The Christmas Story: From Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Literature

Posted by on Dec 25th, 2012 and filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


God is With Us

1.  Isaiah 49: 8 (Jewish Bible): 

This is what the Lord said [to His people the Children of Israel], “In the time of My favor, I will answer you.  On a day of salvation, I will help you.  I will save you and through you make a covenant with all people.  ….

2.  2 Esdras 2: 34-37 (Jewish, extracanonical): 

“…Look forward to the coming of your shepherd who is to come at the end of the world and is [also] coming soon.  He will bring you everlasting rest.  Be ready to receive the rewards of the kingdom, for perpetual light will shine on you throughout all time.  Flee from the shadow of this world and receive the joy and splendor that await you.  I bear witness openly to my savior.  It is he whom the Lord has appointed.  Receive him and be joyful, giving thanks to the One who has called you to the heavenly realm.

3.  Isaiah 11: 1-3; 7: 14 (Jewish Bible): 

A shoot will come from the stump of Jesse [father of David].  From his roots, a branch will bear fruit.  The power of the Lord God shall bestow upon him the Spirit of Wisdom, and he will have understanding, wise counsel, knowledge, and devotion and reverence for the Lord God.  He will be able to sense the truth because of his reverence for God, so that he will not judge merely by appearances or rumors.  The Lord Himself will give a sign:  The young woman is with child and will have a son who will be called God is with us.[1]

4.  Mary 5: 3-17 (Christian, extracanonical): 

When (Mary) reached her fourteenth birthday, the evil people could not charge anything against her, so all good people acquainted with her admired her life and conversation.

At that time, the high priest made a public order.  All the virgins who had public arrangements in the temple and had come to this age should return home.  As they were now of proper maturity, they should, according to the custom of their country, endeavor to be married.  All the virgins readily yielded obedience except Mary.  The virgin of the Lord answered that she could not comply with it.  The reasons she gave was that both she and her parents had devoted her to the service of the Lord and that she had vowed her virginity to the Lord….

The high priest was thereby brought into a predicament.  He could neither dissolve the vow…nor introduce a custom to which the people were strangers.  He commanded that, at an approaching feast, all the principal persons of Jerusalem and neighboring places should meet and advise him on how best to proceed in such a difficult case.

When they met, they unanimously agreed to seek the Lord and ask counsel from Him on this matter.  Immediately, there was a voice from the ark and the mercy seat.  Everyone present heard that it must be sought [to fulfill] a prophecy from Isaiah to whom the virgin should be given and betrothed.  Isaiah had said that there shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall spring from its root.  The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and piety, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord shall fill him.

According to this prophecy, he appointed that all men of the house and family of David, who were of marital age and not married, should bring their rods to the altar.  Out of someone’s rod, a flower would bud forth, and on the top of it the Spirit of the Lord would sit in the appearance of a dove.  That would indicate the man to whom the virgin should be given and betrothed.

5.  Mary 6: 5-7 (Christian, extracanonical)

When (Joseph) brought his rod, a dove from Heaven sat upon the top of it.  Everyone plainly saw that the virgin was to be betrothed to him.

When the usual ceremonies of betrothing were over, (Joseph) returned to his own city of Bethlehem to set his house in order and make the preparations for marriage.  Mary … returned to her parents’ home in Galilee.

6.  Mary 19: 16-17 (Qur’an):

….  Mary secluded herself from her family, retreating to a place in the East.  She screened herself from them [guarding her privacy for prayer and devotion].  We [God as the all-encompassing power] sent Our angel to her.  He appeared as a human in all respects.

7.  Luke 1: 26-28 (New Testament): 

…God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to the virgin married to Joseph, a descendant of David.  Her name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings to you who are highly favored.  The Lord is with you.”

8.  Mary 19: 18 (Qur’an):    

She [thinking him an intruder] said, “I seek refuge from you with the Most Gracious, if you fear God.”

9.  Mary 7: 8 (Christian, extracanonical):

“Fear not.”  [The angel assured her,] “I intend nothing inconsistent with your virtue in this salutation.”

10.  Luke 1: 30 (New Testament): 

The angel said to her, “Fear not, Mary.  You have found favor with God.”

11.  Mary 19: 19-21 (Qur’an): 

“I come as a messenger from your Lord to announce to you the gift of a holy son.”

She asked, “How shall I have a son as no man has touched me, and I am not immoral?”

He said, “It will be so.  The Lord says, ‘That is easy for Me.  We will make him a sign for all people and an instrument of mercy from Us.  It is a matter decreed.’”

12.  Protevangelion 9: 12-13 (Christian, extracanonical): 

[Suspiciously,] Mary asked, “Are you saying that I will conceive by the living God in the human manner?”

The angel answered, “Certainly not, Mary!  You will conceive by the power of God’s Spirit.

13.  Mary 19: 35 (Qur’an): 

“It is not befitting to the majesty of God to beget a child.[2] When God decides a matter, He only says, ‘Be,’ and it is.

14.  Mary 7: 19-20 (Christian, extracanonical): 

“The power of the Lord God will come upon you and cause you to conceive without sexual intimacy so that the child will be holy from birth.  ….”

15.  Imran 3: 42, 45-46 (Qur’an):

Angels said, “O Mary, God has chosen you and purified you above all women over all the world.”  Angels said, “O Mary, God sends glad tidings of a Word emanating from Him, and his name shall be Jesus the Messiah.  The son of Mary will be honored in this world and in the next, and is of those nearest to God.  (Jesus) shall speak to people while in the cradle as well as when he is grown, and he shall be among the righteous.”

16.  Luke 1: 38, 36-37, 46-49 (New Testament): 

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.  “May it be to me as you have said.”  ….

[Gabriel said,] “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a baby in her old age.  She is six months pregnant even though she was barren.  Nothing is impossible with God!”

Mary rejoiced saying, “My soul glorifies the Lord God, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humbleness of His servant.  From now on generations will call me blessed because the Mighty One has done great things for me.  Holy is His name.

The Birth of Jesus

1.  Mary 19: 22 (Qur’an): 

[Mary] conceived (the promised child) and retreated with him to a private place.

2.  Protevangelion 9: 23; 10: 1, 8-10 (Christian, extracanonical): 

As her pregnancy began to show, Mary kept herself secluded from the Children of Israel [because she was fearful of what they would think].  ….

During her sixth month, Joseph returned from his building houses abroad, as was his trade.  He entered into the house and discovered that Mary was pregnant.

…Joseph demanded, “O you who has been so favored by God, why have you done this.  You were educated in the House of God, favored by God, and fed by the hands of angels.”

With a flood of tears, Mary cried, “I am innocent; no man has touched me!”

3.  Mary 19: 23-25 (Qur’an): 

The pains of pregnancy drove Mary to the trunk of a palm tree.  She cried, “I’d rather be dead and forgotten  and out of sight before this!”

But she heard a voice from beneath (the tree):  “Do not grieve.  Your Lord has provided a spring of water beneath you.  Shake this palm tree toward you; fresh ripe dates will fall for you.  So eat and drink, and cool your eyes.  If you see anyone today, say, ‘I have vowed a fast [from conversing] to the Most Gracious.  This day I will not converse with any human being.’”

4.  Matthew 1: 19-21 (New Testament): 

Joseph her husband, being a kind and righteous man, did not want to humiliate Mary publicly, so he planned to discreetly divorce her.  But, after he had considered this, an angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be ashamed to have Mary for your wife.  She has conceived by the power of the Spirit of the Lord God.  She will have a son, and his name will mean Salvation because he will save his people from their sins.”[3]

5.  Imran 3: 59 (Qur’an): 

The simile of Jesus before God is that of Adam.  He created him from dust and then said to him, “Be!” and he was.

6.  1 Corinthians 15: 45, 47 (New Testament): 

…The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam [Jesus] became a life-giving spirit.  The first man was of dust of the earth; the second man was from Heaven.

7.  Women 4: 171 (Qur’an): 

….  Jesus the Messiah the son of Mary was a messenger of God and His Word bestowed upon Mary and a spirit emanating from (God).  ….

8.  Matthew 1: 24-25 (New Testament): 

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.   He did not consummate their marriage while Mary was still pregnant, and he gave him the name ‘Jesus.’

9.  Women 4: 156 (Qur’an): 

The unbelievers made a false accusation against Mary [when they realized she had become pregnant before her marriage to Joseph].[4]

10.  Mary 8: 13 (Christian, extracanonical): 

During the ninth month of pregnancy, Joseph began to take his wife and her things to his home in Bethlehem.

11.  1 Infancy 1: 6 (Christian, extracanonical): 

[As they entered the outskirts of Bethlehem], they came by a cave [used by shepherds].  Mary told Joseph that her time of delivery had come and that she could not wait to go into the city.  She said, “Let us go into this cave.”

12.  Protevangelion 13: 1 (Christian, extracanonical): 

Leaving her and his children [from his previous marriage[5]] in the cave, Joseph went to find a Hebrew midwife in the city of Bethlehem.

13.  1 Infancy 1: 9-11 (Christian, extracanonical): 

It was after sunset when Joseph returned with an elderly lady, and they both went into the cave.  It was filled with light greater than the light of lamps and candles….  The infant was wrapped in swaddling clothes and suckling the breast of his mother Mary.

14.  Luke 2: 8-20 (New Testament): 

That night some shepherds were tending their flocks in the nearby fields.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.  The shepherds were terrified.  “Fear not,” said the angel.  “I bring good news of great joy that will be for all people.  Today in the town of David, a savior has been born to you.  He is the promised Messiah.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel.  They were praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people on whom His favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and returned to Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, about which the Lord has told us.”  They hurried and found Mary and Joseph and saw the infant asleep in the hay.  When they had seen him, they spread the word about what had been told to them about this child.  All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

15.  1 Infancy 1: 2-3 (Christian, extracanonical): 

…From the cradle Jesus spoke to Mary, “Mary, I am Jesus the Messiah, the Word which you brought forth according to the declaration of the angel Gabriel, and the Heavenly Father has sent me to bring salvation to the world.”

16.  Mary 19: 27-33 (Qur’an): 

After a time, (Mary) visited her people, carrying the baby in her arms.  They said, “O Mary, this is truly an incredible thing you have done!  O sister of Aaron, [6]  your father was not wicked, and your mother was not immoral!”

(Mary) motioned to the baby [as to say, “Ask him”].

They responded, “How can we converse with an infant in the cradle?”

(The baby Jesus) answered, “I am indeed God’s servant to whom He has given revelation, and He created me as a prophet.  He has made me blessed wherever I am, and has instilled prayer and charity on me as long as I live.  He has instilled in me kindness for my mother, and I am not temperamental or argumentative.  Peace is on me the day of my birth, the day of my death, and the day that I shall be raised to life.”

[1] ‘Emmanuel’ (God is with us) is one of the names given to the Messiah.

[2] The phrase “only begotten son” in the King James Version of the Bible was falsely translated from the Greek ‘monogenes’ which means ‘one of a kind’ or ‘unique.’

[3] The Hebrew word for ‘salvation’ is ‘Yeshua,’ which is ‘Jesus’ in Greek, ‘Isa’ in Arabic, and ‘Joshua’ in English.

[4] In the Jewish Talmud, it is falsely recorded that Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier.

[5] Joseph was a widower.

[6] According to extracanonical Christian literature, Mary was of David’s lineage on her father’s side but was of Aaron’s lineage (the family of priests) on her mother’s side.

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