Nativity of Jesus In Christianity
The nativity of Jesus or birth of Jesus is the basis for the Christian holiday of Christmas and 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. Luke’s version says the birth took place during a Roman census, mentions an announcement to shepherds by angels, presentation of Jesus in 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. The consensus of scholars is that both gospels were written about AD 75-85, 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.
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) as a result of their churches continuing to follow the Julian calendar, rather than the modern day Gregorian calendar.
Date of 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. The historical evidence is too ambiguous to allow a definitive dating, but the date has been estimated through known historical events mentioned in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew or by working backwards from the estimated start of the ministry of Jesus. Luke 2:1 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
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. 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 4:8.
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. 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. In Contra Celsum 1.51, Origen, who from around 215 travelled throughout Palestine, wrote of the “manger of Jesus”.
The Quranic birth of Jesus, like the Gospels, places the virgin birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
New Testament narratives
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 1 of Matthew’s Gospel recounts Jesus’s birth and naming 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
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
Mainstream scholars interpret Matthew’s nativity as depicting Jesus as a new Moses with a genealogy going back to Abraham, 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 (2:18)
Scholars 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. 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 (1:18–25) is reminiscent of the biblical accounts of the births of Ishmael, Isaac, and Samson (Genesis 16:11, 17;19; Judges 13:3,5), 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.”
Old Testament parallels
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”. 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 uses the Hebrew almah, which may mean “maiden,” “young woman,” or “virgin.” Raymond E. Brownstates 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. Barbara Aland and other scholars consider the Greek “Ναζωραίος” (Nazoréos) used for Nazarene of uncertain etymology and meaning, but M. J. J. Menken states that it is a demonym that refers to an “inhabitant of Nazareth”. Menken also states that it may be referring to Judges 13:5, 7. Gary Smith states that Nazirite may mean one consecrated to God, i.e. an ascetic; or may refer to Isaiah 11:1. The Oxford Bible Commentary states that it may be word-play on the use of “nazirite,” “Holy One of God,” in Isaiah 4:3, 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.
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
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.— Colossians 1:15–16 regards the birth of Jesus as the model for all creation.
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.
In 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.
In 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. 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.
In 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.”
Irenaeus 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.
In 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.
In 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. 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”. 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”.
The theology persisted into the Protestant Reformation, and second Adam was one of the six modes of atonement discussed by John Calvin. 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.
The 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.
The salvific emphasis of Matthew 1:21 later impacted the theological issues and the devotions to Holy Name of Jesus. 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. The name Emmanuel does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament, but Matthew builds on it in 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. 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.
A 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). 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.
In 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 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. To deal with this issue, Aquinas distinguishes between the person born and the nature in which the birth takes place. 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.
Impact on Christianity
Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord
Christian 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. 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.The liturgical season of Advent precedes, and is used to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Customs of the Christmas season include completing an Advent daily devotional and Advent wreath, carol singing,gift giving, seeing Nativity plays, attending church services, and eating special food, such as Christmas cake. In many countries, such as Sweden, people start to set up their Advent and Christmas decorations on the first day of Advent. Liturgically, this is done in some parishes through a hanging of the greens ceremony.
History of feasts and liturgical elements
The 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. 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. 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.
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. In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian declared Christmas to be a legal holiday.
In 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.
By 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.
Transforming the image of Jesus
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 εἰκών 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. 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.
The lordship attributes associated with the Kyrios image of Jesus also implied his power over all creation. 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. 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.
Thus 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.
According 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.
Hymns, art and music
Canticles appearing in Luke
Luke’s Nativity text has given rise to four well known canticles: the Benedictus and theMagnificat in the first chapter, and the Gloria in Excelsis and the Nunc dimittis in the second chapter. These “Gospel canticles” are now an integral part of the Christian liturgical tradition. 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.
The Magnificat, in Luke 1:46–55, is spoken by Mary and is one of the 8 most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn. The Benedictus, in Luke 1:68–79, is spoken by Zechariah, while the Nunc dimittis, in Luke 2:29–32 is spoken by Simeon. The traditional Gloria in Excelsis is longer than the opening line presented in Luke 2:14, and is often called the “Song of the Angels” given that it was uttered by the angels in the Annunciation to the Shepherds.
The 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.
Neither Luke nor Matthew claims their birth narratives are based on direct testimony. 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.
Daniel 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.
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.
Many modern scholars consider the birth narratives unhistorical because they are laced with theology and present two different accounts. 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.
|Gospel according to Luke||Gospel according to Matthew|
1. Annunciation to Mary in Nazareth
1. Annunciation to Joseph
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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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 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.
Sanders 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. Many view the discussion of historicity as secondary, given that gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than chronological timelines.
For instance, Matthew pays far more attention to the name of the child and its theological implications than the actual birth event itself. 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. As a result, modern scholars do not use much of the birth narratives for historical information. 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.
Massacre of the Innocents
According to Paul L Maier, most modern biographies of Herod do not believe the massacre took place. 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. 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 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.
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. Paul L. Maierargues 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 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.
- Isaak 2011, p. 144.
- Robinson 2009, p. 111.
- Lincoln 2013, p. 40.
- The image of St Francis by Rosalind B. Brooke 2006 ISBN0-521-78291-0 pp. 183–184
- The tradition of Catholic prayer by Christian Raab, Harry Hagan, St. Meinrad Archabbey 2007 ISBN0-8146-3184-3 pp. 86–87
- The vitality of the Christian tradition by George Finger Thomas 1944 ISBN0-8369-2378-2 pp. 110–112
- “29 كيهك – اليوم التاسع والعشرين من شهر كيهك – السنكسار”. st-takla.org.
- “Orthodox Christmas Day in the United States”. www.timeanddate.com.
- Dunn, James DG (2003). “Jesus Remembered”. Eerdmans Publishing: 324.
- 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”.
- 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 ISBN0-931464-50-1 pp. 113–129
- New Testament History by Richard L. Niswonger 1992 IBN 0-310-31201-9 pp. 121–124
- Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi by Karl Rahner 2004 ISBN0-86012-006-6 pp. 474 and 1434
- Matthew 2:1.
- Luke 2:4.
- Virgin Birth of Chris by J Gresham Machen 1987 ISBN0-227-67630-0 p. 193
- Matthew by David L. Turner (Apr 15, 2008) ISBN0801026849 page 98
- Joseph F. Kelly (2008). The Birth of Jesus According to the Gospels. Liturgical Press. p. 43. ISBN978-0-8146-2948-2.
- Brown, Raymond Edward (1977). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. p. 401. ISBN978-0-385-05907-7.
- Migdal Eder and the Lord’s first coming in the Book of Micah. This teaching by Rabbi Mike L Short.
- Taylor, Joan E. (1993). Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 99–102. ISBN978-0-19-814785-5.
- Protoevangelium 18; Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho; cf. Origen, Contra Celsum 1.2.
- Taylor, Joan E. (1993). Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 99–100. ISBN978-0-19-814785-5.
- Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible 2000 ISBN90-5356-503-5p. 173
- The Everything Jesus Book by Jon Kennedy 2006 ISBN1-59337-712-6 p. 20
- What You Need to Know about Islam and Muslims by George W. Braswell 2000 ISBN0-8054-1829-6 p. 108
- Islam and the destiny of man by Gai Eaton 1986 ISBN0-88706-163-X p. 108
- Matthew 1:18-24
- Helmut Köster, “Ancient Christian gospels: their history and development”, Continuum International Publishing Group, (2004). pp. 307–308
- C. T. Ruddick, Jr. (1970) “Birth Narratives in Genesis and Luke” Novum Testamentum 12(4):343–348.
- Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. “Luke” pp. 297–301
- “Jesus Christ.” Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. “Matthew” pp. 272–285
- Brown, Raymond Edward (1977). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. pp. 104–121. ISBN978-0-385-05907-7.
- Ulrich Luz, The Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, ISBN0-521-43576-5 p. 24/25
- Ulrich Luz, Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, ISBN0-521-43576-5 p. 28
- Barton, John; Muddiman, John (6 September 2001). The Oxford Bible Commentary. OUP Oxford. ISBN9780198755005 – via Google Books.
- See Aland, op.cit., p. 3.
- 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. ISBN0-8091-2168-9.
- Matthew’s Bible: the Old Testament text of the evangelist by M. J. J. Menken 2004 ISBN90-429-1419-X p. 161
- Aland, Barbara; Aland, Kurt; Martini, Carlo M.; Karavidopoulos, Johannes; Metzger, Bruce M. (December 1983). Novum Testamentum Graece Et Latine—Greek/Latin New Testament. American Bible Society. p. 5. ISBN978-3-438-05401-2.
- Matthew’s Bible: the Old Testament text of the evangelist by M. J. J. Menken 2004 ISBN90-429-1419-X p. 164
- Menken, Maarten J. J. “The Sources of the Old Testament Quotation in Matthew 2:23” Journal of Biblical Literature120:3 (451–68), 467–8.
- Smith, Gary (2007-08-30). The New American Commentary: Isaiah 1–33, Vol. 15A (New American Commentary). B&H Publishing Group. p. 268. ISBN978-0-8054-0115-8.
- Ulrich Luz, the Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, Cambridge University Press, ISBN0-521-43576-5 p. 18
- Church dogmatics, Volume 4, Part 1 by Karl Barth, Geoffrey William Bromiley, Thomas Forsyth Torrance 2004 ISBN0-567-05129-3 pp. 256–259
- An introduction to the early history of Christian doctrineby James Franklin Bethune-Baker 2005 ISBN1-4021-5770-3p. 334
- A History of the Christian Church by Williston Walker 2010 ISBN1-4400-4446-5 pp. 65–66
- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1988 ISBN0-8028-3785-9 page 308
- An introductory dictionary of theology and religious studiesby Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff 2007 ISBN0-8146-5856-3 p. 238
- Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 ISBN0-86554-373-9 p. 712
- Basic Theology: by Charles Caldwell Ryrie 1999 ISBN0-8024-2734-0 p. 275
- Systematic Theology, Volume 2 by Wolfhart Pannenberg 2004 ISBN0567084663, pp. 297–303
- An exposition of the epistle of Saint Paul to the Philippiansby Jean Daille 1995 ISBN0-8028-2511-7 pp. 194–195
- Christ in Christian Tradition: From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon by Aloys Grillmeier, John Bowden 1975 ISBN0-664-22301-X pp. 15–19
- The Witness of Jesus, Paul and John: An Exploration in Biblical Theology by Larry R. Helyer 2008 ISBN0-8308-2888-5 p. 282
- Burke, Raymond L.; et al. (2008). Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated PersonsISBN978-1-57918-355-4 pp. 613–614
- The Early Christian World, Volumes 1–2 by Philip Francis Esler 2004 ISBN0-415-33312-1 p. 452
- Handbook to life in the medieval world, Volume 1 by Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Linda Gale Jones 2008 ISBN0-8160-4887-8 p. 329
- Orthodox readings of Augustine by George E. Demacopoulos, Aristotle Papanikolaou 2008 ISBN0-88141-327-5 pp. 92–96
- 1Corinthians 15:22
- The theology of John Calvin by Charles Partee 2008 ISBN0-664-23119-5 p. 159
- Theology of the New Testament by Georg Strecker 2000 ISBN0-664-22336-2 pp. 401–403
- Matthew by Grant R. Osborne 2010 ISBN0-310-32370-3lxxix
- Toward the origins of Christmas by Susan K. Roll 1995 ISBN90-390-0531-1 pp. 208–211
- McGrath, Alister E. (2007), Christian theology: an introduction, Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, p. 282, ISBN978-1-4051-5360-7
- Ehrman, Bart D. (1993), The Orthodox corruption of scripture: the effect of early Christological controversies on the text of the New Testament, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN978-0-19-510279-6
- Mary and the Saints by James P. Campbell 2005 0829417257 pp. 17–20
- All the Doctrines of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer 1988 ISBN0-310-28051-6 p. 159
- Matthew 1–13 by Manlio Simonetti 2001 ISBN0-8308-1486-8 p. 17
- Matthew 1-2/ Luke 1–2 by Louise Perrotta 2004 ISBN0-8294-1541-6 p. 19
- Matthew’s Emmanuel by David D. Kupp 1997 ISBN0-521-57007-7 pp. 220–224
- Who do you say that I am?: essays on Christology by Jack Dean Kingsbury, Mark Allan Powell, David R. Bauer 1999 ISBN0-664-25752-6 p. 17
- The theology of the Gospel of Matthew by Ulrich Luz 1995 ISBN0-521-43576-5 p. 31
- Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, Vol XIV p. 207, translated edition by H.R. Percival. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/ephesus.html
- The 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 acts of the Council of Chalcedon by Council of Chalcedon, Richard Price, Michael Gaddis 2006 ISBN0-85323-039-0 pp. 1–5
- The creed: the apostolic faith in contemporary theology by Berard L. Marthaler 2007 ISBN0-89622-537-2 p. 114
- Essential theological terms by Justo L. González 2005 ISBN0-664-22810-0 p. 120
- Doctrine and practice in the early church by Stuart George Hall 1992 ISBN0-8028-0629-5 pp. 211–218
- Leo the Great by Pope Leo I, Bronwen Neil 2009 ISBN0-415-39480-5 pp. 61–62
- Summa Theologica, Volume 4 (Part III, First Section) by St. Thomas Aquinas 207 Cosimo Classics ISBN1-60206-560-8pp. 2197–2211
- Aquinas on doctrine: a critical introduction by Thomas Gerard Weinandy, John Yocum 2004 ISBN0-567-08411-6 p. 98
- Calvin’s Catholic Christology by E. David Willis 1966 Published by E.J. Brill, Netherlands, p. 83
- Inc, World Book (1987). Christmas in the Holy Land. World Book Encyclopedia. p. 58. ISBN9780716608875.
- Forbes, Bruce David. Christmas: A Candid History. University of California Press. p. 27. ISBN978-0-520-25802-0.
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.
- Hynes, Mary Ellen (1993). Companion to the Calendar. Liturgy Training Publications. p. 8. ISBN978-1-56854-011-5.
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.
- Knight, Kevin (2012). “Christmas”. The Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Retrieved 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.
- Hill, Christopher (2003). Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year. Quest Books. p. 91. ISBN978-0-8356-0810-7.
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.
- Bunson, Matthew (October 21, 2007). “Origins of Christmas and Easter holidays”. Eternal Word Television Network(EWTN). Retrieved 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 Church of England Magazine, Volume 49. J. Burns. 1860. p. 369.
- Kennedy, Rodney Wallace; Hatch, Derek C (27 August 2013). Baptists at Work in Worship. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 147. ISBN978-1-62189-843-6.
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.
- Geddes, Gordon; Griffiths, Jane (2002). Christian Belief and Practice. Heinemann. p. 102. ISBN9780435306915.
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.
- Kubesh, Katie; McNeil, Niki; Bellotto, Kimm. The 12 Days of Christmas. In the Hands of a Child. p. 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.
- Collins, Ace (2010). Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. pp. 139–141. ISBN9780310873884.
- Bharati, Agehanada (1 January 1976). Ideas and Actions. Walter de Gruyter. p. 454. ISBN9783110805871.
These were services of worship held in Christian churches at Christmastide…
- Nair, Malini (15 December 2013). “Cakewalk in Allahabad”. The Times of India. Retrieved 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.
- Michelin (10 October 2012). Germany Green Guide Michelin 2012–2013. Michelin. p. 73. ISBN9782067182110.
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.
- Normark, Helena (1997). “Modern Christmas”. Graphic Garden. Retrieved 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.
- Rice, Howard L.; Huffstutler, James C. (1 January 2001). Reformed Worship. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 197. ISBN978-0-664-50147-1.
Another popular activity is the “Hanging of the Greens,” a service in which the sanctuary is decorated for Christmas.
- An introductory dictionary of theology and religious studiesby Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff 2007 ISBN0-8146-5856-3 p. 237
- The journey of the Magi: meanings in history of a Christian story by Richard C. Trexler 1997 ISBN0-691-01126-5 p. 9
- Christian worship in Reformed Churches past and presentby Lukas Vischer 2002 ISBN0-8028-0520-5 pp. 400–401
- Mills, Watson E.; Edgar V. McKnight; Roger Aubrey Bullard (1990). Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press. p. 142. ISBN978-0-86554-373-7. Retrieved July 10,2012.
- Aspects of the liturgical year in Cappadocia (325–430) by Jill Burnett Comings 2005 ISBN0-8204-7464-9 pp. 61–71
- Sacred Christmas Music by Ronald M. Clancy 2008 ISBN1-4027-5811-1 pp. 15–19
- The Feast of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly 2010 ISBN0-8146-3325-0 pp. 331–391
- Pastor and laity in the theology of Jean Gerson by Dorothy Catherine Brown 1987 ISBN0-521-33029-7 p. 32
- The Feast of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly 2010 ISBN0-8146-3325-0 pp. 112–114
- Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 ISBN0-86554-373-9 pp. 520–525
- Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianityby Larry W. Hurtado 2005 ISBN0-8028-3167-2 pp. 113 and 179
- II Corinthians: a commentary by Frank J. Matera 2003 ISBN0-664-22117-3 pp. 11–13
- Philippians 2:10
- Christology: Biblical And Historical by Mini S. Johnson, 2005 ISBN81-8324-007-0 pp. 74–76
- Christology: Biblical And Historical by Mini S. Johnson ISBN p. 211
- La vida sacra: contemporary Hispanic sacramental theologyby James L. Empereur, Eduardo Fernández 2006 ISBN0-7425-5157-1 pp. 3–5
- Philippines by Lily Rose R. Tope, Detch P. Nonan-Mercado 2005 ISBN0-7614-1475-4 p. 109
- Christology: Key Readings in Christian Thought by Jeff Astley, David Brown, Ann Loades 2009 ISBN0-664-23269-8p. 106
- Williams, Rowan Ponder these things 2002 ISBN1-85311-362-X p. 7
- An Introduction to the Bible by Robert Kugler, Patrick Hartin ISBN0-8028-4636-X p. 394
- Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 ISBN0-86554-373-9 p. 396
- Sanctity of time and space in tradition and modernity by Alberdina Houtman, Marcel Poorthuis, Joshua Schwartz 1998 ISBN90-04-11233-2 pp. 61–62
- The History and Use of Hymns and Hymn-Tunes by David R Breed 2009 ISBN1-110-47186-6 p. 17
- Favourite Hymns by Marjorie Reeves 2006 ISBN0-8264-8097-7 pp. 3–5
- All the music of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer 2004 ISBN1-56563-531-0 p. 120
- Music of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Giulio Cattin, F. Alberto Gallo 1985 ISBN0-521-28489-9 p. 2
- The Feast of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly 2010 ISBN0-8146-3325-0 pp. 22–31
- The mystical language of icons by Solrunn Nes 2005 ISBN0-8028-2916-3 p. 43
- The meaning of icons by Leonide Ouspensky, Vladimir Lossky 1999 ISBN0-913836-77-X p. 157
- Church Fathers and Teachers: From Saint Leo the Great to Peter Lombard by Pope Benedict XVI 2010 ISBN1-58617-317-0 p. 32
- Wellesz, Egon (1947). “The Nativity Drama of the Byzantine Church”. Journal of Roman Studies. 37: 145–151. doi:10.2307/298465. JSTOR298465.
- Miles, Clement, Christmas customs and traditions, Dover 1976, ISBN0-486-23354-5, pp. 31–37
- Miles, Clement, Christmas customs and traditions, Dover 1976, ISBN0-486-23354-5, pp. 47–48
- Jesus in history, thought, and culture: an encyclopedia, Volume 1 by James Leslie Houlden 2003 ISBN1-57607-856-6 pp. 631–635
- Mark D. Roberts Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Good News Publishers, 2007 p. 102
- The Origins of the Gospel According to St. Matthew by George Dunbar Kilpatrick 2007 ISBN0-86516-667-6 p. 54
- The Gospel according to Luke by Michael Patella 2005 ISBN0-8146-2862-1 pp. 9–10
- Lord Jesus Christ by Larry W. Hurtado 2005 ISBN0-8028-3167-2 p. 322
- A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Volume II by James Hastings 2004 ISBN1-4102-1788-4 p. 805
- Recovering Jesus: the witness of the New TestamentThomas R. Yoder Neufeld 2007 ISBN1-58743-202-1 pp. 116–123
- Daniel J. Harrington 1991 The Gospel of MatthewISBN0-8146-5803-2 pp. 45–49
- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1988 ISBN0-8028-3785-9 p. 685
- John Bernard Orchard, 1983 Synopsis of the Four GospelsISBN0-567-09331-X pp. 4–12
- The horizontal line synopsis of the Gospels by Reuben J. Swanson 1984 ISBN0-87808-744-3 page xix
- Gospel Parallels by Burton H. Throckmorton 1992 ISBN0-8407-7484-2 pp. 2–7
- Steven L. Cox, Kendell H. Easley, 2007 Harmony of the GospelsISBN0-8054-9444-8 pp. 289–290
- The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: Volume 3 Abingdon Press, 2008. pp. 42, 269–70.
- Brown, Raymond Edward (1999-05-18). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library). Yale University Press. p. 36. ISBN978-0-300-14008-8.
- Crossan, John Dominic; Watts, Richard J. (October 1999). Who Is Jesus?: Answers to Your Questions About the Historical Jesus. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 11–12. ISBN978-0-664-25842-9.
- 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.
- Vermes, Géza (2006-11-02). The Nativity: History and Legend. Penguin Books Ltd. p. 64. ISBN978-0-14-102446-2.
- 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.
- Jeremy Corley New Perspectives on the NativityContinuum International Publishing Group, 2009 p. 22.
- Wright, Tom (March 2004). Luke for Everyone. London: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 39. ISBN978-0-664-22784-5.
- Vermes, Géza (2006-11-02). The Nativity: History and Legend. Penguin Books Ltd. p. 22. ISBN978-0-14-102446-2.
- Sanders, Ed Parish (1993). The Historical Figure of Jesus. London: Allen Lane. p. 85. ISBN978-0-7139-9059-1.
- Hurtado, Larry W. (June 2003). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. pp. 319–320. ISBN978-0-8028-6070-5.
- The birth of the Messiah by Raymond Brown 1993 ISBN0-385-47202-1 p. 513
- Oshri, Aviram (November–December 2005). “Where was Jesus Born?”. Archaeology. 58 (6). Retrieved 24 November2012.
- Chilton, Bruce (2006), “Recovering Jesus’ Mamzerut”, in Charlesworth, James H., Jesus and Archaeology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, pp. 95–96, ISBN9780802848802
- Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus edited by Tom Holmen and Stanley E. Porter (Jan 12, 2011) ISBN9004163727 pages 3411–3412
- 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.”
- Interpreting Gospel Narratives: Scenes, People, and Theology by Timothy Wiarda 2010 ISBN0-8054-4843-8 pp. 75–78
- Jesus, the Christ: Contemporary Perspectives by Brennan R. Hill 2004 ISBN1-58595-303-2 p. 89
- The Gospel of Luke by Timothy Johnson 1992 ISBN0-8146-5805-9 p. 72
- Recovering Jesus: the witness of the New TestamentThomas R. Yoder Neufeld 2007 ISBN1-58743-202-1 p. 111
- Matthew by Thomas G. Long 1997 ISBN0-664-25257-5 pp. 14–15
- Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundiby Karl Rahner 2004 ISBN0-86012-006-6 p. 731
- Bruce M. Metzger, Michael D. Coogan, The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible. Oxford University Press US, 2004. p. 137
- “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
- Josephus and the New Testament by Steve Mason 2003 ISBN1-56563-795-X p. 160
- Robert B. Stewart; Gary R. Habermas (1 July 2010). Memories of Jesus. B&H Publishing Group. pp. 181–. ISBN978-1-4336-7219-4.
- The Gospel of Matthew by R. T. France 2007 ISBN0-8028-2501-X pp. 43 and 83
- Paul L. Maier, Herod and the Infants of Bethlehem in “Chronos, Kairos, Christos 2” by Ray Summers, Jerry Vardaman ISBN0-86554-582-0 pp. 169–179
- Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times by Paul Barnett 2002 ISBN0-8308-2699-8p. 85
- Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Craig L. Blomberg 2009 ISBN0-8054-4482-3 p. 244
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