Three Cheers for Rowan Williams!

Yes, the Archbishop of Canterbury has got things right for once, and it is the British press which has messed it all up. My title echoes the similar cheers in John Richardson’s post at Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream, which clarifies what Rowan actually said, as does Dave Walker’s post.

Despite the press reports, the Archbishop did not say that the nativity is a legend. The only thing he said was a legend was, it seems,

‘the three kings with the one from Africa’.

This part of the traditional story is not in the Bible, which mentions only an unspecified number of magi or wise men from “the east”, which would probably exclude Africa. So it is entirely uncontroversial to call this part of the story a legend.

Indeed I find all of what Rowan said in his interview (according to this transcript) to be very sensible. I would be interested in finding out more about what he thinks about the virgin birth. Warning, you might be offended by his use of “damn”.

So why did the British press, even the usually reliable Ruth Gledhill in The Times, write that

Dr Rowan Williams, dismissed the Christmas story of the Three Wise Men yesterday as nothing but “legend”


0 thoughts on “Three Cheers for Rowan Williams!

  1. Pingback: MetaCatholic » A Christmas legend, or a licence to lie?

  2. The two nativity stories are not legends? Well, if they aren’t, I don’t know what is!

    Both stories are best understood as unhistorical birth legends, as explained here. No other interpretation successfully explains each text.

  3. Deane, there is only one Nativity story and it is totally true.
    Also I would point out that the Magi were not present at the birth of Christ, they arrived later.

    The two texts contained in Matthew & Luke are the same story, but containing some different aspects which is exactly as one would expect when different people are talking about the same event. Different things are of importance to each individual when they recount their version of the same event.

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