Originality Overrated?

December 30, 2010 at 12:04 am (Literary) (, , , , , , , , , )

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One of my favorite books of all time is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I read the first book just in time to see The Fellowship of the Ring in theaters opening night, and devoured the remaining two volumes within a month. The movies are the best book adaptations I have ever seen, and I thoroughly enjoy them even though they are no substitution for the original work.

While watching The Return of the King recently, however, I found myself unsure anymore about which pieces of the movie are accurate to the book, and which elements are added to the story by Peter Jackson. I have watched the movies numerous times, and I was ashamed to discover how they had eroded my once clear division between Tolkien-fact and Jackson-fiction. Immediately convinced of the need to re-consult the texts and sort out the “truth” of the story, I realized a parallel.

With the Christmas season upon us, we are consistently bombarded with related iconography and clichés: Year after year until they become almost a sign of the start of Christmastime. (Though ever encroaching earlier into November…) Have these images taken over the original Christmas?

Let’s examine the typical manger scene. You may even still have one somewhere decorating your home… Does your nativity have a stable, three kings with gifts, and maybe even an angel? Here’s the original, straight from God’s word:

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2: 4-11).

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem…Magi from the East came to Jerusalem…and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was…On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, and of incense, and of myrrh” (Matthew 2:1, 9, & 11).

Guess what. The Bible doesn’t tell us Mary had to make the 60-mile journey on a donkey (In fact, historically they might have used a wagon.); it doesn’t include a frantic scurrying from inn to inn to find a place (It merely says, “While they were there.”); it doesn’t even mention a stable! (More than likely in those days the animals were kept in a cave near the city, anyways.) Sound like better planning…

Then there’s the wise men. According to Matthew, they were not probably kings, and he doesn’t specify that there were three– merely 3 gifts. What’s more, it looks like they arrived at a house in Bethlehem some time after Jesus was born.

Wow. What a different picture, huh? But does this information “ruin the miracle”? No way! The most amazing miracle of Christmas is that the all-powerful God of the Universe gave us His son, God in the flesh that we could be with Him for eternity. I’m just surprised at how easily the different stories out there begin to change our perceptions of the truth. Can we guard against this usurpation? I’m going to try.

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2 Comments

  1. haywireproductions said,

    Thanks, Robyn! Very true…

  2. Robyn Gunderson said,

    Good morning Kay! ;-p

    It’s the stuff of ‘fairytales’ – true stories from Genesis became ancient mythology, which became legends, legends over time were the materials for folk and fairytales. The one and only written book that has stood over thousands of years, never changed, remained true, and is always being proved, is the original Word of God – our letter from the God Who never changes!

    That God left His golden heavenly home, was born in a lowly manger, was revealed to the dirty shepherds, is the miracle that brings me to my knees!

    Thank you for writing about the simple revealed Truth! You might enjoy reading another article “Away In A Manger”. It’s also a myth buster!

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