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From: (Michael L. Siemon)
Subject: Re: Explaination of Jesus not being born in december.
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 1996 19:50:33 -0500

In article <01bbf2ab$6a37ecc0$19ce77cc@mpainter>, "Michael D. Painter"

+December 25th was a miscalculation of Dec 21st the real solstice.

??? December 25th was the date of the solstice after Julius Caesar's
institution of a Roman solar calendar.  The inaccuracy of that calendar
with respect to the tropical year (its 365.25 days per year versus the
more accurate (and non constant) 365.2421896698...) led to a shift in
the quarter dates (solstice and equinox) by ~2.8 days at the time of
the Nicene Council (which concerned itself indirectly with calendric
matters, in determining a rule -- dissociated from the Jewish luni-solar
calendar -- for celebrating the Paschal feast central to Christianity.
When Gregory promulgated the 16th century redress of this problem in the
Julian calendar, he also promulgated a return of ancient solstice and
equinox dates, but not a return to those at the time of Jesus, but to
those at the time of Nicea. [At the time of Jesus' birth, in other
words, and to be totally explicit, the winter solstice *was* near the
date of Dec. 25th; in Constantine's time it was near Dec. 21st.]

And yes, on some of your other points, there were other dates named
in Christian sources for the birth of Jesus before ever Dec. 25th was
mentioned (in any extant source), and obviously no common opinion of
Christians on this point.  The Dec. 25th date seems to have become a
principal one also in the time of Constantine, hence some 3+ centuries
after the fact.

People who are desperate to defend the "traditional" date really should
deal honestly with the fact that it is a relatively late tradition, that
won out over a number of competing (and to all appearances, earlier) ones.
Elaborate arguments that "defend" the Dec. 25th dating are pointless if
not offered with some honest treatment of the mere fact that it was *not*
"the date of Christmas" for several centuries after Christ's birth.
Michael L. Siemon                           

Awaslah jabberwok adek, rahang mengigit, kuku tangkap;
Awaslah pun burong jubjub, dan ferumi bandersenap.

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