Posted by: edhensley | December 24, 2013

Contradictions in the Christmas Story (Re-posted)

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus

1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2Abraham was the father of Isaac,

16and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23″The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” —which means, “God with us.”

24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 2

The Visit of the Magi

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5″In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6″ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, andhe gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18″A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22Butwhen he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14″Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.




Jesus Presented in the Temple

21On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29″Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.

30For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,

32a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 3

23Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,24the son of Matthat, the son of Heli, …

I decided to re-post a blog about contradictions in the Christmas story. The portion below this paragraph are the original. In addition to obvious contradictions, the story is contradicted by history (timelines of Herod and Quirinius discussed below) and contains events that should be recorded by other historians but are not (slaughter of the innocents, star of Bethlehem, census requiring people to register in the home of their ancestors 1000 years earlier, etc).


These two stories contain many internal contradictions (they conflict with each other) and external contradictions (they conflict with know facts of history). I will demonstrate these contradictions to my Christian friends in the hope that they will become enlightened this holiday season.

As Dr. Bart Ehrman notes in his books, most Christians do not believe in a gospel, but rather they believe in a “super gospel.”  The Christmas story is an example of a story from a “super gospel.”  There is no gospel in the New Testament where both wise men and shepherds visit Jesus. The wise men visit in Matthew and the shepherds visit in Luke. By combining these two separate stories, Christians create a “super story.”  The authors of Matthew and Luke probably never imagined that their two books would be placed next to each other (and Mark and John) in a single collection of books. Each author took existing legends of Jesus and adapted the legends for their particular agendas.


As previously noted (, the genealogies of Jesus are completely different. In Matthew, Jacob is the father of Joseph, but in Luke, Heli is the father of Joseph. The lists from David to Joseph are completely different.

Jesus is not Immanuel

Matthew 1:22 says the parents will name the baby Immanuel in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. That verse, however is not a messianic prophecy but mentions a baby as a sign for Ahaz. Furthermore the Hebrew Masoretic text and most translations of the bible indicate that the virgin whill call the baby Immanuel. Mary does not do that, and nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus ever called Immanuel.  Please see the followig post for more information on that topic:

Herod (reign ended 4 BC) and Quirinius (reign started 6 AD) never reigned at the same time

Matthew claims Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod. Luke claims Jesus was born while Quirinius was governor of Assyria. However, Herod died 10 years before Quirinius became governor. Either Matthew or Luke is wrong on this issue, or they are both wrong. Only one the is certain: the Bible contains an error regarding the year Jesus was born.

Massacre of the Innocents not recorded in history

Matthew claims Herod killed all boys near Bethlehem who were 2 or under. No other gospel makes this claim. There is no evidence outside the Bible of any atrocity like this. Historians recorded many things about Herod. We know he was born around 74 BC, that he died in 4 BC, and that he expanded the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed in 70 AD but 4 walls, including the famous wailing wall, exit today). It is recorded that he improved water sources, built water supplies, built Massada and Herodium, leased copper mines, killed his wife and two sons, and did much else. The massacre of the innocents is missing from any historical record. There are many amazing stories in the bible that are not recorded in historical records.

The senseless census is not recorded in history

There is a historical census recorded during the time of Quirinius.  However, that census and no other Roman census ever required anyone to return to their ancestral homes. If you think about it, why would anyone care where your ancestors lived 1000 years ago? And what if you had ancestors that came from multiple locations, as most people would probably have? If I had to return to my ancestral home of 1000 years ago, I would have to go to England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and Spain at least.

Luke has no Trip to Egypt, Matthew has no trip to Jerusalem

In Matthew, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, they flee immediately to Egypt, and upon their return from Egypt they travel directly to Nazareth to avoid the son of Herod.

In Luke, Mary and Joseph start in Nazareth, travel to Bethlehem for a census, go to Jerusalem, and then return to their home town of Nazareth.

Many apologists try to create a super story in which they combine the travel of the two stories above into one journey. This is impossible. Luke specifically mentions circumcision on the eighth day and the required purification time. This refers to Leviticus 12, which states when a boy is born the mother is unclean for 7 days, the foreskin is removed on the 8th day, and she must not touch holy objects for 33 days (if Jesus were a girl, Mary would be unclean for 14 days and could not touch holy objects for 66 days).  Luke 39 notes that when this 33 day period was complete they returned to Galilee.  A trip to Egypt is not mentioned at all!



  1. Satan deceives the whole world. This includes christians who reject Gods wkly and annual Sabbaths. And all other people. Revelation 14:12 the patience of the saints are those who keep the commandments of Godand faith of Christ. Few follow the narrow path and enter the gate. You would brnefit from keeping Gods commandmentd the bible tells us he who keeps them has a good understanding. True Christians know Jeshua was born at the feast of tabernacles. Thsts why the city was crwded every 1 was keeping the commanded feast. The jewish have an accurate rrcord. There is less room for mis interpretation

    • Your statement that the Jews have an accurate record is not supported by the facts, especially in regards to any record of Jesus. Have you ever researched Jesus in the Talmud? Start here and look at the original sources referenced.

      According to the Jews, Yeshu had only 5 disciples, was executed by stoning and hanging, lived from either 103 to 76 BCE (Sanhedrin 107) or 200 to 500 CE (Sanhedrin 43a), he practiced magic, led Israel astray, was the son of Mary’s lover Pandera, etc.

      Of course, scholars argue about the interpretation of these documents, whether the variety of Yeshus mentioned are Jesus of Nazareth, etc.

  2. The two genealogies are different because one of them is Joseph’s and the other one is Mary’s.

    • WRONG! Nowhere in either genealogy is Mary found. This is a common falsehood created by Christians who wish to explain this contradiction. If this were so obvious, then all Christians would make this claim. However, some Christians claim one genealogy is “kingly” while the other is “priestly”, and other Christians claim that “son of” actually means “descendant of”, and there are other excuses. Honest Christians will admit this is a contradiction.


    One point, calling someone the son of Heli in one letter and the son of Jacob in another isn’t contradictory.

    This also occurs with: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. They are all called son of Jacob in one article and the son of Israel in another.

    Thank you.

    • I have a simple question for you. Who was the father of Joseph (the husband of Mary and earthly father/stepfather of Jesus)?

      • And I have a simple question for you. Who was the father of Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah?

      • Jacob. It is common for four (or even 12) children to have one father. It is not common for one child to have more than one biological father. I have answered your question, even though it is a completely different quesition (who is the father of 4 children) than mine (who is the single father of a single child).

        Now, answer my question.

      • 1 Chronicles 2: 1-2.
        These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

      • Therefore the father of Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah was Israel according to 1 Chronicles 2: 1-2 and not Jacob, or is it both?

      • You never answered my question, despite the fact that I asked first. Why are you so afraid to answer my question?

        The answer to your ridiculous follow up question is simple.

        Genesis 35:9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

        Jacob and Israel are clearly two different names for the same person. This is common in in the bible. Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Saul of Tarsus became Paul, etc. I am known by Edwin and Ed, but I am the same person. My children do not have two different biological fathers.

        So back to you. Are you going to answer my original question?

      • You asked, “Who was the father of Joseph (the husband of Mary and earthly father/stepfather of Jesus)?

        You said: “Jacob and Israel are clearly two different names for the same person.”

        Using your reasoning Ed, “Jacob and Heli are clearly two different names for the same person”.

        As you said: “This is common in the bible. Saul of Tarsus became Paul, etc.”

        Thank you for clarifying this. I am learning. Perhaps it’s something to do with the new birth?

      • Your answer is: “Jacob and Heli are clearly two different names for the same person”.

        Please show me in the bible where it is indicated that Jacob and Heli are the same person. If you can not do that, then you must admit your answer is wrong.

      • Dear Ed,

        As you quoted: “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

        I found it interesting that Joseph’s father was also called Jacob. Perhaps a similar thing happened to Joseph’s father Jacob. “Your name is Jacob but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Heli.”

        I will need to do a bit more research I’m afraid. The bible is a bit like a Columbo story sometimes, or an Agatha Christie novel.

        Thanks for your insight.

      • That quote in your first sentence is from the bible, from Genesis 35.
        You can not say PERHAPS a similar thing happened to Joseph’s father Jacob without citing a verse in the bible. Anyone could make anything up, such as, PERHAPS Jesus will be Lucifer.

        Furthermore, the number of generations between Joseph and David are different in Matthew and Luke.

        Lastly, there are lots of repeated names in the bible used for different people. There are multiple Marys in the New Testament. The name Jesus is simply a Greek version of Joshua.

      • Acts 13:9 tells us that Saul “was also called Paul” (NIV).

        It seems to have been fairly typical for Jews to have more than one name. Other New Testament examples include:
        · “Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus)” (Acts 1:23);
        · “Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas)” (Acts 9:36);
        · “John, also called Mark” (Acts 12:12);
        · Paul’s companion Silas (Acts 15-18), who is also known as Silvanus (2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thes 1:1; 2 Thes 1:1).

        This information raises an interesting question about the use of Saul’s two names in the book of Acts. Luke, the author of Acts, refers to Saul of Tarsus as “Saul” until Acts 13:9, then shifts to “Paul” for the remainder of the book.

        Also I have several names I am known by. In fact people very rarely use my first name (only in officialdom and when travelling abroad where the first name is mainly used) and certain people call me by my third name.

        So for me it’s not unusual to hear of people referred to by different names.

        Thank you.

      • But it is not justified to claim Heli is Jacob unless there is some evidence for that specific name.
        And it does not explain the differences in the number of generations between David and Joseph in the Matthew and Luke genealogies.

      • Thanks For your response Ed.

        Really I’m just looking at ways of understanding how it might be possible for the same person to be called a different name. As an established rule has already been seen in scripture, it might be possible this was the case in this instance.

        If every instance of a name change were recorded, would we have room enough for the books? Of course I am referring to John stating people in heaven have their names changed. If I recall rightly the number of people exceeded 10,000.00 in the book of Revelation.

      • I am not sure what verse in Revelation you are referring to. Rev 2:17 says “17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” A reference to 10,000 new names does not come to my mind immediately.

        Revelation 6:13 says “the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.” Whoever wrote this book has no idea what a star is. Most stars (including our sun) are several orders of magnitude larger than the earth. I consider this book a book of ignorance, not a book of revelation.

      • How you have fallen from heaven, O lucifer (Isaiah) = “the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.”

        It’s a metaphor (or is it a simile?). It’s descriptive of when Michael the Arch Angel (ruler of all the angels) and His Holy Angels fought and the devil and his angels fought and they were NOT STRONG ENOUGH (seen to be as pathetic little figs) and there was NO PLACE (in heaven) found for them.

        Some believe Michael took on flesh (JESUS) in order to have complete dominion on earth too.

        Which might explain the question, who is like you among the gods? Jesus, amongst all the gods, demonstrated uniqueness by alone rising from the dead. Unlike the widow’s son who couldn’t rise himself from the dead and required Jesus to raise him up. That was the Naim story. Luke 7:11. Despite all of his friends, no one could help him except Jesus.

      • Please provide the scriptural references to the battle between Michael and the devil.

      • It begins in Revelation 12:7.

      • Michael = Who is like unto God or He who is like God.

        Whereas lucifer said in Isaiah 14:14 he would be like God.” I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High”.

        This reminds me of Eve’s temptation: you will be as gods, knowing good and evil.

      • The geneaology is probably different because their names are omitted from the Book of Life. Ezekiel: the soul that sins dies. Exodus: punishment for following false gods.

        Worshiping anything other than the true God, such as a created thing, even lucifer who WAS pretty high, would result in omission.

        What do you think? What do your scriptures say?

      • Perhaps you did not read my About section. I was a biblical literalist Christian who read the bible and became an atheist.
        I do not agree with your claim about names being omitted from the Book of Life.
        Regarding what I think, I think this is a good example of a contradiction. There is no resolution for the contradiction unless someone claims something that is not stated in the bible.

      • Finally, there is a name change for all believers: God says, “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). When we reach heaven, God will also change our names. Perhaps it will represent our own changed identity as we transition from sinful to holy.

        Read more:

        I will carry on my research. What I discovered was the name Heli can be interpreted as Ascended. And of course there is Eli in there and El is significant in the Hebrew I understand. Perhaps you might be able to suggest possible options?

      • You said: “PERHAPS Jesus will be Lucifer.”

        There are some odd quotes in the bible such as: “He who knew no sin became sin” and He became a curse for us.”

        “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

        Perhaps as it says: His ways are higher than ours.”

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