There are several details about the Christmas story that don’t exactly match up with… well the actual Christmas story. It makes for some interesting trivia during this time of the year, which could make you a hit at parties perhaps, but it is also symptomatic of our culture. Are we content to believe a tradition-filled caricature of the Bible, or are we interested in the real thing?
Take the 3 wise men for instance, or magi, or kings or whatever you want to call them. Their story is in Matthew chapter 2, and here we find one of the more glaring instances of tradition versus the Bible. We can start with the fact the Bible never said there were 3 wise men, but only that there were 3 separate gifts. The Bible never said they traveled on camels, ( John MacArthur’s research says they traveled on Persian steeds and with a sizable cavalry) and the Bible never said their names, or the color of their skin. In fact, the Bible never calls them kings, and we know from history the magi were advisers to kings, but likely not kings themselves.
Nevertheless we have an entire tradition about the magi, which is often assumed to come from the Bible, but doesn’t. Ironically, we even sometimes we try to prove the Bible to be false, or a myth by disproving things the Bible never said. A youtube video called Zeitgeist claimed that the Christian story was simply made up of earlier myths, which also included stories of 3 wise men and births of a Savior on December 25, etc… While the video is largely a hoax (those earlier religious myths did not make those claims either) it nevertheless convinced a lot of people who assume the Bible talks about things like 3 wise men, or December 25, or being born in a stable, when the Bible actually says nothing about these things.
How much do you think you know about the actual Christmas story?