Bethlehem vs. Nazareth


#1

How can a Catholic answer claims that the Vatican’s decision to display Joseph’s workshop in Nazareth rather than a traditional manger scene in Bethlehem means that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem and the Bible is wrong?

This is being preached by one of our priests, who also claims that manger scenes should be burned and Luke’s Infancy Narratives should be disregarded (if not pulled out of your Bible). He claims that the Infancy Narratives of Luke were made up, written later, and added in order to harmonize the coming of Jesus with the Messianic prophecies.

Any guidance would be much appreciated!

Thank you and God bless you.

Henrietta K.


#2

It sounds like this priest may be preaching heresy (unless you misunderstood what he was saying).


#3

This priest’s comments are considered by many to be acceptable interpretations and in line with Church teachings. However, be aware that not everyone agrees with this (now there’s a big surprise!). A lot of the more recent documents support his statements but some Catholics don’t accept the recent documents.

For an extensive debate we’ve already had on this subject, you can read **Which Nativity Stories Really Happened? **at:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=199998


#4

I pray that you have miss heard your priest. I don’t think that show Joseph work shop in Nazareth is a big deal. when the Holy Family returned from Egypt they went to Nazareth and there is were Joseph worked and Jesus was raised.

Peace in the Lord

Scott


#5

This priest’s teachings are frighteningly similiar to those of the apostate “bishop” Jack Spong and those of his ilk. In line w/ Church teachings? Hardly. I read the previous thread on this … let’s not confuse literary style w/ substance.


#6

First of all, Nazareth is where Joseph settled with his family after they returned from Egypt…so I don’t see a problem with having a representation of his workshop there (a carpenter needs a workshop, and this one lived in Nazareth).

The second part, about Luke being “made up” and expendable, is complete and absolute heresy. A simple read-through of any Church document on Scripture (Dei Verbum, for example) will bring this priest’s false teachings to light. Scripture is all inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t write fiction.

Peace and blessings,


#7

First, we don’t have an exact quote of what the priest said or meant so we are just speculating here.

Second, saying that the stories being fiction is heresy is completely and absolutely wrong.

A simple read-through of any Church document on Scripture (Dei Verbum, for example) will bring this priest’s false teachings to light.

You must be skipping a lot of* Dei Verbum* to reach this conclusion. Try reading The Pontifical Biblical Commission’s *Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels *or any of the classic works (such as those by Raymond Brown or John Meier) which support this priest’s statements under the imprimatur and nihil obstat.

Scripture is all inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t write fiction.

Nonsense - the Holy Spirit doesn’t “write” anything. And the inspired human authors can use fiction to teach truth the same as authors of all times always have.


#8

=>To destroy a Religion, you must first sever its traditions.

“Oh little town of Bethlehem…err Nazareth, how still we see Thee Lie…”


#9

So a Religion survives by supporting ignorance and denying that any enhanced understanding is faithful or even possible?


#10

Are you saying that believing that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as the Gospels and our Catholic Tradition teaches, is ignorant? That sounds rather insulting. especially if it’s coming from a Catholic.

Is there any good evidence that Jesus was born in Nazareth? Is there any good evidence that he was **not **born in Bethlehem? Is there any good reason why the Author of the Gospel would use an allegory?

By the way, is taking the Bible less literally more advanced? Sometimes people seem to think that to be true.

What’s next? Maybe Jesus wasn’t really a real person and the resurrection but an allegory. You might laugh, but some people take their faith as far as that. I find the teaching that Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem very destructive.


#11

Maybe I had poor word choice, and for that I apologize. My point was that the Holy Spirit doesn’t lie and no part of the Inspired Word should be disregarded, burned, or thrown away.

In Christ,


#12

I thought this was about a Soccer Match!:smiley:


#13

Chapter 5, Paragraph 19 of Dei Verbum:

Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1).


#14

I agree, nothing should be discarded as the priest in the OP may have said (we don’t his choice of words either).

My point was that using fiction to teach truth is not lying; many deep truths are best taught by fiction - look at Jesus’ parables.

I personally believe that most of the birth stories (the Infancy Narratives) are fiction written using midrash techniques and symbolic language to teach who Jesus was. This was a standard literary form among ancient writers and was assumed to be fiction. This “opinion” is not Catholic doctrine but neither is the location of Jesus’ birth or belief in the historicity of the stories - the Church does not require any particular belief. Numerous Catholic scripture scholars (as well as the Pontifical Biblical Commission and Popes) have supported a non-literal interpretation of the gospels.

Jesus may or may not have been born in Bethlehem but the meaning/symbolism intended by the gospel author who placed the birth there is very important.


#15

Chapter III, paragraph 12:

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)

The infancy stories are a standard ancient “literary form” frequently used to describe the birth of significant leaders. This form was aways known to be fictional.


#16

Yes, but doesn’t the paragraph I quoted talk specifically about the historicity of the Gospel? Chapter III speaks of Scripture in general, while Chapter V discusses the New Testament specifically–even more specific, my quote pertains directly to the Gospel.

I readily admit and have no doubt that some parts of the Old Testament are poetic, prophetic, allegorical, etc…but doesn’t the Church declare that the Gospels speak historically about the life and times of Jesus?


#17

First, there is no doubt that different parts of the Bible use different literary styles. The OT is for example full of poems and allegories. But you should again look what the Church says about the historic character of the Gospels describing Jesus’ life.

Why would the Gospels say that he was born in Bethlehem if he actually was born somewhere else?

Why should we believe that anything in the gospels is literal?

Slippery slope…


#18

There still has been not single shred of proof that Our Lord wasn’t born in Bethlehem as Holy Scripture says. Vatican documents on the historical nature of scripture doesn’t count as primary evidence any more than a Cole’s Notes companion to King Lear gives evidence of a real King Lear.

I, for one, believe in the Gospel as it is written, as have hundreds of saints and millions of faithful before me, according to the Traditions of our Church. Augustine, Aquinas, Jerome, and the other prominent Church Doctors and Fathers believed, from all we have read about them, that this, as with all the Gospel, is literal, and to say otherwise is to make the grissly modernist compromise that many Anglicans have done with homosexuality, and other Christian sects with other parts of the NT.

As was said earlier, what else could be symbolic if the nativity, one of the most important events in the Gospels, why not the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, or the Ascencion? We would have no scholarly way of knowing what is inspired and what isn’t.

To me, this is just another modernist heresy.


#19

There still has been not single shred of proof that Our Lord wasn’t born in Bethlehem as Holy Scripture says. Vatican documents on the historical nature of scripture doesn’t count as primary evidence any more than a Cole’s Notes companion to King Lear gives evidence of a real King Lear.

I, for one, believe in the Gospel as it is written, as have hundreds of saints and millions of faithful before me, according to the Traditions of our Church. Augustine, Aquinas, Jerome, and the other prominent Church Doctors and Fathers believed, from all we have read about them, that this, as with all the Gospel, is literal, and to say otherwise is to make the grissly modernist compromise that many Anglicans have done with homosexuality, and other Christian sects with other parts of the NT.

Also, if Our Lord didn’t fulfill this part of the Messianic prophesies, were the OT Prophets and their words about the Messiah “symbolic” as well? This almost seems to suggest that there is no Messiah.

And as was said earlier, what else could be symbolic if the nativity, one of the most important events in the Gospels, why not the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, or the Ascencion? We would have no scholarly way of knowing what is inspired and what isn’t.

To me, this is just another modernist heresy.


#20

Well, this priest saying that the Bethlehem part of the story is made up and only is there to make it seem like Jesus fits in with the Messiah prophecy, if true, shoots MASSIVE holes in general Christianity’s idea of Christ as our Messiah.

How can a PRIEST or anyone support this idea and still remain a Christian, fully knowing (or thinking) that Christ did not fulfill the Messianic prophecy?


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