Shepherd with his flock overlooking shepherd's field, Christmas Day, Bethlehem, c. 1890
The internet today is increasingly filled with posts, articles, and even whole websites dedicated to challenging the historical accuracy of the Bible. Of course, there have always been those outside the faith who have questioned, disputed, denied, and rejected the record of the Scripture, but in recent years, the criticisms are more and more coming from within the faith, and by sincere, mainstream Christians.
The debate currently raging within the faith is not over the historical accuracy of the Scriptures themselves, but of the historical basis of Christendom’s two most important and universal observances of the life of Jesus … Christmas– the birth of Jesus … and Easter– the death and resurrection of Jesus. The arguments against the traditional holidays celebrated by Christians worldwide invariably relate particularly to the dating of these events, but also to the manner in which they have come to be celebrated, the customs and traditions associated with them.
Website articles and books have proliferated in recent years and they consistently present the same arguments – that Christmas and Easter are not in fact “Christian” at all, that they are in reality pagan holidays that were adopted by Christians in ancient times, to make Christianity more acceptable to pagans. And they offer very reasonable sounding arguments, citing Scripture and facts to support the claims that Christmas and Easter, and all their customs and traditions, derive from ancient pagan sources. And almost universally, we are instructed to return to the “Biblical holidays,” and not be found guilty of idolatry by celebrating pagan holidays that have replaced those ancient festivals ordained by God.
For many, perhaps even for some reading this, it doesn’t really matter, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus whether it actually occurred on December 25 or not and they are unconcerned with the criticisms. But for others, it does matter, and for some it matters greatly.
The Judeo/Christian faith is not based on myths or legends or philosophical theories. It is rooted squarely in actual historical events, intimately drawn in the lives of real people, etched in the ancient stones of past civilizations, and forever engraved in the words of those who laid down their lives to bear witness to the things they saw and heard.
The Bible then, unlike other religious texts, is a record of history, and of the hand of God at work in the world, from the creation to the revelation. And that record can be tested, against other ancient manuscripts and histories, against geophysical and astronomical data and records, and in modern times by digging up the past and reading in the remains and relics of civilizations of long ago the evidence that time and time again proves that the God of the Bible is God, that He is present in this world, and that His Hand continues to guide and shape the history of the world.
For Christianity … history matters. And through the stories and studies shared here, we will blow away the dust of accumulated ages and open a portal into the past, examine, explore, investigate, question, research and weigh all the evidence, thoroughly, honestly, and fairly. And there is a mountain of evidence to consider that will take us into every corner of the Roman/Jewish world where all these events took place, and in the course of these studies we will explore the history and background of the New Testament and everything that pertains to it. And with our studies, we will grow in the knowledge and understanding of those precious times and seasons of the life of Jesus so that we might know the truth of the history of our faith and of our observance of “those things most surely believed among us, even as they were delivered unto us, by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses …” Luke 1:1
May God the Father bless our studies through Jesus Christ our Lord, may His Spirit guide our minds and hearts to be open to the truth, that we may grow in the knowledge and understanding of the times and seasons of the life of the Master, may we be encouraged, edified, and inspired so that day by day we might be transformed in spirit into the image of Jesus Christ. Amen~