cave nearby.BOOK, Taylor, Joan E., Joan E. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins, 1993, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-814785-5, 99–102, Protoevangelium 18; Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho; cf. Origen, Contra Celsum 1.2.
The Church of the Nativity inside the town, built by St. Helena, contains the cave-manger site traditionally venerated as the birthplace of Jesus, which may have originally been a site of the cult of the god Tammuz.BOOK, Taylor, Joan E., Joan E. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins, 1993, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-814785-5, 99–100,
In Contra Celsum 1.51, Origen, who from around 215 travelled throughout Palestine, wrote of the "manger of Jesus".Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible 2000 {{ISBN|90-5356-503-5}} p. 173
The Quranic birth of Jesus, like the Gospels, places the virgin birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.The Everything Jesus Book by Jon Kennedy 2006 {{ISBN|1-59337-712-6}} p. 20What You Need to Know about Islam and Muslims by George W. Braswell 2000 {{ISBN|0-8054-1829-6}} p. 108Islam and the destiny of man by Gai Eaton 1986 {{ISBN|0-88706-163-X}} p. 108

New Testament narratives

The two accounts: Matthew and Luke

File:Botticelli Nativity.jpg|thumb|Nativity of Jesus, c. 1473-1475, by BotticelliBotticelliOf the four canonical gospels, only two offer narratives regarding the birth of Jesus: Matthew ({{Bibleref2|Matthew 1:18-25}}, plus a genealogy of Joseph at {{Bibleref2|Matthew 1:1-17}}) and Luke ({{Bibleref2|Luke 2:1-7}}, plus a genealogy of Joseph at {{Bibleref2|Luke 3:21-38}}). Of these two, only Luke offers the details of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.

Gospel of Matthew

(File:BambergApocalypse06LargeInitialE.JPG|thumb|150px|A page from an 11th-century Gospel of Matthew showing Matthew 1:21)Mary, the mother of Jesus, was betrothed to Joseph, but was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph intended to divorce her quietly, but an angel told him in a dream that he should take Mary as his wife and name the child Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins. Joseph awoke and did all that the angel commanded.The infancy gospel ist part of the Matthean Prologue in 1:1-4,16. In the main section 1:1.18-4:16 Jesus is introduced as the son of David, Joseph and God with the help of the noun "son", while Matthew in 1:2-17 portrays the origin of Jesus Christ with the help of the verb "to give or give birth".Matthias Berghorn, "Die Genesis Jesu Christi aber war so ...". Die Herkunft Jesu Christi nach dem matthäischen Prolog (Mt 1,1-4,16), Göttingen 2019, S. 37-64Chapter 1 of Matthew's Gospel recounts Jesus's birth and naming{{bibleverse||Matthew|1:18-24|NKJV}} and the beginning of chapter 2 reveals that Jesus was born in Bethlehem during the time of Herod the Great. Magi from the east came to Herod and asked him where they would find the King of the Jews, because they had seen his star. Advised by the chief priests and teachers, Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem, where they worshiped the child and gave him gifts. When they had departed, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, for Herod intended to kill him. The Holy Family remained in Egypt until Herod died, when Joseph took them to Nazareth in Galilee for fear of Herod's son who now ruled in Jerusalem.

Gospel of Luke

{{See also|Visitation of Mary}}File:Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo 023.jpg|thumb|180px|left|Angel Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary, by Murillo, c. 1655]]In the days when Herod was king of Judea, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth in Galilee to announce to a virgin named Mary, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, that a child would be born to her and she was to name him Jesus, for he would be the son of God and rule over Israel forever. When the time of the birth drew near, Caesar Augustus commanded a census of Roman domains, and Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, the ancient city of David, as he was of the House of David. So it came to pass that Jesus was born in Bethlehem; and since there was nowhere for them to stay in the town, the infant was laid in a manger while angels announced his birth to a group of shepherds who worshiped him as Messiah and Lord.In accordance with the Jewish law, his parents presented the infant Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, where two people in the temple, Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, gave thanks to God who had sent his salvation. Joseph and Mary then returned to Nazareth. There "the child grew and became strong, and was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him." Each year his parents went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and when Jesus was twelve years old they found him in the Temple listening to the teachers and asking questions so that "all who heard him were amazed". His mother rebuked him for causing them anxiety, because his family had not known where he was, but he answered that he was in his Father's house. "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them, but his mother treasured all these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

Themes and analogies

Thematic analysis

File:Matthew's Gospel - British Library Add. MS 59874 Ethiopian Bible.jpg|thumb|left|150px|Gospel of MatthewGospel of MatthewHelmut Koester writes that while Matthew's narrative was formed in a Jewish environment, Luke's was modeled to appeal to the Greco-Roman world.Helmut Köster, "Ancient Christian gospels: their history and development", Continuum International Publishing Group, (2004). pp. 307–308 In particular, according to Koester, while shepherds were regarded negatively by Jews in Jesus's time, they were seen in Greco-Roman culture as "symbols of a golden age when gods and humans lived in peace and nature was at harmony". C. T. Ruddick, Jr. writes that Luke's birth narratives of Jesus and John were modeled on passages from the Book of Genesis ({{Bibleref2|Genesis|27–43|HE|chapter 27–43}}).C. T. Ruddick, Jr. (1970) "Birth Narratives in Genesis and Luke" Novum Testamentum 12(4):343–348. Regardless, Luke's nativity depicts Jesus as a savior for all people, tracing a genealogy all the way back to Adam, demonstrating his common humanity, and likewise for the lowly circumstances of his birth. Luke, writing for a gentile audience, portrays the infant Jesus as a savior for gentiles as well as Jews.Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "Luke" pp. 297–301 Matthew uses quotations from Jewish scripture, scenes reminiscent of Moses' life, and a numerical pattern in his genealogy to identify Jesus as a son of David, of Abraham, and of God. Luke's prelude is much longer, emphasizing the age of the Holy Spirit and the arrival of a savior for all people, both Jew and Gentile."Jesus Christ." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005Mainstream scholars interpret Matthew's nativity as depicting Jesus as a new Moses with a genealogy going back to Abraham,Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "Matthew" pp. 272–285BOOK, Brown, Raymond Edward, Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke, 1977, Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y., 978-0-385-05907-7, 104–121, while Ulrich Luz views Matthew's depiction of Jesus at once as the new Moses and the inverse of Moses, and not simply a retelling of the Moses story. Luz also points out that in the massacre narrative, once again, a fulfilment quotation is given: Rachel, the ancestral mother of Israel, weeping for her dead children ({{Bibleverse|Matthew|2:18|KJV}})Ulrich Luz, Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, {{ISBN|0-521-43576-5}} p. 28Scholars who interpret Matthew as casting Jesus in the role of being a second Moses argue that, like Moses, the infant Jesus is saved from a murderous tyrant; and he flees the country of his birth until his persecutor is dead and it is safe to return as the savior of his people.BOOK,weblink The Oxford Bible Commentary, John, Barton, John, Muddiman, 6 September 2001, OUP Oxford, Google Books, 9780198755005, In this view, the account in Matthew is based on an earlier narrative patterned on traditions about the birth of Moses. Moses's birth is announced to Pharaoh by Magi; the child is threatened and rescued; the male Israelite children are similarly put to death by an evil king.According to Ulrich Luz, the beginning of the narrative of Matthew is similar to earlier biblical stories, e.g., the Annunciation of Jesus' birth ({{Bibleverse|Matthew|1:18–25|KJV}}) is reminiscent of the biblical accounts of the births of Ishmael ({{Bibleverse|Genesis|16:11|KJV}}, {{Bibleverse|Genesis|17|KJV}}), Isaac ({{Bibleverse|Genesis|21:1|KJV}}), and Samson ({{Bibleverse|Judges|13:3|KJV}}, {{Bibleverse|Judges|13:5|KJV}}), and it recalls the Haggadic traditions of the birth of Moses. Yet in Luz's view, the contours appear, in part, strangely overlapped and inverted: "Egypt, formerly the land of suppression becomes a place of refuge and it is the King of Israel who now takes on the role of Pharaoh...[yet] Matthew is not simply retelling the Moses story...Instead, the story of Jesus really is a new story: Jesus is at once the new Moses and the inverse of Moses."Ulrich Luz, The Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, {{ISBN|0-521-43576-5}} p. 24/25

Old Testament parallels

File:Codex of Sinay.jpg|thumb|120px|A page from the Codex SinaiticusCodex Sinaiticus{{See also|Nazarene (title)|Nazarene (sect)}}Scholars have debated whether (Matthew 1:22) and (Matthew 2:23) refer to specific Old Testament passages.Fourth century documents such as the Codex Sinaiticus do not mention the prophet Isaiah in the statement in (Matthew 1:22): "All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet" but some copies of Matthew from the 5th–6th centuries, such as the Codex Bezae, read "Isaiah the prophet".See Aland, op.cit., p. 3. The statement in (Matthew 1:23) "Behold the virgin shall be with child" uses the Greek term parthenos ("virgin") as in the Septuagint Isaiah, while the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14|7:14) uses the Hebrew almah, which may mean "maiden," "young woman," or "virgin."Brown, Raymond E.; Achtemeier, Paul J. (1978). Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars. Paulist Press. p. 92. {{ISBN|0-8091-2168-9}}. Raymond E. Brown states that the 3rd century BCE translators of the Septuagint may have understood the Hebrew word "almah" to mean virgin in this context.The statement in (Matthew 2:23) "he will be called a Nazarene" does not mention a specific passage in the Old Testament, and there are multiple scholarly interpretations as to what it may refer to.Matthew's Bible: the Old Testament text of the evangelist by M. J. J. Menken 2004 {{ISBN|90-429-1419-X}} p. 161 Barbara Aland and other scholars consider the Greek "Ναζωραίος" (Nazoréos) used for Nazarene of uncertain etymology and meaning,BOOK, Barbara, Aland, Barbara Aland, Kurt, Aland, Kurt Aland, Carlo M., Martini, Carlo M. Martini, Johannes, Karavidopoulos, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Bruce M., Metzger, Bruce Metzger, Novum Testamentum Graece Et Latine—Greek/Latin New Testament, December 1983, American Bible Society, 978-3-438-05401-2, 5, but M. J. J. Menken states that it is a demonym that refers to an "inhabitant of Nazareth".Matthew's Bible: the Old Testament text of the evangelist by M. J. J. Menken 2004 {{ISBN|90-429-1419-X}} p. 164 Menken also states that it may be referring to Judges 13:5, 7.Menken, Maarten J. J. "The Sources of the Old Testament Quotation in Matthew 2:23" Journal of Biblical Literature120:3 (451–68), 467–8. Gary Smith states that Nazirite may mean one consecrated to God, i.e. an ascetic; or may refer to (Isaiah 11:1).BOOK, Smith, Gary, The New American Commentary: Isaiah 1–33, Vol. 15A (New American Commentary), 2007-08-30, B&H Publishing Group, 978-0-8054-0115-8, 268, The Oxford Bible Commentary states that it may be word-play on the use of "nazirite," "Holy One of God," in {{bibleverse|Isaiah|4:3|KJV}}, meant to identify Jesus with the Nazarenes, a Jewish sect who differed from the Pharisees only in regarding Jesus as the Messiah. The Swiss theologian Ulrich Luz, who locates the Matthean community in Syria, has noted that Syrian Christians also called themselves Nazarenes.Ulrich Luz, the Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, Cambridge University Press, {{ISBN|0-521-43576-5}} p. 18

Christian theology

The theological significance of the Nativity of Jesus has been a key element in Christian teachings, from the early Church Fathers to 20th century theologians. The theological issues were addressed as early as Apostle Paul, but continued to be debated and eventually lead to both Christological and Mariological differences among Christians that resulted in early schisms within the Church by the 5th century.

Birth of the new man

File:Geertgen tot Sint Jans, The Nativity at Night, c 1490.jpg|thumb|180px|Nativity at Night, by Geertgen tot Sint JansGeertgen tot Sint Jans
page 308An introductory dictionary of theology and religious studies by Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff 2007 {{ISBN|0-8146-5856-3}} p. 238Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 {{ISBN|0-86554-373-9}} p. 712Basic Theology: by Charles Caldwell Ryrie 1999 {{ISBN|0-8024-2734-0}} p. 275}}
Paul the Apostle viewed the birth of Jesus as an event of cosmic significance which brought forth a "new man" who undid the damage caused by the fall of the first man, Adam. Just as the Johannine view of Jesus as the incarnate Logos proclaims the universal relevance of his birth, the Pauline perspective emphasizes the birth of a new man and a new world in the birth of Jesus. Paul's eschatological view of Jesus counter-positions him as a new man of morality and obedience, in contrast to Adam. Unlike Adam, the new man born in Jesus obeys God and ushers in a world of morality and salvation.Systematic Theology, Volume 2 by Wolfhart Pannenberg 2004 {{ISBN|0567084663}}, pp. 297–303In the Pauline view, Adam is positioned as the first man and Jesus as the second: Adam, having corrupted himself by his disobedience, also infected humanity and left it with a curse as inheritance. The birth of Jesus, on the other hand, counterbalanced the fall of Adam, bringing forth redemption and repairing the damage done by Adam.An exposition of the epistle of Saint Paul to the Philippians by Jean Daille 1995 {{ISBN|0-8028-2511-7}} pp. 194–195In patristic theology, Paul's contrasting of Jesus as the new man versus Adam provided a framework for discussing the uniqueness of the birth of Jesus and the ensuing events of his life. The Nativity of Jesus thus began to serve as the starting point for "cosmic Christology" in which the birth, life and Resurrection of Jesus have universal implications.Christ in Christian Tradition: From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon by Aloys Grillmeier, John Bowden 1975 {{ISBN|0-664-22301-X}} pp. 15–19The Witness of Jesus, Paul and John: An Exploration in Biblical Theology by Larry R. Helyer 2008 {{ISBN|0-8308-2888-5}} p. 282 The concept of Jesus as the "new man" repeats in the cycle of birth and rebirth of Jesus from his Nativity to his Resurrection: following his birth, through his morality and obedience to the Father, Jesus began a new harmony in the relationship between God the Father and man. The Nativity and Resurrection of Jesus thus created the author and exemplar of a new humanity.Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi by Karl Rahner 2004 {{ISBN|0-86012-006-6}} pp. 474 and 1434In the 2nd century Church Father Irenaeus writes:"When He became incarnate and was made man, He commenced afresh the long line of human beings, and furnished us, in a brief, comprehensive manner, with salvation; so that what we had lost in Adam – namely to be according to the image and likeness of God- that we might recover in Christ Jesus."An introduction to the early history of Christian doctrine by James Franklin Bethune-Baker 2005 {{ISBN|1-4021-5770-3}} p. 334A History of the Christian Church by Williston Walker 2010 {{ISBN|1-4400-4446-5}} pp. 65–66Irenaeus was also one of the early theologians to use the analogy of "second Adam and second Eve". He suggested the Virgin Mary as the "second eve" and wrote that the Virgin Mary had "untied the knot of sin bound up by the virgin Eve" and that just as Eve had tempted Adam to disobey God, Mary had set a path of obedience for the second Adam (i.e. Jesus) from the Annunciation to Calvary so that Jesus could bring about salvation, undoing the damage of Adam.Burke, Raymond L.; et al. (2008). Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons {{ISBN|978-1-57918-355-4}} pp. 613–614In the 4th century, this uniqueness of the circumstances related to the Nativity of Jesus, and their interplay with the mystery of the incarnation became a central element in both the theology and hymnody of Saint Ephrem the Syrian. For him, the uniqueness of the Nativity of Jesus was supplemented with the sign of the Majesty of the Creator through the ability of a powerful God to enter the world as a small newborn.The Early Christian World, Volumes 1–2 by Philip Francis Esler 2004 {{ISBN|0-415-33312-1}} p. 452In the Middle Ages the birth of Jesus as the second Adam came to be seen in the context of Saint Augustine's Felix culpa (i.e. happy fall) and was intertwined with the popular teachings on the fall from grace of Adam and Eve.Handbook to life in the medieval world, Volume 1 by Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Linda Gale Jones 2008 {{ISBN|0-8160-4887-8}} p. 329 Augustine was fond of a statement on Nativity by Saint Gregory of Nyssa and he quoted it five times: "Venerate the Nativity, through which you are freed from the bonds of an earthly nativity".Orthodox readings of Augustine by George E. Demacopoulos, Aristotle Papanikolaou 2008 {{ISBN|0-88141-327-5}} pp. 92–96 And he liked to quote: "Just as in Adam all of us died, so too in Christ all of us will be brought to life".s:Bible (American Standard)/1Corinthians#15:22|1Corinthians 15:22]]The theology persisted into the Protestant Reformation, and second Adam was one of the six modes of atonement discussed by John Calvin.The theology of John Calvin by Charles Partee 2008 {{ISBN|0-664-23119-5}} p. 159 In the 20th century, leading theologian Karl Barth continued the same line of reasoning and viewed the Nativity of Jesus as the birth of a new man who succeeded Adam. In Barth's theology, in contrast to Adam, Jesus acted as an obedient Son in the fulfilment of the divine will and was therefore free from sin and could hence reveal the righteousness of God the Father and bring about salvation.Church dogmatics, Volume 4, Part 1 by Karl Barth, Geoffrey William Bromiley, Thomas Forsyth Torrance 2004 {{ISBN|0-567-05129-3}} pp. 256–259


File:SummaTheologiae.jpg|thumb|180px|In Summa Theologiæ, (1471 copy shown here) Thomas AquinasThomas AquinasThe nativity of Jesus impacted the Christological issues about the Person of Christ from the earliest days of Christianity. Luke's Christology centers on the dialectics of the dual natures of the earthly and heavenly manifestations of existence of the Christ, while Matthew's Christology focuses on the mission of Jesus and his role as the savior.Theology of the New Testament by Georg Strecker 2000 {{ISBN|0-664-22336-2}} pp. 401–403Matthew by Grant R. Osborne 2010 {{ISBN|0-310-32370-3}} lxxixThe belief in the divinity of Jesus leads to the question: "was Jesus a man to be born of a woman or was he God born of a woman?" A wide range of hypotheses and beliefs regarding the nature of the nativity of Jesus were presented in the first four centuries of Christianity. Some of the debates involved the title Theotokos (God bearer) for the Virgin Mary and began to illustrate the impact of Mariology on Christology. Some of these viewpoints were eventually declared as heresies, others led to schisms and the formation of new branches of the Church.Toward the origins of Christmas by Susan K. Roll 1995 {{ISBN|90-390-0531-1}} pp. 208–211{{Citation| last = McGrath | first = Alister E.| year = 2007| title = Christian theology: an introduction| page = 282| url =weblink| isbn = 978-1-4051-5360-7| publisher = Blackwell| location = Malden, Mass. }}{{Citation | last1 = Ehrman | first1 = Bart D. | title = The Orthodox corruption of scripture: the effect of early Christological controversies on the text of the New Testament | url =weblink | year = 1993 | publisher = Oxford University Press | location = New York | isbn = 978-0-19-510279-6 | pages = }}Mary and the Saints by James P. Campbell 2005 0829417257 pp. 17–20The salvific emphasis of s:Bible (American Standard)/Matthew#1:21|Matthew 1:21]] later impacted the theological issues and the devotions to Holy Name of Jesus.All the Doctrines of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer 1988 {{ISBN|0-310-28051-6}} p. 159Matthew 1–13 by Manlio Simonetti 2001 {{ISBN|0-8308-1486-8}} p. 17Matthew 1-2/ Luke 1–2 by Louise Perrotta 2004 {{ISBN|0-8294-1541-6}} p. 19 s:Bible (American Standard)/Matthew#1:23|Matthew 1:23]] provides the only key to the Emmanuel Christology in the New Testament. Beginning with 1:23, Matthew shows a clear interest in identifying Jesus as "God with us" and in later developing the Emmanuel characterization of Jesus at key points throughout the rest of his Gospel.Matthew's Emmanuel by David D. Kupp 1997 {{ISBN|0-521-57007-7}} pp. 220–224 The name Emmanuel does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament, but Matthew builds on it in s:Bible (American Standard)/Matthew#28:20|Matthew 28:20]] ("I am with you always, even unto the end of the world") to indicate that Jesus will be with the faithful to the end of the age.Who do you say that I am?: essays on Christology by Jack Dean Kingsbury, Mark Allan Powell, David R. Bauer 1999 {{ISBN|0-664-25752-6}} p. 17 According to Ulrich Luz, the Emmanuel motif brackets the entire Gospel of Matthew between 1:23 and 28:20, appearing explicitly and implicitly in several other passages.The theology of the Gospel of Matthew by Ulrich Luz 1995 {{ISBN|0-521-43576-5}} p. 31A number of ecumenical councils were convened in the 4th and 5th centuries to deal with these issues. The Council of Ephesus debated hypostasis (co-existing natures) versus Monophysitism (only one nature) versus Miaphysitism (two natures united as one) versus Nestorianism (disunion of two natures).Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, Vol XIV p. 207, translated edition by H.R. Percival.weblink Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, trans H. R. Percival, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, (repr. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1955), XIV, pp. 192–242 The 451 Council of Chalcedon was highly influential and marked a key turning point in the Christological debates that broke apart the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th century. In Chalcedon the hypostatic union was decreed, namely that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human, making this part of the creed of Orthodox Christianity.The acts of the Council of Chalcedon by Council of Chalcedon, Richard Price, Michael Gaddis 2006 {{ISBN|0-85323-039-0}} pp. 1–5The creed: the apostolic faith in contemporary theology by Berard L. Marthaler 2007 {{ISBN|0-89622-537-2}} p. 114Essential theological terms by Justo L. González 2005 {{ISBN|0-664-22810-0}} p. 120Doctrine and practice in the early church by Stuart George Hall 1992 {{ISBN|0-8028-0629-5}} pp. 211–218In the 5th century, leading Church Father Pope Leo I used the nativity as a key element of his theology. Leo gave 10 sermons on the nativity and 7 have survived, the one on December 25, 451 demonstrates his concern to increase the importance of the feast of nativity and along with it emphasize the two natures of Christ in defense of the Christological doctrine of hypostatic union.Leo the Great by Pope Leo I, Bronwen Neil 2009 {{ISBN|0-415-39480-5}} pp. 61–62 Leo often used his nativity sermons as an occasion to attack opposing viewpoints, without naming the opposition. Thus Leo used the occasion of the Nativity feast to establish boundaries for what could be considered a heresy regarding the birth and nature of Christ.In the 13th century Saint Thomas Aquinas addressed the Christologocal attribution of the nativity: Should it be attributed to the person (the Word) or only to the assumed human nature of that person. Aquinas treated nativity in 8 separate articles in Summa Theologica each posing a separate question, e.g.: "Does Nativity regard the nature rather than the Person?", "Should a temporal Nativity be attributed to Christ?" "Should the Blessed Virgin be called Christ's Mother?", "Should the Blessed Virgin be called the Mother of God?", "Are there two filiations in Christ?", etc.Summa Theologica, Volume 4 (Part III, First Section) by St. Thomas Aquinas 207 Cosimo Classics {{ISBN|1-60206-560-8}} pp. 2197–2211 To deal with this issue, Aquinas distinguishes between the person born and the nature in which the birth takes place.Aquinas on doctrine: a critical introduction by Thomas Gerard Weinandy, John Yocum 2004 {{ISBN|0-567-08411-6}} p. 98 Aquinas thus resolved the question by arguing that in the hypostatic union Christ has two natures, one received from the Father from eternity, the other from his mother in time. This approach also resolved the Mariological problem of Mary receiving the title of Theotokos for under this scenario she is the "Mother of God".During the Reformation, John Calvin argued that Jesus was not sanctified to be "God manifested as Incarnate" (Deus manifestatus in carne) only due to his Virgin Birth, but through the action of the Holy Spirit at the instant of his birth. Thus Calvin argued that Jesus was exempt from original sin because he was sanctified at the moment of birth so that his generation was without blemish; as generation has been blemishless before the fall of Adam.Calvin's Catholic Christology by E. David Willis 1966 Published by E.J. Brill, Netherlands, p. 83

Impact on Christianity

Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord

File:Advent Wreath (Broadway United Methodist Church).jpg|thumb|upright|On Christmas, the Christ Candle in the center of the Advent wreath is traditionally lit in many church servicechurch serviceChristian Churches celebrate the Nativity of Jesus on Christmas, which is marked on December 25 by the Western Christian Churches, while many Eastern Christian Churches celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord on January 7.BOOK, Inc, World Book, Christmas in the Holy Land, 1987, World Book Encyclopedia, 9780716608875, 58, English,weblink This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a preference of which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25. In the Council of Tours of 567, the Church, with its desire to be universal, "declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be one unified festal cycle", thus giving significance to both the Western and Eastern dates of Christmas.BOOK, Forbes, Bruce David, Christmas: A Candid History, University of California Press, 978-0-520-25802-0, 27, In 567 the Council of Tours proclaimed that the entire period between Christmas and Epiphany should be considered part of the celebration, creating what became known as the twelve days of Christmas, or what the English called Christmastide. On the last of the twelve days, called Twelfth Night, various cultures developed a wide range of additional special festivities. The variation extends even to the issue of how to count the days. If Christmas Day is the first of the twelve days, then Twelfth Night would be on January 5, the eve of Epiphany. If December 26, the day after Christmas, is the first day, then Twelfth Night falls on January 6, the evening of Epiphany itself. After Christmas and Epiphany were in place, on December 25 and January 6, with the twelve days of Christmas in between, Christians gradually added a period called Advent, as a time of spiritual preparation leading up to Christmas., 2008-11-13, BOOK, Hynes, Mary Ellen, Companion to the Calendar, 1993, Liturgy Training Publications, 978-1-56854-011-5, 8, In the year 567 the church council of Tours called the 13 days between December 25 and January 6 a festival season. Up until that time the only other joyful church season was the 50 days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost., WEB,weblink Christmas, Knight, Kevin, 2012, The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, December 15, 2014, The Second Council of Tours (can. xi, xvii) proclaims, in 566 or 567, the sanctity of the "twelve days" from Christmas to Epiphany, and the duty of Advent fast; that of Agde (506), in canons 63–64, orders a universal communion, and that of Braga (563) forbids fasting on Christmas Day. Popular merry-making, however, so increased that the "Laws of King Cnut", fabricated c. 1110, order a fast from Christmas to Epiphany., BOOK, Hill, Christopher, Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year, 2003, Quest Books, 978-0-8356-0810-7, 91, This arrangement became an administrative problem for the Roman Empire as it tried to coordinate the solar Julian calendar with the lunar calendars of its provinces in the east. While the Romans could roughly match the months in the two systems, the four cardinal points of the solar year—the two equinoxes and solstices—still fell on different dates. By the time of the first century, the calendar date of the winter solstice in Egypt and Palestine was eleven to twelve days later than the date in Rome. As a result the Incarnation came to be celebrated on different days in different parts of the Empire. The Western Church, in its desire to be universal, eventually took them both—one became Christmas, one Epiphany—with a resulting twelve days in between. Over time this hiatus became invested with specific Christian meaning. The Church gradually filled these days with saints, some connected to the birth narratives in Gospels (Holy Innocents' Day, December 28, in honor of the infants slaughtered by Herod; St. John the Evangelist, "the Beloved," December 27; St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, December 26; the Holy Family, December 31; the Virgin Mary, January 1). In 567, the Council of Tours declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to become one unified festal cycle., WEB,weblink Origins of Christmas and Easter holidays, Bunson, Matthew, October 21, 2007, Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), December 17, 2014, The Council of Tours (567) decreed the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany to be sacred and especially joyous, thus setting the stage for the celebration of the Lord's birth not only in a liturgical setting but in the hearts of all Christians., The liturgical season of Advent precedes, and is used to prepare for the celebration of Christmas.BOOK, The Church of England Magazine, Volume 49, 1860, J. Burns, 369, English, Customs of the Christmas season include completing an Advent daily devotional and Advent wreath,BOOK, Kennedy, Rodney Wallace, Hatch, Derek C, Baptists at Work in Worship, 27 August 2013, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 978-1-62189-843-6, 147, There are a variety or worship practices that enable a congregation to celebrate Advent: lighting an advent wreath, a hanging of the greens service, a Chrismon tree, and an Advent devotional booklet., carol singing,BOOK, Geddes, Gordon, Griffiths, Jane, Christian Belief and Practice, 2002, Heinemann, 9780435306915, 102, Carol singing is a common custom during the Christmas season. Many Christians form groups and go from house to house singing carols. The words of the carols help to pass on the message of Christmas to others., gift giving,BOOK, Kubesh, Katie, McNeil, Niki, Bellotto, Kimm, The 12 Days of Christmas, In the Hands of a Child, 16, The Twelve Days of Christmas, also called Twelvetide, are also associated with festivities that begin on the evening of Christmas Day and last through the morning of Epiphany. This period is also called Christmastide ... one early American tradition was to make a wreath on Christmas Eve and hang it on the front door on Christmas night. The wreath stayed on the front door through Epiphany. Some families also baked a special cake for the Epiphany. Other Old Time Traditions from around the world include: Giving gifts on Christmas night only. Giving gifts on the Twelfth Night only. Giving gifts on each night. On the Twelfth Night, a Twelfth Night Cake or King Cake is served with a bean or pea baked in it. The person who finds the bean or pea in his or her portion is a King of Queen for the day., seeing Nativity plays,BOOK, Collins, Ace, Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, 2010, Zondervan, 9780310873884, 139–141, English, attending church services,BOOK, Bharati, Agehanada, Ideas and Actions, 1 January 1976, Walter de Gruyter, English, 9783110805871, 454, These were services of worship held in Christian churches at Christmastide..., and eating special food, such as Christmas cake.WEB,weblink Cakewalk in Allahabad, Nair, Malini, 15 December 2013, The Times of India, 28 March 2015, Around early December, an unusual kind of pilgrim starts to take the Prayag Raj from Delhi to Allahabad: the devout worshipper of the Allahabadi Christmas cake. This is no elegant western pudding — it is redolent with desi ghee, petha, ginger, nutmeg, javitri, saunf, cinnamon, something called cake ka jeera and marmalades from Loknath ki Galli. All this is browned to perfection at a bakery that has acquired cult status — Bushy's on Kanpur Road. The ancient city has had a great baking tradition. It could be because Allahabad has a sizeable population of Christians., In many countries, such as Sweden, people start to set up their Advent and Christmas decorations on the first day of Advent.BOOK, Michelin, Germany Green Guide Michelin 2012–2013, Advent – The four weeks before Christmas are celebrated by counting down the days with an advent calendar, hanging up Christmas decorations and lightning an additional candle every Sunday on the four-candle advent wreath., 10 October 2012, Michelin, 9782067182110, 73, WEB,weblink Modern Christmas, Normark, Helena, 1997, Graphic Garden, 9 April 2014, Christmas in Sweden starts with Advent, which is the await for the arrival of Jesus. The symbol for it is the Advent candlestick with four candles in it, and we light one more candle for each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Most people start putting up the Christmas decorations on the first of Advent., Liturgically, this is done in some parishes through a hanging of the greens ceremony.BOOK, Rice, Howard L., Huffstutler, James C., Reformed Worship, 1 January 2001, Westminster John Knox Press, English, 978-0-664-50147-1, 197, Another popular activity is the "Hanging of the Greens," a service in which the sanctuary is decorated for Christmas.,

History of feasts and liturgical elements

File:Dorfkrippe Baumkirchen.jpg|thumb|left|240px|Nativity scene in BaumkirchenBaumkirchenIn the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Lord's Day (Sunday) was the earliest Christian celebration and included a number of theological themes. In the 2nd century, the Resurrection of Jesus became a separate feast as Easter and in the same century Epiphany began to be celebrated in the Churches of the East on January 6.An introductory dictionary of theology and religious studies by Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff 2007 {{ISBN|0-8146-5856-3}} p. 237 The celebration of the feast of the Magi on January 6 may relate to a pre-Christian celebration for the blessing of the Nile in Egypt on January 5, but this is not historically certain.The journey of the Magi: meanings in history of a Christian story by Richard C. Trexler 1997 {{ISBN|0-691-01126-5}} p. 9 The festival of the Nativity which later turned into Christmas was a 4th-century feast in the Western Church notably in Rome and North Africa, although it is uncertain exactly where and when it was first celebrated.Christian worship in Reformed Churches past and present by Lukas Vischer 2002 {{ISBN|0-8028-0520-5}} pp. 400–401The earliest source stating December 25 as the date of birth of Jesus was Hippolytus of Rome (170–236), written very early in the 3rd century, based on the assumption that the conception of Jesus took place at the Spring equinox which he placed on March 25, and then added nine months.BOOK, Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, Mills, Watson E., Edgar V. McKnight, Roger Aubrey Bullard, 1990, Mercer University Press, 978-0-86554-373-7, 142, July 10, 2012,weblink There is historical evidence that by the middle of the 4th century the Christian churches of the East celebrated the birth and Baptism of Jesus on the same day, on January 6 while those in the West celebrated a Nativity feast on December 25 (perhaps influenced by the Winter solstice); and that by the last quarter of the 4th century, the calendars of both churches included both feasts.Aspects of the liturgical year in Cappadocia (325–430) by Jill Burnett Comings 2005 {{ISBN|0-8204-7464-9}} pp. 61–71 The earliest suggestions of a fast of Baptism of Jesus on January 6 during the 2nd century comes from Clement of Alexandria, but there is no further mention of such a feast until 361 when Emperor Julian attended a feast on January 6 in the year 361.(File:NativityofJesus.jpg|thumb|right|Christmas Eve Nativity at Resurrection Lutheran Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia)The Chronography of 354 illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome includes an early reference to the celebration of a Nativity feast. In a sermon delivered in Antioch on December 25, c. 386, Saint John Chrysostom provides specific information about the feast there, stating that the feast had existed for about 10 years. By around 385 the feast for the birth of Jesus was distinct from that of the Baptism and was held on December 25 in Constantinople, Nyssa and Amaseia. In a sermon in 386, Gregory of Nyssa specifically related the feast of Nativity with that of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, celebrated a day later. By 390 the feast was also held in Iconium on that day.Pope Leo I established a feast of the "Mystery of Incarnation" in the 5th century, in effect as the first formal feast for the Nativity of Jesus. Pope Sixtus III then instituted the practice of Midnight Mass just before that feast.Sacred Christmas Music by Ronald M. Clancy 2008 {{ISBN|1-4027-5811-1}} pp. 15–19 In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian declared Christmas to be a legal holiday.The Feast of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly 2010 {{ISBN|0-8146-3325-0}} pp. 331–391In the 14th and 15th centuries, the theological importance of the Nativity of Jesus, was coupled with an emphasis on the loving nature of Child Jesus in sermons by figures such as Jean Gerson. In his sermons Gerson emphasized the loving nature of Jesus at his Nativity, as well as his cosmic plan for the salvation of mankind.Pastor and laity in the theology of Jean Gerson by Dorothy Catherine Brown 1987 {{ISBN|0-521-33029-7}} p. 32By the early part of the 20th century, Christmas had become a "cultural signature" of Christianity and indeed of the Western culture even in countries such as the United States which are officially non-religious. By the beginning of the 21st century these countries began to pay more attention to the sensitivities of non-Christians during the festivities at the end of the calendar year.The Feast of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly 2010 {{ISBN|0-8146-3325-0}} pp. 112–114

Transforming the image of Jesus

File:8452 - Milano - S. Marco - Londonio - Presepe (ca 1750) - Foto G. Dall'Orto - 14-Apr-2007.jpg|thumb|180px|Paper on wood Nativity scene from 1750, MilanMilanEarly Christians viewed Jesus as "the Lord" and the word Kyrios appears over 700 times in the New Testament, referring to him.Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 {{ISBN|0-86554-373-9}} pp. 520–525 The use of the word Kyrios in the Septuagint Bible also assigned to Jesus the Old Testament attributes of an omnipotent God. The use of the term Kyrios, and hence the Lordship of Jesus, pre-dated the Pauline epistles, but Saint Paul expanded and elaborated on that topic.Pauline writings established among early Christians the Kyrios image, and attributes of Jesus as not only referring to his eschatological victory, but to him as the "divine image" (Greek eikōn) in whose face the glory of God shines forth. This image persisted among Christians as the predominant perception of Jesus for a number of centuries.Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity by Larry W. Hurtado 2005 {{ISBN|0-8028-3167-2}} pp. 113 and 179 More than any other title, Kyrios defined the relationship between Jesus and those who believed in him as Christ: Jesus was their Lord and Master who was to be served with all their hearts and who would one day judge their actions throughout their lives.II Corinthians: a commentary by Frank J. Matera 2003 {{ISBN|0-664-22117-3}} pp. 11–13The lordship attributes associated with the Kyrios image of Jesus also implied his power over all creation.s:Bible (American Standard)/Philippians#2:10|Philippians 2:10]] Paul then looked back and reasoned that the final lordship of Jesus was prepared from the very beginning, starting with pre-existence and the Nativity, based on his obedience as the image of God.Christology: Biblical And Historical by Mini S. Johnson ISBN p. 211 Over time, based on the influence of Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux and others, the Kyrios image of Jesus began to be supplemented with a more "tender image of Jesus", and the Franciscan approach to popular piety was instrumental in establishing this image.Christology: Biblical And Historical by Mini S. Johnson, 2005 {{ISBN|81-8324-007-0}} pp. 74–76File:Nacimiento BsAs.jpg|thumb|180px|left|Nativity scene at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan CathedralBuenos Aires Metropolitan CathedralThe 13th century witnessed a major turning point in the development of a new "tender image of Jesus" within Christianity, as the Franciscans began to emphasize the humility of Jesus both at his birth and his death. The construction of the Nativity scene by Saint Francis of Assisi was instrumental in portraying a softer image of Jesus that contrasted with the powerful and radiant image at the Transfiguration, and emphasized how God had taken a humble path to his own birth.The image of St Francis by Rosalind B. Brooke 2006 {{ISBN|0-521-78291-0}} pp. 183–184 As the Black Death raged in Medieval Europe, two mendicant orders of Franciscans and Dominicans helped the faithful cope with tragedies. One element of the Franciscan approach was the emphasis on the humility of Jesus and the poverty of his birth: the image of God was the image of Jesus, not a severe and punishing God, but himself humble at birth and sacrificed at death.The tradition of Catholic prayer by Christian Raab, Harry Hagan, St. Meinrad Archabbey 2007 {{ISBN|0-8146-3184-3}} pp. 86–87 The concept that the omnipotent Creator would set aside all power in order to conquer the hearts of men by love and that he would have been helplessly placed in a manger was as marvelous and as touching to the believers as the sacrifice of dying on the cross in Calvary.The vitality of the Christian tradition by George Finger Thomas 1944 {{ISBN|0-8369-2378-2}} pp. 110–112Thus by the 13th century the tender joys of the Nativity of Jesus were added to the agony of his Crucifixion and a whole new range of approved religious emotions were ushered in, with wide-ranging cultural impacts for centuries thereafter. The Franciscans approached both ends of this spectrum of emotions. On one hand the introduction of the Nativity scene encouraged the tender image of Jesus, while on the other hand Francis of Assisi himself had a deep attachment to the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross and was said to have received the Stigmata as an expression of that love. The dual nature of Franciscan piety based both on joy of Nativity and the sacrifice at Calvary had a deep appeal among city dwellers and as the Franciscan Friars travelled, these emotions spread across the world, transforming the Kyrios image of Jesus to a more tender, loving, and compassionate image. These traditions did not remain limited to Europe and soon spread to the other parts of the world such as Latin America, the Philippines and the United States.La vida sacra: contemporary Hispanic sacramental theology by James L. Empereur, Eduardo Fernández 2006 {{ISBN|0-7425-5157-1}} pp. 3–5Philippines by Lily Rose R. Tope, Detch P. Nonan-Mercado 2005 {{ISBN|0-7614-1475-4}} p. 109According to Archbishop Rowan Williams this transformation, accompanied by the proliferation of the tender image of Jesus in Madonna and Child paintings made an important impact within the Christian Ministry by allowing Christians to feel the living presence of Jesus as a loving figure "who is always there to harbor and nurture those who turn to him for help.Christology: Key Readings in Christian Thought by Jeff Astley, David Brown, Ann Loades 2009 {{ISBN|0-664-23269-8}} p. 106Williams, Rowan Ponder these things 2002 {{ISBN|1-85311-362-X}} p. 7

Hymns, art and music

Canticles appearing in Luke

Luke's Nativity text has given rise to four well known canticles: the Benedictus and the Magnificat in the first chapter, and the Gloria in Excelsis and the Nunc dimittis in the second chapter.An Introduction to the Bible by Robert Kugler, Patrick Hartin {{ISBN|0-8028-4636-X}} p. 394 These "Gospel canticles" are now an integral part of the Christian liturgical tradition.Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 {{ISBN|0-86554-373-9}} p. 396 The parallel structure in Luke regarding the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, extends to the three canticles Benedictus (Song of Zechariah), the Nunc dimittis and the Magnificat.Sanctity of time and space in tradition and modernity by Alberdina Houtman, Marcel Poorthuis, Joshua Schwartz 1998 {{ISBN|90-04-11233-2}} pp. 61–62The Magnificat, in {{bibleref2|Luke|1:46–55|NIV}}, is spoken by Mary and is one of the 8 most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn.The History and Use of Hymns and Hymn-Tunes by David R Breed 2009 {{ISBN|1-110-47186-6}} p. 17The Benedictus, in {{bibleref2|Luke|1:68–79|NIV}}, is spoken by Zechariah, while the Nunc dimittis, in {{bibleref2|Luke|2:29–32|NIV}} is spoken by Simeon.Favourite Hymns by Marjorie Reeves 2006 {{ISBN|0-8264-8097-7}} pp. 3–5 The traditional Gloria in Excelsis is longer than the opening line presented in {{bibleref2|Luke|2:14|NIV}}, and is often called the "Song of the Angels" given that it was uttered by the angels in the Annunciation to the Shepherds.All the music of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer 2004 {{ISBN|1-56563-531-0}} p. 120The three canticles Benedictus, Nuc Dimittis and the Magnificat, if not originating with Luke himself, may have their roots in the earliest Christian liturgical services in Jerusalem, but their exact origins remain unknown.Music of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Giulio Cattin, F. Alberto Gallo 1985 {{ISBN|0-521-28489-9}} p. 2

Visual arts

File:Annunciation nesterov.jpg|thumb|170px|Annunciation by Nesterov, 19th century, Russia.]]The earliest artistic depictions of Nativity of Jesus were in the catacombs and on sarcophagi in Rome. As Gentile visitors, the Magi were popular in these scenes, representing the significance of the arrival of the Messiah to all peoples. The ox and ass were also taken to symbolize the Jews and the Gentiles, and have remained a constant since the earliest depictions. Mary was soon seated on a throne as the Magi visited.The Feast of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly 2010 {{ISBN|0-8146-3325-0}} pp. 22–31Depictions of the Nativity soon became a normal component of cycles in art illustrating both the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin. Nativity images also carry the message of redemption: God's unification with matter forms the mystery of the Incarnation, a turning point in the Christian perspective on Salvation.The mystical language of icons by Solrunn Nes 2005 {{ISBN|0-8028-2916-3}} p. 43In the Eastern Church icons of Nativity often correspond to specific hymns to Mary, e.g. to the Kontakion: "The Virgin today bringeth forth the Transubstantial, and the eart offereth a cave to the Unapproachable...."The meaning of icons by Leonide Ouspensky, Vladimir Lossky 1999 {{ISBN|0-913836-77-X}} p. 157 In many Eastern icons of Nativity (often accompanied by matching hymnody) two basic elements are emphasized. First the event portrays the mystery of incarnation as a foundation for the Christian faith, and the combined nature of Christ as Divine and human. Secondly, it relates the event to the natural life of the world, and its consequences for humanity.

Hymns, music and performances

{{See also|Christmas music|Nativity play}}File:1880 Christmas Osgood.png|thumb|260px|left|A Christmas carolChristmas carol(File:Nativity 01.jpg|thumb|The Nativity depicted in an English liturgical manuscript, c.1310-1320)Like 1st century Jews, early Christians rejected the use of musical instruments in religious ceremonies and instead relied on chants and plainsong leading to the use of the term a cappella (in the chapel) for these chants.One of the earliest Nativity hymns was Veni redemptor gentium composed by Saint Ambrose in Milan in the 4th century. By the beginning of the 5th century, the Spanish poet Prudentius had written "From the Heart of the Father" where the ninth stanza focused on the Nativity and portrayed Jesus as the creator of the universe. In the 5th century the Gallic poet Sedulius composed "From the lands that see the Sun arise" in which the humility of the birth of Jesus was portrayed. The Magnificat, one of the 8 most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn is based on the Annunciation.Saint Romanus the Melodist had a dream of the Virgin Mary the night before the feast of the Nativity, and when he woke up the next morning, composed his first hymn "On the Nativity" and continued composing hymns (perhaps several hundred) to the end of his life.Church Fathers and Teachers: From Saint Leo the Great to Peter Lombard by Pope Benedict XVI 2010 {{ISBN|1-58617-317-0}} p. 32 Re-enactments of Nativity which are now called Nativity plays were part of the troparion hymns in the liturgy of Byzantine Rite Churches, from St. Sophronius in the 7th century.JOURNAL, Wellesz, Egon, The Nativity Drama of the Byzantine Church, Journal of Roman Studies, 37, 1–2, 1947, 145–151, 10.2307/298465, 298465,
By the 13th century, the Franciscans had encouraged a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native languages.Miles, Clement, Christmas customs and traditions, Dover 1976, {{ISBN|0-486-23354-5}}, pp. 31–37 Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty-five "caroles of Cristemas".Miles, Clement, Christmas customs and traditions, Dover 1976, {{ISBN|0-486-23354-5}}, pp. 47–48
The largest body of musical works about Christ in which he does not speak are about the Nativity. A large body of liturgical music, as well as a great deal of para-liturgical texts, Carols and folk music exist about the Nativity of Jesus. The Christmas Carols havecome to be viewed as a cultural-signature of the Nativity of Jesus.Jesus in history, thought, and culture: an encyclopedia, Volume 1 by James Leslie Houlden 2003 {{ISBN|1-57607-856-6}} pp. 631–635Most musical Nativity narrations are not biblical and did not come about until church music assimilated opera in the 17th century. But thereafter there was a torrent of new music, e.g., Heinrich Schütz's 1660 The Christmas Story and Bach's Christmas Oratorio in the 18th century. And Lisz's Christus, etc. John Milton's classic 1629 poem Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity was used by John McEwan in 1901.

Historical analysis

{{see also|Genealogy of Jesus|Massacre of the Innocents|Historicity of Jesus}}

Traditional views

File:Byzantinischer Maler um 1020 003.jpg|thumb|150px|Beginning of a Byzantine copy of the Gospel of LukeGospel of LukeAccording to Christian tradition, the two accounts are historically accurate and do not contradict each other, pointing to the similarities between the two accounts,Mark D. Roberts Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Good News Publishers, 2007 p. 102 such as the birthplace of Bethlehem and the virgin birth. George Kilpatrick and, separately, Michael Patella state that a comparison of the nativity accounts of Luke and Matthew show common elements in terms of the virgin birth, the birth at Bethlehem, and the upbringing at Nazareth, and that although there are differences in the accounts of the nativity in Luke and Matthew, a general narrative may be constructed by combining the two.The Origins of the Gospel According to St. Matthew by George Dunbar Kilpatrick 2007 {{ISBN|0-86516-667-6}} p. 54The Gospel according to Luke by Michael Patella 2005 {{ISBN|0-8146-2862-1}} pp. 9–10Neither Luke nor Matthew claims their birth narratives are based on direct testimony.Lord Jesus Christ by Larry W. Hurtado 2005 {{ISBN|0-8028-3167-2}} p. 322 James Hastings and, separately, Thomas Neufeld have expressed the view that the circumstances of Jesus' birth were deliberately kept restricted to a small group of early Christians, and were kept as a secret for many years after his death, thus explaining the variations in the accounts in Luke and Matthew.A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Volume II by James Hastings 2004 {{ISBN|1-4102-1788-4}} p. 805Recovering Jesus: the witness of the New Testament Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld 2007 {{ISBN|1-58743-202-1}} pp. 116–123Daniel J. Harrington expresses the view that due to the scarcity of ancient records, a number of issues regarding the historicity of some nativity episodes can never be fully determined, and that the more important task is deciding what the nativity narratives meant to the early Christian communities.Daniel J. Harrington 1991 The Gospel of Matthew {{ISBN|0-8146-5803-2}} pp. 45–49


A number of biblical scholars, have attempted to show how the text from both narratives can be interwoven as a gospel harmony to create one account that begins with a trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born, followed by the flight to Egypt, and ending with a return to Nazareth.The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1988 {{ISBN|0-8028-3785-9}} p. 685John Bernard Orchard, 1983 Synopsis of the Four Gospels{{ISBN|0-567-09331-X}} pp. 4–12The horizontal line synopsis of the Gospels by Reuben J. Swanson 1984 {{ISBN|0-87808-744-3}} page xixGospel Parallels by Burton H. Throckmorton 1992 {{ISBN|0-8407-7484-2}} pp. 2–7Steven L. Cox, Kendell H. Easley, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels {{ISBN|0-8054-9444-8}} pp. 289–290

Critical analysis

Many modern scholars consider the birth narratives unhistorical because they are laced with theology and present two different accounts.The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: Volume 3 Abingdon Press, 2008. pp. 42, 269–70.BOOK, Brown, Raymond Edward, Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library), 1999-05-18, Yale University Press, 978-0-300-14008-8, 36, For instance, they point to Matthew's account of the appearance of an angel to Joseph in a dream; the wise men from the East; the massacre of the innocents; and the flight to Egypt, which do not appear in Luke, which instead describes the appearance of an angel to Mary; the Roman census; the birth in a manger; and the choir of angels.BOOK, John Dominic, Crossan, John Dominic Crossan, Richard J., Watts, Richard J. Watts, Who Is Jesus?: Answers to Your Questions About the Historical Jesus, October 1999, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky., 978-0-664-25842-9, 11–12,weblink {{Nativity narrative comparison}}{{clear}}Most modern scholars accept the Marcan priority hypothesis, that the Luke and Matthew accounts are based on the Gospel of Mark, but that the birth narratives come from the evangelists' independent sources, known as M source for Matthew and L source for Luke, which were added later.Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Birth & Infancy Stories" pp. 497–526.Scholars consider the accounts in Luke and Matthew as explaining the birth in Bethlehem in different ways, giving separate genealogies of Jesus and probably not historical.BOOK, Vermes, Géza, Géza_Vermes, The Nativity: History and Legend, 2006-11-02, Penguin Books Ltd, 978-0-14-102446-2, 64, BOOK, Wright, Tom, N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone, March 2004, Westminster John Knox Press, London, 978-0-664-22784-5, 39, While Géza Vermes and E. P. Sanders dismiss the accounts as pious fiction, Raymond E. Brown sees them as having been constructed from historical traditions which predate the Gospels.BOOK, Vermes, Géza, Géza_Vermes, The Nativity: History and Legend, 2006-11-02, Penguin Books Ltd, 978-0-14-102446-2, 22, BOOK, Sanders, Ed Parish, E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, 1993, Allen Lane, London, 978-0-7139-9059-1, 85, BOOK, Hurtado, Larry W., Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, June 2003, W.B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich., 978-0-8028-6070-5, 319–320, According to Brown, there is no uniform agreement among scholars on the historicity of the accounts, e.g., most of those scholars who reject the historicity of the birth at Bethlehem argue for a birth at Nazareth, a few suggest Capernaum, and other have hypothesized locations as far away as Chorazin.The birth of the Messiah by Raymond Brown 1993 {{ISBN|0-385-47202-1}} p. 513 Bruce Chilton and archaeologist Aviram Oshri have proposed a birth at Bethlehem of Galilee, a site located seven miles from Nazareth at which remains dating to the time of Herod the Great have been excavated.JOURNAL, Oshri, Aviram, November–December 2005, Where was Jesus Born?, Archaeology (magazine), Archaeology, 58, 6,weblink 24 November 2012, {{Citation |last = Chilton |first = Bruce |contribution = Recovering Jesus' Mamzerut |year = 2006 |title = Jesus and Archaeology |editor-last= Charlesworth |editor-first = James H. |pages = 95–96 |publisher = William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company |url =weblink |isbn = 9780802848802}} Armand P. Tarrech states that Chilton's hypothesis has no support in either the Jewish or Christian sources, although Chilton seems to take seriously the statement in s:Bible (American Standard)/Luke#2:4|Luke 2:4]] that Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus edited by Tom Holmen and Stanley E. Porter (Jan 12, 2011) {{ISBN|9004163727}} pages 3411–3412Sanders considers Luke's census, for which everyone returned to their ancestral home, not historically credible, as this was contrary to Roman practice; they would not have uprooted everyone from their homes and farms in the Empire by forcing them to return to their ancestral cities. Moreover, people were not able to trace their own lineages back 42 generations.Many scholars do not see the Luke and Matthew nativity stories as historically factual.Marcus Borg, 'The Meaning of the Birth Stories' in Marcus Borg, N T Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (Harper One, 1999) page 179: "I (and most mainline scholars) do not see these stories as historically factual." Many view the discussion of historicity as secondary, given that gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than chronological timelines.Interpreting Gospel Narratives: Scenes, People, and Theology by Timothy Wiarda 2010 {{ISBN|0-8054-4843-8}} pp. 75–78Jesus, the Christ: Contemporary Perspectives by Brennan R. Hill 2004 {{ISBN|1-58595-303-2}} p. 89The Gospel of Luke by Timothy Johnson 1992 {{ISBN|0-8146-5805-9}} p. 72Recovering Jesus: the witness of the New Testament Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld 2007 {{ISBN|1-58743-202-1}} p. 111For instance, Matthew pays far more attention to the name of the child and its theological implications than the actual birth event itself.Matthew by Thomas G. Long 1997 {{ISBN|0-664-25257-5}} pp. 14–15 According to Karl Rahner the evangelists show little interest in synchronizing the episodes of the birth or subsequent life of Jesus with the secular history of the age.Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi by Karl Rahner 2004 {{ISBN|0-86012-006-6}} p. 731 As a result, modern scholars do not use much of the birth narratives for historical information.Jeremy Corley New Perspectives on the Nativity Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009 p. 22. Nevertheless, they are considered to contain some useful biographical information: Jesus being born near the end of Herod's reign and his father being named Joseph are considered historically plausible.Bruce M. Metzger, Michael D. Coogan, The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible. Oxford University Press US, 2004. p. 137

Massacre of the Innocents

According to Paul L Maier, most modern biographies of Herod do not believe the massacre took place."most recent biographies of Herod the Great deny it entirely." Paul L. Maier, "Herod and the Infants of Bethlehem", in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II, Mercer University Press (1998), p. 170 Steve Mason argues that if the massacre had taken place as described in Matthew, it would have been strange for Josephus not to mention it, and that the massacre may hence be non-historical.Josephus and the New Testament by Steve Mason 2003 {{ISBN|1-56563-795-X}} p. 160 E. P. Sanders characterizes Josephus' writing as dwelling on Herod's cruelty, thus suggesting that Josephus would probably have included the event if it had occurred.Sanders, E. P. The historical figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993. Sanders discusses both birth narratives in detail, contrasts them, and judges them not historical on pp. 85–88. Sanders states that faced with little historical information, Matthew's account is apparently based on the story in which an infant Moses is endangered by the Pharaoh in order to kill infant Hebrews and that such use of scripture for telling the story of Jesus' birth was considered legitimate by contemporary standards. Dunn seconds this theory and sees the episode as an attempt to present Jesus as the new Moses by refreshing the Jewish memories of the slaughter of Hebrew newborns in Egypt.BOOK, Robert B. Stewart, Gary R. Habermas, Memories of Jesus,weblink 1 July 2010, B&H Publishing Group, 978-1-4336-7219-4, 181–, There are writers who defend the historicity of the massacre. R. T. France states that the massacre was a low magnitude event of a nature that would not have demanded the attention of Josephus but was in line with Herod's character.The Gospel of Matthew by R. T. France 2007 {{ISBN|0-8028-2501-X}} pp. 43 and 83 Paul L. Maier argues that Bethlehem was small, and the massacre would have been too small for Josephus to have heard of it given that it allegedly took place over 40 years before his own birth.Paul L. Maier, Herod and the Infants of Bethlehem in "Chronos, Kairos, Christos 2" by Ray Summers, Jerry Vardaman {{ISBN|0-86554-582-0}} pp. 169–179 Paul Barnett and, separately, Craig L. Blomberg also state that Bethlehem was a very small village with few inhabitants, and the massacre would have involved too few children to have been recorded by historians in general.Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times by Paul Barnett 2002 {{ISBN|0-8308-2699-8}} p. 85Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Craig L. Blomberg 2009 {{ISBN|0-8054-4482-3}} p. 244

See also






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