Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 209If the writer of the "Gospel according to Luke" is correct, Jesus was not born until about A. D. 10, for he explicitly tells us that this event did not happen until Cyrenius was governor of Syria.[361:4] Now it is well known that Cyrenius was not appointed to this office until long after the death of Herod (during whose reign the Matthew narrator informs us Jesus was born[361:5]), and that the taxing spoken of by the Luke narrator as having taken place at this time, did not take place until about ten years after the time at which, according to the Matthew narrator, Jesus was born.[361:6]
"It was the two and fortieth year after the reign of Augustus the Emperor, and the eight and twentieth year after the subduing of Egypt, and the death of Antonius and Cleopatra, when last of all the Ptolemies in Egypt ceased to bear [Pg 362]rule, when our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, at the time of the first taxing—Cyrenius, then President of Syria—was born in Bethlehem, a city of Judea, according unto the prophecies in that behalf premised."[362:1]
Had the Luke narrator known anything about Jewish history, he never would have made so gross a blunder as to place the taxing of Cyrenius in the days of Herod, and would have saved the immense amount of labor that it has taken in endeavoring to explain away the effects of his ignorance. One explanation of this mistake is, that there were two assessments, one about the time Jesus was born, and the other ten years after; but this has entirely failed. Dr. Hooykaas, speaking of this, says:
"The Evangelist (Luke) falls into the most extraordinary mistakes throughout. In the first place, history is silent as to a census of the whole (Roman) world ever having been made at all. In the next place, though Quirinius certainly did make such a register in Judea and Samaria, it did not extend to Galilee; so that Joseph's household was not affected by it. Besides, it did not take place until ten years after the death of Herod, when his son Archelaus was deposed by the emperor, and the districts of Judea and Samaria were thrown into a Roman province. Under the reign of Herod, nothing of the kind took place, nor was there any occasion for it. Finally, at the time of the birth of Jesus, the Governor of Syria was not Quirinius, but Quintus Sentius Saturninus."[362:2]
The institution of the festival of the Nativity of Christ Jesus being held on the 25th of December, among the Christians, is attributed to Telesphorus, who flourished during the reign of Antonius Pius (A. D. 138-161), but the first certain traces of it are found about the time of the Emperor Commodus (A. D. 180-192).[362:3]
For a long time the Christians had been trying to discover upon what particular day Jesus had possibly or probably come into the world; and conjectures and traditions that rested upon absolutely no foundation, led one to the 20th of May, another to the 19th or 20th of April, and a third to the 5th of January. At last the opinion of the community at Rome gained the upper hand, and the 25th of December was fixed upon.[362:4] It was not until the fifth century, however, that this day had been generally agreed upon.[362:5] How it happened that this day finally became fixed as the birthday of Christ Jesus, may be inferred from what we shall now see.
On the first moment after midnight of the 24th of December (i. e., on the morning of the 25th), nearly all the nations of the earth, [Pg 363]as if by common consent, celebrated the accouchement of the "Queen of Heaven," of the "Celestial Virgin" of the sphere, and the birth of the god Sol.
In India this is a period of rejoicing everywhere.[363:1] It is a great religious festival, and the people decorate their houses with garlands, and