Contact: Grant Van Leuven, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 866-778-7338, 412-716-9051 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr. Kinneer is available for interviews
PITTSBURGH, Dec. 6 /Christian Newswire/ -- We only have a vague idea of when Jesus Christ was born. Matthew made up the star's appearance. The dating of Christmas is an accommodation to a pagan feast. Hebrew prophesy doesn't say that a "virgin" would give birth.
"Bunk!" That's how Dr. Jack Kinneer describes the above statements as popular myths assuming the implausibility of Biblical narrative about the birth of Jesus. Kinneer is a New Testament professor at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in Pittsburgh.
"What is implausible is that someone could make up this story, but what is entirely plausible is that someone chronicling these historical events would include such confirmable facts," Kinneer said.
His December Greek classes correct assaults on the Christmas story by holiday documentaries, instructing on what the languages and literary structure of Scripture communicate and how ancient records and modern astronomy support them.
Dr. Kinneer Replies to Popular Christmas Myths:
Myth: We can only vaguely date when Jesus was born.
Reply: "Scripture, ancient history, and modern astronomy enable us to pinpoint Jesus' birth within the winter months of 5-4 B.C."
Myth: Matthew made up the appearance of a star.
Reply: "Modern astronomy calculations confirm extraordinary celestial phenomena during this exact time period."
Myth: It is implausible that the Magi would have traveled from Persia to see the star.
Reply: "It is implausible that they would not journey to see it, as they were not kings, but astrologers. It was their job to study and interpret luminaries in light of ancient prophecies."
Myth: Jesus' birth was at the star's appearance, several years before the Magi's arrival.
Reply: "Herod's decree to kill Hebrew sons two years old and under after the Magi's visit presumes the birth of Jesus may have just occurred. Matthew's Greek grammar describes the birth of Jesus as the timely setting of the Magi's arrival."
Myth: Jesus was two to three years old when the Magi arrived.
Reply: "He was no more than a few months old."
Myth: The dating of Christmas on December 25 accommodates a pagan feast.
Reply: "It is a calculated estimation from when the angel appeared to Zechariah during his datable priestly duties."
Myth: The Hebrew "virgin" birth citation is embellished.
Reply: "The Isaiah 7:14 quote was interpreted as "virgin" by Jews centuries before New Testament times."
Myth: Joseph and Mary's flight to Egypt was a long overland journey and stay of a number of years.
Reply: It was probably a brief boat trip and a stay of only a few weeks to a month, which fits the setting of historical political events."
"Popular culture suggests doubts about Scripture, but good scholarship demonstrates that the Bible's Christmas story particulars are precise and other known facts easily fit if you've done your homework," said Kinneer.
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary is the fifth oldest seminary in the nation, and will celebrate its bicentennial in 2010.