What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The Original Christmas IQ Test
(Study Edition)

Quite a few years ago (probably in the early 1980's), I wrote a multiple-choice quiz, I believe as an ice-breaker for a Bethel party. I called it the “Christmas IQ Test,” and even though the questions were very easy (hee, hee), my students got most of the answers wrong. The main point of the IQ test is that you must read the story carefully for yourself, and not rely on Christmas cards for your Biblical training! The Christmas IQ Test now appears in various places on the Internet, where people even sillier than I am have added even sillier questions. (If you see an unattributed copy, please let me know.)

Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany make up a busy time of year. Our scripture readings for this study are short, and I hope the study tips will be fun.

This wonderful painting by Sandro Botticelli has it all: the Holy Family, complete with naked baby on the ground; ox and ass; kings (left with angel in pink); shepherds (right with angel in white); numerous angels above the cave and stable dancing below a heavenly dome; assorted angels and men in the foreground; and demons (far bottom). Wait, not “all,” because there's no manger, no star, and no gifts. Don't use Botticelli's “Mystical Nativity” for your Christmas cards, because much of what we all “know” about the Christmas story is … wrong.

Copyright information, disclaimers, and sponsors
Return to homepage

The Mystical Nativity, by Botticelli
"The Mystical Nativity," by Sandro Botticelli,
National Gallery, London, Public Domain.

Lest I get a reputation as a Grinch, first allow me to establish my qualifications as one of Santa’s elves:
Nevertheless, our beautiful and beloved nativity set has errors in it.  On each day of this study, we will have a one-question quiz just for fun, then the scripture reading (usually ½ to 1 verse), then a brief study tip.

Let's try to let the spirit of Christmas, and not the business of Christmas, guide us through the month.

November 24:  Was John the Baptist a Nazirite?
A.  Yes
B.  No
C.  Who knows?
Find the answer:  Luke 1:15, Numbers 6:1-4

November 25:   With what Old Testament figure is John identified?
A. Moses
B. Elijah
C. Isaiah
D. Daniel
E. Zechariah
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Luke 1:16-17, Luke 7:26-27, Matthew 11:13-14, Matthew 17:10-12, and parallel verses in Mark.

November 26:   Isaiah predicted that John would be
A. Jesus' cousin
B. The Sword of the Lord
C. A voice in the wilderness
D. Beheaded by Herod
E. Born to a barren woman
F. All of the above.
Find the answer:  Isaiah 40:3-5

November 27:   What does "Jesus" mean?
A. God with Us
C. Lamb of God
E. Son of God
B. Lily of the Valley
D. God Saves
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Matthew 1:21

November 28:   Joseph was from
A. Bethlehem
B. Jerusalem
C. Nazareth
D. Egypt
E. Minnesota
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Luke 2:4

November 29:   When Joseph and Mary first found out that Mary was pregnant, 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.
Find the answer:   Luke 1:39, 56; Matthew 1:19

December 2:   Who told Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem?
A. The angel
B. Mary's mother
C. Herod
D. Caesar Augustus
E. Joseph's father
F. No one
Find the answer:  Luke 2:1

December 3:   How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?
A. Camel
B. Donkey
C. They walked.
D. VW microbus
E. Joseph walked, Mary rode.
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Luke 2:7, 12

December 4:   Jesus was delivered in a
A. Stable
B. Manger
C. Cave
D. UPS van
E. Barn
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Luke 2:7, 12

December 7:  What animals were present at Jesus’ birth?
A. Cows, sheep, goats
B. Cows and donkeys
C. Bats and bears
D. Sheep and goats
E. Lions and tigers
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Psalms 139:6

December 8:   On how many separate occasions did angels appear in connection with Jesus' birth and infancy?
A. One
B. Two
C. Three
D. Four
E. Five
F. Six
Find the answer:  Luke 1:11; Luke 1:26; Luke 2:8; Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 2:19.

December 9:  Who was the angel who appeared to Zechariah and Mary?
A. Uriel
B. Oriel
C. Gabriel
D. The Littlest Angel
E. Michael Landon
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Luke 1:19, 26

December 10:  How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
A. One
B. Two
C. Three
D. A multitude
E. None of the above
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:   Luke 2:9-10

December 11 Today's Quiz:  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 house with a Christmas tree.
E. Christmas decorations in October.
F. None of the above.
Find the answer:  Luke 2:12

December 12:   What did the angels sing to the shepherds?
A. "Joy to the World, the Lord is come."
B. "Alleluia."
C. "Unto Us a Child is Born."
D. "Glory to God in the Highest."
E. "Glory to the Newborn King."
F. "My Sweet Lord."
Find the answer:  Luke 2:14

December 15:  What is a "heavenly host"?
A. An angel at the gate of heaven.
B. An angel who invites people to heaven.
C. An angel who serves refreshments.
D. An angel choir.
E. An angel army.
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:   Psalms 24:8, 10; Josh. 5:13-14a

December 16:  How many angels flew above the manger?
A.  None; they had a flight to catch.
B.  One; he missed the flight.
C.  Two; it was a bad neighborhood.
D.  Six.
E.  A multitude.
F.  Who knows?
Find the answer:   Luke 2:15

December 17:  What offering did Joseph and Mary take to the Temple?
A.  Six geese a-laying
B.  Five golden rings
C.  Four calling birds
D.  Three French hens
E.  Two turtledoves
F.  A partridge in a pear tree
Find the answer:   Luke 2:22b, 24

December 18:  Who visited with Mary and Joseph in the Temple?
A.  Zechariah and Elizabeth
B.  Simeon and Anna
C.  Clyde and Todd
D.  Caiaphus, the high priest
E.  Gabriel and Michael
F.  Who knows?
Find the answer:   Luke 2:34, 36, 38

December 19:  How many kings came to see Jesus?
A. None
B. One
C. Three
D. Five
E. Seven
Find the answer:  Matthew 2:1

If Santa is getting desperate for last-minute gift ideas, today would be a great time to ask for a new Bible for Christmas – a different translation than the one you are used to reading. When you read a new translation, you will notice things you never saw before and get insights you never had before. Tell Santa you want a good, modern translation with study notes, and please not to get X, Where X is your current translation.

December 22:  Who saw the star in the east?
A. Shepherds
B. Mary and Joseph
C. Three Kings
D. Both A and E
E. Both C and E
F. None of the above
Find the answer:   Matthew 2:2b

December 23:   OK, fine then, how many "wise men" came to see Jesus?
A. None
B. One
C. Three
D. Five
E. Seven
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Proverbs 30:18

December 24:   Why did the wise men and possibly women stop in Jerusalem?
A. To get gas.
B. To ask for directions.
C. To use the restroom.
D. To buy souvenirs.
E. To buy presents for Jesus.
F.  Who knows?
Find the answer:   Matthew 2:1-2a

Email Christmas Card:  Dear Reader,

Our study has been poking a bit a fun at what we all "know" about the Christmas story.  The kings, the angels and the star over the stable, the ass, the sheep, the naked baby – the Bible records none of these as having been present at the nativity of our Lord.
What we are trying to achieve is a clearer picture; here's something that could help.   If you get too enmeshed in the details, you see everything that's in the Christmas cards.  If you focus on the big picture, you see the Christ child. Merry Christmas! Regina

December 25:   How did Herod's advisors know where Jesus was?
A. They checked the census list.
B. The wise men told them.
C. They sent spies into the local villages.
D. They read it in a book.
E. They sacrificed a goat for guidance.
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:  Matthew 2:5-6; Micah 5:2

December 26:   Where did the star come to rest?
A.  Over the child.
B.  Over the manger.
C.  Over the stable.
D.  Over Bethlehem.
E.  Over Judea.
F.  Over the world.
Find the answer:  Matthew 2:9

December 29:   The wise men found Jesus in a
A. Manger
B. Stable
C. House
D. Good mood
E. Holiday Inn
F. Who knows?
Find the answer:   Matthew 2:11a

December 30:   When and where did the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas originate?
A.  About 2 BC, in Bethlehem.
B.  About 300 AD, with Bishop (and Saint) Nicholas of Myra, Turkey.
C.  About 1100 AD, when the Crusaders started bringing gifts back from the Holy Land.
D.  About 1650, with the Puritans in New England.
E.  About 1806, when Lewis and Clark gave gifts to the Indians in the Pacific Northwest.
F.  About 1954, with Hallmark in America.
Find the answer:  Matthew 2:11b

December 31:   What gifts did the wise men bring?
A.  Five golden rings, Old Spice aftershave, and formaldehyde.
B.  A silver rattle and a scented candle in a sack treated with BHT.
C.  Jewels, Chanel #5, and a can of wood preservative.
D.  Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
E.  Gold medals, air fresheners, and Oil of Olay.
F.  Who knows?
Find the answer:  Matthew 2:11

January 1, 2009:  How old was Jesus when the magi came to visit?
A.  Newborn
B.  A couple of months.
C.  About a year.
D.  About two years.
E.  Who knows?
Find the answer:  Matthew 2:7, 16

January 2, 2009:  Where can we find answers to these questions?
A. Matthew
B. Mark
C. Luke
D. John
E. All of the above.
F. Only A and C
Find the answer:  Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:3

See a more realistic painting than the one above.

Copyright 1993, 2008, 2009, 2017 by Regina L. Hunter.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

Our Sponsors:

St. John’s United Methodist Church, “Transforming Lives Through Christ.”
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110

St. John's Music Ministries now has a YouTube channel, bringing you free concerts and choral music. Check it out!

Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and 11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary.  Casual worship services are held Sundays at 9:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center.  Jazz Vespers are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program.

Storm Dragon SoftwareTM
Get a free demo of our computer adventure game, full of hidden-object puzzles, tiling and jigsaw puzzles, cycling puzzles, and more. Plus computer games that children can play all by themselves!

Ducks in a Row, Inc., developers of Keep It SafeTM - Home inventory software so easy anybody can use it.

This website is supported in part by the generosity of Mrs. J. Jordan.