Hebrew Voices #13 – The Truth About Christmas and Tammuz (Rebroadcast)

Mithra slaying the bull in a scene known as the Tauroctony. This image appears in every temple of Mithra, but the story behind it is a matter of conjecture (=guesswork). In this episode of Hebrew Voices, The Truth about Christmas and Tammuz, Bible Scholar Nehemia Gordon connects with Dr. Richard Carrier, an expert in ancient religions who reads Greek and Roman texts the way Nehemia reads ancient Hebrew. Dr. Carrier uses his expertise to help Nehemia sort out the genuine pagan influences on Christmas from modern-day myths projected back in time by "dodgy" scholarship. They discuss Tammuz, Inanna (Ishtar), Mithra, Isis, Osiris, and other pagan deities with reference to the writings of Philo, Justin Martyr, Plutarch, Euhemerus, Plato and the Rambam. In closing, Gordon encourages listeners not to be afraid to check out ancient sources and to approach them with discernment and a prayer for understanding.

I look forward to reading your comments!

Download The Truth About Christmas and Tammuz


Hebrew Voices #13 - The Truth About Christmas and Tammuz (Rebroadcast)

You are listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Nehemia: Shalom, this is Nehemia Gordon with Hebrew Voices, and I am coming to you today with a very special guest, Dr. Richard Carrier. I’m in Israel, he’s in California. Today we’re going to talk about the pagan background of Christmas and parallels that existed in the pagan world. Let me just tell you a little bit about Dr. Carrier.

He’s really an amazing guy. Richard Carrier has a PhD in the History of Philosophy from Columbia University, and is a published philosopher and historian specializing in contemporary philosophy of naturalism and in Greco-Roman philosophy, science, religion and the origins of Christianity. He blogs regularly, lectures for community groups worldwide, and teaches courses online. He is the author of many books including Senses and Goodness Without God - guys, I’ll be honest: I’m probably not going to read that book - another book called On the Historicity of Jesus, which I’ve read part of - it’s an amazing book, even though I don’t agree with a lot of it - and another book called Proving History, as well as chapters in several anthologies and articles in academic journals. For more about Dr. Carrier and his work, he’s got a website, www.richardcarrier.info. I’m going to post a link to that website on my website, nehemiaswall.com.

Hello, Dr. Carrier. How are you doing over there in California?

Richard: Hello. I’m doing well.

Nehemia: I feel like I’ve got to give the audience a little bit of a disclaimer, which is Dr. Carrier is an atheist. You guys know I’m a Karaite Jew, I believe in the Hebrew Bible. I’ve interviewed other academic scholars, and I honestly don’t know if those scholars were atheists or not. Why is it that I even mention this about Dr. Carrier? I look at him as an advocate for atheism, or humanism, and naturalism.

Richard: Yeah.

Nehemia: Is that a fair description?

Richard: Yeah, and accurate. I’m a well-known atheist activist, so it is well-fitting to mention that fact.

Nehemia: If people want to turn off the program, I think it’s a big mistake, but you’ve been warned. We’re going to talk about Christianity, but Dr. Carrier could do a whole program talking about Judaism. He doesn’t believe Moses existed. I believe he existed. Dr. Carrier doesn’t believe Jesus existed. I’m not a Christian, but I do believe he existed, that there was a historical man named Yeshua. What I really want to focus on today is this topic of Christmas.

I’ve never celebrated Christmas in my life, and it’s my understanding Dr. Carrier, you as an atheist actually do celebrate Christmas, is that right?

Richard: Yeah, I do. In reality, pretty much everything that we think is distinctive of Christmas is actually pagan. [laughing]

Nehemia: Guys, you heard it there from the atheist.

Richard: We don’t believe in the pagan gods, but we still celebrate the fun festival. Christmas has become a secular tradition in many ways.

Nehemia: Here’s why I invited Dr. Carrier on the program. Whatever you guys think about his personal faith – or I guess, lack thereof – he really is an impressive scholar. I come from the world of academia, and I have had conversations with PhDs and tenured professors who just take at face value what other scholars say. They build these piles and piles of, “We’re saying this because other scholars have said it.” When you try to dig down, “What are the actual sources? You’re quoting some scholar who’s quoting another scholar, who’s quoting another scholar. What do the sources say?”

That’s what I was really impressed with. I was reading, or I heard maybe, I don’t remember if it was a podcast or something. You were describing, Dr. Carrier, these claims by…I don’t even know who was making the claim.

Richard: Oh, we were talking about Freke and Gandy.

Nehemia: Yeah, so Freke and Gandy were saying that the Christian sacrament – which is, for my Jewish listeners, that’s eating the wafer and drinking the wine which is the body and blood of Jesus – that comes from the religion of Mithraism, which was an ancient paganism that was competing with Christianity. I think many atheists would have jumped on that bandwagon and used it to slam Christianity. You did something really radical. You said, “Let’s go check if this is true.” What did you find?

Richard: It’s very important to me to make sure that we can ground any claim we make in actual evidence, so I’ve been very critical of other Jesus mythicists who don’t do that. There is a lot of really bad stuff.

Nehemia: What is the Jesus mythicists, for those who don’t know?

Richard: People who think Jesus didn’t exist as a person, that the Gospel of Jesus is a myth. Or actually, Jesus in general is a myth that was invented for the Gospels.

Nehemia: In other words, I believe there a historical man, a Jewish man 2,000 years ago named Yeshua Ha-Notzri, Jesus of Nazareth, and you don’t.

Richard: Right.

Nehemia: You were an atheist before you came to that conclusion.

Richard: Correct.

Nehemia: Which is what I really respect. In other words, this doesn’t advance your atheist agenda, because whether Jesus existed or not, you’re still an atheist, right?

Richard: Yeah. In fact, for years as an atheist historian I actually attacked the mythicists. I was defending the historicity of Jesus. So I was on the other side of that camp. For me, it doesn’t really matter one way or the other… My reasons for rejecting Christianity have nothing to do with whether Jesus existed or not. But that’s a whole separate question.

Nehemia: So, Freke and Gandy, and you were critical of mythicists…

Richard: Yeah, their book, The Jesus Mysteries, everybody was praising this book – not everybody, but a lot of people were saying, “Oh, wow. This book has some amazing claims.” I go, “Okay, well I’ll look into that.” First of all, I skimmed through it and I said, “I don’t know. A lot of this looks dodgy.” But I said, “Okay, I’ll try vetting it.” I don’t know if it’s the first page, but very nearly in the first page in the book they come right out saying something like this, I’m not doing an exact quote…

Nehemia: Paraphrasing.

Richard: There’s this document in Mithraism and they quote it, supposedly. It has Mithra basically doing the exact same Eucharist thing that we have in 1 Corinthians 11, where it says, “This bread is my body, this wine is my blood.” I was looking at that and I was like, “Holy cow! All the research I’ve done, I’ve never run into this. This is an amazing find.”

Nehemia: It’s like a new text you’ve never heard of.

Richard: Yeah, yeah. How can this be true? Where did they find this? The first thing I do is I go to their footnotes, which they’re not very good at, assembling footnotes, so I say, “Where did they find this?” So they quote some historian, I don’t remember if he was early 20th century or 19th century, some old historian. “Oh, this isn’t looking good,” [laughing] rather than the primary source.

Nehemia: Let’s explain that for the audience. What would you like them to quote?

Richard: The actual source document that they’re quoting.

Nehemia: In other words, something written from a Mithraist manuscript or from an ancient Christian who quote a Mithraist, or something? Is that what you’re looking for?

Richard: Exactly, yeah. It should be something in the first 300 years of the Common Era, right?

Nehemia: Instead, they’re quoting some guy from 100 years ago. [laughing] How does he know?

Richard: Yeah, right. But I knew going in, and I’ve written an article about Kersey Graves, those who want to look into that. He did the Sixteen Crucified Saviors.

Nehemia: Tell the story.

Richard: Most of that is bogus. That’s a typical example of 19th century scholarship – there’s a lot of crap scholarship from then. So whenever I see somebody citing someone from then, a scholar from then, I’m very suspicious right away.

I said, “All right, I’ll go down this rabbit hole. Let’s find out.” I dug up, found that really super obscure book, and I think it even quoted another one, and so I went and found that one. Then finally, I get all the way back to a scholar who actually discusses the source, and it explodes the whole thing. When I look at that actual analysis, what it turned out to be was, this was a quotation from a late medieval document by a Christian, writing ignorantly about Zoroastrianism. In fact, he was claiming that Zoroaster, not Mithra, had said this. But we have no evidence that that was ever the case, that the Zoroastrian scriptures that survived don’t have this. There’s no ancient evidence of this being the case.

We have something similar happening when Christians, the Spaniards who went into Mesoamerica, when they report the Mesoamerican native beliefs, they report them as if they’re just like Christian beliefs. So a lot of it is being distorted through this filter - they just take whatever the natives say and then throw on layers of Christianity.

Nehemia: Why do you think they’re doing that? Are they just interpreting it through their own filter?

Richard: I don’t know, and that’s something I haven’t investigated. All I know is that that is a problem.

Nehemia: That’s really interesting. Basically, the guy makes the claim that the Mithraists have the same exact Eucharist…

Richard: Freke and Gandy are implying that it’s pre-Christian.

Nehemia: It’s some source talking about Zoroaster, and we have a lot of writings of Zoroastrianism. I don’t think we have very much about Mithraism, from what I’ve read.

Richard: No.

Nehemia: We have all these… you call them “comic books” I think, in your writing – meaning we have these graphics in their temples, but what the story is behind those graphics isn’t entirely clear. It’s like Mithra killing a bull…

Richard: We have some hints in a variety of texts, like people will reference it. But we have no actual writings of Mithraists. We don’t have the gospels of Mithraists.

Nehemia: These guys quote something as being a Mithraic source, and it’s just not true!

Richard: It’s not verifiable. I find it…

Nehemia: It’s not verifiable. That’s important distinction.

Richard: It’s almost certainly not true.

Nehemia: We can’t prove that it’s true, that’s for sure.

Richard: Yeah, but I think if it were true, there would be ancient sources discussing this. I think it’s highly unlikely that no one noticed this. There are Christians who talk about the similarities between Mithraism and their religion, and they don’t mention this. I’m sure they would have if that was an issue. They have their own theories as to how certain things preceded their religion. That is, the devil was emulating…

Nehemia: We’re going to talk about that. I want to spend a whole section talking about that. The reason I brought this topic up is a lot of my listeners are people who did celebrate Christmas at one time, and then they found out that there are pagan origins of Christmas, which I think most Christian scholars don’t deny. There was that movie with Kirk Cameron, where he did deny it. But most Christian scholars don’t deny it, serious scholars.

But what they then do is they start piling on paganism and start identifying all the paganism throughout all history. This goes back to Alexander Hislop, who was this guy in the 19th century who wrote a book called The Two Babylons. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.

Richard: No, but this is a familiar story. But go on, yeah. [laughing]

Nehemia: Basically, it’s a guy in the 19th century who said that the Roman Catholic Church is sun-worship, and it goes back to the sun worship of the Tower of Babel; that Semiramis was married to Nimrod. When I first encountered this, I’m like, “Wow, this is pretty cool stuff.” I did the exact same thing you did. I read Greek, but I don’t read ancient Latin. I was looking at these sources, trying to find it, and I keep going back to this guy in the 1800s who’s writing this. I’m like, “Where are the Assyrian sources about Semiramis?” Okay, so she was a queen regent of a Syrian empire. Where does this go back to Nimrod? Nimrod is a character from the Bible who some kind of hunter. He had nothing to do with the Tower of Babel, according to the Bible. That’s later Rabbinical legend. It has nothing to do with Semiramis.

I’m like, “Where does this stuff come from?” That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to get down to the nitty gritty of, if Christmas is pagan – and we’re not talking about the Christmas tree – I’m talking about basically the early background of Christmas, if we can talk about that. What are those parallels? Are those parallels everything that’s been made out that Semiramis’ husband Nimrod was killed and then reborn as the baby Tammuz, according to Alexander Hislop? I studied the Tammuz myths as far as I can access the sources, and I haven’t seen anything like that.

Richard: No, no. I’ve never even heard that theory, that’s ridiculous. There are possible connections to the Inanna-Tammuz myth when you get to the level of the crucifixion and the crucifixion theologies.

Nehemia: Talk to us about Inanna and Tammuz. Let’s start with that.

Richard: I haven’t studied the birth narratives of Inanna and Tammuz. I have studied the death narratives. We have one for Inanna, the Tammuz part is broken off, but we have an ancient tablet, a Sumerian tablet, that has this story of Inanna. What we have in the fragment that we have, is that Inanna, for some reason – and the part that has the reason is missing – but for some reason she decides to descend from heaven past earth into the underworld, and she goes through seven gates, and at each gate part of her clothing is mandated to be taken off. By the time she gets to the core of the underworld she’s completely naked. Then she’s captured and she’s tried in a kangaroo court and she’s killed by a death spell by the Lord of the Underworld. Her naked body is nailed up. So she’s basically crucified. Then three days later, her minions come down, feed her the food and water of life, and she resurrects and ascends to glory in heaven.

Nehemia: So this is an ancient Sumerian Goddess that we have, give us a millennium - what are we talking about, the second millennium BC?

Richard: The tablets are about 1700 BC.

Nehemia: 1700 BC, okay.

Richard: We have hints that there was a similar story told of Tammuz, and that this was like an annual cycle between Inanna and Tammuz. But we don’t have the actual narrative for Tammuz. We only have the narrative for Inanna.

Nehemia: You mean from the Sumerian sources, from the actual original pagan sources…

Richard: Yes.

Nehemia: …who believed in Inanna. We don’t have the story about Tammuz dying and resurrecting.

Richard: Yeah.

Nehemia: Okay, that’s important.

Richard: We have references to that being the case, but we don’t have the actual story. This is an actual manuscript. The manuscript itself is pre-Christian, not just the story.

Nehemia: It’s actually a clay tablet, isn’t it? It’s like a cuneiform clay tablet.

Richard: That’s right. Samuel Noah Kramer has it reproduced in his book, History Begins at Sumer, for those who want to look this up.

Nehemia: This is what I love. You can actually go and look at this source and you can say, “You know what? This has nothing to do with anything whatsoever. It is important or it’s not important.” But you can’t deny that this source exists.

Richard: Yeah.

Nehemia: The source is there, and if there are parallels, you’ve got to ask yourself the question, “Why is it that there was this ancient pagan deity before the time of Jesus, who was crucified and resurrected?” The ancient Christians dealt with this. It’s really interesting, I’ve seen a lot of Christians who, when somebody brings this up, they’ll want to avoid it.

I was reading yesterday in preparation for this, in the writings of Justin Martyr, in the dialogues of Trypho. The Jew Trypho brings this up - not Inanna, but other parallels. He says, “How can you believe these things like the pagans believe?” And Justin’s response is, “These actually strengthen my faith. These don’t shake my faith. They strengthen my faith.”

I say, “If you’re a Christian who believes in Jesus, you should know at least what Justin was talking about. At least know what your own sources say.”

What are some of the responses that you’ve found in the Christian literature to this type of thing? You started talking about that before. I guess, one of them is Justin.

Richard: First of all, they acknowledge and don’t deny that there are these dying and raising gods before Christianity. Justin’s argument is that the devil was trying to guess at what God was going to do to create Christianity, so he made all these fake Christianities to try to discredit it in advance. That’s called “diabolic mimicry argument”.

Nehemia: So “Satan imitates the ways of the Church” is the way I’ve heard it described.

Richard: Right, but in advance - before the Church even exists, to try and create this discrediting thing. It’s similar to how the Young Earth creationists claim that the devil planted all the fossils in the ground to trick people into believing in evolution.

Nehemia: Okay, I’m a Young Earth creationist and don’t believe that particular version of it. But anyway, let’s move on. [laughing]

Richard: [laughing] It’s a similar kind of reasoning.

Nehemia: In other words, that Satan planted dinosaur bones to make us… Which I don’t believe, personally.

Richard: Right, but there are Christians who use that argument. Justin’s kind of doing the same thing. But the reality is, that isn’t what convinces Justin. For Justin, I think that’s just his rationalization to explain away that evidence. For him, the reason he believes in the Christian version versus the other ones is that he has these other more standard arguments of, “Well, the Scriptures were so powerful. They were so affecting. I feel the presence of Jesus.” His reasons are much more like the standard direct phenomenological reasons that most Christians even today would say is the reason that they believe in the…

Nehemia: Translate for my listeners into plain English, “the standard phenomenological reasons”. What does that mean, in plain English?

Richard: Feeling the Holy Spirit. The common argument - you see this in a lot of Christian apologetic literature as well, Christian authors defending Christianity today - is the idea that if you invite Christ into your heart, you feel Christ in there and therefore, He must exist. Therefore, that must be the one true religion. This is problematic in the sense that there are other religions that have the exact same experience.

Nonetheless, this is one of the reasons that Justin gives. Also, the fact that he found the Scriptures so miraculously brilliant, or they emotionally affected him. So he thought that the Scriptures were better than the pagan scriptures, because there were aspects of it. One part of that was that he found the Scriptures more fitting his particular moral sensibilities. He thought that some of the pagan literature was immoral from his perspective, and the Bible was moral from his perspective. Therefore, that must come from God.

Obviously, there are problems with that kind of reasoning as well, but nonetheless, these were the kinds of things that were really convincing Justin to prefer Christianity to the pagan myths. But he doesn’t deny that the pagan myths did precede Christianity.

Nehemia: I’ve got to go back to the phenomenological issue that you brought up. Look, I’ll tell people, “I believe in the God of Israel,” because I’ve had personal experiences. What you’re saying is, “Well, Nehemia, that’s not valid because people who believe in Krishna or some other deity that I don’t acknowledge, they’ve also had similar experiences.” Is that basically what you’re saying?

Richard: Yeah. I myself had similar experiences, convincing me that the Dao existed and governed the universe, and I was a Daoist. It was the only religion that I was a true believer in, that I actually had faith in. I was a Daoist for many years. I tell that story in my book, Sense and Goodness Without God. That comes up early in the book.

Nehemia: Now I’ve got to read it. I don’t make fun of that. If somebody says, “I believe in Jesus because I had a Jesus experience,” my response to that is, “Okay. I haven’t had that Jesus experience, but I can respect that that’s been your experience.” Maybe some of my response is, “If Jesus wants to give me that experience He can, but I haven’t had that experience,” and as a Jew that’s not really where I’m coming from.

Richard: I was going to recommend, there’s a website called Simple to Remember. It’s actually part of Judaism Online, simpletoremember.com. They have a page on the history of Christmas, so people who want to see where all the specific things, like December 25th, where does mistletoe come from, gift-giving and all of these things, where they come from. It’s written from the perspective of a Jewish scholar.

Nehemia: Let’s talk about December 25th. One of the things you say in your book is that… And you talk about this guy who wrote the book, what is it, The Sixteen…

Richard: Oh, Kersey Graves, yeah.

Nehemia: Yeah. Tell us about that book, and what you discovered about it. You have a whole article about that that I’ll post the link to on my website, nehemiaswall.com. Tell us a little bit about that.

Richard: This is another example of this 19th century scholarship. This is why you just can’t be citing people in the 19th century. This is so commonly the case. Kersey Graves wrote this book called The Sixteen Crucified Saviors, in which he claims that the entire Jesus story existed 16 different times, including even in Mesoamerica, even Krishna, I think Buddha is in there. He has a whole bunch of these gods that he claims the exact same story is told over and over again. But it’s just horrible scholarship, because he doesn’t go back to primary sources.

Some of his claims are just untraceable. He doesn’t even cite anything, and I have no idea where he’s getting his information. Other ones, when you go and look, it doesn’t back up what he’s claiming.

Nehemia: He might be just making it up.

Richard: What I suspect is, someone made it up, and he’s citing them. He’s culling the scholarship of his era…

Nehemia: He’s saying, “This is what the scholars say, so it must be true,” without going to the original sources, okay. “This is the scholarly consensus.” Now, 200 years later or 150 years later, the consensus has changed. [laughing]

Richard: It’s more like a telephone game. It’s similar to the thing we were talking about with Mithra, where someone wrote a book about this medieval Christian manuscript about Zoroastrianism. Someone wrote about that and made the inference that Zoroaster must by Mithras, and this must be a Mithraism. Then someone after that said, “Oh, okay. There’s this Mithraic text that says…” Someone is making a mistake at each step, and when you accumulate the mistakes the story becomes completely transformed.

Nehemia: You gave the example of Krishna, who is the god from Hinduism, that the sources we have about Krishna being crucified and rising from the dead are from the Christian era, and I think you suggest could have been influenced by Christianity. Is that right?

Richard: Yeah, this is a big problem. A better example would be the Mesoamericans, where…

Nehemia: For us who don’t know the terminology, that’s the native Americans of Central America.

Richard: Right, Central America, yeah.

Nehemia: Like the Maya, or whoever.

Richard: Right, Aztecs, Incas, Mayans. Yeah, so the Spaniards reported their crucified God narrative. It’s almost certainly the case that that wasn’t what their religion actually taught. It’s being filtered through medieval Christian sources – or not medieval, in this case, age of exploration Christians – it’s being filtered through Christian sources in that case.

In the Krishna case, there could be texts from the late medieval period in India, for example, or from India, that have incorporated the Christian teaching onto Krishna. We’re not really sure. But we have to be careful of the importation of ideas from Christianity into pagan beliefs. That’s why it’s very important to look for sources or texts that we can trace to be pre-Christian. Those are the only ones that claim to be uninfluenced.

There are some exceptions like Plutarch, for instance, who writes technically after Christianity. He writes at the end of the 1st century. But it’s extremely unlikely that he would have been influenced by Christianity so early, so quickly. There are a variety of reasons why that would be. What he says probably does pre-date Christianity, even though he himself as a source is not.

Nehemia: Can I read what Plutarch wrote? This is in his book on The Historicity of Jesus.

Richard: Go for it.

Nehemia: The basic thesis is that Jesus wasn’t a real historical person, that there was a belief in Jewish angelology and this angel named Yeshua, and that he was then transformed into a flesh and blood person in a later period. Then you bring this example from Plutarch which is absolutely fascinating. Plutarch is a Roman historian, and he’s writing to this woman who worships Isis – I think she’s a woman, Clea.

Richard: Yeah. She’s a priestess of Isis, so she’s actaully a ranking member of the cult.

Nehemia: Right. He writes to Clea. He says, “Whenever you hear the mythical stories told by the Egyptians about their gods, of their wanderings, dismemberments and many experiences like these, you must remember what I said earlier and not think that any of these is being said to have actually happened like that, or to have actually come to pass.”

In other words, the Egyptians according to Plutarch, were telling these stories about Isis and Osiris, but the Egyptian intellectuals or Priests knew that these stories didn’t take place, but they had deeper symbolical meaning. Is that what Plutarch is saying?

Richard: Yeah. It’s a little bit in-between, because Plutarch himself says that the death and resurrection of Osiris does take place, but it takes place in outer space.

Nehemia: When you say outer space in Judeo-Christian terms, that means in heaven, right?

Richard: It’s more complicated than that, because heaven has many levels in ancient cosmology.

Nehemia: All right, the lower heavens.

Richard: Yeah, the lower heavens.

Nehemia: Dr. Carrier, I think when you call it “outer space” you’re poking a little fun.

Richard: [laughing] No.

Nehemia: I’m going to call it the “lower heavens”. It takes place in the lower heavens.

Richard: Yeah, okay, sure. I find that problematic because there are so many prejudices and assumptions about what heaven means today.

Nehemia: But there are prejudice and assumptions about outer space, like we’re thinking of little green men.

Richard: But see, that’s the thing. That’s actually closer to what they’re talking about.

Nehemia: All right. So what you call outer space is what I call these lower heavens. What happened in the outer space or lower heavens?

Richard: Every year, according to the true doctrine that the priests teach to the upper-ranking members…

Nehemia: These are the Priests of Osiris or of Isis?

Richard: It’s the same religion.

Nehemia: The Egyptian Priests, okay.

Richard: They preach that Osiris descends, becomes incarnate, is killed by an evil power who’s similar to Satan, and then resurrects and ascends back to power. And he does this every year. But this all takes place near the moon. It’s way up there. But the actual tales that are told of Osiris being a pharaoh and being dismembered and Isis looking for his body parts and all of this taking place on earth - that story is a myth, and it represents symbolically the teachings of the religion, which included moral teachings, but also cosmological, social and political teachings.

Nehemia: I think we need to clarify here, because I’m not that familiar with ancient Egyptian religion, and I’m sure my listeners aren’t. Basically, they believed in Isis and Osiris as gods, but then they also told stories that there was an actual Pharaoh named Osiris. Is that…?

Richard: Correct.

Nehemia: Is that what Plutarch is saying?

Richard: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. There are even “historians” of the time, historians of Egypt, who tried to fit Osiris into the chronology of pharaohs. Now, we have the full chronology of the pharaohs, it’s written in stone on the pyramids, and there’s no Osiris. We can’t fit him in. So we can confirm that he’s fictional, but of course, we know from Plutarch that the priests also knew that it was fictional. But they did create these stories of this historical king who was deified through this process. He was born of a god, so he was still a demigod in the same way that Hercules and so on were.

Nehemia: So there are really two historical processes that take place. I want to try to break this down in an overview. You call this a “hemerization” I might be mispronouncing that.

Richard: It’s “euhemerization”.

Nehemia: Euhemerization, where there’s an actual historical king who’s turned into a god, is that right?

Richard: No, it’s the other way around.

Nehemia: Oh, it’s the other way around, okay.

Richard: To show how this works, it’s named after Euhemerus, who was an author of the 3rd century BC. He wrote a book called The Sacred Scriptures in which he basically told, as if he was a historian, that he had discovered that in fact Zeus and Uranus were past kings, actual historical people, who were deified later.

Nehemia: Zeus is the main god of the Greeks, for those who don’t know.

Richard: He’s the Mount Olympus Zeus. We know for a fact that this is not true. There was no historical Zeus. There was no…

Nehemia: How do we know that for a fact?

Richard: We have more than sufficient records to know that there’s no way Euhemerus could have known had there been such a god.

Nehemia: Ah. Okay. In other words, maybe in 2000 BC there was a Greek king of some village, his name was Zeus, and the people loved him so much that they turned him to a God. But you’re saying Euhemerus couldn’t have known that.

Richard: There’s no way Euhemerus could know that. Certainly, there’s no way Euhemerus could know any of the things that he claims in this book. So, it’s bogus. We know it’s bogus.

Nehemia: When did he live again, Euhemerus?

Richard: 3rd century BC.

Nehemia: 3rd century BC, and he was a Greek, writing about the Greek god.

Richard: Yeah, absolutely. That then became a fashion, where there were these gods who were never really clearly placed in history. They were usually just placed in supernatural realms or mythic realms, sometimes explicitly cosmic realms. Over time, people said, “Let’s do the same thing. Let’s explain these gods by saying that they were once historical people,” so they started creating biographies about them.

Nehemia: Actually, Plutarch talked about why they did that.

Richard: Yeah, Plutarch has his own theories as to why they did that. Why they actually did that is a different question.

Nehemia: In other words, Plutarch says they did that because the common people couldn’t handle believing in this abstract idea.

Richard: That might be true. There is a hint of that in Plato, and in Plato’s Republic, where Plato recommends this tactic to control the masses, by creating religious myths and controlling them, and only the guardians - the people who are the elite who know the real truth - they’ll be the only ones who know the real truth, but they’re going to use the myth…

Nehemia: The real truth is some cosmic mystical idea.

Richard: Yeah. It’s a lot like scientology in that way, if any of you have studied that. They do the same thing, which is kind of weird, that after 2,000 years the same trick is being used on the public.

Nehemia: It’s interesting. You’re saying the priests know better, that these stories aren’t literal. As I was reading your book, one of the things that came to mind from my Jewish background was the stories that are told by these rabbis. Many Jews will say, “Of course, that didn’t really happen. It’s a parable being told to express an ethical idea.” I’ll just bring one example that my listeners will know, the oven of Akhnai, where a voice calls out from heaven and rebukes the rabbis for not listening to this one rabbi. Most Orthodox Jews I know today will say, “No, of course there wasn’t a voice from heaven. It’s trying to express this idea and this principle, and the principle is binding. You’ve got to accept it, but you don’t have to accept that this literally happened.”

But then, I know other Jews who will say, “If you don’t accept this literally happened, you are a blasphemer.” No, really. I was raised as an Orthodox Jew and I once got in trouble for calling into question one of these stories that every soul of every Jew was at Mount Sinai. I said, “Where does it say that? That’s just made up.” I was told that this was heresy.

I want to quote a 12th century Rabbi, I’m paraphrasing what he said. He basically said, “Anybody who believes all of the legends of the Jews…” This was a rabbi. He says, “Anyone who believes all of the legends is insane, and anybody who denies them all is a heretic.” His point was that some of them are literally true and some of them aren’t, and you have to, I guess, have the discernment to know the difference.

Richard: This goes all the way back. We have Philo of Alexandria, the greatest Jewish scholar of his era, that’s 1st century, just before the dawn of Christianity. He was making the same point - that some of the stories in the Bible are literal, some of them are figurative, and you only know the truth if you know which is which.

Nehemia: You see, I’ve got to say, I need to go back and read more of Philo. But what I read of Philo that you quoted in your book, he seems to me to be saying in a sense, the opposite of Plutarch, in that he’s saying the masses know that there are deeper spiritual things here, and it’s only the stupid people - and I think he means the intellectuals – who take these things literally. But the masses, they know there are deeper spiritual, allegorical symbols here. I think he’s talking about me, because I’m one of these literalists, but whatever. [laughing] Philo definitely is an allegorist.

Richard: That’s an interesting take. Philo is speaking from the perspective of an insider as a Jew, versus outsiders who are non-Jews.

Nehemia: I’m not so sure. I think there may have been an internal Jewish dialog there.

Richard: Yeah, there certainly is, and he’s taking the side that you’re stupid if you’re Jewish and think these things are literal. But we have in the Talmud an example of one of these debates. It’s one of my favorite ones, where in the Book of Ezekiel – of course, Ezekiel has the Valley of Dry Bones parable, where he talks about seeing all these people, these bones rise up and the flesh goes on them, and they’re all resurrected. The Talmud records a Rabbinical debate where some rabbis were saying that this really happened, and then other rabbis were saying, “No, no, no. It’s just a metaphor for the resurrection of Israel as a nation.” The rabbis who said it was literal say, “No, no, no. Some of us, actually we claim descent from some of these resurrected people from the Valley of Dry Bones.”

Nehemia: The version I learned when I was a child said that it was four-fifths, or 80% of the Jewish people, the People of Israel at the time, who misinterpreted the prophesy of when Moses would release them, and they left early and they were wiped out. Matisyahu, the famous rap singer, has a song about how only four-fifths of Israel left Egypt. Probably, most people hear that and they have no idea what he’s talking about. I heard that I’m like, “Oh, yeah. He’s talking about the Valley of Dry Bones,” which are the Israelites who left Egypt and died in the desert, and they’ll be resurrected in the final… That’s that Talmudic discussion.

Richard: Sure.

Nehemia: That’s a really good example, and I’ll bring a Hebrew Bible, Old Testament example. Some rabbis, and some Jewish scholars beyond Rabbis, will say that the Book of Job never actually literally took place, that it’s just an allegory. Others who are literalists like me will say, “Yeah, of course there’s a deeper message. But also, Job happened.” Here’s one of the issues I was struggling with when I read Plutarch, and he’s talking about the pagan gods, right? Nothing that I have any stake in.

But I wonder if the other Egyptian Priests would have heard that and said, “Yeah, Plutarch’s that liberal theologian, that’s why he says that.” Or, “Clea is a liberal theologian, and she says these things weren’t literally true, but that’s because she doesn’t have a strong enough faith, or her faith isn’t right.” Or, “She doesn’t have the right discernment.”

It sounds to me from what Plutarch is saying to Clea is that there’s this dialog within the Egyptian paganism about whether these things are literally true or not, and some people are saying, “Well, kind of like in Judaism you have Maimonides, or Rambam, who lived in the 12th century, who was very similar to Plutarch, who said, ‘The masses can’t handle these things, so we’re not going to tell them exactly what’s going on.’”

They burned Rambam’s books for this, meaning other great intellectuals, not just the ignorant masses. Wow, are we going to get to Christmas, Dr. Carrier? [laughing]

Richard: I don’t know. We’re running out of time.

Nehemia: I think this is a very important background, because then when we jump to Christmas it’s interesting. First of all, in the New Testament it doesn’t ever say that Jesus was born on December 25th. I’m stating the obvious here.

Richard: Yeah. Nor is it even plausible that He was.

Nehemia: Assuming He existed, why isn’t it plausible?

Richard: Assuming you believe that the Gospel of Luke’s nativity story is true, it’s extremely unlikely that a census would be conducted in December, which would be the worst month for travel and other activity like that. So almost certainly the census would have occurred in a different month, and therefore the birth of Jesus would have occurred in a different month.

In fact, early Christians were on board with this idea, and so they were actually trying to place His birth somewhere in spring.

Nehemia: Really? Why in spring, do you have any idea why they thought it was in spring? Maybe because He died in the spring?

Richard: They had theological reasons. I don’t know entirely what their reasoning was. They didn’t have any documentation. There wasn’t any…

Nehemia: They were speculating when He was born, and I know a lot of my listeners believe He was born over the Feast of Tabernacles, and they can give you a whole long, complex reason for why that is.

Richard: That’s an example of what I mean by theological reasons. At most, they could have maybe found the month of the census, because that would be in historical records, theoretically, and they could have argued from there. They don’t actually say, so we don’t actually have that. But the idea of it being December 25th came much later, hundreds of years later. December 25th was the birth of all sun gods, not Mithra particularly.

Nehemia: Do we know that from the ancient sources? This is what I want to verify. Do we actually know that from the pre-Christian sources?

Richard: It’s hard to say specifically. For example, December 25th is the last day of Saturnalia. We know that from pre-Christian sources. Saturnalia is the festival of the God Saturn, but it’s also related to the rebirth of the sun, and it goes from the 17th to the 25th, and the 8-day week for the Romans is a bow to the resurrection of the sun kind of thing.

Nehemia: Incidentally, that is mentioned in the Talmud in the Tractate of Avoda Zara, and the Feast of Saturnalia is mentioned as a pagan holiday, but then another Rabbi comes along and says, “Actually, the pagans got it from Adam.” It originally was a Hebrew holiday, if you will.

Richard: That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that one. I do know that Christmas trees are condemned as pagan in the Old Testament. The idea of cutting down a tree, bringing it into your house and decorating it with silver and things like that - you’re not supposed to do that, that’s the behavior of the pagans, according to the Old Testament. But we have a Christian calendar mid-4th century. It’s a Christian calendar, but it’s really a calendar of all holidays, not just Christian ones. It has on there that December 25th is the birthday of Sol Invictus, which is the sun god.

Nehemia: The invincible sun, right?

Richard: Right, exactly. It’s the main sun god. There was a rise of Sol Invictus cult in the 3rd century AD, so it was very popular in that 100-year span. According to this Christian source – and this is a fairly early Christian source, close enough to the actual events of the 3rd century, for example, to know that this was the case. They’re not making it up. Then the idea of porting the birth of Jesus to the 25th came later.

Nehemia: It’s interesting you say “porting”, meaning they believed He was born and they had one date, and they transferred it to this other day.

Richard: Right, “Let’s move it.” I think that was political. The reality is, they wanted their celebration to overwhelm the pagan celebration. That’s their way of erasing the pagan holiday - just make it a Christian holiday, and then the more people who worshipped the Christian version of it, the less popular the pagan version of it will be. Eventually, the pagan one will wither away like a vestigial organ, and what you have left is this Christian celebration.

Nehemia: How much of that is speculation? In other words, how much do we know for sure that’s… Do we have Christians who come out and say, “We’re going to make the birthday of Jesus December 25th to get the sun worshippers to join us?” Do we have sources like that?

Richard: I’m not sure. Insofar as we have them discussing it, it’s early Middle Ages, so you can’t always be sure that’s what they’re saying... Because they’ll have their own historical hypotheses as to how this happened. Whether their hypotheses are true or not is yet another question.

I think that by and large it’s our inference, because we can see the sequence of events. It started as a pagan holiday, now the Christians are making it their holiday; why would they do that? There are logical reasons to say that maybe the medieval historians who are saying this might have hit onto something on that.

Nehemia: However, if I were a Christian apologist who really loved Christmas, I could come along and say, “Yeah, you’ve got a 4th century source, that’s 300 years after Jesus, and the pagans were competing with Christianity and put the birth day of their sun to get the Christians…” I’m not saying it’s likely, but it’s possible.

Richard: Yeah, but it’s not likely, and the reason is because December 25th was associated with… like we have the Saturnalia, it was associated with the actual solar cycle. So the 21st, of course, is the winter solstice. The days start getting longer again, so it’s the resurrection of the sun in the sense that the sun starts waxing rather than waning.

Nehemia: In other words, for those who live in offices like me and don’t go outside, the days get longer and longer and longer until the summer solstice, and then they start to get shorter and shorter and shorter, until the winter solstice. Then it’s around December 22nd you’re saying, or 21st, when the days start to get longer again?

Richard: Yeah, exactly. That’s it.

Nehemia: That’s just an observable fact - if you bother to go outside, you’ll see. [laughing]

Richard: Yes, it’s an astronomical fact, and it was a well-known astronomical fact, and a disturbing one from the perspective of primitive peoples, “The days are getting shorter. Oh, crap. Eventually, there’s not going to be any day left and the sun is going to go out.”

Nehemia: Now you’ve forced me to quote what it says in the Talmud about Saturnalia. It says, “When the first Adam saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, ‘Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion. This then, is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from heaven.’” In other words, he didn’t know that they would stop getting shorter, the days. Obviously, this was written thousands of years - I believe Adam existed [laughing] - it’s written thousands of years after Adam, or even after the Torah.

Richard: From that perspective right, yeah. Go on.

Nehemia: “He began keeping an eight-days fast. But as he observed the winter equinox and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, ‘This is the nature of the world,’ and he set forth to keep an eight-days festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals.” This is how they’re explaining that the Romans have an eight-day period of mourning before the equinox, and they actually mention the Romans Kalenda and Saturnalia by name here. Then the eight days up until the equinox was Saturnalia, and afterwards it was Kalenda. Basically, according to these rabbis, this was echoing what the first Adam did.

When I read this, I ask the question, “Why would the Rabbis associate this pagan festival of the Romans with Adam?” This is my hypothesis, I’m guessing: they must have seen this in many different cultures and said, “It can’t just be a Roman thing.”

Richard: Oh, that’s entirely plausible, yeah. I haven’t confirmed that, but you would expect. Certainly, the Roman Saturnalia probably was not invented by the Romans. It may have been adapted from the Etruscans, and we know the Etruscans have ties to Turkey, to what used to be the region of Troy, and that’s Anatolia, and that ties you into the Persians and the Assyrians. You can trace a pathway there.

Nehemia: So the Rabbis might not have been far off. In other words, primitive man, maybe not the first Adam, the early human beings may have looked up in the sky and said, “We’d better light some fires because the sun needs some help.” [laughing]

Richard: You’re right.

Nehemia: That’s probably what happened.

Richard: That’s entirely plausible, yes. I think that’s why the 25th came to be so associated with sun cults in general, and long had done so before Christianity came along.

Nehemia: Wow! This is some amazing stuff, and there’s so much more to talk about, but I think this is a lot for the people to chew on. Are there any other final things you’d like to share, any final thoughts or ideas?

Richard: I would recommend people look up the Saturnalia and the resources online to see what the holiday was like. It’s not entirely like our Christmas holiday, but there are a lot of similarities, like the gift-giving, the caroling.

Nehemia: Really? That was part of Saturnalia, the gift-giving and the caroling?

Richard: Oh yeah, yeah. Ribaldly getting drunk and going around town singing. And wreaths on the doors, candles in the window. There’s a lot of aspects to it. Mistletoe came much later, I think. That, I think, is an adaptation from Celtic religion. But you can see all of these things being adopted and brought in and given new meaning into the new Christmas holiday.

Of course, then the whole idea of St. Nicholas got transformed into some sort of mythology of this North Pole elf. [laughing]

Nehemia: What you’re basically saying is that the Christians took pre-existing elements and adapted them to their religion. As a naturalist or a humanist, an atheist, when you celebrate Christmas, what is the significance of it for you?

Richard: Oh, to me it’s just tradition and an opportunity to celebrate certain values of Christmas.

Nehemia: What are those values?

Richard: This ties back to what a lot of times the ancients, the elite Priests were saying about their religion, that the myths symbolize certain moral ideas, certain ideas about human values and things. I think those things can still be true. They could also be false, but you could say that there are certain values that are good, like the idea of the Christmas spirit. All of the principles really well-captured by “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens, is a really good example of showing a secular take on what the values of Christmas are, and those values are humanist values. We do cherish those values.

So to create a kind of mythic story that we don’t really believe in literally, but we do take seriously as a kind of representation of the values – and Christians even do this, too – for the Christians who use the Santa Claus myth, they don’t believe there’s a literal Santa Claus and that he literally does the things that are said to be done by him. But many of them, not all of them, accept the whole Santa Claus mythology because of the things that it symbolizes about the values of Christmas. That’s how we look at the whole thing.

Nehemia: Meaning, you secular humanists…

Richard: Yeah, us secular humanists see that in the same way. There are secular humanists who abhor all religion and therefore won’t celebrate Christmas, but most of us do, the reality is, because we take it as that sort of secular mythology that has humanist values embedded in it, that we value.

Nehemia: I see. Wow. My father was an Orthodox Rabbi, and whenever people would say to him, “Merry Christmas,” his response was, “Bah, humbug!” [laughing] This has been a fascinating discussion. Thank you very much. You’ve been listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. We were speaking to Dr. Richard Carrier, and you can find his information at richardcarrier.info. I’m going to post the link on nehemiaswall.com. Shalom.

Nehemia: As an epilogue, I want to encourage those who are coming from the New Testament perspective to have a look at your own ancient sources. Justin Martyr, as his name implies, was murdered by the Romans for his faith. Around the year 150 CE he wrote a book that we mentioned in the interview. It’s called Dialogues with Trypho. Now, Justin was a pagan Greek from Nablus, or Shechem. It was called Neapolis at the time, in northern Israel. He converted to Christianity in Greece.

Although he came from Israel - it’s crazy - the first Jew he ever met was this Trypho, who we’re told was fleeing from the Bar Kochba War. It’s mentioned in the book that he was fleeing from the war, which is the Bar Kochba War between the years 132 and 135. Some people say this Trypho is the famous Rabbi Tarphon mentioned in the Mishna. It’s not clear whether these dialogues were fiction, whether they took place or not.

But I find it fascinating, because as far as I know this is the earliest recorded dialog between a Christian and a Jew. Of course, we’re only hearing the Christian side and the words that Justin puts in the mouth of Trypho.

But a lot of what Trypho says sounds like what you would expect a Jew to say back then, and much of what a Jew would say today. So I think it’s a really interesting book. In chapters 69 and 70 of this Justin Martyr, he tackles this whole issue of the pagan parallels between Christianity and the pagan religion. He takes it head on. He actually proclaims that rather than undermining his faith, this issue strengthens his faith. Now, you may not agree with his reasons and conclusions, but at least he’s dealing with the reality of the situation. There were many religions in the Roman Empire that sounded uncomfortably, to many people, similar to the accounts of Yeshua of Nazareth.

Justin says he doesn’t feel uncomfortable with the parallels. On the contrary, he embraces these parallels and develops an important aspect of his theology about what they teach him about how Satan operates in the world. Again, you may disagree with Justin. The guy died for his faith, so at least have a look at what he said. Rather than ignoring these parallels to the pagan religions, they’re key to Justin’s understanding of the divine plan.

So, this Christmas, as you sit in front of your yule log or whatever it is that you do, have a look at Justin Martyr’s Dialogues with Trypho, chapters 69 and 70, and think about these things. Maybe pray about them.

My Jewish listeners were really quick to demonize Christmas. I kind of like what Dr. Carrier had to say about the moral lessons that he believes Christmas embodies. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, those are good things to think about – being good to one another, and good cheer for men, all that stuff.

What we as Jews should do is, we should be looking at our ancient sources. I’m going to post a link to the Babylonian Talmud Avoda Zara 8a on nehemiaswall.com and see what it says about Kalenda and Saturnalia, which the Rabbis believe went back to adam harishon, to the first Adam. I don’t believe it really goes back to the first Adam, [laughing] but maybe it does go back to the generation of the Tower of Babel. Maybe they looked up in the sky in that first year after the flood and tried to make sense of the seasons. Remember in Genesis it talks about how after the flood there would always from that time on, be regular seasons? It says, choref vekayitz, winter and summer. Some people take that to mean that before that there weren’t seasons. I don’t know. Maybe there were, maybe there weren’t. Anyway, maybe that generation after the flood looked up at the sky as the days were getting shorter and shorter, and they started to get nervous. They had heard God’s promise not to destroy mankind with a flood, so maybe now He was going to do it by extinguishing the sun. It might be what they thought.

That’s what the Rabbis seem to think they thought. Maybe that’s why we have the celebration in cultures throughout the world, in which people light fires. It’s interesting, you’ve got the Christmas candles on the Christmas tree, and the Christmas lights, and in many of the ancient pagan religions you seem to have these people lighting fires, often large bonfires, and the thinking behind what they’re doing – not Christians today, but some of these primitive cultures – is that “the sun is dying, and we’ve got to help out the sun by lighting a fire!”

We find this in many ancient cultures, which is what the Rabbis in the Talmud are trying to make sense of when they say, “It goes back to the first Adam.” Think about that this December 25th, and what ancient humans were going through after the flood, or might have been going through, as they saw the days getting shorter, and the jubilation they must have felt when the days started to get longer again around the time of December 25th.

I’m still not going to be celebrating Christmas, [laughing] not even as a secular holiday. I’ll be honest with you, my association I have with Christmas is not a positive one. What comes to mind for me when I think about Christmas is how the Jews were often persecuted this time of year, how the Gentile multitudes were whipped up into a frenzy, and often it was directed at the Jews. It was the birthday of Christ, and the ones who killed Christ needed to be hurt.

One example is the Jews of Rome – I don’t mean ancient Rome, I mean the city of Rome, when it was ruled by the Popes. They used to force the Jews to run naked through the streets of Rome, on Christmas, as entertainment for the Christians. I’m going to post a link to the study this Rabbi did about that. That’s the association I have with Christmas. There’s a lot of pain there, I’ll be honest with you.

Now to everyone, whether you’re a Jew, a Christian, or an atheist, open up the books of the Hebrew Bible. Dr. Carrier, an avowed atheist, made reference to a passage in the Hebrew Bible about the pagan precursor of the Christmas tree, and I’m pretty sure he’s talking about Jeremiah chapter 10. It’s something I’ve talked about in the Prophet Pearls. I’ve always read this as referring to “wooden idols”. But if an atheist historian like Dr. Carrier tells me that it’s talking about Christmas trees, it’s at least worth a second look, worth some prayer and reading.

So this Christmas, I will be reading Jeremiah 10 and praying for understanding of its true meaning. Shalom.

You have been listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

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Related Posts:
Easter Miracle of the Holy Fire
Don't Call it Tammuz
Tammuz and the Lunar Sabbath

Show Notes:

Guest Bio - Richard Carrier has a Ph.D. in the history of philosophy from Columbia University, and is a published philosopher and historian, specializing in contemporary philosophy of naturalism, and in Greco-Roman philosophy, science, and religion, and the origins of Christianity. He blogs regularly, lectures for community groups worldwide, and teaches courses online. He is the author of many books including Sense and Goodness without God, On the Historicity of Jesus, and Proving History, as well as chapters in several anthologies and articles in academic journals. For more about Dr. Carrier and his work see www.richardcarrier.info.

The image at the top of this page is of Mithra slaying the bull in a scene known as the Tauroctony. This scene appears in every temple of Mithra, but the story behind it is a matter of conjecture (=guesswork).

The Greek deity Dionysus, known to the Romans as Bacchus and identified with the Phoenician god Tammuz. This statue is on display at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

The Greek deity Dionysus, known to the Romans as Bacchus and sometimes identified with the Phoenician god Tammuz. This statue is on display at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Verses Mentioned:

Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah 8a

Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 92b (Rabbis on the Valley of Dry Bones)

Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 15a (debate about whether Job existed or was just a parable).

Justin Martyr, Dialogues with Trypho, Chapters 69-70

Justin Martyr, Apology 1, Chapters 20-22

Roman festival of Saturnalia

Chronograph of 354 (On December 25: "N·INVICTI·CM·XXX" - "Birthday of the unconquered, games ordered, thirty races.")

Kersey Graves, The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors

Dr. Carrier's Critique of The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors

Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons

Philo, On the Giants, Sections 58-60

Origen, Contra Celsus, Book IV, Sections 50-52

Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris, 11.355b: "Clea, whenever you hear the mythical stories told by the Egyptians about their gods—of their wanderings, dismemberments, and many experiences like these—you must remember what I said earlier and not think that any of these things is being said to have actually happened like that or to have actually come to pass..." (Quoted in Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus, Element 14)

Plutarch, Moralia, 9.388f-389a: "Now we hear the [pagan] theologians affirming... that God is deathless and eternal in his nature, but due to some predestined design and reason, he undergoes transformations of his person, and at one time enkindles his nature into fire... The more enlightened, however, concealing from the masses this transformation into fire... speak in a deceptive way of what he suffers in his transformation as a tearing apart, as it were, and a dismemberment... and they narrate deaths and vanishings, followed by returns to life and resurrections— riddles and myths quite in keeping with his transformations." (Quoted in Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus, Element 31)

The History of Christmas

History Begins at Sumer

  • Leo Geronimo says:

    Yehovah is my Elohim!

  • Jamie Caldwell says:

    I’m not a Christian. I identify most closely with Judaism if I had to slap a label on myself, but I find these parallels to other supposed crucified/resurrected god messiahs extremely weak and almost laughable. It’s not enough for me personally to just throw my hands in the air and say, “Well, that proves it. Yeshua could not possibly be the/a Jewish messiah. Case closed.”
    I’m curious…..where is the great church of Tammuz, or of Inanna? How about the churches of these other, supposedly many, pagan messiahs who died and rose again? Surely their numbers are in the millions? No? They were “one hit wonders” then?
    Why did this particular rabbi/messiah/son of God named Yeshua manage to last over the centuries and gain billions of followers worldwide? I’m truly curious about this.
    Now, I know that number of followers don’t always equate with being correct or having the truth, because Islam is right behind Christianity in numbers. However, the fact remains that Yeshua has lived on, the New Testament documents have lived on, and those other pagan imposters didn’t. Why?
    As far as Christmas goes, I’ll leave that one alone. Thank you for this topic, Nehemia! I really enjoyed it and appreciate the work you do. I pray our Father will bless you abundantly.

    • UKJ says:

      *However, the fact remains that Yeshua has lived on, the New Testament documents have lived on, and those other pagan imposters didn’t. Why?* —

      Hello Jamie,

      I hope the following sheds some light on your question!

      Acts 5:35 He said to them, “You men of Israel, be careful concerning these men, what you are about to do.

      Acts 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
      Acts 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

      I would also like to add that the first followers of Yeshua were eye witnesses of his life, death and resurrection! Most of them were martyred because of their witness! Would anyone want to die such cruel deaths for a lie or a fake?

  • LG says:

    I’ve listened to this podcast twice in the past I believe. It’s very good. Quickly I’d like to point out that December 25 as Jesus’ birth was accepted before Constantine. Julius Africanus (160-240) said,”For the Jews,… have handed down to us, by their extant Hebrew histories, the number
    of 5500 years as the period up to the advent of the Word of salvation…”(Chronographiae 1.) This would place the Creation at A.M. 5001 and Jesus’ conception 5500 years later at around March 22-25 and thus his birth at December 25 (see also Clement’s Stromata [150-215], 21for Jesus conceived [lit. “genesis”] at “the twenty-fifth day of Pachon” i.e. March 25.)
    I hope this will add some good information.

  • Erin McFarlin says:

    What a great topic of discussion.
    Nehemia, I feel with you on this and pray also for expounding from YHVH for Jeremiah 10.
    Stay as you are I know I am blessed by the journey you present to us.
    My heart since childhood had felt for the persecution of the long historicness if the chosen people.
    Many blessings to you!

  • Jeffrey Manresa says:

    As we enter a time of deep fakes it will be hard to prove anyting. Mass book burnings has always been the way of the enemy. Remember the Springfield Revival. Yehovah always provides a way out of the lie.

  • Oscar Hernandez says:

    Thank you for a very interesting episode. As far as the observance of the festival of Sol Invictus, I tend to agree with Nehemia. The observance of the winter solstice goes back centuries before the founding of Rome. So why, then was it established so much later in the third century CE? I speculate, and agree with him you, That the Romans saw in Christianity a threat to their traditional culture. They then established their Sol Invictus festival as the Roman “war on Christmas”. Not the persecuted Christians׳ way of incorporating and christianizing a pagan holiday.
    As far as the pagan resurrection myths, I see them in the same light as their reincarnation teachings. That is, the human heart crying out against our inevitable death. The big difference with the New Testament, is of course, the earthly physicality of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • MaryAnne says:

    I always appreciate your teachings! Sorry this is so late for this segment, but two things I’d like to mention regarding it. !.) I heard the other day that supposedly there is a “head in a glass jar” that has been saved (from Egypt, either Nimrod or Osiris) that CERN is going to take the DNA from and resurrect him, somehow with something like an MRI. (Weird, but I wouldn’t doubt it!) If you “Google” Osiris head in a jar it comes up with an Illuminati playing card.. Twilight Zoneish! 2.) Some Christians have placed The Messiah’s birth around “lambing season”. Hence, “the sign” in Luke 2:8-12 would be that He was wrapped in “swaddling cloth” lying in a manger, just like the shepherds from the “tower of the flock” would do to protect the new lambs to be used for sacrifice. At the time when Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria, Emperor Augustus would not have issued a census to make people travel in the dead of winter.

  • Yeshua says:

    Hi Nehemia. I’m from Brazil, I like your teachings, but as a Christian I think different about this theme. I’ve read others comments on christmas, and there are many points of views. May Yehovah bless you!

  • Vyomi says:

    Hi Nehemia
    I don’t celebrate Christmas but I want to
    Thank you for clarifying the Origins of the 25th as Saturnalia. The whole Tammuz nimrod seminaris story was a bit confusing.

    I had also read about the Jews being persecuted during this time and was appalled and heart broken by it.

    I have come to realise that though we may be able to find some moral good within the ‘spirit of christmas’, there is also a lot of evil within that same “spirit” it seems.

  • James Hewett says:

    I’m sorry for what Christians have done to the Jewish people! And I stand ashamed for what they did to ur ancestors . I understand how u must feel. I am part Native American. And the US government did not do my ancestors right. Nor did they handle slavery in the right way. One thing I have learned. The people alive today did not do the things of the past. And to hold them accountable is wrong. It is ur heart that hurts and wants someone to pay. But that belongs to Yehovah. Not us. So please just think about it please

    • Drew Gibson says:

      Thank you James for the most important wisdom of all. The last teaching of Jesus after all was “forgive them.”

  • Gloria says:

    Thank you, good show.

  • Lea Cruz says:

    Hi Nehemiah,

    My challenge for you today: why there is no provision for Israel during the winter season based on 7 Feasts of YeHoVaH. We all know from the Bible on the anniversary of the 9th of Av (the sin of the golden calf) Israel rejected the Promised Land causing them to wonder for 40 years. Why our forgiving, gracious & loving Abba Father YeHoVaH did not made provision by making another Feast to cover their sin? Letting millions of people wonder & die in the wilderness if we would understand the same thing of what happened to the generation of Noah & the great flood? If you remember the passage He would shortened the days for the elect sake; is our Abba Father YeHoVaH is talking about the period of winter? Why during the winter cold season; we have the flu season & the body’s immune system is weak during this period; is there any connection about: darkness, gloom, sickness & death, the season of winter & Satan and the increased suicide, depression, violence of people not only to the Jews but the whole world?
    Why the Bible gives more emphasis on celebrating one’s death than one’s birth (YeHoVaH is ever existing) in the Book of Proverbs and other books of the Bible. Is our Abba Father YeHoVaH hinting that He would know how Satan will deceive His people and have these wisdom written for us in the Bible as a warning not to celebrate the birth of The Messiah rather celebrate His death according to what He already gave us: Spring & Fall Feasts.
    I am praying that you will continue to search for the Truth & our Abba Father YeHoVaH open your eyes thru His Name, Attributes & the Ark of the Covenant where His Name dwells forever.
    Lea Cruz

    • UKJ says:

      Hello Lea

      You make a good point!
      ‘However’ one could go to the extreme if not careful!
      Maybe a few point’s to consider …
      There has been a rejoicing in Yeshua’s birth !
      Mt 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
      Not alone in Yeshua’s birth, but also in John’s birth ..
      Lk 1:14 You will have joy and gladness; and many will rejoice at his birth.

      Yeshua’s parents accepted the presentation and gifts by the magi
      Mt 2:11 They came into the house and saw the young child with Miriam, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

      I don’t think we need to ignore Yeshua’s birth!
      He just wasn’t born on a date in December!
      Many good people who call themselves Christian, just don’t know this, besides many other things ….

      Questions: ‘Is Yehovah the god of death or life? Without the resurrection of Yeshua (which is life) , could there be any hope for life after death for any of us?

      In my view one needs to find a balance and understanding between the two ..
      At the end of it all, it is about life rather than death! Life is finding it’s expression in a birth! For humans this means going through death into life through a new birth, yet future! ..

    • UKJ says:

      PS I am replying to the following comments..
      Why the Bible gives more emphasis on celebrating one’s death than one’s birth (YeHoVaH is ever existing) in the Book of Proverbs and other books of the Bible. Is our Abba Father YeHoVaH hinting that He would know how Satan will deceive His people and have these wisdom written for us in the Bible as a warning not to celebrate the birth of The Messiah rather celebrate His death according to what He already gave us: Spring & Fall Feasts.

  • UKJ says:

    mother-child, virgin birth and mythology)

    Why would Adam have spoken the following words: “Gen 4:1 And the man knew Eve his wife, and she conceiveth and beareth Cain, and saith, `I have gotten a man by Jehovah;’ when literally this was not the case?
    One could say..
    The new is in the former “conceived” and the former is in the new revealed.(materialized)

    As Solomon said:”There is nothing new under the sun” How true this is . Idol worship and the imagination of mankind have always existed. Our movies are full of it , and we live in the time of progress. However, does this make “The “Son” less of the son because he had been born of a virgin? Is it Not through advanced knowledge in scientific research that it can soon become reality in our time..?

    How much more could such an occurrence have been materialized by our heavenly Scientist?

    “The question of Redemption” seems to have run throughout society and history, beginning with Adam. It certainly would explain further development throughout its history.

    However, are Adam’s hopes of redemption lost?

    • UKJ says:

      Correction: Why would “Eve” have spoken the following words:

      If I may add, the fear of death has concerned all of mankind beginning of time, as most religions are occupied by it, though showing itself in various ways and means. Much of mythology evolved around the gods and their interlude with death, resurrection or afterlife ect.

      In my view this goes back to the fall and has been spinning various tentacles around it.

      None of the animal world have such a history. This kind of ridicules evolution and makes a perfect case for a Creator and let’s mankind stand out for it’s search for the meaning of life..

      ( it is somewhat off topics, and it isn’t even xmas yet 🙂

  • Ezracha Bat Ephrayim says:

    No Knowledge of Thou Whom Hast No Knowledge

    Oh how my heart exposed doth break
    Our El above ye doth forsake
    Where art the love and kindness then
    When every knee refuseth bend?
    Made for thou-self to fill the spot
    Thou saith Him, but know Him not
    Her idols and eggs doth celebrate
    Stand fast ye traditions, hold debate
    From whence these things originate?
    Reverse the truth, abominate
    Thou songs abound, thou burdens light
    Thou stagger blindly in the night
    Understand naught as conscience care
    No law to guide, nor make aware
    Without a price, ‘tis paid thou see
    If only thou acknowledge thee
    Not a one can count to three
    In His stead erect a tree
    Against His face, these things thou place
    Believe thou may, by power of grace?
    Cometh Him then, a day once hidden
    Strange as thou art will be forbidden.

    Laurie Jo (Noxon) DeGrave 2007

    Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

  • Erin Hunter says:

    why is jesus such a common used name in religion when it is a made up name to separate the joshua of the old testament from the messiah of the new testament doesnt it make the word of yahweh a lie

    thomas hunter

    • Minks says:

      Jesus is not the name of our deliver Messiah His name is Yeshua or pronounced Yeshwa it is definitely not Jesus. Look up references on Iseous etc. No letter j in Hebrew language. Also letter j only became part of english language about +- 400 to 500 years ago.

  • Judith says:

    Nehemiah I love the respect of when two or more meet you embrace wholeheartedly. Father wants us to explore his thoughts and reason though relationship. The original source is so critical to explore truth as best we are able through Yehovah’s Spirit. Thank you.

    One covert aspect of Christmas I see is the long term build up of political world control is that gift giving has become an economic burden mostly through the overloading of bankcards – high interest included as their gift. Culmination point destructive and tormenting debt.

    The real “heart” of giving has been kidnapped into expensive, covert demands – latest technology, peer pressure. This high volume feeds the banks, the mega corporate business owners, Illuminati. The masses seduced into giving what they cannot afford.

    For the real heart of families giving to one another and to others is to express their love even when they choose to endue the economic burden usually for quite some time after Christmas. The heart to strengthen the valued relationship.

    Oh how Father wants us to enjoy any meal together in his righteousness, justice peace and joy in trust of his absolute love for all who call out.

    For this reason I discern we need to be watchmen on the wall to protect and walk in Father’s values and nurture of his sons and daughters. And the more I meet with your interviews the more I can grow in revelation, discernment, understanding and knowledge in this critical time.


  • Charles Mickelson says:

    Jeremiah 10 looks clear to me. Idols made of wood and adorned with shiny metals. Last I checked you don’t have to be a craftsman to cut down a Christmas tree. Just sayin’.

    • Yes, I think Jeremiah is talking about decorating and cutting a tree down to celebrate a day, and making God angry, because that tree does not have any place with God, and bowing down to it, and putting presents under it, God is a jealous God, He wants us to worship Him, and nothing else, no images.
      Yehovah Bless You All. I give people credit who do the research of why they believe, what they believe, like Dr. Carter, I pray that He will have a “God experience” that he will no longer be atheist.

    • LG says:

      I do not believe that a Christmas tree has anything to do with decorated idols. The prophet Jeremiah is clearly condemning the “vanity” of worshiping the idol of Baal, Ishtar, El, etc. that was once a tree in the forest! May I point out that nobody bows down to a Christmas tree! Let us stop demonizing Christmas. Yes some of the traditions came from pagan and other cultural customs (why even having livestock may have originated with a pagan! Gen. 4:20), although may I point out that if there were no pagan Greeks there would be no Hanukkah. That’s some food for thought.

  • Erin Hunter says:

    All of us no matter where in life we are, should be fact checking. Too many times, in my 50+ years, teachings have been tools… some for good intentions but while following in a blind fashion one can be [more than likely ‘WILL BE’ DECEIVED].
    Thanks be to YHVH [as I pray and turn from my own way teachings implanted upon my sincere mind ‘believing in GOD’ throughout my youth until adulthood]

    Scripture has a living power but we can be enticed to believe what we want… if it comforts us, empowers us it can turn us into an adversary to truth!
    I stand on the wall with all of you, in my prayer closet and having fellowship to be one with His people who are scattered across the creation we call earth.


    Nehemiah, God bless you in all you do! My prayers are with you!

  • Elizebeth Veghte says:

    Even though this was posted back in 14, I leaned something I didn’t know… That the Babylonian Talmud was influenced by the Babylonians.
    So didn’t the Jewish people learn a lesson from the Assyrians when they conquered the Northern Kingdom – not to adulterate the sacred practices according to the Levitical law? Next time Chanukah comes around, I’ll talk to my Jewish friends about the roots of Chanukah as well as my Christian ones about Saturnalia! Well done. It is my hope that Jews and Christians who truly see a relationship with the almighty and to life a life that honors the Lord, Yehovah will work together to eradicate paganism from both sides of the faith.

    If the Pope and his followers would only speak the truth about the history and admit what was and is wrong, and if Protestants would also note that not all pagan influences were removed during the reformist times… This might create a better platform to reach Muslim people to understand that Yehovah can be a divine father to them too. Muslims are also unfortunately ignorant of their own influence of the Arab pantheon of their moon goddess and her consort the sun, and to this day, a round blue stone is often worn by Muslims as an amulete for Neptune and the Moon.

    The sooner that all of us can get an understanding of how our pagan past has affected our modern religious practices, we can start to even in a subtle way start a change…. Even if it means telling a child Yeshua-Jesus wasn’t born in December, and the Magi found Yeshua-Jesus 2 years after birth in Egypt, and there were certainly more than three gifts. Jews can return to the original “day of shouting in prayer to God” and tell the story about how it changed. Then we can start to change our culture by starting to celebrate gradually how we should. It all begins with purging the pagan within.

  • This truth has been around even kept by Christians and Messianic Jews. The Puritans in fact came to America to keep away from Christ-mass as kept by Romanizers. The Messiah Yahshuah Zech 6 by name who most mistranslate as Jesus, DID NOT KEEP any pagan Idol worship because HE was a JEW. Thanks for the info Nehemia good truth to know.

  • Robert says:

    Ancient Christian leaders decided to celebrate the birth of Messiah in December to get rid of the pagan festivals of their day. It worked!!! These pagan festivals are no longer celebrated.
    Merry Christmas!!! Feliz Navidad!!!

    • Reyes Nava says:

      I cannot tell if you are being intentionally provocative or
      just willfully ignorant. The pagan festivals continue to be
      celebrated, They were just relabeled under the Christian brand.
      YHVH warns us about turning aside to go after the ways
      Of the gentiles because they are empty and cannot deliver.
      Jesus upheld Torah and would be disgusted With all the
      man made rituals that you celebrate.

      While you say “Merry Christmas” to Nehemiah, I say to you
      “Blissful Ignorance”

  • sn42 says:

    I respond “Happy Chanukah”

  • George says:

    Hi, I would think that the book ‘Too long in the sun’ from Richard Reeves would be more suitable then this atheist. Of course, personal opinion. 🙂
    Shalom Alecheim

  • Kevin and Brenda Paulson says:

    Nehemia, we are enjoying the “Hebrew Voices” format very much. Learning so much and meeting through you so many different people. Shalom, Kevin and Brenda

  • Benyahmeen says:

    Thanks for all your programs; I am wondering if you have seen the you tube video of the 15 year old Jewish boy “Natan” that died and told on imminent future of Israel… it would be nice if you could interview him… this is the link’ such an amazing story/experience he has!

  • Ruth says:

    I put this on late at night and probably fell asleep (not due to boredom, just the lateness of the hour!) before it was over. BUT I did hear the part about the various “crucified Christs” idea which gets a LOT of press on blogs from people who have a vested interest in ‘disproving’ that Jesus (Rabbi Yeshua to be exact) actually suffered on the cross. So it was good news to me to hear the Zoroaster/ Mithras/ Tammuz theory soundly refuted and put to bed (pun fully intended!) I myself have also found that when you check the sources, you find that scholars do indeed keep repeating what another said and another said AS IF it is solid, grounded evidence, but when you finally get to the original guy who is credited with having postulated it, you find that he is merely surmising based on a few (seriously often!) frazzled THREADS of possible connections. His peers, too, often disagreed and in some cases already refuted his opinions. Yet he is quoted as if his thoughts are ironclad science by generations of people in the field. That smacks of a desperation to believe ANYTHING BUT that there could be credible evidence for the existence of Jesus and his death in that manner. So — it made my night to have someone who could have had an axe to grind (an atheist) yet chose to stick with factual material (so refreshing!) to debunk the so-called “debunkers”! Thank you for posting – that was a gift! Thank you Nehemia! 😉

  • Yes, Satan is a counterfeiter. Satan also wants worship. The prince the power of the air already knew certain actions and attributes that YaHVeH`s Mashiyach (Yahshua) would do and have. The book of Revelation attest of this in this verse:

    Revelation/Raz Galah/Secrets Revealed: 13:11: and I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

    Did you notice the “two horns like a lamb”? Did you notice the beast had two horns like a lamb but the beast spoke “as a dragon”. Dragon is a scriptural reference to Satan. See Revelation 12:9. Yes, Satan has been counterfeiting the truth since Adam, and he has done it in these last days through Christianity. Not that “Judaism” is teaching the truth either. Yes, Islam is just as wrong and misleading as the previous two mentioned man made religions.

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ Phillip; Are you sure that described Devil, Satanu, or evil spirit is not us humans ?
      Remember the old Roman saying that “wolfs do not eat wolfs”. They eat baby lambs an fawns, BUT only when really hungry. That is just for survival. Not like us humans.
      We are the only specie ,out of that supposedly 30-50 million species ( starting with the microbes) inhabiting this Earth ,that exploit, abuse and destroy everything and every living species, including our own fellow humans. And most shamefully, we humans do it not for survival, but even for pleasure and for profits. Could you think of anything more even than that ?

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ Phillip; That Book of Revelation, is a clear picture of just why the Hassid Sect was so unpopular and abscure even back 20 centuries ago. Not just that they were not Rabbinicals, that is refused to subject to the authority of the Jewish Court, the Sanhadrins, but they had an absolute fatalistic view of life and the world.
      They vanished shortly after the death of the rebbe (Jesus).
      Some went north to Asia Minor9 see the Acts ), the remaining ones left to the Cresent Delta, led by Mani. Some of them around the world survive as Mandenites, they use water-baptism, but believe that the rebbe (Jesus) betrayed the Torah.

  • Eileen says:

    Replcement from my first reply: The Jewish Talumudic teaching on Saturnalia and Adam’s response of “8 days” of fasting for the days getting shorter, plus the concept the sun needing help and so candles are being lit, combined remind me of the Jewish traditions of Chanukah with the “miracles of 8 days of oil” and lighting candles for 8 days.

  • Eileen says:

    The Rabbinic tradition of Adam lighting candles for 8 days around the time of the winter solstice sounds very similar to the Jewish Chanukah tradition.

  • biancasivan says:

    תודה רבה נחמיה!!! כן, תן לנו עוד בבקשה

  • Starla Meister says:

    Richard mentioned Jeremiah 10 in talking about the christmas tree. I may have found a picture of santa..SMILE… in Ezekiel 23: 12-15 NASB …”Just sayin” It looked like him when I read it.

  • biancasivan says:

    !!!תודה רבה נחמיה

    !!!תן לנו עוד בבקשה

  • Janice says:

    It should be will noted that prior to 1960’s, the no god communists had taken a real hold on US through education systems, media, certainly gov’t, that US underwent such worthless notions of Permissive Parenting, then the Feminism movement which actually taught young women that being married was a male slavery idea and they should leave their families and “go find themselves” as a nation we began the slow decent into dishonor and disrespect for males, fathers, male leadership and burning US flags, free sex of the hippies (favorite pastime of college students on drugs); nice that he has studied all the myths good way to spend time, not impressed by anyone just because they have Dr in front of name, or went to Cambridge or anyother “enlighted” liberal propagandized organization. Whatever you put your time and attention to you become. The guest had no specific definition for “values” of any kind, and certainly none for his choice of pagan Christimas time, no definiton for “values” is a plague on the US at this time.There was a bit too much laughter, and giggling to believe any of this had any “value” except a “mocking spirit’. The young man sounds to be like one of the many bobbled headed people of the so called 60’s enlightenment; it also began a time of fatherless ness in the US through massive divorce also a motive of communism to split up family units.

    I am well aware of the pagan festival Christmas, and it has absolutely no value to it other than “shop till you drop”.

    Nehemia, let’s have a good discussion some day on humanism and nihilism and how it plays it plays out in history; where does it usually lead to.

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ Janice; Thank you for posting an undenieable trueth.
      Today’s Humanism and all this so called political correctness ,is in reality the polished form of Marxist material socialism. As today it is advanced by highly educated individuals, I refer to them as the “Polished Marxists”. The Soviet system was of the “Peasant Marxists”. As the first educated party member become General Secretary, the system ended,although he, (Gorbachev) only inteded to make progressive changes. BUT the ideology has not died ! Today’s liberals and the like, are convinced that the Soviet system callapsed just because was not practiced according to as they feel should have been.

      After WWI ,in Europe, the “First Communist” attempt, all those Red Barrons run to west. Established the so called “School of Social Humanist tudies” at Frankfurt University. As Hitler was come to power, they all run to US. The found shelter at Columbia University. So they had the opportunity to “spread the seed”. They did, but producing the desired cultural Marxist educators, prophessors.
      Now ,it is the third generation (or even fourth) that are present ,and in vital positions of all aspects of our life. In Politecs, media, education, etc. The seed planted we must harvest. That is where we as a nation are now. The results are everywhere.
      As a nation, formerly the pride and envy of the wold now we are economiaclly, financially, miltarilly not just sliding on the sleeperi slope, but a failure since WWII.

  • James Hayman says:

    I debated whether to post this since it isn’t falsifiable but here goes. My simplest explanation for all these ancient myths being similar to the Christian accounts of Yehoshua is Adam kept a journal and wrote in it every day of his 930 year life span. Those ancient accounts where their way of interpreting Adam’s description of a promise Yehovah made to him and Hava about sending her a son who would redeem them from their fall from grace.

    Great episode Nehemia. I was fascinated by Dr. Carriers information.

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ James. Just what you thing, where did Moses got all the info to scribe Genesys ?
      He was dictated only the Law portion of Torah, (Ex.34) He never alleged that historic records were also dictated to him by JeHoVaH
      The historical info likely came from previous records, like some of the so called Epics, like the Gilgamesh, etc. You find statements in the Tnakh as; “but was it not recorded in the Books of.. so and so ? No doubt some were.

  • The Tammuz festival was actually the Summer Solstice


    Jesus was born on December 25th according to my research

    • John Jozsa says:

      According to your Bible (the Greek ) he could NOT have been born on Dec.25. Yje shepards and thir flocks were out in the pasture. Nor had a ruler called every one to travel for census in such a time. Since Israel was an agricultural nation, it was likely after the harvest time, at the end of the agricultural season.
      Beside ,in the Taneck ,king Hezekia is about freezing in front of a brazen fire,in the month of Kislev /December.
      But you need to Google “Mitra” ,Emperor Constantine’s god, that was allagedly born without human parent, in a cave from the rock,on Dec.25.
      “Christians” today go to Bethlehem and into a small cave under the Church of Nativity, and believe that’s where the rebbe was born, without a biological father.
      Most of the “Christian” belives and dogmas are about same as that about Mitra.
      Shortly after the councel of Nicea, Constantine issued his Sole Invictus, and persecuted Jewes who worshiped on the Sabbath, instead of the Mitra on it’s day, SUNday. (record in Vatican Library)

      • John Jozsa says:

        On the subject of Mitra. Several historical churches and cathedrals in Europe do have over the altars at above the crucifix the symbolic sun as multiple rays around.
        The typical symbol of Mitra. The irony is that at a few Churches, Rome and Paris, perjaps others also, in the middle of the SUNgod simbol, the inscription of Yod, Heth,Vad,Heth, or YHVH, the tetragamon.
        Also at the Nicean counsel, called by Constantin I, the emperor himself appeared at the opening and closing ,dressed as a roman SUNgod. Just as the SUNdial image over the crucifix.
        So the old saying is so true, “There is nothing new under the sun” !

      • I’ve refuted the SPheperd arugment on my Blog


        Mithra was not born on December 25th, December 25th wasn’t linked to Sol Invictus till 354, well after Christians had already placed Jesus birth there.

        No Anceint Pagan would place a Birthday on a Soslstice.

        • John Jozsa says:

          @ Travis; In a way you are correct. Mitra was NOT a living creature, just an imagined idol of an imagined religion.
          But the records of history provides that this Mitra was believed to be born in a cave, out of the bad-rock ,and without human parentage on the 25 th. day of December.
          By the way, conception without the male chromosome, like clone, can only produce female offspring. Like all cloned animals are females.

          Beside that pagan believe, the “Gospel of James”, the brother of the rebbe “Jesus”, named their mother’s parents and even their maternal grandfather. So, Joseph was indeed a Judaite as stated by Mattew and Luke. Mary was a Levite.
          You say there is no such Gospel, BUT there was for over 1200 years,Vatican removed it as Johannes Guttenberg started printing and publishing the Bible.

          Mitraism was likely picked up by the Roman legions in the eastern provinces of Persia, Babylonia. It became the religion of the Roman military, as it was restricted to male only membership. It became great benefit to the roman emperial military, as it promoted commeradri and bravery. All emperor from military background were Mitra worshipers. So was Constantine, and his parents. His father was a roman general and pro-consul to Britain. Constantine fought the Pitts, and every time his life was in danger from political rivals,like Gullius, he escaped to Britain.
          If you read expensively about Constantine, you’ll find he was a very cleaver and capable fellow.
          After Gallius sent him the purple-robe, and became emperor, while in the realization of the sliding of the empire due to decay of public morality. . He felt that religion could alter that. Beside, he even moved the capital of the empire a thousand kilometer to the east. Now that’s was very progressive indeed.
          But as for the revival of public morality in the empire, in 325 CE he ordained an state-religion. Strictly on the bases of his personal religion, Mitraism. He also put an end to the religion of emperor worship. It was Gallius, a known saddist and one of the most unpopular emperor.
          The sages of the followers of the young rabbi (Jesus) now somewhat changed Hassidsm, took the opportunity and simply assimilated to the government supported state religion. Only emperor Theodosus I, proclaimed “Christianity” the state religion of Rome 2 centuries after Constantine.

          If I may bring up here the so called persecution of the “Christians” ?
          There seem to be no direct record of such a direct persecution. BUT the religion of Emperor Worship was also a form of practiced, sometime enforced religion in Rome.
          Most sober minded emperors did not give a hut about religion. However,records show that a few unbalanced minded emperors like Nero,Caligula and Gallius, who was the most extreeme, did enforce it.
          But my question is always by common sence thinking is, just what pagan roman gentles would have chosen execution instead of going along ? After all, all roman gentiles were pagans. Just like in the book of Daniel, how many gentile Babylonians were thrown into the brick over ,along with Michael, Shadra and Nabadnigo ?
          The answer is none. They were all pagans, and worship of a statue of the king or any of their idol made no difference. So was the way in Rome.

          • The “records” of Mithra being born in a cave are 2nd Century at the oldest.

            And no Anceint Pagans wold have played a Son god’s Birth on the Winter Solstice. As I’ve documented on my Blog.

        • John Jozsa says:

          @Travis; If you do your search, can rather easily find that most of today’s religions , in some form or another are ,kind of evolved from Zoroesterism.
          As well about the Mitra, go and Google it. On Wikipedia you find all the ref, cited.

          • Zoroaster stole ideas from Judaism and mixed it with native Paganism, not unlike Mohamed, he probably either was or knew a Northern Kingdom exile, since he lived in Media around 600-500 BC.

        • Hi there my Friend!

          Astronomical and historical facts proves the belief regarding Dec 25 / Christmas not being from pagan origin, but Christian is a scienfitically invalid total fraud:


          As John already stated there were no person called “Mithra” in history. Because Mithra is a product of religious pagan ancient Persian imagination which pre-dated their much later religion: Zoroastrianism:


          In the same way the Roman-Catholic Iesous Khristos (Jesus Christ) whom you believe to be born in Dec 25, is a product of religious Roman-Catholic imagination mixed with a little bit of the Bible in the 300’s.

          I am ok with you believing in this Jesus (as I am ok with people believing in Buddha or Khrisna or some other ”holy man” or ”god”) and this Roman Christ born in Dec 25, but please don’t mix this product of imagination with the Jewish Messiah of the Bible from the Israelite Dadivic Royal family line.

          Dec 25 / Winter Solstice is not included in the Father God’s Biblical agricultural Feasts which are the ONLY legitimate Biblical Testimony of the Jewish Messiah in this universe beginning from His Virgin Birth in the Biblical Fall Feasts Season, either on Yom Teruah or Sukkot 2BCE. And all the way to His Atoning death and resurrection in the Biblical Spring Feasts Season. Here’s MINDBLOWING presentation about the astronomical (not astrological!) extremely rare BirthSign of the Melech Tzedek, ”Righteous King” in the Biblical Fall Feasts in 2BCE in the starry sky of Near-East / Betlehem by brother Russeld Judd:


          For more information about the Feasts of the Father and their synchronization with the Messiah’s Gospel in the Stars, please click the link in my nick name. This is not about some kind of a theory or new theology or astrology but astronomical, historical and biblical facts.

          Blessings to You in your journey to the Truth of the Jewish King’s Birth!

          In the Spirit and Love of the King and His Royal Astronomy,
          “Messianic Astronomer” from Finland

          • Where does it was the Messiah has to be born on a Feast Day? Only his Death is directly linked to a Feast day.

            It’s impossible for Jesus to have been born on a Leviticus 23 Feast day, the Romans would not have carried out that Census there so close to a Pilgrimage day.

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ Travis; Actually , accordance of the climate of Babylon, was similar like here in Florida. So they celebrated both Solastics. Honoring Tammuz , the god of nature.
      The year by climate was just two cycles. The symbol of Tammuz was the “cross” ,that christians today claim. However, the symbol of Christianity is the shape of a dish. With the words in it “ECTUS” also means fish in Latin,but an aberaviated form of the Christian believe.
      You may wish to read Ezekiel 8.

      • They celebrated the Solcitices but they were the time of Death and Resurrection not of Births. Births were more likely to be on Equinoxes.

        The Christian Traiditon switched those around, which fits God’s style perfectly, most Canaanite shrines faced East so he had the Mosiac Tabernacle and Solomonic Temple face West.

    • Abel Kingsley says:

      Jesus was not born on dec 25th, Dec 25th in Bethlehem was winter season and no shepherd would be on the field at that time of the year. Just a common sense.

      • Everyone thinks that except people who’s been to Bethlehem in late December.

        Shepherds in Winter

        The Biblical Argument against a winter birth for Jesus is a claim that Shepherds would not have had their flocks outdoors in winter. These people are forgetting that Israel does not have the climate of Northern Europe or America. The Weather can indeed be very bad in Winter there sometimes but not always, plenty of areas around the same latitude like the Southern US often have nice weather at this time. I live in one of the Coldest part of the US, Wisconsin, and sometimes we don’t get Snow till after Christmas has passed.

        Genesis 31:38-40: “This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes. ”

        Jacob was at this time much further north then Bethlehem, yet he was engaged in Shepherding during the winter. So using the no shepherds in winter argument calls Scripture a liar.

        James Kelso, an archaeologist who spent a number of years living in Palestine and who has done extensive research there says this:
        The best season for the shepherds of Bethlehem is the winter when heavy rains bring up a luscious crop of new grass. After the rains the once-barren, brown desert earth is suddenly a field of brilliant green. One year when excavating at New Testament Jericho, I lived in Jerusalem and drove through this area twice every day. At one single point along the road, I could see at times as many as five shepherds with their flocks on one hillside. One shepherd stayed with his flock at the same point for three weeks, so lush was the grass. But as soon as the rains stopped in the spring, the land quickly took on its normal desert look once again.
        Since there seem to have been a number of shepherds who came to see the Christ child, December or January would be the most likely months (James Kelso, An Archaeologist Looks At The Gospels, p. 23-24).
        Also there is Canon H.B Tristram
        “A little knoll of olive trees surrounding a group of ruins marks the traditional site of the angels’ appearance to the shepherds, Migdol Eder, ‘the tower of the flock’. But the place where the first ‘Gloria in excelsis’ was sung was probably further east, where the bare hills of the wilderness begin, and a large tract is claimed by the Bethlehemites as a common pasturage. Here the sheep would be too far off to be led into the town at night; and exposed to the attacks of wild beasts from the eastern ravines, where the wolf and the jackal still prowl, and where of old the yet more formidable lion and bear had their covert, they needed the shepherds’ watchful care during the winter and spring months, when alone pasturage is to be found on these bleak uplands“. Picturesque Palestine Vol 1 page 124
        Also note this excerpt from Messianic Jewish Scholars Alfred Edersheim:
        “That the Messiah was born in Bethlehem was a settled conviction. Equally so, was the belief that He was to be revealed from Migdal Eder , the tower of the flock.
        This Migdal Eder, was not the watch tower for ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheep ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah leads to the conclusion that the flocks which pastured there were destined for Temple Sacrifices, and accordingly that the Shepherds who watched over them were, no ordinary Shepherds. The latter were under the ban of Rabbinism on the account of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, which rendered strict legal observances unlikely, if not absolutely impossible.
        The same Mishnic also leads us to infer, that these flocks lay out all year round , since they are spoken of as in the fields thirty days before Passover- that is, in the month of February, when in Palestine the average rainfall is nearly greatest. Thus Jewish traditions in some dim manner apprehended the first revelation of the Messiah from Migdal Eder, where Shepherds watched the Temple flocks all year round. Of the deep symbolic significance of such a coincidence, it is needless to speak -The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah By Alfred Edersheim
        I’ve also seen it claimed by Chuck Missler and others that Israel is “impassable” during winter, and Mary and Joseph couldn’t have traveled south at this time. But John 10:21-22 tells us Jesus traveled to Jerusalem to keep the feast of the Dedication/Hannukah. Indeed I take from this passage that Hanukkah while not one of the required pilgrimage days became an unofficial additional one, since it was intimately about Jerusalem and The Temple.


  • Miro Skiljo says:

    The episode was great!
    But I must say I was expecting to hear some more concrete evidence about the christmass tree.
    The way I see it, Jeremiah 10 is talking about the idols which were made from the tree and worshiped and not about worshiping the tree as a tree itself. (Although we can make some conections to the christmass tree today)

    I remember that you have once said that the tree of ashera was set by the pagan altars (baal’s I think) and it was representing the sacred tree and a simbol of fertility. Wouldn’t that be a more apropriate conection (and maybe origence) of the christmass tree today??

    P.s. Yes. Do another interwiew with the same guest.

    • John Jozsa says:

      The “tree” as associated with pagan worship was observed by the Israelites as they moved into Canaan. The Jebusites, as most idol worshipers set up tree on the high hill as center of their worship.

      Has Israelites follow some time such practice? Absolutely, that is why Jeremiah made such reference. At times worshiped Baal.
      Do not forget the origen of Hanuka ! The victory over the Hellenists. Cleansing the Temple and re-constructing the Altar. Hellenism was the carbonpaper forerunner of today’s humanism. Actually a religion by placing “humans” as the supreme creatures of the Universe,instead of YeHoVaH.
      Today, the “Christians ” do not worship the X-mass tree, just use it as a symbol connected to the supposedly birth of the rebbe. (Jesus).
      As once stated; there is nothing new under the Sun.

  • Evelin Carr says:

    Help! I can’t get it to start or download.

    • Are you connected to the internet? It works for me. Anyone else having trouble? Please try a different browser or a different device and let me know if it still doesn’t work.

    • John Jozsa says:

      I had the same problem, my speaker plug did not work, BUT can read it all,and that’s a blessing, since this is indeed great. Thanks allfor rebbe Gordon.

  • Octavio says:

    As a Christian, I hear your pain Nehemia, you are right, there is a lot of pain between Christians and Jews. Thanks for bringing a lot of light to this subject.
    For His Cause…Matt. 5:11

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ Octavio; Unfortunately that is true. But to overcome that, we all need to recognize that we humans are all the product of our Creator JeHoVaH, be the children of Jacob or the Children of Noah.

  • Sharon Fahey says:

    Could it be, that when Cain was sent away, that he could only remember some of commands Hashem gave and in time filled in gaps with his own desired requirements to make it easier for himself or worse, that he despised or didn’t want to be bothered in keeping them so he did whatever he wanted? Or could it be that from the very beginning man has always needed to believe in a god, something bigger than themselves so they created god’s in their own images that evolved into god’s to fulfill political, religious or personal needs? Hashem has always been and His ways have always been what He knew we needed as humans. There was never a secret agenda up His sleeve, so to speak. When a woman was barren it was clear He opened her womb to give birth. He didn’t ever require a virgin birth outside of marriage or without a man. The child didn’t have to be a mystery to be chosen of Hashem and used to deliver His people. Hashem always gave man opportunity and called those who felt least to honor Him in what He called them to do. Could it be that people who witnessed Hashem’s people living and prospering in the ways of Hashem, stole some of those ways and twisted them to fit their own personal or national agendas? The Hebrews or even Jew’s today were always disliked until they had something the other nations wanted. Just like the boycott today is only in words and travel but those same people would never boycott the things important to them, ie, telecommunications, medical advances, etc. Just my thoughts and questions I hope you might answer.

  • LaVonne Menzel says:

    Nehemia, Abba made the changes of seasons in the very beginning of the Creation. – Gen 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

    This has been a very fascinating study of the lessor-gods. I was taught about them in my middle-school years (public school) when we learned about the planets and where they got their names. I was also taught in-depth about who these gods were but also that they were myth. So that would have been in the early 1950s. I don’t know what they teach in public schools now days but I hear a lot about witchcraft from grade-school children (1-6 grades).
    The enemy is hard at work trying to reach & teach our little ones his ways so pray for the children.

    This man may be an atheist but he is well read and even quoted the Bible a few times. I think I like him and I will pray that he will one day find the True Living G-d. Amen

    • Christopher Gordon says:

      Actually, as Nehemia has pointed out before somewhere, and a quick lookup in my Accordance program confirms, the word for “seasons” is actually “moedim”– appointed times. The word has nothing to do with the cycle of spring, summer, winter and fall, but with the biblical calendar and holidays later described in the Torah.

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ Lavone Never mind the man, just some facts that can learn from him.
      But your comment hit right on the head of the nail. Humanism is hard at work on the minds of the most suseptables, the children. Unfortunately no opposing facts can be presented, accept by a few loyal servants of YeHoVaH, Keep up the good work.

  • Christopher Gordon says:

    Nehemia I think you handled this very gracefully and tactfully without neutering the information at hand, and that is an accomplishment. It was very interesting and I would encourage more.

    I personally think the bottom line is that the “Christmas” traditions DO originate from paganism, and that the Torah says we should not worship YHVH the way the pagans do. Thus, we should distance ourselves from this “holiday”. Whether one believes in Yeshua as messiah or not (personally I do), God clearly says not to do such things. I think it can clearly be seen that trying to “conquer” a pagan practice to overshadow paganism has only resulted in compromising the very things Yeshua taught.

    I also do very much support the theory that this all traces back to the tower of Babel. Since nearly every ethnicity from all parts of the world seem to have the same core pagan sun-worship elements incorporated into their history, I think the Babel split is really the best and most logical way to explain this phenomenon (especially when one believes in the history of the scriptures). In fact, I think this phenomenon is perhaps the greatest EVIDENCE of the Babel story we have. Of course, we must continue to search for relevant source texts as well.

    Sometime in the coming months I’m planning to be traveling the Andes nomad-style, visiting about as many pre-colonial ruins as I can fit on my path. I particularly intend to document as much relevant detail as I can concerning sun worship, to help illustrate this fascinating subject. I’ll record it to a blog accompanied with lots of interesting pictures, so perhaps others can benefit from my experiences.

    • Ilse Fogelgren says:

      Hopefully Nehemia will post a link to your travel blog. Sounds very interesting!

    • John Jozsa says:

      @ Christopher; As it is recorded ,YeHoVaH alone is the Lord, the saviour, the redeemer, there is none else,He created none, recognize none ! Jeremiah 40-23
      The Hassids always assumed their rebbe was going to be the one. Even after thy resurected the sect in Eastern Europe in the 19th. century by the rebbe of Szatmar.
      The rebbe lived to a ripe old age, but none the less, he passed away. But they go to his grave and pray.

  • Walter Schwenk says:

    col hacavodh l’iaoeh, Nehemia; I think you approached the topic tactfully, tastefully, and with compassion. Some of my most rewarding relationships are with atheists, many of whom could give the religious constructive lessons on the spirit of Torah. Keeps me on my toes, as well as other more tangible benefits. Keep up the good work! iah bless!

    • Alberto Trevino says:

      I concur, I too have been the beneficiary of interchanging world views with persons of dissimilar faiths and have come to respect their veracity.

      In addition Richard Carrier has produced a robust opera on the topics which we can all benefit from.

      I for one will encourage him as I do Nehemia to move foreword in their endeavours to seek truth and make a case to The Father most high in heaven
      to look upon them and deliver to them מֶגֶד with truth most pure.

      Sabado alegre

  • Dawn says:

    I enjoyed this very much. Do more! Do more! 🙂 I think the term “Merry Christmas” Is a term where all mankind meet together in a well wishing that has nothing to do with religion. Its like my soul to your soul hugging Lol . Nehemia you are so good at this!!!

  • Alberto Trevino says:

    “but I learned so much from our conversation, I may have him on again. You guys tell me if you want to hear more!”

    Yes of course we want more! please us kindly.

  • Travis Reed says:

    lol I work for ups. when ppl wish me merry Christmas like your dad I respond bumhumbug lol but I do in a joking way and thank them for job security lol may we walk with the love and Yehovah everyday. thanking Him for salvation.