From: Steve Hayes
To: Curtis Johnson
Date: Oct 12 1997 10:08:56 am
Subject: Festivals
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Steve Hayes is replying to Curtis Johnson, who wrote to Steve Hayes on 06
Oct 97  04:49:24:

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).
CJ> The Mithraism and Saturnalia angles come in with the choice
CJ> of date, and the traditions and celebrations coming in with that
CJ> holiday--one notable one, in the case of Mithraism, is the
CJ> homage of the shepherds.

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

It is also possible that the dating of the nativity was influenced by the
putative date of the annunciation, and not vice versa. Though the actual
*celebration* of the Annunciation did not begin until later (or at least
the evidence of its celebration dates from later).

But it's also not inconceivable that if someone had known that the Jewish
new year is celebrated around 25 September (give or take a week or two),
they could have read Luke 1:26 and decided that a March date for the annunciation
was most likely, and the date for celebrating the nativity obviously then
falls in December.

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

SH> It is quite possible that at least the ikonography was influenced by
SH> that. But again, looking at the writings of contemporary Christians,
SH> their main concern was with the question of who and what Jesus is. The

CJ> 	From the contemporary accounts, the crowds seemed to react
CJ> to the winds of Trinitarian controversy as to whether it affected
CJ> the status of Mary.

Such is the understanding promote by Prtoestant propaganda, yes.

SH> concern with the status of his mother was much more of a concern of
SH> 19th-century Protestant polemics. I have found that even today many
SH> Protestants are totally incapable of understanding the Orthodox view.
SH> They *persist* in distorting it, even when it is explained to them.

CJ> 	I saw that several times in R-RELIGION, and more than once
CJ> here.

That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God: an argument directed against
the Nestorians.

from "The Orthodox Faith" by St John of Damascus.

Moreover we proclaim the holy virgin to be in strict truth the Mother of
God. For inasmuch as He who was born of her was true God, she who bare the
true God incarnate is the true mother of God. For we hold that God was born
of her, not implying that the divinity of the Word received from her the
beginning of its being, but meaning that God the Word himself, who was begotten
of the Father timelessly before the ages, and was with the Father and the
Spirit without beginning and through eternity, took up his abode in these
last days for the sake of our salvation in the Virgin's womb, and was without
change made flesh and born of her. For the holy Virgin did not bear mere
man but true God; and not mere God but God incarnate, who did not bring
down his body from heaven, nor simply passed through the virgin as channel,
but received from her flesh of like essence to our own and subsisting in
himself. For if the body had come down from heaven and had not partaken
of our nature, what would have been the use of his becoming man? For the
purpose of God the Word in becoming man was that the very same nature, which
had sinned and fallen and become corrupted, should triumph over the deceiving
tyrant and so be freed from corruption, just as the divine apostle puts
it, "For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the
dead." If the first was true, the second must also be true.

Although, however, he says, "The first Adam is of the earth, earthy; the
second Adam is the Lord from Heaven," he does not say that his body is from
heaven, but emphasises the fact that he is not mere man. For mark, he called
him both Adam and Lord, thus indicating his double nature, for Adam is,
being interpreted, earth-born: and it is clear that man's nature is earth-born
since he is formed from earth, but the title Lord signifies his divine essence.

And again the Apostle says: "God sent forth His only-begotten Son, made
of a woman." He did not say "made by a woman". Wherefore the divine apostle
meant that the only-begotten Son of God and God is the same as he who was
made man of the Virgin, and that he who was born of the virgin is the same
as the Son of God and God.

But he was born after the bodily fashion inasmuch as He became man, and
did not take up his abode in a man formed beforehand, as in a prophet, but
became himself in essence and truth man, that is he caused flesh animated
with intelligence and reason to subsist in his own subsistence, and himself
became subsistence for it. For this is the meaning of "made of a woman".
For how could the very Word of God itself have been made under the law,
if he did not become man of like essence with ourselves.

Hence it is with justice and truth that we call the holy Mary the Mother
of God. For this name embraces the whole mystery of the dispensation. For
if she who bore him is the Mother of God, assuredly he who was born of her
is God and likewise also man. For how could God, who was before the ages,
have been born of a woman unless he had become man? For the son of man must
clearly be man himself. But if he who was born of a woman is himself God,
manifestly he who was begotten of God the Father in accordance with the
laws of an essence that is divine and knows no beginning, and he who was
in the last days born of the Virgin in accordance with the laws of an essence
that has beginning and is subject to time, that is, an essence which is
human, must be one and the same. The name in truth signifies the one subsistence
and the two natures and the two generations of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But we may never say that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of Christ, because
it was in order to do away with the title Mother of God, and to bring dishonour
on the Mother of God, who alone is in truth worthy of honour above all creation,
that the impure and abominable Judaizing Nestorius, that vessel of dishonour,
invented this name for an insult. For David the King, and Aaron the High
Priest, are also called Christ, for it is customary to make kings and priests
by anointing; and besides every God-inspired man may be called Christ, but
yet he is not by nature God: yea, the accursed Nestorius insulted him who
was born of the virgin by calling him God-bearer. May it be far from us
to speak or think of him as God-bearer only, Who is in truth God incarnate.
For the Word himself became flesh, having been in truth conceived of the
Virgin, but coming forth with God with the assumed nature which, as soon
as he was brought into being, was deified by him, so that these three things
took place simultaneously, the assumption of our nature, the coming into
being, and the deification of the assumed nature by the Word. And thus it
is that the holy Virgin is thought of and spoken of as the Mother of God,
not only because of the nature of the Word, but also because of the deification
of man's nature, the miracles of conception and of existence being wrought
together, to wit, the conception of the Word, and the existence of the flesh
of the Word himself. For the very Mother of God, in some marvellous manner
was the means of fashioning the Framer of all things and of bestowing manhood
on the God and Creator of all, who deified the nature that he assumed, while
the union preserved those things that were united just as they were united,
that is to say, not only the divine nature of Christ, but also his human
nature, not only that which is above us, but that which is of us. For he
was not first made like us and only later became higher than us, but ever
from his first coming into being  he existed with the double nature, because
he existed in the Word himself from the beginning of the conception. Wherefore
he is human in his own nature, but also, in some marvellous manner, of God
and divine. Moreover he has the properties of the living flesh: for by reason
of the dispensation the Word received these which are, according to the
laws of natural motion, truly natural.

Keep well,

Steve Hayes

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