If Christmas was pagan, would it matter?

(Robin) #61

Good morning, Shawn…Thanks for the response. I am not sure what your being an engineer has to do with it, but it is a worthy profession. I am related to a few.

In your original posting, you stated some things without specifying too much as to your sourcing. Constantine embracing the concept of the trinity may or may not have happened – somewhere in his head. But he may also have not understood the concept or any number of things. The Arian bishop who baptized him near the end of Constantine’s life makes me (and maybe others) wonder whether he really understood or accepted the final results of the Council of Nicaea.

There are Jewish and Christian sources (today as in the past) which testify to the Judaism of Jesus’ time exploring some sort of binitarian description of their monotheistic Godhead, as a result of some of the visions in Daniel plus the intertestamental books of 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra.

The Dead Sea Scrolls also attest to a very present expectation of the first centuries BC/Ad that they were looking for a Jewish man who would be both Messiah and God. They saw several chapters in Isaiah as descriptive of His ministry.

When the post-Resurrection Jesus (whom many saw as having fulfilled the messianic role — and been verified that way via His resurrection form the dead) – told His disciples to go into all the world baptizing “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:18) — that is just one reference to a trinitarian or complex monotheistic Godhead…and Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria, plus others also echo same.

“For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is more plainly seen. The work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whenever it is hated by the world” --Ignatius, early early second century A.D.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Scepter of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance,…but in a humble state” – Clement of Rome

There is more, of course.

As for Origen of Alexandria and Justinian — the latter did have a colorful wife. I did check some of Origen’s commentary on John. Since he regarded Scripture from lliteral, allegorical and symbolic perspectives that are unlike what I am used to – I can only say that I found phrases like “it is Christ abou8t whom such prophecies are made…” and “But the Son Himself, the glorified God, the Word, … waits for the preparation which must take place on the part of men of God who are to admit His deity …” ---- and several other phrases which I am hard pressed to fit into your assertion that Origen explained “in great detail how Jesus is not God,” as you assert.

Origen seems to have been a man of great talent and great opinions . While some of the sources I consulted had mixed summations of his theology, they did not assert that he tried to disprove the deity of Christ — one source even noting that Origen “laid the foundations” for a more orthodox definition of the Trinity (see The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History, vol. one).

As for Justinian…he called for yet another of those lovely church councils which seemed to combine debates over the nature of Christ ( Monophysite or Nestorian) with the politics of the era — we do the same today but using more secular subject matter.

. If he truly did make “belief in the preexistence of Jesus’s soul anathema” — then he surely contradicted Origen, who did believe in the pre-existence of Jesus. The level of discord in describing the exact relationship of Christ’s divine and human nature is (today at least) allowed as giving the non-believing Mohammed a skewed idea of what Christians believe – which all leads to another discussion altogether. I did not find something (at least not very readily) that Justinian focused his energies on the preexistence of Jesus’ soul.

At any rate, I am not entirely sure of the religious or philosophical leanings that inform your thinking. But the concept of the Trinity is a very old one, and evidently part of biblical teaching pre-New Testament times.

(Shawn T Murphy) #62

My original comment was about the pagan origins of Christmas. So when you asked about the trinity, I referenced Origen’s first two books on the gospel of John. This was the last work of his life and puts the long-held pagan trinity to bed. But since he was declared a heretic, 200 years after his death, by the emperor of Rome, his vast writings were either destroyed or transcribed into the new doctrine. A mere fragment of his work remains, so people say what they want about him. As an engineer, I simply asked the logical question, why did the emperor of Rome declare him a heretic two centuries later - not the church?

Actions speak louder than words. The emperor Justinian conquered these new barbarians, that he just created, and took these enlightened peoples as slaves - strengthening the empire. This has been the MO of the Roman Empire from its beginning. I choose to believe the teachings that were destroyed by the conquerer in this case. “The Anathematisms of the Emperor Justinian against Origen” in 543 AD tells us exactly the teaching that the Emperor destroyed.

(Robin) #63

Appreciate the response…

Yes, you did list some rationale for the dating of the birth of Christ. There is a lot of speculation on the subject. Caesar ordered censuses for various reasons, not just taxation, so it is hard to be too dogmatic about a specific date. A former pastor of mine argued for February, but others dispute that idea. If Clement of Alexandria is right, then we just “missed” the true observance date — November 17, that is. And Clement put the year at 3 B.C.

As for Origen on the deity of Christ and the Trinity and other things — In De Principiius, Book 1 he mentioned “…what belongs to the nature of deity is common to the Father and the Son…” and later that “…saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all…”

Elsewhere Origen wrote that “What John calls the eternal Gsspel, … presents clearly to all those who have the will to understand, all matters concerning the very Son of God …”

Yes, De Principiius was composed earlier in Origen’s life, but it is considered no small feat.

As for the commentaries on the Gospel of John, in his introduction to his translation of this massive project, Heine dates the writing to “a large portion of Origen’s scholarly career” and noted that it is “doubtful that they were intentionally destroyed” and “how and when” these John commentaries were lost is unknown but probably due as much to the deterioration of the text as anything.

At any rate…my point here has been different from yours. The concept of a Trinitarian deity is difficult for some religious traditions but it does go back to the Judaism of the century before the time of Jesus and it just developed a bit in NT era.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Shawn T Murphy) #64

It is clear why the books were lost. If you do a forensic analysis of the missing books against the new doctrines created by Rome, it is clear why these are missing. There is evidence from also in Rufinus’ Apology and his comments on his translations. He clearly says that he had to leave aspects out of his latin translations of Origen.

The remaining fragments of his original Greek commentary on the gospel of John reveal much. For me, the most important thing that the fragments are - what is missing. The first ten books went from John 1:1 to 2:25, but what was destroyed by the roman empire was John 1:8-14, 1:30-51 and 2:1-11. We have enough evidence of Origin’s unique insight to know that what he wrote about the baptism of Jesus, the second coming of Elijah and Jesus’ turning water into wine in Cana posed grave danger to the dogma created by the emperor Justinian to further his rule of Roman empire.

The second half of the fragments provide a clear picture as to what the materialistic rulers of Rome feared in Origen. His commentaries on the most controversial chapters were completely destroyed – John’s chapters 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12. In addition, the following sections are also missing 4:1-12, 8:1-18, 8:26-36 and 11:1-38. The destruction specifically supported their eternal damnation doctrine.

Also, reminder that do not have an original Greek copy of Origen’s De Principiius. What wa lost is not random.

Happy Holiday

(Robin) #65

OK…but you just referenced something that a modern commentator/translator wrote. You will need to debate the specifics of that with him, as he is highly regarded. There may be more than one perspective or reason… I know that there can be multiple views on many issues. My point was regarding the date for the observance of Christmas, as well as the historicity of the doctrine of the Trinity — which preceded Origen by a couple centuries. Some sources also say that he laid the groundwork for the more orthodox description of the Trinity.

I know that Origen also.had some views that came to be regarded as idiosyncratic or even heterodox. But it is not clear from the things I have just read or cited that all his views were unorthodox. He does appear to have believed Jesus existed from everlasting (i.e., from before His genealogy), was equated with God,. was the atonement for humanity’s sins, and so forth.

Interesting conversation…I always learn something in these sorts of debates, even when they seem to run in a direction not anticipated by me or by the subject at hand,…

(system) #66

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