Let me start by saying that Jesus was not born in a manager. I had that spelling error on an exam this semester. For that to have happened might have looked something like this:
Assuming, of course, that the father in the picture was some sort of manager.
But even if you get the spelling right, and write manger, Jesus still wasn’t born in one, even if the story in the Gospel of Luke was literally true.
A manger is a feeding trough. And nowhere in the story does it suggest that Mary gave birth in a feeding trough.
Historians wonder why anyone finds plausible that a pregnant woman would be dragged along needlessly on the long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. To suggest that, having been subjected to that, Mary was then forced to somehow cram herself into or balance herself over a feeding trough to give birth to Jesus in it is adding insult to injury.
Or maybe they think that the angel often depicted over the manger in nativity sets was there to hold Mary over the manger during the actual birth?
For those of you who are still unclear on this, here is what Luke 2:7 actually says:
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger…
So is that clear? This isn’t an issue of critical scholarship or liberal skepticism or whatever. The text of the Bible itself says that Jesus was born and then laid in a feeding trough – not born in one.
So, if you have ever said it in the past, please never again say “Jesus was born in a manger.”