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There were no animals at the Nativity, Pope's new book says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 23rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christmas is coming, but according to Pope Benedict's new book, "Jesus of Nazareth - The Infancy Narratives," the date usually given as the birth of Christ is totally wrong, the fault of a Sixth Century monk. The book also debunks other notions of Christ's birth - it says there were no animals present at the nativity as well.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Benedict says that the birth of Christ is also several years off. The pope's research shows that there was no evidence in the Gospels that cattle and other animals, traditionally pictured in representations of the nativity were actually present.

The pope also debunks the claim that angels sang at the birth, a staple theme of Christmas carols.

The book, to be published in multiple languages in time for Christmas, is the third in a series by the pontiff. The previous two volumes dealt with Jesus' adult life and his public ministry.

Vatican correspondent for the Religion News Service Alessandro Speciale says that the pope was not so much aiming to debunk popular representations. He is just trying to show that the Jesus depicted in the Gospels is a real historical figure, who walked on earth and talked to people like anyone else.

The pope does not suggest that animals usually depicted in art and sculpture should be thrown out of the Nativity scene, Speciale said.

"The pope is a traditional man and he doesn't want people at all to change their traditions," Speciale said.

The 176-page volume, that includes a brief foreword, four chapters and an epilogue, traces Jesus' life up to the age of 12. According to the Gospels, at this age he was presented by his parents in the Temple in Jerusalem, the Vatican said.

The worldwide print run will be more than a million copies. The book's release this will be across 50 countries in Italian, German, Croatian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

The book will be translated into 12 more languages in the coming months for publication in 72 countries in total, the Vatican added.

The Vatican quotes Anthony Valle, a professor of theology, as saying the pope has been open to scientific inquiry in his own study of Jesus' life.

"The pope is not against the historical critical method at all, in fact, he uses it, he appreciates it," Valle said.

He sees the pope as using "both faith and reason" in his efforts to bring the life of Jesus closer.

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