1. In what year was Jesus born? a) 4 BCE (when Herod the Great was king) b) the year 0 c) 6CE (when Quirinius was governor of Syria)
Matthew’s gospel claims Jesus was born when Herod the Great was king (Matthew 2.1) while Luke says it was when Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2.2). But Herod died in 4BCE and Quirinius didn’t become governor of Syria until ten years later, in 6CE. So JC couldn’t have been born when both men were in their respective positions. Neither was he born in the year 0, because there wasn’t one (the Gregorian calendar goes from 1BCE to 1CE). Most scholars think Jesus was born around 4BCE, just before Herod’s death (as Matthew’s gospel suggests). Award yourself a splash of myrrh if you got this right.
2. When was Jesus born? a) December 25th? b) April 1st c) in the summer
Not December 25th (see my post Jesus Is The Reason For The Season below) which was the date usurped from the pagan festival of Saturnalia; April 1st, maybe, as there’s something about this that takes us all for fools, but if the story is to be believed, it’s most likely he was born in the summer when shepherds would be out on the hillside with their sheep – if the story is to be believed. In short, we don’t actually know. If you said this, reward yourself with three hail Marys.
3. Who was Jesus’ father? a) God himself b) Joseph, so that Jesus was descended from King David c) one of Mary’s one night-stands
a) and b) rule each other out: see my post Jesus was born of a virgin… er, no was descended from David, er… below. There were much later rumours that Mary was raped by a Roman soldier called Pantera, and certainly Jesus’ legitimacy is called into question by early critics of Christianity. This may be reflected in the gospels themselves where Jesus is referred to as his mother’s son, not his father’s as would have been customary (Mark 6.3). Treat yourself to Susan Boyle’s rendering of ‘Silent Night’ if you knew this.
4. How often did the Romans make people return to their ancestral home to be counted? a) never b) it was one-off c) only when the gospel writer needed to get them to Bethlehem
Answer is c). While the Romans did carry out a census in 6CE, i) Jesus was born ten years earlier and ii) there is no record of the Romans forcing people to return to the home of their ancestors.
5. How did Mary get to Bethlehem? a) on foot b) on a donkey c) by being a character in a contrived story
The answer is c). Luke’s nativity story, the only one to have them travel to Bethlehem, doesn’t say how she got there. Leave a carrot out for Santa’s reindeer if you answered correctly.
6. Where was Jesus born? a) in a stable b) in a cave c) at home in Nazareth
Again, Luke’s Bethlehem account doesn’t say. Matthew implies Mary and Joseph lived in Bethlehem all along (Matthew 2.11 & 16) making the whole ‘no-room-at-the-inn’ scenario superfluous. Sprinkle yourself with frankincense for saying so.
7. According to Matthew’s gospel, how many wise-men visited the new-born babe? a) none b) three c) they weren’t wise-men, they were astrologers
The answer is c) and the number isn’t specified.
8. What did the angels say to the wise-men when they told them of Jesus’ birth? a) you will find him in a manger b) nothing c) follow that star
b) is correct. According to the story the angels spoke to the shepherds, not the wise-men. Deck the halls with boughs of holly if you fell for this one.
9. Where did the magic star shine? a) over the stable where Jesus lay b) over his house c) since when do stars shine over specific objects here on Earth?
Looks like c) again, though Matthew, who is the only gospel writer to mention it, claims in Matthew 2.9-11 that it was b), over his house.
10. When did the wise-men visit the infant Jesus? a) when he was a toddler b) while he was still in the manger c) after the Christmas rush
Matthew says Jesus was a child when the so-called wise-men visited him at home (Matthew 2.9-11 again). Given their encounter with Herod (Matthew 2.16), who thinks Jesus could be anything up to two years old, it’s likely JC was a toddler at this point in the fabricated story. Don ye now your gay apparel if you knew this.
11. When did Herod massacre all the little boys, hoping to kill the baby Jesus? a) later that same week b) a few years after the birth c) there is no record of him having done any such thing
Yup, c) again.
12. How many shepherds visited the baby Jesus? a) all of them b) two old men and a young boy c) none
The number isn’t specified, though Luke suggests all of them went (Luke 2.15-16). In fact it was ‘none’ because none of this actually happened.
13. What gifts did the shepherds bring? a) a lamb b) a lamb kebab c) a pair of hand-knitted socks
It doesn’t say. You can have a new pair of hand-knitted socks yourself if you said so. Or a kebab.
14. Which animals were present at the birth? a) a horse (c’mon, it was supposed to be in a stable) b) an ox and ass c) an ox, an ass, the wise-men’s camels and the shepherds’ sheep
No animals are mentioned.
15. After the birth, where did Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus go? a) to Egypt b) home to Nazareth c) nowhere
According to Matthew (2.13-18) the family went to Egypt following the visit of the wise-men and, after hiding there until Herod died, made their home in Nazareth (Matthew 2.19-23). According to Luke, however, they lived in Nazareth before the birth (Luke 1.26) and simply went back there once they’d had the baby circumcised (Luke 2.38); no mention of the holiday in Egypt nor of Herod, who’d been dead for ten years according to Luke’s chronology. It’s kinda neat the way the Bible tells such a consistent story, don’t you think?
16. Where will you find the Christmas story in the Bible? a) in Genesis (because the answers are always in Genesis) b) in all four gospels c) in only two of the gospels, which have conflicting accounts
The answer is c); only in Matthew and Luke, each having a completely different take on things.
Feel entitled to sacrifice two turtle doves for making it this far.