Christmas day and the pagan "Sol Invictus"


(George Brooks) #81

@Jonathan_Burke,

There you go again with the “Roman Empire” dodge.

You have been caught red-handed, elbows deep in a barrel of equivocation… and more than once. All you are doing is proving my point.


(Jon) #82

What dodge? I am telling you what I believe.

What exactly are you talking about? Do you agree or disagree with my points here?

  • There were no pagan festivals held on December 25 in the Roman empire from the first to the sixth century.
  • The early Christians did not arrive at the date of December 25 for Jesus’ birth in order to try and replace an existing pagan festival.
  • There is no evidence that Tammuz was believed to have risen on December 25.
  • There is no evidence that Saturnalia was celebrated on December 25.
  • There is no evidence that any festival for Sol Invictus was celebrated on December 25.

(George Brooks) #83

@Jonathan_Burke

Okay… so you don’t believe there were pagans in the Roman Empire in those centuries you specify.

So that must mean, based on your denials, that you disagree with our colleague here that there were not even pagans anywhere else in the ANE, prior or during those same centuries.

There you are, @Korvexius, notice has been served. Jonathan and I both disagree with you about there being no Pagans (before the Christian Era of the Roman Empire) that celebrated December 25.

It was not a lie by promoted by anti-christians. And you have some major reading ahead of you …


(Jon) #84

No. I agree with what he said. But what he said is not what you are claiming. You are not reading what he wrote or what I wrote. He has already told you this.

I agree with that. I also said this.

Do you understand those words?

He never said there were no pagans before the Christian era of the Roman empire that celebrated December 25. I don’t disagree with him, I disagree with you.

The lie promoted by anti-Christians is the lie you keep defending, that the early Christians arrived at the date of December 25 for Jesus’ birth in order to try and replace an existing pagan festival. We have told you this many times.


#85

You might want to check Wikipedia. Try Babylonian astronomy. “The Babylonians were the first civilization known to possess a functional theory of the planets.” You don’t have to know the planets are in elliptical orbits to make accurate measurements of their transit.

Not to quibble, but the sun doesn’t speed up or slow down. There is a difference between the time of local noon and the actual time for noon based on accurate clocks. Which is what generates an analemma. It is not based on geometry but the equation of time.

These changes in the sun’s position can only be discovered when you have accurate clocks or make very precise measurements of star and planet movements.

Frankly I haven’t seen you present any evidence for this.


(George Brooks) #86

@Jonathan_Burke,

Nobody can keep track of what you say without a program.
You over-played your hand. The implied contract for reasonable behavior and reasonable argumentation has been violated time and time again by you.

See ya around the BioLogos boards.

I’ll wait for you to say something reasonable, and I’ll click on the “likes” for your posts - - just like I always do. But I’m not about to accept this eternal hazing from you. I don’t want to be in your fraternity.


#87

Would it be fair to say that there might have been a pagan celebration in the last 10,000 years on December 25th, but that any posited relationship with Christmas is sheer conjecture in the absence of a figment of proof?


(Lynn Munter) #88

I think this probably includes reading your discussion partner’s responses fully and making all reasonable efforts to understand them instead of skimming. You willfully misinterpreted pretty dramatically just now.


(George Brooks) #89

@Lynn_Munter, oh?
I thought I pretty much got the read on my correspondent perfectly.
This isn’t my first rodeo with him.


#90

Did you miss my last comment? Would it be fair to say that there might have been a pagan celebration in the last 10,000 years on December 25th, but that any posited relationship with Christmas is sheer conjecture in the absence of a figment of proof?


(George Brooks) #91

@Korvexius

Yes, I saw your “offer”. There’s no point in negotiating a fact.
What would you say if I offered you a deal where we agreed that there was, indeed, an historical Pontius Pilate … but not during the lifetime of Jesus.

You’d probably say that’s silly. But the reliability of the conventional view that December 25 marked important ritual days for some pagans - - from the time of the Sumerians to at least the time of the Rise of Islam is actually higher than the view that Pontius Pilate lived during the time of Jesus.

Pilate is just one fellow … and there is the tiniest possibility that Jesus actually lived before or Pilate’s time.

But there is virtually no possibility that December 25 was not of interest to Pagans … especially since one of the critiques for the December 25 scenarios is the argument that the Roman pagans had obtained their interest in December 25 from Christians themselves!


#92

What evidence supports such a confident claim?


(George Brooks) #93

@Korvexius,

I’m not going to get sucked back into this foolishness. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t even want to respond to your prior posting. Anyone with a basic competency in comparative religions is familiar enough with the claim.

I had hoped that Jonathan would at least have provided minimal corroboration that some Pagans, whether inside or out of the Roman Empire, had already made December 25 a significant day. But in the long run that’s okay. Eventually you will have read enough that you will no longer think that I’m making it all up … and I will have a funny memory of Jonathan for the few years remaining to me!


#94

We know how Christians came to December 25th as a date: Africanus “calculated” it. He concluded that Jesus was created 5500 after creation, or the first day of the year 5501 anno mundi. In our calendar, that’s March 25th, and so Jesus is born nine months after creation, placing the birthday at December 25th. If you want to see Africanus’s full mathematical exercise, by all means read away:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/006/0060050.htm

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica as well, Africanus first brought us to the date of December 25th in 221 AD, and Britannica mentions nothing of pagan dates.

There are no pagan dates of December 25th before Africanus. The earliest pagan accounting of December 25th is by the Roman emperor Aurelian in 273 AD, about half a century after the Christmas date was arrived at.

The birthdays of Osiris and Tammuz were never said to be December 25th.


(Jon) #95

That’s like arguing with a YEC, and then the YEC turns around and says “I had hoped you would at least have provided minimal corroboration that the earth is only 6,000 years old and all scientific dating methods are wrong”. Why would you expect me to provide corroboration for something I am saying doesn’t exist? The fact is you were caught out making a bold and unsubstantiated claim, and you doubled down on it even after it was disproved. Then once you couldn’t find any evidence for it, you asked other people to find the evidence for you, people who had already told you no such evidence exists!


(George Brooks) #96

@Jonathan_Burke,

Telling me that my assertion that there were Pagan celebrations (in or out of the Empire, before or after the birth of Jesus) … and/or stories surrounding December 25 is a falsehood is like telling me you want to kill my mother. This is a notorious fact. There are dozens of books that assert it, ranging from Britannica, to Jewish reference books, to Catholic Reference books, and any number of Protestant writers as well.

And the only thing you and @Korvexius have to say is “naw… that’s wrong” … with no citations at all. How would you even google something preposterous like that? You would have to focus on the UFO resource materials I think…

Remember, I’m not talking about why Jesus’ birthday was assigned to December 25 (or not). All I’m talking about right now is that there were pagan cultures that made a fuss over December 25: the 3 days of lifelessness after the Sun has descended to its lowest point (for any given morning time slot). This is a right/wrong assertion. You and your minion think you can just say what you want… and that people will believe you? (rolling chuckle…)

If you don’t right your keel immediatley, it will be ever so easy for me to ignore everything you ever write again…

And I will be greatly relieved.

Really, @Jonathan_Burke, there is no evidence that Osiris or Tammuz were associated with December 25? Really? How do you know? I’ve never read a book that ever said anything like what you just described!


(Jon) #97

That’s pretty extreme.

It is not a notorious fact, it is a notorious myth. You typically find it in legacy works, non-scholarly works, or derivative works. Koervexius just quoted from Britannica, and it said absolutely nothing about a pagan festival on December 25.

That is completely untrue. I gave you a solid page of direct quotations from the relevant scholarly literature. Entire papers have been written on this subject. Here you go again.

  1. 'Of the mystery cult of Sol Invictus Mithras we know little with certainty, and even if we leave aside the problem of the relationship between the Mithraic mysteries and the public cult of Sol, the notion that Mithraists celebrated December 25th in some fashion is a modern invention for which there is simply no evidence.’, Hijmans, ‘Usener’s Christmas: A Contribution to the Modern Construct of Late Antique Solar Syncretism’, in Espagne & Rabault-Feuerhahn (eds.), ‘Hermann Usener und die Metamorphosen der Philologie’, Kultur-und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, number 7 (2011).

  2. ‘This means that in the early fourth century, when Christmas was established by the church on December 25, anyone surveying the calendar of festivities in honour of Sol would identify the period from October 19 to October 22 as far more important than December 25, and the festival of August 28 as far older. If the aim was to “neutralize” the cult of Sol by “taking over” its major festival, December 25th seems the least likely choice.’, Steven E Hijmans, Sol: The Sun in the Art and Religions of Rome (S.l.; Groningen: s.n.; University Library Groningen 2009), 591.

  3. ‘History of Religions proponents who try to demonstrate further that the young Christian church consciously chose to adopt festal dates and practices from heretofore abhorrent pre-Christian (and even heterodox Christian) sects run up against the sharp polemics of the top church administrators of the time. Moreover, some standard arguments found in the literature up to approximately the 1970’s which drew analogies with putative pre-Christian solar antecedents for Epiphany in Egypt and elsewhere have run aground with the definitive refutation of these theories.’, Susan K Roll, Toward the Origins of Christmas (Kampen (Pays-Bas): Kok Pharos, 1995), 107.

  4. ‘The specific nature of the relation of Christmas to the then-contemporary feast of the birth of the sun, Natalis Solis Invicti, has up to now not been conclusively proven from extant texts, no matter how much some sort of causal relation might make perfect sense.’, Susan K Roll, Toward the Origins of Christmas (Kampen (Pays-Bas): Kok Pharos, 1995), 107.

  5. In short, we have no firm evidence for a festival for Sol on December 25th until Julian wrote his hymn to Helios in December of 362. The entry in the calendar of 354 is probably for Sol, although only the epithet invictus is used (above, n. 4), and probably dates to 354, although it was possibly added later. Circumstantial evidence suggests that a festival of Sol on the winter solstice was not yet included in such calendars in the late 320s. As the Christian celebration of Christmas on December 25th can be attested in Rome by AD 336, at which point it may already have been well-established,34 and the celebration of Sol on that day cannot be attested before AD 354/362 and had not yet entered the calendar in the late 320s, it is impossible to postulate that Christmas arose in reaction to some solar festival. There is quite simply not one iota of explicit evidence for a major festival of Sol on December 25th prior to the establishment of Christmas, nor is there any circumstantial evidence that there was likely to have been one.’, Steven E Hijmans, “Usener’s Christmas: A Contribution to the Modern Construct of Late Antique Solar Syncretism”, in M. Espagne & P. Rabault-Feuerhahn (eds.), Hermann Usener und die Metamorphosen der Philologie. Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz no. 7 (Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz: 2011).

  6. All this casts doubt on the contention that Christmas was instituted on December 25th to counteract a popular pagan religious festival, doubts that are reinforced when one looks at the underlying understanding of Sol and his cult.’, Steven E Hijmans, Sol: The Sun in the Art and Religions of Rome (S.l.; Groningen: s.n.; University Library Groningen 2009), 592.

  7. But all our surviving calendars that preserve the month of December mark 17 December as the date for the Saturnalia. In his discussion of the origins of the Saturnalia, Macrobius explains that the Saturnalia was often celebrated over three days from 14 to 17 December, since the former was the date given by the Numan calendar, the latter the date given by the Julian calendar after Caesar added two days to the month.’, Carole E. Newlands, Statius’ Silvae and the Poetics of Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2002), 236.

Please do me that favor.

I know because I have read a book that said something like what I described. I even quoted several scholarly sources saying exactly this. How is it possible that you can’t remember this? I quoted them several times. Here are some more.

  1. The idea that Marduk was a dying and reviving deity later turned out to be based on a misunderstanding of an Assyrian text (VON SODEN, ZA 51 [1955]: 130–166).”, B. Alster, “Tammuz,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 829.

  2. “In the Ur III period a festival named “the festival of Dumuzi” was celebrated in Umma and the nearby Ki-dingir, in the twelfth month of the local calendar, that is, in spring (March), whereas in Lagash the Dumuzi festival took place in the sixth month (late summer).”, B. Alster, “Tammuz,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 831.

  3. “Official documents pertaining to wailing rites for Dumuzi are first attested in Mari (Old Babylonian period), where a large quantity of grain for female mourners (ARM 9 no. 175) as well as the cleansing of the statues of Ishtar and Dumuzi are attested. The rite took place in the fourth month. This accords with evidence of the first millennium BCE, according to which the wailing for Dumuzi took place in the fourth (or fifth) month, that is, in mid summer (cf. KUTSCHER 1990:40).”, B. Alster, “Tammuz,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 831.

  4. “Like the crops, Osiris grows to maturity, is then slain (harvested), only to be reborn in the spring. In the context of Egyptian geography, the rebirth of vegetation (the rebirth of Osiris) is inextricably bound up with the flooding of the Nile before spring planting.”, David R. Kinsley, The Goddesses’ Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West (SUNY Press, 1989), 166.


(George Brooks) #98

And there you go again… using exquisite dissembling techniques.

“Festival”? What, no circus? No marching bands? I think @Korvexius must have missed the sub-section on
"Silent Auctions in the ANE" as well!

@Jonathan_Burke , you know perfectly well what we’re talking about:

If the Sumerians or Egyptians didnt’ have a holiday, they had a priestly story. if they didn’t have a public ritual, they had a private one.

The point being … someone was interested in December 25 centuries … eons… before Jesus arrived.

And as far as things go after Jesus arrived, you are the Only two people I know in the whole universe who say there was no Pagan interest in a Solar god in association with December 25.

@Jonathan_Burke, can you find a single writer (even a lunatic one?) that will agree with you that there were no pagans even in the Roman Empire who were not interested in a Solar god in connection with December 25?

I’d be astounded if you could even find one who says the Roman pagans got their idea for December 25 from the Christians… since one of the earliest dates we have for a pagan solar god being associated with December 25 is well before 300 CE.

Since you have not righted your keel … and all you have wanted to do is mock me further, consider me off limits. Both of you. I have had my hand slapped a time or two by a moderator for complaining when someone wouldn’t respond to my questions.

So I know for a fact you won’t be able to complain either. Leave me alone.


(Jon) #99

I don’t care what you call it; festival, holiday, celebration, priestly story, holy day, commemoration, memorial, public ritual, private ritual, whatever. Just show the evidence.

I gave you several.

I actually gave you one who said that. I showed you the quotation more than once.

Please name it and provide the evidence.


#100

Jonathan, those are some good quotes. I’ve bookmarked your comment. Gbrooks has been telling me for too long that I have not cited historians, I think you only need to link to this comment of yours to end such conversation. I will certainly do so myself.