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Myth of the Lambing Season (Part 5 of 5)

We’re finishing our conversation with Dr. Jeff Chadwick, a New Testament scholar at BYU.  We’ll talk about what he calls, the myth of the lambing season.  How cold is it in Israel in December?

Jeff:  The average day in Jerusalem in December and January is partly cloudy with green grass and jacket temperatures, nothing like the winters of Utah and Idaho. That brings up another thing and this is what I call the myth of the lambing season.

GT: Oh really?

Jeff:  Yeah, because, you know, the idea that Jesus was born in the Spring, was not unique to Latter-day Saints in the 1800’s. Others were suggesting this as well. Protestant writers in America familiar with freezing North American winters, because they were usually from New England or somewhere like that, couldn’t imagine how shepherds could be in the fields abiding by their flocks in December, “Aww, just much too cold. No shepherd could be out with his flocks in December,” they ruled. So, it must be in the springtime because spring is when the lambs are born and since Jesus was the lamb of God, that’s when he would have been born, too, is in the spring. This, of course, plays in really well with the tradition among the Latter-day Saints that Jesus was born in April. The problem is it’s an entire falsity. The reason why is that shepherds did and still do go out with their flocks all Winter long.

I have stood in the fields outside of Bethlehem on several Christmas Eves because I get to be there from time to time and the shepherds are out there with their sheep and little lambs have been born already in December. They don’t wait. Now here in our climate, just because of the way that the lambs and the sheep bear, they’ll wait until it’s a little warmer and they’ll lamb in March and April. But that’s not the way that it works in the holy land because the climate doesn’t require it. Biology works partially because of its climate.

We’ll also talk about what projects he is working on.  Check out our conversation…

Would shepherds really be in their fields in December?  Isn't it too cold for that?
Would shepherds really be in their fields in December? Isn’t it too cold for that?

Check out our other conversations with Dr. Chadwick!

234: Is Christmas a Celebration of Sun? (Chadwick)

233: How Jesus’s Death Relates to his Birth Date (Chadwick)

231: Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, & Birth of Christ (Chadwick)

229: Was Jesus Born in December? (Chadwick)

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Is Christmas a Celebration of Sun? (Part 4 of 5)

Many people have said that Dec. 25 is an old Roman holiday celebrating the Sun in the sky.  Did the Catholic Church co-opt this holiday for their own religious purposes, or are there reasons to believe Jesus might have been born in December?  Dr. Jeffrey Chadwick, New Testament scholar at BYU answers that question.

GT:  So do Catholics believe Jews was born in December?

Jeff: Yes.

GT:  Really?

Jeff:  Well, you know what Christmas means? Christ’s mass. They traditionally date Jesus’ birth to December.

GT:  I’ve always heard the Christmas came about because it was a pagan holiday of the Sun God, and it was December 25th. Was there some Roman [holiday]….

Jeff:  Well, this is certainly true. December 25th was Sol Invictus in the Roman pagan notion. But the Roman Empire became Christian right, by the fourth century. Particularly when Constantine comes in there, Christianity becomes even the preferred religion. But long before that, the notion that Jesus had been born in early winter existed within Christianity. The problem, I think, is that they didn’t know just when. The reason for this is that by the end of the second century, Christianity had become totally Gentile rather than Jewish, which was the way Christianity started out.

We will talk further about early Catholic/Christian beliefs about Christmas.  Dr. Chadwick doesn’t think it’s a problem that Christians re-appropriated a pagan holiday.  What do you think?  Check out our conversation….

Did early Christians appropriate a pagan holiday for Christmas? Do Catholics really believe Jesus was born in December?
Did early Christians appropriate a pagan holiday for Christmas? Do Catholics really believe Jesus was born in December?

Check out our other conversations about the first Christmas!

 

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Juvenile Jesus a Jerk? Apocryphal Stories Say Yes (Part 3 of 5)

There are lots of stories of Jesus as a child, but they are not in the Bible.  BYU professor Dr. Thom Wayment and I will discuss several of these strange stories about the Juvenile Jesus.

 

 

Thom:  He loses a game. So, he smites his friend who beats him in the game and then they go get their local leaders and they come out and say, “We’ve got to punish this kid,” and as they get ready to punish them, Jesus raises the kid from the dead.

GT:  I’ve heard that story too.

Thom:  And then they say, “Where is the evidence of this?” It’s really weird to a modern person how terrible Jesus could be as a child.

GT:  Well, and there’s another story about a bunch of birds. He made a bunch of mud birds or something.

Thom:  And gave life to them.

GT:  And then they flew away.

Thom:  Yes, yes.

GT:  He’s really a brat. Jesus is a brat in this story.

Thom:  I would agree. I would use that term. And what’s so fascinating is it’s like he has this divine power, but he’s a teenager using it, which is really kind of fun, but you wonder what it says about your view of Jesus.

Were any of these considered canonical?  Was Joseph much older than Mary?  Check out our conversation….

Apocryphal stories fill in the gaps of Jesus' childhood. Was Jesus a jerk as a child?
Apocryphal stories fill in the gaps of Jesus’ childhood. Was Jesus a jerk as a child?

Don’t forget to check out our other conversations about the birth of Jesus!

231: Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, & Birth of Christ (Chadwick)

230: Christmas Legends: Herod, Wise Men, the Star (Wayment)

229: Was Jesus Born in December? (Chadwick)

228: Separating Fact and Fiction on Birth of Christ (Wayment)