Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1407-1408 Kenneth Bailey – Christmas, Back to the Basics

The baby in the manger

The Church of the Nativity – Bethlehem


Christmas comes to us laden with 2,000 years of tradition. Although the traditions are often aimed at helping us become more familiar with the holiday, they sometimes obscure the basic account of the gospels. Kenneth Bailey is the author of Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes (published by InterVarsity Press), which is based on 40 years of living and teaching in the Middle East.

In this 2-part interview Bailey helps us understand the basics of the biblical account of Jesus’ birth in the gospels, and the significance of some of the details that tradition has misunderstood. He frees Bethlehem innkeepers from the unfair stigma that they have borne for centuries.

For your further reflection: Some insightful thoughts on the Christmas manger in a column from New York Times commentator Ross Douthat.

Merry Christmas from The Book & The Spade!

One response

  1. Michael Sisson

    While I’m comfortable replacing “inn” with “guest room” in our translation of the text, where does the scandal in Mt 1:19 figure into Kenneth Bailey’s interpretation of the nativity account? Given that Joseph was concerned about exposing Mary to public disgrace in Mt 1:19, suggesting Christ was born in a private home of distant relatives only seems to magnify the likelihood not that “…there was no room in the guest room,” but that “…there was no room FOR THEM in the guest room.”

    January 2, 2014 at 10:07 pm

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