How well do you know the Christmas story?

Ok, I’m handing over to my guest blogger this morning for a little bit of Christmas trivia! Enjoy!

 

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE CHRISTMAS STORY?

 

I thought you might like a quiz for this Christmas time. It will test your knowledge and may actually provide some information you didn’t know. I wonder if you’d get your pen/pencil & paper out and try the questions as you read them rather than going straight to the answers. What about trying them with the family after that Christmas meal?

 

1. Where was Joseph born?

a) Bethlehem

b) Jerusalem

c) Nazareth

d) Egypt

e) None of the above

 

2. Mary & Joseph were both spoken to by angelic beings before the birth of Jesus. Which angels or archangels spoke to them?

a) The Archangel Michael to both

b) The angel Gabriel to both

c) Archangel Michael to Mary & the angel Gabriel to Joseph

d) The angel Gabriel to Mary & the archangel Michael to Joseph

e) None of the above

 

3. How did Mary & Joseph travel to Bethlehem?

a) By camel

b) By donkey

c) By walking

d) Joseph walked, Mary rode on a donkey

e) No-one knows

 

4. Mary & Joseph were married when Mary became pregnant (True or False)

 

5. Mary & Joseph were married when Jesus was born (True or False)

 

6. Mary was a virgin when she delivered Jesus (True or False)

 

7. What did the innkeeper tell Mary & Joseph?

a) “There is no room at the inn”

b) “I have a stable you can use”

c) “There may be a room later if you come back”

d) Both a) & b)

e) None of the above

 

8. What is a manger?

a) A stable for domestic animals

b) A wooden hay storage bin

c) A feeding trough

d) A barn

e) None of the above

 

9. Which animals does the bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?

a) Cows, Sheep, Goats

b) Cows, Sheep, Donkeys

c) Sheep & Goats only

d)Miscellaneous farm animals

e) None of the above

 

10. Who does the Bible say saw the “star in the east”?

a) Shepherds

b) Mary & Joseph

c) The three kings

d) Both a) & c)

e) None of the above

 

11. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?

a) One

b) Three

c) A “multitude”

d) a) and c)

e) None of the above

 

12. What sign were the shepherds told to look for when they went to Bethlehem?

a) A star over Bethlehem

b) A stable

c) A baby in a stable

d) A stable where the animals had been put outside because Mary had given birth inside

e) None of the above

 

13. What is Frankincense?

a) A precious metal

b) A precious fabric

c) A precious perfume

d) A spice used in the anointing of the dead

e) None of the above

 

14. What is Myrrh?

a) An easily shaped metal

b) A spice used in the anointing of the dead

c) A precious perfume

d) A medicine

e) None of the above

 

15. How many kings or wise men were there who came to worship the baby Jesus?

a) Three Kings

b) Three wise men

c) An unknown number of kings

d) An unknown number of wise men.

e) None of the above

 

OK that’s the lot. How do you think you did?

 

Now for the answers. Where possible I will be using what I believe to be the authoritative source – the Bible text itself. Some answers have to come from other sources because the Bible doesn’t explain their meaning. I know you might have ideas from your upbringing, parents, school, friends & even other books etc but I think it’s important to have a reference point. Just like you might say look in an encyclopaedia for information and would trust it I’m going to do the same with these answers and, as far as possible, use the same source in each case to provide consistency. If you go down the route of “He said, she said, they said..” there will be many different answers and views on what is right or wrong.

Although, as you will know, there are four Gospels in the New Testament only Matthew & Luke have information on the events leading up to the birth of Jesus so all the proof texts will be from these two Gospels.

 

Right off we go:

 

1. Joseph was from (as in born in):

a) Bethlehem

b) Jerusalem

c) Nazareth

d) Egypt

e) None of the above

 

Answer: a) Bethlehem. Or e) None of the above

Reason. There is some dispute over how to interpret the verses here. Some believe it was actually Bethlehem, some believe according to Jewish custom, only that it was Joseph’s ancestral home and that he could have been born elsewhere in the area belonging to the tribe of Judah. As this is the first question & in the interests of fairness I’m allowing either a) or e). In Luke 2:3-5 we read:So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”

Joseph had been living and working in Nazareth where Mary, betrothed to be his wife, also lived. He had to return to his “own city” as it says because of the decree by Caesar Augustus that there was to be a census. “Own city” could mean place of birth or place where his ancestors were born.

2. Mary & Joseph were both spoken to by angelic beings before the birth of Jesus. Which angels or archangels spoke to them?

a) The Archangel Michael to both

b) The angel Gabriel to both

c) Archangel Michael to Mary & the angel Gabriel to Joseph

d) The angel Gabriel to Mary & the archangel Michael to Joseph

e) None of the above

Answer: In this case it’s e) None of the above

Reason – Luke 1:26-27 says:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.”

And of the visit to Joseph we read in Matthew 1:26: 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So it was the angel Gabriel to Mary & just “an angel” to Joseph therefore answer e) is correct.

3. How did Mary & Joseph travel to Bethlehem?

a) By camel

b) By donkey

c) By walking

d) Joseph walked, Mary rode on a donkey

e) No-one knows

Answer c) By walking

Reason. In Luke 2:4-5 we read: Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”

If you read it carefully no animal is mentioned at all. The only words we have are “went up”. As there was no other form of transport back then they must have walked. The familiar pictures showing Mary riding on a donkey are not based on anything in the Bible account. That is purely an assumption about what might have happened; and it might have, all I’m saying is we don’t know for sure.

4. Mary & Joseph were married when Mary became pregnant (True or False)

 

Answer: False. They were betrothed but the usual custom in those days was that they would not live together or have physical relations until after there had been an official marriage ceremony.

 

Reason. In Matthew 1:18 we read:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”

 

5. Mary & Joseph were married when Jesus was born (True or False)

 

Answer: True

Reason. It says in Matthew 1:2020 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

And then later on in Matthew 1:24-2524 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”

So he then lived with Mary as his wife but they did not have “sexual relations” until after Jesus was born, so they were married before the baby was born.

6. Mary was a virgin when she delivered Jesus (True or False)

 

Answer: True

Reason. Again in Matthew 1 it says these words in v22-2322 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

To summarise then the events leading up to Jesus’ birth happened this way: Betrothal, Pregnancy, Marriage, Birth.

 

7. What did the innkeeper tell Mary & Joseph?

a) “There is no room at the inn”

b) “I have a stable you can use”

c) “There may be a room later if you come back”

d) Both a) & b)

e) None of the above

 

Answer: e) None of the above

 

Reason. The innkeeper is not mentioned in the Biblical account. Only Luke has any info. Luke 2:7 says, And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”This is the only reference to an inn but does not say anything about an innkeeper. Therefore the answer has to be e)

 

8. What is a manger?

a) A stable for domestic animals

b) A wooden hay storage container

c) A feeding trough

d) A barn

e) None of the above

 

Answer c) This one is just a straightforward dictionary definition.

 

By the way, just as the innkeeper is not mentioned in the account of Jesus birth neither is a stable. People have reasoned from there being a manger to the most likely place to find a manger being a stable but it doesn’t necessarily follow. Whatever the building was where Jesus was born there is nothing to say it belonged to the inn or innkeeper. The only things mentioned are in Luke 2 and verse 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Of course you can speculate as to in what sort of building the birth took place – other suggestions include a cave or a grotto – but there is nothing definitive mentioned in the Bible.

 

9. Which animals does the bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?

a) Cows, Sheep, Goats

b) Cows, Sheep, Donkeys

c) Sheep & Goats only

d)Miscellaneous farm animals

e) None of the above

 

Answer e). None of the above

 

Reason. Again, as above, the Bible mentions only that Jesus was wrapped in “swaddling cloths” and was “laid in a manger.” Absolutely no animals are mentioned.

 

10. Who does the Bible say saw the “star in the east”?

a) Shepherds

b) Mary & Joseph

c) The three kings

d) Both a) & c)

e) None of the above

 

Answer e).

Reason. The Bible simply says in Matthew 2:1 2Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,”

Note no mention of kings or how many wise men. Just because three gifts were brought doesn’t mean there must have been three wise men. Think of you taking Christmas presents to another family and say there are 4 of them and only two of you. You could then write that that family received the gifts of presents 1,2,3 & 4 but you couldn’t imply there were 4 people giving them if you see what I mean. It’s not to say that there weren’t three wise men, there could have been, but it’s just we don’t know.

 

11. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?

a) One

b) Three

c) A “multitude” of the heavenly host

d) a) and c)

e) None of the above

 

Answer d).

Reason. Here’s the text of Luke 2:8-13. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

In the first instance there was just one angel speaking to the shepherds. He gives them the info they need to find the baby Jesus but then he is joined by a “multitude” praising God.

 

12. What sign were the shepherds told to look for when they went to Bethlehem?

a) A star over Bethlehem

b) A stable

c) A baby in a stable

d) A stable where the animals had been put outside because Mary had given birth inside

e) None of the above

 

Answer e) None of the above

 

Reason. Remember that the Bible never mentions a stable (so that’s b), c) & d) out) and the star was the sign given to the wise men from the East. The text has already been given in the previous answer and verse 12. Here it is 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13. What is Frankincense?

a) A precious metal

b) A precious fabric

c) A precious perfume

d) A spice used in the anointing of the dead

e) None of the above

 

Answer: c) A precious perfume

Reason. This one is a definition from the dictionary/encyclopaedia as it starts off as a gum-resin which is made into incense and therefore becomes a perfume. I suppose strictly speaking you could allow e) because of its raw state but the common usage is as a perfume.

 

14. What is Myrrh?

a) An easily shaped metal

b) A spice used in the anointing of the dead

c) A precious perfume

d) A medicine

e) None of the above

 

Answer b) A spice used in the anointing of the dead

Reason. Common usage in biblical times. Interestingly though it’s mentioned in three different settings in the Bible.

First Matthew 2:11 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Second, when Jesus was actually being crucified on the cross we read this in Mark 15:20-23: 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.

21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.”

Third, in the burial process before laying the body in the tomb, in John 19:38-40 38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.”

15. How many kings or wise men were there who came to worship the baby Jesus?

a) Three Kings

b) Three wise men

c) An unknown number of kings

d) An unknown number of wise men.

e) None of the above

 

Answer d). An unknown number of wise men

Reason. We read in Matthew 2:1 2Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,”

No mention of how many wise men there were.

 

Well I hope you enjoyed the quiz. Also hope not too many arguments started.

Ok so how did you do? I think there were probably a few surprises in there, things you weren’t expecting. It just goes to show how much of the Christmas story has been added to from the actual account written down. I, like many of you, was taught all the traditional stuff about the story: 3 kings (singing “We three kings of orient are”), about a stable which isn’t mentioned and about animals in the stable that isn’t mentioned and so on. I also, as you probably did, attended my childrens’ school nativity version but we have to remember that’s not what actually happened. We also tend to get shepherds and wise men in the same scene but they weren’t there at the same time. The shepherds came immediately after the birth; when the wise men came they didn’t come to the same place as the shepherds because it was some months later and possibly up to 2 years. We know this because King Herod had all the baby boys of 2 years old and under killed. He’d decided on this age after speaking to the wise men and working out how long ago they’d first seen the star which would have been the date of Jesus’ birth.

The Bible says in Matthew 2:9-11When they heard the king (that is Herod), they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Note also that, the wise men came into a house not a stable or other outbuilding and it doesn’t say Jesus was in manger when they came and presented their gifts to Him?

Honestly, perhaps it’s time we all concentrated actually on who Jesus was (and is) and what He came to do (and did and is still doing) rather than just the Christmas story once a year but it’s a trap all of us can easily fall into.

Could I, in closing say, that the views represented here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the blog host. Thanks to LLM for this Christmas Day post and could I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

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