It is virtually certain that Jesus’ was raised in the small hamlet of Nazareth in Galilee, the northern part of Israel. All of our sources agree that he was from there, and it is very hard to imagine why a Christian story teller would have made that up (since there was no prestige about the place: no one had ever even heard of it!). But now the question is whether that was also his place of birth.
The only two accounts we have of Jesus’ birth, Matthew and Luke, independently claim that even though he was raised in Nazareth, he was actually born in Bethlehem. So isn’t that the more likely scenario? Born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth? You might think so, given the fact that this is what is stated in our only two sources of information, and that they independently agree about the matter (based on their own sources, the no longer existing M – Matthew’s source or sources – and the no longer existing L – Luke’s source or sources).
But there are reasons for thinking that we cannot trust these accounts, three reasons: each of them is filled with historical implausibilities that make it look like someone is making up the stories; they are irreconcilably at odds with one another in matters both small and large (so they both simply can’t be historical); and they both have very clear and definite reasons for wanting to say that Jesus was actually born in Bethlehem rather than Nazareth: the Son of David/the Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem! But if Jesus was the Son of David the Messiah, what is one to do with the fact that everyone knew he was from Nazareth (of all places)? The easiest way to deal with this inconvenient fact was to say that…..
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