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Nativity Nonsense: The Christmas Story

By Corey Gilkes
December 26, 2001

Poinsettia: South American and Mexican plant For most Xians the story of the birth of the Jesus figure is pretty much clear cut; simply turn to the New Testament and there outlined is everything one needed to know about how the saviour, god incarnate came into being. Exactly how Dec 25th came to be the celebrated date may pose a bit of a problem for some but that is hardly a problem worth graying hairs over. After all, the main thing is that "He" was born and he was born to save mankind from eternal damnation.

That is the story of the Jesus of faith. And, as is usually the case, the Jesus of faith is confused with actual history. The story of the baby Jesus being born to humble parents in a manger with three wise men paying homage to him and later being spirited out of the country to escape the wrath of Herod is romantic but by no means reality. In fact, as Dr John Dominic Crossan, of Depaul University once pointed out in an interview, we do not know where Jesus was born, we don't know when he was born and, if you examine the whole issues of the Virgin birth, we do not know how he was born either.

Truth is often stranger than fiction and nowhere is that more obvious than in matters relating to religion; as Edward Gibbon pointed out the historian must be more circumspect than the theologian. For "people of colour" an additional question must also be asked: "what does this have to do with my position in the world socially, politically and economically?" This question should be the single most important question in the minds of the colonised because the most destructive of the colonised institutions is religion. The best way to bring about complete subjugation of a people is to destroy their image of the Divine. The political implications of historicising age-old allegorical myths is perhaps one of the least examined aspects of religion by those who have been colonised by it. This will be explored in another article.

Beginnings of the Nativity

Even today in the so-called Information Age it comes as a profound shock to many Xians to learn that their Nativity story, far from being a miraculous event some 2000 odd years ago, is a refashioned compilation of pre-Xian myths stretching back to very ancient times. The damning evidence can still be found in the Nile Valley upon the walls of Amenope's tomb, in a cave in India called Elephanta, in the Drama of Bel and the life of Pythagoras and Zeus and a host of other historical and mythical figures all of whom preceding the Xian Era.

One of the remarkable things about early Xianity is the fact that the early devotees made no mention of the birth of their supposed saviour or even his supposedly fleshly existence for that matter. The earliest Gospel, Mark, speaks nothing about the ancestry, birth and genealogy of Jesus and contemporary Greek and Roman writers and historians of that period have nothing to say about him either save vague, generic references to the [temporal] title of the Christ. In some cases where writers like Josephus and Paul make "specific" mentions of Jesus, these references turn out to be forgeries written in by zealous students, and redacting bishops. Also, there was strong opposition to the "pagan" custom of celebrating birthdays – ironic when one considers that from top to bottom "paganism" is woven into Xianity's beliefs and customs. At first, his birth date was on January 6th; however, by the 4th century it was noticed that Xian worshippers were also partaking in Mithraic celebrations of the Sun [natalis solis invicti] on December 25th. Realising that their followers were gravitating towards the worship of Mithra, Roman Xian authorities moved the feast date of Jesus from January 6th to December 25th. Such were the lengths these early proselytisers were prepared to go to win or retain converts.

The need to locate and document hard evidence of the various aspects of Jesus' life did not gain momentum until the various books that make up the bible were being compiled. Up until this time there was a prevailing belief that the end of the world was imminent and the Christ would return. By the time it was realised that this was not going to happen, the Doctors of the Church, in an effort to consolidate their positions of authority, needed to gather as much evidence of the errant saviour. The details of his "biography" and genealogy were pieced together from the numerous Asian mythologies that permeated Rome at the time. Even more profound was the influence of "pagan" Africa: up until the time of Constantine, the capital of Christendom was not in Rome at all but in Egypt. It was Egyptian monks, such as Anthony the Hermit, who started the Church's tradition of monasticism. The worship of Yusir and Auset was still immensely powerful and as I will show in a subsequent article was the main source for the Jesus myth.

It was also necessary for the Church Fathers to create a lineage that linked Jesus to the line of David. According to Jewish legend a saviour from the line of David would be born and he would lead the Hebrews out of Roman bondage. Interestingly, though the authors of the Synoptic Gospels copied from Mark, theirs was a shabby job indeed. To this day there are two almost totally contradicting genealogies [thank goodness the authors – who, remember, were "inspired men" – were not able to meet and match their stories! If we were to accept these biblical narratives as historical, as Xians say we should, innumerable inconsistencies would pop up. In fact, the Gospels are so muddled – even if we allow for the well-documented mistranslations, liberal editing and outright forgeries – it almost impossible to extricate reality from mythology and fact from absurdity. We have, for instance, the much misrepresented virgin birth; virtually all pre-Xian sacred sciences had their saviours born of a Virgin – among the Nile Valley Africans, Heru/Horus, as was his father Yusir/Osiris, was born of a virgin, the Great Mother Auset/Isis. The Osirian Drama spread to other parts of the Mediterranean and Asia becoming Mithra in Persia, Krishna in India, Bacchus and Dionysus in Greece and Rome. The creators of the biblical Jesus saw the advantage of matching the feats and characteristics of these pagan deities with similar feats and characteristics of Jesus. To this end they saw no problem with appropriating various attributes of a number of deities, particularly, those of Egypt and Asia Minor, and appending them to Christ Jesus.

Then there is the familiar story of the wise men coming from the east following a star. In Luke's account there is no star; what we do have are shepherds watching their flocks by night which itself presents a problem. Shepherds are not out in the fields in December unless they have a death wish. But the yarn about the star itself should be looked at; here we have three "kings", coming from the east, following a star from the east [can you follow a star that is behind you?]. Further, how is it that we have a star detaching itself from orbit, and no one, especially the Chinese astronomers who at this period were observing everything in the heavens, did not notice such an astounding and for many terrifying event? How did the Dogon of Mali or the Greek and Roman star-gazers fail to take note of this? Most Lay Xians are blissfully unaware that we are speaking about a period in which just about everything was documented and many of these historical documents are still around. Such abnormal phenomenon would certainly cause a noteworthy upheaval.

The American Atheists view of this star-tale is worth repeating here:

How does one follow a star, anyway? If you start to follow a star, such as described here, shortly after its rising you will begin to head east (after all, it is said to have risen in the east). Thus, the Magi would have begun to head back home to Iran. By midnight, however, the star would have been south of our wise guys and the Magi would have been heading toward Saudi Arabia. As the night wore on toward morning, they would head westward toward the Mediterranean Sea. With the beginning of a new night of travel, this mad hatter behavior would replay again, the path of our unwise men describing a series of curlicues on the earth's surface. Depending on how fast they walked how regular their rate, the absolute sizes of these curlicues would differ greatly, and the final destinations would be incredibly different.

Even allowing for the miraculous stopping of the star over the nativity scene -- an impossibility of literally astronomical dimensions -- how would the wise men know which house was under it? Every time they came to a house apparently under the star, if they just walked around to the other side of the house, they would find the star apparently had moved to be over the next house, and so on! If there are any true believers reading this message, I have a challenge. Tonight go out and try to follow a star -- any star except the North Star. See where it gets you!

On second thought, don't exclude the North Star. Go for it! When you get to Santa Claus's house, give my regards to the elves.

It's claimed that the Old Testament contains numerous prophecies foretelling the coming of Jesus. For instance, Matt. 2:23 speaks about Jesus and his parents returning from Egypt and going to Nazareth "this was to fulfil the words spoken through the prophet: 'He shall be called a Nazarene'". First off, the sect known as the Nazarenes were not given that name because of anything to do with Nazareth; judging by Roman maps, Nazareth did not even exist until the 4th century. Neither is there any such prophecy anywhere in the OT. Neither is there any credence in the view that Isaiah 7. V. 14 is foretelling Jesus' birth by a virgin. The passage reads "Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel". However, the Hebrew text reads: "Behold the young woman [almah] is with child, and will give birth to a son, and she will call his name Emmanuel. This has nothing to do with any miraculous birth a few hundred years later. It is referring to a young woman who is already pregnant and it seems she has plans on naming him Emmanuel. Note that this passage was directed to King Ahaz and was not some reference to Jesus and Mary [who certainly did not name her child Emmanuel].

The term "virgin" also needs to be dealt with because, contrary to popular belief, it does not necessarily have to do with whether a woman had sexual intercourse. The Hebrews used two words to denote virgin – almah, which simply meant 'a young woman', and bathur which denoted a woman betrothed. The Greek writers, lacking a similar word in their vocabulary, used 'parthenoi' [hymen intact], thereby sowing the seeds for the misconception of the millennium. Also, in many traditional societies, 'virginity had to do with one's conduct, power, state of consciousness. So a woman who had five children would be called 'virgin' if here ways were pure, she embodied the values of the community, and every child she bore had an "Immaculate Conception".

Another discrepancy has to do with Herod. Now we are told that Herod murdered every male child in a grisly attempt to eliminate the infant Jesus. Remember now, we are told that all this actually happened, it is not to be read allegorically [which it should have been]. So if Herod did indeed do all this then how could he have done it from beyond the grave, because this man did after all die in the year 4 BCE? Now Herod was indeed guilty of killing infant children – his own. These children were murdered so that there could be no legitimate challenger for the position of High Priest. Note also that the many chroniclers of Herod, such as Josephus, who never hesitated to point out Herod's many crimes, made no mention of what would surely have been the piece-de-resistance. In fact given the nature of such a crime, someone, whether in Syria, Rome, India or Egypt was bound to have recorded it. But we have nothing at all.

But wait, it gets better; Jesus was a baby during the reign of Herod and Quirinius, governor of Syria. Another problem arises here; if Herod died in the year 4 BCE and Quirinius did not become governor until the year 7 CE, Jesus remained a baby for 11-odd years! Then we have the census to deal with, the same census where "all the world" [the whole world?] was to be taxed. What census was this? We have no record of any empire-wide census by Augustus and Quirinius did conduct a census, but it was in Judea, not Galilee. And, given the militancy of the Hebrews, they would have been moving away from their villages, not towards them. Had the authors and redactors been more versed in history, they would have gotten away with it. Further, had the Romans really conducted a census and instructed everyone return to his ancestral village and city, the Empire would have collapsed. What with the state of transport in those days, having Spaniards return to Spain from Egypt, Africans returning to Egypt, Carthage, etc, it would have been utter chaos.

The purpose was not to mock anyone's religious beliefs [though it could do with a kick in the backside], my aim as always is to shed some light on certain aspects of history so that there could be some discussion, research and deep introspection. Faith is no excuse for ignorance. The insistence by Eurocentric religious authorities that we simply accept these biblical stories on the basis of faith [the implication here is that these events are to be taken as historical] had and still has nothing to do with any god or piety. It has everything to do with political power and who holds it. This has been noted not only by Africentric scholars such as Dr Marimba Ani but by such outstanding Eurocentric religious scholars as Elaine Pagels and Robert Eisenman.

In another article I hope to expand upon the allegorical interpretation of the Nativity by showing its origin in the Egyptian funerary rituals and that culture's astronomical observations.

Suggested reading

Echoes of the Old Darkland -Charles S Finch
Ancient Egypt the Light of the World - [2 vols.] Gerald Massey
Gerald Massey's Lectures - Gerald Massey
African origins of the Major "Western" Religions - Yosef ben-Jochannan
Black man of the Nile and His Family - Yosef ben-Jochannan
African origins of the Major World's Religions - Amon Sakaana [Ed]
Civilisation or Barbarism - Cheikh Anta Diop
African Origins of Civilisation: Myth or Reality? - Cheikh Anta Diop
Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth - John Jackson
Man, God & Civilisation - John Jackson
Pagan and Christian Creeds - Edward Carpenter
World's 16 Crucified Saviours - Kersey Greaves
The Passover Plot - Hugh Schonfield
African Presence in Early Europe - Ivan Van Sertima
African Presence in Early Asia - Runuko Rashidi, Ivan Van Sertima
Egypt Revisited - Ivan Van Sertima
Rituals of Power and Rebellion - Hollis Liverpool
Who is this King of Glory? - Alvin Boyd Kuhn
Forgery in Christianity - Joseph Wheless
The Dark Side of Christian History - Helen Ellerbie
Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets - Barbara G Walker
Sex and Race [vol. 1] - J A Rogers
When God was a Woman - Merlin Stone
The Dictionary of Bible and Religion - Stan Getz
Gods of the Egyptians - Sir E A Wallis-Budge
The Theban Rescension - E A Wallis-Budge
From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt - E A Wallis-Budge
Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Papyrus of Ani - E A Wallis-Budge
The Golden Bough [13 vols.] - James Frazer
Black Athena [vol. 1] - Martin Bernal