Friday, December 15, 2006

Calculating Christmas

For those who want a true and better explanation for the date of Christmas than is provided by the errors of "common knowledge," I recommend an article by my friend and fellow Touchstone contributing editor, Dr. William Tighe. This appeared in the December 2003 issue of Touchstone, and has made quite an impression (being mentioned in such places as the book The Da Vinci Hoax by Sandra Miesel and Carl Olson). This thesis is developed by Dr. Tighe in his usually thorough way, rich with documentation. So you think it was because of the date of a pagan festival that was taken over by the Church? Well, read the article and be disabused.

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.

Read the whole article, and feel free to comment here.

1 comment:

Ken said...

While I fully appreciate Dr. Tighe's work, I do have a little quibble. The notion that Dec. 25 as the date of Jesus' birth is not likely is still present. In fact, I think that its more likely that Jesus was born in or around that date.

We know that Jesus born about 14 to 15 months after the conception of John the Baptist. We know that John the Baptist was conceived after Zacharias served in the temple in accordance with the division of Abijah. This only occured twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Further, Luke indicates that Zacharias did his service with the "people outside the temple". The only time the the people were to be outside the temple, according to the Levitical code, was the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement falls in the fall of the year, from the end of September to the end of October, Julian Calender. One year and two months after that would be the end of December.