Toward the Origins of Christmas

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Peeters Publishers, 1995 - Religion - 296 pages
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Christmas exerts an enormous attraction today even apart from its Christian character as a celebration of the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus. Even marginal or indifferent Christians crowd the churches on Christmas Eve and in highly commercialized and technologized Western societies the Christmas season is celebrated with enthousiasm. Yet Christmas entered the calendar of feasts relatively late, by 336 C.E., and the reason for its introduction and quick spread remain speculative and based on fragmentary evidence. Towards the Origins of Christmas addresses both the contemporary Western celebration of Christmas, and its deep historical roots in the church of the fourth century. The book presents a thorough investigation of the patristic texts and evidence cited by liturgical scholars in the late 19th and 20th centuries to support two main theories: the Calculation theory and the History of Religions theory. This historical research is set in the framework of the contemporary experience of Christmas; the dynamics of time and the liturgical year; the inculturation of liturgy; and underlying elements of dualism and patriarchal power paradigms which linger beneath the often commercial and sentimental character of Christmas today. Suzan K. Roll was born in Clarence Center, New York (USA) in 1952. She holds degrees in classical languages and pastoral theology, and in 1993 received a Ph. D. from the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University of Louvain (Leuven), Belgium, summa cum laude with the gratulations of the jury. She has thaught and published in the field of liturgy, sacraments, pastoral theology, and presently teaches at Christ the King Seminary, Buffalo, New York (USA).
 

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Contents

Introduction
9
TIME AND THE CHRISTIAN LITURGICAL YEAR
15
The Christian liturgical year
41
THE CHRISTIAN CALENDAR AND THE DATE
57
The cycle of feasts in the first four centuries
68
The Calculation hypothesis for the origin of Christmas
87
THE INVINCIBLE SUN AND THE FEAST OF CHRISTS BIRTH
107
The History of Religions hypothesis
127
THE SPREAD OF CHRISTMAS IN VIEW OF
165
The nativity feast in a broader perspective
211
CHRISTMAS IN A CONTEMPORARY
225
Applying the insights
251
General conclusions
269
Bibliography
275
Register of historical persons
295
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Susan K. Roll presently teaches at Christ the King Seminary, Buffalo, New York (USA).

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