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Christians and Christmas

Discussion in 'Questions by Non-Christians (Archived)' started by Futhark, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. Futhark

    Futhark New Member

    2
    +1
    Pagan
    This is one thing that really strikes me as odd. I sometimes see christians wondering why pagans are celebrating christmas, as it, by their notion, is a christian holiday, often hinting that heathens really shouldn't treat this time of year as something special. This is quite amusing, seeing as Jul (Yule) has a long tradition of being the winter solstice festival. In fact, it appears that christmas was transformed into a christian holiday by the vatican because it was so popular among the heathens. Which really means that it is the christians, not me, that should consider their practices!

    (I do not wish to be offensive in any way, and it's perfectly fine by me if christians continue to celebrate christmas, I'm just wondering :) )
     
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  2. Rick of Wessex

    Rick of Wessex Alive and kicking!

    903
    +94
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    Hi, Futhark.

    Christmas has nothing to do with pagan festivals whatsoever. That's a commom myth. For more on this subject, I recommend the excellent article below.

    In XC,
    Rick

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Calculating Christmas
    William J. Tighe on the Story Behind December 25

    Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

    Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

    A Mistake
    The idea that the date was taken from the pagans goes back to two scholars from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a German Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th was one of the many “pagan-izations” of Christianity that the Church of the fourth century embraced, as one of many “degenerations” that transformed pure apostolic Christianity into Catholicism. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel.

    In the Julian calendar, created in 45 b.C. under Julius Caesar, the winter solstice fell on December 25th, and it therefore seemed obvious to Jablonski and Hardouin that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one. But in fact, the date had no religious significance in the Roman pagan festal calendar before Aurelian’s time, nor did the cult of the sun play a prominent role in Rome before him.

    There were two temples of the sun in Rome, one of which (maintained by the clan into which Aurelian was born or adopted) celebrated its dedication festival on August 9th, the other of which celebrated its dedication festival on August 28th. But both of these cults fell into neglect in the second century, when eastern cults of the sun, such as Mithraism, began to win a following in Rome. And in any case, none of these cults, old or new, had festivals associated with solstices or equinoxes.

    As things actually happened, Aurelian, who ruled from 270 until his assassination in 275, was hostile to Christianity and appears to have promoted the establishment of the festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” as a device to unify the various pagan cults of the Roman Empire around a commemoration of the annual “rebirth” of the sun. He led an empire that appeared to be collapsing in the face of internal unrest, rebellions in the provinces, economic decay, and repeated attacks from German tribes to the north and the Persian Empire to the east.

    In creating the new feast, he intended the beginning of the lengthening of the daylight, and the arresting of the lengthening of darkness, on December 25th to be a symbol of the hoped-for “rebirth,” or perpetual rejuvenation, of the Roman Empire, resulting from the maintenance of the worship of the gods whose tutelage (the Romans thought) had brought Rome to greatness and world-rule. If it co-opted the Christian celebration, so much the better.

    A By-Product
    It is true that the first evidence of Christians celebrating December 25th as the date of the Lord’s nativity comes from Rome some years after Aurelian, in a.D. 336, but there is evidence from both the Greek East and the Latin West that Christians attempted to figure out the date of Christ’s birth long before they began to celebrate it liturgically, even in the second and third centuries. The evidence indicates, in fact, that the attribution of the date of December 25th was a by-product of attempts to determine when to celebrate his death and resurrection.

    How did this happen? There is a seeming contradiction between the date of the Lord’s death as given in the synoptic Gospels and in John’s Gospel. The synoptics would appear to place it on Passover Day (after the Lord had celebrated the Passover Meal on the preceding evening), and John on the Eve of Passover, just when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Jerusalem Temple for the feast that was to ensue after sunset on that day.

    Solving this problem involves answering the question of whether the Lord’s Last Supper was a Passover Meal, or a meal celebrated a day earlier, which we cannot enter into here. Suffice it to say that the early Church followed John rather than the synoptics, and thus believed that Christ’s death would have taken place on 14 Nisan, according to the Jewish lunar calendar. (Modern scholars agree, by the way, that the death of Christ could have taken place only in a.D. 30 or 33, as those two are the only years of that time when the eve of Passover could have fallen on a Friday, the possibilities being either 7 April 30 or 3 April 33.)

    However, as the early Church was forcibly separated from Judaism, it entered into a world with different calendars, and had to devise its own time to celebrate the Lord’s Passion, not least so as to be independent of the rabbinical calculations of the date of Passover. Also, since the Jewish calendar was a lunar calendar consisting of twelve months of thirty days each, every few years a thirteenth month had to be added by a decree of the Sanhedrin to keep the calendar in synchronization with the equinoxes and solstices, as well as to prevent the seasons from “straying” into inappropriate months.

    Apart from the difficulty Christians would have had in following—or perhaps even being accurately informed about—the dating of Passover in any given year, to follow a lunar calendar of their own devising would have set them at odds with both Jews and pagans, and very likely embroiled them in endless disputes among themselves. (The second century saw severe disputes about whether Pascha had always to fall on a Sunday or on whatever weekday followed two days after 14 Artemision/Nisan, but to have followed a lunar calendar would have made such problems much worse.)

    These difficulties played out in different ways among the Greek Christians in the eastern part of the empire and the Latin Christians in the western part of it. Greek Christians seem to have wanted to find a date equivalent to 14 Nisan in their own solar calendar, and since Nisan was the month in which the spring equinox occurred, they chose the 14th day of Artemision, the month in which the spring equinox invariably fell in their own calendar.

    Around a.D. 300, the Greek calendar was superseded by the Roman calendar, and since the dates of the beginnings and endings of the months in these two systems did not coincide, 14 Artemision became April 6th.

    In contrast, second-century Latin Christians in Rome and North Africa appear to have desired to establish the historical date on which the Lord Jesus died. By the time of Tertullian (c. +230) they had concluded that he died on Friday, 25 March 29. (As an aside, I will note that this is impossible: 25 March 29 was not a Friday, and Passover Eve in a.D. 29 did not fall on a Friday and was not on March 25th, or in March at all.)

    Integral Age
    So in the East we have April 6th, in the West, March 25th. At this point, we have to introduce a belief that seems to have been widespread in Judaism at the time of Christ, but which, as it is nowhere taught in the Bible, has completely fallen from the awareness of Christians. The idea is that of the “integral age” of the great Jewish prophets: the idea that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception.

    This notion is a key factor in understanding how some early Christians came to believe that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. The early Christians applied this idea to Jesus, so that March 25th and April 6th were not only the supposed dates of Christ’s death, but of his conception or birth as well. There is some fleeting evidence that at least some first- and second-century Christians thought of March 25th or April 6th as the date of Christ’s birth, but rather quickly the assignment of March 25th as the date of Christ’s conception prevailed.

    It is to this day, commemorated almost universally among Christians as the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel brought the good tidings of a savior to the Virgin Mary, upon whose acquiescence the Eternal Word of God (“Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten of the Father before all ages” ) forthwith became incarnate in her womb. What is the length of pregnancy? Nine months. Add nine months to March 25th and you get December 25th; add it to April 6th and you get January 6th. December 25th is Christmas, and January 6th is Epiphany.

    Christmas (December 25th) is a feast of Western Christian origin. In Constantinople it appears to have been introduced in 379 or 380. From a sermon of St. John Chrysostom, at the time a renowned ascetic and preacher in his native Antioch, it appears that the feast was first celebrated there on 25 December 386. From these centers it spread throughout the Christian East, being adopted in Alexandria around 432 and in Jerusalem a century or more later. The Armenians, alone among ancient Christian churches, have never adopted it, and to this day celebrate Christ’s birth, manifestation to the magi, and baptism on January 6th.

    Western churches, in turn, gradually adopted the January 6th Epiphany feast from the East, Rome doing so sometime between 366 and 394. But in the West, the feast was generally presented as the commemoration of the visit of the magi to the infant Christ, and as such, it was an important feast, but not one of the most important ones—a striking contrast to its position in the East, where it remains the second most important festival of the church year, second only to Pascha (Easter).

    In the East, Epiphany far outstrips Christmas. The reason is that the feast celebrates Christ’s baptism in the Jordan and the occasion on which the Voice of the Father and the Descent of the Spirit both manifested for the first time to mortal men the divinity of the Incarnate Christ and the Trinity of the Persons in the One Godhead.

    A Christian Feast
    Thus, December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.
    And the pagan feast which the Emperor Aurelian instituted on that date in the year 274 was not only an effort to use the winter solstice to make a political statement, but also almost certainly an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Christians. The Christians, in turn, could at a later date re-appropriate the pagan “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” to refer, on the occasion of the birth of Christ, to the rising of the “Sun of Salvation” or the “Sun of Justice.”

    William J. Tighe, a Touchstone correspondent, is Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College. He refers interested readers to Thomas J. Talley’s The Origins of the Liturgical Year (The Liturgical Press). A draft of this article appeared on the listserve Virtuosity.
     
  3. TheMainException

    TheMainException Senior Veteran

    +89
    Christian
    Single
    US-Libertarian
    wow, never knew that before...by what you have said...it seems like the two ideas merged into one.
     
  4. Serapha

    Serapha Well-Known Member

    +25
    Non-Denom
    Hi there!

    :wave:


    There are a lot of evidences that point to Christ being born around December 25.


    Dwight Pentecost (fundamentalist) in "The Words and Words of Jesus Christ" addresses it also.

    ~serapha~
     
  5. CaDan

    CaDan I remember orange CF Supporter

    +2,623
    Christian
    Married
    Now THAT's an answer!
     
  6. Futhark

    Futhark New Member

    2
    +1
    Pagan
    Ah, but I wasn't really concerned about the roman pagans...

    Here's a CNN article:

    OSLO, Norway (AP) -- If the Vikings had seen pictures of Santa Claus cruising the skies in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, they probably would have assumed he was catching a ride with Thor, the Norse god of thunder.

    According to Viking traditions, which carry over into modern Scandinavian Jul -- or Yule -- celebrations, Thor's personal transport was a flying wagon pulled by a team of horned goats.

    "The idea of St. Nicholas got very much mixed in with Thor's transport when it comes to the sled with flying reindeer," said Helge Soerheim of the Archaeological Museum in Stavanger.

    Some say the idea of Father Christmas or Santa bringing gifts stems from Norse mythology, too, since the most powerful of the Viking gods, Odin, was credited with doing the exact same thing, according to the Norwegian research magazine Forskning.

    Even though Christianity came to Scandinavia a millennium ago, modern celebrations of Christmas hark back to the pagan winter feast of Jul, which comes from the Norse word "Jol" meaning fun and party.

    Today, Jul marks the birth of Jesus and is part of the Christian tradition, but it's still referred to by its ancient name.

    "Everything about it is ancient Jul. The name, the concept, the lights in the darkness, the good food, everything but the Christianity part," said Wenche Brun, who works with the Viking Museum on northern Norway's Lofoten Islands.

    Ancient Jul was celebrated on December 21, then believed to be the longest night of the year. It was easy to shift to the Christian celebration that takes place December 24.

    Today, Scandinavians are overwhelmingly Christian. In Norway, for example, 86 percent of the 4.6 million people are registered members of the state Lutheran Church of Norway.

    Modern Scandinavians would say they celebrate Yule, while the Vikings "drank Jul."

    And a key part of "drinking Jul" -- today as in the year 1000 -- is brewing special Christmas beers.

    In Norway alone there are more than 50 kinds of Juleoel, or Christmas beers, ranging in strength from 4.5 to 9.9 percent alcohol, brewed just before the holidays each year. They are darker and more flavorful than regular beers.

    In Viking times, Soerheim of the archaeological museum said, people thought drinking themselves into a stupor on holiday beer and other alcoholic beverages would create a euphoric connection with supernatural forces. And failure to get drunk at a Viking feast was an insult to the host, implying that his alcohol wasn't good enough.

    Because modern Jul is generally a family affair, today's Scandinavians are more moderate in their "drinking Jul."

    But the old Viking toast -- "to a good new year and peace" -- still echoes in the modern Christmas wishes of the North, Soerheim said.

    Even after Christianity made inroads, brewing Jul-time beer remained a serious matter. In medieval times, every farmer was required to brew Christmas beer or risk fines and worse.

    "Everyone had to make two batches of Christmas beer a year, one for themselves and one for guests, or be fined three riskdollars," Olaug Flakne, 31, Norway's only female brew master, said, referring to the currency of that day.

    "If they did not do it for three years in a row, their farms were taken away, and, if they were also not Christian, they were expelled from the country," she said at the brewery on the outskirts of Oslo.

    In old times, Norwegians used whatever was at hand, from juniper berries to tobacco, to flavor the beers.

    But under the Beer Purity Act of 1516, which was repealed in 1994 but is still heeded by Norwegian brewers today, only malt, hops, yeast and water can go into beer.

    Ringnes, Flakne's employer and Norway's largest brewery, alone makes 3.3 million liters (nearly 870,000 gallons) of Christmas beer in 18 varieties.

    Not everyone is happy about the connection between Christmas and the brewing of beer. In the 1960s, the Christian Sobriety Society demanded that the name Juleoel, or Jul Beer, be banned.

    The national brewers' association, however, successfully countered that Jul has nothing to do with Christmas or Christianity but stems from Viking times.

    Other Christmastime traditions appear to have been passed down from the Vikings. Many believe the "Julenek," a sheaf of grain Norwegians place outside for the birds each Christmas, stems from the Vikings' Jul offerings to their gods. Others say it may have a later origin, such as sharing Christmas bounty with all creatures.

    The Christmas goat, called Julebukk in Norway and Joulupukki in Finland, recalls pre-Christian times when Jul celebrants wore goat horns. Now, masked children depicting the Julebukk go house to house singing carols and expecting treats, much as children do on Halloween in some countries.

    Another pagan belief was that Lussi, a demon woman with fiery hair, wandered the earth on the night between Dec. 12 and 13, the longest night of the year before the calendar was changed. Lussi was believed to be searching for naughty children and, like an ill-intentioned Santa Claus, might slide down a chimney to find them.

    Under Christianity, December 13 became Lucia Day, a Roman Catholic tribute to St. Lucia, martyred in Sicily in 304 A.D.

    And when it comes to Santa's reindeer, they should consider themselves lucky. In Scandinavia, the main place for reindeer at Christmastime is on the dinner tables of the Saami, a people who have herded reindeer above the Arctic Circle from time immemorial.


    I don't think all that was made up. :)
     
  7. Rafael

    Rafael Only time enough for love

    +302
    Christian
    Married
    Christmas and Santy Claus........oh boy!

    Well, there is One and then the other. I think you'll find that everybody has their own way of keeping Christmas in their hearts and minds. Each person balances the faith and the tradition in their own way, and should. My family has its own convictions about Santa Claus and about the birth of Messiah Yeshua - Jesus. One is serious and the other for fun. Some Churches even frown on the observation of Christmas to the point of being judgmental while others make the best of what the world has turned into a merchandiser's dream of materialistic visions of lollypops and gifts dancing in the head. While men are rich in imagination and tradition, their faith and charity is often weak. Just my humble two cents.
     
  8. Thunderchild

    Thunderchild Sheep in Wolf's clothing

    +1
    Non-Denom
    Ummm.... Santa Claus (Saint Klaus, by way of interpretation) is not part of the Christian celebration of Christmas. Though most Christians are not averse to the image, that is a specifically Americanisation dating no earlier than the beginning of the 19th Century (I cannot for the life of me remember precisely when it was) - and it is certain that Christians have been celebrating Christmas since long before then. .... Flying sleigh and reindeer aside, you will note that there are a number of variations of a particular Saint distributing gifts which do not owe origins to anything Norse... Saint Stephen for instance. And even non saints, come to that... Babushka for example. I did address this issue somewhere else on the boards - if I can remember where, I'll copy it across to here as well.

    Excellent piece of work you did there, Rick of Wessex
     
  9. Thunderchild

    Thunderchild Sheep in Wolf's clothing

    +1
    Non-Denom
    Found it:

    Christmas has been celebrated by the various churches for as long as there have been churches. Until AD 300 or thenabouts, Christmas was a movable feast - that is, it was not celebrated on a specified date but bounced around the calendar a bit (that fits with the search for a proper date, as mentioned by Rich of Wessex) , just as the celebration of Easter still does. Arguments about the actual timing of Christmas are specious - the Biblical description of the every day events in progress at the time of Jesus's birth point firmly to about the time of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. While the timing of Christmas may be out by a week or two, it is the birth of Christ that is celebrated. (The Queen's Birthday Holiday in Australia is celebrated no-where near the date of the current queen's birthday - co-incidentally, it also occurs within a few days of a celebration in honour of one of the pagan deities. Be assured that the QBH in no way is held in honour of that pagan deity.) The procedural forms in the celebration of Christmas reflect those of the Feast of Purim.... Logical when you think about the raison d'etre behind that feast (deliverance.)

    Easter is the celebration of the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Christ. The name "Easter" derives from the name of the tide (season) during which that memorial celebration is held, not from the memorial celebration itself. The word itself therefore is properly a misnomer. "Easter" in fact has its roots in the Pesach - and celebrates the steps leading to spiritual freedom that Christ initiated, just as the Jews celebrate the Pesach as a memorial to their being led to freedom from Egypt. In short, it is the Pesach modified to reflect the fact that the redeemer has come.

    Likewise, when the Church of Rome first made forays into England, there was a rather heated argument with England's pre-existing Christians about the precise dates of Christmas and Easter. (Historical evidence points to the Celtic Church originating with Alexandrian missionaries.)

    As to Christians wondering why pagans observe Christmas, the answer is reasonably easy to provide: Pagans tend to honour a large number of gods... Magi were pagans after all - and very few question that one particular group of magi turned up to worship the new born Christ.
     
  10. visionary

    visionary Your God is my God... Ruth said, so say I. Supporter

    +6,010
    Messianic
    While much of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December, can the actual day of Jesus' birth be determined from scripture? This question will be explored in some detail, and will yield a result that is quite intriguing. The first passage we will consider begins with the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias:

    Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. ...8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, ... 23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, ...

    The clue given to us here is that Zacharias was of the "course" of Abia.

    The 24 Courses of the Temple Priesthood.

    King David on God's instructions (1 Chr 28:11-13) had divided the sons of Aaron into 24 groups (1 Chr 24:1-4), to setup a schedule by which the Temple of the Lord could be staffed with priests all year round in an orderly manner. After the 24 groups of priests were established, lots were drawn to determine the sequence in which each group would serve in the Temple. (1 Chr 24: 7-19). That sequence is as follows:

    1 Chr 24:7 1. Jehoiarib 2. Jedaiah
    1 Chr 24:8 3. Harim 4. Seorim
    1 Chr 24:9 5. Malchijah 6. Mijamin
    1 Chr 24:10 7. Hakkoz 8. Abijah
    1 Chr 24:11 9. Jeshuah 10. Shecaniah
    1 Chr 24:12 11. Eliashib 12. Jakim
    1 Chr 24:13 13. Huppah 14. Jeshebeab
    1 Chr 24:14 15. Bilgah 16. Immer
    1 Chr 24:15 17. Hezir 18. Aphses
    1 Chr 24:16 19. Pethahiah 20. Jehezekel
    1 Chr 24:17 21. Jachim 22. Gamul
    1 Chr 24:18 23. Delaiah 24. Maaziah

    1 Chr 24:19 These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

    Now each one of the 24 "courses" of priests would begin and end their service in the Temple on the Sabbath, a tour of duty being for one week (2 Chr 23:8, 1 Chr 9:25). On three occasions during the year, all the men of Israel were required to travel to Jerusalem for festivals of the Lord, so on those occasions all the priests would be needed in the Temple to accommodate the crowds. Those three festivals were Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Deut 16:16).

    The Yearly Cycle of Service in the Temple.

    The Jewish calendar begins in the spring, during the month of Nisan, so the first "course" of priests, would be that of the family of Jehoiarib, who would serve for seven days. The second week would then be the responsibility of the family of Jedaiah. The third week would be the feast of Unleavened Bread, and all priests would be present for service. Then the schedule would resume with the third course of priests, the family of Harim. By this plan, when the 24th course was completed, the general cycle of courses would repeat. This schedule would cover 51 weeks or 357 days, enough for the lunar Jewish calendar (about 354 days). So, in a period of a year, each group of priests would serve in the Temple twice on their scheduled course, in addition to the 3 major festivals, for a total of about five weeks of duty.

    The Conception of John the Baptist.

    Now back to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.

    Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, ...

    Beginning with the first month, Nisan, in the spring (March-April), the schedule of the priest's courses would result with Zacharias serving during the 10th week of the year. This is because he was a member of the course of Abia (Abijah), the 8th course, and both the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nisan) and Pentecost (6 Sivan) would have occurred before his scheduled duty. This places Zacharias' administration in the Temple as beginning on the second Sabbath of the third month, Sivan (May-June).

    1st Month 2nd Month 3rd Month
    Abib - Nisan (March - April)
    Zif - Iyyar (April - May)
    Sivan (May - June)

    First Week Jehoiarib (1) Seorim (4) All Priests (Pentecost)
    Second Week Jedaiah (2) Malchijah (5) Abijah (8)
    Third Week All Priests (Feast of Unleavened Bread) Mijamin (6) Jeshuah (9)
    Fourth Week Harim (3) Hakkoz (7) Shecaniah (10)

    Having completed his Temple service on the third Sabbath of Sivan, Zacharias returned home and soon conceived his son John. So John the Baptist was probably conceived shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan.

    The Conception of Jesus Christ.

    Now the reason that the information about John is important, is because according to Luke, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy:

    Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. 26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

    Note that verse 26 above refers to the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy, not Elul, the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, and this is made plain by the context of verse 24 and again in verse 36:

    Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

    Now working from the information about John's conception late in the third month, Sivan, and advancing six months, we arrive late in the 9th month of Kislev (Nov-Dec) for the time frame for the conception of Jesus. It is notable here that the first day of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev, and Jesus is called the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5, 12:46). This does not appear to be a mere coincidence. In the book of John, Hanukkah is called the feast of dedication (John 10:22). Hanukkah is an eight day festival, celebrating the relighting of the menorah in the rededicated Temple, which according to the story, stayed lit miraculously for eight days on only one day's supply of oil.

    The Birth of John the Baptist.

    Based on a conception shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan, projecting forward an average term of about 10 lunar months (40 weeks), we arrive in the month of Nisan. It would appear that John the Baptist may have been born in the middle of the month, which would coincide with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is interesting to note, that even today, it is customary for the Jews to set out a special goblet of wine during the Passover Seder meal, in anticipation of the arrival of Elijah that week, which is based on the prophecy of Malachi:

    Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

    Jesus identified John as the "Elijah" that the Jews had expected:

    Mat 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

    The angel that appeared to Zacharias in the temple also indicated that John would be the expected "Elias":

    Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

    So then, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, and this is a likely date for the birth of John the Baptist, the expected "Elijah".

    The Birth of Jesus Christ.

    Since Jesus was conceived six months after John the Baptist, and we have established a likely date for John's birth, we need only move six months farther down the Jewish calender to arrive at a likely date for the birth of Jesus. From the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, we go to the 15th day of the 7th month, Tishri. And what do we find on that date? It is the festival of Tabernacles! The 15th day of Tishri begins the third and last festival of the year to which all the men of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem for Temple services. (Lev 23:34)

    Immanuel.

    Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

    Immanuel means "God with us". The Son of God had come to dwell with, or tabernacle on earth with His people.

    John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

    The word in the Hebrew for dwelt is succah and the name of the Feast of Tabernacles in Hebrew is Sukkot, a festival of rejoicing and celebration:

    Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

    Why was there no room at the inn? Bethlehem is only about 5 miles from Jerusalem, and all the men of Israel had come to attend the festival of Tabernacles as required by the law of Moses. Every room for miles around Jerusalem would have been already taken by pilgrims, so all that Mary and Joseph could find for shelter was a stable.

    Also of note is the fact that the Feast of Tabernacles is an eight day feast (Lev 23:36, 39). Why eight days? It may be because an infant was dedicated to God by performing circumcision on the eighth day after birth:

    Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

    So the infant Jesus would have been circumcised on the eighth and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a Sabbath day. The Jews today consider this a separate festival from Tabernacles, and they call it Shemini Atzeret.

    Conclusion

    So, if you have followed the above reasoning, based on the scriptural evidence, a case can apparently be made that Jesus Christ was born on the 15th day of the month of Tishri, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which corresponds to the September - October timeframe of our present calendar!

    Jewish month Begins the
    New moon of John the Baptist Jesus

    1. Abib / Nisan March-April Birth of John 15 Nisan 4
    2. Zif / Iyyar April-May 5
    3. Sivan May-June Conception of John after 3rd Sabbath 6
    4. Tammuz June-July 1 7
    5. Ab / Av July-August 2 8
    6. Elul August-September 3 9
    7. Ethanim / Tishri September-October 4 Birth of Jesus 15 Tishri
    8. Bul / Marheshvan / Heshvan October-November 5
    9. Chisleu / Chislev / Kislev November-December 6 Conception of Jesus 25 Kislev ?
    10. Tebeth / Tevet December-January 7 1
    11. Shebat / Shevat January-February 8 2
    12. Adar February-March 9 3

    Tabernacles Future Fulfillment

    It is also interesting to note the Tabernacles was a feast of ingathering of the Harvest (Exo 23:16 and 34:22). If Jesus' first coming was indeed on 15 Tishri, the first day of Tabernacles, then it is quite reasonable to presume that the harvest of this earth, the ingathering of the second coming of Jesus Christ, will also occur on precisely the same date. The unknown factor would be the year that this would happen.
     
  11. Rafael

    Rafael Only time enough for love

    +302
    Christian
    Married
    An interesting new book will soon come out that may be a bit dry, but I did see the charts on a TV show where a Professor at Harvard university named Floyd Jones has redone the calculations, using the Bible dates, to triangulate and find the date of Jesus birth. Actually, if a person understands the Hebrew calendar and it basis upon the new moons, the Bible does provide sufficient data to determine a more accurate date of the birth of Christ. He has a computer programmer helping him do this work and it show the bith of Jesus near the end of October. The program was sponsered by the Creation Evidence organization, but I haven't seen info. at their web site about the project.
     
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