Dating the new testament gospels
E., when the apocryphal text known as the Epistle to the Apostles has Jesus instruct his disciples to “make commemoration of [his] death, that is, the Passover.” Jesus’ ministry, miracles, Passion and Resurrection were often of most interest to first- and early-second-century C. We can begin to see this shift already in the New Testament.
The earliest writings—Paul and Mark—make no mention of Jesus’ birth.
Yet most scholars would urge caution about extracting such a precise but incidental detail from a narrative whose focus is theological rather than calendrical. As far as we can tell, Christmas was not celebrated at all at this point.
The extrabiblical evidence from the first and second century is equally spare: There is no mention of birth celebrations in the writings of early Christian writers such as Irenaeus (c. This stands in sharp contrast to the very early traditions surrounding Jesus’ last days.
The Manichean Psalter, which contains some allusions to the content of Acts Andr.
(Allberry 1938: 142, 143, 192), establishes the 3d century as the terminus ad quem for the redaction of the apocryphon, but the Acts had to have originated earlier, between 150 and 200, closer to 150 than to 200.
Its observance could even be implied in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5:7–8: “Our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore let us celebrate the festival…”); it was certainly a distinctively Christian feast by the mid-second century C. But over time, Jesus’ origins would become of increasing concern.
Surprising as it may seem, Clement doesn’t mention December 25 at all.
On December 25, Christians around the world will gather to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Joyful carols, special liturgies, brightly wrapped gifts, festive foods—these all characterize the feast today, at least in the northern hemisphere. How did December 25 come to be associated with Jesus’ birthday?
This would have occurred on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan, just before the Jewish holiday began at sundown (considered the beginning of the 15th day because in the Hebrew calendar, days begin at sundown).
In Matthew, Mark and Luke, however, the Last Supper is held after sundown, on the beginning of the 15th.