From: Curtis Johnson
To: Steve Hayes
Date: Oct 13 1997 12:13:28 pm
Subject: Festivals
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-=> Quoting Steve Hayes to Curtis Johnson <=-

CJ> The feast that would emphasize his divinity against the
CJ> Arians would be the Annunciation (to Mary).  Emphasizing his
CJ> fleshliness could hardly be an emphasis on his divinity.
CJ> The Conybeare entry on Epiphany, which you had not yet a
CJ> chance to see when you wrote the above, seems to make it rather
CJ> clear that the "heresy" playing a role in the creation of Christmas
CJ> was Adoptionism (to others, roughly that Jesus was not begotten of
CJ> the Spirit until his baptism by John the Baptist).

SH> I'm not too convinced by Conybeare's argument there. Adoptionism
SH> wasn't a big issue in the 4th century, when the nativity began to be
SH> celebrated as a separate event. Arianism was.

You never made clear how celebrating his fleshly birth was
supposed to counterbalance the Arian viewpoint that Jesus was not
Note that this was a holiday of Western origin, whereas
adoptionist beliefs tended to be in the east.
I also suggest that you review Conybeare's entry again;
it is quite strong on specific facts and cites from contemporaries.

SH> It is also possible that the dating of the nativity was influenced by
SH> the putative date of the annunciation, and not vice versa. Though the
SH> actual *celebration* of the Annunciation did not begin until later (or
SH> at least the evidence of its celebration dates from later).
SH> But it's also not inconceivable that if someone had known that the
SH> Jewish new year is celebrated around 25 September (give or take a week
SH> or two), they could have read Luke 1:26 and decided that a March date
SH> for the annunciation was most likely, and the date for celebrating the
SH> nativity obviously then falls in December.

Of course, that would completely ignore the context of just
what that "sixth month" is.  Immediately before that verse, GLuke says
that Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, went into seclusion for
five months.  And immediately after the Annunciation in the "sixth month,"
Mary went to see her, thus ending the seclusion.
Rosh ha-Shanah is on the first day of the seventh Jewish month.
Because the Jewish calendar is a lunisolar one, their New Year begins
over a range of weeks, from Sept. 30 to at least Sept. 8.  Assigning a
fixed calendar day to this would be like assigning a fixed date to

SH> There's *no* direct evidence for that. It's pure speculation. But then
SH> so are all the other theories I've read. Same dots, different lines.

There's much harder evidence for the other hypotheses.

SH> That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God: an argument directed
SH> against the Nestorians.
SH> from "The Orthodox Faith" by St John of Damascus.

He lived 674-749.  With the date rather out of the time
period considered, and with nothing directly said about either
holiday, I fail to see what prompted you to quote this.

SH> But we may never say that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of Christ,
SH> because it was in order to do away with the title Mother of God, and
SH> to bring dishonour on the Mother of God, who alone is in truth worthy
SH> of honour above all creation, that the impure and abominable Judaizing
SH> Nestorius, that vessel of dishonour, invented this name for an insult.
SH> For David the King, and Aaron the High Priest, are also called Christ,
SH> for it is customary to make kings and priests by anointing; and
SH> besides every God-inspired man may be called Christ, but yet he is not
SH> by nature God: yea, the accursed Nestorius insulted him who was born
SH> of the virgin by calling him God-bearer. May it be far from us to

It does remind me of how the Christological controversies
can be quite absurd yet mind-numbingly boring at the same time.

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