Flesh Works

January 12, 2016

Women at the Nativity


Were the “wise men” at the Nativity actually women? That’s the question asked and theory asserted by Christine Shenk of the “National Catholic Reporter” and Dominican Friar Benedict Thomas Viviano, professor emeritus at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

The article, posted on January 7th, 2016, argues that even though the Greek word “magoi” is masculine in nature, that because Matthew’s Gospel “does not ascribe number, gender or royal status to the Wise Ones from the East,” these wise folks could well have been women.

There are other minor arguments in the article to support the argument, along the lines of this one – declared to be “the main reason”:

“’The main reason to think of the presence of one or more women among the magi is the background story of the queen of Sheba, with her quest for Israelite royal wisdom, her reverent awe, and her three gifts fit for a king.”Benedict_t_viviano

The first book of Kings, Chapter 10:1-29, narrates the visit of the queen to King Solomon with gifts of gold and spices such as myrrh and frankincense.’

Viviano believes viewing the Solomon-Sheba background as a close biblical parallel to the Magi story opens up some “previously neglected possibilities” such as the “wisdom and feminine aspects of the narrative.”

This is the kind of thing you have to watch with commentary. Read what is said above with great care, because here’s the kicker: there is no specific mention of either Frankincense or Myrrh in 1st Kings 10. The statements in 1st Kings 10 are both general ones, and are as follows:

“2 And she [the queen of Sheba] came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.

“10 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.”

But the quote above, from Shenk’s article as quoted from Friar Viviano states plainly, as if a direct biblical quote, that “The main reason to think of the presence of one or more women among the magi is the background story of the queen of Sheba, with her quest for Israelite royal wisdom, her reverent awe, and her three gifts fit for a king.”

The first book of Kings, Chapter 10:1-29, narrates the visit of the queen to King Solomon with gifts of gold and spices such as myrrh and frankincense.’”

I realize the redundancy here, but this is SUPER IMPORTANT. 1st Kings 10 DOES NOT say the Queen of Sheba brought “three gifts” neither does it say she brought “Frankincense and Myrrh”! These are assumptions derived from alternative sources, i.e. masonic fables, and other such speculations of what transpired between Sheba and Solomon. But they are not biblical! And since the Catholic Bible also includes the Apocryphal books, I will also add that there is no mention of Solomon and Sheba’s interaction within those books.

Friar Viviano is quoted in Shenk’s article as calling this particular evidentiary example the “main reason” for thinking there were women among the magi at the birth of Christ. But this “main reason” is founded on an assumption with no Scriptural backing whatsoever.

This is a Friar writing this work! And a blog with the backing of the Catholic Church purporting it! And a Nun writing it! Why wouldn’t Catholics subscribe to it? How many do you think actually go to 1st Kings chapter 10 when they see it referenced?! How many of you would do it? Or would you just go out and tell your friends about this cool new theory and cite 1st Kings 10 for your foundation because you read it in the blog, so you figured it must be legit?

In the Friar’s defense, I have to wonder if he read 1st Kings. Maybe his bishop or Friar, or mentor told him that’s what it said, and that guy’s mentor told him that’s what it said, and no one had read 1st Kings 10 for the past century. It’s possible. It may even be common. And I’m not just talking about the Catholic church. I’m talking about Christians in general.

Whose word do you take as law? And how far do you take it? Because there is only One inerrant Word. Only One. Everything else is…well, errant. Do you think this is ok? Is your immediate response, “Well, he probably didn’t mean to mislead or misquote, he just made a mistake”. Unacceptable! He is a teacher! Can he not be bothered to actually check the sources he’s using?! This isn’t a mistake, it’s careless. It’s lazy. It’s sinful.

Please forgive me my aggressiveness, but am I the only one who has had enough of this? Have we dived so deep into God’s grace that we have forgotten to fear Him? Are we so certain and comfortable with our salvation that we care not for His disapproval, or for our own precision? The Israelites played this game and lost many times!

As Shenk’s article moves on, it makes an admission that I am more than happy to cite here. It mentions the Jewish Midrash. The article itself defines the Midrash in the quote below, then associates the speculation of the article with it:

“A Midrash is a creative interpretation of the Old Testament, often used for homiletic purposes, that frequently employs storytelling. It is a sort of lectio divina — theological reflection by which believers discover the personal and communal meaning of Scripture.”

Ok, this is what I call hoo-ha. Which is another way of saying “nonsense”. This is basically a way of saying “we’ve kind of taken some liberties here with our biblical interpretations to justify a philosophical point that serves a personal agenda.” End quote. The other way of saying this is “we’re spinning a yarn based on our own aim and trying to fill in the foundation with some scholarly support”. White washing is what this is. Pure and simple.

Why so harsh? I’ll tell you why: Because what does it matter? Let’s say for a moment that there were women at the birth of Christ. What does it matter? Does it give us a deeper understanding of Christ? Does it draw us closer to God? Does it give us an expansive spiritual truth? Does it teach us more of His grace? Does it instruct us in a more profound way on our commission? WHAT DOES IT MATTER?!?! There is no spiritual value to this article. No service rendered to Christ.

The ONLY VALUE it could possibly have is to forward a feminist agenda. Shenk’s article and its research USES SCRIPTURE to further its own aim. When in fact, our duty as Christians, is to use our aim to further SCRIPTURE’S AGENDA! Is it not?!

I can tell you this of a certainty: even if there were indeed women at the Nativity, there were no feminists Christ’s birth. If women were there, they were wise, and if they were wise, they were wise enough that the only thought they were having at that moment was, “HALLELUJAH! CHRIST THE SAVIOR IS BORN!”



“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” – Romans 1:18-25

In Pursuit of Objectivity

Joe Christian

PS – According to another “scholar” cited in the article, “the late Sulpician Fr. Raymond E. Brown, an acclaimed biblical scholar” it would’ve been an “historical improbability that King Herod would have difficulty locating the infant Jesus in a town just 5 miles away from Jerusalem when, according to the legend, a bright star allowed the Magi to find it with ease.”

I don’t understand these “scholars”. God can blind an entire army so Elishah and his servant can slip by unnoticed; He can split a sea; set a bush on fire without scalding the branches; cleave a crevice in the ground; set clouds ablaze; control meteor showers; locusts; frogs; pestilence, and raise the dead…but keeping Herod and his people from seeing a star?! “Historically improbable”. Who are these people?

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

About the Author

Joe Christian
Joe Christian is a student of God's Word. He has no formal education, but has spent the better part of 20 years studying The Bible by following subject and object, and studying the original languages of the Scriptures. You can too.



A Response to Jennifer G. Bird’s “An Open Letter to Kim Davis”

On September 8th of 2015, Jennifer G. Bird wrote “An Open Letter to Kim Davis”. For those of you not paying attention to the news for the past year, Kim Davis is the Kentucky Court Clerk who forbade her people to sign Gay M...
by Joe Christian


Comfortably Misquoting Scripture

It’s a hot year, politically speaking. There are countless opinions as to what Republicans have to do to win the presidency. There are not as many for the Democrats, but there is certainly plenty of speculation on that side a...
by Joe Christian

Cloud 2

While The Cloud Remains

Numbers 9:15 And on the day the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and in the evening there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the mornin...
by Joe Christian


Obese American next to a starving African child

Gluttony, Famine and the Deception of Leaven

Defining the Foundation When we think of gluttony, I think most of us identify it as Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it: “Excess in eating; extravagant indulgence of the appetite for food.” Generally speaking then, it w...
by Joe Christian

A quote by Daniel Webster about the importance of the Bible

The Definition of Circumspect – Then and Now

Below is the definition of the word circumspect, both then and now.   According to Webster’s original definition, to be circumspect was not to be “unwilling to take risks,” but rather to be one who assess...
by Joe Christian