No Room at the Kataluma

When it comes to the account of Jesus’ birth, it seems like the villain was the poor innkeeper. After all, he was the one who turned Mary and Joseph away...
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2 thoughts on “No Room at the Kataluma

  1. None of this applies unless you believe that (a) there was a census that applied to people who lived in Galilee; (b) it was ordered by Quirinius in the days of Herod the Great; (c) the Romans wanted to tax people in the towns where their ancestors had once lived; (d) Joseph would have taken his heavily pregnant wife (whose presence to register in a census would not have been necessary) on an 80-mile cross-country journey that might have taken a week.
    Matthew, on the other hand, seems to imply that the Holy Family was living in Bethlehem at the time – in which case the no-room-at-the-inn story is total unnecessary fiction, to get them in to Bethlehem on some phony pretense (But then, Luke has them returning “home” to Nazareth at the earliest opportunity).

    1. It should be borne in mind that Luke was one of the most consummate historians to have committed history to writing. His account is proven accurate by reference to external sources. His account is in far more detail that Matthew, and I do not get from Matthew that the Holy Family was living in Bethlehem at the time.
      Moreover, the original word “kataluma” (guest room) used by Luke is different from the word “pandokheion” (caravanserai) used elsewhere by Luke to describe the lodgings used by commercial travelers of the day.
      If you take all of the synoptic gospels together, you get that Bethlehem was crowded due to the census. I take it that Mary and Joseph would have likely sought accommodation with relatives. But even if they did not, the normal practice for strangers would be to meet with the warden or wardens of the town or city and they would be familiar with a place where the couple (or family) could be billeted in the guest room. There were no “inns” in the modern sense in Bethlehem at that time.
      Whatever the details were of the birth of our Lord and savior, it was clearly in very ordinary -even “lowly” – circumstances that he was born, yet He is recognized by we Christians to be our God and Savior not just of the Jews, but all mankind.

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