Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : Soon Christmas · New blog on the kid : On the Date of Christmas · Φιλολoγικά / Philologica : Second week of Tishri + 15 Month = Christmas · Does it Make Sense for Christ to Have been Born at Chanukka time?
Here is the argument of Dwight Longenecker:
Here’s how it goes: We know that John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah was a priest who served in the temple at Jerusalem. While he was serving an angel appeared announcing that his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant and the boy’s name would be John. The Jewish priests were on a schedule according to their family lineage because the priesthood was hereditary. Zechariah was a priest of the class of Abijah. This is recorded in Luke 1:5. The class of Abijah was the eighth class of priests. This is recorded in Nehemiah 12:17. Each class served one week in the temple twice a year. The Abijah class took their turn during the second week of the Jewish month of Tishri. On our calendar that would fall between 22 and 30 September. Count ahead nine months. We celebrate the birth of John the Baptist on 24 June.
How does this connect with Jesus? When the angel comes to Mary to announce the conception of Jesus Christ after her assent, she goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother and wife of Zechariah) when Elizabeth was six months pregnant. This is recorded in Luke 1:36. If John the Baptist was conceived around 25 September, this means Jesus was conceived around March 25 –the date Christians celebrate the Annunciation–. Count forward nine more months and you get December 25 as the date for the birth of Jesus Christ.
Yes, Jesus Really Existed and He Was Born on December 25
December 20, 2018 by Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Now, "in our calendar" - depends on what year.
I was counting on 19 years, consistently adding 365.2425 days to the account at the start of a year, and consistently deducting 29.5 days per lunar month, ignoring when around half days the new days fall, but otherwise miming the functioning of Hebrew years. A bit too the Cycle of Meton, on which they are currently more or less based.
Now, after month IX, the days left of the year varied between 100 and 127 in those 19 "years". Now, "second week" of a month are its days 8 to 14. In Tishri, that includes ...
9 Tishrei – Erev Yom Kippur
10 Tishrei – Yom Kippur – (Fast Day)
This means, we can well imagine Zacharias was offering the sacrifice of Iom Kippur ...
It also means, we can check whether Iom Kippur is a September 25, typically ...
2017 date Sunset, 29 September – nightfall, 30 September
2018 date Sunset, 18 September – nightfall, 19 September
2019 date Sunset, 8 October – nightfall, 9 October
2020 date Sunset, 27 September – nightfall, 28 September
Yes, a September 25th date is possible, though not the only possible one.
Im Jerusalemer Tempel wurden an diesem Tag besondere Opfer dargebracht, es war der einzige Tag, an dem der Hohepriester – allein und streng abgeschirmt – das Allerheiligste im Tempel betreten durfte, um stellvertretend für das Volk die Vergebung der Sünden zu empfangen. Dort besprengte er die Bundeslade mit dem Blut von zwei Opfertieren.
It was the only day on which the High Priest - alone and strictly screened off - could enter into the Holy of Holies in the Temple ... however, Zachary was seemingly not offering blood of sacrificial animals on the Ark of the Covenant, he was offering incense:
According to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. And all the multitude of the people was praying without, at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: (Luke 1:9-13)
I wonder, does this mean, Zachary was doing incense while the High priest was entering the Holy of Holies? In fact, it seems Zachary never officiated as High Priest, according to the wikipedian list of High Priests:
Ananelus, 37-36 BC
Aristobulus III, paternal grandson of Aristobulus, 36 BC He was the last of the Hasmoneans; II and brother of Herod's second wife Mariamne I.
Ananelus (restored), 36-30 BC
Joshua ben Fabus, 30-23 BC
Simon ben Boethus, 23-5 BC (his daughter Mariamne II was third wife of Herod the Great)
Matthias ben Theophilus, 5-4 BC
Joazar ben Boethus, 4 BC
Eleazar ben Boethus, 4-3 BC
Joshua ben Sie, 3 BC - ?
Joazar ben Boethus (restored), ? - 6 AD
On the other hand, since there are question marks at Joshua ben Sie and Joazar ben Boethus, this is not totally certain ... this means, Zachary would not have entered the Holy of Holies and therefore, he would not have been required not to offer incense on Iom Kippur - unless indeed the offering of incense was broken off due to fasting - and we cannot tie nor exclude Zachary's service to Iom Kippur. Only to the week.
Now, again, the Jewish year falls with its months and dates on various parts of the Gregorian or back then Julian year.
the earliest date on which Yom Kippur can fall is September 14, as happened most recently in 1899 and 2013. The latest Yom Kippur can occur relative to the Gregorian dates is on October 14, as happened in 1967 and will happen again in 2043.
Remember, Iom Kippur is 10 Tishri, second week of Tishri begins 8 and ends 14 Tishri ...
8 Tishri can therefore fall between September 12 and October 12, 14 Tishri between September 19 and October 19. So, overall, between September 12 and October 19. This means, between September 12 and "September 49".
And no, the mean of this is not September 25, but September 30.
This means, in order to calculate forward to December 25 fifteen months later, one would have needed ... either another mean corresponence between Julian and Hebrew years then than now, or exact knowledge on which day of Tishri in which year and which years had late and early months, like if previous year had two Adar months, the Tishri would be late, but if that had happened the year before, the Tishri would be early.
Or even a record keeping in the Temple on what Roman dates corresponded to a Jewish year, if this knowledge came to the Church from the Temple.
It is nearly necessary to suppose such a thing in order to calculate anything, since the Challoner comment says:
 "Of the course of Abia": that is, of the rank of Abia, which word in the Greek is commonly put for the employment of one day: but here for the functions of a whole week. For, by the appointment of David, 1 Par. 24., the descendants from Aaron were divided into twenty-four families, of which the eighth was Abia, from whom descended this Zachary, who at this time was in the week of his priestly functions.
September 25 - 24 weeks = September 25 - 168 days
April 178 - 168 = April 10 - that would have been within his previous turn.
September 25 + 168 days = "September 193"
|S 193||J 70|
|O -31||F 28|
|O 162||F 42|
|N -30||M 31|
|N 132||M 11|
His next turn would have included March 11. In other words, an exact knowledge of when is necessary. At a minimum, if a priest became Christian after year 70, he must have been able to work it out backwards from Destruction of Temple, following the courses.
While Christianity is not Rabbinic Judaism, it starts out involved in Judaica, and when Jews convert, Christianity can get added info, not on doctrine, but on history. Church Fathers start mentioning Christmas after year 70 (and well before when Aurelian invented Sol Invictus - and Christmas is not even coinciding with Saturnalia). I think it is probable, the Church has at least known of December 25 since back then.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St. John's Day
PS, I also enjoy this article, about the place:
How Can We Be Sure That Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem?
Dwight Longenecker at his best:
The evidence that Christians were worshipping at this site therefore dates from the beginning of the second century–at most one hundred and twenty years after the birth of Christ. Would the local people have retained a memory of the exact site? I think so. We only have to look around at the world today to see how the homes of famous people are remembered, identified, marked, and become places of pilgrimage. What famous person was born a hundred and twenty years ago? C.S.Lewis for one. His Oxford home has been turned into a study center and pilgrimage site for visitors, and this article tells how his boyhood home in Belfast is visited by C.S.Lewis fans.
PPS, one more thought on this : even the text of Luke presupposes that he had access to someone (probably St John the Gospeller, with whom the Blessed Virgin lived) who knew that Zachary had served in the course of Abiah. So, probably, that is how the Church knew when Christmas was./HGL