Ask Y:

Question: Surely we’re not supposed to believe the Christmas story actually happened?

Peter Meadows answers your questions about God

question mark

I hear where you are coming from. After all, we are talking of angels, the a virgin giving birth, a wandering star and lots more of those 'it's never happened on my street' events.

Doesn't it all have to be too far fetched? With no evidence it happened? And contradictions in the stories to boot?

Probably no one has thought harder about this than award-winning script writer Tony Jordan – acclaimed for his work on EastEnders, Life on Mars, and more. It was he who picked up the job to write the script for the BBC four-part series The Nativity, broadcast last Christmas.

Tony admits he didn't believe it when he launched out on the detailed research that goes into to all his projects. Yet, he'd tell you, "I believe it now".

He'd started by talking to historians and scientists, who did all they could to convince him the story never happened. The academics kept pointing to the lack of evidence from outside of the Bible, and the apparent contradictions in it.

Yet Tony came to realise the issue was not the apparent differences in the record but the great similarities at the core of it all. Indeed, the two Gospel accounts by Matthew and Luke – written without cooperation – have no less than seventeen common points of agreement.

These include the names of Jesus' parents, that Mary was a virgin, Joseph's ancestral line, the angel saying the child was to be called 'Jesus', the name of the one ruling at the time, the place of the birth, and so on.

Like millions of others before him, Tony's conclusion was "It had to have happened".

Of course, some suggest the story ended up nothing like it began – having been distorted over the years. But those who know say it takes more than two generations before history starts to get distorted into legend. And the record of Jesus' birth was written down much faster than that.

And if it was all invention in the first place, why ever would those out to promote Jesus and His cause choose do so? Why paint your hero as a bastard child, born among animals. You'd want a better story than that.

All of which means, far from being just a nice story, what we have is the wonderful news of the Creator of the universe stepping into human history.

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