A Little Christmas Test

Bethlehem_Star_appears_to_ShepherdsAs a Christian and devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), you would be right in assuming that Christmas is a special time of celebration for my family and me. My father being a scholar, over the years, has annually presented us with a ‘Christmas Test’ to help us keep perspective through the holidays.

Below you’ll find a sample set of questions from the test … log in to the website here and the answers will appear! Note that we’ll be using the King James version of the Bible text for this quiz as well as a few other sources.

What is the date of Christ’s Birth? (Day, Month & Year)

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]There is a lot of debate on the year Jesus was born. Most western nations use a version of the calendar created by Dionysius Exiguus, a sixth century Christian writer who was the abbot of a monastery in Rome. He wanted to date everything either Anno Domini (‘Year of our Lord’ meaning after Christ’s birth) and B.C. meaning ‘Before Christ.’ This is complicated first of all by Dionysius not factoring in a ‘zero year’ in the scheme. More complicated still, Herod the Great, who was alive at the time of Jesus’ birth, actually died in 4 B.C. And, as Herod was upset with the Wise Men not coming back around with news of this Christ child, he ordered all male children younger than 2 years old to be killed. This would actually put Christ’s birth at around 5-6 B.C. Kind of makes your head hurt.

As to the month and date, most scholars agree that Jesus was born sometime in the spring or early summer, partly because of the ‘shepherd tending their flocks by night.’ You might be interested to know that Joseph Smith, first prophet of the LDS church, in 1820, stated that the Christ was born on April 6th. (Doctrine & Covenants 20:1)[/s2If]

Was Christ born in a stable? (Y/N)

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]Well, maybe … but we don’t really know. A careful reading of Luke 2:7 says that Mary ‘brought forth her firstborn son’ but does not necessarily say that she did so in the manger’s stable … only that she laid him there.

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December 25th is the anniversary of: (A) Jesus’ birth, (B) Roman Saturnalia, (C) birth of the Persian god Mithra, (D) Celt’s Samhain or (E) Norseman’s Yule.

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]The correct answer is C: the Persian god Mithra.. Saturnalia ended on December 23th. Celt Samain was November 1st. Yule was also in November. Christ, as noted, was actually born in the spring. The early Christian church established Christmas in December so that it could essentially compete with and replace other such celebrations in the season.

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When Joseph and Mary arrived in town and could not find a room at the inn, the innkeeper offered them shelter in a stable and the babe was born that night. (T/F)

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]There is no mention of an inn keeper at all in the scriptural text, let alone that he turned them away.

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How many Wise Men were there?

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]The correct answer would be ‘more than 1.’ Traditionally we assume there were three only because three gifts are mentioned in the scriptural text. There may have only been two or they may have been many more. (Matthew 2:1)

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Wise Men followed a star. Did the star move? (Y/N)

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]The scriptural account says that ‘the star went before them.’ (Matthew 2:9) Like a GPS?

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When did the Wise Men find Jesus?

  1. Before the Shepherds
  2. After the Shepherds
  3. About the same time as the Shepherds
  4. Sometime during the night
  5. 8:45 pm
  6. A week later
  7. A month later
  8. A couple of years later
  9. Never

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]The Wise Men did not actually find Jesus until almost two years after his birth, which we can infer from the text of Herod’s actions in Matthew 2:16. This means, incidentally, that the star which they followed would not have manifest itself until more than a year after Christ’s birth.

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Did the Shepherds see the Wise Men’s star on the night of Christ’s birth? (Y/N)

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]There is no scriptural account of the shepherds seeing the star … which, as noted above, probably didn’t appear until long after the Child was born. So, yeah, the picture above isn’t based on any scriptural account.

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In Luke 2:13-14, who sang ‘Glory to God, and on earth, peace, good will toward men’?

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]This is a trick question: please read the verses again carefully. It specifically states that the heavenly host praising God, and SAYING. No one is singing her … it is something of a shout or cheer.

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Did the Shepherds tell anyone about their vision?

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]Yes. They made it ‘known abroad’ which, as Christians, we still do today. (Luke 3:17)

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BONUS: Who is Knecht Ruprecht?

[s2If is_user_logged_in()]Knecht Ruprecht, which translates as Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert, is a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany. He first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession. Ruprecht carries a switch which he uses to beat the living daylights out of naughty children!

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Hope you enjoyed the journey … Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

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