Revisiting the Fathers

An Examination of the Christmas Date in Several Early Patristic Writers

 

Kurt M Simmons, JD

 

 

The article that is redefining the debate about the origin of the Christmas date

 

Editor's note: This article appeared in 98 Questions Liturgiques (2017) 143-180. The article documents occurrence of the Christmas date to sometime between the mid- first to mid- second centuries. Specifically, it demonstrates from heretofore lost or unrecognized excerpts of Julius Africanus (AD 160-240) and a work attributed to Evodius (died circa AD 64-68) that the Christmas date was an integral part of the Protoevangelium of James before it settled into its present form sometime in the latter half of the second century. The article then shows that the above conclusions are supported by a published article by Yale PhD candidate, Thomas C. Schmidt, which shows that Hippolytus (AD  170-236), a younger contemporary of Africanus, also almost certainly subscribed to the December 25th birth of Christ. The article concludes that the Christmas date therefore cannot be accounted for by other leading theories, and instead appears to stem from an early tradition (legend or report) whence it was received in good faith by the fathers  of following ages.

 



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