The figures of the Nativity-scene derive from another composition, see the print of Hieronymus Wierix for Nadal, Jerónimo. Evangelicae Historiae Imagines. Antwerpen: Martinus Nutius, 1593, or a copy after this. In the copy after Hieronymus Wierix the Nativity is placed in a Cave (according database Rijksmuseum, inv. no. of print: RP-P-OB-67.129). 1593 could be a terminus post quem for the painting, if the composition by Wierix is not overtaken from an older model.
The composition of figures was also used for a painting, now attributed to the circle of Gillis Coignet, RKD, artwork no. 116968.
The faces of the figures are entirely different then those in his later works. Jan's always tend to have a drawn, caricatural look whereas these faces are modeled. The background is also painted sloppily and the buildings have little detail. Ertz also agrees that if this were by Jan at all that the figures would have to have been by a collaborator, but none can be distinguished. However, even the back group has elements not typical of Jan such as including multiple moments of a story in the same painting and leaving building without detail. Honig hypothesizes instead that this was painted by someone familiar with both the work of Bosch and Jan Brueghel.