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What the Pope Really Said About Christmas
First Things ^ | November 30, 2012 | Kevin M. Clarke

Posted on 11/30/2012 3:00:48 PM PST by NYer

The Pope’s new book, Infancy Narratives, was released on November 21. The day’s headline of the Daily Mail? “Killjoy Pope crushes Christmas nativity traditions: New Jesus book reveals there were no donkeys beside crib, no lowing oxen and definitely no carols.” CNN’s online story followed suit. The New York Daily News repeated the claim about the animals, adding not that the pope agreed with some historians on an earlier dating of the birth of Christ but that “the Christian calendar has Jesus’ birth year wrong, Pope Benedict XVI claims in a new book.”

But those who have read Pope Benedict at length know that such conclusions would be uncharacteristic of his thought. Had they even held the book? My curiosity was particularly stirred when I noticed the following quotation in the Time story, which they apparently took from the Telegraph (U.K.) rather than from the book: “No one will give up the oxen and the donkey in their [sic] Nativity scenes.”

Any book editor worth his or her salt would notice the obvious pronoun disagreement. “No way is that in the English edition,” I thought. In comparing the stories, I noticed that the Daily Mail and others instead rendered the quotation: “No nativity scene will give up its ox and donkey.” In the book, the sentence in question seems to be on page 69: “No presentation of the crib is complete without the ox and the ass.” This is different from both representations. Which was it? I sought to find out for myself. Random House confirmed via email that neither of the first two quotations listed is in the book; rather they are poor translations from the Italian. Not only have they misquoted the book, perhaps hastily translating the work from Italian, but these unofficial quotations have circulated among multiple publications—secular and religious.

Likely a select few misread the sense of the pope’s text and informed the journalistic community, who then informed the world how they misread the text. A Reuters story published Wednesday helped clarify things a bit. An excellent headline—“Read all about it: Pope has not cancelled Christmas”—should help this necessary corrective analysis gain exposure. Nonetheless, there remains much to clean up.

Back to that Daily Mail headline: “. . . no donkeys beside crib, no lowing oxen and definitely no carols.” Let’s have a look.

First of all, what did the pope actually say about the nativity scene animals? He wrote, “The manger, as we have seen, indicates animals, who come to it for their food. In the Gospel there is no reference to animals at this point. But prayerful reflection, reading Old and New Testaments in light of one another, filled this lacuna at a very early stage by pointing to Isaiah 1:3: ‘The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.’”

Benedict actually affirms the image of the ox and the donkey present at the manger by pointing to Old Testament imagery and, later, to iconographic tradition that complement the Gospel source. His words justify, rather than call into question, the presence of the animals in the manger scene. This is the beauty of Benedict’s writing, and why he is perhaps better read in the study or in the adoration chapel than in the newsroom. On the one hand, he points out what is obvious: the absence of the animals in the Gospel narrative. On the other, he shows why Christians came to understand that the animals were there, adding, “No representation of the crib is complete without the ox and the ass.”

And those talking, non-singing angels? What did the Pope actually say? He writes concerning the gloria, “According to the evangelist, the angels ‘said’ this.” That must be about as far as some in the secular press read, because the very next sentence is: “But Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song, in which all the glory of the great joy that they proclaim becomes tangibly present. And so, from that moment, the angels’ song of praise has never gone silent” (p. 73). To paraphrase, the pope is saying that when one reads Luke and sees that the angels “said” their glorious words, the angels were of course singing (because that is what angels do).

As for the calendar, well, compare the brusque way in which the New York Daily News says it: “Jesus’ birth year is wrong: Pope” with the way in which the pope actually wrote it: “One initial problem can be solved quite easily: the census took place at the time of King Herod the Great, who actually died in the year 4 B.C. The starting point for our reckoning of time—the calculation of Jesus’ date of birth—goes back to the monk Dionysius Exiguus (+ c. 550), who evidently miscalculated by a few years. The historical date of the birth of Jesus is therefore to be placed a few years earlier.” I used to write headlines for a living, and so I am on the one hand sympathetic to the challenge; nonetheless, I can also spot an unsympathetic rendering of Vatican news.

As should be painfully evident, there is a big difference between what the media says that the Pope says and what the Pope himself actually says. Each time the waves settle from their slipshod coverage, the media should find that it has displaced a bit more of the public trust, trust that they will deliver the truth about Vatican news. They forfeited my trust a while ago. If anyone were to ask me, “How should I read news about the Vatican from the secular press?” I would say, “It can be useful for information, but must be read with a fundamental principle of uniformly applied suspicion and doubt. In other words, read it in the same way in which they would have us read the Bible.”



TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: christmas; pope
Kevin M. Clarke is an adjunct professor of New Testament Greek at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego, California. He is the author of a chapter on Benedict XVI’s Mariology in De Maria Numquam Satis: The Significance of the Catholic Doctrines on the Blessed Virgin Mary for All People, and writes for Lay Witness and Zenit.
1 posted on 11/30/2012 3:00:55 PM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

Catholic ping!


2 posted on 11/30/2012 3:01:48 PM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: NYer

Jesus was probably born in the summer.

Why is that a big deal? I thought everyone pretty much agreed to that.

Does it really matter when it is celebrated?


3 posted on 11/30/2012 3:03:05 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: NYer

It’s just another example of how hard the scum are working to spread divisions among Christians.


4 posted on 11/30/2012 3:12:03 PM PST by Rashputin (Jesus Christ doesn't evacuate His troops, He leads them to victory.)
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To: NYer

great analyst — and per the news, I also second the author’s point of view that the press should always be under “suspicion and doubt!”


5 posted on 11/30/2012 3:33:04 PM PST by BCW (http://babylonscovertwar.com/index.html)
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To: NYer

Great post.

And, in case I forget to send you this Christmas greeting,

“Gloria in excelsis Deo! Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis!


6 posted on 11/30/2012 3:51:08 PM PST by paterfamilias
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To: GeronL

For those without faith no explanation is possible to those with faith no explanation is necessary


7 posted on 11/30/2012 3:58:24 PM PST by longfellowsmuse (last of the living nomads)
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To: NYer

If journalists were slightly familiar with the bible, they would not that a manger is a place where feed is put for animals.


8 posted on 11/30/2012 3:58:24 PM PST by Raycpa
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To: NYer
These mischaracterizations of the Pope's words serve to underscore how the endless stream of deliberate dishonesty, deceit, distortion, and outright lies from the "mainstream media", (as well as from politicians like B.O., Biden, Sebelius, Clinton, Susan Rice, Pelosi, and the rest of this corrupt administration and their prevaricating partners), all share a common origin, as highlighted so masterfully by The Master:

   "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."    - John 8:44

9 posted on 11/30/2012 4:04:04 PM PST by Heart-Rest ("I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life" Deuteronomy 30:19)
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To: Raycpa
If journalists were remotely familiar with farming they would also know what a manger is.

They are blinder - and uglier - than naked mole-rats.

10 posted on 11/30/2012 4:05:08 PM PST by agere_contra ("An unjust law ceases to be a law: it becomes an act of violence". Thomas Aquinas)
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To: BCW

Most of the press works overtime for the antichrist.


11 posted on 11/30/2012 4:06:29 PM PST by spudville
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To: NYer
Michael W. Smith "Gloria"GLORIA
12 posted on 11/30/2012 4:12:54 PM PST by dznutz
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To: BCW
the press should always be under “suspicion and doubt!”

As should the cabal of ignorant freepers who take the bait hook line and sinker whenever the media, that they usually reject, falsely reports on anything Catholic.

13 posted on 11/30/2012 4:53:40 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro can't pass E-verify)
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To: GeronL

The birth of Christ on December 25 ?
A clear reading of the Holy Word of G-d would lead to another date.

A date commanded by YHvH with clear Biblical meaning and understanding.

Chanukah is a great time for followers of the Jewish Messiah to celebrate.
The eight day Feast of Chanukah echoes of the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles
Chanukah was most likely when the "light of the world"
(John 8:12) entered human form and tabernacled among us.

Feast of Tabernacles is the birth day of Yah'shua.

This question is answered when you believe and trust
the Holy Word of Elohim in Luke 1.

Yah'shua's birth on Sukkot
(Sukkot is the Feast of Tabernacles or booths,
where we live in temporary shelters.
Sukkot is when YHvH took on a temporary
garment to be with His People
and to die as the Lamb of G-d on Pesach
in order to bring salvation to all
who would call on His Name:
(Romans 10:13 & Joel 2:32)
Yah'shua ( YHvH is become my salvation)).
Ps. 18:2, 46; 27:1; 35:9; 38:22; 88:1;
118:14; 119:174; 140:7; Isa. 12:2; 56:1;
61:10; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 3:18

Sukkot as the date is supported by Elizabeth's
pregnancy of John the Immerser.
The time sequence is outlined by the
Holy Word of Elohim in Luke 1 with Zacharias.

Zacharias served as a high priest and
based on his tribe, we know when he served
(1 Chronicles 24:7-18) and when he was
struck dumb and when John was conceived.

John would have been born on Pesach.
Most Jews believed that Elijah
would come at Pesach to announce
the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5).

Factor in when Miriam visited her cousin Elizabeth,
Elizabeth was six months pregnant (Luke 1:26)
Thus the timing of Yah'shua's birth can be ascertained.

John (1:14) tells us that Yah'shua was made flesh
and tabernacled among us.

The word "dwelt" in the Koine Greek is:

σκηνόω Strong's G4637 - skēnoō
1) to fix one's tabernacle,
have one's tabernacle,
abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent),
tabernacle
2) to dwell

Eight days after the beginning of Sukkot is
another Holy Feast Day called Shemini Atzeret.

Eight days after a Jewish male is born he is circumcised.

After the Eighth day comes the the most Joyous day:
Simchat Torah or
the rejoicing in the Torah (The Word of Elohim).

Nine months back from Sukkot is Chanukah
where the light entered the temple.

Biblical Dates for the Birth of Yochanan the Immerser
and for the Conception and Birth of Yeshua HaMashiach

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
14 posted on 11/30/2012 5:47:05 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your teaching is my delight.)
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To: GeronL

Scripture says the shepherds were in the fields outside Bethlehem. That means it was after the rains started and the grass was growing. The rainey season starts in November and the pastures are ready for grazing starting in December. Turns out December 25 could be correct.


15 posted on 11/30/2012 6:08:26 PM PST by Varda
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To: NYer

Reading comprehension must not be a strength for many journalists.


16 posted on 11/30/2012 6:28:01 PM PST by FamiliarFace
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To: Varda

I thought they normally collected their taxes/census in summer


17 posted on 11/30/2012 6:58:26 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Varda; GeronL
Scripture says the shepherds were in the fields outside Bethlehem.

One of my instructors at the seminary stated that it is even possible/ likely that there were shepherds that maintained the temple flock which was used for the regular sacrifice.

Luk 2:22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord Luk 2:23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") Luk 2:24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

Due to his station in life Joseph would have had to offer a smaller sacrifice as outlined in the OT. Wealthier people would have had to offer more or they could have been for the priestly sacrifices as well.

18 posted on 12/01/2012 3:15:00 AM PST by verga (A nation divided by Zero!)
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To: GeronL
Jesus was probably born in the summer. Why is that a big deal? I thought everyone pretty much agreed to that. Does it really matter when it is celebrated?

So true - far too many get so caught up in the minutia of details (verified or not) that they lose sight of the gist of the message - Jesus was born and walked the earth as 100% God and 100% Man to develop a personal relationship with us and then let Himself be tortured and murdered by sinners that sinners might know eternal salvation because of the spilling of His Holy Blood to wash away our sins.

I can't figure why folks let themselves get diverted from this message - I sat in a seat and tears ran down my face when I first heard and truly understood the message and that is the day i was saved.

19 posted on 12/01/2012 4:21:39 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
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To: trebb
that is the day i was saved.(sic)

You won't know that until your particular judgment, just as Scripture teaches.

20 posted on 12/01/2012 5:42:31 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro can't pass E-verify)
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To: NYer

Did Pope mention that there were no wise men, either? The wise men showed up at Jesus’ home (not a manger) when Jesus was a child (not a baby), about 2 years old. Their trip following the star from Point A to Point B would’ve taken about two years.


21 posted on 12/01/2012 5:59:26 AM PST by MayflowerMadam
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To: UriÂ’el-2012
You're starting from the assumption that Jesus was born during Tabernacles, and then working backwards to prove it.

This study argues (IMO quite persuasively) that the whole sequence of events began at Tabernacles, which would make December 25, 5 BC, a plausible date for the Nativity.

Oh, and BTW, Zechariah was not High Priest. We have the list of High Priests from that time, and his name isn't on it.

22 posted on 12/01/2012 6:02:43 AM PST by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: A.A. Cunningham
that is the day i was saved.(sic) You won't know that until your particular judgment, just as Scripture teaches.

Per what religion? Either Christ died for my sins or he didn't - and, since I repented of my sins and accepted Him as my Savior, either I am saved or He and Scripture cannot be believed. I have faith that He has opened His arms and God's promise from the Old Covenant, about the New Covenant are also lies:

From Jeremiah 31
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]” declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

I realize it specifies Israel, but we are told in the New Testament that all fall under the cleansing shedding of Jesus' Blood.

23 posted on 12/01/2012 7:39:22 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
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To: GeronL

I was under the impression that the Romans collected taxes anytime.


24 posted on 12/01/2012 7:54:06 AM PST by Varda
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To: verga

Has it been established that there was a temple flock year round? The established practice in that area was to move the flocks from pasture to pasture in nomadic fashion. Given that there were buyers and sellers (according to one of my theology professors in the gallery of the gentiles) it appears that the animals used for sacrifices weren’t kept by the temple but were brought there by merchants who sold them to individuals following the law.


25 posted on 12/01/2012 8:01:52 AM PST by Varda
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To: NYer

http://www.wnd.com/2009/12/119886/


26 posted on 12/01/2012 9:57:55 AM PST by ChinaGotTheGoodsOnClinton (Go Egypt on 0bama)
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To: Varda

It was a census, not a normal tax.


27 posted on 12/01/2012 10:41:48 AM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Varda
it appears that the animals used for sacrifices weren’t kept by the temple but were brought there by merchants who sold them to individuals following the law.

the shepherds were part of the lowest memebers of society. the merchants were somewhat higher. It would make sense that the merchants hired them to tend those same flocks.

28 posted on 12/01/2012 12:50:42 PM PST by verga (A nation divided by Zero!)
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To: trebb
(Matt 7:21) Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
29 posted on 12/01/2012 1:07:41 PM PST by mtg
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To: verga

Traditionally flocks were owned by a family and the job of shepherd was given to a family member but what you say is possible. However, it doesn’t follow that the flocks were there year round in an area doesn’t support year round grazing.


30 posted on 12/01/2012 3:08:28 PM PST by Varda
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To: Campion
You're starting from the assumption that Jesus was born during Tabernacles, and then working backwards to prove it.
This study argues (IMO quite persuasively) that the whole sequence of events began at Tabernacles, which would make December 25, 5 BC, a plausible date for the Nativity.

Oh, and BTW, Zechariah was not High Priest. We have the list of High Priests from that time, and his name isn't on it.

Zacharias was not THE HIGH PRIEST, but

Zacharias served as a high priest

Luke 1:9 according to the custom of the priestly office,
he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
I start by reading John 1:14 under the illumination of the Ru'ach HaKodesh.
John 1:14 And the WORD became flesh,
and [fn]dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

[fn](1:14) Or, tabernacled; i.e. lived temporarily

σκηνόω Strong's G4637 - skēnoō
1) to fix one's tabernacle,
have one's tabernacle,
abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent),
tabernacle
2) to dwell
The word for Tabernacle, mishkan, is a derivative of the
same root and is used in the sense of dwelling-place in the Bible

The verse also provides illumination as to
Yah'shua being the Shekhinah glory.

Shekhinah means the dwelling or settling, and denotes the dwelling
or settling of the divine presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem.

And now to your offered citation.
Excerpt from: Kenneth F. Doig, New Testament Chronology,

The first word of the article raises red flags "John Chrysostom"

John Chrysostom was a rabid anti-semite and thus someone
who would have hated Yah'shua the JEWISH MESSIAH
and coming King on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

The rest of the article is a masterful display of Eisegesis
ju-jitsu from many extra-scriptural sources.

Here is a very visual source:
Jesus' date of birth

Just based on scripture.

Again the first clue to the birth of Yah'shua is John 1:14 as cited above.

OBTW Important events in the life of Yah'shua occurred
on YHvH commanded Feast days as metaphors of the feast.

Conceived as the light entering the temple (John 10:22 / John 8:12)
Born on the Feast of Tabernacles.(John 1:14)
Circumcised on the Feast of Simchat Torah ( Joy of the WORD)
Bread and wine of the Pesach.
Death as the Lamb of G-d on Hag Matzoh.
Rising on the Feast of First Fruits.
Sending the Ru'ach HaKodesh on the Feast of Shavuot(Pentecost).

Who knows if the final trump will occur on the Feast of Trumpets

Seek YHvH in His WORD.

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach

Hope you had a peaceful Shabbat

31 posted on 12/01/2012 5:05:14 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your teaching is my delight.)
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To: mtg
Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Perhaps you're confusing a combination of things. While Jesus walked the earth, we were still under the Old Covenant. Just crying out to the Lord is not the same as repenting of your sins and accepting Jesus as your Savior. Jesus was the only Man to walk the Earth that could "do God's will as far as conforming to the Commandments, else (once again) there was no reason for Him to die for our sins.

32 posted on 12/02/2012 4:32:17 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
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To: trebb
Just crying out to the Lord is not the same as repenting of your sins and accepting Jesus as your Savior.

Then how is it that some were told by Jesus that they were saved, even before He died for their sins and they had the chance of accepting Him as their Savior?

33 posted on 12/02/2012 8:25:00 PM PST by mtg
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To: mtg; trebb
t>Just crying out to the Lord is not the same as repenting of your sins and accepting Jesus as your Savior.

Then how is it that some were told by Jesus that they were saved, even before He died for their sins and they had the chance of accepting Him as their Savior?

Call on the NAME of YHvH for salvation.

In the hebrew scriptures YHvH exists
where the word LORD is used in translation.

Yah'shua (Jesus) NAME in Hebrew
means "YHvH is/be my salvation".

See: 1 Ki. 18:24; 2 Ki. 5:11; Isa. 12:4; 44:5; 48:2; Zeph. 3:9; Zech. 13:9; Rom. 10:13; 1 Co. 1:2

Also see: Joel 2:32 & Acts 2:21 specifically.

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
34 posted on 12/03/2012 9:24:03 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your teaching is my delight.)
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To: GeronL

Jesus was probably born in the summer. >>

that would hurt the retail industry. Jesus was born during the census, whenever that was.


35 posted on 12/29/2012 7:34:56 PM PST by Coleus
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