Episode 158 – Characters of Christmas Pt 3: Lowly Shepherds

There are multiple aspects to the shepherds and the Christmas story in Luke 2 that we’ve traditionally gotten wrong. By understanding first-century shepherding practices and the agricultural calendar, we’ll learn why Jesus almost certainly wasn’t born on December 25 (and how we got that date in the first place). We’ll also explore whether the shepherds were simple village shepherds or temple shepherds connected to Migdal Eder, and why shepherding was a despised trade in the New Testament era. Finally, we’ll discover what it means to us that the announcement of Jesus’s arrival was first given to lowly shepherds.

Discussion Questions

  • What was your biggest takeaway from the teaching? 
  • Do you agree with the suggestion that we shouldn’t do away with celebrating Jesus’s birth on Dec. 25th? Why or why not? 
  • What does it mean to you that Jesus was born to peasant parents, first revealed to lowly shepherds, and then lived a life of radical welcome to the poor, marginalized, and outcasts? 
  • If Jesus came for all people and our lives are meant to reflect his, how are you engaging with, welcoming, and sharing life with those who are different from you?   
  • How will you begin living out the truths of this teaching this week?  

For Further Study

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One Comment

  1. Deborah Hoover December 12, 2022 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Hi Brad, Love your teachings. Below is another explanation of what we celebrate Christ birth on

    The Catholic Church determined March 25 as the date of Our Lord’s Conception long before Aurelian decided to make his solar feast. For example, around 221 AD, Sexto Julio Africano wrote the Chronographiai in which he affirmed that the Annunciation was March 25. (6) Once the date of the Incarnation was established, it was a simple matter of adding nine months to arrive at the date of Our Lord’s birth – December 25. This date would not be made official until the late fourth century, but it was established long before Aurelian and Constantine. It had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

    We can be certain that the first Catholic apologists and Fathers of the Church, who lived very close to the time of the Apostles, were fully aware of the dates associated with the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They had all the calendar sources at hand and they would not allow any untruth to be introduced in the Catholic liturgy. The date of Christ’s birth was transmitted by them as being December 25, a Sunday.

    I think you are correct, Jesus wasn’t born in December and prefer the above explanation instead of being in competition to a pagan holiday.

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