I highly suspect that much of what I recall about the Nativity has been a lot of Hollywood and other sources of popular culture woven into the narrative. I honestly can’t remember the last time I read the Biblical version. So, I spent the afternoon of my second day of Christmas reading Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of the birth of Jesus in The Bible.
Before today’s little research adventure, I don’t think I was aware that only two of the four Gospels mention Christ’s birth: for some reason, I assumed that all four Gospel writers wrote about the birth of Jesus. Several other things took me by surprise, including:
- there are more differences between the accounts of Luke and Matthew than similarities
- the only two points the writers agree on are where Jesus was born (Bethlehem) and where Jesus and his family lived (Nazareth)
- the Book of Luke has the shepherds while the Book of Matthew has the wise men
- the number of wise men is not indicated – I’m assuming that “Three Wise Men” came from the three types of gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) recorded by the author
- Luke states the reason (census taking) for Joseph traveling to Bethlehem with a pregnant wife – also the reason for taking shelter in the stable
I know from various Bible studies I’ve attended that genealogies are important in The Bible for a number of reasons, including to establish the significance of a particular person or their role in history. After reading both versions, it occurred to me that the genealogy listed in Matthew’s account was different from Luke’s family history of Jesus. And then I wondered why Joseph’s lineage mattered at all since he technically wasn’t the father. According to Wikipedia, Luke’s genealogy outlines the mother’s (Mary’s) descendents while Matthew traces Joseph’s ancestry, who, by law is the father of Mary’s child.