ABC:Luke 2

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Verse 1[edit] claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[1]

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

A woman 9-months pregnant traveled a great distance on the back of a donkey? Why does the book of Matthew mention no census? And If ever there was a decree there was none that all lineage of David should go to Bethlehem to be counted, Mary would have been excluded because she was not a "lineage of David."

First of all, where does it say they traveled via donkey? Neither Matthew or Luke appear to mention this, and Mark and John don't mention Jesus' childhood. Joseph and Mary could have traveled via caravan for all we know. While this may be presented in popular culture, it appears to be an invention separate from the Bible with no Biblical basis for assumption. Thus this is a strawman, criticizing the Bible for something it does not say.

Secondly, Joseph in the book of Matthew gave different detail about Jesus' childhood than Mary did. That they chose to relate different aspects of what occurred is not unusual and certainly not contradictory. The event does not need to be mentioned in both books for the Bible to be true, after all.

Thirdly, both Mary and Joseph were of David's lineage and both needed to go. Joseph's genealogy in Matthew and Mary's genealogy in Luke show they were both of the lineage of David. For more on how Mary's genealogy was presented in Joseph's name per Jewish custom, see Luke 3.

Verse 7[edit] claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[1]

Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

In a house.

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

In a manger. There was no room in the inn.

First of all, Luke 2 never says where the manger was at. It could've been a barn. It could've been a small shack. A critic wanting to claim a contradiction might even expect an open field. We simply aren't told. And therefore we certainly shouldn't assume where it was at given a lack of information to claim the Bible incorrect.

Secondly, even if it was a stables or barn, that would've technically been their home or living area so the writer would have been correct in using the Greek word oikia which roughly translates to the 16th century word 'house' chosen by the KJV translators. There is certainly no reason to see a contradiction here, and the decision to claim one here shows a desire to create a contradiction out of nothing.

A manger isn't a living area. Really? Luke 2 never says where they lived, only that it had a manger and was not an inn. Presuming more than that is reaching.

Verse 15[edit] claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[1]

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Magi (astronomers or astrologers).

Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.


Obviously there can be both and the passages don't contradict in any way. If all four Gospels provided the exact same detail/wording, what would be the point in having four different accounts? They'd obviously have colluded. Providing different detail is not in any way a contradiction. Claiming this a 'contradiction' is just outright ridiculous, to put it politely.

Verse 39[edit] claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[1]

Matthew 2:13 ¶ And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16 ¶ Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

They fled to Egypt until Herod’s death. But notice Luke’s account.

Luke 2:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

The Christ child was presented, and Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth. There’s no mention of Herod’s decree or a flight to Egypt for safety.

Very little is mentioned by the Gospels of Jesus' childhood in general, omission is not equivalent to contradiction. Mark and John do not even mention Jesus' childhood at all. Matthew mentions only Jesus' birth, Herod's massacre, and the flight into Egypt, nothing else of Jesus' childhood, and as with the genealogy given, this is from Joseph's point of view. Luke on the other hand mentions Jesus' birth, the prophecies of Simon and Anna, and Jesus' early experience in the temple, which like the Luke genealogy, is from Mary's point of view. Simply because Joseph and Mary, as seen from Matthew and Luke respectively, considered different parts of Jesus' childhood relevant, does not account for a contradiction, and indeed shows a lack of understanding on the part of the critic of what a contradiction is.

Ultimately as seen from Matthew 2:22, Joseph and Mary returned with Jesus from Egypt once they heard that Herod had died and Archelaus reigned in his place. Herod the Great died and Archelaus began reigning in 4 B.C., so Jesus must have been born 4 B.C. or earlier. If for example Jesus was born in 4 B.C., the flight to Egypt could have lasted a year or less, with Jesus' parents returning from Egypt when they heard Herod was dead.

Matthew 2:19 ¶ But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

As a side note, the massacre of male children that occurred by Herod may well have been the killing of male descendants of the Hasmonean Dynasty by Herod the Great. This was not a single isolated massacre of a village, but was actually perpetuated by Herod on a wide scale over more than 30 years. Herod sought to establish control over the region by marrying a Hasmonean princess, Marriamne, and then had male Hasmonean descendants killed wherever he could find them, to prevent any claims to the throne.

"The people's desire for a return to Hasmonean rule, and to the independence that it represented, was expressed in an astonishing way. Herod had wiped out the Hasmonean patriline [male descendants], and in killing Mariamme he had also removed the possibility of any direct Hasmonean descendants at all. People responded to the murder of Mariamme by starting to name their daughters after her. The land began to be populated with new Miriams. If 'the virgin's name was Mary' (Lk. 1:27) shortly after 29 B.C.E., when Herod murdered the last Hasmonean princess, that had to mean the child's family wanted symbolically to counteract the effect of Herod's crime and to align themselves with the hope of independence. Virgin wombs all across Israel were designated ready to bring forth babies to reestablish what the Hasmoneans had meant to the people. In effect, to name a girl child 'Mary' is to assert that Herod's takeover and sellout to the Romans cannot succeed, because the women of the land intend to bring more 'Hasmoneans' into the world than Herod can murder-even without male Hasmoneans to father them into the proper patriline. The name Mary is unambiguously political, brave, and resistive. Jesus was born into such a family." -Michael L. Budde and Robert W. Brimlow[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from
  2. Budde, M.L., & Brimlow, R.W. (2000). The Church as Counterculture. p. 76.