الحكماء الثلاثة خيال
الحكماء الثلاثة خيال Three Wise Men story a 'legend'
20th December 2007, 16:15 WST
The leader of the world's Anglicans has described the Christmas story of the three wise men as nothing but a "legend" and says not all followers must believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has picked apart elements of the Christmas story, including how a star rose high in the sky and stood still to guide the wise men to Jesus's birth place.
Stars simply don't behave like that, he told the BBC during an interview.
Dr Williams said there was little evidence that the three wise men had existed at all. Certainly there was nothing to prove they were kings.
The only reference to the wise men from the East was in Matthew's gospel and the details were very vague, he said.
"Matthew's gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told. It works quite well as legend," he said.
He went on to say that while he believed in it himself, new Christians need not leap over the "hurdle" of belief in the virgin birth before they could join the church.
He said the virgin birth was "part of what I have inherited".
And on the timing of Jesus's birth, he said the son of God was likely not born in December at all.
"Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival," he said.
But Dr Williams said almost everyone agreed on two things - that Jesus's mother was named Mary and his father Joseph.
The archbishop said his approach was to stick strictly to what the Bible says.
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