Archbishop of Canterbury says nativity a legend.

 The UK’s Telegraph carries this article:

 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.

Archbishop says nativity 'a legend'
Dr Williams argued that the traditional Christmas story was nothing but a ‘legend’

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.

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”.

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.”

The traditional nativity scene is a simplification of all of this.  I’m afraid that this article may not represent Dr. Williams’ arguement very well. Thoughts?

 

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One response to “Archbishop of Canterbury says nativity a legend.

  1. He didn’t say it was all legend. He said (and I quote), “the three kings with the one from Africa’ — that’s legend; it works quite well as legend.”

    The comment was not on the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel as a whole, but on the very specific legend with more details including that they were three kings with one from Africa. And that story is a legend.

    But the question of the interviewer was specifically about the details of the legend, not of Matthew’s Gospel: “And the wise men with the gold, frankincense, and Myrrh – with one of the wise men normally being black and the other two being white, for some reason?”

    The problem is that in reporting on this, the context of a question asking specifically about one black wise men and two white wise men was lost. The answer to that question was expanded in the coverage to act as if the Archbishop was dismissing Matthew’s account of the visit. Unfortunate.

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