What Do You Know About the Nativity?


I got a Christmas quiz e-mailed to me the other day by Dave Beckwith, the senior pastor at Woodbridge Community Church in Irvine. The test covers events surrounding the birth of Jesus, the Bible story we’ve heard--or thought we’ve heard--a zillion times each December.

The quiz is one of those Internet creations; its author long ago lost in cyberspace. Some years back, Beckwith downloaded the 28 questions and tested his congregation.

“They did embarrassingly poorly, even the Bible students,” said Beckwith, with a laugh. “But they had a lot of fun with it.”


Beckwith wasn’t surprised by the failing marks. When he took the test, he missed six questions. He pointed out that if it had been a college final, the 75% score would have gotten him, at best, a C.

And Beckwith’s no biblical slouch. He’s the owner of a PhD, having spent nine years studying the Bible in college, seminary and graduate school.

OK, want to see how you’ll do in an abbreviated version of the quiz? This is a closed-book test. All answers are based on the biblical versions of the Christmas story.

1. Joseph was from:

a) Bethlehem

b) Jerusalem

c) Nazareth

d) Egypt

2. How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?

a) Camel

b) Donkey

c) Walked

d) Who knows?

3. What did the innkeeper tell Mary and Joseph?

a) “There is no room in the inn.”

b) “I have a stable you can use.”

c) “Come back after the Christmas rush and I should have some vacancies.”

d) Both A and B.

e) None of the above.

4. Jesus was delivered in a:

a) Stable

b) Manger

c) Barn

d) Unknown

5. A “manger” is a:

a) Stable for domestic animals

b) Wooden hay storage bin

c) Feeding trough

d) Barn

6. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?

a) Cows, sheep, goats

b) Cows, donkeys, sheep

c) Sheep and goats only

d) Miscellaneous barnyard animals

e) None of the above

7. Who saw the “star in the east”?

a) Shepherds

b) Mary and Joseph

c) Three kings

d) Both A and C

e) None of the above

8. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?

a) One

b) Three

c) A “multitude”

d) None of the above

9. What sign did the angels tell the shepherds to look for?

a) “This way to baby Jesus”

b) A star over Bethlehem

c) A baby that doesn’t cry

d) A baby in a stable

e) None of the above

10. What did the angels sing?

a) “Joy to the World”

b) “Alleluia”

c) “Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given.”

d) “Glory to God in the highest”

e) “Glory to the newborn King”

11. What is a “heavenly host”?

a) The angel at the gate of heaven

b) The angel who invites people to heaven

c) The angel who serves drinks in heaven

d) An angel choir

e) An angel army

f) None of the above

12. There was snow that first Christmas:

a) Only in Bethlehem

b) All over Israel

c) Nowhere in Israel

d) Somewhere in Israel

e) Mary and Joseph only dreamed of a white Christmas

13. The baby Jesus cried:

a) When the doctor slapped him on his behind

b) When the little drummer boy started banging on his drum

c) Just as other babies cry

d) He never cried.

14. What is frankincense?

a) A precious metal

b) A precious fabric

c) A precious perfume

d) None of the above

15. What is myrrh?

a) An easily shaped metal

b) A spice used for burying people

c) A drink

d) None of the above

16. How many wise men came to see Jesus?

a) 2

b) 3

c) 5

d) None of the above

17. What does “wise men” refer to?

a) Men of the educated class

b) Eastern kings

c) Astrologers

d) Sages

18. The wise men found Jesus in a:

a) Manger

b) Stable

c) House

19. Where do we find the Christmas story in order to check up on these ridiculous questions? (You can pick more than one answer.)


a) Matthew

b) Mark

c) Luke

d) John

20. When Joseph and Mary found out that Mary was pregnant with Jesus, what happened?

a) They got married

b) Joseph wanted to break the engagement

c) Mary left town for three months

d) An angel told them to go to Bethlehem

e) Both A and D

f) Both B and C

21. Who told Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem?

a) The angel

b) Mary’s mother

c) Herod

d) Caesar Augustus

e) No one

22. Joseph took the baby Jesus to Egypt:

a) To show him the pyramids

b) To teach him the wisdom of the pharaohs

c) To put in a basket in the reeds by the river

d) Because he dreamed about it

e) Joseph did not take Jesus to Egypt

f) None of the above


I won’t tell you what I scored--my license as a religion columnist might be revoked. But Beckwith gives us some comforting words.

“If your score was low like mine, take heart,” he said. “It is not what you know that counts; it is whom you know that counts!”


William Lobdell is the religion reporter-editor for The Times’ Orange County edition. His e-mail address is


Christmas Quiz Answers

1) A: See Luke 2:3,4.

2) D: The Bible doesn’t say.

3) E: No word about the innkeeper. See Luke 2:7.

4) D: No word about it. See Luke 2:7.

5) C.

6) E: The Bible doesn’t specify.

7) E: The wise men did. (They were not kings.) See Matthew 2:2.

8) A: See Luke 2:9.

9) E: See Luke 2:12.

10) D: See Luke 2:14.

11) E: Definition is “an army.” See “Living Bible” also.

12) D: Mt. Hermon is snow-covered.

13) C: We have no reason to believe he wouldn’t.

14) C.

15) B: See John 19:39 or a dictionary.

16) D: See Matthew 2:1.

17) C: See most any commentary. They were astrologers or “stargazers.”

18) C: See Matthew 2:11.

19) A and C. Mark begins with John the Baptist; John with “the Word.”

20) F: See Matthew 1:19; Luke 1:39-56.

21) D: See Luke 2:1-4.

22) D: See Matthew 2:13.