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Three Christmas Surprises

Christmas is a time for celebration, for feasting and for relationships. But it is also a time for a mild engagement in iconoclasm, as we peel back the layers of accreted tradition and recover the origins of the Christmas gospel. In that spirit (and Spirit) I offer three Christmas surprises for you to unwrap at […]

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Jesus was not born in a stable (honest!)

I am sorry to spoil your preparations for Christmas before the Christmas lights have even gone up—though perhaps it is better to do this now than the week before Christmas, when everything has been carefully prepared. But Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, and, curiously, the New Testament hardly even hints that this might have […]

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How well has Britain treated the Jews?

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which paved the way for the establishment of the modern State of Israel 30 years later. The seemingly intractable controversy created by Balfour was summed up by the Hungarian-born Jewish writer Arthur Koestler, who quipped, “one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of […]

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Have we got the schedule for Easter wrong?

Have you ever sat and read through the gospel accounts of Passion Week, and tried to work out chronologically what is happening? And have you done that with the four gospels? (It is easiest to do that latter using a synopsis, either in print or using this one online.) If you do, you might notice several […]

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How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem?

One of the obvious differences in chronology between John’s gospel and the ‘Synoptics’ (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is that John gives an account of Jesus in Jerusalem on four different occasions, two during a Passover (John 2.13, 12.12), one during an unnamed festival (John 5.1) and one at Hannukah (John 10.22). (The third Passover is […]

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Is the story of Epiphany credible?

The Feast of the Epiphany in the church’s liturgical calendar is based on the events of Matt 2.1–12, the visit of the ‘wise men’ from the East to the infant Jesus. There are plenty of things about the story which might make us instinctively treat it as just another part of the constellation of Christmas traditions, […]

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Was Luke mistaken about the date of Jesus’ birth?

A couple of years ago I watched the film Gravity. The effects were spectacular, the photography breathtaking, the characterisations engaging, and the story held one’s attention throughout. It even raised some profound (religious?) questions about life, death and purpose. And yet, when I left the cinema, I could not decide whether I had enjoyed the film or […]

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