Did Hippolytus think Christmas should be on 25th December?

It’s that time of year again.  Over the next few weeks, legions of weenies will excitedly post online various stale old myths about how Christmas is really a pagan festival.  I have already seen one tell me that it must be copied from the Germanic “Yule” and the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, oblivious of the detail that first century Romans did not borrow concepts from 8th century Saxons.  The origins of Christmas will be discussed widely, if not usefully.

Irritating as such nonsense can be, we need to resist the urge to roast those posting it.  Often they are people who mean no harm, and merely repeat what they have been told.  As 19th century evangelist D. L. Moody used to say, “Keep sweet.  You can’t do any good unless you keep sweet.”  With charm and courtesy, and deference to their religious belief that Christianity cannot possibly be true, we may encourage people to take an interest in ancient history.  It’s worth a go.

But Tom Schmidt has been doing something rather more constructive.  After translating the Chronicon and the Commentary on Daniel of Hippolytus, he’s looking at what our 3rd century author has to say on this subject, and has written a useful post on it here,  summarising his own article in PDF form available here.  The latter is very detailed indeed.

He outlines how the scholars have mostly followed the witness of one manuscript of the Commentary on Daniel, plus a quotation in “George of Arabia”.  I don’t know whether the latter is the Syriac author, George, bishop of the Arab tribes, but a reference would be good.  I’d also like to know what the manuscripts’ shelf-marks are.

Unfortunately comments seem to have been disabled on his article – which is unfortunate.

7 thoughts on “Did Hippolytus think Christmas should be on 25th December?

  1. Hi Roger, thanks for the interest. Comments should be enabled….it lets me post comments when I am not logged in…..hmmm, I’ll look into it. I’ll look into the shelf marks too. References to George of arabia are given in my article but not in the blog post, George of Arabia and Georg bishop of the Arab tribes are the same person.

  2. Hi,

    The reference from the Ante Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson is missing. I mean it’s there, but the part specifically regarding his date of birth is missing. Why?

    I understand this is a debated text. What is modern concensus or is there any?

  3. Reading this on the run, but I presume we are talking about the Commentary on Daniel? This all relates to Tom’s posts, I think. Does he not discuss the textual history of this work somewhere? Too late at night; but I think a longer text was discovered after the ANF version was produced (which probably dates to the 1860’s). Can’t remember! Remind me of the context!

  4. “But Tom Schmidt has been doing something rather more constructive. After translating the Chronicon and the Commentary on Daniel of Hippolytus, he’s looking at what our 3rd century author has to say on this subject, and has written a useful post on it here, summarising his own article in PDF form available here”

    This link seems to be missing.

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