For all I know, Reverend Ian Paul, an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham, is a man with a dry sense of humour. In any event, he chose 22nd December to blog that, “Jesus really wasn’t born in a stable”. How can he possibly know that? Because the whole nativity scene thing has stemmed from a mistranslation of the Greek work kataluma, which does not mean “inn” at all, but “the spare or upper room in a private house or in a village”. So, even if you are the sort of bod who believes that the gospels are, well, gospel, the whole nativity scene that has become traditional is out the window.
Let’s take a look at chapter 2, verse 7, where our translation reads that “there was no place for them in the inn”. Scholar, Kenneth Bailey, confirms what we could find out for ourselves–the Greek word, “kataluma”, literally means “guest room”, and not “hotel” or “inn”. Luke reports that Jesus was laid in a manger. Why? Because “there was no place for them in the guest room”– “there was no place for them in the kataluma”.
This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that “kataluma” is the same word used by Jesus in Luke 22:11. In this verse, Jesus instructs His disciples, “you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room(Where is the kataluma) in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?'”.
The “kataluma” is the guest room, it is the upper chamber of a house.
I wonder how many ankle-biters all around the world and over the past generations have been dressed up and been pushed up onto primary school stages to the do the “Baby Jesus in the Manager” thing? And all for nothing. It is a re-enactment of something which never happened.
If you laid out all the Baby Jesuses, donkeys, shepherds, and similar actors (there typically needs to be a part for every boy and girl in the class) and laid them out end to end, they would probably stretch all the way to Bethlehem and back. Several times.
Happy Christmas, everyone!