“Three Wise Men Are Just a Legend, Says Archbishop of Canterbury“–how’s that for a sensationalist headline?
Problem is, that’s not what he said. He was contrasting the accounts of Luke and Matthew with the accretions–the idea that the magi were kings, or three, or that they were at the stable.
“Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t tell us there were three of them, doesn’t tell us they were kings, doesn’t tell us where they came from.
“It says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that’s all we’re really told.”
Turning to the topic of when Jesus was born, he said it was ‘very unlikely’that there was snow.
He said there was no evidence of animals present – a popular theme of Christmas cards.
He dismissed the idea that the star of the North stood still in the night sky – because stars just don’t behave like that.
For good measure, he added Jesus probably wasn’t even born in December. He said: “Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival”.
Update: Transcript of his remarks.