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We’re bringing a little bah and a little humbug to the Christmas pageant in this episode of The Bible for Normal People as Pete and Jared do their very best to ruin Christmas! Find out what Christmas means to them, whether Jesus really is the reason for the season, and how your Nativity set is probably lying to you. Join Pete and Jared as they explore the following questions:

  • What does Christmas mean personally to Pete and Jared?
  • What are the worst and best presents P&J ever received for Christmas?
  • How do the “official” and “non-official” versions of Christmas celebrations compare to one another?
  • What are the biblical and cultural disconnects in depictions of the story of Jesus’s birth?
  • How does the Hallmark Nativity set get it wrong?
  • What do we believe today about Christmas that we think are tied to the biblical texts, but actually aren’t?
  • How can we reconcile the version of Christmas rooted in the Bible vs. the version that real people actually celebrate? Is there more value in one or can they both be equally valuable even if inaccurate?

Tweetables

Pithy, shareable, less-than-280-character statements from Pete and Jared you can share.

  • It’s through archaeology that we have learned what religion on the ground might have looked like for people. — Pete
  • Matthew and Luke tell the story differently and the reason they do is for the same reason people paint these portraits of Madonna and child, because they’re trying to say something to the community around them. — Pete
  • If you go to your Hallmark store and buy a nativity set, there’s a lot of inaccuracies in that depiction, from the biblical narrative.  — Jared
  • I always love the old adage, “We Three Kings of Orient are.” There’s not three, they’re not kings, and they’re not from the Orient. — Jared
  • Matthew’s gospel of the birth narrative [is] where you get the wise men. Not three wise men. And we don’t know their names either, you know, despite what Christmas cards say. — Pete
  • We tend to do that with the stories, we fill in the gap—and not just in how we tell them, but how that’s depicted in art. — Pete
  • In art, you have to make decisions. In Christmas cards, you have to make decisions. In Christmas carols, you have to make decisions. We’re always having to make decisions from the stories about what to depict, even if they’re not really anchored in the text itself. — Pete
  • As a professor of mine said many years ago, it’s not that the Bible is a pack of lies, it’s just that it’s a highly contextual document. And [as] people who look to the Bible for spiritual guidance or sustenance or information, we are invariably going to take those stories and make them our own. — Pete
  • We need to respect and be grounded in the scholarship. We need to know that Jesus was not a white person. And we also need to have an imagination, and be creative about how we bring that ancient tradition to our lives today. — Jared

Mentioned in This Episode

Read the transcript

Pete  

You’re listening to The Bible for Normal People, the only God-ordained podcast on the internet. I’m Pete Enns.

Jared  

And I’m Jared Byas. 

[Intro music plays]

Jared  

Hey everyone! We have our first class of 2023 coming up, and it’s going to be called “One Nation Under God”, and it’s going to be on this idea that you’ve probably heard swirling around for quite some time: Christian Nationalism, and it’s gonna be taught by Dr. Sam Perry. 

Pete  

Dr. Perry, great guy. He’s an award-winning scholar and teacher who is among the nation’s leading experts on conservative Christianity and American politics, race, sexuality, and families. And he’s the co-author of the incredibly insightful book, Taking America Back for God and The Flag and the Cross. Now, this course that he’s teaching is January 6th—Ring a bell? January 6th from 8 to 9:30pm Eastern Time, and the class is like all classes, pay-what-you-can, and it’s available for you to buy now at TheBibleforNormalPeople.com/OneNation (that’s one word).

Pete  

And since it’s a live class, the pay-what-you-can window will close and then the recording will cost $25. 

Pete  

Boo!

Jared  

So if you do want the pay-what-you-can, that’s available now. And again, there’s a short window. So go ahead and sign up at TheBibleforNormalPeople.com/OneNation. Alternatively, for only $12 a month, you can become an all-access member of our new community, The Society of Normal People. And as part of that $12 a month, you get access to all of our classes for free, as part of that membership.

Pete  

Not just this one, all of them. 

Jared  

All of them. So if you think that you might want to participate in future classes, or have access to previous classes, I would suggest maybe just consider going to The Society of Normal People, which you can get to if you just go to TheBibleforNormalPeople.com/join and you can join for the all access—

Pete  

I mean, 12 bucks a month. 

Jared  

12 bucks a month. 

Pete  

You can’t afford not to do that. 

Jared  

That’s right. 

Jared  

Or… You know what? You could do both, you know? We’re not going to turn down money.

Pete  

That’s what I like.

Pete  

You could give us $50,000 and join The Society of… 

Jared  

Exactly, for $12 a month. 

Pete  

Yeah, okay.

Jared  

You could do both. 

Pete  

It sounds good to me. 

Jared  

Excellent. Alright. So again, go to the TheBibleforNormalPeople.com/OneNation.

[Music plays]

Pete  

Welcome, everybody to this, our last episode of the sixth season of The Bible for Normal People podcast. The only God-ordained podcast on the internet.

Jared  

That’s correct, but…I’m trying to think of the Bible verse. I think it’s morning? “May weeping last in the night but joy comes in the morning.”

Pete  

Yeah. And?

Jared  

So you can cry for a while. But we do have season seven.

Pete  

We do have season seven. Right. 

Jared  

But you have to wait till February. 

Pete  

I’m not sure if I can make it that long. 

Jared  

Yeah?

Pete  

And I think I speak for everyone listening right now.

Jared  

You can’t wait that long to listen to your own voice? [Laughing]

Pete  

I can’t wait.

Pete  

Exactly. Exactly, I’m a teacher for heaven’s sake. It’s what I do, man! What I do for a living. So anyway.

Jared  

Alright well, for this episode, we thought, you know, in years past, we’ve done a recap, but rather than doing a recap, we’ll just say go back and listen to all the other episodes. I mean, my goodness—

Pete  

Yeah!

Jared  

Why do we have to do the work? 

Pete  

We don’t have to hold your hand.

Jared  

But instead, we’re gonna just, we’re gonna ruin Christmas.

Pete  

Yeah. We’re gonna do a pre-cap. 

Jared  

Oh, we’re gonna do a pre-cap.

Pete  

A pre-cap because Christmas isn’t yet. 

Jared  

That’s true!

Pete  

It’s a pre-cap. 

Jared  

It’s a pre-cap. Hmmm. I like that!

Pete  

I like that too, it’s a pre-cap!

Jared  

Okay, we’re gonna ruin Christmas!

Jared  

[Teaser clip of Jared speaking plays over music] 

“If you go to your Hallmark store and buy a nativity set, there’s a lot of inaccuracies in that depiction, from the biblical narrative. We need to respect and be grounded in the scholarship, we need to know that Jesus was not a white person. And we also need to have an imagination, and be creative about how we bring that ancient tradition to our lives today.”

[Ad break]

Jared  

Let’s start. We wanted to start maybe on a personal note, because we want to talk about tradition, culture, the Bible and all of that surrounding Christmas. So we thought maybe start with our personal traditions. How did you celebrate Christmas, Pete? Growing up or now? How has that shifted and changed? What did you like about it? What did you hate about it?

Pete  

A whole bunch of stuff. So yeah, I mean, I grew up in a home of German immigrants and so we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, that’s when we opened our presents. And I always thought it was odd that people had to wait till the next morning. So we just…That was what we did. We usually would buy our tree and just decorate it the week of, not like a month early. You know, I mean, actually, my mother grew up, they got the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, that was sort of their thing, but we didn’t do that. So yeah.

And then we went to church, and then I couldn’t wait to get back home because I didn’t want to go to church Christmas Eve. And then just Sunday was just a day of hanging out and stuff. My mother always made flounder too. So we had that. And in terms of our adult years, you know, you never keep the same traditions. But you know, when our kids were young, we sort of would light an advent wreath and read a Bible verse or something until they didn’t want to do that anymore. Which happens. I have this weird tradition, I always go to an academic conference called the Society of Biblical Literature, also the American Academy of Religion (same thing). Anyway, that’s always the weekend before Thanksgiving, and on the plane ride home I put on my earbuds and that’s when I start listening to Christmas music. That’s my little tradition and I really look forward to it because I have all these Christmas songs and carols and things like that. And I have like 15 that are my favorite. So I usually play that on a loop, you know, for the trip home, and that gets me into it. And then when I come home, that’s when I put up the outside Christmas lights. So I just, I don’t know, I do those kinds of things and it feels like it’s almost a liturgy. You know, it really is. It’s almost a liturgy and that’s what I like doing. And then, you know, usually, we’ve transitioned to Christmas morning, but of course, now, you know, the kids aren’t in the house anymore so they do their own thing, but it winds up being traveling at Christmas time. That’s what you do. 

Jared  

Mhmm.

Pete  

So stuff like that. I mean, you know, there’s certain ways of decorating the house, you know, things like that. But yeah, that’s sort of what Christmas means to me. [Laughs]

Jared  

Yeah. So heartwarming. I feel like we need a hearth.

Pete  

We do have a wood burning stove. So we do that. Yeah.

Jared  

Yeah. Well, let me see, for me, as you were talking I had these flashbacks because I like how you did that in terms of, from when you were a kid and then with your, with your kids, older.

And so growing up for us a big thing was, it had to be a real tree. 

Pete  

Oh, yeah. 

Jared  

I think my parents had a, you know, the thought of “Well it’s easier, it’s cheaper, we could just…” I think we almost like had a riot on our hands. 

Pete  

Yeah, like, Jesus had a real tree.

Jared  

Exactly!

Pete  

So, you know, why would you do that? 

Jared  

Exactly. And I thought my family were Christians and then they suggested a fake tree. I was like, Oh my gosh, I don’t know. 

Pete  

[Laughing]

Jared  

So yeah. And then you mentioned music—I wasn’t going to share this because I hadn’t thought of it. But when you said music—at our house, Christmas was the time that you got this tape out. And it was a mixtape, and it was put out by Marlboro, the cigarette company. And my parents smoked, so we got this tape—I guess that’s what you did for marketing back then. I guess to sell more cigarettes, you gave out cassette tapes of Christmas songs. I don’t know. But that was like our soundtrack to Christmas. We got it out, put the cassette tape in and thus you could begin Christmas. And then for me a little later, mine was a particular album by Trans Siberian Orchestra. 

Pete  

Oh, yeah. 

Jared  

And that was my soundtrack. That was my way to rebel against the Marlboro cassette tape. 

Pete  

Yeah.

Jared  

I was like, well, my Christmas is Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Pete  

That’s a really great soundtrack. 

Jared  

Yeah. 

Pete  

I listened to some of that too, so.

Jared  

Yeah, it was good. 

Pete  

You know, the thing is, though, that I mean, if you guys will indulge me—there’s one memory I didn’t mention. But we always have stockings hanging over the fireplace. How original is that, right? Just don’t get them too close to the fire because they burn up. Anyway, so what we did when the kids were young, we would go to church Christmas Eve, and the stockings were empty when we left for church. And then one of us would say, like, “Oh, gosh, I forgot my wallet!” We’d go run in and fill the stockings. And so we’d get home and say, “Oh, I wonder if Santa was here.” Right? Of course he was. Like [Laughing] I remember Eric, when he was like, maybe eight, “How did this happen?” He still hadn’t figured it out. But we broke the news to him a couple of years later, but that’s—

Yeah. It’s just, I don’t know. I don’t know what it is about Christmas—for some people it’s a very, very difficult holiday, and just to acknowledge that. For many people, it’s like the warmest time of the year. I don’t know why, but it is. It’s just I think it’s so deeply ingrained in American culture, Western culture, perhaps—I don’t know. 

Jared  

Yeah, well, and I would be remiss if I didn’t also share the other part of our tradition growing up, you know, more conservative evangelical. And that is the idea of Jesus as the “real” reason for the season. That was often said in our house, which is interesting, because, you know, it wasn’t liturgical. It wasn’t like, oh, we follow the Twelve Days of Christmas, and we really follow Advent, and you know, going to church…and it wasn’t liturgical. That’s not what it meant that Jesus was the reason for the season. It was more like making sure that we would be disappointed if the K-Mart employee said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Like that’s kind of the stuff. Which is interesting now, seeing a broader view of the church, where a lot of the church—It’s funny that Jesus was the reason for the season, but that, for me that was always disconnected from the church. We didn’t do a lot of church stuff for Christmas. It was just a culture war idea.

Pete  

Yes. Right. Exactly. Right. 

Jared  

That’s what it means. 

Pete  

Christmas getting wrapped up in the culture wars. 

Jared  

Which is interesting, because then there were like millions of Christians who were like, actively celebrating liturgically this Christmas season, which, you know, we didn’t do. I think a couple of years we made a birthday cake for Jesus or something, which I think it was like early 90s Evangelical Christian thing to do for Christmas.

Pete  

We never did that. No. Oh, you know what! We sang happy birthday to Jesus. That’s what we did. Oh god…I remember now. 

Jared  

[Laughing]

Pete  

Oh, no. [Laughing embarrassedly]

Jared, we need a therapist here on hand as we go through this! [Laughing]

Jared  

[Laughing] I mean, it makes sense, again, it is a blending of traditions, right? Like, okay, are we celebrating the birth of Jesus? Well, what do we do in 20th century America for birthdays? We make a cake and sing happy birthday!

So, you know, it’s this merging of these—

Pete  

Yeah. 

Contextualization, as they call it, so yeah.

Jared  

Right, right, yeah. And now that our kids are older, you know, we did also the Advent thing, wreath and calendars and stuff like that, but they’ve kind of grown out of that. And for us, you know, one thing that I actually appreciate for us is we haven’t really focused too much on presents. Because I also when I was in my 20s, and even into my 30s, there was a sense that for, I think, for a lot of moms in particular, Christmas is a very stressful time. 

Pete  

Yes. Oh, gosh. 

Jared  

Because it’s like gifts for the teachers, gifts for your friends, Christmas parties, you have to go to, getting gifts, it’s a lot to—there’s a lot of expectation for what it is. And I just kind of wanted out of that rat race. And so we just didn’t do those things because it just seemed stressful, and we didn’t want it to be a stressful time. 

Pete  

That’s a really good point. It is stressful. 

Jared  

Yeah. And I think for a lot of people, that’s part of what they don’t like about it, is like these expectations, and the stress.

Pete  

And that people are alone! Again, I mean the stress and the expectations that you’re not fulfilling, you just have to take ownership of your life and not buy into that. But it’s hard. You know, this is all around us.

Jared  

It’s tricky. Yeah. Because there are a lot of social pressures. And that’s why, you know, for me, I hear that a lot from women who tend to carry a lot more of that function in the household anyway and then for Christmas, it’s like amped up. 

Pete  

Yeah. 

Jared  

And there’s a lot more expectation to do even more, and that can just be not life giving.

Pete  

Not that we have to answer the question, but I always wonder why is that? Like, why do we do that to ourselves? And maybe fitting in or something being a part of stuff, you know, not the fear of being left out?

Jared  

Yeah, well, and not wanting to disappoint people.

Pete  

Yeah. But we’ve set up these expectations where people would be disappointed.

Jared  

Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. It’s like over time you build expectations, and then it’s like, to drop out of that is to disappoint someone.

Pete  

I hate Christmas.

Jared  

[Laughing] Oh my gosh. This just took a turn, a tight turn. 

Pete  

Folks, I don’t hate Christmas. But I wish I would…Every year, I mean, I remember we would say, like, “We just need to simplify Christmas.” It never happened. 

Jared  

Really? 

Pete  

Maybe you bought a few fewer things. 

Jared  

[Hums in agreement]

Pete  

But it never really happened. Like, “Let’s not get any presents. Let’s just give the money to a homeless shelter.” But we never got around to doing that. Because I think the pressure to conform was too much.

Jared  

Yeah, I would say, you know, we did—it helps that I don’t feel like we ever did buy into it. I think if we had done it for a while and then wanted to simplify, that would have been really hard. Because you’re like taking things away.

Pete  

[Hums in agreement]

Jared  

With our kids, we just didn’t expect…I mean, we just didn’t do a lot for gifts and stuff like that, because we didn’t want it to be about consumerism and like getting a bunch of stuff. But what that did remind me of, the worst two gifts I ever got from a family member. Just in case family members are listening to this, I’ll keep it anonymous. 

Pete  

[Laughing]

Jared  

But they’ll know. But the two worst was; one, when I was like eight, someone gave me a card that said, “I donated your money to…” like a nonprofit. Like…It wasn’t a homeless thing. It was like an overseas thing like an Evangelical charitable organization. And I’m like, “I’m eight, like, I’m not going to understand that.” Like, you actually say, I’m going to be grateful for that?

Pete  

You don’t have enough guilt yet to feel good about that. Right? 

Jared  

No! Exactly. I was so bummed, I was kind of pissed, actually. And then, and then the same family member, a couple of years later, I was like, probably 12 or 13, got me like Ninja Turtle soap from like, the dollar store. And I was like a teenager. I was like, “What am I supposed to do with this?” 

Pete  

I dont…Thank you? What do I do? 

Jared  

Yeah, so yeah. Have you gotten any terrible gifts?

Pete  

I do remember getting socks once from somebody. I was like, “Okay, this is it.” 

[Both laughing]

We all have to have that experience once in our lives, you know? And once I got a book! I mean, my mom, she meant well, it’s just a book like…I didn’t know what it was like, I don’t read books anyway at the age of 12. And especially this one. It’s like…I think my mom was trying to help me. Once she got me cassette tapes of Christmas music that I’ll never listen to. I just…But they meant well, I think she was trying to help me in life or something, expand my horizons. But anyway, yeah, I’ve got a slew of things that I didn’t like. But generally I do have good memories of getting things, of being a good consumer. 

Jared  

Yeah. Okay, well, then before we move on to the Bible part of our episode, what was your favorite Christmas gift you ever got>

Pete  

Oh my… I really wanted, as a kid, I wanted to have a pool table. And we couldn’t because our house was too small, and you need, you need room. 

Jared  

Yeah, for sure. You almost have to have like a room for it. 

Pete  

You have to have like a 20×20 room. We just didn’t have that—I think our house wass 20×20—But anyway, I got though, a small make-believe pool table once, that was a bumper pool. And it was like instead of cues, you have this thing you hold in your hand and it’s spring loaded, and you push the thing back and you press a button. And then boom and then it kicks it out. And that was a nice gift. And we also got a not-really-good air hockey table once, and I loved air hockey. So I mean, those are, those are gifts I remember and it’s all good. It gets to a point, it’s like they’re all just memories and part of who you’ve been. That’s all.

Jared  

Yeah, that’s funny, you saying that. I remember getting probably those same gifts, air hockey tables. Yeah, I always loved that stuff. Yeah, well, my favorite, for sure, that blew all the others out—was when I was 16—so my mom and I share a love of Tarheel basketball. 

Pete  

Oh!

Jared  

And “shared” because I was indoctrinated by my mom from a very young age to love Tarheel basketball. So, you know, middle school, I was like, obsessed. 

Pete  

That’s North Carolina University?

Jared  

North Carolina, University of North Carolina.

Pete  

For people who are not into Tarheels. 

Jared  

Yeah, sorry, North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Basketball. 

Pete  

Yeah. 

Jared  

And I was really into it. In middle school, high school, tried to watch every game, and yeah, woke up for my 16th Christmas…Because I wanted to go to University North Carolina because of the basketball team. 

Pete  

Oh, wow, okay. 

Jared  

And, but for my 16th Christmas, I woke up to—I went into the living room and under the tree was just this like—

Pete Enns

Dean Smith?

Jared  

A plastic— “Dean Smith” [chuckling]

Pete  

[Laughing]

Jared  

He was just there to greet me. No, a plastic plane. And I was like, “I’m 16, why am I getting a plastic plane?” And my mom got tickets for us to go fly—it was my first trip east of the Mississippi, because I grew up in Texas. I’d never been east of the Mississippi. We flew to Chapel Hill and watched them play the Maryland basketball team. 

Pete  

Wow!

Jared  

Like that spring. 

Pete  

That’s cool. 

Jared  

Yeah, that was really cool.

[Ad break]

Jared  

All right. So!

Pete

So! 

Jared

I mean, part of the reason we wanted to talk about our traditions and what that is for us, is to talk about this distinction between maybe the official tradition or celebration of holidays, or of anything religious, right? Christmas is a religious holiday at this point, you know, probably pagan before it was Christian. 

But there’s like, the official celebration, the liturgy, the Advent, “this is how we, as Christians, globally celebrate Christmas.” And then there’s like, the real people stuff, you know? Like Santa Claus. I don’t see Santa Claus in the Bible. But there’s, even for me growing up, there was a lot more Santa Claus than there was church stuff and so we just wanted to talk about that. Because there’s some parallels with what we see in our Bibles versus kind of the real, what actually happened in Israelite culture, what was going on? And we make the assumption that the Bible reflects that. But archaeologists tell us something different.

Pete  

So.

Pete  

Right. There’s an interesting analogy there. But I mean, I think of Christmas as—If you were to ask people, what’s Christmas about? I imagine you might get a cluster of answers that have a lot of overlap with Jesus’s birth, and Bethlehem, and they would tell part of the Christmas story and things like that. But the way people actually celebrate it…it’s just all over the place. You know, I mean for us, speaking of Christmas tradition—what marked Christmas? Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, right? That claymation thing, you know, whatever that technique is called—or Frosty the Snowman, or Charlie Brown Christmas. That was powerfully meaningful to us, you know, and some people watched He-Man and She-Ra Christmas and things like that, you know. But those, for us, that was as meaningful as any other things that we did as—

Jared  

I think movies in general. I mean, for our family, the beginning of Christmas is always Elf. We watch Elf.

Pete  

Oh, yeah? Okay.

Jared  

Yeah, so. Yeah, I think movies really have a lot, I think, of impact around Christmas.

Pete  

Right. And The Bells of Saint Mary? That was Bing Crosby.

Jared  

Yeah, It’s a Wonderful Life. I mean, there’s a lot!

Pete  

There’s a lot. There’s a lot. So I mean, that kind of stuff was important, and people have different traditions that they do, different things that have nothing to do with “official Christmas” whatsoever. You know, I think—And again, it’s a little bit reductionist, as you say “official Christmas” because that is a moving target too. 

But basically, you know, when you look at the trend, the Christian tradition historically, ice skating isn’t part of it, you know? Or watching TV or movies, not part of it, or Black Friday is not a part of it, all that kind of stuff. You know, it’s a very consumerist society we live in obviously. So, it struck me years ago that there is sort of the official thing about Christmas which is floating up in the air someplace, but it touches down in ways that’s very diverse and very weird and oftentimes is not at all a part of official Christmas. And in fact may even be very much in conflict with it. 

Jared  

[Hums in agreement]

Pete  

And for me, I can see in just the Bible as a whole how, you know, in the Hebrew Bible, in the Old Testament, you have the condemnation of idols like Asherah, right? And these little figurines that—Well, we know about because they were found, they were discovered, which is sort of the point I’m trying to make here—But the worshiping of these idols is something that the biblical prophets say, “No, you don’t do that. You eradicate that.” And so the official religion is no idols at all. But you know, they found hundreds and hundreds of these little figurines in like seventh century Judah. Which is really late, you know? The exile is coming in a few decades, right? And that suggests that there’s a real disjunction between the official religion—what you’re told you’re supposed to do—And then what people were actually doing on the ground.

Jared  

Yeah, and for me, just the practical import of that was such a huge relief to recognize that fact. Because I grew up with an understanding that the Bible, that religious people—the ancient Jews, which I of course projected as Christians, because I was young and I just thought we were all kind of the same thing—but they were perfect back then. Like they did it all right, they were organized—kind of like a moment of, if we could just get back to the good old days. And then to realize, like, no, there’s always been this like, projection of what, the ideal, the law, or the model that we’re supposed to follow. And then real life, and for someone who likes to be a perfectionist, or kind of is very intense about trying to get to that perfection, or that idealistic state, it was a huge relief to say, “Oh, even back then they didn’t really practice the official thing?” It just is helpful. And then to see that import today, whether it’s Christmas—which I think is a very innocent example—but I think we could draw parallels to other examples of, we, this almost came out of my mouth. I almost said, “Well, we all fall short,” right? Little Romans, like glitch. “We all fall short of the glory of God,” but it’s like we all fall short of the ideal thing. So maybe that’s okay, maybe that’s not the point.

Pete  

And the ideal may even be a fantasy too. 

Jared  

And the ideal may be, as we learned from Joel Baden this season and some others, maybe there’s some propaganda or some—maybe it’s not as pure of heart as we think it is, that ideal.

Pete  

And you know, I think about how 2000 years from now people are aware of the official tradition of Christmas. But then, yeah, “I guess all people back then went to church and did all that kind of stuff.” But then they start digging, you know, archaeologically or whatever, and they said, “No, they’re watching He-Men and She-Ra,” or “they’re watching Rudolph,” or “they’re getting trees and decorations. What the heck’s that?”

Jared  

“They worship this fat dude with a beard…”

Pete  

Yeah! All that kind of stuff. 

Jared  

“So maybe this is how they’ve depicted God back then?”

Pete  

Exactly. “That’s supposed to be some sort of a cult figure here, this Santa…” And it actually sort of is but the thing is that it’s through archaeology that we have learned what religion on the ground might have looked like for people. And again, the disjunction between the official and the non-official. You know, some people have had a lot of sympathy for the Israelites, saying they were just being ancient people at this point, you know? You know, it says, “You shall have no other gods before me,” but that might not say, “You can’t have some alongside or maybe hangin’ out in the back.” 

Jared  

Well, and when there’s drought going on… 

Pete  

Yeah! 

Jared  

And there’s this God, like the Asherah, of fertility, that may actually help us eat…

Pete  

It worked for my neighbor! And we want to fit in.

Jared  

Right. We want to fit in and we want to eat.

Pete  

Right, and we want to eat, right. 

Jared  

So yeah.

Pete  

Right. So, I just find that to be very, very interesting. That the official and the real don’t always sync very well, you know? And there is something there, there’s a lesson to be learned about the nature of the Bible itself, because of who wrote it. And the people who wrote, could write, and they wrote, right? Not everybody.

Jared  

Right.

Pete  

And they had reasons for writing what they did, and compiling things the way that they did—And not sinister reasons, but they just had reasons to do that. And here we have this Bible and, you know, I think sometimes we walk around thinking that people in the Old Testament read the Bible. “We do, I’m sure they do too…” No, they didn’t have a Bible. So, how do you get these traditions? Well, you get them through like normal means that just organically arise, perhaps. But then the Bible is written, but it’s also edited, and it’s also compiled at a much later time, and so at that point, we’re getting a later official version. Or maybe even that version is a little bit Pollyanna, a little bit pie-in-the-sky, like “this is how we envision our story.”

Jared  

[Hums in agreement] 

Pete  

You know, things like—I mean, not to get off track, but—Things like the tabernacle are probably envisioned by later Israelites with a temple ideology. And projecting that back into a wilderness period that’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years ago. And so…

Jared  

It makes me think of….I work with a lot of, in my other life, I work with a lot of family businesses, and we talk about their values. And it’s funny that a lot of people—I’m very big on this, because a lot of companies or families or whatever, when I ask, “What are your values?” Most of the time, what they’ll tell me is their aspirational values, what they wish were true about themselves. 

Pete  

Right, yeah.

Jared  

The thing about companies, the funny part is, you can actually look and see…

Pete  

What they actually do.

Jared  

What they actually do! And you’re like, “Wait, you’re saying you value this, but I don’t see the evidence for that.” But it’s interesting that people’s innate, initial thing when they say, “What do you value?” They tell me what they wish they valued and that sounds similar. Like when we’re writing these things down, we’re sort of, we’re geared toward the hope or the future or the like, aspirational part of what we wish were the case. Almost as if we write it down this way, it becomes true somehow. 

Pete  

Well, James Kugel—who we’ve had on the podcast—he said something once about how the Bible is the Israelites on their best behavior. 

Jared  

Yeah, exactly.

Pete  

But the reality of it might be more dirty. In fact, there may be agendas on the part of the biblical writers to clean up some of these things. Like, you know, you’re not going to have books like 1 and 2 Kings that are railing against idols in Israel, and Baal, and Asherah. The only reason the railing against this is because it’s happening. Now, you might say, “Well, yeah, but it’s wrong.” Okay, that’s fine. But just understand the disjunction between the people on—the farmers and the peasants, and the elite people who could actually read and write who were telling these stories, who, I mean, not to sound like Marxist or something but there is a power dimension too to being able to write stories and narratives where people can be controlled. So we’re sort of ruining Christmas right now, or at least the Bible a little bit again, you know. And I’m not suggesting that we’ve just explained the entire Bible, its propaganda and its power moves.

Jared  

It’s more that there’s a factor that you have to account for. 

Jared  

And how it accounts, more or less, it depends maybe even on each book. 

Pete  

Yeah.

Pete  

Right.

Jared  

In terms of the influence of these sorts of things. But I think it’s just—recognize that these dynamics, and these pieces are at play. 

Pete  

Well speaking of which, should we talk about the Christmas story? 

Jared  

Yeah.

Pete  

We want to get into that or…? 

Jared  

Yeah, I think we…Yeah, I did, I kind of wanted to start with talking about this real on the ground practice, versus, sort of the idealized version of things. This past year, I taught junior high at my church once a month. I was the teacher for junior high, and I got the like, I got the class right before Christmas. And so what I did was I put this PowerPoint together and I just put up like 30 different depictions of the birth narrative of Jesus in art. 

Pete

Yeah.

Jared  

You know, like medieval, ancient and then up to, there were some current ones, but from different cultures, like some African depictions, Asian, South American. And it just kind of showed…We just went through it and we just started pointing out…We read the birth narrative first, out of the Bible, so they had like a baseline and then we just started looking at like, 30 pictures. And I wanted them to point out where there are differences. Like, “Well, we didn’t read that. That’s not in the story.” And then at the end, though, we talked about why would they maybe have done that. Not to make fun of the medieval theologian or artists who put Jesus in front of a castle. There were plenty of those.

Pete  

Yeah.

Pete  

With nobility watching or something. 

Jared  

Yeah, exactly! A lot of nobility. Yeah, it was very strange. It’s like, “What? Why are we now in like, the 11th century France all of a sudden? Why is Jesus in 11th century France?” But we talked about why maybe would they do that? But it was fascinating to see all of these pieces and to have kind of light bulbs go off for these kids of like, “Oh.” They never thought of it. But then their first thought was, “Oh, these guys are dumb. Like they’re wrong. Like, why would you do that?”

Pete  

“How could they get it so wrong?” 

Jared  

Yeah. And then because the latest ones, though, were 21st century American depictions. And then they’re like, “Oh, we do that too. We do it.”

Pete  

White Jesus. [Laughing]

Jared  

So yeah, let’s maybe talk about some of those…

Pete  

That is a great lesson, by the way, to teach kids. 

Jared  

Yeah, I think it’s great, I mean, maybe even for those of you who are listening, just like go Google these depictions.

Pete  

In my opinion, this is how I explain that phenomenon—and you probably did this with your kids—but it’s natural to bring the ancient story into your present moment and to present it in ways that make sense to you. 

I think some of these art paintings were commissioned by rich people, and they put themselves in it because like, they’re weird, but still. You know, we want to, actualize—That’s a term, actualize it—to make it present for us and so we depict things in ways we understand. That’s very, very natural.

Jared  

And I don’t think it’s “wrong” to do that. I think it’s just—know that you’re doing right. It’s the awareness to say, so that you’re not saying that this depiction is actually how it was.

Pete  

It’s like interpreting the Bible. We do the same thing.

Jared  

Exactly.

Pete  

Right? So.

Jared  

That’s kind of the object lesson here. 

Pete  

Right, yeah. And, you know, I think that the way Jesus is depicted in the four gospels illustrates the point too. You know, because only two of them even bother to have birth narratives and they tell them very differently, in ways that they’re not utterly incompatible but they have two very different…You know, Matthew and Luke have birth narratives, Mark doesn’t bother. And John’s too concerned about talking about Creation.

Jared  

And John has this…mystical…. 

Pete  

Exactly! It’s very mystical and philosophical, right? And it’s a whole different thing. But, you know, Matthew and Luke tell the story differently and the reason they do is for the same reason people paint these portraits of Madonna and child, or whatever, because they’re trying to say something to the community around them.

[Ad break]

Jared  

Can you maybe—let’s just talk about a few of those differences and then let’s talk about the narrative, and maybe how we understand that narrative in a way—there’s some inaccuracies historically.

Pete  

Yeah.

Jared  

If you go to your Hallmark store and buy a nativity set, there’s a lot of inaccuracies in that depiction, from the biblical narrative. 

Pete  

Exactly right. 

Jared  

But let’s talk first about not the cultural disconnect, but even the biblical disconnect between Matthew and Luke.

Pete  

I mean, just you know, briefly, Matthew’s Gospel of the birth narrative. That’s where you get the wise men. Not three wise men, and we don’t know their names either, you know, despite what Christmas cards say—so that’s, that’s one of those…we’ll get into that. But—

Jared  

Yeah, I always love the old adage, “We Three Kings of Orient are.”

Pete

Yeah.

Jared

There’s not three, they’re not kings, and they’re not from the Orient. [Laughing]

Pete  

Exactly right [laughing].

Sorry we ruined that Christmas carol for you, but…

So, you have that and you have this is the Gospel where Matthew, where Herod massacres the children and that’s why the wise men (or the Magi is what they’re properly called)…

Jared  

Yeah, can we stop there for a second? Because I love—the great irony for me lately is that we call them “wise men.” But there’s a case to be made that they’re also astrologers.

Pete  

Yeah. Magicians. 

Jared  

Reading the stars?

Pete  

Exactly right. Right.

Jared  

You know, so it just is funny to me that, you know, in conservative circles, like tarot readings, and all of that like witchcraft and like, are completely not okay. 

Pete  

Yeah. 

Jared  

And then like, the birth narrative starts with people who read the stars. 

Pete  

And I think you can say “wise men” from an ancient sense. 

Jared  

Right.

Pete  

Maybe in an Eastern sense. 

Jared  

Yeah. 

Pete  

And, you know, that’s the big context that we don’t have our kids do in the Christmas pageants. Right? Like, “here, go be an astrologer.” 

Jared  

Well, and it leads you, I mean, it’s just such—on point. It’s like, if you read the stars, that leads you to Jesus.

Pete  

Yeah. Right.

Jared  

[Laughing]

Pete  

Well, yeah. 

Jared  

Alright. Anyway.

Pete  

Although that’s…well that’s…

Jared  

Keep going on. So, Matthew has the astrologers, but Matthew has the Herod account, which is…

Pete  

The Herod account, which is to kill the infants up to two years old. And—

Jared  

And that’s because the wise men have told Herod that there’s this person born that is going to be a king, and Herod freaks out and says…

Pete  

Right.

Jared  

…”Kill the babies.”

Pete  

And that suggests that these wise men, the Magi—Leaving aside historical things, just the logic of the narrative, it suggests that they didn’t show up the night Jesus was born, they showed up maybe sometime later and then they found him. And that’s why Herod for two years old or younger, “those are the ones you kill.”

Jared  

Right. Yeah. So, let’s just do both of these at the same time, because you’ve mentioned it now. If you’re following along with your nativity set from Hallmark, there isn’t necessarily three of these Magi. We only assume that because there’s three gifts, and they weren’t there the night Jesus was born. So any set that has three Magi and a giant star, it doesn’t follow the narrative of what we have. He might have been a toddler, Jesus might have been up to two, and it was probably then not where Jesus was born but where he lived. And so, yeah, carry on.

Pete  

So it gets mushed up a little bit even in the biblical story, but that’s, you know, it’s almost like reading between the lines a little bit—what’s going on here? And also the Nativity set, if you have angels singing you need to get them out of there, at least that’s not Matthew’s story. That’s Luke’s story. And Luke has, you know, this is when Cornelius was governor and, you know, they came down for a census for taxation, which historians will tell you is highly, highly suspect for a number of reasons. Leaving that aside for now, but…You also have, this is where Gabriel appears to Mary.

In Matthew’s Gospel it’s an angel appears to Joseph in a dream—Joseph has a couple of dreams where he’s told what to do. But now it’s Gabriel talking to Mary, announcing the birth, and that’s when she visits her cousin/relative, Elizabeth with John the Baptist and this is where, also, the angels appear to the shepherds, you know, the Linus moment in Charlie Brown Christmas, you know, “Here’s what the meaning of Christmas is.” And he reads from Luke. So, of course, in our Christmas pageants are Christmas cards, these things are all sort of mushed together as one big thing.

Jared  

Right. Consolidated so they can be in one scene, right?

Pete  

Right. And you know, not to get into this too much, but Matthew’s gospel very much has a Moses connection. Jesus is Moses 2.0 so to speak.

Jared  

That’s what I was gonna mention because Matthew—which I think we run over often in the birth narrative—is they go to Egypt.

Pete  

Right.

Jared  

Jesus actually lives in Egypt for a while.

Pete  

And comes back out.

Jared  

And comes back, you know, to fulfill Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I’ve called my son,” which there’s a lot to talk about there. But there’s also the Moses connection.

Pete  

The Moses connection, which is, you know, “Joseph has told me in a dream that those who want to kill you or killed Jesus, have died. And now it’s safe to go back.” And that’s almost verbatim in Exodus chapter 4, where Moses is hiding in Midian and “it’s okay to go back now because all those who were seeking your life are dead.” And read any commentary on Matthew, they’ll say that this is very intentional, right? So you have two stories of a threat to children in the Moses story, right? And now on the Jesus story, and it’s sort of like they’re playing off of each other a little bit.

Jared  

You’re supposed to be saying, “Oh, this reminds me of someone else.” 

Pete  

Exactly, right. Yeah.

Jared  

So Jesus is like Moses.

Pete  

So Jesus, I mean, there’s a lot of Moses stuff going on in the Gospel of Matthew in general. And then Luke is—the way I interpret it, Luke—is a little bit different. He’s not really making a Moses connection. 

Jared  

It’s a little more political, one might say. 

Pete  

It’s a little more political. Yeah, he’s more…The language that Gabriel uses to Mary and the language we see in the angelic announcement to the shepherds, has been compared to something called the Priene Calendar Inscription—which is from 9 BC, it’s before Jesus’s birth—celebrating the birth of the god Augustus who brings peace to the world, and whose birth is the beginning of the good news. Which is how Mark’s gospel starts—the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. So the suggestion there is that, well, it’s Jesus’s birth that truly gives good news. It’s Jesus’s birth. Jesus is better than Caesar.

Jared  

Yeah, it’s poking at the Roman Empire much more in Luke.

Pete  

That’s really what it boils down to. 

Jared  

Which follows again, this isn’t just…We’re not just making this up willy-nilly, it’s thematic throughout the book, too.

Pete  

Right. 

Jared  

It’s confirmed again and again, that this is the theme in the same way that Matthew again and again, Sermon on the Mount, and other things are connecting him to Moses.

Pete  

And I guess there’s some things that we believe today about Christmas that we think are tied to the biblical texts, but they’re not. And the one, the big one, I think, is the merging of the two stories—Which, okay. You got to have kids have parts in the plays and the more the better, like how many untold number of angels if you want to.

Jared  

And the animals. Angels and animals, you can have enumerable. 

Pete  

And you could, if you really want to be risky, have like 10 Magi or 100. It doesn’t matter, you can have as many as you want, folks. It doesn’t say three.

Jared  

It doesn’t. Yeah, that’s right. 

Pete  

They brought three gifts, doesn’t mean there’s three of them. And we don’t know their names. It’s not Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, whatever their names are. We don’t know the names. There are no names, there aren’t three of them. Just drop that. But you merge them together, which clearly just sidesteps the theologies of Matthew and Luke—but of course, they’re kids, who cares—But still. Grownups, you know? And we expect to see, like, “Why aren’t they all together? Why?” There’s not even an understanding that they’re actually two different birth stories given in Matthew and Luke. But you know, as adult readers, we should respect. As kids we don’t have to, but it’s just part of the whole, I don’t know, the fantasy of celebrating Christmas and what we think of. You know?

Jared  

I do, but, if I can be a little bit more cynical than that, I think it’s also this assumption that the Bible speaks with one voice. So it kind of doesn’t matter. 

Pete  

Yes, right.

Jared  

“We can pull it from Matthew, we can pull it from Luke, it doesn’t matter where we are.” And I think that’s just disrespectful to what we actually have in the text. Because Matthew has a coherent story for a reason. It’s there for a reason. And so is Luke for a reason. It feels like we’re just, not willy-nilly, but I think it does betray this deeper understanding of what is the Bible, you know, what can we do with it? I mean, if it’s all from the same source, and it all says the same thing, then by all means, put them together.

Pete  

Another thing is, you know, this is not a huge point, but the whole thing of Mary on a donkey. There’s no donkey in the Gospel stories, you know? So, now the thing is that, okay, she’s preggers. So, you know, maybe it’s reasonable that she’s not walking, but still, like it’s an—

Jared  

It’s still a filling in the gap.

Pete  

Filling in the gap, right? And we tend to do that with the stories, we fill in the gap, and not just in how we tell them, but how that’s depicted in art. You mentioned that before, you’ve got all these different…When you like—Here’s the story, any story of the Bible, and somebody tells you draw a picture of it, you’re gonna have to make some decisions.

Jared  

Like Mary has to get from A to B, somehow. 

Pete  

She’s got to…Exactly.

Jared  

It doesn’t specify. She could be walking, could be a donkey, we don’t know.

Pete  

Right, right. 

I was just talking with some of my students at Eastern, we’re going through Genesis and the story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22. And the story is so laconic. It’s just so…

Jared  

Which means it has holes in it.

Pete  

It has holes in it.

Jared  

Use normal words, Pete.

Pete  

That is a normal word, they can look it up.

Jared  

Laconic is not normal. The Bible for Normal People.

Pete  

Google it.

Jared  

I’m gonna buzz you. [Makes buzz sound]

Pete  

I know, you should, I’m sorry. I’m a bad person. 

Jared  

[Laughing]

Pete  

So. But there’s so many holes in the story, unexplained things. And the question always comes up, “Did Isaac just go along with this? I mean, like there’s no complaint at all.” And you look at art and you see some where Isaac—who’s depicted as like, as a teenager at this point, he might not be that old—But so he’s lying there, just very calm and serene, like, “I’m going to do God’s will here.” There are others where Isaac is like, screaming his head off, “Dad, what are you doing?” And the thing is that, like, how do you depict that? And so in art, you have to make decisions. And in Christmas cards, you have to make decisions. And in Christmas carols, you have to make decisions. And we’re always having to make decisions from the stories about what to depict, even if they’re not really anchored in the text itself.

Jared  

And some of it too, is a lack of understanding. And this is where, you know, making the case for why it’s important to have biblical scholarship and to try to understand the context and archaeology. I’m thinking of the idea that “there’s no room for Jesus at the inn.” You know, growing up, I would have pictured like a motel, honestly.

Pete  

Right.

Jared  

Because I didn’t have a context like, “What do you mean, inn? It says inn. Like, okay.” Instead of probably what the case was—which, you know, archaeologists have kind of shown us what houses in that part of the world were like at the time of Jesus’s birth—and you had your animals in the house with you, you know, on the, on the first floor, and then you stayed above them.

Pete  

And stayed a little warm because of their poop. 

Jared  

Right. Exactly. Exactly. 

[Both laughing] 

Jared  

Yeah, that was good. So, even that, understanding, because, again, I can’t imagine how many theological points have been made over the last 50 years about, “There was no room for Jesus at the inn and so he had to be born out far away from everyone else.” So it’s just not accurate.

Pete  

For us, it’s like, you got to sleep in the garage.

Jared  

Right. You got to sleep in the garage. And we just happen to keep our animals in the garage.

Pete  

Right. Right! Yeah, some people do actually. But it’s like a house where you have the garage is attached. 

Jared  

Right. 

Pete  

And there’s, there’s an apartment on top. 

Jared  

Yeah. 

Pete  

That’s more what this thing is. And also, the whole thing about “in a manger” is highly suspect what that even means. But we got this thing like a feeding trough, or something. Maybe, I don’t know. But I mean, some of these things, we just don’t know, we have to fill in the gaps. Sometimes it’s not even there.

Jared  

Some of it we kind of do know, is my point too. But this is why it’s important to be educated on some of this. I mean, like, I don’t want to oversell that. But I think it is important.

Pete  

Which amounts to having a Bible with decent notes. That’s really what that amounts to, if people are interested it’s not about…

Jared  

Well, and supporting actual scholarship that’s not just theologically driven, where we’re just going to baptize our interpretation that we’ve held for the last three or 400 years, or last 100 years.

Pete  

Right.

Jared  

And just defend that. Because, archaeology, if it’s going to be a field that produces real knowledge, it can’t be beholden to faith statements and things that we have to just confirm. We have to be open to whether it’s archaeologists finding, you know, innocent things like that maybe first century houses didn’t look like that. It may be a little bit more risque to say they worshiped Asherahs, probably in the day to day practice of religion. It may be more controversial to say, Jericho probably didn’t fall the way the Bible says it did. Maybe the taxation and census the way Luke presented didn’t happen. So we have to be open to all that.

Pete  

And there are things that scholarship can actually help us with there. You know, I mean, just hard data, so to speak, right?

Jared  

Exactly. Exactly. 

Pete  

Not everything is hard data, but some things are and yeah, I think this is, again, this is a lesson for just the Bible as a whole and Christmas as a good contextual way to do this, because it’s Christmas time, but it’s illustrating a larger point. 

Jared  

Exactly.

Pete  

Which is not, you know—As a professor of mine said many years ago, it’s not that the Bible is a pack of lies, it’s just that it’s a highly contextual document. And people who look to the Bible for spiritual guidance or sustenance or information, we are invariably going to take those stories and make them our own and have visions of these things. Again, you know, the Christmas card Holy Family, in our part of the world tends to be fairly white. 

Jared  

Right. 

Pete  

Right?

Jared  

[Hums in agreement]

Pete  

And like, on one level, I get it, if it weren’t for the fact that this is the dominant culture, and there were problems with racism in America—But I understand that, you know. I’ve seen once—you know, not to, you know, make fun of Baptists, but why not?—But, you know, conservative Baptists in our area for Vacation Bible school, there was a picture of Jesus…I swear to you, he’s got short, blonde hair, not touching his ears, parted on the side. 

Jared  

No way…

Pete  

I mean, I was—and I looked at it, and I said, “That’s a little bit too far I think.”

Jared  

I know, usually, you at least keep the long hair on Jesus. If you’re going to turn him white.

Pete  

He had short, like, banker hair, but it was blonde! It was a shocking blonde. It was beautiful.

Jared  

[Laughing] Oh my goodness.

Pete  

But you know, again, I look at that and I say that’s wrong. But the principle is not wrong. In fact, it’s universal. And we know that from art, we know that from the history of interpretation of the text. It’s always what we do.

Jared  

Even we do with these, you know, junior-highers in Sunday school, the reason I wanted to bring it up to the present day was to show them other cultures where in Africa, you know, the Madonna and Child, Jesuses there, they are black. And Jesus is dressed in a more African style. And in Asia, same thing, and in South America. And saying, you know, again, there’s some power dynamics and I think that’s important to pay attention to, but also recognize it can be a beautiful thing. It can be, it can be an appropriate thing to say—and this is where, you know, sometimes I feel like on the show, even, we talk out of both sides of our mouth, and I am okay with that—Where it is, we need to respect and be grounded in the scholarship. We need to know that Jesus was not a white person. And we also need to have an imagination, and be creative about how we bring that ancient tradition to our lives today. And I think it’s for me, the reason it’s not disingenuous, or a lack of integrity, is to be fully self aware of what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. That, for me, is the critical issue.

Pete  

So it’s not—what you’re saying, then, it’s not watching He-Man and She-Ra Christmas, right? Is not wrong, because it’s not original. Go ahead and watch it, but understand just what’s happening here. Or maybe it gives you a chance to be like, “I’m not even aware that I’m doing this kind of stuff,” but be more reflective. And some people might say, you know, “I don’t think I want to keep this tradition or that tradition anymore. I want to decide not to do that. Because I want to be…” Maybe not more faithful to like, the original, to the biblical story. Which, it’s impossible to celebrate Christmas, by the way, folks, if all you do is stick with a biblical story, because the church very quickly celebrated it. You know, the Christ Mass, that’s where we get Christmas from—that was what they used to do back in the old days, you know, and that’s why we go to church on Christmas Eve or whatever. So.

Jared  

But the Bible doesn’t actually tell us to celebrate it.

Pete  

But the Bible doesn’t say anything about that. Right? Because, you know, Jesus wasn’t worshiped like that, you know, back in the day. So yeah, I think you’re right. I agree with that. I think it’s a matter of just being introspective about it, and maybe not judging other people’s traditions. And you know, listen, if A Charlie Brown Christmas just makes you happy… 

It brings back memories of childhood. And it’s not like “Christmas is for children!” It’s not that. It’s more like you’re even connecting with your whole soul, and if it’s through that, so be it and that’s fine. And that, that can be a part of this whole process of thinking about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

Jared  

Right. 

Jared  

Well and as Americans—and this may not be true for all of our listeners who are in other cultures that have maybe held on to traditions better than we have…

Pete  

Yeah.

Jared  

For me I’m like, my goodness, just hold on to any tradition.

Jared  

Anything.

Jared  

To help us feel connected to each other and to our past because we have obliterated so much of that. If that’s watching Elf or Charlie Brown Christmas, by all means do it. 

All right, well, that’s kind of everything! I hope we ruined Christmas adequately for everyone.

Pete  

And the way we ruin other things, which is to give a little bit of spark of where to go. 

Jared  

Yeah. 

Pete  

Not too much though.

Jared  

Yeah, we ruin one version of Christmas and hopefully inspire a new one for yourselves.

Pete  

And speaking of inspiration, you know, in a few weeks, we’ll be back. 

Jared  

Yeah. We’ll be back for season seven.

Pete  

Lot of surprises. A lot of fun stuff happening there, folks.

Jared  

See you then, stay tuned!

Pete  

See ya!

[Outro music plays]

Outro  

You’ve just made it through another episode of The Bible for Normal People. Thanks to our listeners who support us each week by rating the podcast, leaving a review, and telling others about our show. We couldn’t have made this amazing episode without the help of our Producers Group: Jeff Paulus, Eric Letasse, Ryan Bond, Lauren O’Connell, Brad Harris, Joel Thompson, Jacqueline Van Beek, Chuck Beam, Joel Herring, and Jerry L. Lewis. As always, you can support the podcast at patreon.com/TheBibleForNormalPeople, where for as little as $3/month you can receive bonus material, be part of an online community, get course discounts and much more. This episode was brought to you by The Bible for Normal People team: Brittany Prescott, Savannah Locke, Stephanie Speight, Tessa Stultz, Nick Striegel, Stephen Henning, Haley Warren, Jessica Shao, and Natalie Weyand.

[Music ends] [Beep signals start of blooper]

Pete

That’s sort of what Christmas means to me.

Jared

So heartwarming. 

Pete

Isn’t it though?

Jared

I feel like we need a herth. Hearth? Herth?

Pete

Hearth, hearth. [Chuckles]

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

One Comment

  • eLarson says:

    Funny that the Baptist Vacation Bible school would choose a picture of Jesus that could be so easily mistaken for a Mormon missionary!

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