Christmas Truth or Tradition #2
a stable and an Innkeeper
I know last week’s truth bomb probably left you scratching your head. Hold on to your holiday hats because today’s might just mess with some of those sacred songs. I asked a question on Facebook: Who do you remember in the story of Jesus’ birth? Many said the animals in the stable and the innkeeper. Rightly so, almost every Christmas nativity tradition is a stable barn, surrounded by animals, on the outskirts of town. All because a selfish innkeeper said there was no room at the inn.
Christmas Tradition #2:
The Bible does not mention Jesus born in a stable nor an innkeeper.
In Matthew 2:11; Luke 2:7 the Bible does tell us that while the couple was in Bethlehem Mary went into labor and had Jesus. Matthew, the tax collector, mentions the Magi arriving at the house to see Jesus. Then, Luke, the doctor goes into great detail that the baby was wrapped in pieces of cloth and placed in a manger because there was no room at the inn.
Where exactly was Jesus born?
More than likely you’re thinking there has to be an innkeeper because it says “no room at the inn.” Mikel Del Rosario of the Apologetics Guy says, “Reading what the Bible says is one thing. Getting what the Bible means is another.” Case in point our word inn. If you’re like 99% of people who read that word, then you’re thinking of a public place to stopover for the night. However, a correct interpretation of that passage would have been no room in the katalymati or guest room. It’s believed that the inn was the home of relatives — hence no selfish innkeeper.
Ok, I can feel the pushback. If not an inn, then rude relatives, because the couple was made to leave and stay in a stable, right? Not exactly.
It is the belief of apologists and theologians that when there wasn’t space in the guest room, they would have made room for them in the central living area. Mideastern customs and culture would have never allowed a family to be turned away or put in a barn, especially with an expecting mother. Perhaps you’re asking what about the word manger? Isn’t that a feeding trough? Yes, and according to Associates of Biblical Research Palestinian peasant homes had them built into the floors of the common living area because at night their animals were brought into the main living quarters to help heat the home and keep the animals safe.
For centuries many theologians and apologists have believed that Jesus was born in an area of a home of Joseph’s extended family.
How did it make its way into our nativity story?
Some early apologists like Justin Martyr, a second-century Greek philosopher, places Jesus’ birth outside the city walls based on the apocrypha, and old maps of the city. Furthermore, the misuse of the Greek word and a lack of understanding of the culture by the western world has allowed this tradition of a stable and innkeeper to carry on through the centuries. It’s worth noting that the 2010 New International Version of the Bible now refers to the inn as a guest room.
So there ya have it, a little twist to our nativity story. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter where Jesus was born, but that He was born. God wanted us with Him for all eternity. So He took on human form as a baby, named Jesus (meaning God saves) for the single purpose of saving the world. Yes, Immanuel! God with us!
Join me next week when we chat about those wise men.
Your friend in faith,
PS… Don’t take my word for it. Get in your Bible and do the research yourself.