And I give to you a great gift:

The list of common misconceptions.

By the way, they have one of the “Christian” ones wrong – there’s no evidence biblically that the people we sometimes call Magi* came to visit Jesus several years after his birth. That notion is based on ANOTHER misconception, which is that Jesus was born in a stable, so if they visited him in a house it must have been sometime later. Nowhere in the Bible does it say he was born in a stable – that would have been just as unthinkable then as it is now. The houses in that area and during that time period had living quarters on a second floor and kitchens and storage on the first floor. Since animals were sometimes brought into the storage room, the storage area was separated from the kitchens by a wide stone or masonry manger. When guest quarters were needed, the storage area was cleaned out and people stayed in that room. What “they laid him in a manger, for there was no room in the inn” means is “They were staying with friends or family because all the hotel rooms were booked.” There was nothing odd about the circumstances of his birth (his conception, yes); Mary would have had a midwife and lots of female help and so on. It was a prophetic foreshadowing of the perpetual homelessness of the Christ, which is quite cool enough without having to have poor Mary out in a barn somewhere.

However! Most of the other ones are great and maybe now a few more people will not think that glass is just a stiff liquid that flows over time :).

*Almost certainly prominent astrologists, who were responding to a unique astrological event that they had read but was not visible to the untrained eye – the “star” was a conjunction of planets or a similar astrological event, not a huge fireball like on Christmas cards. And yes, this DOES bring up some very interesting questions, because the Bible is clearly anti-astrology; having this detail in the Bible is a little like, if you’ll pardon my translation, a movie having all the Tarot decks and Ouija boards and newspaper astrologists in the world suddenly coming up the same card or letter or words (which turn out to be true) at the moment someone is born. I.e., something so big had happened that it cut through all the hokum and superstition. In Harry Potter terms, see: Professor Trelawney Sometimes Sees Real Things.

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  • Reply K.B. February 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    No horns on the Viking helmets? But… but… but…

    The Spam skit from Monty Python is now ruined for me. Ruined, I tell you! For reals.

    K.B. recently posted…Dead sexyMy Profile

  • Reply Bruce McDowell February 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    It’s amazing that we have any record from biblical times . Most of the events were documented hundreds of years after the events . Lost through wars . Different languages . Roman rules , rewrites after the Crusades & Spanish Inquisition . Now it’s trendy to put another spin on biblical events .

    • Reply Mike February 11, 2011 at 11:29 pm

      What I’m loving is going through the old Greek writings. Herodotus is kind of hilarious, and it’s just a very different perspective reading about ancient customs straight from someone who visited the place isn’t of second or third-hand.

  • Reply Joanna Kimball February 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Actually, Bruce, the record is remarkably accurate. The earliest STILL-EXISTING sources – the ones where scholars can look at the original paper or parchment right now – are (for most of the New Testament) only a couple centuries “new” (i.e., were written only a hundred or two years after the original, which was written by its author while he was alive – Luke really was written by Luke, for example). That’s pretty dang good; very few scribal errors would have been introduced in that short amount of time. For the Old Testament there’s obviously more time but the scholars doing it are still working with stuff written more than a thousand years ago. The newest translations rely on the oldest sources, thanks to biblical archaeology, so for a few words and passages you’ll see some actual differences, not just word choices, between translations written a few hundred years ago and translations written this decade. But even the older translations – there really wasn’t any rewriting responding to political pressures. The commentaries change through the ages but the text has always been carefully preserved.

  • Reply Mike February 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I’ve always found it very interesting just how big of a gap there is between cultural Christianity and scholarly interpretations of the text.

  • Reply Raegan February 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    VERY cool, especially when I got down to the bit about the tongue, I was just talking about that with a Chemist friend of mine. Not only are they not constrained to certain locations on the tongue, when the cells die and are regenerated, they grow back /randomly/. So, what today is a sweet receptor might next week be a bitter receptor.
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