An argument that May did not go to Bethlehem


This author was saying that Mary, being very pregnant, would not have been in a good condition to make the 80 mile trip to Bethlehem just for the census, but that the NT writers chose the story to help align Jesus up to the house of David, thus fulfilling a prophecy.

I’m not a Biblical literalist but I take most, if not all, of the Gospel histories as literal. I’ve read, researched, and heard all of the atheists criticisms and arguments and find most of them silly. But this one bugs me a bit. I consider it more when I think about how Jesus’s divine nature seemed to be emphasized more and more from the first book “mark” up until John. Leading critics to suggest that the “Christology” of Jesus became more developed in later editions to the story.

Just wondering what you guys thought of this. God Bless!


The whole thing is in Luke 2.

It does not say how Mary got from Nazareth to Bethlehem. She could have traveled on a donkey or on a cart. Would Joseph not have provided for her?

It also does not say when they got to Bethlehem, only that they were there. They could have arrived well before Mary gave birth.

Jews going from Galilee to Jerusalem would not go through Samaria but would have traveled the route along the West Bank of the Jordan. The road west from Galilee, across and along the west bank of the Jordan River, and then across the river to Jerusalem was an extremely well traveled route and there was likely transportation for hire. They weren’t alone climbing mountains in the wilderness and there were probably lots of other people going to Judea for the exact same reason.

The journey is entirely plausible.



In many cultures, women keep working in the fields right up until they give birth. It seems to be a particularly Western thing to treat pregnant women as ‘patients’ instead of the robust and healthy women they are.
There is no reason Mary could not have made the journey. She made a similar journey in the beginning of her pregnancy to visit Elizabeth, and then made the return journey while at least 3 months pregnant.


Thank you both for your insights, and very well explained.


 I don't agree with either these pemises.  The assertion that Mary could not have traveled to Bethlehem due to her being late in her pregnancy is purely speculative.  The writer was clearly making the point that Jesus could not be the Messiah because Mary was not able to travel to Bethlehem to give birth.  The Old Testament was very clear that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
 On the other point I believe that all four of the Gospels are very clear that Jesus was both man and God.  If the Gospel of John covers Jesus Divine nature more than some of the other Gospels that is irrelevant.  In each Gospel it is clear that Jesus is both man & God.  My Lord & my God!


Does this writer give any evidence that Mary stayed home? None at all! And yet there is evidence that Christ was born in Bethlehem.

I read a good explanation of the veracity of the Gospel of Luke in Catholic Apologetics by Fr William Most (RIP). IIRC, the part about Luke starts at Chapter 7 and goes through a few chapters, which are all very short.


For all we know, they travelled much earlier in the pregnancy.

There is no reason to doubt that they were in Bethlehem, except for revisionist purposes.



Has no one ever heard of caravans?


It’s about an 80 mile trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem. Difficult but well within reason. About 4 days as part of a caravan, traveling 20 miles a day. Joseph would be likely to own a donkey as a carpenter (to haul wood, tools, etc.) which would have made the trip easier for Mary.

Mary was also young, was used to the hardships of life, and had a young person’s strength and endurance. She also, of course, had help from God.


We also know from Luke 2:41-45 that Joseph and Mary made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem each year, so it wasn’t so arduous that they didn’t repeat it, even with a newborn in tow. From context, it is also apparent that they travelled on such trips as part of a large group with extended family and neighbors, most of whom probably looked after each others’ children (which is why they didn’t immediately notice Jesus missing until the first day of travel - probably a classic case of “I thought YOU had him!”))

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.

(Emphasis mine.)


Right! And how many women traveled west while pregnant? Doesn’t the Bible warn us about following ever wild story! God Bless, Memaw


It is also possible, knowing how the Romans were as a people, that they didn’t care what anybodys condition was. But demanded you to be counted for taxes. Taxes meant a lot of money to the Roman empire.

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