Rethinking the Wise Men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:1-2

nativity

Take a good look at this nativity scene.  Study it for a moment.  It should look similar to every other nativity you’ve ever seen before.  Jesus is lying in a manger filled with hay; the major characters are in or around a stable of some sort; the star would be shining above; the shepherds came from the field, where they had been watching their flocks; and the 3 wise men came bringing gifts.  It’s a nice picture, and we think “That seems about right.”  But it’s not.  One of the things on my list, according to scripture at least,  doesn’t belong. Continue reading

Rethinking the Angelic Choir

the-angels-song-and-the-shepherds-visitAnd in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babywrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”(Luke 2:8-14, ESV)

When we read any type of narrative, it is normal to picture how we think the scene might have looked in the mind’s eye.  There are numerous portraits of Jesus, the Apostles, Joseph and Mary, Old Testament characters, and so forth, but the only thing we know for certain is that we do not know what any of these people looked like.  Some things we do know; Jesus did not have blue eyes.  When artists of the Renaissance created Biblical portraits, they unashamedly made the characters look like twelfth century Europeans.  We can accurately predict Jesus would have been short, dark skinned, dark eyed, and looked very Hebrew.  Scripture teaches he looked pretty much the same as every other adult Jewish male of his time.  Just like there are certain things we know are not exactly right about the most popular images of Jesus, we can safely say that certain artistic liberties have been taken with the portrayal of angels. Continue reading