Friday, November 23, 2018

Christmas Resources 2018

The issues surrounding Jesus' birth are important, but often neglected. I've been posting an annual collection of resources for the Christmas season for several years:


Go here for an archive of our posts with the Christmas label. Keep clicking on Older Posts, at the bottom of the screen after scrolling down, to see more.

I've written posts that provide the text of the infancy narratives with links to relevant material added to the text. See here for Matthew and here for Luke.

And here's a collection of our reviews of Christmas books. Some of the reviews are on Triablogue, and others are on Amazon or Goodreads.

Raymond Brown's book on the infancy narratives is still widely considered the standard in the field. See here for a collection of responses to the book.

For some corrections of skeptical myths about the church fathers, including on issues related to Christmas, go here.

Here are some examples of the posts we've written on Christmas issues over the years:

The Earliness Of Matthew And Luke
The Genre Of The Infancy Narratives
Typology And The Infancy Narratives
Whether Matthew Derived His Material On Jesus' Childhood From His Old Testament Citations
Material Against Luke's Interest In Luke 1-2
The Authorship Of Matthew
The Authorship Of Luke
Matthew And Luke's Agreements About Jesus' Childhood
Do passages like Matthew 2:1, 2:11, 2:22-23, and Luke 2:39 prove that the infancy narratives are inconsistent?
The Consistency And Historicity Of The Annunciation Accounts
The Historicity Of Luke's Census
What Sources Outside The Infancy Narratives Say About The Childhood Of Jesus
Jesus' Childhood In John 7-9
The Significance Of 1 Timothy 5:18
The Virgin Birth
Jesus' Davidic Ancestry And The Genealogies
The Star Of Bethlehem
The Slaughter Of The Innocents
Evidence For The Bethlehem Birthplace
The Origins Of The Christmas Holiday And Its December 25 Date

We've written a lot about Christmas issues since the last Christmas Resources post. I wrote about how Christmas prophecies like Isaiah 9 and Micah 5 provide evidence for Christianity even if we grant skeptical interpretations of the passages. In another post, I addressed the significance of Jesus' relationship with Galilee in the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1. I also discussed how the themes of joy and freedom in Isaiah 9 are reflected in John 8. Later, I linked a few Facebook posts I wrote concerning how we should understand and argue for the historicity of Luke's census account. Steve Hays wrote about how we should understand Isaiah 7:14. He also posted some Christmas music videos: Riu, Riu, Chiu, O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings, Handel's Messiah, Comfort Ye, My People, Hodie Christus Natus Est, In Dulci Jubilo, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, The Infant King. And here's something he wrote on the implications of Matthew 1:19-20 and Joseph's decision about how to handle his relationship with Mary. He then wrote about how little sense it makes to argue that the virgin birth is a cover story for sexual immorality. He also linked an article by Lydia McGrew about an undesigned coincidence involving Luke 2:35. Later, he wrote a satirical post about demythologizing Nicholas of Myra. I linked a post in which I discuss forty examples of agreements between Matthew and Luke about Jesus' childhood. Steve linked an article by Peter Hitchens about Advent and some other aspects of the Christmas season. He also linked an article by Lydia McGrew that discusses how the emphasis on a triumphant Messiah in Luke 1 offers evidence for the historicity of Luke's material. In another post, Steve used the singing of Christmas music as an illustration of the value of singing in the afterlife. I wrote about the historicity of the two years mentioned in Matthew 2:16. I later commented on polling showing an increasing need for Christmas apologetics. In another post, I wrote about the reversal of Egypt's historical role in Matthew 2. Steve wrote about a theodicy of honor and suffering, using Mary and her pregnancy as one of his illustrations. He also wrote on how the incarnation is like a glass door through which we see God. I responded to a Newsweek headline identifying Nazareth as Jesus' birthplace. Steve wrote about whether prophecy fulfillment, like Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, could be staged. He also addressed the appropriateness of the Theotokos title for Mary. I discussed some material in Luke 1-2 that's different than we'd expect under skeptical scenarios. Then I linked an article that discusses some evidence for the deity of Isaiah's Servant figure and the connections between the Servant passages and others in Isaiah, like chapters 9 and 11. I also wrote a response to Bart Ehrman's highly skeptical view of the historicity of the infancy narratives. In another post, I wrote about the contrast between Jesus' power and his weakness in the incarnation. Steve wrote about the contrast between the buildup to Christmas and what happens just afterward, as well as how Christmas compares to other holidays and seasons of life. He also wrote a post that discusses, in part, Luke 1:35 and the overshadowing of Mary. He later wrote about the ethics of how parents handle issues related to Santa Claus. In another post, he critiqued the notion that misleading children about Santa Claus will lead them to doubt what they're told about religious issues. He also linked a post on another site about how atheists find Christmas appealing. Later, he wrote about Christian use of Christmas trees and other objects that are alleged to have pagan origins. Then he discussed Epiphany and some related music. In two other posts, here and here, Steve discussed the regulative principle of worship, including how people apply it to Christmas. He later wrote a post about how two scholars provide the same order of events when harmonizing the infancy narratives, even though critics claim that the accounts are contradictory. Another post discusses how the incarnation of the God of the Old Testament differs from incarnations of other beings, such as pagan gods. Steve also wrote about Luke's Christmas material and some of Richard Bauckham's comments on the subject. I linked a post on Facebook about what H.G.M. Williamson wrote concerning Isaiah 9 in his recent commentary on Isaiah 6-12. Steve wrote a response to Bart Ehrman, part of which addresses Christmas issues. I wrote about non-extant documents the early Christians had access to. Though the post focuses on Easter issues, it's relevant to Christmas as well. Steve posted on whether the genealogies in Matthew and Luke should be considered genealogies as we define them today. In a later post, he addressed Richard Carrier's claims about virgin births in pagan sources, especially accounts about Perseus. Patrick Chan quoted some of Abner Chou's comments on the original meaning of Isaiah 7:14 and the virgin birth. Steve wrote about how the miracles surrounding the virgin birth add to the credibility of the virgin birth claim. In another post, he wrote about the motion of the star of Bethlehem and what we should conclude about its motion. He also wrote a couple of posts responding to Jewish objections to Christianity related to Jesus' Davidic ancestry and some other Christmas issues.


  1. I just started rereading Brown's The Birth of the Messiah last night, so I'll have to check these links out.

  2. Always look forward to reading your Christmas material this time of year. Merry Christmas!

  3. Thanks Jason. It's always nice to be reminded just how prolific the Triabloggers have been down the years.

  4. As Jason notes, there are some conservative aspects to Brown's book. I get the impression that Brown had a particular dislike of conservatives, however. He forever railed against "unscholarly conservatives," who represented Evangelical scholarship and perhaps the conservative catholic approach that he rebelled against. It's said that he wrote the entry on "fundamentalism" here, which even some catholics find embarrassing.