A little more on the history of Christmas
Re: Historical roots of Christmas (Dec. 18)
Oh boy, where to begin with this one. There’s more misinformation than allegedly in the Fox news broadcasts Mr. Rock seems fixated on.
While there’s not really a “war on Christmas”, at least not here in the west, there has been a gradual but relatively minor pushback against it, particularly from those who believe in the nonexistent right to not be offended.
It has been argued that Christmas isn’t real because “It’s not even his birthday!” To which the reply is, “Well, we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday, and guess what. That’s not her actual birthday.” The comment that the Bible can’t agree on the date doesn’t even apply, because to say that implies there are multiple dates in the Bible for it, when there isn’t even one. Various scholars in antiquity have proposed various dates and several did so without any need for borrowing a Roman holiday, with the theory that if Jesus was conceived on Passover, his birth date would be on or around Dec. 25. Others have proposed Jan. 6, and the Eastern Orthodox church celebrates it on Jan. 7. None of that has any bearing on whether Christmas is a proper Christian holiday in its own right. Some have claimed Dec. 25 as birthdays for various pagan deities, but the flaw in that argument is that there are no actual recorded birthdates for them.
It’s true that many Christians warming the pews don’t have proper knowledge of what they believe. Those who are supposed to be teaching them are neglecting their duty. As to an alleged marriage of Jewish and pagan beliefs, Saint Paul did nothing of the sort. “Christian” was originally a slur directed at followers of Jesus, before Paul even took up the task of preaching in Jesus’s name. Prior to doing so, he was one of the primary persecutors of Christians. He was a Pharisee and had no interest in mixing pagan and Jewish ideals at any time.
There are scholars with no religious dog in the fight that will tell you all about how the arguments against Jesus having existed are wrong, not to mention how the argument that Jesus’ story was cribbed from pagan mythology is also incorrect. Skeptics tend to overuse Bart Ehrman but some fail to realize that he isn’t a proponent of the concept that the story of Jesus was cobbled together from various pagan myths. There are sites, such as tektonics.org, that credibly debunk many skeptical claims that Mr. Rock seems to have accepted uncritically.
Yes, Jesus was a Jew. But he also knew that people of his community would reject him and his teachings, which de facto created another religion, because he made changes they couldn’t accept for whatever reason.
If God went to Mary like Zeus did to various women, in order to impregnate her, it would literally defeat the purpose of a virgin birth. Jesus’ own disciples believed he was the son of God — but not a son of God in the way Mr. Rock thinks.
Science can’t tell us what “ought” to be. You can’t get an “ought” from an “is”.
And finally, no, Santa Claus was not created by Haddon Sundblom making an ad for the Coca-Cola company in 1930. That’s an urban legend. Thomas Nast, a civil war cartoonist, is credited for depicting what would become the modern representation of Santa Claus, but the base concept originated with Saint Nicholas, in the 4th century AD.
April J. Gibson