CBS NEWS' "48 HOURS MYSTERY" UNRAVELS ONE OF THE GREATEST MYSTERIES OF ALL TIME: CHRISTMAS AND THE BIRTH OF JESUS --
ON A SPECIAL NIGHT, TUESDAY, DEC. 20
Correspondent Maureen Maher journeys to the Holy Land to investigate one of the most powerful and controversial stories ever -- the birth of Jesus. 48 HOURS searches for archaeological proof of the Biblical accounts, decodes the messages hidden in the scriptures and examines starkly different versions of Christmas, including some that never made it into the New Testament. The questions about what really happened, Maher explains, are explored with curiosity and respect. 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "The Mystery of Christmas" will be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 20 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Maher explores the lands of the Bible with Professor Ben Witherington, a conservative scholar and evangelical minister, to get back to the "the historical bedrock" where history and faith intersect. Witherington takes 48 HOURS to the cave in Bethlehem where he says Jesus was born; the excavations of ancient Nazareth; Carpernaum, where Jesus' ministry was based; and the stone city of Petra, where he claims the wise men passed through.
Was Christ born in Bethlehem or Nazareth? Professor Michael White, a New Testament scholar at the University of Texas, believes it is highly probable that Jesus was born in Nazareth since Christ is referred to as Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament.
Other questions that will be explored in the broadcast include: Were there shepherds at Christ's birth or magi or both? Was there a guiding star the night of the birth? Is December 25 the true birth dates? How accurate are the different infancy narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke? How much creative license did the Gospel authors take?
Witherington makes the case for the greatest miracle of all, the virgin birth. He says the story is "too improbable not to be true" and that the authors of a new religion would not have invented so fantastic a story while trying to make new converts. But, the veracity of the virgin birth is questioned by Professor John Dominic Crossan, a former Roman Catholic monk, and Princeton University Professor Elaine Pagels.
48 HOURS MYSTERY: "The Mystery of Christmas" is produced by Miguel Sancho. The senior producer is Peter Schweitzer and the executive producer is Susan Zirinsky.