Origins and Common Meanings to Hanukkah and Christmas

Column by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox on 30 December 2021 0 Comments

Hanukkah and Christmas are both stories of promise and hope in a time of darkness.  And both speak to miracles or marvels. 

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While reading this excellent book, "Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy" I am preoccupied by a burning question:

The entire explanation of Matthews is based on a chronology of Jesus’ life having taken place between his birth around 4 BCE and his death around 30 CE. Both these dates are based solely on details found in the New Testament and not corroborated by any actual historic documentation that someone like Jesus was born during Herod’s reign and was put to death during Pontius Pilate’s governorship. The entire existence of Jesus is therefore based on a Jewish legend developed by Jewish preachers.  Am I missing something?


Dear Denis,

The first step in the search for truth is always to ask the question, which, contrary to many trends in our society, you have done. The second step is to do some research, looking to people who have studied the issue, and have access to pertinent and reliable information. This also is a learning process contrary to many trends in our society. You and I are extremely fortunate to have at our fingertips almost unimaginable resources in books and the internet. As I was reading about your question, “Did Jesus exist?”, I became so entranced by the information on Google that I forgot all about the bread dough I had made, allowing it to over-rise, and flop. There is a lot to be learned! 

If you search for the historical Jesus, the historicity of Jesus, or the quest for the historical Jesus, you will find enough to keep you reading for the rest of your life, most of which is offered by scholars who have devoted their lives to answering your question. That search involves learning new languages, examining early texts, studying the evidence pertaining to first century Palestine, etc. In other words, they know their stuff. The unequivocal conclusion by the vast majority, including atheists and others who have no predisposition to be positive, is that, yes, Jesus really existed. Their conclusion is based, in part, on the non-biblical writings of Tacitus and Josephus, and is also based on careful analysis of evidence that can be gleaned from the letters of Paul as well as from the gospels themselves. 

There are those who believe that Jesus is “only” a myth, just as there are those who believe that the earth is flat, that there never was slavery in the United States, that the Holocaust never happened, and that the Jan 6 attack on the US Capitol was a peaceful, patriotic demonstration. Again, in all of these instances, the first task is to ask the question: what is true? and then seek reliable answers from those who have studied the issue. If we do neither of these, we are doomed to ignorance.

For my own self, I have no doubt that Jesus existed, not the Jesus that church dogma presents to us, but the Jesus I have described in my other writings. The point of beginning for all our knowledge of Jesus is not when he was born, but when he encountered those who were to follow him. Had no one been so thoroughly impacted by him that they actually became his disciples, he would have disappeared into the dustbin of history as just another peasant. That these disciples so passionately believed and followed is proof enough for me that Jesus was a real person.

~ Dr. Carl Krieg




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