'N Os, 'n esel ... 'n draak? Jammer, daar was geen diere in die Bybel se geboorte -toneel nie

'N Os, 'n esel ... 'n draak? Jammer, daar was geen diere in die Bybel se geboorte -toneel nie


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Van geboorte speel tot crèche stelle tot kerskaartjies, diere kom oral voor in ons visie op die geboorte van Christus - maar volgens die Bybel was daar nie een dier nie. Waar kom al hierdie diere vandaan, en waarom staan ​​hulle nou so sentraal in die verhaal?

Slegs twee dele van die Bybel praat oor Jesus se geboorte: die Evangelies van Lukas en Matteus. Mark en Johannes slaan Jesus se kinderjare oor en gaan reguit na sy volwasse lewe. Hoe soortgelyk is die vertellings van Matteus en Lukas aan die weergawe wat bekend is aan almal wat 'n Kerskerkdiens of 'n geboorte -spel vir kinders bygewoon het?

Kersliedere soos ' Weg In 'n Krip 'Sing oor die vee wat daal - en in' Klein tromspeler 'Hulle hou tyd. Daar is selfs 'n liedjie genaamd ' Klein donkie 'Oor die dier wat Maria na Bethlehem dra in ons visie op die Kersverhaal. Maar verskyn hierdie beelde in die werklike evangelies?

Al ons stabiele en kripbeelde kom eintlik net uit een evangelie - Lukas. In die Evangelie van Matteus blyk dit dat Maria en Josef reeds in Bethlehem woon, en Jesus word in 'n huis gebore. Die towenaars - die drie wyse konings - besoek Jesus in hierdie weergawe. Lukas gee ons egter verslag van die lang reis van Nasaret na Betlehem - en die besoek van die herders.

Die eerste dier wat ons in die Kersverhaal kan ontmoet, is die pligsgetroue donkie, die getroue lasdier wat die swanger Maria op sy rug dra. Maar u wil dalk gaan sit, liewe leser, vir hierdie volgende deel. Maria het nie op 'n donkie na Bethlehem gery nie.

Nêrens in enige Evangelie staan ​​daar dat Maria niks anders gedoen het as om te loop nie. Die hele reis word in drie reëls gegee: Josef en Maria is na Bethlehem en terwyl hulle daar was, het sy geboorte gegee. Geen melding van vervoer nie.

Die vroegste kerststal in die kuns, uit 'n sarkofaag uit die Romeinse era uit die vierde eeu. ( G.dallorto)

Nou sal jy sê, wel, wat van die skape? 'Terwyl herders snags na hul kuddes kyk', is die refrein wat ons hoor. Maar dit kom uit 'n lied - die Bybelse teks sê nie dat die herders enige skaap saamgeneem het toe hulle Maria en Josef en die baba gaan soek het nie.

Die herders gaan na Bethlehem en vind, soos Lukas sê: “Maria en Josef en die kind wat in die krip lê.” Maar die Bybel maak geen melding van diere wat die Christuskind aanbid nie.

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Onbetroubare vertelling vir die geboorteverhaal

Luke sê Maria het die baba Jesus in 'n krip gesit, maar die plek waar sy geboorte gegee het, was nie noodwendig 'n stal nie. Ruimte vir gemengde gebruik, waar mak diere soos skape en beeste woon- en eetplekke met mense gedeel het, was destyds die norm in die omgewing. Dit sou dus normaal gewees het dat Josef se familielede ruimte met hul diere gedeel het. Maar weereens sê die teks nie dat 'n enkele dier by Jesus se geboorte of daarna was nie.

Maar ons visie van Luke se verslag het ingebed in die verbeelding van kunstenaars en kunstenaars, soos ons huidige geboortevertonings getuig. Elke kind word 'n dier wat die baba Jesus besoek, alhoewel daar nie een dier in die Evangelieverslae genoem word nie.

Maria kom op 'n donkie aan. Toppling van die heidense afgode (vlug na Egipte). Bedford Master

As die Bybel dus verbasend swyg oor die rol van die diere in die nag se gebeure, waar kom hulle dan almal vandaan? Die antwoord is dat Lukas se weergawe die verbeelding van baie vroeë Christelike skrywers oorwin het, alhoewel met 'n paar verskille.

'N Vroeë Evangelieverhaal wat nie in die Bybel was nie, bekend as die Proto-Evangelie van Jakobus, is in die tweede eeu nC geskryf en beskryf die reis van Josef en Maria en Jesus se geboorte weg van die gemak van die huis in detail. Dit is hier dat ons uiteindelik ons ​​getroue donkie kry: die teks sê dat Joseph 'n donkie opsaal en Maria daarop sit om die lang reis te neem om by die sensus te registreer (Jakobus 17.2).

James plaas die geboorte in 'n grot wat die paartjie verbyloop eerder as 'n huislike ruimte. Maria sê vir haar verloofde: “Josef, haal my van die esel af. Die kind in my druk my om uit te kom ”(Jakobus 17.3).

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Het Maria in 'n grot geboorte gegee? Giorgione Aanbidding van die herders, National Gallery of Art.

Joseph verlaat Maria in die onbewoonde grot en gaan soek 'n vroedvrou. 'N Latere teks uit die sewende tot die agtste eeu nC, genaamd die Evangelie van Pseudo-Matteus, neem Jakobus se weergawe van die geboorteverhaal op en werk daaroor uit-in hierdie weergawe verlaat Maria die grot nadat Jesus gebore is en neem hom na 'n stabiel. Uiteindelik kom die beroemde os en esel die toneel binne en buig hom neer om Jesus te aanbid. Hierdie bekende toneel word duisende jare later steeds op Kerskaartjies verewig-maar dit is nooit in die Bybelteks opgeneem nie.

Gaan die draak binne?

Sommige van hierdie apokriewe verhale gaan nog verder. As gewone diere wat die Christuskind aanbid indrukwekkend lyk, hoeveel te meer buitengewoon is dit dan dat Pseudo-Matthew wilde diere insluit, insluitend leeus, luiperds-en selfs jakkalse-wat hulde bring aan die baba Jesus. Pseudo-Matthew skryf:

En kyk, skielik kom daar baie jakkalse uit die grot ... Toe wakker, het die Here, al was hy nog nie twee jaar oud nie, opgestaan, opgestaan ​​en voor hulle gaan staan. En die jakkalse het hom aanbid. Toe hulle hom klaar aanbid het, het hulle weggegaan ... So het ook leeus en luiperds hom aanbid en hom vergesel in die woestyn ... hulle die weg gewys en hulle onderwerp; en buig hul koppe met groot eerbied en toon hul diensbaarheid deur met hul sterte te waai.

Wilde diere buig en aanbid hom. ( Frankieleo)

Beelde van diere wat vreedsaam optree, is 'n algemene beeld in die Bybel. Hulle is bedoel om 'n tyd van vrede te simboliseer, dus dit is geen wonder dat ons idee van die geboorte van die Vredevors diere insluit nie. Dit is verbasend dat ons nie te veel jakkalse, luiperds of leeus in die kersfees kry nie. Maar as die os en die donkie net so onbybels is, waarom nie?


Geboorte toneel

In die Christelike tradisie, a geboorte toneel (ook bekend as a krip toneel, krip, crèche ( / k r ɛ ʃ / of / k r eɪ ʃ /), of in Italiaans presepio of presepe, of Bethlehem) is die spesiale uitstalling, veral gedurende die Kerstyd, van kunsvoorwerpe wat die geboorte van Jesus verteenwoordig. [1] [2] Alhoewel die term "geboorte -toneel" gebruik kan word vir enige voorstelling van die baie algemene onderwerp van die Geboorte van Jesus in kuns, het dit 'n meer gespesialiseerde betekenis wat verwys na seisoenale uitstallings, óf met modelfigure in 'n omgewing of heraktiwiteite genaamd "lewende geboorte tonele" (tableau vivant) waaraan regte mense en diere deelneem. Geboorte tonele toon figure wat die baba Jesus, sy ma, Maria en haar man, Joseph, voorstel.

Ander karakters uit die geboorteverhaal, soos herders, skape en engele, kan naby die krip vertoon word in 'n skuur (of grot) wat bedoel is om plaasdiere te huisves, soos beskryf in die Evangelie van Lukas. 'N Donkie en 'n os word tipies op die toneel uitgebeeld, en die towenaars en hul kamele, wat in die Matteusevangelie beskryf word, word ook ingesluit. Baie bevat ook 'n voorstelling van die ster van Bethlehem. Verskeie kulture voeg ander karakters en voorwerpe by wat al dan nie Bybels is nie.

Die heilige Franciscus van Assisi word erken dat hy die eerste lewendige geboorte -toneel in 1223 geskep het om die aanbidding van Christus te kweek. Hy self was onlangs geïnspireer deur sy besoek aan die Heilige Land, waar Jesus se tradisionele geboorteplek aan hom gewys is. Die gewildheid van die toneel het gemeenskappe in Christelike lande geïnspireer om soortgelyke uitstallings op te voer.

Kenmerkende geboorte tonele en tradisies is regoor die wêreld geskep en word gedurende die Kerstyd in kerke, huise, winkelsentrums en ander plekke vertoon, en soms op openbare gronde en in openbare geboue. Geboorte -tonele het geen twyfel ontgaan nie, en in die Verenigde State van Amerika het die insluiting daarvan op openbare gronde of in openbare geboue hofuitdagings opgelewer.


Inhoud

'N Geboorte -toneel put sy inspirasie uit die verslae van die geboorte van Jesus in die Evangelies van Matteus en Lukas. [3] [4] Lukas se vertelling beskryf 'n engel wat die geboorte van Jesus aankondig aan herders wat dan die nederige plek besoek waar Jesus gevind word in 'n krip, 'n trog vir veevoer (Lukas 2: 8-20). van "wyse manne" (Grieks: μαγοι, geromaniseer: magoi ) wat 'n ster na die huis waar Jesus gewoon het, en dui aan dat die Magies Jesus 'n rukkie later, minder as twee jaar na sy geboorte, gevind het, eerder as op die presiese dag (Mat.2: 1-23). Magies en die ster. Die towenaars en die engele word gereeld saam met die Heilige Familie en die herders in 'n kerststal vertoon (Lukas 2: 72: 122: 17)

Die vroegste kerststal is gevind in die vroeë Christelike katakombe van Saint Valentine. [5] Dit spoor na AD 380. [6]

Die heilige Francis van Assisi, wat nou herdenk word op die kalenders van die Katolieke, Lutherse en Anglikaanse liturgiese kalenders, word toegeskryf aan die eerste lewende geboorte -toneel [7] [8] [9] [10] in 1223 in Greccio, Sentraal -Italië. , [8] [11] in 'n poging om die klem van Kersfees op die aanbidding van Christus te plaas eerder as op 'materiële dinge'. [12] [13] Die kerststal wat deur Saint Francis geskep is, [7] word deur Saint Bonaventure beskryf in sy Die lewe van Saint Francis van Assisi omstreeks 1260 geskryf. [14] In 'n grot naby Greccio was die geboorte van Saint Francis 'n lewende [8] met mense en diere wat in die Bybelse rolle gespeel is. [15] Pous Honorius III seën die uitstalling. [16]

Sulke uitstallings vir uitstallings het uiters gewild geword en versprei oor die hele Christendom. [15] Binne honderd jaar sou elke Katolieke kerk in Italië 'n kerststal hê tydens Kerstyd. [11] Uiteindelik het standbeelde deelnemers aan mense en diere vervang, en statiese tonele het gegroei tot uitgebreide sake met ryk gewaadde beeldjies in ingewikkelde landskapomgewings. [15] Charles III, koning van die twee Sicilië, versamel sulke uitgebreide tonele, en sy entoesiasme moedig ander aan om dit ook te doen. [11]

Die gewildheid van die toneel het baie navolging in Christelike lande geïnspireer, en in die vroeë moderne tydperk is in baie Christelike kerke en huise beeldhouwerke, wat dikwels uit Italië uitgevoer is, opgerig. [17] Hierdie uitgebreide tonele bereik hul artistieke apogee in die pouslike staat, in Emilia, in die koninkryk van Napels en in Genua. Teen die einde van die 19de eeu het kerststal baie gewild geword in baie Christelike denominasies, en baie weergawes in verskillende groottes en gemaak van verskillende materiale, soos terracotta, papier, hout, was en ivoor, is bemark, dikwels met 'n agtergrond van 'n stal. [1]

Verskillende tradisies van geboorte -tonele het in verskillende lande ontstaan. Handgeverfde santons is gewild in die Provence. In die suide van Duitsland, Oostenryk en Trentino-Alto Adige word die houtbeeldjies met die hand gesny. Kleurvol szopka is tipies in Pole.

'N Tradisie in Engeland behels die bak van 'n maalvleispastei in die vorm van 'n krip wat die Christuskind kan hou tot die middagete, wanneer die pastei geëet word. Toe die Puriteine ​​Kersvieringe in die 17de eeu verbied, het hulle ook spesifieke wetgewing aangeneem om sulke pasteie te verbied en hulle 'afgodery in korst' genoem. [11]

Kenmerkende geboorte tonele en tradisies is regoor die wêreld geskep en word gedurende die Kerstyd in kerke, huise, winkelsentrums en ander plekke vertoon, en soms op openbare gronde en in openbare geboue. Die Vatikaan het sedert 1982 'n toneel op die Sint -Pietersplein naby sy kersboom vertoon en die pous seën baie jare lank die versorgers van kinders wat op die Sint -Pietersplein vergader het vir 'n spesiale seremonie. [18] [ aanhaling nodig ] In die Verenigde State vertoon die Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York jaarliks ​​'n Napolitaanse barokke geboorte -toneel voor 'n blou spar van 20 voet. [19]

Geboorte -tonele het nie aan kontroversie ontkom nie. 'N Lewensgrootte toneel in die Verenigde Koninkryk met beroemdhede met waswerk het in 2004 woedendheid uitgelok [20] en in Spanje het 'n stadsraad die uitstalling van 'n tradisionele toilethumor-karakter [21] in 'n openbare kerststal verbied. Mense vir die etiese behandeling van diere (PETA) het in 2014 beweer dat diere in lewende uitstallings nie behoorlike sorg het nie en dat hulle mishandel is. [22] In die Verenigde State het geboorte -tonele op openbare gronde en in openbare geboue hofuitdagings opgelewer, en die grappige diefstal van keramiek- of plastiek geboortebeeldjies uit buitelewe het algemeen geword. [23]

Statiese geboorte tonele Wysig

Statiese geboorte -tonele kan gedurende die Kerstyd binne of buite opgerig word, en bestaan ​​uit beeldjies wat die baba Jesus uitbeeld wat in 'n krip rus, Maria en Josef. Ander figure in die toneel kan engele, herders en verskillende diere insluit. Die figure kan van enige materiaal [8] gemaak word en in 'n stal of grot gerangskik word. Die towenaars kan ook verskyn en word soms eers in die week na Kersfees op die toneel geplaas om hul reistyd na Bethlehem te verantwoord. [24] Terwyl die meeste tuisgeboorte -tonele met Kersfees of kort daarna weggepak word, bly die geboorte -tonele in kerke gewoonlik te sien tot die fees van die doop van die Here. [8]

Die kerststal weerspieël moontlik nie die evangeliegebeure akkuraat nie. Byvoorbeeld, sonder die basis in die evangelies, mag die herders, die towenaars en die os en die esel saam in die krip vertoon word. Die kunsvorm kan teruggevoer word na die agttiende-eeuse Napels, Italië. Napolitaanse geboorte -tonele verteenwoordig nie Palestina in die tyd van Jesus nie, maar die lewe van die Napels van 1700, gedurende die Bourbon -tydperk. Gesinne het met mekaar meegeding om die mees elegante en uitgebreide tonele te vervaardig, en dus, langs die kind Jesus, aan die Heilige Familie en die herders, is dames en here van die adel, verteenwoordigers van die destydse bourgeoisie, verkopers met hul banke en miniature van kaas, brood, skape, varke, eende of ganse, en tipiese figure van die tyd soos sigeuner wat die toekoms voorspel, mense wat kaart speel, huisvroue wat inkopies doen, honde, katte en hoenders. [25]

Streeksvariante op die standaard kerststal is baie. Die putz van Pennsylvania Nederlandse Amerikaners het in die twintigste eeu ontwikkel tot uitgebreide dekoratiewe Kersdorpe. In Colombia het die pesebre mag 'n stad en die omliggende platteland met herders en diere bevat. Maria en Josef word gereeld uitgebeeld as landelike Boyacá -mense met Maria geklee in 'n landdoeke en fedora -hoed, en Joseph in 'n poncho geklee. Die baba Jesus word uitgebeeld as Europeër met Italiaanse kenmerke. Besoekers wat geskenke vir die Christuskind bring, word uitgebeeld as Colombiaanse inboorlinge. [26] Na die Eerste Wêreldoorlog het groot, verligte kriptonele in kerke en openbare geboue in gewildheid gegroei, en teen die vyftigerjare verkoop baie ondernemings grasperkversierings van nie-vervaagde, langdurige, weerbestande materiale wat die geboorteverhaal vertel . [27]


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Weg in die krip

Die Evangelie van Lukas sê dat Jesus in die krip geplaas is omdat daar nie plek by die herberg was nie. Tradisie het die krip in 'n stal gebring. Die kerslied sê:

'Een keer in die koninklike stad van David
Het 'n nederige veeskuur gestaan,
Waar 'n ma haar baba neergelê het
In die krip vir Sy bed. ”

Maar daar is geen bewyse dat Jesus in 'n stal gebore is nie. Dit is meer waarskynlik dat hy in 'n huis gebore is. Bybelgeleerdes sê dat Lukas die Griekse woord "kataluma" gebruik het, wat as herberg vertaal is, maar meer korrek "gastekamer" beteken. Alhoewel die kamer nie beskikbaar was nie, glo geleerdes dat Maria 'n kamer op 'n onderste verdieping sou kry - waarin diere sowel as familielede sou gelewe het, aangesien dit destyds 'n algemene gebruik was.

In die donker midwinter

'Sneeu het geval, sneeu op sneeu', sê die lied wat gebaseer is op 'n gedig van die Engelse skrywer Christina Rossetti. Behalwe, dit was waarskynlik nie winter nie. Aartsbiskop Williams het gesê dit is 'onwaarskynlik' dat daar sneeu was. Een van die redes waarom Bybelwetenskaplikes die idee dat Jesus in die winter gebore word, verwerp, is omdat die herders snags na hul kuddes gekyk het - wat hulle nie in 'n sombere midwinter sou doen nie. Die gebruik van agrariese samelewings soos Judea in die eerste eeu sou wees om hul kuddes van April tot Oktober in die oop veld te hou. Boonop reis Maria na Bethlehem omdat die Romeine 'n sensus gelas het en amptenare dit waarskynlik nie in die winter sou gedoen het as dit moeiliker sou gewees het nie.


*Simboliek van die geboorte van die diere

Ek het die gewoonte om die simboliek van 'n dier te verstaan, en ek gaan direk na my boek, Animal-Speak. Toe ek my boek optel, voel ek hoe ek na die rekenaar trek. Ek was aangetrokke tot Wikipedia op soek na 'kerststal'.

Ek het gevind dat “Saint Francis of Assisi (bekend as die beskermheilige van diere) die eer kry om die eerste kerststal in 1223 te skep. Dit was 'n lewende geboorte.

Ek het verder op die bladsy gekyk en 'Diere in geboorte -tonele' gevind. Sonder 'n basis in die kanonieke verhale van die geboorte van Jesus, maak 'n os en esel gewoonlik deel uit van die geboorte -toneel. Die tradisie het moontlik ontstaan ​​uit 'n ekstrakanonieke teks, die Pseudo-Matteus-evangelie van die 8ste eeu: 'En op die derde dag na die geboorte van ons Here Jesus Christus het Maria uit die grot gegaan en in 'n stal ingegaan en die die kind in die krip, en 'n bees en 'n esel het hom aanbid. " Toe is vervul wat deur die profeet Jesaja gesê is: “Die os ken sy eienaar en die esel sy krip. Daarom het die diere, die os en die esel, hom by hulle, onophoudelik aanbid. ” Toe is vervul wat deur die profeet Habakuk gesê is: "Tussen twee diere word u geopenbaar." In 'n Corpus Christi -viering in 1415 merk die Ordo paginarum op dat Jesus tussen 'n os en 'n esel gelê het. "

Daar word aansienlike simboliek aan die os en die esel geheg. Die os verteenwoordig tradisioneel geduld, die volk Israel en offeraanbidding in die Ou Testament. Die esel verteenwoordig nederigheid, bereidheid om te dien en die heidene.

Daar word genoem dat ander diere later by geboorte -tonele gevoeg is. 'N Paar is skape, kamele, koeie en olifante. Ek vind albei in my Animal-Speak-boek deur Ted Andrews, omdat ek die os en die esel gevind het.

Ek het gevind dat die esel wysheid en nederigheid verteenwoordig. Die laaste paragraaf gee opsomming: “Die esel is die belofte om wysheid te ontwaak en om nuwe geleenthede vir nog groter werk te benader. Moenie koppig wees nie en weier om met die stroom te beweeg. Hou nie net vas aan wat u tot dusver gedoen het nie. Onthou dat dit nie die doel is nie, maar die pad na die doel. Moenie tevrede en selfvoldaan wees nie, want die esel beloof nog hoër wysheid en groter geleenthede. ” Hierdie woorde gee 'n opsomming van wat baie van die diere in my kommunikasie aan hul mense vertel.

Ongelukkig kon ek nie inligting oor die os kry nie.

Kort nadat ek my inligting oor kerstdierdiere gestuur het, het ek hierdie inligting van 'n e-nuusbrief-intekenaar ontvang.

Ek vind u inligting oor die geboorte van die geboorte interessant, en hoewel u dit graag sou wou weet, het dit in 'n redelik gewilde boek van Paul Foster Case eenvoudig die Tarot genoem. Case gaan in meer besonderhede oor die os, wat geassosieer word met die eerste letter van die Hebreeuse alfabet, Aleph (of ALP, in vertaling na ons Romeinse alfabet), wat "Bul of os beteken". Case assosieer die brief ook met die Tarot -dwaas, die nulkaart in Tarot. In 'n belangrike aanhaling merk hy op dat die simbool van die os in samewerking met die eerste letter van die Hebreeuse alfabet teruggaan na die Taurese tydperk, "toe die bul die godsimbool was wat oorheersend was in die voorste godsdienste van die wêreld. Apis in Egipte, Mithra onder die Perse, Dionysos onder die Grieke, het almal die bul of os as simbool gehad. ” Die os by Jesus se geboorte sou dus pas in daardie ou reeks spesiale siele of verlossers.

Dankie vir u e-nuusbrief.

Op die oomblik wat ek gedink het dat ek klaar is met hierdie nuusbrief, hoor ek in my gedagtes: 'As u 'n esel genoem word, reageer daarop:' En trots daarop! ' Ek voel toe 'n ernstige golf oor my kom en hoor: 'En vertel hulle die verhaal van die kerststal.'

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Pous maak rekord op die mites van die geboorte van diere

Terwyl Christene regoor die wêreld begin dink oor die opstel van geboorte-tonele vir Kersfees, het die pous daarop gewys dat die os en die esel-gereelde toebehore rondom die krip-laasgenoemde uitvindings nêrens in die evangelies te sien is nie.

Benedict plaas die rekord reguit in sy derde boek oor die lewe van Christus, Jesus van Nasaret: Die kindertjies, wat Dinsdag uitgereik is en op die bestsellerlyste lyk met 'n aanvanklike drukopgawe van een miljoen.

Nadat hy in sy eerste twee boeke oor die volwasse lewe en dood van Christus handel gegaan het, pak die pous die geboorte van die seun van God aan en plaas hy 'n paar mites oor die pasgebore Jesus se betowering in 'n stal saam met Maria en Josef.

'In die evangelies word geen melding gemaak van diere nie', sê die pous. Hy sê verwysings na die os en die esel in ander dele van die Bybel het Christene moontlik geïnspireer om hulle in hul geboorte tonele op te neem.

Die Vatikaan self het diere ingesluit in die geboorte -tonele wat dit elke jaar op die Sint -Pietersplein oprig, en Benedictus gee toe dat die tradisie hier is om te bly. 'Geen geboorte -toneel sal sy os en donkie prysgee nie,' sê hy.

Met sy wetenskaplike benadering tot die Bybel, ontleed Benedictus ook die oomblik toe engele neerdaal om herders te vertel dat die seun van God in 'n krip daar naby lê. In 'n klap vir aanhangers van die loflied Hark the Herald Angels Sing, skryf Benedictus: "Volgens die evangelis het die engele dit 'gesê'. Maar die Christendom het altyd verstaan ​​dat die spraak van engele eintlik 'n lied is, waarin al die heerlikheid van die groot vreugde wat hulle verkondig, word tasbaar aanwesig. ”

Een aspek van die geboorteverhaal wat Benedictus absoluut waar is, is die maagdelike geboorte van Jesus. Katolieke, meen hy, moet dit sowel as Jesus se opstanding as 'hoekstene van geloof' beskou.

'As God nie ook mag oor materie het nie, dan is hy eenvoudig nie God nie,' skryf hy. "Maar hy het hierdie krag, en deur die bevrugting en opstanding van Jesus Christus het hy 'n nuwe skepping ingelui."


Die eerste geboorte -toneel is in 1223 geskep

Verwante inhoud

Op 'n stadium in die kinderjare dra baie kinders 'n blou omslagdoek of 'n vals baard en speel die geboorteplek voor die aangename ouers en grootouers. Of dit nou deur kinders uitgevoer word, as klein beeldjies in 'n huis opgerig is of as 'n lewensgrootte tafelblad voor 'n kerk, hierdie tonele is 'n stapelvoedsel van die Kersvakansie. Maar wanneer het hierdie tradisie begin?

Slate ondersoek die geskiedenis van die kerststal:

Blameer die heilige Francis van Assisi, wat erkenning kry vir die opvoering van die eerste geboorte -toneel in 1223. Die enigste historiese verslag wat ons van Francis ’ geboorte -toneel het, kom uit  Die lewe van die heilige Francis van AssisiBonaventure, 'n Franciskaanse monnik wat vyf jaar voor Francis se dood gebore is.

Volgens die biografie van Bonaventure het St. Francis toestemming van pous Honorious III gekry om 'n krip met hooi en twee lewende diere en 'n os en 'n esel in 'n grot in die Italiaanse dorpie Grecio op te rig. Daarna nooi hy die dorpenaars uit om na die toneel te kyk terwyl hy preek oor die baba van Bethlehem. dat die hooi wat Francis gebruik het wonderbaarlik die krag verkry het om plaaslike veesiektes en peste te genees.

Die geboorte toneel ’s   gewildheid   het van daar af begin. Binne 'n paar eeue het geboorte -tonele deur Europa versprei. Ons weet nie of mense in die tyd van Francis en Maria eintlik met Maria en Josef gespeel het nie, en of hulle hulle net die figuur en die teenwoordigheid daarvan voorgestel het. Ons weet wel dat latere tonele begin het met dioramas en lewensaktore, en die rolverdeling van karakters het geleidelik uitgebrei na Maria, Josef en die lieflike baba Jesus, tot soms 'n hele dorpie.

Geboorte -liefhebbers sal egter weet dat die bekende karakters waarop die drie wyse manne en die   herders — staatmaak, nie bybels akkuraat is nie. Van die Nuwe Testament se vier evangelies beskryf slegs Matteus en Lukas Jesus se geboorte. Matteus noem wyse manne, terwyl Lukas kommentaar lewer op herders. Maar nêrens in die Bybel verskyn herders en wyse manne saam nie. Wat nog erger is, niemand noem donkies, osse, beeste of ander plaaswerfvriende in samewerking met Jesus se geboorte nie. Maar wat sou 'n kerststal wees sonder die krammetjies? Gelukkig is 'n artistieke interpretasie toegelaat vir alle kinders wat as King #2 of 'n random herder gegooi word.

Lees meer artikels oor die vakansie met ons Smithsonian Holiday Guide hier


Christelike misleidings: gevallestudie: die geboorteverhaal

Ek beskou godsdiens as 'n kinderlike speelding,
En hou vas daar is geen sonde nie, maar onkunde.

Bybelse teenstrydighede word deur teoloë so glad gemaak en bedek dat baie Christene glo dat die Bybel 'n betroubare en konsekwente verhaal vertel. Neem byvoorbeeld die geboorteverhaal wat elke Kersfees vertel word met behulp van geselekteerde evangeliese gedeeltes. Baie Christene glo dat die vier kanonieke evangelies konsekwente weergawes van die verhaal van Jesus en geboorte bevat, soos jaarliks ​​deur miljoene skoolkinders uitgevaardig. 'N Opsomming daarvan is soos volg:

Die engel Gabriël verskyn aan Maria en Josef met die nuus dat Maria, 'n maagd, swanger is en aan Jesus geboorte sal skenk. Voor die geboorte reis Josef en Maria van Nasaret na Bethlehem, Josef se geboorteplek, vir 'n sensus en om belas te word. As hulle by Bethlehem kom, kry hulle geen kamer in die herberg nie en is hulle verplig om in 'n stal te bly. Daar, op 25 Desember in AD 0, vergesel van 'n os en 'n esel, baar Maria aan Jesus. By gebrek aan geskikte fasiliteite gebruik die nuwe ouers die diere & quot krip (voerbak) as 'n krip vir hul pasgebore kind. 'N Talle engele verskyn aan herders wat oor hul kuddes in die nabygeleë velde waak en hulle na die geboorteplek lei. Intussen verskyn 'n ster in die lug. Hierdie ster lei drie konings, Gaspar, Melchior en Balthasar na die plek. Op kamele volg hulle die ster en neem drie geskenke saam: goud, wierook en mirre. Onderweg het die drie konings Herodes die Grote, koning van Judea, laat weet wat die doel van hul reis was. Omdat Herodes daarvan bewus is dat 'n koning van Israel gebore is, beveel hy die moord op alle manlike kinders onder die ouderdom van twee jaar. Nadat die engel Gabriël hiervan gewaarsku is, ontsnap Josef en Maria met hul baba na Egipte totdat dit veilig is om na Nasaret terug te keer.

Alhoewel hierdie verhaal bekend is, kom dit nêrens in die Bybel voor nie. Dit is 'n samesmelting. Slegs twee van die vier kanonieke evangelies gee hoegenaamd rekenskap van die geboorte. Die twee verhale gee verskillende en dikwels teenstrydige weergawes van die omstandighede van Jesus & quot geboorte. Baie van die bybesonderhede word glad nie in die evangelies genoem nie, en ook nêrens anders in die Nuwe Testament nie. Deur 'n paar besonderhede een vir een te neem, illustreer hierdie punte:

Gabriël Volgens Matteus is die nuus van Maria se swangerskap in 'n droom aan Josef oorgedra (Matteus 1:20). Volgens Lukas verskyn die engel Gabriël nie aan Josef nie, maar aan Maria en nie in 'n droom nie, maar persoonlik (Lukas 1: 26-38).

Mary's Virginity Beide die Evangelies van Matteus en Lukas stem hieroor saam, maar soos ons gesien het (Hoe Maria haar maagdelikheid behou), blyk dit dat die Maagdelike geboorte ingevoer is as gevolg van 'n mislukte poging om die geboorteverhaal met 'n Ou -Testamentiese profesie te pas.

Bethlehem Beide skrywers plaas die geboorte in Bethlehem. Volgens Lukas het die gesin egter oorspronklik in Nasaret gewoon en vir 'n sensus na Bethlehem gegaan (Lukas 2: 4-7), terwyl die gesin volgens Matteus hulle eers in Nasaret gevestig het nadat hulle uit Egipte teruggekeer het (dit blyk uit Matteus 2 : 23).

Die Sensus Soos ons gesien het (bladsye 44 ev), is die verhaal van die sensus nie geloofwaardig nie. Afgesien van die weerspreking van bekende feite, gee dit 'n datum vir die geboorte van Jesus wat onverenigbaar is met die datums van die regering van Herodes die Grote.

Die tyd van die jaar Die datum word nie in die Bybel genoem nie. Daar is geen rede om te veronderstel dat die geboorte in Desember plaasgevind het nie. Die feit dat skape destyds in die veld was, maak dit onwaarskynlik. Soos die meeste Christen -geleerdes nou erken, is die datum gekies bloot om saam te val met die gewilde feeste wat die wintersonstilstand was. Die geboortejaar is ook nie bekend nie. Die jaar is in die sesde eeu bereken deur 'n monnik, Dionysius Exiguus, wat AD 1 as 754 AUC (Anno Urbis Conditae = jare na die stigting van die stad Rome). Daarna is besef dat Herodes die Grote vier jaar vroeër gesterf het, sodat 'n herberekening gemaak is en die beweerde geboortejaar teruggeskakel het na 750 AUC, oftewel 4 vC. (Daar is geen jaar nC 0 of 0 vC nie: die jaar voor 1 nC was 1 vC.)

Konings Nóg Matthew of Luke noem konings wat die pasgebore kind besoek. Niemand doen nie. Matteus noem 'n ongespesifiseerde aantal wyse manne of towenaars, waarmee hy waarskynlik Zoroastriese priesters bedoel het. Lukas noem nie konings of towenaars nie. Tertullianus was die eerste om aan te dui dat hierdie towenaars konings was. Die idee kom blykbaar uit onverwante gedeeltes in die Ou Testament:

Vanweë u tempel in Jerusalem sal konings vir u geskenke bring. Psalm 68:29

Die konings van Tarsis en die eilande moet geskenke bring: die konings van Skeba en Seba moet geskenke bring. Ja, alle konings sal voor hom neerval: al die nasies sal hom dien Psalm 72: 10-11

Die aantal wyse manne, of konings, wat na bewering Jesus besoek het, het oor tyd gewissel. In die vroeë Christelike kuns was daar twee, vier of ses. Volgens Oosterse tradisies was daar 12. Ander bronne sê & quotmany & quot. Dit lyk asof die nommer drie gekies het omdat die Matteus -skrywer drie gawes noem. Die name Gaspar, Melchior en Balthasar kom nêrens in die Bybel voor nie, en verskillende kerke gee die towenaars/konings verskillende name: volgens die Siriese kerk is hulle Larvandad, Hormisdas en Gushnasaph genoem.

Kamele The camels come from another unrelated Old Testament passage (Isaiah 60:3-6):

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense and they shall shew forth the praises of the L ord.

Shepherds Luke has an unspecified number of shepherds coming to see the baby. Matthew does not mention them at all.

Die stêr According to Matthew the magi, having seen a star in the East, went to Jerusalem, which was the wrong place to go. Only after Herod had directed them to Bethlehem did the star reappear to lead them to the right place (Matthew 2:1-9). Stars were common portents in the ancient world, and the births and deaths of kings were frequently marked by such celestial events. Nevertheless, the author of Luke does not mention the star at all.

It is clear that the star story was continuously being exaggerated and embellished over time. For example, the star was soon being described as being miraculously brilliant*, and according to Ignatius of Antioch., all the rest of the stars along with the Sun and Moon gathered around this new star, which nevertheless outshone them all*.

The Inn In the original Greek none of the gospels mentions an inn. The Matthew author refers to mother and child in a house (Matthew 2:11). The Luke author uses the word katalemna meaning a temporary shelter and this was badly translated into English as herberg (Luke 2:7). Elsewhere in the Bible katalemna was translated by the word tabernacle (as in 2 Samuel 7:6 for example).

The Manger No manger is mentioned by the Matthew author. The word used in the original Greek by the Luke author is thaten, a word that has a range of meanings, including a baby's crib and an animal's feeding trough. Obviously the meaning here is baby's crib, not manger.

The Stable Neither Matthew nor Luke mentions a stable. The idea that one is involved apparently stems from the erroneous translation of thaten as manger. Other sources, such as the non-canonical Gospel of James, locate the birth in a cave. So do many of the Church Fathers*. The Koran (19:17-22), possibly repeating another ancient tradition, locates the birth by a palm tree in a far off place.

The Nativy of Jesus in a cave - before the animals were introduced

The Ox and Ass Neither Mark nor Luke mentions these animals. Their inclusion in the story is apparently attributable to later Christian scholars who picked up the idea from an unrelated Old Testament passage.

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib Isaiah 1:3

Significantly in the Septuagint the word corresponding to crib is thaten, the same word translated as manger in the Luke author's nativity story. The ox and ass in the Christmas story first make their appearance in an apocryphal gospel (pseudo-Matthew) probably dating from the eighth century. St Francis of Assisi apparently set up the first model Christmas crib, with accompanying ox and ass, in the thirteenth century.

Herod's Massacre of the Innocents The author of Matthew mentions this, but the author of Luke does not. One might have supposed that such a draconian measure would have been recorded elsewhere, as were less significant historical events. The mass murder of the infants has no historical corroboration, and is probably no more than an imaginative way of bringing both Bethlehem and Nazareth into the story. Indeed this massacre cannot have taken place as described, otherwise Jesus" second cousin and contemporary, John the Baptist, would have been killed, yet John survived to reappear later in the story. Once again it looks as though a story has been retrospectively added to the gospel, without thinking through all the consequences.

This sort of story was far from unknown in the ancient world. In the usual myth a king tries to kill a baby who, according to a prophecy, is destined to occupy his own throne. The king fails, though he does not know it, and years later he is supplanted by the child, now an adult, in accordance with prophecy. It is probably best known with some embellishments as the Greek story of Oedipus, but the same basic tale was also familiar in the Middle East. An earlier King of Media (where the magi came from) had ordered the murder of his own grandchild, because of a prophecy that the infant would grow up to overthrow him*. Like the infant Jesus, this child also escaped death to fulfil his destiny.

Matthew could not quote a suitable prophecy about a baby surviving an attempt to kill him, later to become king, because none exists in the Old Testament. Instead, Matthew cited a passage that he must have thought could be stretched to cover a massacre of children:

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the Prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Matthew 2:17-18, referring to Jeremiah 31:15

As is the case in most of the prophecies cited by Matthew, the connection is tenuous and unconvincing. Wrong people, wrong place, wrong tense, and not a single child death. Matthew neglects to mention that, in the next verse of Jeremiah, God says that these children will return from an enemy country.

The Flight to Egypt Luke does not mention the flight into Egypt at all. Matthew does, apparently, as we have already seen (page 175), so that he can cite another prophecy.

No independent historical records support either Matthew or Luke's story where they might be expected to: not the need to migrate for a census, nor the appearance of a new star, nor the massacre of the children. What seems to have happened is that both authors have improvised. Matthew has invented a story to fit Old Testament prophecies. Throughout the Matthew gospel references are made to current events fulfilling scriptural prophecies. These references are clearly intended to lend credibility to the stories and to impress readers. The prophecies, like those that we looked at earlier, are generally taken out of context, and in most cases they are not really prophecies at all in the sense that we now understand the term.

Luke has tried to give his story historical background. He seems to have heard, possibly from reports of the Matthew gospel, that Mary was a virgin, that her husband was called Joseph, and that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, though it was widely known that he came from Nazareth. Apart from that there is no agreement at all. The two stories contradict each other on matters such as Joseph's ancestry, whether or not he came from Nazareth or went there only after Jesus" birth, and the appearances of Gabriel. They disagree about the year, the flight into Egypt, the appearance of the star, the shepherds and the magi.

Neither of these authors mentions three kings (or kings at all, or three of anyone for that matter), nor camels, nor a stable, nor oxen or asses, nor the time of year. As a final indictment, it also seems that the stories were continuously being tampered with for generations. Surviving manuscripts show a range of alterations of varying subtlety and intention. No Father of the Church cites the birth stories exactly as we now know them in the gospels until Irenaeus of Lyons in the last quarter of the second century.

According to an ancient tradition (acknowledged in the Jerusalem Bible ), the original version of the Matthew gospel was written "in the Hebrew tongue". This version is likely to have been the gospel used by the Ebionites. One of the interesting things known about this Ebionite gospel was that it was shorter than the Greek version. One reason for this was that the opening verses about Jesus" miraculous birth were absent. If this Ebionite gospel was indeed the original version of Matthew, then the nativity story must be a later Greek addition, which is exactly what many scholars independently suspect from other evidence. It is also significant that we know of early versions of the Luke gospel that also lacked the nativity story*.

Even the most conservative Christian scholars now regard the stories of Jesus" miraculous birth as being historically unreliable*.


The nativity scene usually stays set up in homes until the end of Christmas. In former times, this was on 2nd February the feast of Candlemas, but in the meantime the Sunday after Epiphany or even Epiphany itself has established itself as the end of Christmas.

The manger should be placed front and center of stable, as this is where baby Jesus is to rest. While it is not uncommon to place Jesus in the manger right away, some traditions do state that Jesus should not be placed until late on Christmas Eve, because he wasn’t born until then.


Do You See What I See? Imagery in Nativity Scenes

The visual focus of a Nativity scene is the Christ Child, with Mary, Joseph, animals, shepherds, and wise men all playing secondary roles. The most detailed biblical account of the birth of Jesus is found in Luke (2:7), which records that Mary “gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Early Christian art depicts the baby Jesus in these swaddling cloths—usually a square piece of cloth wrapped snugly with bandages. In medieval and Renaissance Nativities, however, the baby is often shown wearing little or no clothing, and radiating a supernatural light. This is consistent with the mystical vision of St. Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden (1303-73), who claimed to have seen “the glorious infant lying on the earth, naked and glowing” (Revelationes Coelestes:Book 7, Chapter 21). Bridget’s “Celestial Revelations,” which were translated from Swedish into Latin and spread widely throughout Europe, contain a detailed account of her vision of the Nativity. Most modern Nativities either depict the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling cloths or almost naked with a loincloth (see photo, below).

A manger is a trough for feeding animals. In biblical times mangers were essentially boxes, either carved from stone or built from masonry. However, modern three-dimensional Nativities exhibit a wide variety of manger styles, depending on regional customs or the preference of the artisan. The manger is often made of wood, filled with hay, and placed on the ground in a stable. However, in Laos the manger is a woven reed basket suspended from the rafters of a house so that the cradle may rock, a common feature of family homes there (see photo, below).

Neapolitan presepio (Nativity scene) made by Giuseppe Ferrigno. Naples, Italy, 2007. This presepio is the work of the Giuseppe and Marco Ferrigno workshop, a fourth-generation family business. The faces, hands, lower legs, and feet of the figures are made of terracotta, which is then painted. Other parts of the body are constructed with wire wrapped in cloth so that each figure can be posed. The clothing for each character is handmade in the 18th-century style, draped in San Leucio silks. The Ferrigno family began making presepi in Naples in 1836. Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of William L. Starck and Adolph P. Falcón.

Hmong Nativity, 2009. This Nativity, made of wood, bamboo, and grass, is a replica of a traditional Hmong home in Laos, a country in Southeast Asia. Mary and Joseph attend the Christ Child who, in traditional Hmong fashion, hangs in a woven straw basket suspended from the rafters. The Hmong, an ethnic group in the mountainous regions of several different countries, are a minority group within Laos. They were introduced to Christianity by missionaries beginning in the 19th century. The figures for this Nativity are carved from a local soft wood, but not during the rainy season, when the wood is too wet. Collection of Glencairn Museum.

Stable or Cave

“The Friendly Beasts,” a traditional Christmas carol, tells us that Jesus “was humbly born in a stable rude, and the friendly beasts around him stood.” While the New Testament never mentions a stable, Luke (2:7) recounts that Mary “laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” The earliest Christians located the manger in a cave. The Church of the Nativity, which dates to the 4th century, was built over the cave in Bethlehem where the birth was believed to have taken place. The Infancy Gospel of James (chapter 18) also places the Nativity in a cave, but the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew combines the two locations, explaining that on the third day after the birth “Mary went out of the cave and, entering a stable, placed the child in the manger” (chapter 14).

In early Christian art the cave was the setting for Nativity scenes, and this continues to be the case with Nativities made by the Eastern Christian Church. Eastern icons place the newborn Christ at the mouth of a deep cave, in order to symbolize His descent into the very depth of the human condition. A free-standing stable has always been customary in western European art, although makers of Nativities in Italy prefer the grotto (an artificial construction or excavation made to resemble a cave). In paintings of the Italian Renaissance, ruined Roman architecture sometimes appears in the background of a Nativity scene to indicate that, due to the birth of Christ, the old pagan culture is now falling away. The tradition of including classical ruins in the scene continues to this day with some modern Nativities (see photo, below).

"Christmas Manger Set," USA, early 1940s. This cardboard tabletop Nativity was published by Concordia Publishing House from illustrations first produced by artist George Hinke. A base is provided with special tabs to hold the 17 lithographed figures upright each tab is carefully labeled so that even a child can assemble it. Hinke was born in 1883 in Berlin, Germany, where he trained as a painter. He immigrated to the United States in 1923. Hinke specialized in religious subjects and nostalgic scenes of small-town American life. He is best remembered for his illustrations of children’s books such as Joseph’s Story, which tells the Nativity story from Joseph’s point of view, and Jolly Old Santa Claus. Collection of Glencairn Museum.

This contemporary Nativity scene, made in China, reflects an old artistic tradition. In paintings of the Italian Renaissance, ruined Roman architecture was sometimes used in the background of a Nativity scene to symbolize the fall of the old order (paganism). Within the crumbling temple is the Holy Family, representing the birth of the new order (Christianity). Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Rita Bonaccorsi Bocher.

Caltagirone, a town on the island of Sicily, has long been famous as a center for the production of ceramics. Nativity figures have been made here since the Middle Ages, and today many of the workshops continue this tradition. This set was purchased in Caltagirone around the year 2000. Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Rita Bonaccorsi Bocher.

The Christmas carol “Good Christian Men Rejoice” proclaims that “ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now Christ is born today.” The humble ox and ass, which are never mentioned in the New Testament, are almost always present in Nativity scenes, often with their heads bowed over the manger (see photo, below). These animals appear in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (14:1), which interprets them as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. According to Pseudo-Matthew, after entering the stable Mary placed the Child in a manger and “an ox and an ass adored him. Then was fulfilled that which was said by Isaiah the prophet, ‘The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib’” (Isaiah 1:3). The passage in Isaiah continues, “but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Early Christian theologians found allegorical meaning in the presence of the ox and ass at the Nativity, with the ox representing Israel and the ass the Gentiles. The divine Christ Child came to save people of all nations.

The ox and ass are included in Nativity art from the very beginning, even when Mary and Joseph are absent. This 4th century sarcophagus lid in Milan shows the two animals flanking the manger of the Christ Child, without Mary or any other human attendants. From this period on the ox and ass were prominently featured, and they continue to be included in many modern Nativity scenes.

The biblical accounts in Matthew and Luke make it clear that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was miraculously born of a virgin, and “the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:27). Luke records that Mary was present with the babe during the visit from the shepherds (2:16), and Matthew says that when the wise men came they “saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (2:11). The Bible provides very little information about Mary’s background, but she figures prominently in the New Testament Apocrypha.

Mary is sometimes absent from the earliest artistic representations of the Nativity, but by the end of the 5th century she is always found at the manger. For the first thousand years of Christian art she was usually depicted lying down, in a posture apparently intended to convey exhaustion after giving birth. This begins to change in western European art during the 14th century, and from the late 15th century onward Mary is normally shown kneeling, with both hands together, praying to her divine Child. Joseph and the shepherds often kneel with her (see photo, below).

Mary’s kneeling pose, with her hands folded in prayer, reflects the influence of certain Franciscan writings and also the mystical visions of St. Bridget (for St. Bridget see above, "Christ Child and Manger," and below, "Joseph"). According to Bridget’s vision, before the birth “the Virgin knelt with great reverence, putting herself at prayer.” After the birth, “having bowed her head and joined her hands, with great dignity and reverence she adored the boy and said to Him: ‘Welcome, my God, my Lord, and my Son!’” (Revelationes Coelestes: Book 7, Chapter 21)

With three-dimensional Nativities the kneeling pose for Mary predominates, her hands being placed together in prayer or crossed on her chest. Only occasionally is she shown reclining, as in this polymer clay Nativity made in 2007 by Judy Gibson King (see photo, below). Here Mary is shown asleep with her head in Joseph’s lap, while he holds the baby Jesus. The color of Mary’s clothing is frequently light blue however, red, white and other colors are not unusual.

This olivewood Nativity was made by Palestinian Christians on the West Bank of the Jordan River. According to the New Testament the birthplace of Jesus was Bethlehem, a city on the central West Bank about six miles south of Jerusalem. Olivewood carving has provided local residents with a livelihood since the 16th and 17th centuries, when Franciscans taught the craft to local residents, who then began making small religious souvenirs for pilgrims. The wood comes from branches left over from the pruning of olive trees. Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Ten Thousand Villages.

Nativity scene by Judy Gibson King, USA, 2007. Handmade from polymer clay, wood, and natural materials. King began making religious figures out of polymer clay as a form of private meditation and prayer, but her work has since become a full-time occupation. This Nativity has a contemporary feel Mary lies asleep with her head in Joseph’s lap while he holds the baby Jesus. Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Alan and Mary Liz Pomeroy.

Papier-mache Nativity, Italy, 1950s and 60s. This Nativity set was was owned by Dr. Rita Bonaccorsi Bocher and her husband Herman “Bud” Bocher. Dr. Bocher is one of the founders of The Friends of the Creche, the only national Nativities organization in the USA. She has also been the publisher and editor of The Crèche Herald since its first appearance in 1997. In 2008, at the 18th International Crèche Congress in Augsburg, Germany, Dr. Bocher was awarded the Medal of the International Federation of Crèche Societies for her efforts in promoting the Nativity tradition. Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Rita Bonaccorsi Bocher.

In the biblical account Joseph, the husband of Mary, is described as being a descendant of King David (Luke 2:4) and“a just man” (Matthew 1:19). The Bible does not reveal Joseph’s age, but in art he has traditionally been depicted as an old man, sometimes bald, in keeping with his portrayal in a number of non-biblical texts. In the Infancy Gospel of James, for example, Joseph says, “I have sons and am old” (9:2). Some modern Nativities retain this tradition by giving Joseph grey hair (see photo, below).

Joseph is frequently shown holding a staff, which sometimes terminates in a flower. This attribute has its origins in an apocryphal story of how Joseph was selected to be Mary’s husband. Several of the apocryphal Gospels, and also Jacobus de Voragine’s 13th-century book, The Golden Legend, recount that Mary lived in the Temple in Jerusalem for most of her childhood. When she reached marriageable age the high priest asked all the eligible suitors to come to the Temple with their staffs in hand. According to the Infancy Gospel of James, Joseph was chosen from among the suitors when a dove miraculously came forth from the top of his staff. In a later version of the story found in The Golden Legend (chapter 5) a dove lands on the staff, which also blossoms. For this reason, in later times the lily became the emblem of St. Joseph. Joseph is shown with a lily in this ceramic Nativity made by Josefina Aguilar in Oaxaca, Mexico (see photo, below).

Beginning in the 15th century, paintings sometimes show Joseph holding a candle. This attribute refers to a passage from a mystical vision of St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-73):

“With her there was a very dignified old man [i.e. Joseph] and with them they had both an ox and an ass. When they had entered the cave, and after the ox and the ass had been tied to the manger, the old man went outside and brought to the Virgin a lighted candle and fixed it in the wall and went outside in order not to be personally present at the birth” (Revelationes Coelestes: Book 7, Chapter 21).

St. Bridget goes on to say that, once the Christ Child was born, the cave where the birth took place was filled with an ineffable divine light that completely outshone the earthly light of Joseph’s candle. In later centuries artists replaced Joseph’s candle with a lantern—not necessarily in reference to St. Bridget’s vision, but simply to light the space in the stable or grotto. Many modern Nativities continue to give Joseph a lantern, such as this hand painted wooden example from Russia (see photo, below).

Painted ceramic Nativity by Josefina Aguilar, Octolán de Morelas, Oaxaca, Mexico, circa 1990. Josefina is perhaps the best known of the four Aguilar sisters, Mexican folk artists who live in Octolán, a village near the city of Oaxaca. Josefina was the first of her sisters to achieve international recognition when Nelson Rockefeller began collecting her pieces in the 1970s. Today the folk art of the Aguilar sisters can be seen in museums and private collections around the world. Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Rita Bonaccorsi Bocher and Frank and Mary Bonaccorsi Herzel.

This handcarved and painted Nativity in five separate pieces was made in the town of Sergiev Posad by an artist who signed her name only as “Olya.” Sergiev Posad is the site of The Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius, the most important monastery in Russia and the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. The town of Sergiev Posad has been producing wood carvings and toys for centuries, and is widely known as the birthplace of the Russian nesting doll (matrioshka). Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Alan and Mary Liz Pomeroy

The Gospel of Matthew makes no mention of shepherds, but Luke’s description of their role in the Nativity runs to twelve verses (2:8-20). Art historians generally divide this portion of the Christmas story into two scenes—the Annunciation to the Shepherds and the Adoration of the Shepherds—with overlap sometimes occurring between the two. Nativities often portray the shepherds as reacting to the news of the Annunciation, or in the act of Adoration, or both.

The Annunciation to the Shepherds occurred at night while they were in the field watching their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and “the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear” (Luke 2:9). However, the angel gave them the good news that Christ the Savior was born, and revealed to them that in Bethlehem they would find “a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (2:12). Once the angel was finished speaking, many more angels (the “heavenly host”) appeared to the shepherds, saying, “Glory to God in the highest!” (2:14). This example of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, from a 15th-century Book of Hours at Glencairn Museum, shows two shepherds in the hills tending their flock, looking up to the sky with angels above (see photo, below). The artist has included a dog in the scene, an animal commonly found in Nativities accompanying the shepherds and sheep.

Paper Nativity by Maud and Miska Petersham, United States, 1933. The Petershams were a husband-and-wife illustration and writing team who produced many books for children. In 1931 they published a Nativity book, The Christ Child, with text taken from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Garden City, NY: Doubleday). This pop-up paper crèche, produced in 1933, is adapted from illustrations in that book. In 1949, while living in Glencairn, Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn gave over 100 copies of The Christ Child as gifts to family and friends. The Pitcairns also commissioned two watercolor paintings by Maud Petersham that they used as Christmas cards in the 1960s. Collection of Glencairn Museum.

This illustration of the Annunciation to the Shepherds comes from a 15th-century Flemish Book of Hours in the collection of Glencairn Museum (07.MS.636). Books of Hours were prayer books for the laity. Glencairn’s book includes a number of other pictures from the Christmas story, including the Annunciation to Mary, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Wise Men, the Presentation in the Temple, the Massacre of the Innocents, and the Flight into Egypt.

The Gospel of Luke describes how, after the angel gave the good news to the shepherds, they decided to go to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child. They went “with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger” (2:16). The shepherds then left to spread the news, “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (2:20). It was in connection with these passages from Luke that the Adoration of the Shepherds first appeared as an artistic theme during the Middle Ages. However, Luke does not specifically say that the shepherds adored the Christ Child. Nativity scenes with shepherds kneeling at the manger probably developed by analogy with the wise men, who presented gifts and “fell down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11). The Adoration of the Shepherds and the Adoration of the Wise Men are frequently combined into a single Nativity scene (see photo, below), although many Christians believe that the shepherds and wise men did not visit Jesus at the same time.

This Nativity set, which shows the shepherds and wise men in the act of adoration, was probably made in southern Germany around 1920. Figures like these were a cottage industry, made in small quantities in homes and sold by peddlers who traveled around Germany and neighboring countries. Chalkware sets were common in both middle class and lower middle class homes. Collection of Glencairn Museum.

In contrast to the wise men, who presented costly gifts of “gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11), the shepherds are portrayed in art as representatives of the poor. They are dressed simply, and sometimes present modest gifts to the Christ Child. Matthew does not say how many shepherds were present at the manger. When three shepherds are depicted, often one is young, one is middle aged, and one is old, representing the different stages of life. Their usual attributes are the shepherd’s crook and the flute bagpipes are also common, especially in Nativities from Italy.

In the New Testament the story of the wise men (also known as the “magi”) is found only in the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-12). According to Matthew, the wise men came “from the East” to Jerusalem asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him” (2:2). When the star appeared over the place where the Christ Child was, the wise men went “into the house” and “fell down and worshiped him.” They then offered Him gifts of “gold and frankincense and myrrh” (2:11). Matthew gives no further information about the identity of these travelers, who are the subject of the artistic theme known as the Adoration of the Wise Men. In art the wise men, like the shepherds, are often shown kneeling with their gifts. Modern Nativities may replace the gold, frankincense, and myrrh with gifts appropriate to the local culture of the artist. For example, this ceramic Nativity, made on the Jemez Pueblo by Native American artist Cheryl Fragua, shows the wise men offering painted pottery and a drum (see photo, below).

“Magi” is the English form of the original Greek word magoi, a plural noun. Matthew specifies no exact number of wise men, but early Christian art presents them as two, three, four, or six in number, with three being the most common. Eventually the number became fixed at three, perhaps because it was assumed that a different man brought each of the three gifts. The meaning of the term magoi in the context of Matthew’s narrative has been a topic of discussion since the early days of the Christian church. They have been variously described as “sages,” “diviners,” “astrologers,” or “priests.” In keeping with Matthew, in the earliest art they appear in vaguely eastern dress and headgear. As early as the third century, however, interpreters of the Bible began to identify the wise men as kings, in connection with a prophesy found in the Psalms: “May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!” (Psalm 72:10). By the time of the Middle Ages the “three kings” were being depicted in art with crowns and elaborate garments (see photo, below). Many modern Nativities continue this tradition.

In England, the Venerable Bede (d. 735) wrote that the wise men represent the three parts of the world—Asia, Africa, and Europe—and that they signify the three sons of Noah, who fathered the races of these three continents (see Genesis chapter 10). In time this idea found expression in art, and by the late Middle Ages one of the kings was often being depicted as a black African. The kings are sometimes accompanied by retinues, which include animals from their presumed places of origin camels, horses, and elephants are the most common. As with the shepherds, the three kings are sometimes shown representing the different stages of life: young, middle aged, and old (see photo, below).

This Pueblo Indian Nativity (nacimiento) was made in 2011 by Cheryl Fragua of the Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, using clay and natural pigments. Most of the residents of the Pueblos have accepted Christianity as an addition to their own pre-Christian traditions. Today a number of Pueblo Indian artisans make Nativities regularly, along with other works such as the famous ceramic storyteller figures. Indian culture is rich with myths and stories, which are used to convey traditions and values. The storyteller and Nativity figures usually have closed eyes and an open mouth in order to “let the stories out.” Collection of Glencairn Museum.

This limestone relief with the Adoration of the Wise Men, in the collection of Glencairn Museum (09.SP.119), was made in 13th-century France. The first wise man, whose arm is broken off, is depicted kneeling and presenting a gift. All three men are represented as kings with crowns, in keeping with medieval tradition.

Santons from France made from fired clay, cloth, and other materials, 2008. The French Revolution played a role in establishing the tradition of santons or “little saints.” Before the churches in France were closed in 1794 it was customary for them to put on Nativity plays when the revolutionary authorities banned these plays individuals began to set up Nativities in their own homes. Santons come in a variety of sizes. These large figures of the three wise men were made by an artist signed “Marie,” from Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. Collection of Glencairn Museum, gift of Alan and Mary Liz Pomeroy.


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