Archbishop says nativity 'a legend'

Dr Rowan Williams has claimed there was little evidence that the Magi even existed and there was certainly nothing to prove there were three of them or that they were kings.

He said the only reference to the wise men from the East was in Matthew's gospel and the details were very vague. Dr Williams said: "Matthew's gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told. It works quite well as legend."

The Archbishop went on to dispel other details of the Christmas story, adding that there were probably no asses or oxen in the stable.

They may have lacked asses back then but we sure make up for it now. Did I say that???

He argued that Christmas cards which showed the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus, flanked by shepherds and wise men, were misleading. As for the scenes that depicted snow falling in Bethlehem, the Archbishop said the chance of this was "very unlikely".

Yeah with that whole global warming thing.

In a final blow to the traditional nativity story, Dr Williams concluded that Jesus was probably not born in December at all. He said: "Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival."

Well Merry Christmas Archbishop Scrooge. The nativity is much more real then that phony church you lead.



Rob Carr said...


This blog post is incomplete. Where does the Archbishop say the Nativity is a legend? What you have quoted by him is that he says legends have accrued to the nativity, not that the nativity is a legend

Please cite scriptural references for:

1. The number of wise men, their names and the countries they were kings of, and their ethnicity. How did one wind up being African but from the East?

2. That Jesus' birth was within, say, 10 days of December 25th.

3. That there was snow on the ground when Jesus was born.

4. That the wise men arrived the night of the birth of Jesus.

5. That there were asses and oxen in the stable.

6. Why the shepherds would have been tending their flocks by night in December -- that's the wrong time of the year for them to stay out with the sheep.

If you explain these things from the Bible, then people will see why you called the Archbishop's church "phony."

According to Fox news, several priests of the Roman Catholic church have defended him, saying that the Archbishop was standing up for Biblical truth in an attempt to get people to actually read what the Bible says about the nativity.

I can't imagine that would make you say the Roman Catholic church "phony," either.

I can't wait to see your scriptural justifications for your comments. Without them, the post makes no sense and would appear to be a baseless, vicious attack on someone who does not deserve it.

Powerball said...

Thanks for your questions. If you read the first quote from Dr. Rowen he says: "Matthew's gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told. It works quite well as legend."

My issue is not with Dr. Rowen's critcal exam of the details of the story. My issue is how a supposed church leader would use the occassion of Advent to cast doubt not only on the nativity, but the entire Scripture.

The affirmation of the Nativity is based on a fact, not on a theory, on a premise, not on a poem. The Son of God became Man.

In Luke's story the angels announce it to shepherds, to the poorest of the poor. In Matthew's story, the stars announce it to the Magi, the wisest of the wise. Only those two groups hear the message and travel to find the Peaceful One.

I could give some details that we do know. The tradition that there were but three wise men arose from the fact that there were three gifts (Matthew 2:11)The first and only mention of magi in the New Testament is in the story of Jesus Christ's young life. In Matthew 2, it is recorded that they came from the East to Jerusalem looking for "he that is born King of the Jews." These were magi, a priestly caste of learned men. The only known Magian priests East of Palestine (at the time of Christ's birth), were in ancient Media, Persia, Assyria, and Babylonia.

I could go on but the historic record of the birth of Christ can be found in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20. Anyone can read it.

As for the Catholic Church, it is the Pope that is the voice of the Church. Therefore I give you his words: "The birth of Jesus is not a fable, it is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem two thousand years ago."

"Faith brings us to recognize in that little Child born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God Who, out of love, chose to become man."

"In the face of the little Jesus, we contemplate the face of God, which is not revealed through force or power, but in weakness and the fragile constitution of a child. This 'Divine Child' demonstrates the faithfulness and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each of us. For this reason we rejoice at Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem."

"The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas,in some way reflected in the birth of all children, and it invites us to recognize the Infant Jesus in all babies, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world."

Rob Carr said...

1. That's not the only mention of the Magi. Simon Magus was also one a Magi, and there's one other example that's usually translated "sorcerer" that's actually "Magi."

2. The Archbishop did not say the nativity was a fable -- he said that much of the cultural view of the nativity was a fable. Mixing fable with truth can be dangerous.

3. You're saying I'm five people? I gave my wife five presents. I could very easily see 5 people pooling their resources to give three really nice presents or two people giving three nice presents.

4. The Pope and the Archbishop agree that the nativity itself is not a fable. Does that make the Pope phony?

You haven't answered many of the questions I asked. I still see nothing in your reply to justify the vitriol against someone standing up for the truth.

Powerball said...

I'm not saying every traditional detail has a sciptural anchor.

Does it matter if there were 3 or 5 Magi... No. What matters is Rowens lack of leadership. He was given a prime opportunity to address the real meaning of Chrstmas and instead took the chance to attempt to debunk it.

You keep asking if the pope is phony. No, he is not.

Let me tell why I have a problem with what you call "standing up for the truth" and attempt to "justify the vitriol against" Williams.

If this was one odd comment by Williams I could move on. But it's not. There is a series of stunning failures with this man.

Openly gay V. Gene Robinson was selected as Bishop of New Hampshire. Against church rules I might add. In the face of such insubordination, Williams took a series of wishy-washy positions which has encouraged further mutinies.

He presided at a “secret” Eucharist for lesbian and gay clergy in the Church of England.


He has criticised the neoconservatives of the Bush administration and accused them of "potentially murderous folly" for suggesting military action against Syria and Iran.

In his latest comments he also calls into question the the teaching of the doctrine of the virgin birth.

It funny you should mention Simon Magus. He was a heretic. He may have been smart but not very wise. Bears a striking paralell to Williams I do say.