Still catching up with other questions that have bypassed the comments lists on the blog. I’m sure many readers have responses that will be more cogent and comprehensive than mine, so welcome a collective wisdom. They’re not questions I have thought a huge amount about so only have a few sketchy comments to make.
Here are the next two questions for us (courtesy of Nate).
1. All honest historians agree that the Holy Family’s trip to Bethlehem (either to flee from a raging king, or for the sake of a census) is absolute rubbish. It’s obvious that the Gospel authors need Jesus to be born in Bethlehem for Davidic symbolism and the purposes of prophecy fulfillment. But if there was no historical Jesus whatsoever, then why deal with a town like Nazareth in the story? I know archaeology has shown that there wasn’t really much a Nazareth to speak of in the relevant time period, so if we were Gospel writers, why not just have Mary and Joseph situated in their home town of Bethlehem? Why make up the plot element of them being in Nazareth and having to trek back to Bethlehem, only to come back to Nazareth, a place of utter insignificance, later on? Why not leave that complication completely out of the story if you’re trying to pass your fictitious character off as historical?