The birth of Jesus—from where he was born to which star led the magi to this “king of the Jews” to even how he was conceived—has long been analyzed by Biblical scholars. BAS editors have selected a special collection of Bible Review and Biblical Archaeology Review articles and an exciting video lecture to guide BAS Library members through this fascinating topic.

Scroll down to read a summary of these articles.

Video: The Scandal of Jesus’ Birth

by Mark Goodacre

With their gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the “child who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2), the three magi headed unfalteringly toward Bethlehem, following “the star that they had seen at its rising … until it stopped above the place where the child was” (Matthew 2:9). What was this wondrous star that hovered over Bethlehem at Jesus’ birth? In “The Magi and the Star,” Simo Parpola proposes that Babylonian astronomy may provide the key to identifying the star and dating Jesus’ birth.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke narrate Jesus’ birth to a young virgin named Mary. Are these stories history or are they legend? The “Scandal of Jesus’ birth,” presented by the always-popular Mark Goodacre, is the first video lecture in the upcoming 10-lecture set “Who Was Jesus?”

Was Joseph involved in Jesus’ conception? If not, why is he referred to as Jesus’ father in Luke’s Gospel? Does this contradict the doctrine of the virgin birth, which is firmly established in Christian creeds? In “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time,” Andrew Lincoln examines what early Christians thought about conception in the days of Jesus.

Where was Jesus born? You may have thought that the place of Jesus’ birth was an open-and-shut case: Where else but Bethlehem? But in the article “O Little Town of … Nazareth?” Steve Mason argues that it may be for good reason that Jesus is always called “Jesus of Nazareth” in the New Testament. Nonsense! answers the respondent Jerome Murphy-O’Connor in “Bethlehem … Of Course.” The early church had plenty of evidence that Jesus was born just where most people think he was, Murphy-O’Connor counters.


The Magi and the Star
Bible Review, December 2001 By Simo Parpola

The wondrous star that hovered over Bethlehem at Jesus’ birth has long mystified Bible scholars and astronomers alike. Attempts to identify the star with historical celestial phenomena have been inconclusive at best, leading many to dismiss the gospel account as a beautiful but imaginative myth. Still others 018keep returning to this question, knowing that […]

How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2014 By Andrew Lincoln

Sexual intercourse in order to conceive children is such a basic human activity that we sometimes assume that all cultures have had more or less the same ideas about it as we have. So in reading accounts of procreation and conception in the Bible, it is often simply taken for granted that these people […]

O Little Town of…Nazareth?
Bible Review, February 2000 By Steve Mason

Where was Jesus born? In Bethlehem, of course, in a manger, because there was no room for Joseph and Mary at the local inn. That’s what all the Christmas carols say. And that’s what the Gospels say, too. Or is it? Once we begin to examine the gospel stories carefully, we find that […]