I started this post abut a week ago, but kept losing both my enthusiasm and focus.
that was until I ran towards a thought, as opposed to from one.
Emma Jo still exhibits too much wonder and joy this time of year, and I worked hard to savor every moment of that. then I saw an article reminding us, collectively, that there is no validated evidence that Jesus Christ was, in truth, born on December 25th. that started to really bug me. however, Saturday I had a very good run at North Park. I started out a bit sore and thinking I might want to dial it back a bit. but, by the second circuit I was feeling pretty light-footed and decided to put some steam into play. the “zone” realized itself and my mind wandered with my good form. that’s when I was (thunder) struck by the notion that I believed Christ rose from the dead.
just like that.
no justification. no debate. not even a “why not”, to allow for some wiggle-room.
there was this sense that I could not prove it did not happen. and, I’d been playing the Heterodox card so long I had forgotten the circular argument that, ultimately, believing in a thing (any thing) is potentially much like believing in oneself. there are times when we prevail against great odds. and, I’m certain faith has it’s role in that.
so, I’ve elected to keep some of the early thinking alive in this post. however, now you know, as do I.
meanwhile, I fully understand that this post is going to generate a great deal of consternation. I expect the shaking of fists, and possibly teeth gnashing. lofty-minded opinions may be hurled my way.
so… was Jesus really born on December 25th?
does it matter?
original thinking that geared this controversial topic must needs be, and should be attributed to Angie Mosteller, and probably God, for that matter.
but, we must also submit ourselves, collectively to the aforementioned Heterodox.
I’m confident that Jesus walked the earth and died on a cross. I don’t know that He rose from the dead (as we think we understand death) to seal the deal around a covenant between Himself, God and the rest of us. however, I’m genuinely satisfied that this is the case though because there is a clear advantage there for all of us. and, we’ll make that assumption going forward with this post so we don’t get bogged-down with tangental discourse.
you may be pausing, right about now and taking your own wonder at the veritable lack of drama, here. but, in truth, it’s more calm, for me – much like the way after I feel after a good run.
make a note that I also think I know that Jesus was a Rabbi leading up to his death. although I can’t point to the relevant scripture, His being a Rabbi, from the line of David (through Mary, and possibly Joseph as well) is mentioned throughout the New Testament (Books of Matthew and John 1:14, for example) /1.
…there’s some random thinking, for you. I love and value random, heart-felt, unrestricted, irreverent, untamed, Kobayashi Maru-drenched, thought.
by the way…
“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” Rabbi Rami Shapiro told CNN during a recent interview. “They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in, but they ignore the vast majority of the text.”
these baring points are relevant, here, because the point of this post is to pin-down points of logic hopefully based in fact but impacted by sequential logistics that include science in the form of astrology, technology (the press), and matters of convenience, ironically originating from the catholic Church.
I grew up delighted with the calendar event of Christmas day and the date of December 25th. now I relish Emma Jo’s own delight. but, there are rumblings a-plenty that date was chosen in an effort to “Christianize” a pagan holiday. Tim Barker recently shared with me an article on just that topic. I contemplated adding my own research and perspective. but, I love interest in that in the face of calm perspective. however, it’s (the, and other, related articles) subsequently been a terrific source of lively debate between myself and a few buddies, and an interesting teaching opportunity for my own kids (although we need to tread lightly around the Santa Claus element for the time being).
in any event, like everything else in our lives, the Heterodox inevitably rears it’s head for me and creates the “truth-of-the day” based on current information. but, I’m still fascinated by how the date of December 25th was potentially selected.
though the gospels of Matthew and Luke both give an account of Christ’s birth, neither one provides a date for this great event. Though it may sound strange to our modern minds, it is likely that early Christians did not place any particular value on birthdays.
it was not until the third century that various pockets of Christians began to show interest in the date of Christ’s birth, and it would take another century for the Church to begin celebrating it with some uniformity. the first clear record of Christ’s birth on December 25 was not until 336 AD, but it is possible that the church had accepted the date long before and that it was already common knowledge. regardless, even if the dating of Christ’s birth was owed in part to the pagan holiday, “The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,” the influence was probably only secondary. it appears that the primary goal of the Church was to determine an appropriate date, one that Christians expected to be rich in symbolism. if this date, December 25, also happened to give the Church a sacred feast with which to counter pagan celebrations, then it was arguably the best possible choice for the day on which to honor Christ’s birth.
by the third century, it appears that some Christians had started celebrating Christ’s birth, as well as his death, on March 25th.
go look it up. do it!
so, why were Christians celebrating Christ’s birth and death on the same day? well… there’s an ancient Jewish tradition of “integral age” or “whole year theory” that evidently influenced this practice. it is a belief that the life of a Jewish prophet began and ended on the same day. most good Rabbi’s know this. a third century Christian, Sextus Julius Africanus (note: most of the valid research evidently occurred in the third century), added an interesting component to this theory. he argued that Christ’s life began not at birth, but at conception (thus the Catholic views around birth contro?). his case proves to be of particular relevance, because if Christ was conceived on March 25th, he would have been born roughly nine months later on December 25th, the date on which our current discussion is focused, eh.
but look… you can Google, Bing, or, what-ever “facts around Christ’s birth”, and get all manner of data and information. but, it really does not matter. dates don’t matter. calendars have changed and evolved. man has clearly manipulated fact and information. however, God gave us discernment. and, mine is edged with faith, now. I’ve tried to intellectualize all of it. all of it, mind you. but, that does not work for me, today. so, that’s the sublime beauty of the Heterodox – I’ve realized my truth of the day, and will remain satisfied that darkness can try and prove otherwise. that’s how I nimbly side-step the hypocrisy issue.
so, perhaps more simply stated, I believe in Jesus. in part, because I believe in myself. I’m of the opinion that God relishes my own thinking and He designed me for such purposes. thank God.
peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
brian patrick cork
1/ Men better than myself, teachers, tell me that Rabbi’s start memorizing scripture (i.e. the Torah – which is largely the first five books of the Old Testament) as soon as they are able to read along with any other good (subjective) Jew. then at the age of twelve they either took up the family trade or become a Rabbi (this entailed memorizing the rest of the Old Testament). Point-of-reference: There is the story where Mary and Joseph left Jesus in town and upon their return came back they found him studying scripture with the “other” Rabbis. Also, I believe that when he is much older He goes to Peter, James, and John (who are in the family trade of fishing) and asks them to drop their nets and follow Him. I’m advised that they would not have done so unless he had authority (being anointed by God, nonetheless). If they followed Him they could potentially become a Rabbi themselves, and move-up in social class.