Pope: There Were No Animals at Birth of Jesus
The animals are a myth though virgin birth was real, he writes in new book
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2012 2:53 AM CST
Pope Benedict XVI prays at the nativity scene at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in 2009. According to him, that cow and donkey shouldn't really be there.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

(Newser) – Nativity scenes—even the one at the Vatican—are getting it wrong when they depict donkeys, camels, and other animals present at the birth of Jesus, according to Pope Benedict XVI. Though Jesus may have been born in a stable, there is no mention of the animals in the Gospels or any other reason to believe animals were present, the pontiff writes in Jesus of Nazareth—The Infancy Narratives, the final volume of his trilogy on the life of Jesus, the Telegraph reports. Still, the tradition of showing animals by the manger is so deeply entrenched that it is certain to live on, he notes.

Carol singing also stems from a misunderstanding, the pontiff writes. When the gospels refer to angels "praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest,'" they spoke the words instead of singing them, he writes, though "Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song, in which all the glory of the great joy that they proclaim becomes tangibly present." The story of the three wise men may have been inspired by a "theological idea" instead of a historical event, but the virgin conception of Jesus is definitely historical fact and not a myth, the pontiff writes.

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Showing 3 of 136 comments
Nov 27, 2012 11:26 PM CST
The animals bit is totally irrelevant to the main issue, whether the virgin birth story is myth or historical truth? This question falls over from the start if the virgin birth story doesn’t appear in the New Testament. And it doesn’t. With the missionary activities of Paul and others, the passing of the original followers of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem, the NT soon fell into the hands of the Greeks and Latins. They interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures through the prism of their own culture, and gave meanings to words and phrases never intended by the NT authors. For example the Holy Spirit coming “upon” Mary is read as a virginal conception. However there are dozens of instances in the Bible where the Holy Spirit came “upon” individuals, usually men, but only in Mary’s case is it read as God impregnating someone. Also a ridiculous interpretation was given to Mary’s question to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" It interprets these words as Mary saying that she does not know how she could get pregnant in the future because currently she is a virgin! I could go on, but to cut a long story short, the NT says nothing about a virgin birth. What it does say is that Joseph was not Jesus’ father. Luke 3:23, when properly translated, names Heli as the father of Jesus. The few passages about the birth of Jesus in the NT are analysed comprehensively on — http://www.wallsofjericho.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=26
Nov 24, 2012 7:13 AM CST
The Pope would be the LAST person to know.
Nov 22, 2012 12:20 PM CST
I couldn't agree more. Ridiculous. This Pope has nothing better to do then declare that the good book doesn't mention animals? In a stable? I agree with 793tango, and the rest of you that are 'singing the same song' cause its ok to sing Carols right? lol. That's an odd thing to bring up isn't it? Did the Pope and some other pontiffs get in an argument one night? Scenario: Pontiff - "no there is NO mention of animals here...", Pope - "Whoa, we better tell everybody!" Some laymen in the back - "uh.. but wasn't it in a stable?" *shrugs*.