For over a century "experts" have confidently placed the writing of the Gospels, as well as the rest of the New Testament, firmly in the 2nd Century, or even the 3rd Century, after Christ. Their reasoning is usually among these: The early Christians did not write down what Jesus said; the N.T scriptures were later interpolations of word-of-mouth sayings within the early Church; the N.T.Scriptures were simply fiction composed by a splinter group of Jews seeking freedom from the Roman occupation. And there are others. All of them have one aim in mind: the discrediting of the Christian Scriptures and the de-deification of Jesus.
I recall reading, more than once, that by the time of the 2nd Century - the earliest that "experts" accept as the dating of the first writing of N.T.Scriptures - the world of Roman Judaea had changed completely. 1st Century Roman Judaea no longer existed. Writers, then, in the 3rd Century had no idea what the area, wherein Jesus lived and preached, looked like. Because it was gone. Just as surely as Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried under lava, Roman Judaea disappeared in A.D. 70, with the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans.
The Christian Gospels, Epistles, etc. describe a world that the writers could not have known. Remember, by the modern times, all of the "experts" knew that Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judaea. The Scriptures call him Prefect. Naturally the Scriptures had to be wrong, thus they were not historical. Because, as we all know, the Scriptures are not history but fiction. Even the reknowned historian Tacitus referred to Pilate as procurator (another nail in the coffin of those who believe Pilate to be non-historical). Tacitus had to be right, didn't he. Until, in HIS own time, GOD revealed the truth. In 1961, during excavation of the ancient amphitheater (built by decree of Herod the Great c. 30 BC), called Caesarea Palaestina in the present city of Caesarea-on-the-Sea (also called Maritima) an inscribed limestone block was unearthed. On the partially damaged block is a dedication to Tiberius Caesar Augustus. It has been deemed as an authentic archaeological find due to the area in which it was discovered: the costal town of Caesarea, which was the seat of power of Judaea during the tyrannical reign of Pontius Pilate.
The partial inscription reads:
It is believed that this is what it likely said:
(DIS AUGUSTI)S TIBERIEUM
Hmmm, imagine that! The Bible was correct and the historians - the "experts" - were wrong. Again. Pilate, among many titles he held while serving Rome in Judaea, was Prefect. Just as the Scriptures said. By the 2nd Century that title was no longer in use. By A.D. 44 the title of Prefect was gone. The term used would hence be Procurator. And just who, among these primitives of Judaea of the 2nd and 3rd Centuries would know the history of Roman titleage?
For in those days there was no Jerusalem Times or Pharisee Herald Tribune whose archives you could check, no Internet, not even a lending library. The synagogue may have held important texts, but after a certain time, those synagogues were gone, too.
No, we may not have in our posession manuscripts in the hand of the original writers of the Gospels. We may not have the manuscripts in existence that Jesus' comrades wrote down. But what we do have is evidence that the manuscripts we do have are accurate. More accurate than the writings of the historians who denigrate the Scriptures as fiction.
Think for a moment on this, while we're at it. Julius Caesar's writings, put down between 100 and 44 B.C. are accepted at face value as accurate history, though biased. The earliest copy in existence dates from A.D. 900 - a span of 1,000 years! The New Testament, believed to have been written between A.D. 40 and A.D. 100, has over 24,000 copies from circa A.D. 125. A tme span of about 25 to 85 years. Despite repeated evidence showing the historicity of the Scriptures, they are considered unreliable and fictional. The "Annals" of Tacitus were written in A.D. 100. they are also considered reliable. The earliest copies date from A.D. 1100. Do you see the problem here?
We know, from archaeology, from writings, from all the evidence available, that the Scriptures are, in fact, historically reliable. We also know from decades, indeed centuries, of "scholarship" that the Scriptures are fiction, fables, unreliable historical records.
Even today we have so-called "Theologians" who will dissect the Scriptures to prove some point. Such as: Jesus was called Jesus of Nazareth. The Scriptures claim he was born in Bethlehem. So why the wrong name? Because he wasn't born in Bethlehem. Nyeahh!
Nice try, but a very silly argument (I threw in the "Nyeahh!")as you can probably tell. I was born in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia, spent the first two years of my life in a suburb of Philadelphia called Ambler, then was reared in Levittown until adulthood. If we used the same sort of naming devices I would be known as benning of Levittown, not benning of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, or anything else. He was known as Jesus of Nazareth by people who only knew him from Nazareth, or were told he was from Nazareth. It's such a stupid argument that you have to wonder at the desperate nature of those who raise it. Benjamin Franklin is considered a Philadelphian, isn't he? But he was born and reared in Boston. I guess he is a fiction, too, eh?
Are there problems with the understandings of His birth? Yes; no question about it. Jesus was not born in a manger. He was to be found lying in a manger. He was not born the night that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem. The Scripture does not say that He was. The Wise Men (Magi) were not there at the same time as the Shepherds. The Magi came much later. Jesus may well have been crawling about the floor by the time they arrived.
But all these things are simply matters of reading what the Scriptures say, not relying on what you think they say, and not on Doctrine. The Scriptures are the source of the facts; doctrines are created by denominations. So pay attention.
Our Christmas Celebrations are most likely at the wrong time of the year. But they are in Joyous Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The timing is unimportant. The facts are in the Scriptures. And we can have confidence in them. They are "GOD-breathed", as the word goes. So, have confidence, be Joyful, have Faith!
"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"
See: Josh MacDowell's "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" for Apologetics that are amazing and bolster Faith in the Scriptures. My own copy, which is falling apart, I bought in 1972.