[Home] [Updates] [Site map] [My Quotes; JiJ unclassified & classified quotes] [My Jesus is Jehovah! blog]
The following are quotes added to my Jesus is Jehovah unclassified quotes database in September 2009.
The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.
[Index: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug]
8/09/2009 "Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, who received his teachings regarding the nature of God from Joseph Smith, made this statement regarding the plurality of Gods: `If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds.' (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, page 345)" ("The Gods of Mormonism," Salt Lake City Messenger, Issue 87, November, 1994) 30/11/2009 "The phrase `God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ' seems to express the double filiation of the Son, His trinitarian Sonship and that of His humanity as the Sent of the Father." (Simpson, E.K., "Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians," The New London Commentary on the New Testament," Marshall, Morgan & Scott: London, 1957, p.24). 1/12/2009 "MANIFESTATIONS OF JEHOVAH'S SPIRIT ... We cannot see energy itself; yet, when it is put to use, we can easily see the results it produces. When Jehovah's dynamic energy, though invisible, activates humans, we can readily recognize its effects. In this respect holy spirit from Jehovah has been likened to electricity, which may serve for illumination, or as a means of communication, or as a powerful force accomplishing great amounts of work. We cannot tell whether a person is filled with holy spirit by merely looking at him any more than we can look at copper power lines and tell whether they are `alive' or not. By merely looking at a battery one cannot tell whether it is charged or not. As electricity serves for illumination, so Jehovah's spirit can give enlightenment and clarification of God's Word in these dark times. (Ps. 119:105; Joel 2:28) That understanding and direction come only by holy spirit is evident when we observe the confusion and general lack of understanding and direction manifest in this world's various religious organizations. They are blind to the fact that God's kingdom is the only hope for mankind. They cannot see that the King of that kingdom has been installed in office and is now reigning in the heavens. They do not see the rapid approach of destruction of the present Devil-ruled system of things. They do not see that the promised literal paradise is very near at hand. They are altogether blind to such heart-cheering truths, for only by Jehovah's spirit are they revealed.-1 Cor. 2:9, 10. " (WB&TS, "Become Activated by the Spirit of Jehovah," The Watchtower, July 15, 1961, p. 433. Emphasis original) 1/12/2009 "ILLUSTRATING HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT OPERATES ... In considering the foregoing question, doubtless the use of illustrations will be helpful, even as the greatest Teacher that ever lived, Jesus, found to be the case. The holy spirit has been likened to wind. In certain respects it can also be likened to electricity. It also serves for illumination, as a means of communication, and represents a powerful force that can accomplish great things. We cannot tell whether a person is filled with the holy spirit merely by looking at him, even as we cannot tell whether a battery or a "third rail" is charged with electricity merely by looking at it. And even as electricity is used by certain governments to execute criminals, so Jehovah has at times used his holy spirit to execute the wicked, as in the case of Ananias and his wife Sapphira.-Acts 5:1-11." (WB&TS, " The Holy Spirit-Third Person of Trinity or God’s Active Force?," The Watchtower, July 15, 1957, pp. 434-435. Emphasis original) 1/12/2009 "What is the holy spirit? A comparison of Bible texts that refer to the holy spirit shows that it is spoken of as `filling' people; they can be `baptized' with it; and they can be `anointed' with it. (Luke 1:41; Matt. 3:11; Acts 10:38) None of these expressions would be appropriate if the holy spirit were a person. Jesus also referred to the holy spirit as a `helper' (Greek, pa·ra'kle·tos), and he said that this helper would `teach,' `bear witness,' `speak,' and `hear.' (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:13) It is not unusual in the Scriptures for something to be personified. For example, wisdom is said to have `children.' (Luke 7:35) Sin and death are spoken of as being kings. (Rom. 5:14, 21) While some texts say that the spirit `spoke,' other passages make clear that this was done through angels or humans. (Acts 4:24, 25; 28:25; Matt. 10:19, 20; compare Acts 20:23 with 21:10, 11.) At 1 John 5:6-8, not only the spirit but also `the water and the blood' are said to `bear witness.' So, none of the expressions found in these texts in themselves prove that the holy spirit is a person. The correct identification of the holy spirit must fit all the scriptures that refer to that spirit. With this viewpoint, it is logical to conclude that the holy spirit is the active force of God. It is not a person but is a powerful force that God causes to emanate from himself to accomplish his holy will.-Ps. 104:30; 2 Pet. 1:21; Acts 4:31." (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, "Reasoning from the Scriptures," , Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, 1989, pp.380-381. Emphasis original) 2/12/2009 "A further indication of whether Jesus died on a cross or a stake can be seen by a comparison of the following picture with what is stated in the Bible. Look at the number of nails in each picture. Notice in the above depiction from the Watchtower publication Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life there is only one nail and it goes through the wrist and not the hands, due to it being a stake, not a cross. Compare this to what Thomas stated at John 20:25; `unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not believe'. Jesus was crucified with two nails, one in each hand, not a single nail through the wrist. That separate nails were in each hand is made clear by the use of the word 'nails' not 'nail'. This suggests that Jesus had his arms separated on a cross, not together on a stake as represented in Watchtower publications. Matthew 27:37 also supports the idea of a cross rather than a stake when it says; `Above his head they had put the charge against him in writing: 'THIS IS JESUS, KING OF THE JEWS' `. In the picture of the crucifixion the plaque is above Jesus head, whereas in the Watchtower representation it is necessarily above his hands. If Jesus were impaled on a stake it would be stated that the titilus was placed above his hands, not his head. J. H. Bernard observes that this scripture `suggests that the cross was of the shape called crux immissa, with a cross-bar for the arms, as painters have generally represented it to be' (A Critical & Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, 1929, Vol. 2, p. 628)." (Grundy, P., "Cross or Stake, "Facts About Jehovah's Witnesses, 18 February 2008. Emphasis original), 2/12/2009 "JW's believe that Jesus was impaled on an upright stake with His hands above His head and not crucified on a cross. A JW work mentions the following about the cross; `According to history, Tammuz was a Babylonian god, and the cross was used as his symbol. From its beginning in the days of Nimrod, Babylon was against Jehovah and an enemy of true worship. (Gen. 10:8-10; Jer. 50:29) So by cherishing the cross, a person is honoring a symbol of worship that is opposed to the true God.' (Reasoning from the Scriptures p.92) Even if the origins of the cross are pagan, that is no reason to think that pagan Romans would hesitate to crucify Jesus on a cross. The question that should be asked is, `Does the Scripture support a death on a cross or death on an upright stake?'" (Walker, K. & B., "The Cross," Evidence Ministries, 2005). 2/12/2009 "John 20:25 states, `So the other disciples were saying to him, `We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, `Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.' Notice that Thomas mentions that there are `nails' and not a single nail that was placed into the hands of Jesus. The Watchtower always portrays Jesus with one nail in His hands. If His hands were above His head, there would be no reason to use two nails." (Walker, K. & B., "The Cross," Evidence Ministries, 2005). 2/12/2009 "Matthew 27:37 `And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."' If Jesus had His hands above His head, wouldn't the sign be above His hands and not His head?" (Walker, K. & B., "The Cross," Evidence Ministries, 2005. Emphasis original). 2/12/2009 "John 21:18-19 `Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.' Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, `Follow Me!' Jesus prophesies that Peter will die and even reveals by what means. The inspired narrative in verse nineteen points this out. What did Jesus say about Peter's hands? They were going to be stretched out, not up. By traditional accounts, Peter was crucified on a cross up-side-down." (Walker, K. & B., "The Cross," Evidence Ministries, 2005). 2/12/2009 "So with the Greek word open to interpretation and debate, and the fact that there were many different structures in existence by which people were crucified on, is there other evidence which indicates that Christ died on a cross? Biblical Evidence In their representations of Christ on the torture stake, the Watchtower society of Jehovah's Witnesses, always show 'one nail' through both of Christ's hands. However, in contrast to this, the Bible clearly states that Christ's crucifixion bore the marks of two nails and not one. This is seen in John 20:25 which records Thomas as saying: `...Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.' In addition to this text, further biblical evidence that Christ was crucified on a cross, rather than a torture stake, can be gleaned from Matthew 27:37, which describes the charge placed `above' Chirst's `head': `This is Jesus The King of the Jews'. This charge would have been difficult to read if Christ had been crucified on a torture stake as His hands would have obstructed the words. If it was placed higher up the pole, it may have been easier for the Gospel writer, Matthew, to have written that the charge was placed above His hands. However, the traditional historic view of Christ being crucified on a cross, would both make the charge easier for all to have seen, and, as the text says, been placed above His head." (McCann, V., "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Cross," Spotlight Ministries, 7 November 2005) 2/12/2009 "To support the view that Jesus died on a cross and not a stake, you might want to ask the Jehovah's Witness to open the New World Translation and read aloud from John 20:25: `Consequently the other disciples would say to him: `We have seen the Lord!' But he [Thomas] said to them: `Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not believe' (emphasis added). Now, if Jesus was crucified not on a cross but on a stake, then only one nail would have been used for His hands. Our text, however, says that nails were used (one for each hand). This verse is extremely problematic for the Watchtower position-especially since their own New World Translation has the plural form of `nails.' ... It is also significant that when Jesus spoke of Peter's future crucifixion, He indicated that Peter's arms would be outstretched, not above his head. Jesus told Peter: `'I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Now Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God' (John 21:18,19, emphasis added). ... In keeping with a cross-crucifixion instead of a stake- crucifixion, we read in Matthew 27:37, `Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS' (emphasis added). If Jesus had died on a stake, the text would have said, `Above His hands.' But it clearly says, `Above His head,' showing that a cross-crucifixion is meant." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," , Harvest House: Eugene OR, Reprinted, 2006, pp.396-398. Emphasis original) 10/12/2009 "staroo (in the sense `fence w. stakes' Thu. +) fut. stauroso; 1 aor. estaurosa. Pass.: pf. estaurmai: 1 aor. estaurothen nail to the cross, crucify (Polyb. 1, 86, 4; Diod. S. 16, 61. 2; Artem. 2, 53; 4, 49; Esth 7:9); 8:12 r: Jos. Ant. 2. 77; 17, 295). 1. lit. tina someone w. ref. to Jesus' crucifixion Mt 20:19; 23:34; 26:2; 27:22f, 26, 31, 35, 38; 28:5; Mk 15:13ff, 20, 24f, 27; 16:6; Lk 23:21, 23, 33; 24:7, 20; J 19:6a, b, c, 10, 15f, 18, 20, 23, 41; Ac 2:36; 4:10; 13:29 D; 1 Cor 2:8; 2 Cor 13:4; Rv 11:8; B 7:3, 9; 12:1; I Eph 16:2; GP 4:10; 12:52. Christos estauromenos I Cor 1:23; cf. 2:2; Gal 3:1. Also simply o estauromenos M Pol 17:2. o staurotheis GP 13:56. alethos estaurothe he was truly crucified (in contrast to the Docetic view that the Passion was unreal) I Tr 9:1. me Paulos estaurothe uper umon 1 Cor 1:13 - On the crucifixion of Jesus cf. Feigel, Weidel, and Finegan s.v. 'Ioudas 6: also) E.Bickermann. Utilitas Crucis: Rev. de l'Hist. des Rel. 112. '35. 169-241. 2. fig. oi tou Christou 'l. ten sarka estaurosan those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh w. its sinful desires Gal 5:24. Pass.: of the cross of Christ, di' ou emoi kosmos estaurotai kagi kosmo through which the world has been crucified to me, and I (have been crucified) to it, the believer who is inseparably united to his Lord has died on the cross to the kind of life that belongs to this world Gal 6:14. o emos eros estaurotai my desire (for worldly things) has been crucified I Ro 7:2. M-M." (Arndt, W.F. & Gingrich, F.W., "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian literature," University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, Fourth edition, 1952, Revised, 1957, pp.772-773. Emphasis original) 16/12/2009 "CHRISTMAS-NOT CELEBRATED BY EARLY CHRISTIANS ... A person's worship could be contaminated by false religion as it relates to popular holidays. Consider Christmas, for example. Christmas supposedly commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, and nearly every religion that claims to be Christian celebrates it. Yet, there is no evidence that the first-century disciples of Jesus observed such a holiday. The book Sacred Origins of Profound Things states: `For two centuries after Christ's birth, no one knew, and few people cared, exactly when he was born." (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, p.156. Emphasis original) 16/12/2009 "There is another reason why first-century Christians would not have celebrated Jesus' birthday. His disciples likely knew that birthday celebrations were connected with superstition. For instance, many Greeks and Romans of ancient times believed that a spirit attended the birth of each human and protected that one throughout life. `This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born,' says the book The Lore of Birthdays. Jehovah certainly would not be pleased with any observance that would link Jesus with superstition. (Isaiah 65:11, 12) So how did Christmas come to be celebrated by many people?" (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, p.157) 16/12/2009 "Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday, celebrated on December 25, that commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The date of commemoration is not known to be Jesus's actual birthday, and may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after some early Christians believed Jesus had been conceived, a historical Roman festival, or the winter solstice. Christmas is central to the Christmas and holiday season, and in Christianity marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days." ("Christmas," Wikipedia, 16 December 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas). 16/12/2009 "An appeal to ignorance is an argument for or against a proposition on the basis of a lack of evidence against or for it. If there is positive evidence for the conclusion, then of course we have other reasons for accepting it, but a lack of evidence by itself is no evidence." ( "Appeal to Ignorance," The Fallacy Files, 30 August 2007. http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html) 16/12/2009 "Christmas `... those who celebrate Christmas do not honor God or Christ, but honor pagan celebrations and pagan gods." This declaration in an Awake! magazine of December 8, 1988 (page 19) sums up the Watchtower. Society's teaching on the holiday-a teaching that the Society's magazines reemphasize each December lest some of the flock forget and erroneously conclude 'tis the season to be jolly." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.73. Emphasis original) 16/12/2009 "Criticism of Christmas in those articles focuses first of all on the date. Religious and secular sources are quoted to establish the well-known fact that the actual date of the Savior's birth is unknown. The articles then attack selection of December 25th as an arbitrary date to celebrate the event, because pagans were already holding winter festivals on that date. The implication is that the Church did not try to supplant the pagan festival with a Christian one, but rather that the Church merely attached a new name to the old holiday so that believers could join in." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, pp.73-74) 16/12/2009 "JW articles go on to trace the Christmas tree to pagan worship; they focus on greed and commercialism that surfaces during the Christmas shopping season; they point out that the holiday is celebrated in oriental lands where the general population makes no pretense of being believers in Christ. From all of this they argue that Christmas is a pagan holiday inappropriate for Christians to share in. Interestingly, however, The Watchtower did not always express this viewpoint. The organization's founders and early leaders celebrated Christmas and encouraged others to do the same: `'Christmas Day," in celebration of our dear Redeemer's birth, has for long centuries been celebrated on December 25th; and although it is now well known that this date is in error, and that it more properly corresponds with the date of the annunciation to Mary, nine months before our Lord was born, and that he was born about October 1st, nevertheless, since the Lord has given no instructions whatever upon this subject, and since it is proper to do good deeds and think good thoughts upon any day, it cannot be improper, in harmony with general usage, for us to remember in a social way our dear Redeemer's birth at this time.' - Zion's Watch Tower, December 15, 1898, page 370. `It matters not particularly that December 25 is not the anniversary of our Lord's birth, according to the Scriptural account; that really he was born about September 25, nine months later. One day, as well as another, will serve us to commemorate our Savior's birth in the flesh, as a gift of God's love to a condemned and dying world.' - Zion's Watch Tower, December 15, 1908, page 379." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, pp.74-75) 16/12/2009 "The early Watchtower leaders who felt this way were just as familiar as today's leaders with the resemblance between pagan customs and certain Christmas traditions. They welcomed opportunities to share with others in honoring Christ, while today's leaders seem more eager to keep followers separated from non-JW relatives and neighbors. (Some form of isolation from outsiders is a common thread found in many mind-control cults. With some groups this separation is accomplished by physically withdrawing into a commune, while in other cults members continue living in the outside world but withdraw from social contact with non-members.)" (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.75) 16/12/2009 "Participation in Christmas celebrations is not optional for Jehovah's Witnesses. The ban is enforced by elders who make up judicial committees that sit in judgment of any who celebrate the holiday, even in some small way. During my 8 years as a JW elder I took part in such enforcement proceedings on a number of occasions. I recall that we elders even summoned for discipline a newly-married young man whose non- Witness wife hung an evergreen wreath on their apartment door. We told him that he had to take down the decoration or face punishment since God held him responsible as head of the house." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.75) 16/12/2009 "Discussions between Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses on this subject are often hampered by strong emotions that come into play on both sides. Understandably, believers in Christ who hold the holiday dear as His special day may have trouble communicating with JWs who feel just as strongly that it is a satanic mockery. It proves helpful, therefore, to promote reasonableness and to seek common ground. Show appreciation for the Witness's sincerity and desire to please God. You might even want to make it clear that you yourself strongly disapprove of the `celebrating' some people do such as getting drunk at office parties or flirting with other's mates under mistletoe." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, pp.75-76) 16/12/2009 "Explain that there are really two different celebrations taking place on December 25th: One is the festival promoted by department stores and liquor companies and celebrated even by non-Christians in pagan lands. Its central figure is Santa Claus, and its main focus is on having a `good time.' The other is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ by sincere Christians." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.76. Emphasis original) 16/12/2009 "`And many will rejoice over his birth,' said the angel concerning the birth of John the Baptist six months before Jesus. (Luke 1:14 in the JW New World Translation) How much more so, then, is the birth of our Savior a cause for rejoicing! Christians use the day to honor Christ by gathering to sing hymns, to pray, and to praise the Lord, while non-believers see it as an occasion to party." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.76) 16/12/2009 "Trying to convince a Jehovah's Witness that he or she ought to celebrate the holiday is an unrealistic approach. There are enough other obstacles-organizational discipline and peer rejection, for example-to make such an accomplishment virtually impossible, at least in the course of a single discussion. A better goal would be to get the Witness to stop judging you for celebrating. Appeal to the JW not to blame you for other people's over-indulgence in food and drink, or for their greedy commercialization of a day you hold sacred. Ask the Witness if he can rightly condemn you for honoring Christ on that day, in view of what Paul wrote concerning the Roman Christians and Jewish holidays: `One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord.' (Romans 14:5-6)" (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.76. Emphasis original) 16/12/2009 "Why are there 12 days of Christmas? What are the seven deadly sins, and who says so? Why don't Jews kneel to pray? Charles Panati, the author of `The Browser's Book of Beginnings' and `Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,' is eager to raise and then to answer these and a great many more interesting questions about world religions and why their adherents believe and behave as they do. There's a lot of instructive stuff here; it had not occurred to me before that when I Chronicles attributes to Satan the temptation of King David to take a census of Israel -- a provocation II Samuel attributes to God -- we are well on the way to the quasi dualism so conspicuous in the New Testament. However: Previous reviewers of Mr. Panati's books have sometimes blamed him for silly mistakes on subjects concerning which they themselves were well informed. The pleasure of such superiority is now available to anyone who has actually read the New Testament. For example, Mr. Panati tells us that the expression `Money is the root of all evil' is directly attributable in that very form to I Timothy 6:9-10. This is a popular error, but not a forgivable one in a writer with access to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Mr. Panati continues, falsely tracing the correct wording ('The love of money is the root of all evil') to a cynical wisecrack by J. P. Morgan! Finally, with breathtaking ignorance, Mr. Panati shows that he believes Timothy was the author of I Timothy, a book that (as almost everybody knows) purports to be a letter to Timothy from the apostle Paul (modern scholars gravely doubt that the real Paul wrote it). It is fearfully clear that anything you would care to believe in `Sacred Origins of Profound Things' requires far more careful checking than Mr. Panati has been able to do." (Ferrell, T., "Sacred Origins of Profound Things." Review of Sacred Origins Of Profound Things By Charles Panati. Penguin Arkana. New York Times, January 12, 1997) 16/12/2009 "The idea of celebrating the Nativity on December 25 was first suggested early in the fourth century, a clever move on the part of Church fathers, who wished to eclipse the December 25 festivities of a rival pagan religion, Mithraism, that threatened the existence of Christianity. It is important to note that for two centuries after Christ's birth, no one knew, and few people cared, exactly when he was born. Birthdays were unimportant; death days counted. Besides, Christ was divine and his natural birth was deliberately played down. In fact, the Church even announced at one point that it was sinful to contemplate observing Christ's birthday `as though He were a King Pharaoh. On December 25, pagan Romans, still in the majority, celebrated Natalis Solis Invicti, `Birthday of the Invincible Sun God,' Mithras. The Mithras cult originated in Persia and rooted itself in the Roman world in the first century BCE. By the year 274 CE, Mithraism was so popular with the masses that Emperor Aurelian proclaimed it as the official state religion. In the early 300s, the cult seriously threatened Christianity, and for a time, it was unclear which faith would emerge victorious. Church fathers debated their options. It was well known that Roman patricians and plebians alike enjoyed festivals of a protracted nature. The Church, then, needed a December celebration. Thus, to offer converts an occasion in which to be pridefully celebratory, the Church officially recognized Christ's birth. And to offer head-on competition to the sun worshippers' popular feast, the Church located the Nativity on December 25. The mode observance would be characteristically prayerful: a Mass; in fact, Christ's Mass. As one theologian wrote in the 320s: 'We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.' Although centuries later, social scientists would write of the psychological power of group celebrations -- the unification of ranks, the solidification of collective identity, the reinforcement of common objectives -- the principle had long been intuitively obvious.' " (Panati, C., "Sacred Origins of Profound Things: The Stories Behind the Rites and Rituals of the World's Religions," Penguin: New York, 1996, pp.215-216) 18/12/2009 "Now, lets take this all a little further. It has been determined that Y'shua had to have been born between 4 and 3 BC due to the timing of the death of Herod and, therefore, we can know that Y'shua was born around Hanakkuh of 4 BC (3BC would be too late) making him 33 Years old in 30 AD precisely, when he started his ministry. This places the First Day of Hanukkuh (24th day of the 9th month), according to one Site, on December 13, 4 BC. Now, however, if we use Your Sky - we see that Astronomical New Moon of the Ninth Month occured precisely on November 29th, 4 BC , and the actual sighting of the New Moon of the Ninth Month would have occured the next night, thus making December 1, 4 BC to be the First Day of the Ninth Month and that would place the First Day of Hanukkuh - the Twenty Fourth Day of the Ninth Month - to have occured, literally, exactly on December 25th, 4 BC and that, my friends, is just about the most incredible piece of Chronological Work I have ever seen in my entire life. Thus, Y'shua ben Y'hava was born precisely on December 25, 4 BC on the First day of Hanakkuh and he would have been circumcised on the Eighth Day of Hanakkuh." ("The First Noel : The Last Chronology," Theologyweb, .December 7, 2009) 19/12/2009 "The earliest record supporting the December twenty-fifth birth of Jesus was written by Hippolytus (ca. 165- 235 CE) in the early third century: `The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the Kalends of January, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus, 5500 years from Adam.' Commentary on Daniel 4:23. The eighth day before the Kalends of January is December 25. However, in 5 BCE December 25 fell on Sunday, not Wednesday. In 4 BCE it fell on Monday, in 3 BCE on Tuesday, in 2 BCE on Wednesday and in 1 BCE on Sunday. The dating of Augustus would be from August of 44 BCE and his forty-second year would fall in 3 or 2 BCE, depending on how Hippolytus reckoned. It would appear that Hippolytus' date for the nativity was Wednesday, December 25, 2 BCE. The difficulty with Hippolytus' dating is that it is unknown if part or all of his date is from an earlier tradition or from his own calculation. A common conclusion is that December 25 is not based on a historical tradition but on wrong calculations and a pagan festival on that day. However, such a conclusion is no more valid than the assumption that December 25 does have a historical basis independent of any existing festivals. Here the Wednesday in 2 BCE is the miscalculation." (Doig, K.F., "Doig's Biblical Chronology: Exact Dating of the Exodus and Birth and Crucifixion of Jesus," Chapter 9, December 5, 2009) 19/12/2009 "Even if Jesus' disciples had known the exact date of his birth, they would not have celebrated it. Why? Because, as The World Book Encyclopedia says, the early Christians `considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom.' The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible are those of two rulers who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20; Mark 6:21) Birthday celebrations were also held in honor of pagan deities. For example, on May 24 the Romans celebrated the birthday of the goddess Diana. On the following day, they observed the birthday of their sun-god, Apollo. Hence, birthday celebrations were associated with paganism, not with Christianity." (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, p.157) 19/12/2009 "There is another reason why first-century Christians would not have celebrated Jesus' birthday. His disciples likely knew that birthday celebrations were connected with superstition. For instance, many Greeks and Romans of ancient times believed that a spirit attended the birth of each human and protected that one throughout life. `This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born,' says the book The Lore of Birthdays. Jehovah certainly would not be pleased with any observance that would link Jesus with superstition. (Isaiah 65:11, 12) So how did Christmas come to be celebrated by many people?" (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, p.157) 19/12/2009 "THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS It was not until several hundred years after Jesus lived on the earth that people began to commemorate his birth on December 25. But that was not the date of Jesus' birth, for it evidently took place in October. So why was December 25 chosen? Some who later claimed to be Christian likely `wished the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the ‘birthday of the unconquered sun.' (The New Encyclopædia Britannica) In winter, when the sun seemed weakest, pagans held ceremonies to get this source of warmth and light to come back from its distant travels. December 25 was thought to be the day that the sun began its return. In an effort to convert pagans, religious leaders adopted this festival and tried to make it seem `Christian.'" (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, pp.157-158. Emphasis original) 19/12/2009 "The Saturnalia also played a part in the choice of December 25. This festival honoring the Roman god of agriculture took place on December 17-24. Feasting, merrymaking, and gift-giving took place during the Saturnalia." (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, p.158) 19/12/2009 "The pagan roots of Christmas have long been recognized. Because of its unscriptural origin, Christmas was banned in England and in some of the American colonies during the 17th century. Anyone who even stayed home from work on Christmas day had to pay a penalty. Soon, though, the old customs were back, and some new ones were added. Christmas once again became a big holiday, and that is what it still is in many lands. Because of the connections that Christmas has with false religion, however, those who want to please God do not celebrate it or any other holiday that has its roots in pagan worship. ... For a discussion of how true Christians view other popular holidays, see the Appendix, pages222-3." (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, pp.158-159) 19/12/2009 "DO ORIGINS REALLY MATTER? Some agree that such holidays as Christmas have pagan origins but still feel that it is not wrong to celebrate them. After all, most people are not thinking about false worship when they observe holidays. These occasions also give families opportunities to draw close together. Is this how you feel? If so, likely it is love of family, not love of false religion, that makes taking a stand for true worship seem difficult. Be assured that Jehovah, the one who originated the family, wants you to have a good relationship with your relatives. (Ephesians 3:14, 15) But you can strengthen such bonds in ways that God approves. Regarding the matter that should be our chief concern, the apostle Paul wrote: `Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.'-Ephesians 5:10." (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, p.159. Emphasis original) 19/12/2009 "Maybe you feel that the origins of holidays have little to do with how they are celebrated today. Do origins really matter? Yes! To illustrate: Suppose you saw a piece of candy lying in the gutter. Would you pick up that candy and eat it? Of course not! That candy is unclean. Like that candy, holidays may seem sweet, but they have been picked up from unclean places. To take a stand for true worship, we need to have a viewpoint like that of the prophet Isaiah, who told true worshipers: `Touch nothing unclean.'-Isaiah 52:11." (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, p.159) 20/12/2009 "Birthdays ... Adult Witnesses who have violated this ban [on celebrating birthdays] have been summoned for trial before a church court and expelled for the simple act of sending a birthday card. The organization's rationale for taking such a strong stand is based largely on Genesis 40:20-22, `the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday ... he made a feast unto all his servants ... But he hanged the chief baker,' and Matthew 14:6-10, `when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.... And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.' Their thought is that the word birthday appears in the Bible only in reference to these pagan rulers, Pharaoh of Egypt and Herod of Galilee, both of whom put someone to death in connection with the celebration. Since men of faith are not recorded in the Bible as having celebrated their birthdays, but only such evil men-so the Watchtower reasoning goes- Jehovah's Witnesses today should not celebrate birthdays either. Rather than leave it for the individual Witness to read the Bible and reach this conclusion, the sect's Governing Body has promulgated its official interpretation as God's law and uses its disciplinary procedures to enforce the policy." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, pp.46-47. Emphasis original) 20/12/2009 "Surprisingly, however, The Watchtower magazine celebrated its own 100th birthday. The July 1, 1979, Watchtower was a `special issue' titled `Keeping Watch For 100 Years,' commemorating the magazine's birth in July of 1879. And when the Pennsylvania corporation publishing the magazine became 100 years old in 1984, it too had a celebration: `A special occasion indeed! ... it was appropriate that Jehovah's Witnesses should mark this centennial of the Watch Tower Society by a special gathering.' (The Watchtower, January 1, 1985, page 16). Do the sect's leaders who partied on their own centennial have sound biblical reasons for denying children such parties on their birthdays?" (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.47) 20/12/2009 "It should be noted that Pharaoh and King Herod, cited by JWs as reasons for the ban, were arbitrary rulers and violent men. They were accustomed to executing people whenever it suited them, not just on their birthdays. Moreover, a person sending a birthday card, or a parent providing a cake with candles at a children's party, can hardly be accused of following the pattern of those murderous men." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.47). 20/12/2009 "Although the actual word `birthday' appears only in connection with Pharaoh and Herod in most translations, the Bible does contain reference to such celebrations in godly families. At Job 1:4, the JW New World Translation says of the patriarch Job, `And his sons went and held a banquet at the house of each one on his own day; and they sent and invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them.' That his own day refers to each one's birthday becomes clear when we read further, `It was after this that Job opened his mouth and began to call down evil upon his day. Job now answered and said: 'Let the day perish on which I came to be born.' (Job 3:1-3) Thus, the Living Bible renders Job 1:4-5 this way: `Every year when each of Job's sons had a birthday, he invited his brothers and sisters to his home for a celebration. On these occasions they would eat and drink with great merriment. When these birthday parties ended-and sometimes they lasted several days-Job would summon his children...'" (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, pp.47-48. Emphasis original). 20/12/2009 "Furthermore, the Watchtower Society's own New World Translation reveals that the birth of John the Baptist was an occasion to be celebrated, when it records this angelic announcement: "And you will have joy and great gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth." (Luke 1:14)" (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.48). 20/12/2009 "In years gone by, when Watchtower readers were more diligent at reading the Bible itself than JWs today, they had a custom of using the Society's Daily Heavenly Manna book to keep `a list of birthdays.' (Jehovah's Witnesses-Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, page 201) The Society's founder and first president Charles Taze Russell saw nothing wrong with the practice. All of the evidence weighed together indicates that the sect's more recent leaders who have banned birthday celebrations have done so on their own authority rather than for any compelling biblical reason." (Reed, D.A., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1996, Second printing, 1998, p.48) 20/12/2009 "It is generally understood that a `root' is the very source or beginning of something. Note what was written: `It was a thorough expose of the God-dishonoring roots of Christmas.' If this article had said `God- dishonoring practices that have built up around Christmas,' that would have been a vast difference in meaning. But the article used the word `roots.' What is the `root' of Christmas? What is the primary purpose of celebrating it? Is it not to remember the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into this world as the very Son of God? The `roots' of Christmas therefore cannot be `pagan,' because they are born out of the truth of Christ's birth as found in the Bible! The Watchtower Society argues that it is `pagan' to celebrate Christmas. But celebrate means `to rejoice.' Are we to not rejoice over the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ?" (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, pp.118-119) 20/12/2009 "The Watchtower Society claims to be based solely on the Bible. I would challenge any Jehovah's Witness to prove just from the Bible that Christmas is a `pagan' holiday and so should not be observed. We do find that the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ was celebrated in the Bible. The details are found in Luke 2:8-20. ... You will notice that it was God Himself who announced the birth of His Son-and He announced it with not just one angel, but a `multitude.' If the Father celebrated the birth of His Son in such a glorious way, why should it be considered improper for true followers of Christ to imitate the Father and rejoice at the birth of Christ?" (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, pp.119-120) 20/12/2009 "The Watchtower Society further argues that we are nowhere commanded to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This is true; but neither are we told we can't remember the birth of our Savior. Surely to pause and think about the birth of Christ on a certain day is not disobedience to God, for the custom of remembering the birth of Christ was not derived from paganism. And since God the Father spotlighted the birth of His Son, following this example of the Father certainly cannot be `pagan.'" (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, p.120. Emphasis original) 20/12/2009 "All the society's arguments against observing Christmas and other holidays come from encyclopedias, not the Bible. The Watchtower's 1989 publication Reasoning from the Scriptures, under the heading of `Holidays,' contains ten quotes taken from encyclopedias and three from other sources. This book (in contrast to its title, ironically) does not quote a single Bible verse to prove their claim that it is wrong to remember the birth of Jesus Christ on a certain day." (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, pp.120-121) 20/12/2009 "The main reason the Watchtower Society rejects Christmas has to do with the date, December 25. The society cites encyclopedias that claim Emperor Constantine changed the date for observing Christmas to December 25 in order to coincide with the Roman Saturnalia, a festival dedicated to the Roman god Saturn. But the sources used are hardly conclusive. The Reasoning book quotes The Encyclopedia Americana which admits, `The reason for establishing December 25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but is usually held...' The book also quotes from the New Catholic Encyclopedia which reads, `According to the hypothesis suggested by H. Usener ...' So while the book uses encyclopedias to try to prove pagan roots for the date on which we celebrate Christmas, it blatantly ignores the encyclopedias' use of such words as `somewhat obscure' and `hypothesis.' Such a weak argument is no proof that Christmas has a pagan origin. But even if the `hypothesis' were true-that the date for Christmas was changed to December 25 to coincide with the Roman Saturnalia festival-the very fact that it was changed means that Christmas was observed before I his time. You can't change the date of a holiday that didn't already exist! Their argument only proves that Christmas was indeed observed in the early church." (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, p.121) 20/12/2009 "The only biblical argument ever raised for the day of Christ's birth not being December 25 is that in Luke 2: `Sheep and shepherds were in the fields, and December would have been too cold for shepherds to be outside. This is a poor argument for two reasons: First, the average temperature of the Jerusalem area is between 45 and 59 degrees in December (National Geographic Atlas of the World, Fourth Ed. , p. 193)-hardly unbearable, especially if the shepherds had campfires to keep warm. Second, because sheep had to be available for sacrifice in the temple at all times, some sheep and shepherds had to be in the fields year round." (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, pp.121-122) 21/12/2009 "There may also be another explanation for why this date was chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ: The temple in Jerusalem was desecrated in 168 BC, then rededicated three years later on the same date-December 25! So the birth of Christ was set on the same day as the rededication of the temple. There is some evidence that Christmas was celebrated on December 25 as far back as the New Testament era (see Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Zondervan, 1979)." (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, p.122) 21/12/2009 "Another objection the Watchtower Society has against Christmas is the custom of gift-giving. They claim that giving gifts at Christmas was started by the magi who gave gifts to the baby Jesus-and true Christians should not follow the example of the magi, who were `actually demon-inspired astrologers'! First of all, the custom of giving gifts to one another at Christmas may not necessarily be following the example of the magi. While the magi did bring gifts, it wasn't actually at the time of Christ's birth. It is well known from the Bible that the magi came some time after Jesus was born. But even if the custom did come from them, why does the Watchtower want to paint the magi in such an evil light, when the Bible speaks so positively of them?" (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, pp.122-123) 21/12/2009 "This objection is nothing more than another cheap attempt to try to put a `pagan' label on Christmas. It is hard to understand how any `demon-inspired astrologers' would have the discernment to understand that the special star they saw in the sky would lead them to the `King of the Jews' (the Jews were a despised people at that time), and then make all the preparations for such a long and dangerous trip, search so diligently for this new-born King, offer Him such extravagant gifts, and ultimately bow down and worship this young child! It is difficult to believe that God would lead any `demon-inspired astrologers' in this way, and that Satan would lead his followers to come and worship the Lord Jesus Christ! If these really had been `demon-inspired astrologers,' surely Satan would have led them back to King Herod so he could have killed the baby Jesus right away. Why did these magi listen to the warning given to them in a dream from God to return another way? It seems strange that `demon-inspired astrologers' would be so sensitive to the leading of the true God of the Bible." (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, pp.122-123) 21/12/2009 "Surely this demonstrates the lengths to which the Watchtower Society will go in order to keep people from celebrating the greatest event in history. Jesus Christ left all of heaven's glory to be born into this world, in order that He might die and shed His precious blood for the sins of mankind. Now man no longer has to bear the burden of his own sin. He has the opportunity of forgiveness through a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his divine Savior." (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, pp.123-124) 21/12/2009 "Apparently the writers of the Watchtower Society's publications are not aware that the Bible does speak about banqueting, rejoicing and gift-giving-from which we might get our custom of giving gifts at Christmastime. In the book of Esther, to commemorate the time when the Jews were kept from being slaughtered, the Feast of Purim was established. In Esther 9:22 we read: `According to the days on which the Jews had rested from their enemies and the month that was changed for them from grief to rejoicing and from mourning to a good day, to hold them as days of banqueting and rejoicing and sending of portions to one another and of gifts to the poor people.' Since the early Christian church was made up of hundreds of thousands of converted Jews, might not the custom of giving gifts in remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ be a carry-over from the custom at the Feast of Purim?" (Lingle, W., "What the Watchtower Society Doesn't Want you to Know," CLC Publications: Fort Washington PA, 2009, p.124) 21/12/2009 "Birthdays The Watchtower Society strictly forbids Jehovah's Witnesses to celebrate birthdays. Even the act of sending a birthday card to someone can bring discipline by a judicial committee. Punishment for one who disobeys the Watchtower Society on this issue is disfellowshipping. [ Reed, D.A., Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, 1996, pp.11, 25] Jehovah's Witnesses argue that there are only two references in the Bible to birthday celebrations: Genesis 40:20-22 and Matthew 14:6-10. And in both cases they are presented in an extremely negative light. Indeed, both individuals were pagans and both had someone put to death on their birthdays. [Ibid., p.25] In view of this, it is clear that no follower of Jehovah should ever celebrate a birthday. To do so would be an affront against God Himself." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, pp.390-391. Emphasis original) 21/12/2009 "Genesis 40:20-22-Are Birthdays Evil? The Watchtower Teaching. The New World Translation renders Genesis 40:20-22, `Now on the third day it turned out to be Pharaoh's birthday, and he proceeded to make a feast for all his servants and to lift up the head of the chief of the cupbearers and the head of the chief of the bakers in the midst of his servants. Accordingly he returned the chief of the cupbearers to his post of cupbearer, and he continued to give the cup into Pharaoh's hand. But the chief of the bakers he hung up [killed], just as Joseph had given the interpretation." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, p.391. Emphasis original) 21/12/2009 "Jehovah's Witnesses argue that everything in the Bible is there for a reason (2 Timothy 3:16,17)-even historical accounts of what particular pagans did in biblical times. And since the Bible presents birthdays in an unfavorable light, then Christians should avoid them. [Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1989, pp.68-69] To be more specific, Jehovah's Witnesses argue that since the horribly evil Pharaoh celebrated a birthday and had someone put to death on that day, then birthdays are evil and Christians should not celebrate them." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, p.391. Emphasis original) 21/12/2009 "The Biblical Teaching. The Watchtower position is a clear case of what is known as `guilt by association.' Concluding that a particular day is evil simply because something bad happened on that day is truly warped logic. Genesis 40:20-22 proves only that the Pharaoh was evil, not birthdays. Certainly there is no scriptural command to celebrate birthdays, but there is no warrant for saying that to do so is forbidden from Genesis 40:20-22 or any other passage." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, p.391. Emphasis original) 21/12/2009 "Ask... o Based on a reading of Genesis 40:20-22, isn't it more logical to conclude that it is the Pharaoh that is portrayed as evil and not birthdays? (If the Jehovah's Witness argues about this, ask:) o What is the source of the evil in Genesis 40:20-22 - the Pharaoh or the birthday? You might also want to point out to the Jehovah's Witness that the Pharaoh actually did something nice on his birthday as well-that is, he declared amnesty for the chief cupbearer (Genesis 40:21). He set the man free! Ask... o Since the Pharaoh's doing something evil on his birthday means birthdays are bad (according to the Watchtower), then does the fact that the Pharaoh did something nice on his birthday mean there is something nice about birthdays too (using the same logic)?" (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, pp.391-392. Emphasis original) 21/12/2009 "Regarding birthdays in general in biblical times, Bible scholar E.M. Blaiklock comments: `The celebration of the anniversary of one's birth is a universal practice, for in most human cities the privileges and responsibilities of life are attached to the attainment of a certain age. The surviving census documents, dating back to A.D. 48, carefully record the age of those described and enrolled according to the requirements of the Roman census law, which implies an observance and counting of birthdays. The birth of a child, according to Leviticus 12, occasioned certain rites and ceremonies. Under the Mosaic law age was the chief qualification for authority and office. The blind man's parents declared that their son was `of age' (John 9:21). There was significance in Jesus' visit to the Temple at twelve years of age. In spite of the absence of documentary material, it seems obvious that birthdays held their annual importance. [Blaiklock, E.M., Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 1978, Vol. 1, p.616.] From a historical perspective, it would seem that the birthdays spoken of above had no evil whatsoever associated with them." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, pp.392-393. Emphasis original) 21/12/2009 "Ask... o In view of the historical evidence that many ancient birthdays had no evil associated with them, do you really think it is legitimate to formulate a legalistic and unbending policy on birthdays based upon two isolated individuals who executed people not just on their birthdays but on a variety of other occasions throughout the year? [Reed, D.A., Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, 1996, p.25]" (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, p.393. Emphasis original) 21/12/2009 "A number of scholars-including Albert Barnes, Adam Clarke, Robert Jamieson, Andrew Fausset, and David Brown-believe that birthdays are mentioned in Job 1:4 `And [Job's] sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them' (NASB, emphasis added; cf. 3:1-3). Adam Clarke notes, `It is likely that a birthday festival is here intended. When the birthday of one arrived, he invited his brothers and sisters to feast with him; and each observed the same custom.' .[Clarke, A., The Bethany Parallel Commentary-Old Testament Bethany House: Minneapolis, MN, 1980, p.870. (Note that Job seems to define the `day' as a birthday in Job 3:1-3.) Note that nothing in the text indicates that Job's children did evil things on this day. Their celebration is not portrayed as a pagan practice. And certainly Job does not condemn the celebration. If the observance of birthdays was offensive to Jehovah, then Job-a man who `was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil' (Job 1:1 NASB)would have prevented this practice among his own children." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, pp.393-394. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "Matthew 14:6-10-Are Birthdays Evil? The Watchtower Teaching. The New World Translation renders Matthew 14:6-10, `But when Herod's birthday was being celebrated the daughter of Herodias danced at it and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Then she, under her mother's coaching, said: `Give me here upon a platter the head of John the Baptist.' Grieved though he was, the king out of regard for his oaths and for those reclining with him commanded it to be given; and he sent and had John beheaded in the prison.' Jehovah's Witnesses say that since Herod the pagan celebrated a birthday and had John the Baptist executed on that day, then Christians shouldn't celebrate birthdays. To take part in celebrating a birthday is to associate oneself with a pagan practice and violate God's holy law. Hence, no true follower of Jehovah will celebrate a birthday." (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, p.394. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "The Biblical Teaching. Again, the Watchtower position is a clear case of guilt by association. Concluding that a particular day is evil simply because something bad happened on that day is warped logic. Matthew 14:6-10 proves only that Herod was evil, not birthdays. Ask... o Based on a reading of Matthew 14:6-10, isn't it more logical to conclude that it is Herod that is portrayed as evil and not birthdays? (If the Jehovah's Witness argues about this, ask:) o What is the source of the evil in Matthew 14:6-10 - Herod or the birthday?" (Rhodes, R., "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, 1993, Reprinted, 2006, p.394. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "Genesis 40:20-22 `And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants.... But he hanged the chief baker... . (KJV)' The Watchtower organization has prohibited birthday celebrations among its adherents, using Genesis 40:20-22 as a key part of the `scriptural basis' for this ruling. Their thought is that the word birthday appears in the Bible only in reference to Pharaoh of Egypt (as above) and King Herod of Galilee (Matt. 14:6 and Mark 6:21). Both of them were pagans, and both men had someone put to death in connection with the celebration. Since no men of faith are recorded in the Bible as having celebrated their birthdays, but only wicked men-so the Watchtower reasoning goes-Jehovah's Witnesses of today must not be allowed to celebrate birthdays either." (Reed, D.A., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1986, Thirty-first printing, 2006, pp.24-25. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "It is worth noting that, as with other teachings, it is not left up to the individual Witness to read the Bible and come up with this conclusion. Rather, the sect's secretive governing body has promulgated this official interpretation and uses its disciplinary procedures to enforce the policy on all Witnesses. For example, one elderly JW of our acquaintance in Massachusetts decided that he would send a birthday card to his non- Witness son, but his wife reported it to the local elders. They summoned him before a closed-door judicial- committee meeting and put him on trial for this offense. The seventy-year-old gentleman challenged them to show him one Scripture verse prohibiting sending a birthday card, but the committee went ahead and disfellowshiped him on the basis of the Watchtower Society's ruling. His Witness relatives now refuse him admittance to their home, and Witnesses who encounter him on the street turn away without even saying hello." (Reed, D.A., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1986, Thirty-first printing, 2006, pp.24-25. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "In refuting the Watchtower's so-called scriptural basis for banning birthday celebrations, you can point out that Pharaoh and King Herod were arbitrary rulers and violent men; such monarchs were accustomed to executing people on all sorts of occasions, not just on their birthdays. Moreover, a person sending a birthday card, or a parent providing a cake with candles at a children's party, can hardly be accused of following the pattern of those murderous men." (Reed, D.A., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1986, Thirty-first printing, 2006, pp.25-26) 22/12/2009 "Although the actual word birthday appears only in connection with Pharaoh and Herod in most translations, the Bible does contain reference to such celebrations in godly families: In Job 1:4, it says of the patriarch Job's family, `And his sons went and held a banquet at the house of each one on his own day; and they sent and invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them' (NWT, italics added). That `his own day' refers to each one's birthday becomes clear when we read further: `It was after this that Job opened his mouth and began to call down evil upon his day. Job now answered and said: `Let the day perish on which I came to be born ...' ` (Job 3:1-3, NWT, italics added). The Living Bible's paraphrase of Job 1:4-5 expresses this thought: `Every year when each of Job's sons had a birthday, he invited his brothers and sisters to his home for a celebration. On these occasions they would eat and drink with great merriment. When these birthday parties ended... .'" (Reed, D.A., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1986, Thirty-first printing, 2006, p.26. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "Even the Watchtower Society's own translation reveals that the birth of John the Baptist was celebrated, when it records this angelic announcement: `And you will have joy and great gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth' (Luke 1:14, NWT). If the birth of John the Baptist was an occasion for rejoicing and if faithful Job's children celebrated their birthdays, the fact that Pharaoh and Herod also celebrated theirs cannot logically be used as a basis for banning birthday parties among Bible believers today." (Reed, D.A., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1986, Thirty-first printing, 2006, p.26) 22/12/2009 "Holidays `Celebrating holidays is simply not a biblical practice. The only two mentions of birthdays in the Scriptures-Pharaoh's in Genesis 40 and Herod's in Matthew 14-are not pleasing to God. So the celebrations should be shunned. These give glory to people and not to God. They are of pagan origin and must be displeasing to Jehovah. Easter is dearly pagan, being celebrated on the first full moon after the Spring equinox. Easter is nothing else than Astarte/Ishtar, the Assyrian queen goddess of heaven. Christmas is never celebrated in the Bible, and we should not add pagan traditions to Scripture. [Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1989, pp.68-70, 176-82]'" (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, 2001, p.141. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "When birthdays are mentioned in Scripture, the celebrations themselves are not condemned. There is not one word in Scripture saying that either of the two birthday celebrations mentioned was bad or should not have taken place. In the case of Pharaoh's birthday [Gn 40:20-22], there is nothing critical of the celebration. Neither is there anything critical of Pharaoh's actions on the day. It does mention that he had one of his former servants put to death on that day, but Scripture is silent about whether the man had done anything worthy of death. That question is not considered, and we are given no information about what the servant had done that led him first to be put in prison and then put to death. In the case of Herod Antipas's birthday [Mt 14:6-11; Mk 6:21-28] -and it should be noted that Herod was a Jew, not pagan-the implied criticism is that he made a rash promise and bowed to social pressure (Matt. 14:9), which together led him to have John the Baptist executed. Neither of these is a criticism of birthdays but of rash oaths and bowing to peer pressure. The mere mention of birthdays in these two texts does not allow one to infer that birthdays are being implicitly criticized. Good Bible interpretation does not permit taking a passage where something unpleasant is mentioned, finding a second element in the text, and from that alone inferring that the second element is being criticized. This is the case especially when one has a very limited number of samples from which to draw. No firm conclusions can be drawn from a sampling of only two instances, as is the case here." (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, 2001, p.142) 22/12/2009 "What about the other practices the Watchtower condemns? Is a practice or ritual necessarily displeasing to God if its roots can be traced back to paganism? No. Circumcision is a classic, biblical instance of this. Circumcision was a custom of pagan origin. In Egypt (Jer. 9:25-26; Josh. 5:4-9) and among Semitic peoples generally, circumcision seems to have been practiced in antiquity. A relief in the Sixth Dynasty tomb of Ti (c. 2300 B.C.) at Saqqarah in Egypt depicts the operation of circumcision on 13-year-old youths. [Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Moody Press: Chicago, 1975, 1:354] The third millennium before Christ, and more specifically 2300 B.C., was before Abraham, who lived in the early second millennium, thus, before he was given the covenant of circumcision by God in Genesis 17. Yet the fact that circumcision is of pagan origin did not prevent God from using it as a sign of his covenant with the people of Israel." (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, 2001, pp.142-143) 22/12/2009 "Further, Jehovah's Witnesses themselves have adopted things originally used by pagans. Wedding rings, marriage vows, white veils, and bridal bouquets are all of pagan origin, but you will likely find all of these at any Witness wedding. Even if some custom has a tainted past, so long as it is not intrinsically immoral it can be `baptized' and offered to God in spirit and truth." (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, 2001, p.143. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "The Watchtower's aversion to paganism is understandable, but it overlooks the fact that paganism is not totally wrong. There are elements of truth in paganism. [For example, pagans commonly believe in the creation of the world, a supernatural dimension to the universe, and a moral code.] What makes paganism problematic is that those elements are obscured by sin and a flawed understanding of the nature of human existence. But when the elements of truth are distilled out of their pagan context and properly seen in the light of God's revelation, they are no longer problematic, as God is ultimately the source of all truth." (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, 2001, p.143. Emphasis original) 22/12/2009 "Even in secular matters, a Witness does not seem to realize how much of our modern culture is in some way connected with extinct pagan religion. If the Witness at your door is wearing Nike shoes, for instance, you might point out that Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. If the true God commanded that our lives be free from any and all references to paganism, the Witness would not only need to throw away his shoes, he would also have to rename the days of the week, months of the year, and even the planets of the solar system-as well as throw away his wedding ring. Fortunately, God does not ask Christians to live in such scrupulosity." (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, 2001, pp.143- 144) 22/12/2009 "Birthday (Heb. yom huledeth; Gen. 40:20; Gr, ta genesia, Matt. 14:6; Mark 6:21). The custom of observing birthdays was very ancient and widely extended. In Persia they were celebrated with peculiar honor and banquets, and in Egypt the king's birthday was observed with great pomp (Gen. 40:20). No reference is made in Scripture of the celebration of birthdays by the Jews themselves although the language of Jeremiah (20:14, 15) would seem to indicate that such occasions were joyfully remembered. By most commentators the feasts mentioned in Job. 1:13, 18, are thought to have been birthday festivals, but Delitzsch (Com., in loc.) believes them to have been gatherings each day in the home of one of the brothers. The feast commemorative of `Herod's birthday' (Matt. 14:6) may have been in honor of his birth or of his accession to the throne (Hos. 7:5). The later Jews regarded the celebration of birthdays as a part of idolatrous worship. In the early Church the term `birthdays' was applied to the festivals of martyrs, the days on which they suffered death in this world and were born to the glory and life of heaven." (Unger, M.F., "Unger's Bible Dictionary," , Moody Press: Chicago IL, Third edition, 1966, Fifteenth printing, 1969, p.147. Emphasis original) 24/12/2009 "[Lk 2:11] The Saviour (a title used of Jesus here only in the Synoptic Gospels; it is found once in John) is called Christ the Lord. This renders a Greek expression found nowhere else in the New Testament and meaning, literally, `Christ Lord'. Perhaps we should understand it as `Christ and Lord' (c.f. Acts 2:36; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 2:11). The term Christ is Greek for `Anointed one', just as `Messiah' is our transliteration of a Hebrew term with a similar meaning. Anointing was for special service like that of a priest or a king. But the Jews expected that one day God would send a very special deliverer. He would be not simply `an' anointed but `the' anointed, the Messiah. It is this one whom the angel announces. Lord is used in the Septuagint of God (it is used in other ways as well, but it is the translation of the name Yahweh). Christ the Lord thus describes the child in the highest possible terms."(Morris, L.L., "The Gospel According to Luke: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Inter-Varsity Press Leicester UK, 1974, Reprinted, 1986, p.85) 24/12/2009 "It has been my own observation, as I have observed the behaviour of, and talked with Jehovah's Witnesses over the years, that many have an almost superstitious dread and fear of the cross shape. So convinced are they, of what the Watchtower has told them regarding this image, that many instantly associate it with paganism. This is most unfortunate because, as was seen, the evidence seems to clearly be in favour of this shape. When Christians use the cross of Christ in their decorations of churches etc. they use it as a symbol of victory over the forces of paganism. It also reminds Christians of the suffering which Christ endured for our sins. Some Witnesses may even think that Christians worship the cross. While there may be some individuals who may do this, this is certainly something which is not the norm in Christianity (particularly Protestant Christianity) and certainly something to be rejected, as indeed it is by the vast majority of Christendom." (McCann, V., "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Cross," Spotlight Ministries, 7 November 2005) 24/12/2009 "Some may object that it is not important what shape the structure was upon which Christ was crucified, but rather what happened there. Christians would certainly agree with this. Certainly, theologians and scholars have no doubt pondered on the shape of the implement of crucifixion, but it has never been an issue of primary concern. However, it should be remembered that it was not the Christian Church who began to attack the shape of the cross, and reject it as a pagan symbol, but rather the Watchtower Society. Christians are simply defending a symbol which reminds them of an event which is important to them." (McCann, V., "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Cross," Spotlight Ministries, 7 November 2005) 24/12/2009 "The organization also instilled in me a terror of demons. The Witnesses I knew spent much time talking among themselves about Satan and the earthly activities of his invisible wicked spirit followers, the demons. One evening I was at a social gathering with other Witnesses, some of whom told of persons who were studying with Jehovah's Witnesses being attacked by demons who wanted to keep them in Satan's realm and out of the Truth. I was assured, though, that if I were ever assaulted by demons, shouting the name `Jehovah!' repeatedly would frighten them away." (Wilson, D., "Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society," Prometheus: Amherst NY, 2002, p.37) 24/12/2009 "Some Witnesses were so fearful that they even left Watchtower magazines strewn about their homes, hoping to ward off demon attacks. Even Witnesses' daily conversations were liberally sprinkled with the name `Jehovah' to keep the demons at bay. When the brothers prayed audibly for the congregation, many used the name `Jehovah' repeatedly, almost superstitiously, throughout their prayer. During assemblies, brothers often told stories about demons attacking Witnesses who left the organization, as they were then outside the realm of Jehovah's protection. Demons were said to cause them to go crazy, to become depressed, or to lead debauched, meaningless, poverty-stricken lives full of misery and sorrow. The Society reinforced this belief at nearly every assembly by featuring the testimony of a person who had either left the organization, or had been `disfellowshipped' (ousted from the organization) and had now been reinstated. Invariably, they would tell of how horrible life outside the organization had been, and how Satan had influenced them to become prostitutes, drug addicts, or to do all manner of immoral or illegal things. They would always emphasize that returning to the organization had been the only way to straighten out their lives and obtain relief from the demons. Watchtower Society literature at times even described how - their missionaries in remote foreign countries were the only missionaries able to stay alive despite deadly curses put on them by tribal witch doctors." (Wilson, D., "Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society," Prometheus: Amherst NY, 2002, pp.38-39) 24/12/2009 "Telling demon stories was a favorite past-time at Witnesses' social gatherings. One sister exclaimed a demon once grabbed her while she was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and had spun her around in circles. Another said that the beautiful sofa her sister gave her was demonized, as everyone who sat on it developed an impulsive urge to kill someone. Yet another told of her Bible student who owned a blanket possessed by demons; whenever she would beckon it to cover her, it would creep up her body and snuggle itself up around her neck. All such stories were told in hushed undertones, for fear the demons would overhear. The Witnesses believed that anyone showing too much interest or curiosity about the demons would be the demons' next target. The Witnesses lived in obvious fear of demons; these stories always ended with the group agreeing how thankful they were to be Jehovah's Witnesses, as Jehovah would always protect them from these invisible adversaries. Telling and listening to these stories served to reinforce the need to stay closely involved in all organizational activities as a protection against these evil, invisible demonic forces. Hearing such stories ;about demons contributed towards my developing a phobia of ever leaving the organization." (Wilson, D., "Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society," Prometheus: Amherst NY, 2002, p.39) 24/12/2009 "I noticed the Witnesses' obsessive fear of demons also manifesting itself while in the house-to-house preaching work. Occasionally a householder would want to give the Witness a religious pamphlet from her own church; while often the Witness would refuse to accept it on the basis that she already had the Truth, at other times another Witness might accept it. However, as soon as we were out of sight of the householder, the pamphlet became like the proverbial `hot potato'-the Witness couldn't get rid of it fast enough! Some Witnesses feared that even touching the pamphlet could cause a demon to transfer itself from the pamphlet to themselves. This fear stemmed from their belief that Jehovah's Witnesses represent the only true religion, thus all other religions are false and under the control of the Devil and the demons; consequently, they believe all literature from another religion to be contaminated with demonic forces. While some Witnesses insisted that burning the pamphlets was the only safe way to dispose of them in order to avoid demon attacks, others seemed relieved to simply drop them into the nearest trashcan. I found it odd that Witnesses, who claimed to be representatives of God in doing His work, would be so frightened of a mere pamphlet." (Wilson, D., "Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society," Prometheus: Amherst NY, 2002, pp.39-40) 24/12/2009 "I observed many Witnesses become nervous and abruptly scurry away from talking to a householder who talked too much about Jesus, exclaiming: `Did you notice his eyes? He is obviously demonized!' Witnesses often frequented garage sales, as most Witnesses were not well off financially, in large part due to the brothers urging them to work only part-time so as to have more time for the witnessing work. I noticed that Witnesses were fanatical about the articles they found at these sales, worrying that demons might have attached themselves to the items; bringing such things home would be an open invitation to demon attack. Often I watched as Witnesses, before buying something at a garage sale, peered into the eyes of the people selling the desired objects to see if they had the `special look' individuals who were demonized were thought to have. If they did, the Witness would immediately put the items down in order to avoid likewise becoming demonized, and would breathlessly beat a hasty retreat. If a Witness ever showed symptoms of `spiritual sickness' (low witnessing hours, sporadic meeting attendance, not living in accordance with all of the Watchtower teachings), usually the elders' first course of action would be to physically go through the house of the Witness, searching for items that could have attracted demons-even helping the person to destroy any suspicious objects that they found. I puzzled over why Jehovah's Witnesses, ostensibly God's `name-people,' would be so worried about demons. God was certainly more powerful than demons, and surely He could protect His people. I wondered why the Witnesses seemed to have so little confidence that He would. " (Wilson, D., "Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society," Prometheus: Amherst NY, 2002, p.40) 24/12/2009 "There are no positive data in the Bible or in rabbinical literature concerning birthday festivals among the ancient Jews. This silence on the subject is, however, no warrant for the conclusion that the Jews altogether abstained from following a custom which was general among the Egyptians (Gen. xl. 20), Persians (Herodotus i. 133), Syrians, and Greeks. Even if not common among the people, yet kings and princes probably practised it, following the custom of their heathen contemporaries. Birthday festivals were not considered by the Rabbis as `h.ukkot ha-goyim' (customs of the heathen; see Maimonides, Yad ha-H.azak.h, 'Akkum we-H.uk.otehem, xi. 12), although Lightfoot held a contrary opinion ("Horæ Hebr." on Matt. xiv. 6). ... A close study of the Biblical text shows that the Bible is not altogether wanting in references to the subject; for, while it lacks positive accounts, it contains passages from which it may be inferred that the custom of remembering birthday anniversaries was not wholly unknown among the Jews. `The day of our king' (Hosea vii. 5), on which the princes made the king sick with bottles of wine, and the king himself `stretched out his hand with scorners,' alludes more probably to a birthday festival than to a solemn occasion, such as the anniversary of his installation, which would have been observed with more decorum (see Josephus, "Ant." xv. 9, § 6).Birthdays might not have been celebrated by the common people with great solemnity, yet they did not pass wholly unnoticed, and were remembered by congratulations, as in modern times. Jeremiah not only cursed the day of his birth, but wished that it should not be blessed (Jer. xx. 14), as though such had been the custom. It is said of Job, `and he cursed his day' (Job iii. 1). The emphatic and determining expression `his day' implies the idea that he, like everybody else, had a certain day of the year singled out for a certain purpose, which we learn further was the anniversary of his birth." (Adler, C. & Roubin, S., "birthday," Jewish Encyclopedia, 2002) 26/12/2009 "The Cross and Crown is a traditional Christian symbol (a cross passing through a crown), appearing in many churches (especially Roman Catholic), that has also been used in heraldry.It is often interpreted as symbolizing the reward in heaven (the crown) coming after the trials in this life (the cross) (James 1:12). The symbol appears in the seal of the Church of Christ, Scientist, where it is surrounded by the words `Heal the Sick, Cleanse the Lepers, Raise the Dead, Cast Out Demons', from the Gospel of Matthew, 10:8. In this symbol the crown stands for victory over death. It is also featured in the banner of the Bible Students. The cross and crown were surrounded by bay laurel leaves, which first appeared in the January 1881 issue of Zion's Watch Tower. The Watchtower Society later discontinued using the cross and crown after the death of C.T Russell, viewing it as a `pagan symbol', although his gravesite is marked by a pyramid memorial erected by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society itself that pictures a Cross and Crown. Their current doctrine is that Jesus was not crucified, but staked." ("Cross and Crown," Wikipedia, 13 December 2009) 27/12/2009 "An ongoing objection to a December 25 nativity has been that this date fell in the winter. The objection is twofold, and related to `shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.' (Luke 2:8) First, it has been argued, the sheep were brought in from the wilderness and kept in corrals, or sheepfolds, during the winter, and not out grazing. Second, the only time that shepherds watched their flocks at night was during and after lambing, in the spring and early summer. Thus, Jesus could not have been born in the winter. Such arguments are far from conclusive against a winter nativity. First, sheep would have been found in the fields. It could have been a mild winter. The average December temperatures at Jerusalem are 45-59° F., comparable to Houston or San Francisco, but with less rain. The night temperatures are lower. Rainfall averages 3-4 inches, comparable to Athens or Rome, with occasional light snow. By the end of December the first grass can be sprouting from early rains. Poor shepherds would have had their flocks out to glean the first fodder from the rains. Also, semi-nomads will often leave a belt of grass un-grazed around permanent winter settlements during summer to provide winter fodder. Jewish shepherds may have practiced such in earlier days. The sheep would not necessarily have been kept under cover. Un-corralled sheep would have to be watched at night, whether at lambing, or any other time of the year. Sheep were brought in from the wilderness during the winter, and these flocks could be found in the area of Bethlehem/Jerusalem. The presence of flocks around Bethlehem may indeed indicate that it was winter. The Mishna records that cattle, including sheep, were around Jerusalem, including Bethlehem, year-round ... Many of these animals were required for the daily sacrifices at the Temple, and they were always available. There also would be a large daily requirement for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The presence of sheep in the fields around Bethlehem in the early evening of December 25, 5 BCE would be expected." (Doig, K.F., "Doig's Biblical Chronology: Exact Dating of the Exodus and Birth and Crucifixion of Jesus," Chapter 9, December 5, 2009) 28/12/2009 "Saturnalia ...Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places, with humorous results. Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BC to raise citizen morale after a crushing military defeat at the hands of the Carthaginians. Originally celebrated for a day, on December 17, its popularity saw it grow until it became a week long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd. Efforts to shorten the celebration were unsuccessful. Augustus tried to reduce it to three days, and Caligula to five. These attempts caused uproar and massive revolts among the Roman citizens." ("Saturnalia," Wikipedia, 26 December 2009) 28/12/2009 "Genetic fallacy ... The genetic fallacy is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone's origin rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context. The fallacy therefore fails to assess the claim on its merit. The first criterion of a good argument is that the premises must have bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim in question.Genetic accounts of an issue may be true, and they may help illuminate the reasons why the issue has assumed its present form, but they are irrelevant to its merits." ("Genetic fallacy," Wikipedia, 30 October 2009) 28/12/2009 "Genetic Fallacy A Genetic Fallacy is a line of `reasoning' in which a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself. It is also a line of reasoning in which the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence for the claim or thing. This sort of `reasoning' has the following form: 1. The origin of a claim or thing is presented. 2. The claim is true(or false) or the thing is supported (or discredited). It is clear that sort of `reasoning' is fallacious. For example: `Bill claims that 1+1=2. However, my parents brought me up to believe that 1+1=254, so Bill must be wrong.' It should be noted that there are some cases in which the origin of a claim is relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim. For example, a claim that comes from a reliable expert is likely to be true (provided it is in her area of expertise)." ("Genetic Fallacy," The Nizkor Project, 2009) 28/12/2009 "Genetic Fallacy ... The Genetic Fallacy is the most general fallacy of irrelevancy involving the origins or history of an idea. It is fallacious to either endorse or condemn an idea based on its past - rather than on its present - merits or demerits, unless its past in some way affects its present value. For instance, the origin of evidence can be quite relevant to its evaluation, especially in historical investigations. The origin of testimony - whether first hand, hearsay, or rumor - carries weight in evaluating it. In contrast, the value of many scientific ideas can be objectively evaluated by established techniques, so that the origin or history of the idea is irrelevant to its value. For example, the chemist Kekulé claimed to have discovered the ring structure of the benzene molecule during a dream of a snake biting its own tail. While this fact is psychologically interesting, it is neither evidence for nor against the hypothesis that benzene has a ring structure, which had to be tested for correctness. So, the Genetic Fallacy is committed whenever an idea is evaluated based upon irrelevant history." ("Genetic Fallacy," The Fallacy Files, 1 August 2006) 28/12/2009 "The word `Christmas' first appeared in about the eleventh century, and is from the Old English `Cristes maesse,' or `Christ's Mass.' The nativity has been widely celebrated on December 25 from at least the fourth century, except in the Eastern churches, on January 6. However, many Christians have rejected December 25 as the possibly true nativity because of that date's associations with pagan festivals. In reaction to this the seventeenth-century Puritans banned church services in recognition of Christmas, a feeling brought to America. The waves of Irish and German immigrants in the nineteenth century swept aside the objections, and the old traditions were revived among Protestants, as well as Catholics. However, there are still a few religious groups that protest the supposed pagan roots of the holiday." (Doig, K.F., "Doig's Biblical Chronology: Exact Dating of the Exodus and Birth and Crucifixion of Jesus," Chapter 9, December 5, 2009) 28/12/2009 "In every period of Christian history the observance of Christmas has been opposed by a minority of Christian leaders. Usually one or more of three factors have been involved in this opposition: (1) a rejection of ecclesiastical authority in its attempt to establish official feast days, of which Christmas is one; (2) an objection to the drinking, partying, and immorality associated in every age with Christmas festivities; (3) the long-standing and continuing associations of Christmas with pagan religious ideas and practices. Some Protestants, especially those in the Calvinistic tradition-including Calvin himself, Knox, the English and American Puritans, and many Presbyterians-refused to celebrate Christmas. However, the Lutherans, the continental Reformers, and most other Protestants defended the observance of Christmas and sought to emphasize its deeper truth expressed in the doctrine of the incarnation. By the mid-twentieth century Christmas had come to be observed almost universally in some form or another by Christians throughout the world. With the expansion of Christianity into the cultures of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, many new customs and ideas were incorporated into the Christian celebration of Christmas." (Oliver, O.G., "Christmas," in Elwell, W.A., ed., "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1984, Seventh printing, 1990, pp.220-221) 28/12/2009 "Toward the end of the 18th century the practice of giving gifts to family members became well established. Theologically, the feast day reminded Christians of God's gift of Jesus to humankind even as the coming of the Wise Men, or Magi, to Bethlehem suggested that Christmas was somehow related to giving gifts. The practice of giving gifts, which goes back to the 15th century, contributed to the view that Christmas was a secular holiday focused on family and friends. This was one reason why Puritans in Old and New England opposed the celebration of Christmas and in both England and America succeeded in banning its observance." (Hillerbrand, H.J., "Christmas," Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 27 December, 2008) 28/12/2009 "Saturn was worshiped for bringing a golden age to Rome. The Saturnalia, originally a one-day festival in his honor, was later expanded into a seven-day celebration in the latter half of December. The event was marked by great revelry. Gifts, such as waxen fruits and candles, were exchanged, and clay dolls were especially given to the children. During the festival, no punishment was meted out. Schools and courts had a holiday; even war operations were brought to a halt. Slaves exchanged places with their masters and were permitted, without needing to fear punishment, to give free rein to the tongue. The early Christians refused to participate in Roman worship, particularly worship of the emperor, which made them objects of intense persecution. They were uncompromising in their stand to "obey God as ruler rather than men," refusing to give to Roman rulers the worship that rightfully belonged to God.-Ac 5:29; Mr 12:17; see ROME (Religion)." (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, "Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1: Aaron-Jehoshua," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, 1988, pp.979-980. Emphasis original) 30/12/2009 "[Lk 1:5-7] Luke dates his narrative from the reign of Herod the Great (37-4 BC). What he describes comes somewhere near the end of that reign. He tells of Zechariah, a priest from the country (39f.), who took his turn in ministering in the Temple. There were many priests, but only one Temple. So they served on a roster (1 Ch. 24:1-6). The priests were divided into twenty-four divisions of which that of Abijah was the eighth (1 Ch. 24:10). Actually only four divisions returned from the Exile (Ezr. 2:36-39), but the four were subdivided to make up twenty-four again with the old names. Each division was on duty twice a year, for a week on each occasion." (Morris, L.L., "The Gospel According to Luke: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Inter-Varsity Press Leicester UK, 1974, Reprinted, 1986, pp.67-68) 30/12/2009 "[Lk 1:8-10] There were many priests and not enough sacred duties for them all, so lots were cast to see who would perform each function. The offering of incense was regarded as a great privilege. A priest could not offer incense more than once in his entire lifetime (Mishnah, Tamid 5:2), and some priests never did receive the privilege. Thus the time when Zechariah offered the incense was the most important moment in his whole life. Luke does not say whether he offered at the morning or the evening sacrifice. In either case he would go into the holy place with other priests. But they would retire, leaving him alone. When the signal was given he would offer the incense. The worshippers waited in the outer court until the priest discharged this duty (10) ." (Morris, L.L., "The Gospel According to Luke: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Inter-Varsity Press Leicester UK, 1974, Reprinted, 1986, p.68) 30/12/2009 "[Lk 1:5] Since the time of David (I Chron. xxiv) the priests had been divided into twenty-four orders. The order of Abijah was the eighth. After the banishment only a few orders existed. But the surviving priests were again divided into twenty-four orders with the original names. Thus Zacharias was a priest who belonged to the order or course of Abijah." (Geldenhuys, J.N., "Commentary on the Gospel of Luke," Marshall, Morgan & Scott: London, 1950, Reprinted, 1961, p.61) 30/12/2009 "[Lk 1:8, 9] There were some thousands of priests at the time, and it was arranged that each course should in turn send a number of priests to the temple for a week to execute their office there. In this particular week it was the turn of the course of Abijah, and Zacharias was one of the priests of that course who had to serve. Each day the lot was cast to assign the various duties of the priests for the day. As there were so many priests, it was not allowed that a priest should burn incense more than once in his lifetime. On that particular day the lot had fallen upon Zacharias and he had to attend to the burning of the incense. This incense- offering had to be brought twice a day-early in the morning and again at about three o'clock in the afternoon (Exod. xxx. 7, 8). Thus Zacharias had entered the temple after the lot had fallen upon him. The actual temple- building or sanctuary proper consisted of the holy place and the holy of holies. Into the latter apartment only the high priest was allowed to go (and that but once a year, on the Great Day of Atonement), while the officiating priests might enter the holy place. " (Geldenhuys, J.N., "Commentary on the Gospel of Luke," Marshall, Morgan & Scott: London, 1950, Reprinted, 1961, pp.62-63) 30/12/2009 "[Lk 1:10 Three times a day there were public gatherings for prayer in the temple court or square outside the actual sanctuary. The first and last of these prayer gatherings coincided with the morning and afternoon incense-offering. While Zacharias was engaged in presenting the incense-offering on the golden altar in the holy place, a great multitude of the people were praying in the outer temple court. After everything had been prepared for the incense-offering, all the other priests had left the holy place and only Zacharias waited there for the sign of the sacerdotal president that it was `the time of the incense-offering'. When the signal was given, he immediately offered the incense on the altar. As soon as the people saw the ascending smoke of the incense-offering, which was the symbol of true consecration to God, they fell down before the Lord and spread out their hands in silent prayer. For several minutes there followed a dead silence in the temple sanctuary and in the surrounding temple-building and courts. To Zacharias, as to every other priest, this was one of the most solemn experiences of his whole life-especially since the privilege of offering the incense, as we have seen, fell to the lot of a priest only once in his lifetime." (Geldenhuys, J.N., "Commentary on the Gospel of Luke," Marshall, Morgan & Scott: London, 1950, Reprinted, 1961, p.63) 30/12/2009 "ON THE DATE OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD ... At the outset it must be admitted, that absolute certainty is impossible as to the exact date of Christ's Nativity-the precise year even, and still more the month and the day. But in regard to the year, we possess such data as to invest it with such probability, as almost to amount to certainty. " (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. II, p.704. Emphasis original) 30/12/2009 "The first and most certain date is that of the death of Herod the Great. Our Lord was born before the death of Herod, and, as we judge from the Gospel-history, very shortly before that event. Now the year of Herod's death has been ascertained with, we may say, absolute certainty, as shortly before the Passover of the year 750 A.U.C., which corresponds to about the 12th of April of the year 4 before Christ, according to our common reckoning, More particularly shortly before the death of Herod there was a lunar eclipse (Jos. Ant. xvii. 6. 4) which, it is astronomically ascertained, occurred on the night from the 12th to the 13th of March of the year 4 before Christ. Thus the death of Herod must have taken place between the 12th of March and the 12th of April-or, say, about the end of March (comp. Ant. xvii. 8. 1). Again, the Gospel- history necessitates an interval of, at the least, seven or eight weeks before that date for the birth of Christ (we have to insert the purification of the Virgin-at the earliest, six weeks after the Birth-The Visit of the Magi, and the murder of the children at Bethlehem, and, at any rate, some days more before the death of Herod). Thus the birth of Christ could not have possibly occurred after the beginning of February 4 B.C. and most likely several weeks earlier. This brings us close to the ecclesiastical date, the 25th of December, in confirmation of which we refer to what has been stated in vol. i. p. 187, see especially note 3. At any rate, the often repeated, but very superficial objection, as to the impossibility of shepherds tending flocks in the open at that season, must now be dismissed as utterly untenable, not only for the reasons stated in vol. i. p. 187, but even for this, that if the question is to be decided on the ground of rain-fall, the probabilities are in favour of December as compared with February-later than which it is impossible to place the birth of Christ." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. II, p.704. Emphasis original) 30/12/2009 "No certain inference can, of course, be drawn from the appearance of ` the star ' that guided the Magi. That, and on what grounds, our investigations have pointed to a confirmation of the date of the Nativity, as given above, has been fully explained in vol. i. ch. viii. (see specially p. 213)." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. II, pp.704-705) 30/12/2009 "A similar statement occurs at the close of a collection of three Midrashim-respectively entitled, ' The Book of Elijah,' `Chapters about the Messiah,' and `The Mysteries of R. Simon, the son of Jochai' - where we read that a Star in the East was to appear two years before the birth of the Messiah. The statement is almost equally remarkable, whether it represents a tradition previous to the birth of Jesus, or originated after that event. But two years before the birth of Christ, which, as we have calculated, took place in December 749 A.U.C., or 5 before the Christian era, brings us to the year 747 A.U.C., or 7 before Christ, in which such a Star should appear in the East." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. I, p.212. Emphasis original) 30/12/2009 "Did such a Star, then, really appear in the East seven years before the Christian era? Astronomically speaking, and without any reference to controversy, there can be no doubt that the most remarkable conjunction of planets-that of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces, which occurs only once in 800 years-did take place no less than three times in the year 747 A.U.C., or two years before the birth of Christ (in May, October and December). This conjunction is admitted by all astronomers. It was not only extraordinary, but presented the most brilliant spectacle in the night-sky, such as could not but attract the attention of all who watched the sidereal heavens, but especially of those who busied themselves with astrology. In the year following, that is, in 748 A.U.C., another planet, Mars, joined this conjunction. The merit of first discovering these facts ... belongs to the great Kepler ... it has also been shown that such a conjunction would, for various reasons, not answer the requirements of the Evangelical narrative, so far as the guidance to Bethlehem is concerned. But it does fully account for the attention of the Magi being aroused, and-even if they had not possessed knowledge of the Jewish expectancy above described -for their making inquiry of all around, and certainly, among others, of the Jews. Here we leave the domain of the certain, and enter upon that of the probable. Kepler, who was led to the discovery by observing a similar conjunction in 1603-4, also noticed, that when the three planets came into conjunction, a new, extraordinary, brilliant, and peculiarly colored evanescent star was visible between Jupiter and Saturn, and he suggested that a similar star had appeared under the same circumstances in the conjunction preceding the Nativity. Of this, of course, there is not, and cannot be, absolute certainty. But, if so, this would be `the star' of the Magi,' in its rising.'" (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. I, pp.212-213. Emphasis original) 30/12/2009 "There is yet another remarkable statement, which, however, must also be assigned only to the domain of the probable. In the astronomical tables of the Chinese-to whose general trustworthiness so high an authority as Humboldt bears testimony - the appearance of an evanescent star was noted. Pingre and others have designated it as a comet, and calculated its first appearance in February 750 A.U.C., which is just the time when the Magi would, in all probability, leave Jerusalem for Bethlehem, since this must have preceded the death of Herod, which took place in March 750. Moreover, it has been astronomically ascertained, that such a sidereal apparition would be visible to those who left Jerusalem, and that it would point-almost seem to go before -in the direction of, and stand over, Bethlehem. Such, impartially stated, are the facts of the case-and here the subject must, in the present state of our information, be left." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. I, p.213) 30/12/2009 "The next historical datum furnished by the Gospels is that of the beginning of St. John the Baptist's ministry, which, according to St. Luke, was in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, and when Jesus was `about thirty years old' (St. Luke iii. 23). The accord of this with our reckoning of the date of the Nativity has been shown in vol. i. p. 264." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. II, p.705) 30/12/2009 "In these circumstances, the cry that the Kingdom of Heaven was near at hand, and the call to preparation for it, must have awakened echoes throughout the land, and startled the most careless and unbelieving: It was, according to St. Luke's exact statement, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar-reckoning, as provincials would do, from his co-regency with Augustus (which commenced two years before his sole reign), in the year 26 A.D. According to our former computation, Jesus would then be in His thirtieth year [Luke iii. 3]. ... St. Luke speaks of Christ being `about thirty years old' at the time of His baptism. If John began His public ministry in the autumn, and some months elapsed before Jesus was baptized, our Lord would have just passed His thirtieth year when He appeared at Bethabara. We have positive evidence that the expression `about' before a numeral meant either a little more or a little less than that exact number." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. I, p.264) 30/12/2009 "A similar conclusion would be reached by following the somewhat vague and general indication furnished in St. John ii. 20." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. II, p.705) 30/12/2009 "From the expression (St. John ii. 20) `Forty and six years was this Temple in building,' it has been inferred by most writers that this Passover was of the year 791 A.U.C., or 28 A.D., and not, as we have argued, of the year 780 A.U.C., or 27 A.D. But their calculation rests on an oversight. Admittedly the rebuilding of the Temple began in the autumn of the eighteenth year of Herod's reign (Jos. Ant. xv. 11. 1-6). As Herod's reign dates from 717 A.U.C., the Temple-building must have commenced in the autumn of the year 734-35. But it has already been explained that, in Jewish reckoning, the beginning of a new year was reckoned as a year. Thus if, according to universal opinion (comp. Wieseler, Chronolog. Synopse, pp. 165, 166), the Temple- building began in Kislev 734, forty-nine years after it would bring us to the autumn 779, and the Passover of 780, or 27 A.D., would be regarded and spoken of as `forty and six years.' If a Jew had calculated the time at the Passover 781, he would not have said `forty-six' but `forty-seven years' `was this Temple in building.' The mistake of writers lies in forgetting that a fresh year had begun after the autumn-or at any rate at the Passover. It may here be added, that the Temple was not finally completed till 63 A.D." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. I, p.375.. Emphasis original) 30/12/2009 "Lastly, we reach the same goal if we follow the historically somewhat uncertain guidance of the date of the Birth of the Baptist, as furnished in this notice (St. Luke i. 5) of his annunciation to his father, that Zacharias officiated in the Temple as one of `the course of Abia' (see here vol. i. p. 135). In Taan. 29 a we have the notice, with which that of Josephus agrees (War vi. 4, 1, 5), that at the time of the destruction of the Temple ' the course of Jehoiarib,' which was the first of the priestly courses, was on duty. That was on the 9-10 Ab of the year 823 A.U.C., or the 5th August of the year 70 of our era. If this calculation be correct (of which, however, we cannot feel quite sure), then counting `the courses' of priests backwards, the course of Abia would, in the year 748 A.U.C. (the year before the birth of Christ) have been on duty from the 2nd to the 9th of October. This also would place the birth of Christ in the end of December of the following year (749), taking the expression ' sixth month' in St. Luke i. 26, 36, in the sense of the running month (from the 5th to the 6th month, comp. St. Luke i. 24). But we repeat that absolute reliance cannot be placed on such calculations, at least so far as regards month and day." (Edersheim, A., "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," , Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, Reprinted, 1988, Vol. II, p.705) 31/12/2009 "The Annunciation All the evidence presented for the birth of Jesus on December 25 is based on His conception on about March 25, and then projected forward nine months. There were three proofs presented to support the Annunciation in March. The first established that the division of Abijah overlapped the Feast of Tabernacles, October 3 to 10, 6 BCE. With the conception of John the Baptist on October 10, the Annunciation fell about five and a half months later, or on March 25, 5 BCE. March 25 has been the Church's official day for the Annunciation since the sixth century. [However, in the sixth century March 25 may have been derived by counting backwards nine months from December 25.] Second, Luke records the Annunciation in the sixth month, which is interpreted to mean the sixth calendar month. According to Luke's Syro-Macedonian reckoning this lunar month fell from March 10 to April 7 in 5 BCE. The middle of that month was again March 25. Last, according to Chinese astrological records there was a nova that appeared on about March 25, 5 BCE, which continued to be visible for seventy days. This would have been the first appearance of the Star of the Magi, which coincided with Jesus' conception, not His birth. Thus, there is evidence for the Annunciation on March 25, the day of the Vernal Equinox. Jesus' nativity followed on December 25, 5 BCE, the day of the Winter Solstice." (Doig, K.F., "Doig's Biblical Chronology: Exact Dating of the Exodus and Birth and Crucifixion of Jesus," Chapter 9, December 5, 2009. Emphasis original) 31/12/2009 "The linking of healing and forgiveness and the general import of Mark 2:10 (`the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins') mean that the reader can always take Jesus' ministry of healing as dealing not only with sickness but also with sin through forgiveness, a point adumbrated in the cleansing of the leper. In this a parabolic dimension of the miracles is revealed. Up to this point, all Jesus' activities in Mark are commensurate with his being a charismatic healer: gathering followers, teaching, casting out demons and healing. But in forgiving sins Jesus' action is without parallel and is outside the scope of the law. Besides, there is nothing known in any Jewish literature of any person, including the Messiah, who can or would be able to forgive sin, except God. Therefore, although Jesus is being portrayed as a healer, he is more than that: in his healing (and forgiving) he is acting for God or, perhaps, even as God." (Twelftree, G.H., "Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical & Theological Study," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1999, p.65) 31/12/2009 "Jesus actually forgives people of their sins. We pointed out earlier that Jesus decides who gets to know the Father (and by implication who does not). Likewise, Jesus decides whose sins are forgiven. It's his call (Acts 5:31; Col. 3:13). Jesus started forgiving people even before his death on the cross. (Think of it as debt resolution in advance based on an imminent payment.) We are not talking here about Jesus forgiving people with whom he had personal grievances. We are referring to Jesus forgiving persons of every sin they had ever committed. The Gospels report at least two separate incidents when this occurred. One of these involved an immoral woman who came to Jesus, crying; she wet his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed his feet with perfume (Luke 7:36-38). The Pharisee who was Jesus' host was offended, but Jesus told him, `Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little:' He then said to the woman, `Your sins are forgiven:' The reaction of the others who were there is quite understandable. `Who is this who even forgives sins?' they asked (Luke 7:47-49). On another occasion, four men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus in the hope that Jesus would heal him. The first thing Jesus did was say to the paralyzed man, `Son, your sins are forgiven' (Mark 2:5; similarly Matt. 9:2; Luke 5:20). Some scribes standing by thought what Jesus said was blasphemy; they were saying to themselves, `Who can forgive sins but God alone?' (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). Jesus responded by asking them a hypothetical question: `Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Stand up and take your mat and walk'?' (Mark 2:9; cf. Matt. 9:5; Luke 5:23). Hypothetically, it is easier, of course, to forgive someone's sins than to make a paralyzed man walk. Thus, if Jesus has the ability to make the man walk, his claim to have the ability to forgive the man's sins should be accepted. Jesus then backs up his claim: `"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"- he said to the paralytic-`I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home"' (Mark 2:10-11; cf Matt. 9:6; Luke 5:24)." (Bowman, R.M., Jr. & Komoszewski, J.E., "Putting Jesus In His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ," Kregel: Grand Rapids MI, 2007, p.211) 31/12/2009 "If we compare the early chapters of Mark with Isaiah 40, we see from another perspective that Jesus' claim to forgive sins is a claim to deity. In Isaiah, God announces that Israel's sins have been removed and her chastisement is over (vv. 1-2). Then a voice calls for the way to be cleared for the coming of the Lord (vv. 3-5). His presence is once again going to inhabit the Promised Land, and his people are going to be restored to that land. The `good news' for Jerusalem is that God is coming with might to rule (vv. 9-10). He will begin by gathering his flock and leading them (v. 11). Now look at the opening chapters of the Gospel of Mark. It begins with an announcement of `the good news' (1:1). Mark explicitly quotes Isaiah 40:3 (1:3), which he says is fulfilled in John the Baptist, who preaches forgiveness of sins (vv. 4-6) and announces that the one coming after him is mightier than he (vv. 7- 8). Then Jesus shows up, and John baptizes him (vv. 9-11). Jesus goes out into the wilderness and returns, preaching the `good news' of God's kingdom rule (vv. 12-15). He begins by calling people to follow him (vv. 16-20) and starts demonstrating his `authority' by casting out demons, healing the sick, and cleansing the leper (vv. 21-45). It is in this context that Jesus heals the paralyzed man and forgives his sins (2:1-12). His actions are all part of the `program' of the Lord God coming to the land to rule, forgive, restore, and lead his people.' " (Bowman, R.M., Jr. & Komoszewski, J.E., "Putting Jesus In His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ," Kregel: Grand Rapids MI, 2007, p.212. Emphasis original)
Copyright © 2010-2012, by Stephen E. Jones. All rights reserved. These my quotes may be used for
non-commercial purposes only and may not be used in a book, ebook, CD, DVD, or any other
medium except the Internet, without my written permission. If used on the Internet, a link back
to this page would be appreciated.
Created: 8 September, 2009. Updated: 22 January, 2012.