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Author Topic:   Would Mary Have Been In Bethlehem?
Member (Idle past 2202 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004

Message 22 of 156 (508059)
05-10-2009 9:47 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by Peg
05-10-2009 5:45 AM

but lets just say that the account was a fraud... why would the writer give a specific age of the baby boys who Herod wanted killed? Why not just say 'and Herod sent to have all the baby boys killed'

There are too many specific details in the account to conclude that it was a false account. You have to remember that these gospels were being circulated to the jews themselves to prove jesus Messiahship. Any untruths would have quickly been identified by the authorities and squashed.

What authorities are you talking about? Do you understand the turmoil that was going on at the time Mark was supposedly written?

History of Christianity in Rome
During the first century, Roman authorities used the Christians who resided in their city as political scapegoats. Christians received the blame, and punishment, for everything from plagues and economic inflation to hostile invasions by barbarians. Under the Emperor Nero, the public execution of Christians became "sports" events in which the early believers were torched, fastened to crosses and torn to pieces by dogs. ...

After facing nearly three centuries of hostility by Roman emperors, the persecution and martyrdom of Christians in Rome ended with the reforms of the Emperor Constantine (r. 306-337). Constantine was responsible for legalizing Christianity throughout the Roman empire. Constantine became a patron and protector of the church.

The author of Luke mentioned the skeptics. The word for “refused to believe” is Apeitheo and the meaning in Strong’s Concordance is: 1. not to allow one’s self to be persuaded and 2. not to comply with.

Acts 14:
at Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

Also found Acts 19:9 “But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. …..

There were Jews who didn't buy what Paul was selling and they did speak out. Remember the Gospels and the Book of Acts were all written after the Jewish War. You might also check out this thread: Was Christianity Exposed?

We can't read the Gospels the way we read biographies today.

The Gospels Are Not Biographies
The gospels are not biographies in the modern sense of the word. Rather, they are stories told in such a way as to evoke a certain image of Jesus for a particular audience. They're trying to convey a message about Jesus, about his significance to the audience and thus we we have to think of them as a kind of preaching, as well as story telling. That's what the gospel, The Good News, is really all about. L. Michael White

As I've said many time before the authors of the Bible have a purpose for their writings specific to their audience.

What makes you think these gospels were being circulated through the Jews? The writer's weren't Jews. They were Greeks. The Gospel of Mark is the earliest and apparently written in Rome.

It is now fairly settled that the Gospel of Mark is the earliest of the gospels and did not develop out of an earlier stage as a Primitive Mark, as once supposed. Its place of composition was certainly Rome.[1] It must have been written after the Jewish War of A.D. 66-70; compare 13:14-20:

"As soon as you see the dreadful desecration standing where he has no right to stand" (the reader must take note of this), "then those who are in Judea must fly to the hills; a man on the roof of his house must not go down or go into the house to get anything out of it, and a man in the field must not turn back to get his coat. .... There will be such misery in those days as there has never been since the beginning of God's creation until now, and never will be again."

After the destruction of the Temple in the Jewish War, Christianity was cast out of Judaism.

So the author of Matthew is inspired by the birth story of Moses and uses that slaughter imagery for his birth story of Jesus. Mark didn't have a birth story, so the author of Matthew and Luke were on their own.

The slaughter and the census are facts that can be checked. Josephus didn't mention the slaughter and he delighted in listing all of Herod's atrocities and the census can be checked and has been checked. Since these supposed facts aren't literally true, then the reader has to understand what point the writer was trying to make to his audience.

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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 Message 18 by Peg, posted 05-10-2009 5:45 AM Peg has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 2202 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004

Message 23 of 156 (508063)
05-10-2009 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Peg
05-10-2009 7:07 AM

She may not have been required to go but if i was heavily pregnant and my husband was required to go away for a length of time, i think i would want to go along too. I doubt she would want to stay behind knowing that he would miss the birth.
Its probably as simple as that.
If you've actually had three pregnancies then you should know better.

Even today, three days of driving or riding in a car is uncomfortable in the last months. Unless I absolutely had to, I wouldn't go on such a trip with my husband so close to my due date. I wouldn't want to have a baby in a strange hospital. In those days they had a midwife.

Remember marriages were arranged and the couple didn't necessarily have this need to be together. They were probably more strangers than not. These two also hadn't consummated the marriage yet.

and that was quite normal in those days...thats how people got around. They were used to it.
We are used to daily driving also, but a three day trip of consistent driving is harder on us than daily driving.

Mary didnt walk, she was carried on a donkey.
Then the argument that she is used to walking is irrelevant. Was she used to riding a donkey for long periods of time? Probably not. They aren't comfy.

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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Member (Idle past 2202 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004

Message 46 of 156 (508623)
05-15-2009 6:52 AM
Reply to: Message 40 by ochaye
05-13-2009 10:52 PM

Possibility vs Probability
This thread seems to be mostly guesswork (some of it none too reasonable, imv) because there are just too few facts to hand, too many possibilities that the account allows for. If Jews and Romans could not diss this account, and it appears that they had motivation to do so, it does not seem very likely that people 2000 years after the fact can do so.
We can imagine many possibilities, but then we have to determine which of those possibilities are probable.

Possible: being something that may or may not be true or actual

Probable: supported by evidence strong enough to establish presumption but not proof

The word "possible" carries the implication that the likelihood is minimal.
The word "probable" carries the implication that the likelihood is strong. IOW, a high chance of occuring.

The OP is trying to look at the probablity that Mary would have actually gone to Bethlehem as the story claims.

I think we can, even 2,000 years later, discern whether account is probable and not just possible.

Many have pointed out the nature of Roman census taking which makes the claim improbable that Mary would have gone to Bethlehem.

The 1st Gospel out, Mark, didn't mention the birth of Jesus at all.
We've found that Matthew and Luke copied from Mark, so those authors came up with the birth from another source.

Matthew is the next Gospel written and the author didn't imply that Mary and Joseph didn't already live in Bethlehem. The author of Matthew needed them in Egypt to fulfill the "called out of Egypt" prophecy. With the Herod massacre of children, the author was mirroring the massacre of children after the birth of Moses. These are probably based on oral stories concerning Jesus at the time.

Luke is a later writing, written about the time of Josephus. Notice no Magi in Luke, but he has shepherds. The mention that there was no room in the inn supports the idea that it would have been a logistical nightmare to send people back to their place of origin. No fleeing to Egypt in Luke, no fear of anyone killing the baby.

The author of Luke had them in Bethlehem (assume by the story) until Jesus was eight days old. When the time of their purification was complete they went to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord. Then they went home to Nazareth.

So by Luke's story this carpenter traveled at least 3 days to the census, stayed eight more days til the child could be circumcised, took another day to travel to Jerusalem, then traveled at least 4 days to get back to Nazareth. Odds are with a pregnant woman and later a baby, the trip took more time, but what we have so far is at least 16 days this man is away from his home and business. This means loss of income and money he would need to spend on a place to stay and food. Since they were going to stay at an inn, we know he didn't have family to stay with or family that had room for them.

One thing about stories, they don't take into account all the everyday realities of a situation.
So, given all this, the probability that the census required Joseph to travel away from home is unlikely.
The probability that the people were required to take their families with them, is unlikely. (Farms and flocks to tend)

Probability is what we trying to discern, not possibilities.

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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 Message 40 by ochaye, posted 05-13-2009 10:52 PM ochaye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by ochaye, posted 05-15-2009 12:23 PM purpledawn has responded
 Message 58 by kbertsche, posted 05-16-2009 11:22 PM purpledawn has responded

Member (Idle past 2202 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004

Message 50 of 156 (508680)
05-15-2009 2:30 PM
Reply to: Message 48 by ochaye
05-15-2009 12:23 PM

Re: Possibility vs Probability
All we have to do is discover if the reported event was impossible, and of course possibilities cannot be impossibilities.
No we don't have to discover if the supposed event was incapable of happening or impossible. Just because something wouldn't be done, doesn't mean it can't be done. Just because something can be done doesn't mean that it would be done.

As I said, it is about probability, not possibility.

If the Jews were as antagonistic as it seems they were, they would have made the greatest objection possible, if the journey to Bethlehem was either impossible or had not actually happened, because this alleged visit was all about their own religion, which they jealously regarded as their own, as secular history makes abundantly clear.
The question isn't whether anyone objected to the census or not. It's irrelevant. The question is, was it standard procedure for Rome to require people to journey back to their home of record, so to speak, to register with the census people? It has been shown that they didn't. Therefore that part of the story is not probable.

It does not matter very much when this was committed to writing, because lore was usually passed on orally at that time, and the facts of Jesus birth, as believed, would have been current very soon after the beginnings of Christian belief- if not before.
Now you're dealing with possiblities. We can make up all the possibilities that we want. It matters that Matthew and Luke don't present the same tale. Their individual details have been found to be improbable. The child massacre in Matthew and the census requirement in Luke are not probable events when we look at records outside the Bible.

In order to accept him, Jesus' disciples must have known where Jesus was born very soon after he started his ministry, and the Jews' leaders must have known soon afterwards, otherwise that ministry would have been cut short. Now that the religion's leaders could not refute the view that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, when they had every legitimate interest and duty in quashing any impostors in short order, is highly significant.
It's possible, but irrelevant. The authors of Matthew and Luke wrote down a story of Jesus' birth. They included information that supposedly referred to events and people of the time. Their information does not concur with the information on record. So the conclusion is that the events probably didn't occur as described.

Like I said, it is about probably not possibility.

Edited by purpledawn, : Typo

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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 Message 48 by ochaye, posted 05-15-2009 12:23 PM ochaye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by ochaye, posted 05-15-2009 3:18 PM purpledawn has responded

Member (Idle past 2202 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004

Message 52 of 156 (508688)
05-15-2009 4:23 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by ochaye
05-15-2009 3:18 PM

Re: Possibility vs Probability
There seems little purpose to the debate unless we do.
Sure there is. We discuss to determine the probability of the event happening as written.

Quite so. It's a question of whether they would have objected to Jesus as Messiah, or not.
That also has nothing to do with the discussion. The birth story wasn't necessary for Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. His actions as an adult would determine if he was the messiah.

The Gospel writers were writing to a Greek audience, not Jewish. The idea of half man, half God was common to the Greek and Roman gods. To compete they had to present Jesus as a literal son of God.

Yes it is probable that they embellished to compete with pagan gods. Even in Catholicism's own writings, the religion explains that is was easier to assimilate pagan religions by attaching Christian symbolism to pagan celebrations, rituals, etc. The pine tree at Christmas, the Yule log, etc.

The inaccuracies in the nativity stories doesn't negate the example that Jesus set for his disciples. The nativity story is not important to who Jesus supposedly was and what we know of his teachings.

Doctrine and dogma that make minor improbable events important and going to extremes to defend them, sometimes casts a shadow on what Jesus was trying to do.

The author of Mark didn't include a birth story and he is considered the earliest writer.

Why the need to "beat em"? Why not understand instead?

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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 Message 51 by ochaye, posted 05-15-2009 3:18 PM ochaye has responded

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Member (Idle past 2202 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004

Message 60 of 156 (508932)
05-17-2009 9:50 AM
Reply to: Message 58 by kbertsche
05-16-2009 11:22 PM

Re: Possibility vs Probability
The problem with this approach is that it is extremely improbably for almost any historical event to have occurred exactly as it did. And probabilities are difficult to assign and somewhat misleading for historical events--the events either happened or they didn't.
We aren't discussing historical events in general. We are discussing a specific author's supposed facts concerning a given event. This topic is looking at the probability that the details are accurate.

To be historically possible, something only needs to be imaginable. However, for something to be historically probable means that there is some evidence for it.

What is the probability that these two accounts are both true?

Matthew 1
24. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
25. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 2
1. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem ...

11. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
12. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
13. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
14. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, ...

19. After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
20. and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
21. So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
22. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
23. and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

Luke 2
1. In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3. And everyone went to his own town to register.
4. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7. and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. ...
11. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger...

21. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

39. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.

It is unlikely that both author's are presenting true facts. IOW: Improbable

If I write that while crossing the Delaware River, George Washington threw a rock and killed Benedict Arnold; although possible is my account probable or not? If not, why not?

ABE: We are dealing with one author's account of an event. The event is the birth. Even if the details leading to the event are improbable, that doesn't mean that Jesus wasn't born.

Edited by purpledawn, : Added thoughts

Edited by purpledawn, : Another thought.

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by kbertsche, posted 05-16-2009 11:22 PM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

Member (Idle past 2202 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004

Message 80 of 156 (509693)
05-23-2009 9:26 PM
Reply to: Message 74 by kbertsche
05-23-2009 12:27 AM

How Long Were They In Bethlehem
Perhaps you don't realize that the Gospel of Luke was written in Koine Greek, not in King James English? The King James translation of this verse is somewhat misleading. The original Greek simply uses the adjective "pregnant" (egkuos). Nearly all modern translations convey the same sense as the Greek:
But the very next line says: While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.

Realistically how long do you think they were there before she gave birth?
There was no room in the inn (I guess there was only one in town), were they staying in the stable for several months?

If they were trying to stay at an inn, then there wasn't family to support them while they were there. How long could he afford to be away from his business and property?

What in the text leads you to believe she wasn't at least in her 9th month?

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

This message is a reply to:
 Message 74 by kbertsche, posted 05-23-2009 12:27 AM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

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