Ian Paul argues that Jesus was not born in a stable. He states that most likely Mary gave birth in an upper room of a private home. He makes several seemingly logical arguments to that end – from Greek etymology to customs of the people back then.
Question: How many women do you know on the verge of childbirth that can climb stairs to an upper room? Another question. If they were in an upper room, how would the shepherds find them (vs.16)? Would the shepherds really be entering private homes, going up and down stairs, searching for this child in the middle of the night?
Verse 7 quite plainly says that the reason Joseph and Mary found themselves in a less than ideal situation because they couldn’t find a customary “lodging place.” If they were in a private home, that would seem to be a very typical “lodging place.” Ian also seems to forget that this was the time of registration, mandated by the Romans. So Bethlehem would have been bursting at the seams with travelers, thus accentuating the dire housing situation. Finally, Ian makes a point about the Greek word the English translate as “inn.” Well, here is the Greek word translated as “manger.”
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses have long held that much of the common folklore surrounding Jesus’ birth are indeed just stories, including the supposed month of December, the point of where Jesus was actually born and observed by the shepherds may be a bit more of a debatable subject. However, the Bible account definitely accentuates the idea that what Joseph and Mary found was less than optimal.