The nativity offers an enticing opportunity to discover how words and interpretations have shaped the story and our understanding of it.
Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December?
Adoration of the shepherds (1622) by Gerard van Honthorst/WIkimedia Commons
Before Christmas became child-centred, Father Christmas was the personification of a mid-winter feast of merrymaking for adults – and he brought no presents.
Brendan McDermid/ Reuters
The Christian left has played a strong role in America's history. In this election too, it is not silent.
Detail Da Vinci’s The Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli. Judas seated second right.
Alberto Fernandez Fernandez [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons
Judas has had a 2,000-year raw deal. Here's why it's time for a rethink.
Peter Gertner Crucifixion Walters.
The sources offer an intriguing – and surprising – insight.
It's regarded as a Biblical myth, but what the magi are supposed to have seen is rooted in astronomy.
In the Netherlands, the tradition goes that Sinterklaas lives in Madrid, wears a red clerical robe and a bishop’s mitre, and has servants called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (Black Peters).
The celebration of Christmas has distinct variations around the world, with many of these local traditions arising from particular historical circumstances.
The virgin birth at the heart of Christianity has many corresponding versions in other ancient traditions.
Detail from a panel by Conrad von Soest, 1403. Wikimedia Commons
Biblical scholars and theologians have long discussed, debated and disputed the virgin birth of Jesus, with some arguing that there is no imperative to link it to the doctrine of the Incarnation.
The method used, until recently, by a large proportion of scholars of the New Testament and Christian origins, is flawed.
Traditions about Jesus cannot be separated out into the categories of early and late, primary and secondary, authentic or inauthentic, fact and interpretation. One might as well try and unscramble an omelette.
Square away your personal philosophy now; proof of life beyond earth is coming.
Stargazing image via www.shutterstock.com
Astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets and the hunt is on for life beyond Earth. Once biological neighbors are identified, our planet’s philosophies and religions will need to adapt.