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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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How Jesus’ Death Relates to his Birth Date (Part 3 of 5)

How long did Jesus live?  Can the Book of Mormon give us insight into when Jesus was born?  BYU professor Dr. Jeff Chadwick says the Book of Mormon gives us the key to figuring out both Jesus’ death, but also his birth year.

Jeff: We only know that because of the Book of Mormon because Jesus has lived 33 full years in the space of the 3rd Nephi story. So, we know he’s lived 33 full years. I actually think he lives 33 years and a couple of months. He’s born in December of 5 BC and dies in early April of AD 30, which would make him like 33 and three months, but he lived 33 full years. That much is clear from the text of 3rd Nephi. He doesn’t live 34 full years. He is only 33, because his appearance in 3rd Nephi to the Nephites is dated to the ending of the 34th year. So, he’s been dead some time before the end of the 34th year gets there, meaning he only lived 33 years and whatever little time after that.

We also go deeper into the Jewish calendar.  Check out our conversation…..

The Book of Mormon gives insight to the timing of both Jesus' death and birth.
The Book of Mormon gives insight to the timing of both Jesus’ death and birth.

Check out our other conversations concerning dating Christ’s birth!

232: Juvenile Jesus a Jerk? Apocryphal Stories Say Yes (Wayment)

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)

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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)