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Didaktikon
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Date Posted:28/11/2009 1:39 AMCopy HTML

Good morning, ladies, gentlemen, and Revivalists of every stripe.

For quite some time now I've been musing over the possibility of preparing a sort of "debunking Revivalist 'theology'" booklet, one that could be given to family members and friends who are still trapped in the various heretical fellowships. In point of fact, a friend of mine who is a former RCI/RF member is in the process of putting together just such a resource as I type.

However, I thought there would be considerable benefit to engaging in a systematic debunking of Revivalist nonsense here, perhaps in a section of the forum that the Moderator might set aside specifically for the purpose. I think the opportunity for having various people inject their views on the subjects would be helpful, as I'm sure most of the questions and challenges that would come from the participants of this site would address the very same questions that would be raised by people still in the Revivalist groups.

To that end, who is up for discussing issues such as: tongues, baptism, salvation, British Israel, soul sleep, alcohol, divorce, sin and similar afresh, in a systematic and conversational way?

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 2:25 AMCopy HTML

 Hi Ian

I'm up for it - great idea. Also it will be nice being able to do just that without all the 'you're such an arrogant so and so Ian'.

HG
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 3:35 AMCopy HTML

Ian

Love the idea of a succinct 'answer' to Revival theories. Would happily be involved if you need me.

Chips
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 3:43 AMCopy HTML

Good morning, Ralph.

Perhaps the Revivalists have forgotten that the two Christian celebrations, Easter and Christmas, provide those who profess faith in Christ with a culturally acceptable opportunity to present Jesus, and then without embarrassment or the need to formulate excuses? Perhaps the Revivalists have forgotten that Easter and Christmas are the two occasions when non-believers are most likely to attend church; weddings, baptisms and funerals aside?

Perhaps Christmas affords the perfect opportunity for Revivalists to renounce their spiritual error, and in doing so to embrace Jesus Christ as their Saviour?

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 5:17 AMCopy HTML

It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that both Christmas and Easter (and many other Christian feast days) were pagan feasts that the Church Christianised in an attempt to be more culturally adaptive to the masses.  In fact, many tradtional hymns sung in Revival churches are actually tavern songs that were Christianised long ago with the same intent. So the Revivalists are right in their claim but as to whether one should now boycott these feasts is a matter of opinion only. But if they do boycott the feasts they would do well to consider boycotting the hymns in question and perhaps even stop using our western calendar system of which many of the months are named after Roman gods and emperors, see:  http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/roman/months.htm
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 7:24 AMCopy HTML

Really? You didn't know that?  It's no secret amongst religious and historical scholars. No debate.  A lot of the feasts of the saints are also directly linked to Pagan deities and heroes.

I live in China so I can only provide you with web sources, but these are footnoted.  I would also suggest you do a little reseacrh of your own.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_sel.htm

http://www.religioustolerance.org/easter1.htm

There are also debates as to how much of the Christian story itself was plagarised from Pagan sources.  You can read about that here:

http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/joseph_mccabe/religious_controversy/chapter_14.html#2

But let me stress this one is open to healthy debate, but my point about the pagan origins of Easter and Christsmas is largely accepted as 'the way it is'.

I celebrate Christmas even though I am neither a pagan or a Christian. It's a cultural thing for me...and I love that my kids love it.

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 8:05 AMCopy HTML

Hi, Ralph.

Well, the "shadow" is actually much bigger than Troy lets on. The African Orthodox churches (Coptic, Ethiopian) for example, have celebrated both Easter and Christmas since time immemorial, as has the Roman Catholic Church. The cultural context of the former had no equivalent pagan "feasts" falling on, or near, the recognised dates; "feasts" that these communions felt they needed to "Christianise" in order to win over the masses. Neither did the latter, by the way, until well into the fifth century! The same can be said of the Nestorian and Syriac churches, those whose presence was largely confined to the East. How intriguing, then, that Christian writings from these branches of our faith, dating from the late second century onwards, speak of Easter, and from the fourth century onwards, of Christmas?

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 8:20 AMCopy HTML

Are you saying there's no room for Roman/Western influences on the Eastern Church's selection of these dates?

Now go on Ralph, ask for his sources.
 

To me this a moot point anyway. The pagan origins of these feasts do not make them 'evil' or 'bad'. Neither does it mean they do not now have Christian meaning and significance for those who believe.  Just because we begin our trip in Melbourne doesn't mean we're any less in Sydney by the end of the trip.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 8:25 AMCopy HTML

Troy,

I'm quite happy to provide them. Primary sources. Not the secondary and tertiary references listed on tendentious internet sites!

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 9:13 AMCopy HTML

Troy,

Are you saying there's no room for Roman/Western influences on the Eastern Church's selection of these dates? The Nestorian and other Syriac-speaking churches have always been Monophysite in their theology, and geographically well outside of the Church of Rome's influence. Consequently, the idea that they were shaped by the Roman Catholic Church in their observance of the dates of Easter and Christmas is completely without merit. And remember, "Pascha" was observed by these Eastern churches centuries before there was even a "need" to "Christianise" a pagan celebration for evangelistic purposes in the West! When we factor the Copts and Ethiopians into the equation, two communions having nothing whatsoever to do with Rome, but who observed "Easter" as the date that (a) catechumens were baptised, and (b) that communion was taken, your preferred theory becomes even less tenable.

I'd suggest to you that the only factual "linkage" to pagan "observance" was the adoption of the term "Easter" as a replacement for "Pascha" by the Roman Church in the late eighth century!

To me this a moot point anyway. The pagan origins of these feasts do not make them 'evil' or 'bad'. Neither does it mean they do not now have Christian meaning and significance for those who believe.  Just because we begin our trip in Melbourne doesn't mean we're any less in Sydney by the end of the trip. The point is hardly moot given that you stated, and continue to state, that the Christian observances derived from pagan origins. Well, they didn't. Far too frequently claims of the sort that you suggested are made, and much like Bart Ehrman's arguments, they will seem credible to people who are altogether unfamiliar with the history of the matter via first-hand acquaintance with the primary sources.

So I would suggest that Christian faith observance isn't simply a matter of "Golden Bough" comparative religion theories: of "share and share alike"! In this instance the only "borrowing" that one can accuse Christianity of, is from Judaism.

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:28/11/2009 12:09 PMCopy HTML

Ralph,

What you've introduced is a slightly different topic to what Troy and I have been discussing. The controversy that you mentioned had to do with whether or not the Christian Church should celebrate "Pascha" after the fashion of the Jews (i.e. timed to the Passover moon), or whether it should be celebrated on the nearest Sunday, given that Christ rose on the Lord's Day.

So as I hope you can see, related but still different issues.

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:30/11/2009 1:21 PMCopy HTML

 Ian

You made your point about Easter being linked to the Jewish feast of Passover and that makes perfect sense.  Of course the early Church would memorialise the death and resurrection of their Messiah at the time it was said to have occurred in the Gospels.  So conceded. 

But why do the different orthodox churches have differing dates?

And why did the Romans change the name to Easter?

And what about Christmas?  What evidence do you have that it was not taken directly from a Pagan feast and that it was celebrated by the Eastern Church, etc.?  Why did they choose December 25th if there is no record in the gospels of a date?

Cheers
TROY

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:30/11/2009 10:14 PMCopy HTML

Good morning, Troy.

You made your point about Easter being linked to the Jewish feast of Passover and that makes perfect sense.  Of course the early Church would memorialise the death and resurrection of their Messiah at the time it was said to have occurred in the Gospels.  So conceded. But why do the different orthodox churches have differing dates? For the very simple reason that the (National) Orthodox continues to base liturgical dates on the Julian calendar, whereas the Roman Catholic Church adopted the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century.

And why did the Romans change the name to Easter? As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Roman Catholics changed the name from Πάσχα to Easter in the late eighth century. Contrary to popular myth, "Easter" wasn't a direct reference to the observance of a "feast" for a pagan deity. The term derives from the name of the fourth month of the Saxon calendar, Eostur-monath. So the pagan reference is secondary and indirect, in precisely the same way that January represents "Janus", March, "Mars" and so on in our modern calendar.

And what about Christmas?  What evidence do you have that it was not taken directly from a Pagan feast and that it was celebrated by the Eastern Church, etc.?  Why did they choose December 25th if there is no record in the gospels of a date? Again, reference to the observance of Christmas goes back to the post-Apostolic Church. Early exegetes speculated that Jesus was born either in late December or early January, and they based that date on a long-standing Jewish tradition that God created the world on the vernal equinox. The early Christians believed that Jesus, being God's Son, would have been conceived on this important memorial day, and nine months from March 25 leads to December 25. Early Christian exegetes who commented on the date of "Christmas" include Julius Africanus (early 3rd century), Hippolytus (also early 3rd century) and John Chrysostom (early 4th century). Chrysostom supported the earlier tradition, but he reinforced it, if I may paraphrase him, thus:

Luke 1 records that Zechariah was performing priestly duty in the Temple when an angel told his wife Elizabeth that she would bear a son, whom she called John (later the Baptist). During the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, Mary learned about her conception of Jesus, and she visited Elizabeth with haste.The 24 courses of Jewish priests served for one week at a time in the Temple, with Zechariah being in the eighth course. Rabbinical tradition fixed the course on duty when the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 and, calculating backward from that, Zechariah's course would have been serving October 2 to 9 in 5 BC. So Mary's conception visit six months later might have occurred the following March, with Jesus' birth nine months afterwards, in December.

It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that both Christmas and Easter (and many other Christian feast days) were pagan feasts that the Church Christianised in an attempt to be more culturally adaptive to the masses. (From post # 6)Perhaps it's time that you recanted of your support for this altogether false assertion?

In closing we discover that Christians were observing "Christmas" centuries before there was a supposed need to "Christianise" a pagan festival for evangelistic purposes, and in the East as well as in the West. That I had to inform you of some fairly straightforward facts of history leads me to offer to you, the following bold advice: given what are clearly substantial gaps in your knowledge, I'd recommend that you discipline yourself to be a lot more critical in your reading, and a lot less critical in what you presume to be the "truths" of Christianity.

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 2:01 AMCopy HTML

Reply to Didaktikon

For the very simple reason that the (National) Orthodox continues to base liturgical dates on the Julian calendar, whereas the Roman Catholic Church adopted the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century.

So would it be correct to say both Catholics and Orthodox abandoned the Jewish Passover dates for 'another' system?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Roman Catholics changed the name from Πάσχα to Easter in the late eighth century. Contrary to popular myth, "Easter" wasn't a direct reference to the observance of a "feast" for a pagan deity. The term derives from the name of the fourth month of the Saxon calendar, Eostur-monath. So the pagan reference is secondary and indirect, in precisely the same way that January represents "Janus", March, "Mars" and so on in our modern calendar.

Right, so it was an indirect link (once removed) to the pagan deity. 

Early Christian exegetes who commented on the date of "Christmas" include Julius Africanus (early 3rd century), Hippolytus (also early 3rd century) and John Chrysostom (early 4th century).

Right, so it was not a Apostolic tradition.  We're talking 3rd and 4th centuries, 200-300 years after the supposed time of Jesus and his Apostles.  Ian, by this stage the Church was VERY Gentile and this has given much time for the pagan influences to take hold.  I see nothing in your comments here to show that there wasn't a Christainisation of a pagan feast.

Now let me quote,

Stalls laden with presents line the streets near the Forum; and the great present of the season is a doll, of wax or terra- cotta. Hundreds of thousands of dolls lie on the stalls or in the arms of passers-by. Once, no doubt, human beings were sacrificed to Saturn, and, as man grew larger than his religion, as he constantly does, the god (or his priests) had to be content with effigies of men or maids, or dolls. Crowds fill the streets and raise festive cries. It was a time of peace on earth -- for by Roman law no war could begin during the Saturnalia -- and of good-will toward all men.

For a whole week, from December 17th to 24th, no work is done. The one law is good cheer, good nature. But the 25th also is a solemn festival, for it is marked in large type in the Roman calendar "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."

Neither Romans nor Christians understood these things. The festival went back far into the mists of prehistoric times. It had been earlier a one-day festival, the feast of Saturn: a very important magics-religious festival for insuring the harvest of the next year, rejoicing that the year's work was over, and, no doubt, helping and propitiating the god of fecundity by generous indulgence in wine and love. Dimly, also, these people knew that the mysterious winter dying of the sun was arrested. It was on the turn. But only an accurate astronomy could decide which was the real day of the solstice, so they celebrated the 25th as the great day of the sun's rebirth.

We can well understand the anxious debates of these early Christians about the birthday of the Lord. Christ was the real sun that had risen upon the world. Why not boldly take "the birthday of the unconquered sun"? That would, incidentally, help to conciliate "the masses."

Did we all get that?  Saturn, the Roman sun god's (re)Birthday was December 25th.

I put it to you that this date was adopted and then later Christian reasoning was applied as to why this date was in fact the real birthday of Jesus and not 'borrowed' from a Pagan deity.

But wait, there's more,

Mithra was an old Aryan sun-god. The reform of the Persian religion by Zarathustra had put the ethical deity Abura Mazda so high above the old nature-gods that he was practically the one god. But Mithra stole upward, as gods do, and Persian kings of the fifth century B.C. put him on a level with Ahura Mazda.

Then the Persians conquered and blended with Babylon, and Mithra rose to the supreme position and became an intensely ethical deity. He was, like Aten, the sun of the world in the same sense as Christ. He was honored with the sacrifice of the pleasures of life, and was himself credited with no amours as Zeus was. Drastic asceticism and purity were demanded of his worshipers. They were baptized in blood. They practiced the most severe austerities and fasts. They had a communion-supper of bread and wine. They worshiped Mithra in underground temples, or artificial caves, which blazed with the light of candles and reeked with incense.

And every year they celebrated the birthday of this god who had come, they said, to take away the sins of the world; and the day was December 25th. As that day approached, near midnight of the 24th, Christians might see the stern devotees of Mithra going to their temple on the Vatican, and at midnight it would shine with joy and light. The Savior of the world was born. He had been born in a cave, like so many other sun-gods: and some of the apocryphal Gospels put the birth of Christ in a cave. He had had no earthly father. He was born to free men from sin, to redeem them.

F. Cumont, the great authority on Mithra, has laboriously collected for us all these details about the Persian religion, and more than one of the Christian Fathers refers nervously to the close parallel of the two religions. The Savior Mithra was in possession, had been in possession for ages, of December 25th as his birthday. He was the real "unconquered sun": a sun-god transformed into a spiritual god, with light as his emblem and purity his supreme command. What could the Christians do? Nothing, until they had the ear of the emperors. Then they appropriated December 25th, and even bits of the Mithraic ritual; and they so zealously destroyed the traces of the Mithraic religion that one has to be a scholar to know anything about it.


So did we all get that too?  Mithra was also kinda fond of December 25th.  And when did the Christians get the ears of the Emperors?  Oh, some time in or before 325 AD which coincidently is when Ian showed Christmas starts turning up in post-Apostolic writings.  Hmmm....


Perhaps it's time that you recanted of your support for this altogether false assertion?


Or not.  ;)  Though I have already conceded Easter...for now.  :)

In closing we discover that Christians were observing "Christmas" centuries before there was a supposed need to "Christianise" a pagan festival for evangelistic purposes, and in the East as well as in the West.

Um, no we don't.  We actually have the opposite and that Christmas is not mentioned until the 3rd or 4th centuries, long after Christianity was a dominantly Gentile religion leaving lots of time for some Christianising to have happened and reasons for it to have occurred.

That I had to inform you of some fairly straightforward facts of history leads me to offer to you, the following bold advice: given what are clearly substantial gaps in your knowledge, I'd recommend that you discipline yourself to be a lot more critical in your reading, and a lot less critical in what you presume to be the "truths" of Christianity

Ian, you seemed to be doing so well there.  Is this why the above comments seem so pompous and patronising? 

Here's my source BTW, http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/joseph_mccabe/religious_controversy/chapter_14.html#2

Ding ding...Round 3! 

Happy Solstice.

TROY

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 2:46 AMCopy HTML

Hello, Troy.

Thanks for the reply. As always, I'm more than happy to advance your education on Christianity and her doctrines ("Knowledge dispels fear", and all that).

So would it be correct to say both Catholics and Orthodox abandoned the Jewish Passover dates for 'another' system? Nope. The issue is one of calendar (i.e. how one records days), and not observance. The controversy in the late third and early fourth centuries had to do with the issue of keeping the Jewish Passover, versus the respecting of Sunday as the day of resurrection. But even this controversy doesn't change the fact that Christians Church-wide (i.e. in Africa, Asia and Europe) were celebrating "Easter" as a Christian commemoration, and then centuries before anyone trotted out a supposed "link" to a pagan feast (a theory which largely dates from the Enlightenment era, by the way).

Right, so it was an indirect link (once removed) to the pagan deity. Hardly. What you claimed was that Easter began as a pagan observance, one which was later "Christianised". The reverse, it seems, is actually the case.

Right, so it was not a Apostolic tradition. We're talking 3rd and 4th centuries, 200-300 years after the supposed time of Jesus and his Apostles.  Ian, by this stage the Church was VERY Gentile and this has given much time for the pagan influences to take hold.  I see nothing in your comments here to show that there wasn't a Christainisation of a pagan feast. Nope. If you were to become acquainted with Hippolytus and Julius Africanus, then you would discover that they discussed an observance that both called "ancient", and which Hippolytus specifically stated was derived from the apostles. As I mentioned earlier, Christmas was celebrated centuries before the supposed pagan "link" ever arose, and that there was no comparable feast anywhere in the East that's mentioned in contemporary literature, nor in the West until the mid 5th century for that matter. All that you've done, Troy, is presume a pagan influence. I'd invite you prove that such was the case, and then from sources contemporary to the Fathers I've referred to.

Moving on. It seems that you've become enamoured by what is a long-discredited hypothesis. Each and every one of the points that you apparently found convincing in the quoted piece from the "Infidel" site, has been severely critiqued and rebutted by historians (both secular and religious) for the better part of a century, and then as a consequence of them (a) lacking in any contemporary historical support whatsoever, and (b) for the fact that such theories were proposed as philosophically motivated attempts to discredit the historicity of Christianity. If you'd like to become better informed of the broad contours of the discussion, I would be more than happy to provide you with a selection of authors, titles and editions from the relevant scholarly journals and monographs that demonstrate as much.

Perhaps it's time that you recanted of your support for this altogether false assertion? Or not.  ;)  Though I have already conceded Easter...for now.  :) I'm very confident that you will be forced to recant the lot, before too long. In closing we discover that Christians were observing "Christmas" centuries before there was a supposed need to "Christianise" a pagan festival for evangelistic purposes, and in the East as well as in the West. Um, no we don't.  We actually have the opposite and that Christmas is not mentioned until the 2nd or 3rd centuries, long after Christianity was a dominantly Gentile religion leaving lots of time for and reasons for it to occur. The opposite? I don't think so. To begin with, Christianity was hardly the "dominant Gentile religion" in the second century! It was during that particular period that State-based persecutions and pogroms against the faith largely took place! There are counter-Christian polemical writings dating from the era, and Gnostic ones too, so why is it that there are no claims of Christianity having "borrowed" from earlier cults among them? Why is it that the overwhelming complaint was that Christianity was "new"? What I do think about matters is that you're tenuously hanging on by your very fingernails to a long disproven myth. And the question that begs asking is: "why"? (The answer, of course, is patently obvious).

I can't help but compare what you've offered to my own responses. I pride myself on being a careful and exact scholar when it comes to research, having a very good grasp of the history of my field of expertise. You apparently don't feel the same with respect to yourself. Further, you mentioned very recently that you possess two "religious degrees". What might one infer of the standard of the institutions that taught you, given the standard of your argumentation to date? On a similar vein there seems to be a gulf of difference between the nature of the sources that we each have accessed. I base my conclusions on my reading of the primary sources in their original languages, and on peer-reviewed and refereed scholarly journals and books published by reputable houses. You, apparently, would limit yourself to anti-Christian internet websites.

That I had to inform you of some fairly straightforward facts of history leads me to offer to you, the following bold advice: given what are clearly substantial gaps in your knowledge, I'd recommend that you discipline yourself to be a lot more critical in your reading, and a lot less critical in what you presume to be the "truths" of Christianity. Ian, you seemed to be doing so well there. Is this why the above comments seem so pompous and patronising? It probably has to do with your constant grasping at straws, and staunch refusal to admit error :) As for being patronising, perhaps it has to do with me having to explain some simple facts to a person who, by his own admission, already holds "two religious degrees". Comments such as the following don't evince much in the way of evidence of critical thought and evaluation: "It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that both Christmas and Easter (and many other Christian feast days) were pagan feasts that the Church Christianised in an attempt to be more culturally adaptive to the masses". A nice claim, but where is the contemporary, primary source evidence proffered in support of the statement? And how is what you've suggested any different in substance and approach to what Revivalists contest is "true" with respect to the Roman Catholic Church? British-Israel? Bible Numerics? Or Pyramidology? Is it a case of "start with a philosophical position, and attempt to build the evidence around it"?

Ding ding...Round 3! Oh, Troy. Are you still attempting to "punch well above your weight"? I would have thought you'd learned from previous bloodied noses in past bouts.

Blessings,

Ian

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 6:20 AMCopy HTML

Reply to Didaktikon



Oh?  So are we done here then?  What a shame. 

Would you like a tissue for your bloody nose then Champ?


Ding ding!

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 6:24 AMCopy HTML

Troy,

Have you forgotten what this discussion was about? Already? You are the one who claimed that Easter and Christmas were pagan festivals, and that they were later "Christianised". Now it seems that you've changed the discussion to whether or not Christianity adopted pagan (or Gnostic) beliefs during her history? So which is it? The former? Or the latter?

Now theories are all well and good, and they'd probably satisfy the blissfully naive and completely uninformed. But facts are what I'm after. You are the one who made the above claim, so let's see you provide the proof that you believe supports it (instead of hoping that argumentum ex silentio will make the grade
). In the interest of extending what would otherwise become a very short debate, I'll give you a piece of free advice: if you're going to hinge your argument on the various Roman cultus that you believe offer parallels to Christianity, then you might want to familiarise yourself with the past 50 years worth of research on the subject. Given what you've offered thus far, you're woefully out of date, and out of step with "recent" scholarship.

Oh, and try to keep your cool. Hissy fits have no place in "objective" debate.

Blessings,

Ian

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 6:59 AMCopy HTML

Reply to Didaktikon

Now facts are what I'm after. You made the claim, let's see the proof that supports it



Easter is yours oh gracious one.  I concede...for the 9th time.  ;p

Christmas...

You may now respond regarding the date being the same as both Saturn and Mithra's birthdays...

I found this article here to be helpful: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2000/dec08.html  Please note this a reputable, Evangelical Christian site, not a hostile one. The headings are mine.

Early birth celebrations were not Dec 25th
If observed at all, the celebration of Christ's birth was usually lumped in with Epiphany (January 6), one of the church's earliest established feasts. Some church leaders even opposed the idea of a birth celebration. Origen (c.185-c.254) preached that it would be wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods.

Not all of Origen's contemporaries agreed that Christ's birthday shouldn't be celebrated, and some began to speculate on the date (actual records were apparently long lost). Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) favored May 20 but noted that others had argued for April 18, April 19, and May 28. Hippolytus (c.170-c.236) championed January 2. November 17, November 20, and March 25 all had backers as well. A Latin treatise written around 243 pegged March 21, because that was believed to be the date on which God created the sun. Polycarp (c.69-c.155) had followed the same line of reasoning to conclude that Christ's birth and baptism most likely occurred on Wednesday, because the sun was created on the fourth day.

Me?  I'm liking the whole Wednesday idea.  Let's make Xmas a weekly thing!

Frickin' Pagans Got There First
The eventual choice of December 25, made perhaps as early as 273, reflects a convergence of Origen's concern about pagan gods and the church's identification of God's son with the celestial sun. December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun"), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness" whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival.

East and West were NOT the same
Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire's favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ's birth and his baptism. Most easterners eventually adopted December 25, celebrating Christ's birth on the earlier date and his baptism on the latter, but the Armenian church celebrates his birth on January 6. Incidentally, the Western church does celebrate Epiphany on January 6, but as the arrival date of the Magi rather than as the date of Christ's baptism.

Here's her email address if you want to take issue with her claims...as I am sure you will goddamnit!


cheditor@ChristianityToday.com

Wikipedia had some interesting things to say in their article about Xmas under the heading Pre-Christian background.  Before you slam me for daring to use Wikipedia, the claims are ribbed for her pleasure...er, sorry, footnoted for your perusal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#cite_note-SolInvictus-6

Ding Ding!

TROY
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 7:32 AMCopy HTML

Troy,

That's it? That's your proof? An article in "Christianity Today"? And an entry on "Wikipedia"? Geez, you must be hard-up for sources where you live.

Scroll back through the discussion and you'll note that I already stated that the date for Christmas was believed by the Church Fathers to be either late December or early January. And ... so? The point of debate hasn't changed, however. You claimed that a pagan feast was "Christianised" for "evangelical" reasons. I've not disputed the reality of the
natalis solis invicti. But you've not demonstrated that it actually formed the substructure upon which the superstructure of Christmas was built. You've simply drawn an inference between the two. Just as you did with Easter, as I recall.

Evidence, not supposition is what wins debates.

Now I have a few questions that I'd like you to consider and respond to: (1) why does the Western Orthodox (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) celebrate Christmas on the 25th December, but the Eastern Orthodox celebrates it on January 6? (It's no great secret). (2) Have you established any link between the pagan observance of the 25th of December, and Christmas, that predates 1789 yet? Any published material at all? (3) Have you gone to the primary sources yet, or are you still reliant on secondary and tertiary versions.

I suppose that if you've found my evidence to be unconvincing I can only hope that you'll eventually bring something of evidentiary value to the table in support of your perspective. Please.

Blessings,

Ian

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 7:49 AMCopy HTML

Reply to Didaktikon

That's it? That's your proof? An article in "Christianity Today"? And an entry on "Wikipedia"? Geez, you must be hard-up for sources where you live

Duh!  I'm in CHINA!!! That only sinking in now is it?

Evidence, not supposition is what wins debates.

Nah, from where you sit only Ian wins the debates. Thank Jesus for that huh?

I suppose that if you've found my evidence to be unconvincing I can only hope that you'll eventually bring something of evidentiary value to the table in support of your perspective. Please.

Nope, I see the 'in China' thing isn't really sinking in after all.

You have decided I must access and quote sources beyond my ability to locate and refuse to engage my arguments.  Sorry, but I am unable to meet your requirements for this discussion.  I guess we really are done here after all.

Ta for the joust. 

Ding ding!



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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:01/12/2009 11:39 AMCopy HTML

Troy,

Geez, you must be hard-up for sources where you live. Duh!  I'm in CHINA!!! That only sinking in now is it?
Nope. But I must say that I'm a little surprised you would decide to challenge me on this issue with nothing more substantial than a few anti-Christian Internet sites as your source for "scholarly" information! I would've expected that you would've learned of the need to be more adequately prepared from our previous encounters over the years. Now you've certainly lost none of your passion, and you should be commended for it! But by the same token, you've apparently not improved much in either learning or in your capacity for debate. 

Evidence, not supposition is what wins debates. Nah, from where you sit only Ian wins the debates. Thank Jesus for that huh? Nope. I win all of our debates because I've mastered the source material. Unlike you, I don't just have a handful of personal opinions in my back pocket with which to throw on the table with great flourish, so to speak. I suppose that if you've found my evidence to be unconvincing I can only hope that you'll eventually bring something of evidentiary value to the table in support of your perspective. Please. Nope, I see the 'in China' thing isn't really sinking in after all. You have decided I must access and quote sources beyond my ability to locate and refuse to engage my arguments.  Sorry, but I am unable to meet your requirements for this discussion.  I guess we really are done here after all. Oh. I see. Living overseas automatically precludes you from the normal requirement to provide factual evidence (e.g. primary sources, scholarly articles in journals, monographs, etc) in support of your views, huh? Ergo, you can claim whatever you want, and we must simply accept you at your word, because "you live in China"? This being the case now, what was your excuse during all those years you lived in Australia?

Anyway, because I'm such a nice guy, and because engagement with you is always enjoyable for me, I'm prepared to let you drag yourself off the canvas for a bit if you're spoiling to keep on throwing those "hay-makers" of yours.

Blessings, my friend.

Ian

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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:18/04/2014 4:32 AMCopy HTML

 A friend of mine isn't going to church anymore because they feel that everyone is following pagan beliefs by allowing fertility symbols in their families, such as eggs and bunnies. Any thoughts?
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:18/04/2014 6:01 AMCopy HTML

Hi, Pete.

My thoughts? Well, your friend is clearly focussing way too much on the stuff that doesn't matter, and way too little on the stuff that does! His/her posture also smacks of truly misplaced hubris, IMNSHO.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:18/04/2014 6:37 AMCopy HTML

Yeah... it is a facebook discussion, with ex Revs. Another piped up (a now paster in a pentecostal church) and said that Satan wants Christians to fight Christians, and what would the unbelievers think?
I told him the unbeliever might be comforted to know that Christians are free to indulge in heathy debate. 

He said debates are one thing and arguments are another.

I said that makes little sense. Arguments are only a problem when people are disrespectful, ala most people who visit the forum... back when people used to visit the forum.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:18/04/2014 7:29 AMCopy HTML

Pete, once more.

Yeah... it is a facebook discussion, with ex Revs. Okay. So how is that materially different from online discussions with ex Revivalists here?  Another piped up (a now paster in a pentecostal church) and said that Satan wants Christians to fight Christians, and what would the unbelievers think? I told him the unbeliever might be comforted to know that Christians are free to indulge in heathy debate. He said debates are one thing and arguments are another. There you have it, a bunch of ex-Revivalists seeking to 'theologise' on Facebook :) And whilst the location might have changed, neither the medium nor the discussions apparently have. In any case your 'pastor' friend probably doesn't have a particularly good grasp of Christian history. Believers who know both their Bibles and their theology have always been passionate about hammering out the implications of their beliefs with others.

I said that makes little sense. Arguments are only a problem when people are disrespectful, ala most people who visit the forum... back when people used to visit the forum. Actually, people still do visit here; there are normally between five to ten people online whenever I look in. But regardless of this, I'm interested in learning if you believe the discussions on Facebook represent an improvement over what used to take place here, and if so, 'why'?

Blessings, bro'.

Ian
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:19/04/2014 4:18 AMCopy HTML

Reply to Didaktikon

Pete, once more.

Yeah... it is a facebook discussion, with ex Revs. Okay. So how is that materially different from online discussions with ex Revivalists here? No difference, I guess. Except that there really are rarely ex-Revivalists to talk to here of late. 
  Another piped up (a now paster in a pentecostal church) and said that Satan wants Christians to fight Christians, and what would the unbelievers think? I told him the unbeliever might be comforted to know that Christians are free to indulge in heathy debate. He said debates are one thing and arguments are another. There you have it, a bunch of ex-Revivalists seeking to 'theologise' on Facebook :) And whilst the location might have changed, neither the medium nor the discussions apparently have. In any case your 'pastor' friend probably doesn't have a particularly good grasp of Christian history. Believers who know both their Bibles and their theology have always been passionate about hammering out the implications of their beliefs with others.

I said that makes little sense. Arguments are only a problem when people are disrespectful, ala most people who visit the forum... back when people used to visit the forum. Actually, people still do visit here; Good to know. . there are normally between five to ten people online whenever I look in. That's more than I can say for any of the actual ex-Revival facebook pages. They're ghost towns. But regardless of this, I'm interested in learning if you believe the discussions on Facebook represent an improvement over what used to take place here, and if so, 'why'? I just happened to intercept a conversation of one of my facebook 'friends' who was preaching pagan/Easter stuff. Most of the people in the conversation were Christians with no history with Revival. If there are conversations going on between Revivalists and ex-revivalists in a public forum nowadays, I'm seeing little evidence of it anywhere.

Blessings, bro'.

Cheers - Wow, Aimoo's quote and reply functions have got even more annoying!

Ian


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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:19/04/2014 6:06 AMCopy HTML

Hola, Pedro.

Well, Life goes on I guess :)

Blessings again,

Ian
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:19/04/2014 12:12 PMCopy HTML

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 “A friend of mine isn't going to church anymore because they feel that everyone is following pagan beliefs by allowing fertility symbols in their families, such as eggs and bunnies. Any thoughts? “

Hi Mothy,

A scripture came to mind, after I read your post, prompted me to read Mark 7: and look into other sources.
It speaks of the traditions of men handed down nullifying the word of God. Example used is the ceremonial washings.
Jesus tells us that their teachings are but rules taught by men. Traditions from the past are handed down to us today and a few flowed over from paganism, but as with the Pharisees of that time, we need to be careful we do not see the gospel as a judgment gospel, or a ‘Law-Gospel’, of do and don’ts, but focus more on the Grace and the undeserved forgiveness we have received.   

Ian said, “Your friends are dwelling on the things that don’t matter”

Does the orthodox church, even with their traditions, disobey the true gospel of God?  I believe not.

There are some things I personally still tend to feel judgmental about, but unless it is for reasons beyond my control, I wouldn’t leave my Church for trivial things.

There is no believing in God. We either know God, or we don’t.”
(~Gregory David Roberts, Author “Shantaram”)


Ralph.<!--[if gte mso 9]>
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:19/04/2014 1:59 PMCopy HTML

 The debate is going non-stop... and I can't really give anymore input due to my ignorance, but they're all pretty  commited to the idea that Easter comes from 'Ishtar' (fertility god) which is pronounced Easter, apparently.

But from my skimming study I get other possibilities:

1. Old English word eastre came from Eostre, a goddess associated with spring.
2. Eostre was simply the Anglo-Saxon word for spring festivals
3. The word for Easter comes from the Hebrew Pesach.
4. East is related to the direction of the dawn 
5. Easter also derives from the name of the fourth month of the Saxon calendar, Eostur-monath.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:19/04/2014 11:32 PMCopy HTML

Good morning, Pete.

Well, if you're struggling to make sense of the subject, then perhaps you should re-read this very thread? Herein I slapped Troy around a wee bit, whilst providing him with facts to provoke him into rethinking the fictions he dearly wished were true :)

In brief compass, the facts are these:

1. Easter was observed and celebrated by Christians long before there was any linkage made to 'equivalent' pagan observances in the West. The earliest reference we have dates from the mid-second century, i.e. within living memory of the last apostle. It was observed by Eastern churches, Nestorian/Monophysite churches, and African churches alike. None of these had any association with the Western (i.e. Roman Catholic) church, nor did any of them have equivalent pagan observances they needed to 'Christianise' in order to placate/convert the masses.

2. The celebration itself was universally known as 'Pascha', a tilt to the Jewish word for 'Passover', until the western church adopted the term 'Easter' in the eighth century. The term 'Easter' itself derives from the fourth month of the Saxon calendar, 'Eostur-monath', which is attested as early as the fifth century. The only ancient reference to the claim that the Old English word 'Eostur' referred to a Germanic deity comes from the Venerable Bede in the eighth century. However, even if the claim was true, it doesn't matter. The Christian celebration of Pascha/Easter predated the adoption of the name 'Easter' by the Western Church by 600 years ;)

3. James Frazer published 'The Golden Bough' in 1890 (i.e. the nineteenth century). I've been unable to find any reference to a supposed 'pagan-linkage' that pre-dates this work. Every other published work I've been able to study bases their arguments on references published after this date. Put simply the association of the Christian celebration with pagan festivals is a nineteenth century postulation, one based squarely on the post-Enlightenment intellectual movement known as 'Romanticism'. This fact has been widely attested to, published about, and defended by, historians during the past 75 years.

4. Finally, 'Ishtar'/'Astarte' was more than simply the Akkadian fertility goddess, she was also their goddess of war. She appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christian observance of Christ's Passion and Resurrection.

To summarise: your Facebook friends don't know what they're talking about :)

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 2:02 AMCopy HTML

 Many thanks. I did read the conversation earlier in the thread but it was a bit messy. Thanks for tidying it up and making it very clear. Cheers.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 3:16 AMCopy HTML

 A question, if I may;

Where do Easter eggs and the Easter bunny originate from and how does it fit in with Easter ('Pascha') celebrations?

Ralph.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 3:57 AMCopy HTML

Ralph,

Easter eggs, more specifically eggs that are painted red, have long been a traditional custom in the Eastern churches. The colour red represents Christ's blood; the egg itself symbolises his tomb. When Eastern Christians smack these eggs together on Resurrection Sunday, breaking them open, they do so to represent his opened tomb.

As for the 'Easter Bunny', who knows? Walt Disney, perhaps? ;)

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 5:46 AMCopy HTML

Ian,

Thanks.

Walt Disney? Lol. Good one.

Ralph
I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C.S.Lewis.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 7:21 AMCopy HTML

 Did the Roman church 'outlaw' the practice of the Pascha and introduce Easter? (Sorry, I'm looking for answers to reply to a post and Google ain't helping.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 7:30 AMCopy HTML

 "The name Easter comes from Eostre, an ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess, originally of the dawn. In pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honor." (Compton's Encyclopedia and Fact-Index. Vol 7. Chicago: Compton's Learning Company, 1987, p.41)

"It is called Easter in the English, from the goddess Eostre, worshipped by the Saxons with peculiar ceremonies in the month of April." (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol II, Edinburgh: A. Bell & C. Macfarquhar, 1768, p.464)

It's really hard to nail down the root of the word as their seems to be many possibilities.
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 7:34 AMCopy HTML

Pete-o,

Did the Roman church 'outlaw' the practice of the Pascha and introduce Easter? Bloke, the words 'Pascha' and 'Easter' describe exactly the same observance. Christians didn't observe the Jewish Passover, if that's what you were thinking. Sorry, I'm looking for answers to reply to a post and Google ain't helping. Perhaps you should spend more time here, then? ;)

As for your quotations from the two encyclopedia, go back and review what I said about the Venerable Bede.

Blessings, again.

Ian
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 7:50 AMCopy HTML

 “Eostur-month, which is now interpreted as the paschal month, was formerly named after the goddess Eostre, and has given its name to the festival.” - The Venerable Bede (673 AD - 735 AD)
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Re:The Origins of Christmas and Easter

Date Posted:20/04/2014 7:52 AMCopy HTML

Pete,

Yep :)  As I wrote earlier, "The only ancient reference to the claim that the Old English word 'Eostur' referred to a Germanic deity comes from the Venerable Bede in the eighth century. However, even if the claim was true, it doesn't matter. The Christian celebration of Pascha/Easter predated the adoption of the name 'Easter' by the Western Church by 600 years."

Blessings,

Ian
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