Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 323
Context: The Gospels of Mark and John begin the story of Jesus with His baptism by John the Baptist. Matthew starts with the search of the Wise men and declares in 2:11: "They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother." Only in the account by Luke is found mention of the manger on which so much of the Christmas pageantry is based. The third book of the New Testament has been ascribed, since the second century, to a gentile physician, Luke (sometimes called John Luke), a friend of St. Paul and St. Mark. He also supposedly wrote the Acts of the Apostles. The Gospel given his name is, by internal evidence, a literary composition drawing its material from various sources. The unique account of the birth and boyhood of Jesus has long been believed to be based on details supplied by the Virgin Mary. It fits well into Luke's general picture of a Jesus who understood and sympathized with even the most lowly beings, for surely no one could be born in a more humble place than a stable among the mangers or feed troughs from which, according to the Latin derivation of the word, the horses and cattle fed. Now the expression "No room in the inn" is popularly used to describe any crowded conditions. Historically it is known that Quirinus, Governor of Syria, made a population count of Judea in A.D. 6. Scholars believe that he also took an earlier census in 2 B.C., and think this one caused Joseph to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem along with Mary, who was "great with child." Then according to Luke's account:
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.