Thursday, April 13, 2017

1854 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles

From Tregelles' Preface to his 1854 An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament.

A bit on the importance of knowing Biblical languages and the texts of the Bible in those languages:
THIS Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament is intended to give a correct statement of facts and principles, brought down to the present time, for the use of Christian biblical students.  
It is of great importance for such to be thoroughly and fundamentally instructed in subjects of criticism, for this is a department of biblical learning which can never be safely neglected; and if Holy Scripture is valued as being the revelation of God concerning his way of salvation through faith in the atonement of Christ, then whatever is needed for wisely maintaining its authority, even though at first sight it may seem only to bear on the subject indirectly, will be felt to be of real importance.  
Forms of antagonism to the authority of Scripture have indeed varied.  
There have been those who, with tortuous ingenuity, charged the inspired writers with deception and dishonesty, and who first devised the term "Bibliolatry," as a contemptuous designation for those who maintained that it was indeed given forth by the Holy Ghost: these opponents might well have been confuted by the contrast presented between what they were, and the uprightness and holiness inculcated by those writers of the Bible whom they despised.  
There have been argumentative sceptics, men who could ingeniously reason on the Zodiac of Denderah, and other ancient monuments, as if they disproved the facts of Scripture: God has seen fit that such men should be answered by continuous discoveries, such as that of Dr. Young, by which the hieroglyphics of Denderah were read, so that the supposed argument only showed the vain confidence of those who had alleged it.  
The Rationalistic theory has endeavoured to resolve all the Scripture narrations into honest but blind enthusiasm, and extreme credulity.  
The Mythic hypothesis has sought to nullify all real objective facts, and thus to leave the mind in a state of absolute Pyrrhonism, in certainty as to nothing, except in the rejection of the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and of all that testifies to Him as the Messiah.  
And yet more recently, Spiritualism has advanced its claims, borrowing much from preceding systems of doubt and negation, and taking its name and, in many points, its avowed principles, from those very Scriptures whose claims it will not admit. It would have a Christianity without Christ; it would bring man to God, but without blood of atonement; it would present man with divine teaching and guidance, while it denies the true divine teacher, the Holy Ghost, who, when He works on the heart, ever does it by glorifying Jesus; it would adopt ethics from revelation, without admitting that they have been revealed; and it would demand holiness, and that without the knowledge of God's love, from which alone it can spring, without the apprehension of those hopes by which it can be sustained, and without owning that power from above by which alone it can have a reality.  
Such have been successive, or in part rival and mutually antagonistic, rulers of the Olympus of scepticism and infidelity; systems which profess to be new, and which seek to establish this claim by recklessly rejecting the basis of all known and long-cherished truth.  
And even now, perhaps, that boasted cry of "progress," so often heard, without regard to holiness and truth, and which is reiterated by those who seek to conceal, even from themselves, their own superficial pretensions, and to hinder others from knowing their utter want of principle, may have raised up some yet newer claimant to dethrone preceding systems, in the vain thought of maintaining a triumphant rule.  
In one thing, and one only, have these forms of opposition been agreed: they have all of them re-echoed the serpent's first whisper of doubt and lying, "YEA, HATH GOD SAID?" 
It behoves those who value the revelation of God in his word, both for their own sakes and on account of others, to be really grounded in biblical study: that which is merely superficial will not suffice; it would only be enough to enable the sharpness of the edge of sceptical objections to be felt, causing, perhaps, serious injury, without giving the ability needed to turn the weapon aside: while, on the other hand, fundamental acquaintance with the subject may, through God s grace, enable us so to hold fast the Scripture as a revelation of objective truth, as to be a safeguard both to ourselves and to others.  
The truth of God is as a rock assailed by waves; each in succession may seem to overwhelm it, but the force of each is in measure spent on that which has preceded it, and modified by that which follows. Each wave may make wild havoc amongst the detached pebbles at its base, while the rock itself is unmoved and uninjured. It is as thus knowing our grounds of certainty, that we have to maintain the Scripture as God's revealed truth.  
Some have, indeed, looked at critical studies as though they were a comparatively unimportant part of biblical learning. This must have arisen from not seeing the connection between things which are essentially conjoined. These studies contain the elements of that which has to be used practically for the most important purposes. They are the basis on which the visible edifice must rest. The more we rightly regard Holy Scripture as the charter of that inheritance to which we look forward, and which we know as given at the price of the Saviour's blood, the more shall we be able to estimate the importance of TEXTUAL CRITICISM, by which we know, on grounds of ascertained certainty, the actual words and sentences of that charter in the true statement of its privileges, and in the terms in which the Holy Ghost gave it.  
S. P. T.
PLYMOUTH, April 25, 1854. 

I appreciate this preface and find the insight very valuable. But I caution the reader about the final sentence. Tregelles was working with a background in Presbyterian and Anglican Calvinism. The Sovereignty of God takes front position in his system. Derived from this notion of God's sovereignty is a Calvinistic rationalism which would allow him to make a claim that Scripture can only be established by reason. And that establishing Scripture through reason is prior to faith. In this way he makes faith the result of an act of the human intellect. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Samhain and The Mound of Hostages, Tara, Ireland

Dumha na nGiall, Mound of the Hostages
An interesting claim about the ancientness of Samhain is made on the Knowth website. On their page for Tlachtga - Hill of Ward, they have a photo of sunrise light hitting part of the back of a small passage grave known as the Mound of Hostages. The photo was reported to be taken on Nov. 1, or the modern day of Samhain.

This mound is dated archaeologically to about 5,000 years before present. That's still 3,000 years before known Celts, and 4,000 years before documentation on Samhain.

Here's what they say on the page:
The Stone Age Mound of the Hostages is also aligned with the Samhain sun rise. The following image was photographed by Martin Dier, it shows the sunbeam illuminating the back of the chamber. The illumination is impaired by the modern gate at the entrance of the passage. 
Among the rest of their arguments supporting Samhain on the page, this tomb would seem to lend support for the notion that Samhain is far more ancient than Christianity.

So let's look at a map of the site:
The original map is the black and white. I added the features in color. Here's the issue. I'm not able to go to Ireland for all these days to make sure that this is possible. But I want to find out whether or not the sunrise hits the back of the passage grave on any other days. This is mathematical, not an actual experiment.

  • The Blue Line is the meridian at -6.6117,20 deg.
  • The Red Line is the Southern most angle from which part of the back of the tomb is partially lit. Angle A to B is 54 degrees.
  • The Green line is the Northern most angle from which part of the back of the tomb is partially lit. Angle A to C is 76 degrees.
  • That gives us 23 degrees from North to South and then again from South to North where the sun can rise and illuminate the back of this tomb.

One of the difficulties in evaluating a claim like this the general difficulty of verification. Mathematical is as close as I can get. The horizon on a smooth area of the earth is 7 miles. But there is nothing really to block the sunrise, Tara is a hill, and this is a mound on top of the hill. Google Earth even has a panoramic hilltop view.



I used Sun Calc Net at the location of the grave and chose ranges of dates. This website calculates the angle of sunrise, sunset, etc, for any Gregorian date. But I'm using a physical protractor on the screen to get my angles. So you astronomy types can jump in here to suggest the correct angles.

Sun Calc set to The Mound of Hostages on Nov 1, 2016
http://suncalc.net/#/53.5795,-6.6117,20/2017.11.01/12:25 
This is about 65 degrees from South.

So, in the Autumn, by the math, this should be what happens:

  • From just after October 15 the sun rises at about 76 deg from the south.

http://suncalc.net/#/53.5795,-6.6117,20/2017.10.15/12:25

  • At this point the light of the sunrise should start to cover the back of the tomb.
  • The back of the tomb should continue to be at least partially covered by light from the sunrise until December 10th when the sun starts to pass 54 degrees from the south. That's about 45 or more days.

http://suncalc.net/#/53.5795,-6.6117,20/2017.12.10/12:25


And after the winter solstice the sun starts to go back north on the horizon.

  • It crosses 54 degrees from the south some time around January 9th.
  • From that time until it crosses about 76 degrees from the south around February 20th the sunrise should beam its new dawn somewhere on the backstone of the tomb. That should be about 40 days.
  • You've got the links now to the tool, check the data for yourself.


I know my crude angle maths are off a bit. They could be refined. But let's round down to say that the sunrise probably shows on this backstone for around 80 to 85 days during the whole year, split fairly equally during two different general seasons.

Once we realize this, is there anything really special about the Gregorian date of Nov 1 (Modern Samhain) in the construction of this tomb?

Not really. The Knowth website has a picture from Nov 1 with sunrise light hitting the backstone. A feat that can be done for almost 1/4th of the whole year.

No there isn't anything special about Samhain in this tomb.
Why should there be? If the archaeological dating is correct this tomb is 3,000 years pre-Celtic and 4,000 year pre-Samhain.

Remember, what we actually know of the origins of the Celtic calendar show that it was lunar. The Celts in Ireland and the British Isles appear to have adopted the solar calendar at the same time they adopted Christianity. This was certainly the main cultural process with the Germans and the Franks adopting the Julian calendar. Certainly it was also with the Gregorian reforms for Ireland and the rest of Europe.


----Additional notes:

I found this description on the BoyneValleyTours.com website:
The Mound of the Hostages
The importance of the Hill of Tara predates Celtic times, the oldest monument on the hill is a Neolithic passage tomb known as the Mound of the Hostages, built about 5000 year ago. It is circular in form, roughly fifteen metres in diameter and three metres high. It is built in the same style as the Newgrange tomb, although on a much smaller scale. The structure is dome-shaped with an inset for the entrance and a small doorway, set almost one metre into the side of the monument. The doorway is framed with undecorated standing stones. As with other passage tombs the entrance is aligned with the rising sun at certain times of the year, in this case the chamber is illuminated on the mornings around Samhain (early November) and Imbolc (early February). Inside, the passage into the Mound of the Hostages stretches for four metres in length, one metre in width, and is 1.8 metres (6 feet) high. It contains decorated stones with images of swirls and circles. 

There are two things to note:
1. The page acknowledges that the tomb gets light from the rising sun for several days before and after Samhain, not just on Samhain: also getting sun in for many days around the start of February. I have summarized the ancient sources on Imbolc/Candlemas/Presentation/St. Brigit's Day here.

2. The page states: "As with other passage tombs the entrance is aligned with the rising sun at certain times of the year." All I think can really be said is that from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice there is a range of about 90 degrees through which the sunrise travels on successive days, the sunset also. Roughly put, any tomb with an opening facing toward the Northeast through the Southeast will have some range of days in which the sunrise shines through the entrance down the passage, if the passage is somewhat straight. For sunsets the same is true but from the Northwest to the Southeast. If the tomb's entrance alignment falls between the Southeast and Southwest there will be some range of successive days where the noon sun will do the same. Whether sunrise, sunset, or noon, any tomb opening not facing between the Northwest and Northeast will have some day or range of days that sunlight will come into the entrance for a ways.

I would suggest that perception bias based in ritual/calendar dates that have become more important culturally in recent decades influences the interpretation of the Mound of Hostages.

For those who are interested: a useful study on the orientation of the openings of passage tombs was published recently by Frank Prendergast, "Interpreting Megalithic Tomb Orientations and Siting Within Broader Cultural Contexts" Modern Archaeoastronomy: From Material Culture to Cosmology IOP Publishing, Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 2016.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Audio Church Fathers

Writings of the First Century, Apostolic Fathers

This list will be edited and added to as more audio sources are found. The summaries for the items are from the descriptions by the person who uploaded them.

The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians

  • First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians recorded Apr 12, 2008
    Librivox recording of The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians from the Roberts-Donaldson Version. Read by Sam Stinson . "First Clement is one of the oldest Christian documents outside the New Testament canon. The epistle was written by Clement, one of the elders of the church of Rome, to the church in Corinth, where it was read for centuries. Indeed, historians generally hold First Clement to be an authentic document dating from the first century. From the fifth century to the...
  • Ante-Nicene Fathers - Volume 1 - The 1st Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians - Complete from Chapters 1 through 59 read by Peter-John Parisis, Sep 18, 2012
  • Ancient Church Fathers - Ante-Nicene Fathers - Volume 1 - The 1st Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians - Preface through Chapter 17 - uploaded by Peter-John Parisis, Dec 29, 2011

The Second Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians

  • no audio found yet

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus

  • Letter to Diognetus recorded Nov 3, 2008
    The earliest known piece of Christian apologetics, famous for its beautiful description of the relationship of Christians with the world. "Mathetes" is probably a pseudonym; it just means 'disciple'. The writer is a bit odd, as he uses arguments from the Old Testament against Greek idolatry, and then criticizes Jewish customs as if he discounted the Old Testament's inspiration. He also exhibits a touch of Greek or Manichaean distrust of the material body. But his enthusiasm for Jesus...
  • The Epistle To Diognetus Read By Peter John Parisis, Oct 1, 2016

The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

  • The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians  recorded Jun 24, 2008
    LibriVox recording of The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, from Vol 1 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited and translated by Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D. Read by Sam Stinson. Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians (often simply called To the Philippians) composed around 110 to 140 AD [1] is described by Irenaeus as follows: There is also a forceful epistle written by Polycarp to the Philippians, from which those who wish to do so, and are anxious about their salvation,...

The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrnam 
  • no audio found yet
Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp

  • The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, recorded  May 17, 2006
    A description by early Christians of the death of St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey), in about AD 155. Includes a classic explanation of why a martyr's remains were important, and relates martyrdom to the Eucharistic liturgy.

The Epistles of Ignatius

  • The Epistles of Ignatius  recorded Oct 18, 2008
    LibriVox recording of The Epistles of Ignatius, translated by J.B. Lightfoot. Read by Sam Stinson. Ignatius of Antioch penned these letters to churches (Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, and Smyrnaeans) and Polycarp on his way to martyrdom. Ignatius was an apologist for the Episcopal style of church government (as opposed to sole rule by a council of presbyters) which developed in the late first or early second century. Eager to die in imitation of his Savior, it was...
  • The Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch recorded May 14, 2006
    On his way to martyrdom in Rome, Bishop Ignatius of Antioch (then in Syria; now Antakya, Turkey) wrote letters to the Church in several cities of the Empire. Seven of these letters survive. By the way, you'll notice that the good bishop is not shy about calling Jesus "God".

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians

  • To The Ephesians– Shorter Version = Chapters 01 through 21 being read by Peter-John Parisis from The Writings of Apostolic Fathers translated by Dr. Roberts, Dr. Donaldson, and Rev. F. Crombie 1867, Aug 4, 2014

The Second Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians

  • no audio found yet

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians

  • no audio found yet

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans

  • The Epistle Of Ignatius To The Romans Read Mar 26, 2016 by Peter-John Parisis - Shorter Version - dated 1867 - Translated by Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D.
  • "The Epistle of St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Romans" Oct 11, 2005 Facing martyrdom -- okay, running toward it with open arms -- the old Syrian bishop, once a disciple of the Apostle John, still took time to write letters to the Christians in various cities. Here's the one he wrote to the Church in Rome.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

The Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp

  • no audio found yet

The Third Epistle of Ignatius

  • no audio found yet

The Epistle of Barnabas 

  • The Epistle Of Barnabus - The Ancient Church Fathers recorded Jul 25, 2014
    Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 1 – Church Fathers - 21 Chapters The Epistle of Barnabas (Greek: Επιστολή Βαρνάβα, Hebrew: איגרת בארנבס‎) is a Greek epistle containing twenty-one chapters, preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament. It is traditionally ascribed to Barnabas who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, although some ascribe it to another Apostolic Father of the same...

Fragments of Papias 

  •  Fragments of Papias Read By Peter John Parisis Oct 17, 2016: Papias - he was a disciple of Jesus' disciples and wrote down everything he heard from them.  These are the only writings we have left of his.

The First Apology of Justin

  • The First Apology of Justin Martyr uploaded Oct 20, 2008 LibriVox recording of The First Apology of Justin Martyr , by Saint Justin Martyr. The purpose of the Apology is to prove to the emperors, renowned as upright and philosophical men, the injustice of the persecution of the Christians, who are the representatives of true philosophy … Christians are the true worshipers of God, the Creator of all things; they offer him the only sacrifices worthy of him, those of prayer and thanksgiving, and are taught by his Son, to whom they assign a place next... 

The Second Apology of Justin 

  • The Second Apology by St. Justin Martyr, uploaded Nov 12, 2009
    LibriVox recording of The Second Apology by St. Justin Martyr. Read by M. White. A defense of the Christian faith delivered by St. Justin Martyr to the Roman Senate in the second century AD (Summary by IWYLLPA) 

Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew

Readings from the literature podcast Dead White Guys:
  •  Episode #5 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 1 -4
  •  Episode #6 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 5 - 8
  •  Episode #7 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 9 - 12
  •  Episode #8 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 13 - 16
  •  Episode #9 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 17-20
  •  Episode #10 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 21-24
  •  Episode #11 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 25 - 28
  •  Episode #12 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 29 - 32
  •  Episode #13 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 33 - 36
  •  Episode #14 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 37 - 40
  •  Episode #15 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 41 - 44
  •  Episode #16 Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho the Jew Chapters 45 - 48

Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin

  • no audio found yet

Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection

  • no audio found yet

The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs

  • no audio found yet

Irenaeus Against Heresies

  • Against Heresies recorded May 21, 2010
    LibriVox recording of Against Heresies, by Irenaeus. St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, describes several schools of Gnosticism which were prevalent among pre-Nicene Christianity. He then refutes these beliefs as heresies by contrasting them with what he describes as catholic, orthodox Christianity. Against Heresies demonstrates that earliest Christianity was a fascinating and diverse plethora of beliefs, debates, and schisms. (Summary by JoeD) For further information, including links to online... 

Irenaeus Against Heresies Book I

  • Against Heresies (Book I)  recorded May 20, 2006
    The classic 2nd century study and analysis of Christian Gnosticism in all its extant variants, as collected both from Gnostic writings and discussions with Gnostic teachers (as well as ex-Gnostics). Since Irenaeus was studying Gnosticism to help others change Gnostics' minds, he strove for as much accuracy as possible in his account. And in fact, you will find that his account of Gnosticism tallies closely with that of the recently rediscovered Gnostic writings. 

Irenaeus Against Heresies Book II

  • Against Heresies (Book II)  recorded Jul 4, 2006
    Now that Irenaeus has given us a rundown on Gnostic teachers, beliefs, and practices, he moves to suggesting arguments against such beliefs. These arguments also provide an interesting look at theology in Irenaeus' day. 

Irenaeus Against Heresies Book III

  • Against Heresies (Book III) recorded Sep 12, 2006
    He's talked about why the Gnostics are wrong about God. Now it's time for Irenaeus to talk about what the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Tradition of the Church have to say. .

Irenaeus Against Heresies Book IV

  • Against Heresies (Book IV) recorded Dec 6, 2006
    In this volume of Against Heresies , Irenaeus uses Jesus' statements quoted in the Gospel to argue against the Gnostics' interpretation of Jesus. He emphasizes the continuity of the Old Testament with the New, and the ways the Son made appearances or was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. (For some reason, none of my more recent audiobooks have been put into the Maria Lectrix section by the nice archive.org folks. .

Irenaeus Against Heresies Book V

  • Against Heresies (Book V) recorded Jun 27, 2007
    Against Heresies concludes with a volume on the meaning of Jesus' teachings and Paul's epistles, refuting the rather farfetched readings of the Gnostics. There's plenty of interesting information on the stuff that early Christians did believe, too! .

Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus

  • no audio found yet

The Didache

  • The Didache recorded May 30, 2008
    LibriVox recording of The Didache, from the Roberts-Donaldson translation. Read by Sam Stinson. The Didache is the common name of a brief early Christian treatise (dated by most scholars to the late first or early second century), containing instructions for Christian communities. The text, parts of which may have constituted the first written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian lessons, rituals such as baptism and eucharist, and Church organization. It was considered by...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Alexander Tille's Yule and Christmas; Chapter 7

VII. Solstices and Equinoxes

In this chapter Tille takes on the notion that the ancient pagan German religions were somehow solar based. The chapter is worth reading on its own simply because the false claims Tille rebuts are expressed today in the same language and same reasoning. The only difference between the arguments then and now is that the names of the originators of this anachronistic mess have been nearly forgotten.

The primary scholars responsible for inventing and promoting these false ideas are Jacob Grimm (1785-1863), Heino Pfannenschmid (1828-1906) [the work], Hermann Grotefend (1845-1931)[the work], Karl Weinhold (1823-1901), and Ulrich Jahn (1861-1900) [the work].

Tille begins by lauding Grimm for his masterful scholarship while regretting Grimm’s tendency for unfounded speculation in several areas. Then he laments that prominent scholars chose to magnify the speculation rather than build on what Grimm had actually documented. Writing about Heino Phannenschmid and his “otherwise excellent book” states:

“It looks like a joke in the history of Germanic antiquarian studies, that the man who after Grimm made this subject his special study, and devoted years to it, should have wasted all his energy in the attempt to prove that the Germanics in pre-roman times had exactly the same year as the Romans; that they, therefore, had nothing to get from them, and rejoiced in quartering their year and celebrating imaginary solstices and equinoxes.” (p. 72)

Tille then reviews the seasonal relationship arguments and the textual evidence regarding the adoption of terms for the Summer Solstice. This required close contact with the Romans as well as the inventing of new terms for the Solstice in the various German dialects.

Tille follows with arguments from the existing linguistic data, which Grotefend had grossly misrepresented. Tille wrote:

“This amounts to the fact, that no medieval instance is known of December 25, or any of the days about it, having ever been called solstice in the German language: nay, that there is no medieval word wintersonnwende or the like, the corresponding term in the New-High-German being of quite modern growth. (p. 74)

Tille then documents the adoption of solar terms in the Anglo-Frisian dialects and others, demonstrating that the new terms for solstice were only used of the summer solstice and only after long term, close contact with Rome and the Church.

The discussion then turns to the terms for the equinoxes, where Tille emphasizes two main features of the data. First, that the term “sonnwende (solstice) though never used for winter solstice, is sometimes used for equinox, so that Germany can boast of having three solstices, which she certainly deserves on account of her ancient three seasons.” (p. 75)

But with respect to the regular use of terms for the equinoxes they do not appear in the German dialects until after the Church is educating the laity about how Easter should be calculated.

The last portion of the chapter is dedicated to debunking the notion that the German peoples were a sun-worshipping people.

“But, as regards Germanic tribes, that theory is so little applicable as to make it quite certain that among our ancestors the sun was no deity. We have not only absolutely no traces of sun worship among the Germanic nations, but even in historical times the sun has been of different gender in different German languages.” (pp. 76f)

He turns to the names of Germanic deities and the adoption of the Roman god day-names and the problems these present. The general acceptance of the Roman quarter days probably did not take place until after the eleventh century. There is no record of them before this time.

At this point Tille takes up the false history of Weinhold. Weinhold reads just like any modern Radical Reformed, Millerite, or Neopagan critique of Christian Holy Days:

“In his fanciful way he sets down the following bold guesses : [quoting Weinhold]
‘Midwinter and midsummer, Christmas and the feast of John Baptist, according to ecclesiastical denomination, stand out in the German year as very ancient high tides. Through the standing still of the sun, which, according to the opinion of that time, stopped in turning round to a new journey, the people felt themselves driven to solemn rest and the service of the deity of the sky which led the sun. Divination and prophecy prevailed during those tides, and with their mysterious thrill interrupted the noisy joy which wreathed round heathen sacrifices.’[thus far Weinhold]
Yet there is not a shadow of historical evidence for these fancies. The Germanics neither had a festival about Christmas nor about the day of John Baptist. The Twelve-nights, of which he talks a little further on, are simply the Dodekahemeron of the old Church, which existed there for centuries before they appeared among any Germanic tribe. Nay, all through the Middle Ages the term Sonnenwende, or solstice, has not a single time been shown to have been applied to December 25 : its use is absolutely restricted to June 24, just as the word solsticium was among the Romans.

Tille points out the problems with Weinhold’s interpretation of Bede’s comments on Ostara and Hreda. Then he turns to Weinhold’s great fiction in his Weihnacht-Spiele und Lieder aus Süddeutschland, rebuking Ulrich Jahn’s uncritical acceptance of Weinhold and his furtherance of “unhistorical speculations” about the so-called pre-Christian times.

This last bit begins on the bottom of page 79 and finishes on page 80.

“[H]e gives a still more enrapturing delineation of that alleged Germanic festival, without being in the least disturbed by the fact that such a thing never existed. There even the error occurs, that the solstice had been called Jul, accompanied by another, that the, winter solstice was the beginning of the Germanic year. We learn that that time was devoted to Wodan, and Fricke, or Holda, or Berchta or Hera, or Gode; that the boar (bär) led about through the village was not a boar at all, but a bear; that it was not the central figure of the procession, but probably merely accidental: and we have a hundred other products of unscientific imagination. The description given of the holy Twelve-nights of the Germanics is almost touching. That the Christmas fires have a close relation to the sun ; that yule has etymologically to do with wheel, that the Christmas tree is to be derived from Wodan; that a great number of the customs in use from Martinmas to Easter should properly be held on Christmas eve, or, at least, on the Twelve-nights; these and an extensive list of other most surprising fancies can be learned from that book. So the whole of the thirty-six pages which Professor Weinhold's disciple. Dr. Ulrich Jahn, in his book Die Deutschen opfergebräuche bei Ackerbau und Viehzucht, devotes to the offerings about the time of the winter solstice, contain, in so far as they are meant to apply to pre-Christian times, nothing but unhistorical speculations, and would have been better omitted from that book…”

The current notions about solar worship in pagan Germany are recent innovations, not history.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Alexander Tille's Yule and Christmas; Chapter 6

VI. Martinmas and Michaelmas

Tille begins this chapter by challenging the “opinion [that] Michaelmas is an older term and festival than Martinmas” which was advanced by Professor Karl Weinhold. Along with this theory of precedence Weinhold asserted that the traditions around Michaelmas were transferred to Martinmas. Tille argues from Weinholds evidence that Weinhold interpreted his data backward, and points out the Weinhold gives no evidence for the claim about the transference of traditions.

Hermann Grotefend also in his Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittelalters (1891) shared the same view as Weinhold that the Germans shifted the “beginning of winter from September 29 [Michaelmas] to November 11 [Martinmas], and add[ed] to it an imaginary shifting of the beginning of summer from April or Easter to the middle of May.” Add to this that those authors also knew about the Scandinavian shifting of the year to beginning in October 14 and mid-year to April 14. This Scandinavian shift of the year undercuts the argument Weinhold and Grotefend make because it is directly inconsistent with their theory of causes. (pp. 57f)

Tille demonstrates that Martinmas was actually the first of the two Holy Days established in the Germanic areas.

“Whilst Martinmas can be proved to have been a popular festival in 578 when the banqueting at Martinmas eve was forbidden by the Synod of Auxerre, it was not before the ninth century that the Church made an attempt to give to the end of the third quarter of the Roman year a special importance by a festival— that of St. Michael and of the angels and guardian angels in general— called in Germany Engelweihe or Fest der Engel. It was the Council of Mayence of 813 which added that angel-festival to two others (on March 15 and on May 2).” (p. 59)

And while Tille’s reference to just these documents would be adequate to resolve the issue, Tille produces dozens of quotations from period documents, enlisting liturgical practices, cannon law, economic law, tax law, lease law, and agriculture— citing the shift from pasturing to the development of the cultivation of meadows in the Carolingian age and its effects upon the timing of annual economic law and practice.  Indeed, while modern Neopagans project harvest festivals into the eras prior to Christian influence among the ancient Germanic and Celtic peoples, it is precisely this agricultural/economic shift which generates the ability of these peoples to have a significant, regular and planned harvest: and hence, some sort of regular festival surrounding harvests.

“Except Professor Weinhold, nobody doubts any longer the late origin of the harvest festivals.” (p. 64)

Tille’s evidence and line of reasoning would also apply to the modern anachronistic projection of Samhain as a harvest festival upon the early Celts. The change in agrarian/pastoral practice allowed for the wintering of more herd animals, giving rise to later and later “slaughter day” celebrations.

“The economic evolution, more especially the prevalence of agriculture over cattle-keeping, thus tended to destroy the ancient Germanic mid-November celebration, whilst favouring both a harvest festival held earlier in the year and the development of a festival about the middle of the German winter. (p. 70)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Alexander Tille's Yule and Christmas; Chapter 5

V. Martinmas, and the Dual Division of the Year

The focus of this chapter is on how the evidence speaks about at dual division of the year. Several significant points regarding this division were already brought forward in the preceding chapter.

The lines of evidence are texts from the periods under examination. The first set examined is economic records of taxation, then records of legal convocations. Tille notes “It took a very long time to uproot this institution [the Campus Martius assembly], and replace it by meetings held according to Roman quarters of years and Christian high festivals.”(p. 50)

Tille turns to the seasonal liturgical expressions of the churches found in the church Councils, Synods, and Canon Law. The documents bear witness to an overt changing of the calendar from a Germanic dual division toward a Roman liturgical division based more on quarters of years. Also, documents like the 578 Synod of Auxerre seem to show that the Church began to schedule meetings annual for priests at these same two time periods of mid-May and of abbots at the beginning of November. Again, the main text provides the thread of the argument and the footnotes contain the texts to which he refers.

This particular section contains many valuable references to the development of the Advent Season, the establishment of All Saints’ Day, and Rogation Days.

Tille suggests that the “Church sanctified the older Germanic celebrations of mid-May and mid-November by special litanies, so it took over the meetings wont to be held at those terms.” (p. 55) But it could also be that the Church took advantage of the common meeting times because it was simply easier, travel, room, and board were already in place and there was not a conflict with other major church festivals. If we might look at a current day example: today several church bodies schedule seasonal meetings in Las Vegas during certain times of the year, not because they are taking over or sanctifying those seasonal festivals celebrated by the natives of Las Vegas, but simply because it is more convenient and more economical to hold their meetings at this time.

Here Tille also briefly brings in evidence from the Germanic Yule Tide: “The term denoting at once the beginning of the Germanic year, and of the winter season, varies from the Calends of November to mid-November, thus keeping clearly within the time which had to be assumed as the beginning of the old Germanic Iiuleis tide” (p. 56, emphasis original)


Based on Tille’s presentation of his research we can see that the oldest “Yule Tide” had nothing to do with Christmas, but based on the beginning of both the tri-partition and dual partition of the Germanic year such a festival was during what we would call the first part of November: a season significantly removed from Christmas.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Alexander Tille's Yule and Christmas; Chapter 4

IV. Martinmas, and the Tri-Partition of the Year

Chapters IV and V are a fuller exposition of the medieval textual evidence for the briefer presentation and assertions Tille made in the first chapter about the Tri-Partition and Dual Division of the Germanic year.

The data presented cover the early 7th century through the 18th century. They consist of Anglo-Saxon Laws, Germanic institutes, tax documents, duty regulations, Saxon land charters, contracts, liturgical texts, church circular letters, agricultural records, lease documents, and more. The geographic spread of the evidence reaches from Germany through regions settled by Germanic peoples during this millennium even into Spain and Scotland. The reason there is no Germanic textual data presented from earlier is that such data does not exist or remains yet undiscovered.

The layout of the evidence is parallel to the three main claims listed in the first chapter. The main text of the chapter lays out the thread of the argument. This argument is fortified with 50 or so quotations from various source documents from the period and regions in the footnotes. The quotations also show evidence of a dual division of the year, which Tille brings out where relevant.

The first part of the chapter deals with documents demonstrating that Martinmas was the end of the economic year: tax day, lease day, contract for employment day, election to public office, etc. Tille turns then to the tri-partition of the year. Evidence includes scheduling of law court: scheduled mid-November, mid-March, and mid-July. Church taxes and duties, such the Rome-feoh, a British name for the tax imposed by the Church of Rome also called the “Peter’s penny”, some of which were required three times a year. Tille discusses the Thing-tides and their close relation to these three main German seasons. He also traces the gradual imposition of the Julian calendar upon these festivals.

Tille concludes:

“The tri-partition of the year —Martinmas,  mid-March, mid-July— was, till late in the Middle Ages, more than an artificial division of the year carried on by tradition without apparent reason. It was deeply rooted in economic life, and in conditions affecting pasture and agriculture.” (p. 46)

We should note that the evidence Tille presents also demonstrates that while there was a general three-fold division of the year there is a lack of uniformity between the various regions as to when these divisions could be mapped to the Julian calendar.

Tille again emphasized that the texts show no evidence of solar calendaring, there are no quarter days nor, Tille advances, is there any “trace of sun-worship whatever in Germanic religion.” (p. 45) This also he relates to the Scandinavian year.