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tv   The Nativity  FOX News  December 24, 2013 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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see you in 2014. >> such a beautiful family. those boys are growing up. thanks for watching "special report," i'm shannon bream. good night from washington and have a very, merry christmas. ♪ ♪ >> christmas eve in manger square at the church of the nativity in bethlehem. the birth of jesus has been celebrated here for 2,000 years. the tradition is celebrated with grand. music and prayer. for christians around the world, this is when god became man and a simple message of peace and love changed the world forever. >> glory to the newborn
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king. every year christians around the world celebrate the birth of their savior with songs of joy and prayers of thanksgiving. hello, everyone, i'm lauren green and welcome to our special, the nativity, fact, fiction, and faith. >> 2,000 years after jesus walked the earth, how much do we really know about the nativity story? is it a complete and true history? is some of it tradition? is any of it myth? we take to you israel and palestine to trace the remarkable story of jesus' birth. you'll see the spot in nazareth where word of a virgin birth first came to a teenage girl. and, a jaw-dropping view of this palace fortress of king her rod the demonic ruler who wanted to kill the new been king. plus, the road to bethlehem was long and dangerous for mary and joseph. but to understand who jesus is, we start where his life began. >> where are we right now? >> well, we are standing in the little town of
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bethlehem. and as you can already see, the little town of bethlehem is now actually a vibrant and thriving city. we are at the heart of the city, which is where the city of jesus' day or actually the jewish village from jesus' time centered itself right here at manger square. >> this is so different from the song. oh little town of bethlehem. how still we see thee lie. >> biblical scholar takes us through the turn of the nativity the site where the gospels tell us jesus was born. >> the wonderful thing about the church of the nativity is that this tradition goes back to the second century when the local people remembered where the families lived. >> bethlehem is located on the edge of the jew judean desert a church has been on this site since the fourth century. >> this is really quite impressive. the palms, the first thing you see right here are the
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columns. explain them. >> the columns are actually from local. many people thought they were marble and imported. they are quarried nearby. local rose colored granite that polishes to a very high sheen and gloss. most of the columns are from the original constantineian church. that means they go back to the fourth century. >> after the roman everywhere per roar transformed to christianity. he sent birth site and in jerusalem where jesus was crucified. of the four new testament gospels are the good news accounts of jesus' life. ministry, death and resurrection. the birth stories are only found in the gospel according to saint mathew and the gospel according to saint luke. >> the christmas story occupies a few verses in matthew, a few more verses in luke. not at all in mark and only hinted at very obliquely in john. >> empty wright is a former
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bishop of the anglican church in england. there is awe and sense and wonder as you go back to the birth stories hardly bring yourself to say it but this was actually how the living god became human. they emphasize different aspects of the events to bring out a different theological point. >> roman catholic priest, is a professor of biblical studies. none the less, all of these gospels present us the honest truth. they faithfully tell us what jesus actually said and did. >> scripture is not something to be eaten quickly. it's not fast food. it's a luxurious banquet and you should take your time with it. >> priest is a translator of the bible. >> it's not supposed to be a videotape that we can play like on the his industry channel and watch. what it is is it is an account through a specific lenz with a specific purpose to invite us into the life of god. and to the life in christ and to the life of the
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church. >> god sent forth his son born of a many woman of achievement what was the reason for that? we could not find salvation on our own. we could not be freed from our sins on our own. and so god enters into our world. >> for people who have not visited bethlehem entered the church of the nativity or descended into the gatt grotto, it may be surprising to learn that jesus was born here in a cave, not in a stable. >> so as we are standing in a natural cave, that is made in the soft limestone here, we see first the got toe grotto of the birth. the nativity. the star marks the where mary gave birth to jesus. as we step over to the left we have the altar of the manger which was served as jesus' crib according to luke chapter 2 and then the altar of the wise men who came to visit. >> the languages of the bible writers were hebrew, aramic and greek.
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>> why did they go down into a cave to have a baby? >> well, luke tells us that they laid him in a manger because there was no room in the inn. now this word inn is what trips us up every time the greek work is a very simple word. kataluma and it means the guest room or upper room. it means that the house is full and there is no privacy. rather than being able to give birth in the guest room they take her down into the basement cave where things are quiet, where there aren't a bunch of children running around, where they can have some warmth and she gives birth there clearly she is in a family setting. >> and. [speaking foreign language] born in a cave and layed in a manger. a manger is a trough where animals laid from. that's where they put him for like a bed. swaddle ling gloves are grave clothes. cave in which he was born is reminiscent of the cave which he was buried.
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as orthodox christians we understand his birth is a sign of his humility it and so is his death. they are book ends to a life that is transformed in reduction and that transforms our life. >> the old testament prophecy becoming of a jewish messiah, a triumphant king who would throw out the oppressors and reclaim jerusalem. but the setting of jesus' birth in a cave is not nearly as important as the prediction that he would be a descendant of the royal house of david, the beloved king of israel. and the birth would be in bethlehem. >> we have to try to remember the history leading up to the birth of christ and a great sense of unease among the jewish people because the monarchy under king david had seemingly come to an end. for centuries, five centuries the jewish people didn't have their own king. they were under the babylonians and then under the persians and then under the greeks. and then under the romans. people asking the question
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when is our god actually going to do what he said he was going to do. when is he going to act to transform our situation and bring justice and peace to the world. >> regardless of the facts and fiction and faith, the nativity stories become much more meaningful when we know the history of the first century in the holy land. >> most christians today think of christmas as a cute family festival with presents and christmas trees and so on. it's actually the most powerful and subversive thing that we could be celebrating. it's about the entire overthrow of the way the world is and it's replacement with a different sort of world all together. instead of power being about the big boys bullying everybody into submission, this is as jesus himself said about someone who didn't come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. that is spiritually powerful. it is also politically dynamite. >> we'll return to bethlehem for a tour of the church of that thivity. but, first, we travel north
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to galilee where jesus lived and conducted his ministry. >> in nazareth, we will see evidence of the first century house. now, we can't say that jesus grew up in it, but we can be fairly certain he walked by. the middle east? canada? or the u.s.? the answer is... the u.s. ♪ most of america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here.
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take the energy quiz. uh just gonna hang out. with gary and todd? yea. i've been meaning to ask you, is there any drinking going on in this crowd? no.
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so if any of your buddies ever pressure you to take a drink, just tell them you promised your dad you wouldn't. i'd do anything to keep you safe. ok. i will. i hope this is working. i promise. i love you too dad. they really do hear you. for tips on what to say visit 2,000 years ago it was a very small jewish village. but only a few hundred people.
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village life in jesus' time is reenacted today in this open air museum located on a passage of farmland. archaeology and early history tell us it was a relatively new town when jesus grew up here. >> scripture says jesus of nazareth. scripture says jesus was born in bethlehem. jesus of nazareth, jesus of bethlehem. let's bring those two together. >> almost every christian in the world believe jesus was born in bethlehem. >> dr. james charles worth is a methodist minister and ologist. >> the vast majority of new testament scholars they have come to the conclusion that jesus was probably born in nazareth. >> why is that? >> is he never called jesus of bethlehem. >> one of the interests aspects regarding the traditions of jesus' birth is that there is no serious counterclaim to among the early christians that jesus was born outside of bethlehem. >> the old testament, includes prophecy that a
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messiah was expected to come from bethlehem. >> there were people who were saying this is the time that we have counting and calculating and worked out from the the prophecies when this ought to occur and we think it's pretty much now. >> in recent years, archaeologists have found facts that support that prediction. >> our work in the jewish villages is proving that in the time of jesus 80% of the jews came from judea. that's bethlehem. we are not only people of faith, we are people with minds. no one digs to get faith. so, archaeology can't form faith. but archaeology is absolutely important for informing faith. and we would like to ask every question possible what we can be certain about is that he is called jesus from nazareth. this is where he spent his early youth. >> the nativity story begins here in nazareth with enunciation.
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the gospel of luke says the angel of god was sent to mary, a virgin that she would have a son through the holy spirit. we visited the church of nunsation. where roman catholics believe the miracle happened. just a few blocks away is saint gabriel's church where the greek orthodox say the enunciation was. and below saint gabriel's is mary's well. the traditional site of nazareth spring, the place where mary and young scblees would have drawn water. >> i don't think we need to say it was here or there. to be able to affirm something beautiful and wonderful has entered our world. >> >> why is the presence of angels in not only mary's life but joseph's life as well? >> in the first century jews believe that the does mows was filled with demons and angels and the power of god. this is a fact of history.
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not that angels appeared, but that they believed that they had experienced angels. and this gave a meaning in life that maybe we have missed. >> what do we know about mary? >> she was living in a patriarchal society where she obtains meaning because men give her meaning. her dream would be to have man love her and help her bring a family into this world. her dream would be to some day be respected and have a son. >> now, joseph, we don't know much about joseph. >> joseph seems to disappear in the midst of history. >> right northeastern is saint joseph's, a church marking the home of the holy couple. tradition says the structure was built over joseph's carpentry workshop. when we look at the actual translation from the greek bible, we discovered something else. this idea with joseph and a saw and a sawhorse was probably a romanticized
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version of joseph. he was bailedder, he made things. someone who makes things, who creates something. >> it's a mistranslation by people who thought that a builder always worked with wood because the king james bible but we have stone here. >> but, remember, we do romanticize about joseph in lots of ways. joseph and mary were never married. most people don't even realize that. >> didn't they get married later. >> no. never says they got married later. he is he never called anything except for her betrofd. >> in the senst first century a betrofl is a legal contract. not the same as being married it's a much stronger bond than we would call today than being engaged. >> the version birth, how would that go over in a first century nazarene town? >> obviously a lot of jews would say she got raped by a roman his name is pantera. we do have those early
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accounts. the claim as being born of a version as unusual as it seems was not unthinkable. >> a 13 or 14-year-old girl who is now found to be pregnant and she is not married, that's a death sentence. >> this was the high point in joseph's life. because he could have exposed her. and, you are right, she could have been stoned. he protected her. yes, you can have facts. you can have history, but at the end of the day, you don't want to always separate was virgin birth fact or fiction? >> and i can make a palo here between christmas and easter. at easter sometimes we hear the question how important, how essential is it that jesus actually rose physically from the dead? would it be okay to say that jesus somehow rose in the spiritual way in people's' minds and hearts but that his physical body is still in the tomb? i would say no. in the mysteries of his passion and resurrection, we have to understand something
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about the mystery of the beginning of his life where we say the mystery of the incarnation, god becoming man. >> so far no objects have been found that are directly linked to jesus. the way archaeologists have uncovered evidence of pontius pilate and herrod the great. a house from the time of jesus was unearthed just across the street from the church of the enunciation. >> for a long time we have been trying to find any evidence of jewish life here in nazareth. >> could this have been the home of mary and joseph and jesus? >> it is conceivable that mary and jesus and joseph lived here. it's much more likely that he visited here in a little boy named jesus was running around all these houses. but there is nothing i, jesus, lived here. >> if we find something that's from the first century, and it was built by a builder, one of the possibilities is joseph, but
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don't forget, another possibility is jesus. >> today, the direct route from nazareth to bethlehem is south on highway 6. and it can take two to three hours, depending on traffic near jerusalem. for mary and joseph. traffic wasn't a problem. they had to worry about herrod the great, bandits, and the rugged terrain. which route did the holy family take? that's next. [ woman 1 ] why do i cook? to share with family. [ woman 2 ] to carry on traditions. [ woman 3 ] to come together even when we're apart. [ male announcer ] in stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and more, swanson makes holiday dishes delicious.
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welcome back to the nativity, fact, fiction, and faith. 2,000 years ago, one in 8 people in the world was dominated by the roman empire. >> so we are now standing overlooking an ancient jewish village or really it's more of a town than a village that was called gomla. the word comes from the word
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meaning camel because the site sits on a natural spur that is shaped like the hump of a camel. >> archaeologist jody magness dug throughout the holy land much of her career and expert on the daily life during the time of jesus. coming down, you see the breach in the wall where you actually have a hole that was barbed through the wall and then you continue down the wall continues all the way down the slope of the hill. so you just -- one of the things that you have to imagine when you are here is the roman legions stationed out here. all this artillery, the catapults and then they are bringing battering rams. >> 30 years after jesus' crucifixion a defensive wall was built around this town to protect the 9,000 jewish farmers living there. that wall was an affront to their roman rulers. >> you have to realize that the romans were ruling all of these different native peoples. and if they allowed the jews to rebel successfully, and
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gain independence what would have happen? the empire would have fallen apart. the jews did it, we can do it too a year frozen in time. the moment it was destroyed by the romans, that's what makes it so special. >> at least 5,000 jews died at gamla. others may have escaped. gamla was abandoned for 2,000 years. these ruins and the art found here tell us how people lived in the first century. life in the first century was like the rest of the mediterranean world and empire. it was dirty. not hygienic, not sanitary. those were the the conditions that people lived in normally as matter of every day life 2,000 years ago. >> what was life like for a little boy growing up in first century nazareth. >> from a very early age, let's say, you already had to go out and work in the fields or help your father with whatever his craft was.
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here we have a grinding stone for grinding grain, because, of course, you had to grind grain before you could make your bread. this gives you a wonderful impression of what every day life was like in the first century. and the fact that your mother, every day, had to grind the grain to make the bread from scratch and draw water sis strin and bring it back to the house and walsh the clothes by hand. all of it would look very difficult and very poor lifestyle. this was the lifestyle of the majority of the people in the ancient mediterranean world and they took it for granted the battle at gamla was the first of three revolts that raged across judea. the second temple was destroyed. over 1 jews were slaughtered. this was during the time of the gospel writers. when jesus was born the romans packs or peace
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prevailed. >> when the romans took over this area, they actually issued laws that guaranteed the jews freedom of worship by the first century, by the time of jesus, jews were building purpose buildings to accommodate these assemblies and we happen to be sitting in a first century synagogue building in the town of gamla. >> all seats going around? >> yes, all seats going around. you see some of the columns. the original columns. and the decorations. >> religion for jews then as now is about more than worship. and the romans did not interfere with the jewish law force daily living. but this freedom did not exempt jews from being counted in the roman census. so joseph was forced to travel with the pregnant mary to bethlehem, his ancestral home. talk about journey from nazareth to bethlehem. which route would mary and joseph have taken from nazareth down to bethlehem? >> well, first of all, i actually don't believe that they made that trip.
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i think that the birth narrative are inserted into the gospels, two of the gospels by the way because only two of the gospels have birth narratives and they are not the same narratives. they differ. the birth narratives were inserted in order to connect with judah in order to be descended from king david he had to have a heritage. >> while there is no archaeology call evidence. >> the main way to go from north to south through this country, always, even today, is along the coast. but that of course, is going to take you far out of the way that you have to go especially if you are going from nazareth to bethlehem. >> the coastal route was already century's old trade route that edges tended from egypt. it was also the romans main thoroughfare and a good reason the holy family would have avoided going that way.
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easier way would to be cut south to the interior hill country and by way of the area of jerusalem down to bethlehem. basically cuts through the so-called west bank today. the interior is hard because it's hilly, it's mountainous, it's rugged. and if the situation sun stable, then security on the roads is not going to be guaranteed. a lot of criminals running around, bandits, things like that. there is a third way. that is to cut east through the valley. and then you follow the jordan river south towards the dead say. when you get to the area of jericho, you then cut westwards up towards the direction of jerusalem. but, of course, going south towards bethlehem, and passing along the way, the fight of herrodian where king was buried. >> journey to bethlehem. it's about the wise men who traveled from the east, guided by a prophecy and a star. they were looking for the newborn king of the jews, the christ child. but first, they had to
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on the way to bethlehem, mary and joseph could not miss seeing herrodian the symbol of demonstration and impression. this fortress stands in striking contrast to the peace on earth and goodwill towards men message on the
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birth and life jesus christ. >> i think because the christmas story has been domesticated in western culture, into this realm of sort of fairy land and santa's grotto that we certainly from matthew and luke is very clear. >> the gospel nativity stories may have different accounts of jesus' birth, but their message is the same. >> in luke, have you augusta ' caesar sitting on the throne. we need to raise more taxes. at the far end the couple set off and the baby is born who within 100 years, will be the talk of the town around the roman empire. >> for matthew, we have the focus on king herrod who is an incredible bully and kills people in his own family and anyone though ho gets in his way. this little weak human baby
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who we are invited to sees a not only suspect planting the power structures of the world but changing the very meaning of power itself. >> the whole story of king herrod is almost a played on words where king herrod is referred to king herrod. but the reader knows who the real king is. the real king is jesus. >> aaron gayle and -- bring gospel analysis and archaeology into focus at a place mary and joseph could not avoid on their way to nazareth from bethlehem. >> herrod was very concerned about security. herrodian. important politically for places like this to be not just impressive but intimidating. >> no matter which way you traveled from nazareth to bethlehem, this volcano shaped mound is clearly visible. it's just one of herrod the great monumental building
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projects in the year before the birth of jesus. >> just a little imagination, it's easy to visualize how beautiful these places would have been because what we're looking at now are the bones of the structure. but imagine that we are in a palace where the walls are decorated with lavish frescoes and brilliant colors. gelding, mosaic. water is one of the principle features of a roman palace, also demonstrates a command of resources. that's pretty impressive and it's meant to impress. >> herrod the great, appointed as king of the jews by the roman senate, ruled judea and much of palestine from 37 to 4 b.c. >> he built -- he rebuilt the second temple, made it much larger. much more lavish. he re-did and improved the water systems in jerusalem. he built the fortress palace
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on top of mosada and he built where we are now herrodia another fortress palace. >> he is respected as israel's greatest builder but reviled as a paranoid mad man who killed his wife, three of his children, and the rabbis of the jewish dynasty. in matthew's gospel when the magi followed their star and asked herrod where the king of the jews has been born, he commands the soldiers to kill all the babies in bethlehem. the slaughter of the innocence. >> would mary and joseph felt oppressed? i would have in their position. already feeling threatened, you know, just from the years of roman rule that this would have been a very intimidating place for them. >> why are luke and
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matthew's story so different? >> different audience. different geography. different authorship, different needs for the community. the gospels are essentially four different perspectives on jesus' life. if you look at matthew's gospel. jesus says i have come not to abolish it. i come to fulfill it jesus come to live and die as a jew. >> why would the nativity story be meaningful for galilee. >> they flee with baby jesus and take him to egypt after jesus is born. that is not found in luke's gospel. why is it in matthew's gospel to conjure up images of moses. they both preach from the top of the mountain. they both interpret law. they both cross waters. so there are many strands that seem to be linking moses and jesus. >> matthew is saying to a very jewish audience you need to pay attention to this story. this is actually your story coming to a surprising fulfillmentment. >> one of the extraordinary
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things about the new testament is jesus is constantly telling stories which say god's kingdom is arriving but it doesn't look like you thought it would. jesus doesn't seem to have fitted into. and even his own cousin john the baptist when he is in prison is he sends a him a message are you the one we are looking for or should would he be looking for somebody else? jesus sends a message about back. the lepers are cleansed, deaf hear, lame are walking and dead are being raised yes i am that one that israel and the world has been waiting for. >> up next, more facts and fictionst about the nativity story. and why december the 25th might not be the actual date of jesus' birth. then, our religious scholars tell us how faith transcends it all. it doesn't? [ male anner ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms
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♪tell them that you like it this way♪ yea, (laughs), sweet! ♪it's the work that we avoid♪ i'm gonna get it. i'm gonna get it! ♪and we're all self-employed♪ i'm goin in ♪we love to work at nothin all day♪ ♪and we've been taking care of business♪ ♪it's all right whew! ♪taking care of business, saved the day! >> odd used to be 100% christian, but now it's not. where have all the christians gone? >> bethlehem was 80% christian. and 20% moss muslim. now it's probably 20% christian and 80% muslim. >> we have seen tremendous amount of immigration out of the bethlehem area especially since the 1750 fat fatwa.
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>> anyone required to pass through check point at enormous wall. part of a 96-mile separation barrier built over the last years because of the intense friction between the israelis and palestinians. tensions between the palestinians and israelis go back to the establishment of the state of israel in 1948. and in 2000, the second in left a high number of cawcialghts on both sides. today, it is more peaceful, but still the threat of violence remains. this wall hasn't stopped pilgrims and tourists. >> has there been a rebirth of pilgrimages to bethlehem in the church of the nativity. >> yes, we have seen christians from every background, whether they're western christians or or orthodox christians or christians from africa all acknowledge bethlehem as the birthplace of jesus. >> just like today's pilgrims, the wise men took a journey of their own more
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than 2,000 years ago to see the newly born messiah. >> the gospel of matthew introduces us to the magi and we understand that they are from the east. it doesn't tell us the country and it doesn't actually tell us the number who come. >> while few facts are known about the wise men, they play a big part in today's christmas celebrations. >> the three kings is an aberration. the only reason we think there are three of them is because matthew says they brought gifts, gold, frankincense and miles an myrrh. comet or maybe the planet jupiter or was the star of bethlehem a miraculous event which no one can explain? >> of course, it's a great irony because they come to jerusalem and they come to herrod and they say where is this child born, king of the jews and say there is a sense that the star has led them almost far enough but actually to the wrong king. we often miss that when we just do the christmas carol
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thing. this is actually much more about the fact of jesus, is going to draw people from east and west and north and south. the nativity scene as we envision it today is largely a result of the devotion of saint francis of -- who had life size nativity scenes with live animals there are some elements of the way christmas is celebrated which go beyond what we find in the gospel text. >> so many reenactments of the nativity show this drama about making it to bethlehem and how difficult it was, would he travel 90 miles with a pregnant wife? >> when i talk to my classes about the infancy narratives i always say stop, pause, rewind. forget the church art and christmas cards and movies. because we need to hear what luke wants us to hear when he he tells us this story. the story of the drama, the story of being pregnant and in labor it does not come
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from the gospels. you won't find that anywhere in the new testament. if we read luke we understand she is not about to give birth as she travels to bethlehem. they arrive there before she is going to give birth. >> not far from the birthplace of jesus is shepherd's field. this church is built on the silt where it is says angels appeared and told the shepards of the messiah's birth. >> luke foe us cans on shepards and shepherds as often today were pour, they often lived outside the towns and only came in from time to time. and luke focuses on them as the ones who are right at the center of the action to their own surprise and everybody else's. >> but, why is jesus' birth celebrated on december 25th in the middle of winter? >> if the gospel of luke is any indication of the actual time, when we have shepards out on the hillsides at night grazing their sheep, then we certainly know it's not in the dead of winter. it's absolutely freezing here in the winter. but, you know, spring and summer you could be be out
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all night and it would really be lovely. december 25th was chosen partly in a response to pagan religions which had a winter celebration. and the early christians wanted to have a christian focus in the winter time. and it's almost symbolic in the sense that you separate separate -- celebrate light coming into the world during the darkest of the year. >> jesus was born during the reign of herrod the great. >> there is also question about the year of jesus' birth. >> herrod the great, according to the standard consensus, died in the year 4 b.c. now the gospel of matthew, with the story of the massacre of the innocence says that herrod had children less than 2 years old murdered. and so from that, if herrod do i dies in 4 b.c. you count back two years and the
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scholars typically come up with a date of say 6 or 7 b.c. for the birth of christ. >> over the past 2,000 years, fact and fictions have been combined into the christmas celebration. for christmases, only one thing is essential. >> i think there are people who are looking for facts. and there are people who are looking for fiction. but i think people of faith look for truth. and i think in both narratives, there is the truth. and truth sometimes goes a lot deeper and a lot farther than the detail. >> just about my private spirituality. as with the story of jesus, it's something which must transform the whole of one's life and through one's life all sorts of other things out there in the world. >> coming up next, our tour of bethlehem, and the church of the nativity. ick with innovation.
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from where we are standing, we have jesus ancestorial home from the family of joseph. >> although we knew he grew up in nadz rhett. we snow from stories that there were relatives in this area. there was ancestorial home. weighs in the family of david. >> wonderful thing about the church of the nativity is that this interest addition goes back to the second century when the local people remembered where the families lived. >> celebrating christmas at the church of the nativity many times over the past 30 years. >> so the in fourth century queen helena came. she conferred with the local christians to ask about the traditions of jesus' birth. they agreed that this was the place that the family had lived and that the birth had taken place.
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>> constantine, the first roman emperor to become a christian sent his mother helena to the holy land find relics and build churches. the church of the nativity has evolved over time. >> this is the original lentil of the doorway here that was subsequently locked and slowly the doors were filled, in perhaps, as a defensive measure to protect against soldiers on horseback. ultimately a very small door that you have to bend down to enter in reverently. >> although burned and destroyed in the sixth century, some evidence of the original search remains. >> so what are we seeing here this mosaic down here? >> we're actually looking at the floor of the fourth century constantiniian church. this floor is 1700 years old and done in a typical style of geometrics and floral. no depictions of people and no depictions of animals. so really out of the fourth
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century church what we see are these pillars and this floor. and that's about it. >> in the late sixth century the roman emperor rebuilt the church. the crusaders expanded it and used it for the coronation of their kings into the 12th century. others have fought at this holy place. the turks. most recently in april of 2002 when palestinian militants wanted for the israeli defense force took refuge here for 39 days. 10 minutians were killed when the church came under fire during the siege. >> beautiful altar. >> it is beautiful. >> we're walking up to the main altar area of this church from the greek orthodox tradition. you can see that. it's decorated in a way that's unfamiliar to us who are from the west. they have a beautiful screen
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called icon -- with silver and gold depictions of saints and the holy family and this is seen as a connecting point between heaven and earth. to our right we have the armenian altar. and to the left, a small altar as well. here, in bethlehem, we get christmas three times. we have christmas on december 25th for the western right and the catholics who celebrate christmas mass there and then bring a doll of jesus and put it in the grotto of the nativity. on january 7th, we have greek orthodox christmas. and then on january 19th, we have armenian christmas. so it's a very special place in christian religious experience. >> wow, this is a totally different world. >> it is. we stepped from the east to the west. we have walked into the mid evil cloiser of the church of saint catherine, name for
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saint catherine of alexandria, the real hero, the real star of this place isn't saint catherine, it's saint jerome. we see a statue there in the middle of the courtyard. >> saint jerome lived in bethlehem in the middle of the fourth century and wrote about the tradition of the birthplace of jesus. >> of course, the most important thing that jerome did is translated the bible into latin. here, believe below saint catherine the chapel of the holy innocence. that commemorates children massacred by king herrod's men. so we are coming into the continuation of the case complex that is underneath the church of the nativity. >> and that's where jesus was born. he was born in a cave likes a sort of a cellar or basement of somebody's home? >> yeah. that's right. and the caves of saint jerome and saint paula and saint are here behind this wall deeper into the cave complex. >> these early christians established the first
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monasteries and nunneries in bethlehem and commemorated a site where some say facts, fiction and faith come together. the grotto a site where tradition says the holy family lived when herrod sent his soldiers to kill all the babies in bethlehem. >> according to the first christian belief, while mary was nursing her baby here, some drops of her milk fell to the ground. >> tradition says a miracle occurred in this cave, a short distance from jesus' birth site. when the drops of mary's milk turned the walls white. and according to franciscan, brother lauren, people come here hoping for more miracles. >> because mary's milk came here they would ask for the powder of her milk. we have small packets of the milk from the grotto stone. what do they do with this powder, the husband every day they would put a small grain into milk or water or juice they would drink it there is a special devotional prayer if they are catholic. if they are not catholic they pray with faith and pray from the heart to be healed of these maternal problems so that they can
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have a family. i have over 2,000 babies born from women who were not able to even conceive. >> how far can we believe it though? >> we receive every month -- the letters always say we are writing you just to say thank you because my husband and i, we couldn't have children for 22 years. we believe that the virgin mary, mother of jesus, would help us to have a family. we believe this. and it happened. because we believe. >> wow. >> returning to the church of the nativity, one question remains. >> how do we know for certain that the church in the the nativity marks the place where jesus was actually born? >> well, i don't know if we can ever know for sure. i mean, the only way you would know for sure if somebody had actually inscribed in the rock in the first entry, this is home of jesus, mary, and joseph, then maybe we would know for sure. but, the traditions
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themselves are more trustworthy than many traditions that are associated with holy spots. and the second thing that they are interested in is that there has never been a competitor. no other site in bethlehem or in this surrounding region has ever been proposed as an alternative. but everyone, from all the traditions, western and eastern alike, have always looked to this place as the place of the birth. wishing you and your family a very merry christmas. from the holy land, lauren green, fox news. ♪ ♪
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♪ >> merry christmas, everybody. welcome to a "fox & friends" christmas special. we want to thank you for welcoming us into your home on this special night and for letting our family celebrate christmas with your family. >> that's right. we have an amazing lineup for you including pastor rick warren, jeff dunham, robert and our family tv family, "duck dynasty." >> but, first, we want to welcome you to our studio audience to the men and women who serve our country from each of the branches of the u.s. military. we want to thank you all of you for your service to our country. [ applause ]


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