Fox News features Allison about the date of Jesus’ birth

Communications Staff — January 11, 2012

Fox News featured Southern Seminary’s Gregg Allison in a segment about the date of Jesus’ birth, which aired Dec. 21, 2011.

A few days before the Christmas holiday, Fox News ran “The Back Story: December the 25th,” in which reporter Lauren Green poses a question about the date of the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth: “How did Christians settle on Dec. 25 as Jesus birthday?”

The story opens with David Silverman, president of American Atheists, talking about the early church’s alleged usurping of pagan celebrations in the name of their newfound faith.

“Saturnalias was always celebrated on December 25,” he said. “And it was celebrated with trees and gifts and songs and roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Christians came and, in an effort to grow Christianity, simply usurped those religions and they call it their own.”

Southern Seminary’s Gregg Allison, professor of Christian theology, disagrees.

“The early church, certainly in the third or fourth centuries, was not at all receptive to pagan practices,” Allison said. “In fact, the early church in this time denounced any association with paganism and pagan festival. So I don’t think that theory is very plausible.”

He goes on to explain how the church arrived at the date traditionally associated with Jesus’ birth.

“Here is the move the early church made,” Allison said. “It believed that Jesus was conceived on the same day that he was crucified. So the belief was that he was conceived on the 14th or 15th of Nisan, according to the Hebrew calendar. Translated, [Jesus] was conceived on March 25 on the Roman calendar. Fast forward nine months and we have the date of December 25.”

The full video and print versions of “The Back Story: December the 25th” are available at the Fox News Web site.

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