The Real Story of Christmas!

Most of us grew up with the traditional story of Christmas and the Birth of Jesus but my view of the Christmas story was crushed after a trip to Israel and Bethlehem. The traditional story where baby Jesus was born alone in a barn or cave in a wooden manger actually came from a book caked “The Proroevangelism of James,” around 200 AD. The author was not very familiar with the culture, history and context of his birth.

Typical Bethlehem House

First looking at the context of the city. Bethlehem was a small town off the main highway. There was not an Inn like we would think of in western culture like a motel. Most of the village would have been made up of small houses that consisted of a main room where the family would cook, eat and sleep, a guest or in-law room, a tool and supply room and a room under the main room where they kept the animals.

Main Family Living Area Door Going to Guest Room

First looking at the context of the city. Bethlehem was a small town off the main highway. There was not an Inn like we would think of in western culture like a motel. Most of the village would have been made up of small houses that consisted of a main room where the family would cook, eat and sleep, a guest or in-law room, a tool and supply room and a room under the main room where they kept the animals.

Tool Room Straight Ahead & Animal Room to the Left

Mary and Joseph would not have been alone in a barn. They would have been considered royalty because he was  descendant of David. Also he grew up here and probably had family in the town. It would have been culturally very bad to not provide shelter especially to a pregnant woman.

Animal Room with Manger to the Left Behind the Desk

Jesus would have been born in the context of a family. The women of the town would have gathered and kicked out the men and supported the birth of Jesus. When the Bible said that the Inn was full all the guest rooms would have been full so they stayed underneath the main floor where the animals were kept at night and the manger was a carved piece of stone where they would have placed blankets and straw for the baby to sleep on.

This is quite a different picture of his birth than the traditional Christmas story. Jesus’ birth would have been part of the community.

 

Further Reading

 

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