No biblical basis to donkeys in nativity scenes, says Pope


Donkeys hoping for a few extra rations to reward their hard work in nativity scenes this year might be out of luck.

The bad news comes with the publication of the Pope’s latest book, The Infancy Narratives, in which he points out that donkeys got no mention in the Bible as being present at the birth of Jesus.

The addition of a donkey to nativity scenes is an enduring tradition that is not based on the word of the Bible, it transpires.

However, even the Pope acknowledges that donkeys are here to stay in nativity scenes.

The Vatican has launched the third and final book in the Pope’s Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, which went on sale on Wednesday. It deals with the life of Jesus up to the age of 12.

The book has an initial print run of 1 million and was released simultaneously in 50 countries, in seven languages. It is expected to be translated into 20 other languages.

The book, defined by the Pope as a “small antechamber” to the trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, is 176 pages long and comprises just four chapters, an epilogue and a brief foreword.

It is chapter three that centres on the birth in Bethlehem and the historical context of the arrival of Jesus.

The Pope points out that both the ox and the donkey are nowhere to be seen in the gospels when it comes to the scene portrayed in the bible.

There is no mention of animals at the birth scene in the bible, the Pope states matter of factly, suggesting that references to the ox and the donkey in other parts of the Bible may have inspired Christians to include them in nativity scenes.

Despite the papal setback, donkeys need have little fear. Even the Vatican includes animals in it elaborate nativity scene in St Peter’s Square each year.

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6 thoughts on “No biblical basis to donkeys in nativity scenes, says Pope

  • November 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Seriously?!?! The Pope encourages the poaching of turtles because he won’t decree that they are not fish! Hello, every 3rd grader knows turtles are reptiles. I don’t care what he says about animals…

  • November 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I don’t get it… Jesus was born in a manger. i.e. a feed trough in a barn. What is the likelihood that there WEREN’T donkeys there? I would say almost nil. They were the primary beast of burden for the “middle class” of the day.

  • November 22, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Good grief. The Bible in numerous variations says Jesus was born in a stable. What do we find in a stable at that place and time? Ox, cattle, sheep, donkeys and very possibly goats and horses and camels. It’s a perfectly reasonable educated guess that at least one donkey was at the nativity!

  • November 23, 2012 at 6:59 am

    This Pope is delusional….the Catholic church is desperate for money….not much left after all the lawsuits!!

  • November 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    The pope needs a real job. Tie up your skirts and tend to the poor and homeless, the downtrodden and hungry. Mother Theresa was a great pope. Leave the donkeys alone–God made them–Mary rode on one—Christ rode on one. Protect little children and animals. I’ll be with the donkeys–they’re for real.

    • December 4, 2012 at 1:15 am

      I agree- with all the terrible things happening in the world- HE worries about this?
      He is spoiling the pleasure of all the little children who go see the pessebres in Spain- shame! Even the children are not safe.
      A manger is a feed trough- it is logic
      to assume that there were animals around. But maybe logic does not come into it- the Pope lives in the clouds- he doesn’t know what is happening in the REAL world.


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