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.