Dec 24, 2008


Whose birthday is it?
The initial J didn't come until much later. That sound was foreign to Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Not even English distinguished J from I until the mid-17th century. Thus, the 1611 King James Bible refers to Jesus as "Iesus" and his father as "Ioseph." The current spelling likely came from Switzerland, where J sounds more like the English Y. When English Protestants fled to Switzerland during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I, they drafted the Geneva Bible and used the Swiss spelling. Translators in England adopted the Geneva spelling by 1769.
And when was that exactly?
"In 2BC, Jupiter – the 'king of the planets' – met up with one of the brightest stars in the sky – Regulus, known by the Persian Magi as the 'little king' in the eastern sky.
"Nine months later, the same planet Jupiter, travelling towards the West, met up with Venus, known by the Magi as the 'mother planet'.
"The meeting of the king and mother of planets would have been highly significant – as was the timescale involved.
"To the naked eye, the planets would have seemed so close that they would have looked like one bright light in the sky."
Professor Larson believes it is this light – low down in the west of mid June of 2BC – which prompted the Magi to travel to Jerusalem where they met Herod, who, fearing a Messianic prophecy, pointed them towards Bethlehem.
He even asserts as the Magi travelled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, Jupiter continued to move across the sky until it reached its "retrograde stage" – a well known astronomical quirk – when it appeared to "stand still" in the sky. He claims this happened on December 25.
If this theory is right, then the first Christmas really did occur on the day we have come to celebrate it on.
Others believe Jesus was born in late spring, and that early followers "superimposed" the celebration of his birth onto the "established" Roman festival of December 25.
Whatever, whenever. Merry Christmas.

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