Tag the nativity

The Star of Bethlehem Documentary – Textual Criticism and Josephus

This is Part 2 of a critical examination of the MMEL hypothesis of the Star of Bethlehem. Go to the index here.

In Part 1 of this critical overview of the Star of Bethlehem film and its version of history (which I have called the MMEL hypothesis), I looked at the reasons scholars can say we know Herod died no later than 4 BCE given the information we have from Josephus as well as what we can connect with other accounts. The information from Josephus seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of a 5/4 BCE date for Herod’s death, which would then contradict the time frame needed for the conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus as the MMEL hypothesis requires. However, there is another argument that is focused on, though not detailed, in the documentary, and it concerns the text that we have of Josephus.

The Star of Bethlehem in the Blogosphere

In my last post I looked at what I could find in the news or related to articles and books on the subject of the Star of Bethlehem. There wasn’t too much going on there, so now I want to explore what is going on in the world of blogs. I think this is showing where the conversations are really moving to rather than in newspapers and journal articles, at least for things not done in a strictly academic fashion.

Exclusive! William Lane Craig Accidentally Admits Nativity Accounts of Matthew and Luke “may be legend”!

That’s true. You heard it right here. An exclusive.

William Lane Craig is something of a knight in shining armour to the Christian fraternity. He is ubiquitous – whenever there is an event, he has something to say about it (the Sandy Hook massacre, for example), and whenever there is a philosophical argument, Christians reference him and his apologetics. It seems that he says “jump” and Christians say “how high?”

How do you solve a problem like Herod?

Over on a previous post and thread, one (Christian) commenter declared that the likes of JP Holding and Jason Engwer had basically dealt with all of the harmonisation issues within the context of the historical problems in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew and their infancy accounts. I will now, as Randal Rauser did in our recent debate, refer to the accounts as M and L.

In my book, The Nativity: A Critical Examination, I did not really deal with the work of Holding and Engwer other than a few passing comments and a reference to Engwer in relation to the spectrum of Christian approaches to the exegesis of these accounts, from the literal and historic approach of Engwer (and Holding) to the more theological approach of scholars like Raymond Brown.

A Coincidentally Bad Argument for the Nativity – Adair on Apologist JW Wartick

With the early successes of my tongue-in-cheek War on Christmas, it’s time to open up another front. I recently came across an article defending the Nativity’s historicity via a friend on Facebook. I figure, I already dealt with the Pope, so another apologetic effort for the Nativity is work the while. This comes from J.W. Wartick, a grad student in apologetics at Biola University according to his info page, so that probably makes him a better read on defenses of the faith than the Pope. So let me take a look at what he proposes here that makes the stories of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels more historical than fiction.

The Pope on the Nativity Part 2

Continuing from my last post, I will take a look at some of the historical claims of the Nativity of Jesus from the Bible and see how Pope Benedict XVI defends them in his most recent book.

First, let’s make a note of an argument that His Holiness seems to use several times in defending the historicity of the stories from modern critics. Many scholars will point to the theological reasons as to why the author of a given Gospel would tell such a story, which in turn gives us reason to suspect that the tale make not be historically authentic. Benedict, on the other hand, says that that is not sufficient to consider the tradition inauthentic. Perhaps not, but it should make us suspicious. Besides, this is not the only reason scholars doubt things such as the birth in Bethlehem or the miraculous conception of Mary. There are other things to consider.

The Pope’s New Book on Jesus’ Birth. Now He’s in Trouble!

There has been a fair bit of press about the newest publication from the current head of the Catholic Church, Joseph Ratzinger, better known now as Pope Benedict XVI (don’t you just hate sequels?). There was even a humorous take on some of the aspects of the new book from the colossus of comedy Stephen Colbert.

Three Speaking Events Booked for December and a Radio Debate!

So, with the release of The Nativity: A Critical Examination this year, I have several speaking events arranged in the local area, with another potential date in the pipeline too. I will be delivering a talk on the reliability of the nativity accounts to the Association of Humanist Societies at Southampton University. The Atheist Society have kindly asked me to talk during a conference they are putting on for other student atheist societies (on how to run them effectively). The talk is penciled in for the afternoon of Saturday 1st December at 3pm at Southampton University, though it is not only for students – the general public can get in on the action too!