The case for the December 25th birthday of Jesus

Discussion in 'Religious Discussions' started by Dan Newberry, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. Dan Newberry

    Dan Newberry New Member

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    copied from my blog, for comment here... hope I don't wear out my welcome two days into my membership... :eek:

    Jesus likely WAS born on December 25th! :)

    We're seeing more and more of the self appointed mall cops of Christianity blowing their gumball machine found whistles and disputing the notion that Jesus was born on December 25th. They quite smugly tell us, for reasons they happily rattle off, that Jesus was NOT born on December 25th.

    What are some of the things they say?

    Well, they'll tell you that shepherds would not have been in the field near Bethlehem tending their sheep when Christ was born. Too cold in the winter, they say. I bought into this for some time, but a quick visit to the weather channel ( www.weatherchannel.com ) will show you that overnight lows average in the mid 40's in Bethlehem in late December. Go to the weather channel website and type in Bethlehem, West Bank and see for yourself. So that argument goes into the can...

    Next, you'll often hear that Christmas was actually a "pagan" feast, Saturnalia by name, and that the Catholic Church decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus this time of year to hopefully keep new Christians from reengaging the pagan festivities. Saturnalia was celebrated on the 17th of December, however, not the 25th. And even when Saturnalia got so popular that they extended the drunken orgies for a week, it was still over by the 24th.

    What did occur on December 25th, on 165 BC, was the temple was cleansed by the Maccabees and the menorah burned for eight days on a small amount of oil--reportedly enough to burn the lights for only one day! A miracle of God, according to the Jewish people. And I believe they are right, it was a miracle. :)

    So here we have the Jewish festival Hanukkah instituted by a miracle which happened on December 25th! What is mildly amusing is the fact that many Judiazers (those who like to force law keeping onto Christians as a requirement of their salvation) like to mock Christmas as pagan for being held on Saturnalia's date (which it isn't, of course)... but they keep the Hanukkah celebration faithfully--perhaps not realizing Hanukkah's December 25th connection.

    Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication, or the "festival of lights" as it's often called, in John chapter 10. This was Hanukkah, there is little dispute. So if we understand that Hanukkah is the festival of lights, and that Jesus is the light of the world, what more appropriate time for Him to come into His creation than during the festival of lights? :) Jesus went about fulfilling prophecy, and He fulfilled Passover, First Fruits, and by the institution of the church He fulfilled Pentecost on the occasion of His first coming. Perhaps His attendance of the Feast of Dedication (festival of lights) in John chapter 10 was a subtle fulfillment of the Jew's feast of Hanukkah. The True Light walked right into their feast of lights... but most did not notice, as they did not know the time of their visitation (Luke 19)...

    Some try to use the priestly courses laid out in 1 Chronicles 24 to reckon the birth of John the Baptist, son of Zechariah, whose priestly course of Abijah had just ended shortly before John the Baptist's conception. Since Jesus was born six months after John the Baptist, they work out a date of Christ's birth based on John's. This is a very problematic manner in which to estimate the timing of John the Baptist's birth, for several reasons. Foremost among them is that these courses occurred twice each year, and the Jewish calendar was a 360 day calendar, rather than the Gregorian 365 day calendar we use today. We do not know which of his two courses Zechariah had just returned from, nor do we know how soon after his course was finished that John the Baptist was conceived, nor can we be sure how to juxtapose the Jewish calendar to the Gregorian calendar to arrive at a Gregorian date. We don't even know exactly how long each mother carried her child. So it's really a mess to even attempt such a vain effort.

    As an aside... history does show which priestly course was in session when the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. By counting backwards to a suspected birth year of 4 BC (I believe it was), they affirm a late December birth of Christ. Even though one may agree on the late December date (as I do), we still should not put too much stock in calculations based on the priestly courses.

    One other point to note is the census by Caesar Augustus. It is generally reported that the Roman government would call for the census after the harvest season, and of course much like our tax season people had a few weeks to comply. It would not be unreasonable at all to find many citizens in Bethlehem in late December, there to be taxed for the census.

    But the most compelling evidence for the December 25th birth date of Christ is the source of the early church fathers. Hippolytus, John Chrysostom, and Cyril of Jerusalem all affirmed the 25th of December as Christ's birthday. Cyril of Jerusalem actually wrote to the Roman government, asking that the record of Jesus' birth be checked, and the date confirmed. Cyril reported that Rome sent back the December 25 date. Interestingly, there are no known writings from any credible early church fathers that suggest any other date than December 25th--that date was not questioned by anyone!

    Think about it this way. If I were to write a paper of some sort and within the context of that paper I mention that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on August the 5th, I wouldn't get far with my proliferation of that document until I had been soundly corrected by a chorus of people, both scholar and lay, pointing out that December 7th was the Pearl Harbor attack date--NOT August 5th. So it should follow that with at least three early church fathers setting forth the December 25th birthday of Christ in their writings, were that not factual, we would see some derision or dissent coming from someone. In truth, were that not the actual date (December 25th), and if that date were in question at all, these early writings would have fallen from favor as unreliable, being replaced with more credible sources. But that did not happen--because no one apparently questioned the late December birthday of Jesus.

    Not until very recent years did we even begin to see the December 25th date come into question. And oddly, this was not because some new, smoking gun style document was uncovered. The naysayers regarding the late December date base their notion on suppositions such as "too cold for shepherds to be in the field in December" or the priestly course calculations, both points that have been sitting there unappealed to for nearly two thousand years. Is it just that after all this time we're finally "smart" enough to question what the church has not questioned for two millennia? I think not. I think it's more sinister than that, unfortunately. It all goes toward making Christians look foolish, that we could be duped into believing a lie.

    What you have in Christianity today is a "body" of so called believers, about 3/4's of whom are not yet even saved, attending and working in our churches, teaching in seminaries, and publishing documents calling everything sacred into question. We must be careful not to be led astray by those who masquerade as teachers, but whose true commodity is doubt. Satan deceived Eve by introducing doubt (Did God really say...?) ...

    Granted, the actual birthday of Jesus is not recorded in the Bible, and we are not even told to celebrate it (any more than the Jews were commanded to celebrate Hanukkah), but what we do with sincerity unto the Lord, is honored by Him (see Romans 14).

    One last point. There's some work you'll find on the internet using astronomical computation software to go back to 4 BC to show a convergence of several heavenly bodies that would "explain" the star of Bethlehem. This software pins down a September birth date for Jesus. I don't buy the notion for several reasons, but the foremost of which is that the Bible said it was "A" (singular) star, not "stars"... I'm a biblical literalist, and I believe it was ONE star, of a very special and singular design.

    Let us be ever careful of deception, no matter how inconsequential it may seem on its face. Where subtle and seemingly harmless error creeps in, there is generally more "not so harmless" deception to follow.

    Dan Newberry
  2. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The average low IN Bethlehem is 41 for December 25th, not "mid 40's", according to the link you provided in your post.

    And that is IN Bethlehem; the hills will have lower temperatures, as higher elevations always do.
    WAY too cold to be spending nights in the field with the flock -
    Grass doesn't grow much in the winter anyway -
    Flocks are generally brought in at the start of the rainy season in that area; October/November time frame.

    I won't go past that first point, because it is the only one I mentioned in the first place.

    But hey, it does not matter to me - and I don't think it matters to God; the important thing is that He WAS born, that we DO acknowledge that, and that we DO honor Him.
  3. Dan Newberry

    Dan Newberry New Member

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    In the winter, they kept the sheep closer to the cities, because (as you rightly pointed out) there is not a lot of vegetation at that time. Near cities they could get grain and stored hay to feed the flocks. During the summer months when it was hotter, the flocks would be taken into the wilderness areas and upon higher elevations. It is still done this way in many parts of the world, in poor countries where they do not have barns or other shelter for their animals.

    The fields where the shepherds were tending their sheep were *near* Bethlehem. The NASB says "in the region" and the NIV says "nearby"... so it wouldn't be a stretch to surmise that they were near the city precisely because winter was upon them. However close the shepherds were to Bethlehem, they were able to make the trip that same evening--so they were not far away.

    Too, the angel appears to the shepherds while they were together in a group (all of the shepherds saw the angel at once, and discussed the matter among themselves). This would indicate that they were not out in the wilderness, pasturing their flocks individually as would be the practice during the green days of spring through autumn. Community sheep pens were available in and around cities, and these were used for sanctuary for various reasons, particularly in winter months.

    Here is a quote from this link---> http://acharlie.tripod.com/shepherd.html

    The relationship between a shepherd and his flock is very unique. Jesus outlines part of this relationship in John 10. It was common, at various times, for shepherds to bring their flocks into community pens at night. Several flocks would be housed together. Yet, when it came time to separate the flocks all that was necessary was for the shepherd to call out to his sheep to lead them out of the pen.
    "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."
    (John 10:3-4)


    ...that isn't to say that the author of that link is any more authoritative than the next guy, but his point is a good one, and useful to consider as to the question of why the shepherds would all be together, with their flocks mixed.

    Lastly, if the average lows are in the 40's F (another source I looked at said 45 degrees F for average overnight lows in late December in Bethlehem), that would mean that many years would have warmer weather than that--actually, about half of the time the lows would be higher than the average...

    I'm from Virginia, and 40's F is a welcome overnight low in December in these parts. Bethlehem has warmer weather than we do here in Virginia, more like what you find in South Carolina or northern Georgia...

    I don't want to be combative or dogmatic, I just want to make the case that the dismissal of the December birth date of Christ on the basis of the weather doesn't seem plausible to me, or to many others once the facts are considered. This notion actually seems to have found its germination in the Jehova Witnesses... they deny the December birth of Christ, and even declare that He was crucified on a pole--not an actual cross. Bad bedfellows if you ask me. :eek:

    Dan
  4. Skyking

    Skyking New Member

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    guess I'll have to be lumped in with that weird group.No non biblical holidays for me, just like a non scriptural 25th birth of the messiah .Sorry no easter either.
    All evidence points to a fall birth ,most likely between feast of Trumpets and the first day of Tabernacles. I've never read anywhere that christmas will fulfill any prophesy like the feast will.There are 7 annual feast and the 4 spring feast have been fulfilled already in prophesy.That leaves us with the last 3 fall feast left.You'll see the return of the messiah during the fall feast

    here's a few fact sheets
    On What Day Was Jesus Born?
    this is an interesting read and I have a few others on file that I'll try to find for those interested
    http://biblelight.net/sukkoth.htm

    Exact Date Of Yeshua's Birth,
    part 1
    by Roy A. Reinhold February 1, 2001

    http://ad2004.com/prophecytruths/Art...huabirth1.html
    this is a 5 part or so article and very good
    The Birth of the Messiah
    http://www.torahcalendar.com/PDF/BirthOfMessiah.pdf
    http://doubleportioninheritance.blog...-feast-of.html
  5. Dan Newberry

    Dan Newberry New Member

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    Skyking... I've looked at lots of those pages, and I was in your camp for a while, but I kept coming back to the fact that various sources from the early days of the church cite the date as December 25th. All evidence to the contrary is speculative, and much of it easily negated (as I've shown).

    What would you say is the most compelling single piece of evidence that Christ was not born in December?

    Dan
  6. armoredman

    armoredman New Member

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    I was told the early Roman Catholic church moved the date the December 25th to overlay the feast day of Mithras, a competing Persian religion.

    I dare not say whether I am saved or not, merely that I pray to be - will find out in the end, but I must say awfully presumptive of you to declare so many not to be.
  7. carver

    carver Moderator

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    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    There is your guaranty!
  8. Skyking

    Skyking New Member

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    Dan ,good points and simply to answer your question it"s the bible,scripture.This day,it's meaning and reasoning just aren't found in scripture.
    We can find find the biblical feast as I've stated before in Lev 23.
    You answered your own question by stating "from the early days of the church " the church has been in bed with the enemy from the get go as they say.It would be better to ask to what profit would the church have to make " citing" this change from feast to the pagan holidays.
    If anyones interested in material I could "flood "them with the reason and the pagan methods behind this as I've been doing this elsewhere for the last 5 weeks and just don't want to make anyone angry unless they request it at this point.I try to steer awy from my opinions most of the time and give scripture or historic facts to let them "mull" over.
    I also don't recognize Hanukka lest someone get a jewish tone here as neither is it a biblical feast.Now we can say it was important as to what the McCabee's had done ,it's still a jewish tradition as is purim.
    It's always a tough order separating facts from traditions as the emotions always seem to be getting in the way.I firmly believe that scripture should interpret scripture.
  9. carver

    carver Moderator

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    Ezek. 8:14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate
    of the LORD’S house which was toward the north;
    and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.

    King Constantine brought into Christianity many of the pagan gods, and the worship of them.

    Jeremiah 10

    1Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

    2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

    3For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

    4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

    I'm going to be in the same group as Skyking. I don't put up a tree, and I don't believe that Christ was born on Dec. 25th.
  10. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A VERY haunting scirpture quote at this time of year, Carver -
  11. Juker

    Juker New Member

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    If Jesse Jackson and/or the non-breeders can hijack the rainbow - God's promise to never again flood the earth - then I have no problem whatsoever with putting up a tree, or a cactus, or a stuffed aardvark as part of my celebration of the birth of Christ.

    Christ abides in my house. I know it, my family knows it, and everyone who enters knows it.

    It behooves all of us to be concerned about our spiritual walk and service to the Lord, serving others and spreading the message of salvation, than to be sucked in to one ministry or another and mastering various texts. I know plenty of people who can quote the Bible and can't be bothered to lift a finger to help someone in need, or witness to someone, or pray for someone, because they're too busy studying.
  12. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When I first heard that quote, I researched it a bit, did some studying, and came to the conclusion that it was a reference to the practice of making an Idol from wood.

    We have put up a tree for most of our lives.
    We still put one up, but now it is a plastic one, pre-decorated, that we just pull out of the box and plug it in.

    Never worshipped it, though -

    The first decorated Christmas Tree was in 1510 in Latvia -
  13. Dan Newberry

    Dan Newberry New Member

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    wow... :)

    I don't believe the pagans own the Christmas tree, though many claim it.

    God calls Himself an evergreen tree...

    Ezekiel 17 says... 22 Thus says the Lord GOD, “I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it.”

    And in Hosea chapter 14, verse 8, God says...

    8 O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
    I will answer him and care for him.
    I am like a green pine tree;
    your fruitfulness comes from me.”

    So if the pagans ever did worship an evergreen tree, it was God's invention, and He uses the evergreen tree as a symbol of life in the midst of death... they perhaps revered the tree (the creation), but not the Creator. But it's God's tree, and we must know He uses it as a symbol of Christ and Himself.

    The Star of David is often called a pagan thing... but they got it from the solar eclipse (google Star of David eclipse)... another example of paganism trying to hijack something God ordained.

    Jeremiah 10 describes a carved idol, not a tree. See similar verses in Isaiah 44...

    I believe that God honors Christmas celebrations. Many are saved because they first came to church during Christmas. The church in China is benefiting greatly from the celebration of Christmas--it is giving them reason to explain who Jesus was and is. And folks hear the gospel, and are saved.

    I don't believe anyone has to celebrate Christmas, of course. But I do think we can celebrate it properly and respectfully, and that God will be honored--not offended.

    Satan knew there would be a virgin birth from Genesis 3... (I will put enmity between your seed and *her* seed)... Satan then manufactured various "virgin births" well before Christ came. But we don't deny the virgin birth, calling it "pagan."

    The Bible tells us of the birth of Jesus. If we choose to celebrate it with our hearts in the right place, I'm sure God is honored. :)

    Dan
  14. Gun Geezer

    Gun Geezer Active Member

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    There is a Jewish Holiday that corresponds time wise with nearly every Christian Holiday throughout the year. Also, there are many Judeo/Christian holidays that bear many similarities to Pagan rituals. Even the cross is said to be a Pagan symbol.

    Seasonal changes, Harvest times and celestial events were all attributed to acts of Gods and celebrated long before modern religion made them part of their ritual. First originated out of fear and ignorance many have been carried forward and refined into beautiful and stirring experiences acknowledging our faith in the wonders of God the Creator.

    IMHO it matters not at all the actual date an event took place. What matters is that we "believe" there is a spiritual reason that explains our unique place in the cosmos and that we celebrate in our human way that which we may never truly understand.
  15. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

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    GG -
    AMEN!
  16. Bobitis

    Bobitis Guest

    Did people 2000 years ago understand leap year?

    From what I understand, times of the ancient religions were based on phases of the moon. That's why the Jewish (and muslim) holidays vary from year to year.

    I ain't no scholor, so I could be wrong. :rolleyes:
  17. Dan Newberry

    Dan Newberry New Member

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    It's a good observation... which is why one cannot make assumptions about the timing of priestly courses (1 Chronicles 24) with regard to the timing of John the Baptists birth, then of Christs (six months after).

    No... quite honestly the most compelling information as to when Jesus was born still must be the date given by Hippolytus, John Chrysostom, and Cyril of Jerusalem... they all said December 25th.

    We give the dates of Civil War battles today, and don't question the historical accuracy of those dates. We're only a few generations removed from the actual event. Imagine if, in 1000 or 1500 years (if the Lord tarries which I doubt it'll be that long), we have some revisionists who decide that we were wrong about the dates of key Civil War battles... and of Lincoln's assassination... or of Kennedy's... and they base it on the weather (?) :D
  18. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Outstanding point, Bob -
    I will make ONE correction to it, though.
    While both the Hebrew calendar and the Islamic calendar are keyed to the moon phases, the Hebrew calendar takes that into account and corrects itself to the solar year in such a way that their holidays fall in the same GENERAL time of year according to the sun and therefore to our calendar. The Islamic calendar, on the other hand, makes no such correction - it ignores the sun completely.
    Due to these differences, the Hebrew Hannukiah will always be within one moon phase of our Christmas. Their holidays never drift more than Easter drifts. The Islamic holidays like their month of Ramadan will drift throughout the year, falling in all four seasons sooner or later.

    I will differ with Dan just a bit, though, because we have had calendar changes well within recorded history that have caused some confusion regarding the proper date to commemorate certain events. The pilgrim landing at Plymouth Rock is an excellent case in point. It is celebrated on TWO DIFFERENT dates due to a miscalculation when the calendar correction to the Gregorian was done in 1582. The confusion continues to today, when Forefathers Day (commemoration of the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock) is celebrated on December 21 or December 22nd depending on who is doing the celebrating.
  19. Skyking

    Skyking New Member

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    Dan I debated posting this as it's pretty in your face and although this is exactly how I feel about the whole holiday thing I'll go ahead and post the video.I'm not in favor of christmas,easter or halloween or any of these man made traditions

    you 've got to give this guy credit for standing on the truth and I'm right there with him.Sorry that all the feel good stuff is contrary to the word that professing christians claim to stand on .Yes I'm sure he meant born, instead of died on this day.reffering to christmas day.

    The Christmas Answer It Has To Do With Truth!
    Come folks, let's stop playing games, if we are going to be people of truth, then let's stand on it, let's live it, let's do it. If your going to live a lie, then do it, but do not call the lie, the truth. because I will expose you!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PsgY6S9JfI&feature=uploademail
  20. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

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    He says that since Christmas is NOT MENTIONED in the Bible, Christians are being disobedient to the scripture to celebrate it.
    Wow!

    Thanksgiving is not mentioned in the Bible - WHAM - do away with it!
    The National Day of Prayer is not mentioned in the Bible - GONE!
    Independance Day is not mentioned in the Bible - stop recognizing the birth of our nation!
    Hey, Television is not mentioned in the Bible - BURN the evil TV sets.
    Semi-automatic pistols are not mentioned in the Bible so they should be destroyed, yet he has his prominently displayed for the camera -
    Computers are not mentioned in the Bible -
    Destroy them!
    99% of everything we do is not mentioned in the Bible, yet the only thing that seems to bother him is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who is the focal point of the entire New Testament -
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012