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    Pope's book on Jesus challenges Christmas traditions

    By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

    updated 10:56 AM EST, Fri November 23, 2012

    -- It's Christmas, but not as you know it: a new book released this week by Pope Benedict XVI looks at the early life of Jesus -- and debunks several myths about how the Nativity unfolded.

    In "Jesus of Nazareth -- The Infancy Narratives," the pope says the Christian calendar is actually based on a blunder by a sixth century monk, who Benedict says was several years off in his calculation of Jesus' birth date.

    According to the pope's research, there is also no evidence in the Gospels that the cattle and other animals traditionally pictured gathered around the manger were actually present.
    He also debunks the claim that angels sang at the birth, a staple theme of Christmas carols.
    The book, which is being published in multiple languages in time for Christmas, is the third in a series by the pontiff. The previous two volumes dealt with Jesus' adult life and his public ministry.

    Alessandro Speciale, Vatican correspondent for the Religion News Service, told CNN the pope was not so much aiming to debunk myths as trying to show that the Jesus depicted in the Gospels is a real historical figure, who walked on earth and talked to people like anyone else.
    The pope also looks at scholarly studies of the Bible, some of which have indicated for decades that the traditionally accepted birth date for Jesus is wrong, Speciale said.
    But while the book points out that the Gospels do not support the presence of animals at Jesus' birth -- a detail apparently added in later centuries -- the pope does not suggest they should be thrown out of the Nativity scene, Speciale said.
    "The pope is a traditional man and he doesn't want people at all to change their traditions," Speciale said.
    The 176-page volume, which comprises a brief foreword, four chapters and an epilogue, traces Jesus' life up to the age of 12, when, according to the Gospels, he was presented by his parents in the Temple in Jerusalem, the Vatican said.
    The initial worldwide print run is more than a million copies, it said, with the book released this week across 50 countries in Italian, German, Croatian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

    In the coming months, the book will be translated into 12 more languages for publication in 72 countries in total, the Vatican added.

    The Vatican quotes Anthony Valle, a professor of theology, as saying the pope has been open to scientific inquiry in his own study of Jesus' life.
    "The pope is not against the historical critical method at all, in fact, he uses it, he appreciates it," Valle said.
    He sees the pope as using "both faith and reason" in his efforts to bring the life of Jesus closer.
    Monsignor Philip Whitmore, who translated the book into English, said the pontiff used his writing to explore "the inner meaning of the infancy narratives, showing how they pick up on Old Testament themes and develop them in new and unexpected ways."

    "The pope helps us to understand the world where Jesus was born. Caesar brought peace to the Roman Empire, but this tiny child brought something much more wonderful: God's peace, eternal life, an end to sin and death," Whitmore added.

    "Anyone who's wondering why Christmas came to be such a great celebration in the West can find the answer right here. The pope explains how the birth of Jesus changed history forever."

    CNN's Atika Shubert and Hada Messia contributed to this report.

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  3. #3
    nothing new there

    i believe his birth date was in June of 2 BCE, but no one knows, and Christmas is much more than the birth of Jesus, which I am sure He does not mind, He never told us to celebrate His birthday anyways.

  4. #4
    You think Jesus doesn't mind his name attached to a pagan sun ritual?

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    Yeah I was in a bible study group a couple of years ago and the guy was teaching us some of the same things that are in the book. He also said that Jesus was more than likely born in the spring or fall and all the stuff we celebrate as christmas traditions are nothing more that roman paganism. Originally Roman paganism was the dominant religion and December 25 was the birth of their sun god. Christians wanting a piece of the action "tweaked" their religion to include the customs and traditions that everyone liked as a way to atract converts to Christanity. There are some but not many churches, christian sects and offshoots of christanity (jehova's witnesses are one of them) that do not acknowledge christmas at all. Jeramiah 10:1-5 says:
    10 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
    2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
    3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
    4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
    5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
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  7. #7
    Personally, I think if Jesus wanted his birth celebrated, the date would be in there. It isn't, but he died on Nissan 14 on the Jewish calendar.

    I wonder which we're supposed to focus on...

  8. #8
    Romans kept the most accurate records of any Empire without the aid of technology. The person Yeshua, or Jesus is not mentioned in the Roman history of Palestine. He was not a player of any kind, only a social criminal who was crucified.

    Jesus Mother Mary was impregnated by Pantera the Roman General or one of his subalterns.

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