Merry Christmas Friends!

Here’s a really easy multiple guess Christmas quiz from your favourite not-for-prophet. I hope you will learn something vaguely interesting and I wish you the merriest of seasons, regardless of your personal faith or non-faith perspective. No cheating by actually reading the Bible either! You’ve had plenty of time to do that this past year… 😛


The Questions!

Question (1):

Forty-two men are mentioned by name in the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham given by Matthew’s Gospel (1:1-17). However, somewhat curiously, five women are also listed. Who are they?

[A] Sarah, Leah, Rahab, Ruth, Mary
[B] Sarah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Mary
[C] Sarah, Rachel, Tamar, Rahab, Mary
[D] Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary
[E] Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah, Mary

Question (2):

Matthew‘s infancy narrative includes an unusual prophetic quotation with the phrase ‘so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled’ (2:23). Bizarrely, neither the direct quote nor general sentiment appears anywhere in the Old Testament prophets or even any other extant source. What does it proclaim?

[A] ‘Even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.’
[B] ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler.’
[C] ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’
[D] ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
[E] ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

Question (3):

According to Matthew’s Gospel, who was responsible for the Massacre of the Innocents?

[A] Herod I (‘The Great’)
[B] Herod II (sometimes referred to as ‘Herod Philip I’)
[C] Herod Archelaus (‘The Ethnarch’)
[D] Herod Antipater (‘Antipas’)
[E] Philip the Tetrarch (sometimes referred to as ‘Herod Philip II’)

Question (4):

Luke simultaneously places the birth of Jesus in the reign of Herod (died 4 BCE) and governorship of Quirinius (began 6 CE). The evangelist is right in that, upon assuming his post as Legate, Quirinius took a census, yet somewhat exaggerated its scope. While Luke makes the unique claim that Caesar Augustus himself decreed that ‘all the world should be registered’, records show the census actually assessed the taxable property of which Roman province?

[A] Galilee
[B] Judea
[C] Idumea
[D] Samaria
[E] Syria

Question (5):

Many treasured festive hymns state that Jesus was born at 12 o’clock, hence the existence of Midnight Mass. This idea was popularised by Edmund Sears via his hymn ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’ (1849), who was inspired to believe it based on studying Jude (v. 5) alongside the apocryphal work ‘The Wisdom of Solomon’. Wisdom 18:14-16 reads:

“… while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leapt from heaven, from the royal throne.”

What is the original context of this verse?

[A] Death of the Firstborn Son
[B] Birth of David
[C] Birth of Rehoboam
[D] The Day of the Lord
[E] The Calling of the Prophet Samuel as a Boy

Question (6):

Isaiah 7 contains the most well known “Messianic” prophecy and is read at Christmas via Matthew (1:22-23). Discussed fully here, this declaration states:

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Immanuel (‘God with us’) was the second of Isaiah‘s sons born to him during the Syro-Ephraimite War (736 – 732 BCE). What was his third son called?

[A] Shear-Jashub (‘The Remnant Shall Return’)
[B] Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (‘He Has Made Haste to the Plunder’)
[C] Lo-Ruhamah (‘Not Pitied’)
[D] Maaseiah (‘Work of God’)
[E] Hakkatan (‘The Small One’)

Question (7):

Isaiah then goes on to tell us (7:15) tells us that by the time this Immanuel is making good moral decisions, he shall be eating which two foods?

[A] Curds and Whey
[B] Curds and Honey
[C] Locusts and Honey
[D] Oats and Honey
[E] Figs and Grapes

Question (8):

If you’re lucky, over the 12 Days of Christmas your true love should send you 364 gifts. Unknown to many, one of these strange gift ideas is directly connected to the infancy of Jesus as found in Luke (2:21-24). Which one?

[A] A Partridge (in a Pear Tree)
[B] Two Turtle Doves
[C] Three (French) Hens
[D] Four (Calling) Birds
[E] Five Gold Rings

Question (9):

A time of merriment, generosity, relaxation of social hierarchies… the Roman festival of Saturnalia (17th – 23rd December) contained a day of gift giving called Sigillaria, among many other rituals. Which of these was not a recorded tradition?

[A] Schools and courts were closed and no declaration of war could be made
[B] Slaves were able to disrespect their masters without punishment and enjoyed banquets alongside them
[C] Everyone wore the same felt hat, and many wore colourful “dinner clothes” otherwise considered in poor taste
[D] Joke gifts were exchanged, with the lower the intrinsic value, the better
[E] If a betrothal was announced, the couple were given wreaths of mistletoe to wear and encouraged to drink wine

Question (10):

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins on 25th Kislev and lasts eight days. This celebration is critical to the origins of Christmas and the historical context of the Gospels, as discussed here. Jesus also participated in the festivities, we are told in John 10. The story of Hanukkah is preserved primarily in the books of First and Second Maccabees, named after Judas Maccabeus. Folk rarely had surnames in the ancient world. ‘Maccabeus’ is a nickname, yet what does it mean?

[A] ‘The Lightning Bolt’
[B] ‘Who Among the Gods?’
[C] ‘The Slayer’
[D] ‘The Hammer’
[E] ‘The Rock’

Question (11):

Somehow, in 2017, a supermarket advert featuring a Muslim family celebrating Christmas amassed controversy among some. While Muslims do not officially mark Christmas, they do believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (Isa) as per Surah 3 and 19. In Islam, he is the penultimate prophet and stars in 93 Quranic verses, while Muhammad is only mentioned four times by name. One vitally important difference – so important that a university debate had to be held over it – is where Jesus was born. Rather than Jesus being silent in a manger, Muslims believe he was born…

[A] In a cave
[B] Besides a river
[C] Under a palm tree
[D] On a rooftop in Jerusalem
[E] Sheltered by Joseph‘s family in Bethlehem

Question (12):

Our earliest known critic of Christianity was quite provocative. Understandably, we now only possess a portion of this Greek philosopher’s writings due to being preserved via the counter-critical work Against Celsus (c. 248 CE) by Origen of Alexandria, written around 70 years later. In The True Word (c. 178 CE), Celsus accused Mary of being an adulteress. Who did he propose as Jesus’s true father?

[A] Pantera, a Roman Soldier
[B] Zechariah, a Jewish Priest
[C] Joshua ben Sie, the High Priest of Israel
[D] Herod Archelaus (‘The Ethnarch’), successor to Herod I (‘The Great’)
[E] Pontius Pilate, Roman Prefect of Judea


The Answers!

(1) The five women mentioned in Matthew‘s genealogy are: [D] Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary.

(2) The mysterious “Messianic” prophecy detailed in Matthew (2:23) which has no evident origins is that: [C] ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’

(3) For committing a very Pharaoh-esque crime of murdering all Hebrew newborns, the one responsible – [A] Herod I (‘The Great’) – certainly didn’t live up to his title!

(4) The census of Quirinius (6 CE), rather than requiring that ‘all the world should be registered’, actually assessed the taxable property of the Roman province of [B] Judea.

(5) The belief that Jesus was born at midnight came from Edmund Sears extracting Wisdom 18:14-16 from its surrounding context.

“… while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leapt from heaven, from the royal throne.”

The author was, in fact, referring to the Tenth Plague of Egypt, which was the [A] Death of the Firstborn Son. It’s interesting to read the full passage. As is the theme of this blog, context is super important!

See: Why the Bible Cannot be Taken at Face Value

(6) After Immanuel (‘God with us’), Isaiah‘s third son, also born in the midst of the Syro-Ephraimite War (736 – 732 BCE), was called [B] Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (‘He Has Made Haste to the Plunder’).

(7) By the time this Immanuel is making good moral decisions, Isaiah prophecies that he shall be eating [B] Curds and Honey.

(8) If you’re lucky, over the 12 Days of Christmas your true love should send you 364 gifts. In Luke (2:21-24), one of these strange gift ideas meets a rather more unlucky end via the sacrificial priest’s knife while (hopefully a different) knife was working on Jesus’s circumcision. In accordance with the Law (see Numbers 6:10), the unfortunate birds were either a pair of pigeons or alternatively [B] Two Turtle Doves.

(9) A time of merriment, generosity, relaxation of social hierarchies… the Roman festival of Saturnalia (17th – 23rd December) contained many traditions, including a day of gift giving called Sigillaria. During this time, it is not true, however, that [E] If a betrothal was announced, the couple were given wreaths of mistletoe to wear and encouraged to drink wine.

(10) The story of Hanukkah is preserved primarily in the books of First and Second Maccabees, named after Judas Maccabeus. Folk rarely had surnames in the ancient world. ‘Maccabeus’ is a nickname which means [D] ‘The Hammer’.

(11) Rather than Jesus being born in a manger, Muslims believe that Mary gave birth [C] Under a palm tree.

See: The Little Lord Jesus, A Palm Tree He Bends?

(12) In The True Word (c. 178 CE), Celsus accused Mary of being an adulteress. Rather than Joseph, he said that Jesus’s true father was [A] Pantera, a Roman Soldier.


So How Did You Do?

Scored 0: Umm, at least Peter and John had the excuse of illiteracy…

Scored 1-4: Let’s just say you’re unlikely to be called to interpret Nebuchadnezzar‘s dreams anytime soon.

Scored 5-7: Congratulations! You are now just about hapless enough to become one of the Twelve! 3 year contracts are available now via a limited time only reduced admin fee payable to Judas Iscariot.

Scored 8-11: It’s normally bad form to “lean on your own understanding”, however in your case, you’re pretty safe.

Scored 12: Wow! The boy Jesus at the Temple would have marvelled at you!


Merry Christmas and lots of love to you all. Be curious and be kind. ❤

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