Ben Witherington posted an insightful piece regarding much of the myth that has crept into our popular notions of the account of Christ’s birth. Read the whole thing here.
I remember it was one of my Greek professors in seminary, in a class on Matthew, who shared with us much of the information in Witherington’s post. For me, it was like so many other facets of holidays–a lot of erroneous information had made its way into what became popular. I’m sure there are many who would say “it’s just a Christmas song” or “it doesn’t really matter if that actually happened.” However, the danger lay in the fact that many Christians will tend to develop their theology or perspective on biblical accounts (such as the birth of Christ) based on what they know in popular songs or hymns (future post–hymns and “mansions in the sky”!). As the post indicates, “We Three Kings” is rife with error and speculation; yet, it endures as a Christmas classic!
We no longer sing it at our church because of this, but if one does, it doesn’t make them a heretic; just ill-informed. I have no problem with popular Christmas songs that have nothing to do with Christ; in fact, I like many of them. But if we’re going to sing about the birth of Christ, arguably one of the most significant events in history, then let’s do so without wallowing in speculation.
Αυτω η δοξα,