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Lesson 1 Hope of Israel Ministries BIBLE Correspondence Course 11

The History of Christmas (by David Easter, or the sending down of the spirit at
Hughes) Pentecost.

One of the greatest shocks to the people The second sermon was given on
who read about Christmas and the star of December 25, A.D. 386 and was reported by
Bethlehem seems to be the revelation that Theodoret, Bishop of Cyprus. Chrysostom
Yeshua the Messiah was not born on December reminded the congregation that they had only
25. What real evidence is there for this known the festival for ten years, but he also
traditional date? stressed that it had long been very well known to
those who lived in the west as well as to the
The first reference we have to December people who lived between Thrace and Gades.
25 as the date of the Messiah’s nativity comes in How did Chrysostom justify December 25 as the
a Roman city calendar for the year A.D. 354, at date of the festival? He was probably relying on
least 360 years after the original event being the incorrect assumption that Zacharias was high
celebrated. This Chronographus Anni priest and would have entered the temple to burn
CCCLIIII (Chronograph of 354), as it later incense (Luke 1:9) on the Day of Atonement, the
became entitled, was edited by Furius Dionysius one and only day of the year when the high priest
Filocalus, who later became calligrapher to Pope entered the holy of holies. According to
Damasus (A.D. 366-384). Among other things Leviticus 16:29 this occurred on the tenth day of
the calendar contains a list of the burial places of the seventh month (Tishri 10). It was followed
martyrs, with the days on which they were shortly afterward by the Feast of Tabernacles,
remembered and on which festivals were held in which started on Tishri 15 and went on for a
their honor. This “depositio martyrum,” as it is week. Tishri falls normally in September/
called, contains material from around A.D. 336 October.
and makes the statement “VIII Kal. Ian. natus
Christus in Betleem Iudeae,” which means that In A.D. 386 there was a New Moon on
the Messiah was born in Bethlehem of Judea on September 10, and the Day of Atonement fell on
the eighth day before the Kalends of January -- September 20. The Feast of Tabernacles
in other words December 25. occurred between September 25 and October 1.
Chrysostom assumes that John the Baptist was
The originator of our modern Christmas conceived in September and he counts six
celebration has always been thought to be John months forward to arrive at April as the month of
Chrysostom. He was born in Antioch about A.D. the conception of the Messiah. From here he
345, later preached there, subsequently became counts nine months to December, the birth
Bishop of Constantinople, and died in A.D. 407. month of Yeshua. This of course assumes that
In A.D. 386 he delivered two famous sermons on Yeshua was a nine months baby, but this is not
the subject of Christmas. In the first, given on certain. The early writer Epiphanius, for
December 20, he looked forward eagerly -- and example, was convinced that Yeshua was only in
urged his congregation to do the same -- to the the womb for seven months. The Egyptians held
Christmas festival which was to be celebrated in the same view, Yeshua being in this respect
five days time. Chrysostom says that the festival similar to Osiris, who was also said to have been
of the nativity must take its rightful place with born seven months after conception.
the other great festivals of the Christian year
because without the birth of the Messiah there When we go back in time to the oldest
would be no reason to celebrate his baptism at work of Christianity apart from the Bible, we
Epiphany, his crucifixion and resurrection at find the conception of the Messiah put in the

The Pagan Origins of Christmas
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