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Differences in the Gospel Nativity Accounts?

Q. Why do only two of the Gospels tell about Jesus’ nativity, and why are these two accounts so different?

A. The Gospels were written by different authors, at different times, for different audiences, with different emphases, and drawing from sources that were not all the same. So we should not expect them to be all alike, even if they all have the same purpose: to tell the good news of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Mark is an early account of Jesus’ life — perhaps the earliest, though an ancient tradition reports that Matthew was written first. St. Mark was a ministry companion of St. Peter, and his account reflects Peter’s testimony and preaching. It was written in Rome, primarily for a Roman audience, and its brevity and fast-paced narrative would have suited Roman tastes in storytelling. Mark begins, then, not with events surrounding Jesus’ birth, but rather much later, at the point in the story where the most gripping “action” begins: the launch of Our Lord’s public ministry.

John was the last of the four Gospels to be composed, some decades after the others were already in circulation. This account reflects the long ti