Top 5 Common Christmas Myths

Take Two blog

Christmastime is here! For many of us, the holiday brings happiness and cheer and longstanding traditions. One that my family and neighbors participated in when I was a kid was Las Posadas (the inn). Basically a procession of “pilgrims” (neighborhood families) goes house to house asking for lodging. The residents refuse (as planned) and the journey continues until the “innkeeper” takes them in. This festivity serves as a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Plus it comes with plenty of singing, tamale eating, and piñata breaking!

Of course, we all know Mary and Joseph didn’t eat tamales or break piñatas, but it turns out there are other elements in this “reenactment” of the nativity (and in many Christmas carols, for that matter) that may not have been part of the real Christmas narrative.

Theology Mom Krista Bontrager helps explain a few of these common myths about Christmas and how to “detox ourselves” from embellishing on a perfectly good story.

Krista, many of us were taught that Jesus was born in a stable because “there was no room in the inn.” Was He born in a stable?

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Probably not. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that Joseph went from home to home looking for a place to stay. That story stems from many translations’ use of the word “inn” in Luke 2:7. From that, we extrapolate a whole slew of events—the innkeeper, innkeeper’s wife, a No Vacancy sign flashing. The problem is that the word used in Luke 2 (kataluma) is not the word for inn—that’s a bad English translation. The word is better translated as “upper room” or “guest room.” In fact, the 2011 translation of NIV makes that correction. Luke 22:11 also uses kataluma to describe the guest room where the last supper took place. In contrast, pandocheion (correctly translated as “inn”) appears in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Where was Jesus born, then, if not in a stable?

It’s much more likely He was born in a home. Mary and Joseph were going to their ancestral home, which means they had extended family there. It’s almost inconceivable that their family would not have taken them in considering the cultural practices of that time…

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BIBLE STUDY REASOURCES:

The Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture

The Literary Study Bible

 

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