Urban Legends of the New Testament:
40 Common Misconceptions
by David A. Croteau
I received a free copy of this book from B&H/Lifeway in exchange for an honest review.
I was very intrigued by the title of this book and eager to read it. Then I realized that I had the author as a professor at Liberty University! I thought that was pretty cool. 😀 In this book, Dr. Croteau has a separate chapter for each common misperception in which he begins by describing the misconception. He then goes on to try and prove why he believes these to be false and what he believes is actually true about that issue.
The very first ‘urban legend’ is “There Was No Room at the Inn.” It is commonly believed that Jesus was born in a barn or a cave that was used as a barn. Dr. Croteau does not believe this is the case.
One of his reasons is that hospitality was very important in that culture; they would not turn a blind eye on a pregnant woman who needed help. Also, Mary had family in the area! If they couldn’t find somewhere to stay, then surely her family would have taken her in.
You’re probably thinking: “Wait! Jesus was born in a manger! Doesn’t that prove that he was born in a barn?” Dr. Croteau doesn’t believe so. He believes that evidence from scripture and archeological evidence show that houses in first century Israel commonly look like the following picture:
So Mary and Joseph may have found a home to stay in and after giving birth placed Jesus in the manger in the family room.
Dr. Croteau also believes that ‘inn’ should have been translated instead as ‘guest room.’ So when the guest rooms were full, a family (since hospitality was so important) probably brought them into their family area to stay.
I just sort of glossed over the information here, but he goes into much more detail and provides evidence to support his beliefs. It’s a very interesting read. A few of the other chapters are: Do not judge others, Shepherds were societal outcasts, Hell is the absence of God, A divorced man cannot be a pastor, and many others.