08:17 GMT25 January 2020
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    Christmas has widely been believed as the time for miracles, so intriguing revelations can hardly come as a surprise.

    As the conventional Christmas story goes, the Nativity scene was set in Bethlehem near Jerusalem, where the Virgin Mary gave birth to her son, it has now been proposed that Jesus was born 100 miles away, also in Israel and in a town likewise called Bethlehem.

    Near the Lebanese and Syrian borders, the town seems to find itself totally excluded from Christmas festivities, as thousands flock to the conventional Biblical Bethlehem in the West Bank to celebrate the grand Christian holiday.

    However, several historians claim the location was undeservedly disregarded in the context of biblical history.

    The biggest question that has been raised is why Mary and Joseph would travel such a long distance from their home town of Nazareth to the Bethlehem in the West Bank instead of heading to the Bethlehem that is just a stone's throw away from them.

    There is a wide-spread belief that the supposed misidentification of Bethlehem may have occurred at St Helena's hands.

    Helena, the empress of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, ordered the construction of the Basilica of the Nativity in the West Bank's Bethlehem, on the site where it was believed at the time, that Mary gave birth to Jesus. The error may have been the result of pilgrims mistakenly travelling to the wrong place for almost two millennia.

    The Bible refers to Mary's son as Jesus of Nazareth and also says he is from Galilee, which for some qualifies that he was born in this other Bethlehem, contrary to what is written in black and white in the Bible, as geographically, it seems clear that the Bethlehem that is mentioned by Matthew and Luke is the one near Jerusalem.

    Dr Aviram Oshrim, an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority who has been looking into the controversy since the 1990s, has said he is "positive" that the authentic birthplace of Jesus is near Nazareth.

    "I was contracted to perform some salvage excavations around building and infrastructure projects in a small rural community in Galilee," he said, further explaining what locals had to tell him:

    "When I started work, some of the people who lived around the site told me how Jesus was really born there, not in the south."
    The claim prompted him to study the conventional site:

    "Intrigued, I researched the archaeological evidence for Bethlehem in Judea at the time of Jesus and found nothing."
    Oshrim does not believe that the heavily pregnant Mary could have made it to the West Bank, and on top of it, the newborn baby would hardly have been able to survive the long return journey to Nazareth. Meanwhile, the short trip to Bethlehem in Galilee would have been possible.

    Biblical scholar Marcus Borg, who died in 2015, echoed Oshrim's stance, writing in one of his publications that "historically it seems likely that Jesus was actually born in Nazareth". The claim largely coincides without the archaeologists' account of the other Bethlehem near Nazareth.

    Borg substantiated his claim, assuming that Matthew and Luke intentionally "placed Jesus's birth in Bethlehem because that is the city of David and in traditional Judaism, the Messiah would be descended from David". "Saying that Jesus was born in Bethlehem is making a statement about his legitimacy as a messiah," he noted.

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    holiday, Jesus Christ, miracle, Christmas
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