Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Alexander Tille's Yule and Christmas; Chapters 1 and 2

I. The Germanic Year.

In the opening chapter Tille presents what is claimed as known about the native structuring of the Germanic year from Jacob Grimm, Karl Weinhold, Hermann Grotefend, and Heino Pfannenschmid contrasting these views with the actual known textual records from Tacitus through the close of the 18th century.

He concludes that one of the most common Germanic descriptions of the year through recorded history up to the Late Middle Ages is tripartite, with Tacitus,

“hence even the year itself is not divided by them into as many seasons as with us. Winter, spring, and summer have both a meaning and a name; the name and blessings of autumn are alike unknown.”

unde annum quoque ipsum non in totidem digerunt species: hiems et ver et aestas intellectum ac vocabula habent, autumni perinde nomen ac bona ignorantur.

Tacitus, Germania xxvi
Complete Works of Tacitus. Tacitus. Alfred John Church. William Jackson Brodribb. Lisa Cerrato. edited for Perseus. New York. : Random House, Inc. Random House, Inc. reprinted 1942.
Opera Minora. Cornelius Tacitus. Henry Furneaux. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 1900.

Tille also shows that the other most common ancient Germanic expression about the year was bipartite: winter-summer.

The ancient Germanic peoples also commonly wrote of the year in terms of winter v. summer, or in terms of three legal/economic periods. Examples of both usages together from the same regions and same periods are found in what are termed as “three-score-day tides” fitting a theory of a six-fold division of the year. The Roman notion of months with their individual names was adopted slowly and at different times in different regions. Records showing Germanic concern for solstices and equinoxes come into existence only after the adoption of Roman calendrical forms and Church usage.

Primary arguments supporting this are:

1. Three annual non-ordered law courts held.

Louis the Pious in 817 codifies already existing practice “in anno tria solummodo generalia placida” [Sohm, 398], a practice living into the 15th century. The change in terminology to suit the adoption of the Christian Liturgical calendar as well as Julian names is evident and late.

2. Records of economic history: Three annual accountings rather than four or two.

Anglo-Saxon period wages were paid three times a year. Tille gives five example quotations from Thorpe’s Ancient Laws and Institutes of England.

3. Etymological

While there are words for the bipartite and tripartite divisions, there are no early month names that fit the Roman structure. There are also no known names for the “three-score-day” periods. However, both Germanic terms and Roman month names are used in ways that indicate 60-day periods, and sometimes 90 day periods. For example:

der erst herbst is September, and der ander herbst October ...likewise there are numerous examples of November being called der erst winter, and December being called der ander winter.”(13f)

Tille gives dozens of examples and sources from various regions and periods. He states:

“There is nothing whatever in the Roman calendar which can be said to have been suggestive of that strange custom [of dual-naming to allow for three-score-day tides], so that we have good reason for claiming it as a relic of a pre-Roman Germanic usage. If it was able to influence the Roman calendar so far as to force upon it the three-score-day tide, it must needs have been most deeply rooted and firmly established among the Germanic tribes in East and West, North and South. Not only is the six-fold division of the Germanic year a most important fact in itself, but it also furnishes us with the means of reconciling the seeming contradiction, according to which the Germanics at the same time had a dual division and a tri-partition of the year. The units of which their year consisted were sixths, and it is apparent that of these tides either two could each time be grouped together to form thirds, or three could be grouped together each time to form halves. At the same time the simple fact of sixths being the units constituent of the Germanic year excludes any quartering of the year, since a quarter would consist of one-sixth and a half, and would thus most seriously interfere with the unity of the three-score-day tide.” (15f)

The implication for us here is that the early textual evidence would show that the ancient Germanic peoples did not leave any record to suggest that they originally followed a solar year with the solar quarters as seasons. Rather, Tille argued, the record strongly suggests that their annual reckoning was based on the “economic and climatic conditions”(16) of the geography they inhabited.

II. The Beginning of the Anglo-German Year

In the second chapter Tille turns to the question of when the Germans considered the turning of one year to the next. First pointing out that the Germanic tribes counted their days from the evening before, citing documents from before the Christianization of the Germanic peoples: Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum VI:xvii; Tacitus Germanica xi; as well as examples after Christianity began its spread among them: Bede’s A.D. 725 De Temporum Ratione, ch. 5 de Dies cites Leviticus 22:32 showing this practice is consistent with Church practice, that of the Jews, and of ancient Israel; the 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle giving many examples of the daily reckoning; and later Anglo usages such as fortnight, and the Twelve-nights of Christmas.

Tille shows that they also reckoned their years by the winter beginning them: a practice also common with other cultural groups as evidenced by A.D 1st century Roman authors, Manilius’ Astronomicon, and Martial. But this stands in contrast to the Julian practice of beginning the year at the Kalends of January (January 1); also evidenced in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

His argument is that the previously demonstrated bi- and tri-partite Germanic divisions of the year rule out the Roman solar quartering of the year.

The question then is when did the Germanic peoples consider the beginning of winter? Here the three groupings of evidence from the first chapter also come to bear. The general climates of the regions inhabited by the Germanic peoples from the Roman period and later strongly suggest early to mid-November as the beginning of winter. Gothic writings from the sixth century demonstrate that the beginning of their Iiuleis tide (beginning of winter) was nearly equal that of Roman November and December, with November being called fruma Iiuleis. A surviving Gothic calendar marks St. Andrew’s day as Fruma Iiuleis 31, in our reckoning: November 30th.

Tille states that this strongly suggests that the “the Goths of the sixth century had taken over the Roman calendar, naming the Roman months by the home-made names of those Germanic tides which approximately covered them. It by no means follows from this fact that each of the Germanic pre-Roman three-score-day tides exactly covered two Roman months.”(19) Variability between Germanic month names for their Roman near equivalent shows that the beginnings of Roman months were not the same as the Germanic beginnings of tides or months. They could be half a month out of sync. So, for example, while the Goths began Iiuleis at the beginning of Roman November, the Anglo-Saxons began Geola at the start of Roman December. Suggesting that mid-November was more appropriately the approximate time when this “Yule” tide began and extended over the three-score-day tide until about January 15th.

Tille reports that a century before his own studies the Icelandic scholar, Fin Magnusen had written that the start of the year for Germanic tribes was about Advent tide, which began the Sunday after Martinmas (November 11). This is supported by several other lines of evidence including some from the 14th century at the monastery of St. Viktor, Xanten, Rhineland. Rhymes from the Middle Ages might also be enlisted as Tille cites from Graesse:

“Sanct Märten Miss
Is der Winter wiss”

Karl Weinhold tries to maintain that Germans started the new year on St. Michael’s (September 29) which is close to the Roman solar quarter day. But Tille points out that Weinhold does this without listing any evidence. Tille resorts to a personal attack in response to Weinhold’s proposal: “Only a man who has never in his life left his study for fresh air can maintain that winter began at the close of September!” (21f) He follows this with a cutting, though not necessarily even-handed, analysis of Weinhold’s inconsistent reconstruction.

Tille then closes the chapter by postulating that an original bi- and tri-partite year would show itself “in legal institutions, in popular tradition, in folk-belief and rustic custom, in festivals and bonfires, and, last but not least, in ecclesiastical habits which, as far as they were created after the fifth century of our era, reflect an enormous amount of Germanic tradition and thought.”(23)

In particular he will focus on Martinmas and the traditions surrounding that date in order to demonstrate that Martinmas absorbed these traditions from the old Germanic new year.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Baptism in the New Living Translation

I received a question on the value of the New Living Translation. Don't use it. It is synergistic, promoting works righteousness. It is not a translation but an agenda driven twisting of Scripture.

Here are passages on Baptism in the NLT with comparison with NKJV. Baptism is made into a work to show God sincerity and dedication, faith is separated from Baptism.

Mark 1:4 

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

Mark 1:5
Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

Mark 16:16
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.

Lk 3:3 
And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins
Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

Acts 2:38
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:24 24
after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 
Before he came, John the Baptist preached that all the people of Israel needed to repent of their sins and turn to God and be baptized. 

Acts 18:8
Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.

Acts 19:4
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.”

Acts 22:16
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.’

1 Corinthians 10:2
all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses.

1 Peter 3:21
There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Alexander Tille's Yule and Christmas; Introduction

Did Christianity Steal the Date of Pagan Germanic Winter Solstice Celebrations?

This is the first in a series of articles summarizing and reviewing Alexander Tille's valuable research Yule and Christmas, Their Place in the Germanic Year, published 1899.
One major attack on the authenticity of the Christian faith centers on the claim that  Holy Days and their traditions originated in the calendar, naming and traditions of ancient Germanic/Scandinavian paganism. The claims are so pervasive throughout academic and popular literature that many people assume the claims have been historically demonstrated and are without any possible doubt.

The claims of Germanic origin are made despite the historical facts that Christmas and the choice of December 25th and the Holy Days keyed to it originated in the Church based on its theological understanding of the dating of Passover, at a time prior to Constantine, and from diverse non Germanic areas such as Rome, throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, Syria, and North Africa. [see articles on Christmas, Annunciation, and St. John's Day]

The claims of Germanic origin are also made without actual textual evidence in writings from the Germanic regions and periods that should be the basis for such claims.

But researching these claims is hard and time-consuming work. Most people who read and share these false claims simply trust that the research had actually been done. Even if one had wondered about the truth of such claims most of us cannot afford the time to acquire the skills and resources to put together the documents necessary to challenge them. And since these claims seem such a foregone conclusion often the Shepherds of the Christian Church simply accept the misinformation handed down to them from the scholars of Romanticism and Modernism.

But every once in a while that research is rewarded by the discovery of a long neglected text locked away in some footnote. Alexander Tille’s Yule and Christmas, Their Place in the Germanic Year, published 1899, is just such a gem. And it is available free at the Internet Archive:

I first became aware of Tille’s work reading Ronald Hutton’s Stations of the Sun (1996: p. 6, 39, 180). Hutton first enlists Tille in Stations with respect to the nature of the Anglo-Saxon evidence surrounding Modranicht. He points out that the modern understanding of the information might seem

“perfectly straightforward, but conceals difficulties which were thoroughly exposed in 1889 by Alexander Tille. He pointed out that Bede’s knowledge of these earlier practices had been very sketchy and that Bede himself had admitted that he understood imperfectly the significance of the little he knew. Tille suggested that it was possible that the festival described by Bede had simply been the Christian feast of the Nativity, and that the ‘Mother’ concerned was the Virgin Mary. …”(p. 6)

Regarding the Yule Clog or Christmas log tradition, the Modern and Romantic scholars claimed Germanic pagan origin of a winter fire at the solstice or the various so-called “pagan fire rituals from ancient Europe”, but Hutton wrote:

“Objections may be raised against both. Alexander Tille pointed out in 1889 that, whereas there is no record of the custom in Britain before 1600, the earliest one in Germany comes from 1184, and subsequent medieval references to it are found there. He suggested, plausibly, that it might have been introduced to Britain from Germany after the end of the Middle Ages.” (p. 39)

Hutton's third reference to Tille is with respect to the Germanic name for the Church’s Festival of the Resurrection. Whereas in most cultures the name derives from the Hebrew for Passover, such as Paska; in Germanic areas, including England, the name is derived from Eøstur-month as in Bede’s De Temporum Ratione. Hutton wrote:

“This passage [of Bede] has been so often quoted without any inspection or criticism that it is necessary to stress that it is subject to all the reservations lodged by Tille against Bede’s assertions concerning the ‘Mother Night’, cited in the section dealing with Christmas. It falls into that category of interpretations which Bede admitted to be his own, rather than generally agreed or proven facts.”(p. 180)

These three citations from Hutton certainly make the case that Tille’s book is solid research worth the time of investigating, even if Hutton is not making a wholesale endorsement of everything Tille wrote in this particular book.

My goal here is to present summaries and review of each of Tille’s chapters so that those who desire to be better able to refute the false claims can find the information they need more quickly.
Tille’s book consists of fifteen interrelated topical studies followed by a chapter stating his conclusions. The topical studies stand each on their own. This means they overlap somewhat with a small amount of repetition in argument and evidence.

Tille’s research and listing of sources make this volume particularly valuable to anyone who wishes to research the development of the Christian liturgical year in the Western Church.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels

These are notes for the historic 1-year lectionary from Luther’s Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, compiled from his works by Rev E. Mueller, pastor in Guetersloh, Germany.
Translated by Rev. P. Anstadt, D.D., 1899

Luther's Notes on the Gospels

2 Thess. 1:8 ὑπακούουσιν "hearken to" the Gospel

A note on verse 8 of the 2nd Last Sunday of the Church Year Epistle: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10
καὶ τοῖς μὴ ὑπακούουσιν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ
And to those who did not hearken to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus
ὑπακούουσιν is often rendered "obey," but more properly to the context it should be rendered something like "hearken to" as in He 5:8 and 9 [Easter 5] the use of "obey" seem particularly problematic.
Those passages in context state:
8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience τὴν ὑπακοήν by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing ταῖς ἀκοαῖς.
The passage is very reminiscent of the content of the Farewell Discourse in John: Particularly John 15:16 “for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you,” and John 16:12-15. This is also the theme of the High Priestly Prayer in John 17, for example:
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
In any case, here in 2 Thess 1:8 as in Hebrew 5:9 “He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν Him” only really works if the semantic content of “obey” includes the idea of trusting in the Promise of forgiveness in the Gospel. In each of these cases “listen to” or “hearken” would work much better. It embraces the need for obedience to the Law without obscuring the Gospel.
Another example of the use of ὑπήκουσεν in He 11:8 [Easter 3] is interesting, because here the translation “obey” might be understood correctly in English. The context shows how God's calling was to a promise. Yet, because of the theological problems exhibited both by the sinful nature and by other poorly translated passages it might be best to just say “By faith Abraham hearkened when he was called to go out...”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

הַחֵלֶק הַשְּׁלִשִׁי עַל־הַקֹּדֶשׁ

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הַחֵלֶק הַשְּׁלִשִׁי עַל־הַקֹּדֶשׁ׃
אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ׃
אֶת־קָדוֹשׁ קָהָל
הַכֻּלּוֹ הַחֶבְרַת הַקְּדוֹשִׁים׃
אֶת־סְלִיחַת חֲטָאִים
אֶת־תְּקוּמַת הַבָּשָׂר׃
וְאֶת־חַיִּי עֹלָמִים

מָה זֶה הוּא׃
אֲנִי מַאֲמִין כִּי־לֹא בָּיַד הַשֵׂכֶל אֲשֶׁר לִי
אוֹ בְכֹחִי אוּכָל לְהַאֲמִין בְּיֵשׁוּעַ מָשִׁיחַ אֲדֹנִי אוֹ לָבוֹא אֵלָיו ׃
כִּי־אִם הָרוֹחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ בִּבְשֹוֹרָה קְרָאַנִי
וּבְמַתְּנוֹתָיו הֱאִירָנִי
וּבִישָׂרָה אֱמוּנָא הִקְדִּישַׁנִי וּשְׁמָרַנִי
כַּאֲשֶׁר אֶת־כָּל־מַקְהֵל קְדוֹשִׁים עַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָאָרֶץ קוֹרֵא הוּא 1
מְאַסֵּף מֵאִיר מַקְדִּישׁ וּבִישָׁרָה וְיחִירָה אֱמוּנָה לַיֵּשׁוּעַ מָשִׁיחַ שׁוֹמֵר ׃
אֲשֶׁר מַקְהֵל בּוֹ לְכָל־חַטֹּאתָי
וְלַעֲוֹנוֹת כָּל־מַאֲמִינִים יוֹם יוֹם בְּעֹשֶׁר סוֹלֵחַ הוּא
וּבְאַחֲרִית הָעֹלָם אוֹתִי ׃
וְאֶת־כָּל־מֵתִים יָקִים
וְלִי יַחַד עִם כָּל־מַאֲמִינִים בְּמָשִׁיחַ אֶת־חַיֵּי עֹלָמִים יִתֵּן ׃
נֶאֱמָן מַאֲמָר הַזֶּה׃
1הוּה is printed in the original text.

transcribed from
Catechesis D. Martini Lutheri Minor Germanice, Latine, Graece & Ebraice Martin Luther translated by Johannes Clajus, Wittenberg, January 1, 1594 

Friday, July 22, 2016

הַחֵלֶק הַשֵּׁנִי עֲל־פְּדוּת

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 הַחֵלֶק הַשֵּׁנִי עֲל־פְּדוּת׃1

וּבְיֵשׁוּעַ מָשִׁיחַ בְּנוֹ יָחִיד אֲדֹנֵינוּ׃
אֲשֶׁר הוֹרָה מֵרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְנֹלַד מִמִּרְיָם הָעַלְמָה׃
וְסָבַל תַּחַת פּוֹנְטִיוּס פִּילָטוּס נִצְלַב מֵת וְנִקְבַּר
וְיָרַד אֶל־שְׁאֹל
וּבְיוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי קָם מֵאֶת־הַמֵּתִים׃
וְעָלָה אֶל־שָׁמַיִם
וְיוֹשֵׁב לִימִין אֵל הָאָב שַׁדָּיֽ׃
וּמִשָּׁם2 יָבוֹא לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת־חַיִּים וְאֶת־מֵתִיֽם׃

מָה זֶה הוּא׃


אֲנִי מַאֲנֱין כִּי יְשׁוּעַ מָשִׁיחַ
נֶאֱמַן אֵל מֵאָב מֵעוֹלָם נוֹלָד
וְגַם נֶאֱמַן אֱנוֹשׁ מֵעַלְמָה מִרְיָם נוֹלָד
אֲדֹנִי הוּא
אֲשֶׁר אוֹתִי בֵן אֲבַדּוֹן וְעֹנֵשׁ פָּרָה
וּמִכָּל־חֲטָאוֹת מִמָּוֶת וּמִיַּד הַשֵּׂד הִצִּילֵנִי
אֵין בְּזָהָב אוֹ בְכֶסֶף
כִּי־אִם בְּקָדוֹשׁ וְיָקָר דָּמוֹ וּבְנָקִי יִסּוּרוֹ וּמוֹתוֹ
לִהְיוֹתִי סְגֻלָּתוֹ
וְלִחְיוֹתֵי בְמַלְכּוּתוֹ3 תַחְתָּיו
וּלְעַבְדֵּהוּ בִצְדָּקָה וּבִנְקָיוֹן וּבַתְּשׁוּעָה לְעוֹלָם
כָּמוֹהוּ קָם מִמָּוֶת חוֹיֶה וּמוֹלֵךְ לְעוֹלָם׃
נֶאֱמָן מַאֲמָר הַזֶּה׃

2וּמִשָׁׂם is printed in the original text

3בְמַלְכּוּתִי is printed in the original text

transcribed from
Catechesis D. Martini Lutheri Minor Germanice, Latine, Graece & Ebraice Martin Luther translated by Johannes Clajus, Wittenberg, January 1, 1594