In My Eyes
By Edward B. Antonio
We know that Jesus Christ was not born on December 25, fellas.
But Mang Maing says that Jesus’ mother Mary was only 12 to 14 years old when she was betrothed and married to Joseph, the alleged earthly father of Jesus and that Joseph was already something like 80 or 90 years old at that time.
He mentions a passage by De Robigne Mortimer Bennett who wrote that the book ‘History of Joseph the Carpenter,’ was believed and genuine by Early Evangelical Church. Not just that, he also mentions that when Joseph married Mary, she was 12 years old and he was 90 years old. At the end of his statement on ‘History of Joseph the Carpenter,’ he states, “These statements should undoubtedly be taken with many grains of allowance.” Here, he himself agrees that the statements where it mentions that Joseph was 90-year-old when he married 12 Mary is true, and should be accepted.
Bernard L. Fontana also mentions that Mary was 12 years old and Joseph 90 years old when married:
“Thanks to the Apocrypha writings, which inspired many artists over the ages, the popular belief became widespread that Joseph had first married when he was forty years old and fathered six children by his wife before she died when he was eighty-nine years old. The youngest of his child was said to be James the Less, ‘Christ’s brother.’ This tradition holds that Joseph was ninety years old when he went to Jerusalem to join other candidates seeking the hand of the twelve- to fourteen year old Mary in Marriage.”
Early church fathers believed Joseph was 80 to 90 years old when he married 12-year-old Mary.The very advanced age of Joseph, marrying Mary, was true and accepted by most early Church Fathers. Reverend Jeremiah Jones writes about 2 to 3 pages long that Infancy Protevangelion of James was accepted by Early Church Fathers as truthful account of Mary and Joseph’s marriage. If one reads the Infancy Gospel of James (Protevangelion of James), in Chapter 8 it says that Mary was married to Joseph when she was 12 years old.
So much for the ages, fellas.
A more controversial issue is the real date Christ was born.
Careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that December 25 couldn’t be the date for Christ’s birth. Here are two primary reasons as :
First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8). Shepherds were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays , Luke’s account “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night.” Similarly, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.
Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.
Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then which I have asked you to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism” (William Walsh, The Story of Santa Klaus , 1970, p. 62).
If Jesus Christ wasn’t born on December 25, does the Bible indicate when He was born? The biblical accounts point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist. Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year (The Companion Bible , 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200).
It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus (Luke 1:35-36)) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.
Although it is difficult to determine the first time anyone celebrated December 25 as Christmas Day, historians are in general agreement that it was sometime during the fourth century. This is an amazingly late date. Christmas was not observed in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, until about 300 years after Christ’s death. Its origins cannot be traced back to either the teachings or practices of the earliest Christians.
But why December 25, fellas?
The Roman Catholic Church chose December 25 as the day for the Feast of the Nativity in order to give Christian meaning to existing pagan rituals. For example, the Church replaced festivities honoring the birth of Mithra, the god of light, with festivities to commemorate the birth of Jesus, whom the Bible calls the light of the world. The Catholic Church hoped to draw pagans into its religion by allowing them to continue their revelry while simultaneously honoring the birthday of Jesus.
But anyhow, we don’t mind whether Jesus was born on this or that date. What is important is we comme-morate his birth by renewing our covenant to love our fellowmen not just on Christ-mas day but all year round. And when we mean love, we mean to show it in thought, in words and in deeds.
Merry Christmas everyone!