By some weird quirk of fate, I've been asked to do a reading at our local church carol service on Sunday evening. Not sure why I was asked.
I had hoped I'd be reading something from the Book of Dawkins, but it would seem Dawkins hasn't made it into the canon yet. Instead they selected a passage from Matthew concerning the birth of Jesus of Nazareth and the flight to Egypt.If we inspect the Gospels and analyse the evidence, we are led to believe that Christ was born when:
i) Augustus instigated a world-wide census (Luke),
ii) Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke), and
iii) Herod was King of Judea (Matthew).
This would appear to date Jesus' birth very accurately, until we discover that Herod died on April 12, 4 BC, that Quirinius was not governor of Syria during the reign of Herod and no historian of the Roman Empire makes any mention of a universal census during the reign of Augustus - although Flavius Josephus does mention a census in Judea in 6AD - ten years after Herod's death. There is clearly something amiss in the chronology.
Do you think I should point this out during the reading? No, don't worry, it's too much like telling a kid that Father Christmas doesn't exist, except it will be adults...