Posted by: edhensley | December 24, 2017

Is the Christmas Story true? Contradictions in Matthew, Luke, and history.

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, and he 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. 22But when 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,24 the son of Heli, the son of Matthat,

I have posted this previously, but will re-post annually near December 25.

Super Gospel

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 will call the baby Immanuel. Mary does not do that, and nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus ever called Immanuel.  Please see the following 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?

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

In Matthew, Jesus is born in his home town of 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 their home town 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!

Stories Created to Fulfill Prophecy

As previously noted, Matthew and Luke probably never thought their stories would be next to each other in one book. They created the stories about the birth of Jesus to fulfill two Old Testament prophecies: 1) that Jesus was born of a virgin; 2) that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem. An angel visits Joseph in Matthew 1:18-21, and an angel visits Mary in Luke 1:26-38.

As previously noted, the “prophecy” that Jesus would be born of a virgin is not really in the Old Testament. Anyone who takes an honest look at Isaiah 7 and 8 would not come to the conclusion that this is a prophecy that the messiah would be born 1000 years later to a virgin and named Jesus. There were numerous stories of miraculous births and children of women fathered by gods at the time the New Testament stories were created. Hercules is an example of someone believed to have been born of an earthly woman and a god. Alexander the Great and Augustus Caesar are examples of known historical figures who had stories of miraculous births and supernatural fathers. There are hundreds of additional examples. It was a common idea 2000 years ago that an important person would have a miraculous birth and/or a supernatural father.

It is likely that there was a Rabbi named Jesus from the town of Nazareth. The name Jesus is simply the Greek form of Joshua. Jesus was a very common name in the middle east 2000 years ago, just as Jesus is a very common name in Mexico today. Since this Jesus was known to be from Nazareth, Matthew and Luke had to invent ways to have him born in Bethlehem. As noted above, Matthew made Bethlehem the home town, and Nazareth became a safe place to return to avoid the son of Herod. Luke made Nazareth the home town, and Bethlehem a place to go for a census. What Matthew and Luke never realized is that when their books were placed in the same bible, their books would be providing evidence that the stories were fabricated.

Bible publishers are aware of the contradictions, so they add subtitles. For example, Matthew 2 includes a subtitle that says “The Return To Nazareth”. The original scriptures do not contain this text at all.

When reading all these stories, we should remember what Luke admits in Luke 1:1-4. “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.” These are not stories of eye witnesses, but are stories that have been “handed down”. These stories evidently included some embellishments that reflected mythological elements of the time.

Prophecy Not In The Bible

Matt 2:23 ends with, ‘So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”’

The problem with this claim is that there is no mention of Nazareth or Nazarenes in the Old Testament at all, and there is no prophecy that Jesus will be called a Nazarene.

First of all, note that a Nazarite in the Old Testament is someone who voluntarily took the Vow Of The Nazarite described  in Numbers 6:1-21. A Nazarite is not someone from Nazarene.

Christian apologists do incredible mental gymnastics when trying to explain who the “prophets” were that Jesus would come from Nazareth. Some say the prophets were some that were known orally but not written down in the Old Testament. My favorite one that shows the depths to which Christians will delude themselves, is that this was a play on words, such as this one at

“In Hebrew, the word “branch” is netzer, actually only three consonantal letters: NZR. Note that the town NaZaReth contains the same three primary letters… He was identifying the obscure Galilean town of Nazareth in which Jesus grew up with the Old Testament reference to a netzer (Branch) God would raise up to bring justice and righteousness and peace to His people.”

So Nazarene is a town and netzer is a branch, both words contain NZR, so therefore Matthew is really saying Jesus is a branch god would raise up. WOULD YOU CHRISTIANS LET A MUSLIM GET AWAY WITH SUCH RIDICULOUS APOLOGIES FOR THE KORAN? These same people who make such apologies for the contradictions in the bible would never let Muslims get away with doing the same thing. I encourage all Christians to read the bible again (or for the first time for most Christians), but this time question whether it is truly the perfect word of a perfect god.

I encourage all people to abandon beliefs in Bronze Age mythologies.




  1. The order of events is as follows:

    1. Luke 2:1-20.

    2. Luke 2:21-40. Jesus is EIGHT DAYS OLD.

    3. Matthew 2.

    4. Luke 2:41-52. Jesus is TWELVE YEARS OLD.

    This makes the difference between a “house” and a “stable” points of accuracy, not discrepancy.

    We know for a certainty that Luke omits time between “eight days” old and “twelve years old”.

    If anything, a critic should at least know the difference between “omit” and “negate”.

    omit: to leave out; fail to include or mention

    negate: to deny the existence, evidence, or truth of

    For example, a careful reader can see that John’s Gospel “omits” the “other Mary” (John 20:1), but no where does the text “negate” her. Therefore, that so-called contradiction connected with the resurrection can be dismissed.

    • Luke 2:39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

      It only takes 40 days after birth to satisfy the Jewish law, not 12 year. So after 40 days they went back to Nazareth. The return to Nazareth in Luke does NOT include a trip to Egypt to avoid the massacre of the innocents. This is clearly a contradiction that you wish to deny. I pity you, that the bible has turned you into a self deceiver.

      In addition, Matt 2:1 makes it clear that Jesus was born in Bethlehem with no mention of a trip from Nazareth. They go to Egypt to escape the slaughter of the innocents. They wind up in Nazareth and Galilee after hearing Herod’s son was ruling in Judea. So the Matthew trip is Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth. The Luke trip is Nazareth to Bethlehem (for the ridiculous census) then back to Nazareth. Your attempts to reconcile these events have miserably failed.

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