I was disappointed to read that Dr. Albrecht felt The Nativity Story
(December) was “faithful to the biblical account.” How could he fail to note the inaccuracies regarding the Magi and the glaring omission regarding the announcement to the shepherds?
Concerning the juxtaposition of the shepherds and the Magi, I hope the filmmakers weren’t suggesting this was an historically accurate presentation. Perhaps they were merely presenting a film image consistent with traditional Nativity scenes and church pageants.
Again, for some unknown reason, the movie gives us the impression the Magi decided on their own not to return to King Herod. Not only would it have been more dramatic, but also biblically accurate if the movie would have shown the Magi telling us they had been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, returning to their country by another route.
Furthermore, it’s hard to believe the movie omitted one of the most important divine messages ever announced to the world. The angels told the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This was one of the chief purposes of Christ Jesus coming into the world on that first Christmas: to reconcile God and man, to reestablish that spiritual peace which had been broken by the first sin in the Garden of Eden.
I received the December Lutheran Witness two days after seeing The Nativity Story and was glad to see it as the cover article. A biblically favorable movie is a rare treat, and I and my entire family enjoyed the film greatly.
That said, the film was not as accurate as the article suggested. The more glaring errors included the Wise Men appearing at the stable instead of later (Matthew tells us the family was living in a house by that time) and the omission of the angelic choir singing before the shepherds, plus several historical inaccuracies.
Note that none of these discrepancies was a “deal breaker,” and they didn’t ruin the movie. In fact, they presented an excellent opportunity for catechesis. During our entire 45-minute trip home from the theater, our family discussed the inaccuracies as well as the theological nuances of the film, and my children are still talking about it two days later and will likely continue to do so throughout the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons. We anxiously await the DVD release to add to our family library.
Rev. Dale Critchley