Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nimrod's Birthday Was January 6?

Everyone who attends a Church of God splinter group knows the teaching that Christmas is nothing but a modern celebration of Nimrod's birthday. Year after year this claim is taught throughout the Churches of God, and sent out into the wide world by print, television, and Internet. But I'll bet you didn't know that the Church of God has two completely different dates for the birth of Nimrod. It's true!
Today I want to dive into this and show you, dear reader, how the Church of God undoes its own teachings. 

If you're not from an Armstrongist background, don't worry. Enjoy the read anyway! You'll see how "research" is done by those church groups who tell you Christmas is pagan. You might not have even heard of this church or these people you are reading about. Trust me in this - they were very influential back in the 1950s through 1970s. Many people adopted their ideas. There is a good chance that if you are here looking for information about Nimrod and Christmas, you got that idea from someone who was influenced by these people. It might be more relevant to you than you realize.

Some parts of this post are going to be difficult to wade through. Making sense of utter confusion is rarely easy. My apologies in advance.
"December 25th was the birthday of Nimrod."
Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, December 1957, p.7
Herbert Armstrong, who described himself under oath as, "the founder, Pastor General, and spiritual and temporal leader” of the Churches of God, and "the appointed Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ", tells us December 25th originated as the birthday of Nimrod, and that December 25th has been a focus of pagan worship for 4,000 years now.
"In Egypt, it was always believed that the son of Isis (Egyptian name for “Queen of Heaven”) was born December 25th. Paganism celebrated this famous birthday over most of the known world for centuries before the birth of Christ."
Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, December 1956, pp.8-9
December did not exist in Nimrod's day. Neither did Rome for that matter. As for "the son of Isis was born on December 25th" we deal with that in detail in our article “On Nimrod and Christmas Trees part2”. In short – this claim is simply not true. But let's skip all that for now. Just take with you the nugget that Herbert Armstrong proclaimed December 25th was pervasive throughout the ancient world from deep antiquity.

Herbert Armstrong believed every western religion, deity, and holiday (other than his own, of course) ultimately came from Nimrod. He got this idea from the writings of one Alexander Hislop. That is what he taught, and that is what his church still believes. 
His official church historian, Herman Hoeh, as any good Armstrongist would, believed it, too.
"The Romans used to celebrate December 25 as the Saturnalia birthday of Saturn or Nimrod.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Saturnalia was never on December 25th. Saturnalia was on the 17th originally, then was moved to the 19th. We deal with that in detail in our article "The Plain Truth About December 25". Rome had no December 25 celebration at all for most of its history. Let's skip that for now, too.

More to the point, when you read that quote above, would you believe Herman Hoeh agrees with Herbert Armstrong? It would only be proper to agree with the founder of your church while writing in the church magazine he started. Herbert Armstrong claimed to be an Apostle inspired directly by God, after all. Armstrong's approval does make the claim official church doctrine. Herman Hoeh appears to be saying that December 25th was Nimrod's birthday.
But there's something important you should know:
Herman Hoeh didn't really agree with Armstrong's claims about December 25th.

You read that correctly. Herman Hoeh, master of all things ancient and esoteric, believed that Nimrod was actually born on January 6 ...and this was printed in not just one but three separate editions of the Plain Truth magazine. This makes it an official church teaching as well.

The Churches of God have two official dates for the birth of Nimrod. And if Herman Hoeh was any kind of historian at all, as Herbert Armstrong said he was, that means December 25 was the wrong one.

Just listen to how Herbert Armstrong lauds Hoeh's work:
"Studying, delving into intricate research from the vantage-point of THIS BASIC KNOWLEDGE, Mr. Hoeh has made vitally important discoveries. It is my personal opinion that he is today the most accurately informed historian in the world."
Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, Aug. 1956, p.4
The most accurately informed man in the world did base his claims from actual evidence, right? He cites sources, right? He didn't just make this up, right?

I want to go over this January 6 date with you today because this speaks volumes about the way Armstrongism specifically and others in general treat history in order to achieve the goal of demonizing mainstream Christianity. Christmas is merely a tool in this larger game.

So that we're clear -- today we are going to watch as the most accurately informed man in the world, Herman Hoeh, tries to paint both December 25 and January 6 as the birthday of Nimrod by tying them both to the winter solstice. We will then watch as he uses the errors of a calendar that didn't exist to move the solstice between January and December. By the end, we will see how Hoeh, intending to support Armstrong, completely undoes Armstrong.

Also, you should be aware that today's post is going to be confusing, detailed, and by necessity convoluted. I do apologize in advance. This post is confusing because it needs to be, not because either of us have lost our minds. We are untying a knot here. I will try to summarize often so you can stat with me even if you skip the really detailed bits.

The quote above from Herman Hoeh is taken from a larger article that was run in the Plain Truth magazine in 1958, 1960, and 1962 (with heavy edits). What I would like to do here is quote for you from the version that ran in the December 1958 edition. I want to give you some of what Hoeh wrote, then I will insert some of my own commentary to point some important things out to you.

"In the western and especially the eastern parts of the Roman Empire, many sects were beginning to follow a false tradition that Jesus was born on January 6.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
According to Hoeh, the pagan Roman culture adopted January 6 from people who had been observing it long prior, millennia prior, to the birth of Jesus, and had kept it through the ages. Eventually, this tradition was adopted into the early church.
This claim has no basis in fact. It is simply untrue. But it is noteworthy.

Why is this important to point out? Because he is saying Nimrod's real birthday was January 6, and the entire world maintained that date!

Hoeh claims the entire world, for centuries and centuries, celebrated January 6th. This length of time is important to point out because just imagine how hard it would be to change the traditions after millennia of unaltered observation. <<And, frankly, that is exactly Hoeh's point. When he charges the early church with adopting January 6, this is his underlying reason why.

It is also important to point out because it contradicts Herbert Armstrong's claims that December 25 is the right day and from the beginning it was December 25th that whole world observed. Hoeh says no!

Just think of the implications of this, and how deeply it contradicts Herbert Armstrong and his church's claims on December 25th over the years. If Nimrod was not born on December 25th, and if the entire world was not celebrating December 25th from time immemorial, then the whole foundation of Armstrongism's claims about Christmas washes away.
“Even the church at Rome for nearly two centuries OBSERVED THIS FALSE DATE FOR CHRIST'S BIRTH ON JANUARY 6. This festival was called Epiphany. (Bingham’s Antiquities, Book xx, chapter iv.)”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Notice how Hoeh says "the church at Rome". Keep this in mind for later. It will be important. We are going to see some east/west flip-flopping going on.

I want to point out one more thing. 
One of the primary complaints against observing Christmas is a claim the early church didn't celebrate Jesus' birth. What do we see here?
Hoeh says, "nearly two centuries." We know from many publications that Constantine the Great is blamed for adopting December 25. If Constantine made the switch in the early 300s, what is 300 AD minus two centuries? 100 AD. But this means the early church was celebrating Jesus' birth. Armstrong taught that no one did that. No one at all. “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church,” he would say. But here comes Hoeh, showing that it was among the festivals of the early church.
They can't both be right!

Let's continue.
“The celebration of January 6 was anciently introduced in Babylon as the birthday of Nimrod at the time when the winter solstice occurred on that date-before 1900 B.C. (See page 35 of The Evolution of the Christian Year by A. Allan McArthur.)”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
To seal the deal, Hoeh now un-does everything Herbert Armstrong claimed about Nimrod's birthday. Hoeh makes it absolutely clear that Nimrod was not born on or near December 25th. Clearly, no one anciently would have celebrated it on that day. December 25 was not celebrated from the beginning.

Wait a second here.
Did you notice Hoeh said, "introduced to Babylon"? You should know that in the grand scheme of Nimrod conspiracies, it was the Babylonians, specifically Babylonian queen Semiramis, who started the whole Nimrod worship in the first place. Mesopotamia was Nimrod's home. How can it be introduced to the people who invented it? If it was introduced, then the actual event happened much earlier than 2000BC, which means even January 6 is not the right date. The literal correct date was something else still!
It takes a lot of nerve to try to convince us January 6 is the right date while admitting it's not.

Consider the implications and contradictions in what we are seeing here! December 25 is wrong, January 6 is wrong too, and Semiramis apparently did not start these traditions. Yet, there it all is, in print, written by the official church historian and published thrice in the Plain Truth magazine for the entire world to read. 

We are about to get into some confusing territory. I'll try to guide you through it gently.
Hoeh is trying to demonize both January 6 and December 25. You might be wondering how December 25 fits in if it's the wrong date. Look:
“The introduction of the birthday of Nimrod among the Romans occurred when the winter solstice on their religious calendar occurred on December 25! That occurred about 300 B.C., shortly after Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire and introduced the Mystery Cult of Babylon into the West.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Hoeh is saying that in ~2000 BC, the winter solstice was January 6. That wasn't really Nimrod's time, but let's skip that for now. Hoeh says that over the next ~1,700 years the date of the solstice slowly crept back. Hoeh says by 300 BC the solstice was on December 25, and that is when Rome first found out about this wonderful day.

Do you see the slight of hand here? Nimrod was born on January 6 (sort of). As the story goes, that day just so happened to be the winter solstice. Now the focus is no longer the calendar date but wherever the solstice may be. When the tradition of Nimrod came to Rome around 300 BC, the solstice had moved to December 25. And there we have it. Two birds with one stone.

All of this leaves me with a few questions.
If the Romans adopted December 25 because that is the date the solstice landed on when they were first introduced to Nimrod worship, why did they also adopt January 6?
Hoeh just got done saying that everyone in the world was observing January 6th. But that had to include the Romans. Here we see the Romans, and the Greeks too by the way, never heard of it.
Did they always keep it, never hear of it, or adopt two days in 300 BC? It can't be all three.
How can Rome and Greece know the solstice was the important event, not the date, in the first place? Who told them that? When they were introduced, did the Babylonian cultists give them an information packet? So, the Greeks, somehow magically endowed with knowledge that Nimrod = solstice, understood they had to correct the date, but opted also to keep the original date? Opa!
If the solstice is important, why note the calendar date at all? Why not just observe whatever day happens to be the solstice that year? But they did observe a date. That's what Hoeh's objective is - to accuse dates. But then why note dates only twice (Dec 25 and Jan 6)? Why did no one on earth care when the solstice was on January 5th, or 4th, or 3rd, or 2nd, or 1st? Why did no one care when the solstice crept past December 25 onto the 24th, 23rd, 22nd, and finally the 21st where it is today?

Doesn't this all mean that, since the tradition came to America when the solstice was on the 21st of December, there should be a 21st holiday along with the 25th and 6th? Feels like America is being robbed here.

I want to reiterate the really important point in all of this.
Hoeh is saying that only in Alexander the Great's day did the winter solstice land on December 25. I cannot overstate the implications. Bluntly, it means Herbert Armstrong was wrong when he said, "In Egypt, it was always believed that [Nimrod] was born December 25th." It was not always believed. It could not be.  Every single thing Herbert Armstrong, or Alexander Hislop, or anyone else besides, ever wrote stating anything like this is now false.
If we listen to Hoeh, Armstrong's claim is invalidated. But if we believe Armstrong, Hoeh's claim is invalidated. They cannot both be true. Who should we choose?

Hoeh got greedy and it burned him. Or did it burn Armstrong? Oh what a tangled web we weave!

In this section, we've seen how Hoeh claimed Nimrod was born on the winter solstice. He said in extreme antiquity, the solstice fell on January 6. He said when the tradition came to Alexander the Great in 300 BC, the solstice had moved to December 25. Now let's ask another big question - exactly how was the solstice moving to begin with?


It is a crude fact of history that the solstice was most likely not on December 25th in 300 BC. In order to understand this, I need to bore you with a little history about the Roman calendar. I will try to make this as painless as I can. Please, don't skip past this, though. It's important to know for later on.
OK! Ok. If you don't want to read through the really boring stuff, I will mark it so you can skip it, then we will pretend like you read it.

From around its founding in 700 BC, Rome used a lunar calendar. Their calendar was originally only 304 days long and had ten months, with a huge month-less winter gap. There were no months in winter at all. December was in autumn. It was the tenth month. Hence the name December. The first month was March, the last month was December, and there were no months called January and February. January and February didn't exist yet. You read that right; For the first couple centuries, the winter solstice was in no month whatsoever.

The calendar was so confusing that in the 500's BC they added two brand new months: January at the start of the year and February at the end of the year. You read that right; before 500 BC, February was the last month. From about 500 BC to about 450 BC, the winter solstice should have been in February. 

Due to a superstition against even numbers, they only allowed 355 days in their year, so their calendar was still horribly inaccurate. It would lose more than 10 days every single year! Every once in a while they would add an extra month to try and correct the year.

Around 450 BC or so, February was moved from the end of the year to the place where we know it now, between January and March. December was the last month again, and now, for the very first time, it generally fell in winter. Any claim of a solstice in December prior to 450 BC was nigh impossible. Accidental, maybe. Regular, never!

What this means is that only after 450 BC did the winter solstice have any real chance of falling in December. Keep that nugget in mind. We'll come back to it shortly.
But this still doesn't mean the solstice always fell on December 25th in those days. It was not the same December we know today. It was in the winter, sure, but it was not the same.

Their calendar was often months out of sync. Dates could fall on opposite side of the year from where they should be. The Roman officials who were in charge of the calendar would often purposely manipulate it for political ends. Intercalary months, named Mercedonius, were tossed in practically without warning. Almost nothing was reliably on a given date.
What this all means is: there is almost no way for Herman Hoeh (or anyone else) to know for certain what date the solstice fell on in the Roman calendar in 300AD.

In 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the calendar and set it up with 365¼ days and leap years. He also added two days to December. December used to only have 29 days; now it has 31. He also set it up so that the solstice was on December 25th. That's right. It was Julius Caesar who set the solstice to December 25th.
This is the calendar system that we know as the Julian calendar.

To reiterate:
Only after 46 BC did December have 31 days. Only after 46 BC was the solstice more or less reliably on December 25th. Only after 46 BC did anyone have a year that was 365¼ days long.

Except, the year isn't exactly 365¼ days long, so the Julian calendar was wrong by 11 minutes a year, or roughly a day every 130 years. The solstice was only reliably on December 25th for a little more than one century. By the second century AD, December 25 was no longer the date of the solstice.

I told you this would be confusing and I am truly sorry for that, but it's important information. You still with me? Hoeh claimed the solstice fell on days it didn't -- days that it couldn't.

In this section, we've seen how Rome was founded in the 700s BC. At first, they had a lunar calendar with ten months. It had no winter months at all. We've seen January and February were added in the 500s, but December stayed in the Fall. We've how, in 450 December was moved to its current position, but the calendar was a mess. And we've seen how Julius Caesar revamped the calendar in 46 BC, making it solar and setting it to 365¼ days long.
I told you all of that so you could know for certain that Hoeh's claims are built on wrong information. He attacks holidays as we see them today. He failed to adjust his claims for how things worked anciently. When we think it through, everything falls to pieces. Not just everything Hoeh said, but everything Armstrong said, too. It's all wrong. All of it.

And it's about to get even worse! I haven't yet explained why the solstice was moving.

“Alexander wanted to found one world and one religion - AND THE ONE RELIGION TO WHICH ALL COULD TRACE BACK THEIR ORIGIN WAS THE BABYLONIAN MYSTERY CULT! It claimed to be a universal or catholic form of religion in which all peoples could find unity! According to the religious calendar maintained by the priests of the mystery cults, each year averaged 365 1/4 days.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
This claim is utterly false. This claim is inexcusably false. Every one of those claims are wrong except that Alexander wanted to conquer the world. Ignore that for now. Focus please at the calendar problem.

Hoeh says Alexander had a 365 1/4 day calendar in 300 BC. What did we just learn in the previous, incredibly boring section? Julius Caesar created the Roman 365 1/4 day calendar in 46 BC. Hoeh is crediting the calendar of Julius Caesar (ca. 46 BC) to Alexander the Great (ca. 300 BC). Two and a half centuries backwards in time! In fact, Hoeh is crediting the calendar of Julius Caesar to the Nimrod (ca. 2000 BC)!

I am about to explain in detail how he did that. If that seems disinteresting to you, please keep this fact with you: Hoeh takes the error of the Julian calendar, projects that error backwards in time before it even existed, and uses it to explain Alexander the Great introducing Nimrod's birthday on December 25 and the Babylonians introducing Nimrod's birthday on January 6.

Alexander died some 223 years before Caesar was even born! Hoeh knew good and well the Romans, let alone the Greeks, did not have a calendar with 365¼ days in 300 BC. No one did! Alexander the Great, being Macedonian, appears to have used the Macedonian calendar.

So why mention Alexander at all? He read something in a book that piqued his interest (we'll see that later). Now he needs Alexander to help him move the solstice. It all has to do with math ...wrong math.

The foundational claim in this entire article is that in about 2000 BC the solstice was on January 6, and that's Nimrod's birthday. But he can't undercut Herbert Armstrong. So, Hoeh needs to get the solstice from January 6th to December 25th. It has to move to December 25th. Hoeh must demonize both Epiphany and Christmas or he betrays his ideology. So Hoeh did a little math.

January 6 is how many days from December 25? If you count it out, chances are you'll count 12 days. The 12 days of Christmas! Except the ancient Romans counted inclusively, which includes both the start day and the end day, so ancient Romans would have counted 13 days. Hoeh needs to move the solstice 13 days. How?
Hoeh borrows the error of the 365¼-day Julian calendar created in 46 BC and moves is backwards in time to Nimrod's day. 

Now we're going to get into some very boring math stuff. Look, this isn't my idea! Now that you know the main point, that Hoeh was using a calendar that didn't exist, I suppose you know enough. Skip this next part if you want.

<Boring math info starts here.>

What error? This one:
The Julian calendar loses one day roughly every 130 years because the solar year is not exactly 365¼ days long (it's about 11 minutes and 14 seconds shy of that). Hoeh says it loses a day every 133, but let's not squabble over the minutiae. I will use his numbers to recreate what he did.

We need to multiply 133 years by the number of days Hoeh wants the calendar to move. If we take 133 years and multiply that by 13 (the number of days Hoeh needs to move the calendar) we get 1,729 years. It would take 1,729 years to move the solstice the 13 days from January 6 to December 25. Just round that off to 1,700 because we are only talking rough numbers anyway. Now, if the solstice was on January 6 in 2000 BC, 1,700 years later, in 300 AD, it should be on December 25th.
Mission accomplished!

It was this bad math, not any hard historical truth, that causes Hoeh to claim the solstice was on December 25th in 300 BC, in Alexander the Great's day. He admits as much!
“This made the year a fraction too long. It caused the winter solstice to drop back over the centuries about the rate of one day in about 133 years. In Rome the winter solstice - “Christmas” - had gradually dropped back to December 25, beginning 300 years before Christ.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
It was math that got him to 300 BC; but it was bad math!
It was bad math because the 365¼-day calendar didn't exist in Nimrod's time. It didn't exist in Alexander's time either. It first existed in Julius Caesar's time - 46 BC. You cannot use the error of this calendar in years before the calendar ever existed! This is a blatant anachronism! It's wholly improper.

But not only that, Hoeh counted 13 days from January 6 to December 25. This is also wrong!

Remember how I told you, in 46 BC Julius Caesar added two days to December? In 300 BC, if you count back 13 days from January 6, you aren't getting to December 25. December only had 29 days at that point in time, not 31 days. In 300 BC, December 25 was only 11 days from January 6. Hoeh's math is off by two whole days. Alexander would have introduced the world to Nimrod's birthday on December 23, not 25. Nobody cares about December 23. Two days off, at 133 years per day, means his math is off by 266 years! That's 266 years too many. This fact removes Alexander the Great from the equation. Whoops!

Two hundred and sixty six years before 300 AD gets us where? In the mid-500's BC. Remember when I asked you to remember in the 500's BC they put February at the end of the year before January? In the mid-500's BC, the solstice wasn't in a month named December at all, it should have been in a month named February! This removes December from the equation. Nimrod's birthday is February 25? Nobody cares about February 25. Nimrod's birthday is National Chocolate Covered Nut Day. Whoops!

Now, let's factor in that February has even less days than December. At that time, it is believed February only had 28 days regularly and as few as 23 days in leap years. That means Hoeh was at least 3 days off. Nimrod's birthday was February 24th? Well, maybe. IF it wasn't a leap year! Whoops!

Truth be told, the real number by which Hoeh's math was off is incalculable.

Now, let's go back even farther. Back, back in time to when January was first added to the Roman calendar. All the way back to ... 500 BC again. Do you see how you cannot count backwards 1,700 years from 300 BC and get to 500 BC? Before 500 BC, there was no January, so Nimrod's birthday absolutely, positively could not have been on the solstice in January in 2000 BC. Didn't we see just three paragraphs ago that Hoeh's math error puts him in February in 500 BC, not January?

Do you see now how messed up this is?

<Boring math info ends here.>

In this section, we saw how Hoeh takes the error of the Julian calendar (losing a year every 130 years or so), projects that error backwards in time before the calendar even existed, and uses it to explain Alexander the Great introducing Nimrod's birthday on December 25 and the Babylonians introducing Nimrod's birthday on January 6. We saw how Hoeh got the math wrong because he didn't know how the Roman calendar changed over the centuries. We saw how his equation puts him on a date in February, not December 25th. And we saw how January simply is not an option.

If Hoeh was the great historian he was held to be, then he knew this without a doubt. Did the most accurately informed man in the world get so very wrong because he didn't know, or because he was deliberately passing on false information? You decide! But the fact remains -- this is official COG doctrine, written by the church historian, published in the flagship church magazine three times!!

“The early Babylonian date of January 6 as the birthday of the pagan savior Nimrod was first applied to Jesus by the apostatizing Eastern Christians.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Keep that sentence in mind as we read this next part. January 6 is the Greek Orthodoxy's fault.
“But this date for the birth of Christ was not universally accepted. In 245 A.D., Origen, like numerous other Catholic leaders, still repudiated the idea of observing any day as Christ’s birthday. The traditional date of January 6 therefore did not gain a very strong foothold in the western parts of the Roman Empire because certain heretical sects were also following the same tradition."
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6-17
At first, Hoeh said that the West kept the January 6 tradition alive. Remember when he said this, "Even the church at Rome for nearly two centuries OBSERVED THIS FALSE DATE"?
Now Hoeh says the East kept the January 6 tradition alive, and it didn't really catch on in the West. Remember when he said, "In the western and especially the eastern parts of the Roman Empire"?

Let's go back to the timeline once again to see something odd.

We have Alexander the Great receiving Nimrod's birthday on December 25th from the Babylonians, starting a one world religion, and teaching that December 25 date to all his empire. It even catches on as far away as Rome.
But his own Greek people ignore December to keep January 6 instead??

But wait just a minute. Isn't the Catholic Church supposed to be the very same church Nimrod started in Babylon? Or was it the very same church Alexander started in Babylon? Oh never mind! Hoeh believed the Babylonian church is the Catholic Church. It's not true but that's what Hoeh believed! He got that from Armstrong who got it from Hislop. But the January 6 date the Catholics had been keeping for centuries didn't catch on with their own selves??

The western Catholics pick up the date the Greek Orthodox should have had, and the Greek Orthodox pick up the date the western Catholics should have had.

But wait! It's going to flip-flop again.
Here's a quote from this article in its edited form run in the Plain Truth 1962:
"The celebration of January 6 was anciently introduced in Babylon as the birthday of Nimrod before 2000 B.C, when the winter solstice-the shortest day of the year-occurred on that date. (See page 35 of The Evolution of the Christian Year by A. Allan McArthur.) But the winter solstice did not continue to fall on January 6 because the pagan calendar was not accurate. When the birthday of Nimrod was first celebrated in Rome, the winter solstice had dropped back to December 25. But the Babylonian priests in Rome continued to celebrate January 6."
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1962, p.29 [emphasis mine]
We are back again to Rome keeping January 6!

Rome has January 6 originally, but it never caught on, until it did. Greece has December originally, but they forgot all about it, until they didn't.

Confused? So am I. Because it's all false!!
This is what you get when you start with a conclusion and try to force evidence for it, rather than start with history to see what it actually says before you make up your mind.


Perhaps most importantly of all - how can Hoeh make any of these claims when there is no historical evidence for any of them?! No evidence for Nimrod's birth. No evidence of Semiramis starting a religion. No evidence of Alexander attempting to establish a world religion. No evidence Alexander had the Greeks abandon their own religion and traditions for that of the Babylonians. No evidence of January 6 ever being solstice related at any point. No evidence of an extremely ancient Catholic Church. No evidence for any of it. It's all made up! How can it be true when it's fake?

      Hoeh made it all up!

"But xHWA," you might exclaim, "Hoeh specifically mentioned page 35 of The Evolution of the Christian Year by A. Allan McArthur. How can it all be made up when he cites sources?" Let's take a look and see.

Hoeh cites A. Allan McArthur's book "The Evolution of the Christian Year". I wanted to read it for myself. Hoeh doesn't mention which version he read from, so I just picked the 1953 version. Seems reasonable. In it, I found the snippet that started it all.

On page 35, McArthur is reviewing another book by another author, Dom Bernard Botte, who quotes yet another author, Eduard Norden. Here is the part I believe Hoeh was referring to:
"He [Botte] goes on to cite the monograph of E. Norden, Die Geburt Des Kindes (Leipzig and Berlin, 1924), in which both Christmas and Epiphany are explained as being based on festivals of the solstice, in spite of the apparent incongruity of dates. According to the calendar of Amenemhet I of Thebes the winter solstice in 1996 B.C. was 6th January, but, because of the defectiveness of the calendar, it was 25th December when Alexandria was founded in 331 B.C."
--A. Allan McArthur, "The Evolution of the Christian Year", 1953, p.35
There you have it, folks! The snippet that started this whole mess. Isn't that interesting? Hoeh seems to have lifted the idea of misusing the errors of calendars before they exist from the German scholar Eduard Norden. I am shocked Hoeh actually found a source that seems to support him.
Abusing his source material is something you will see from Hoeh all the time. Just because he cites a source doesn't mean anything. Hoeh would misquote his sources regularly. He counted on his readers never having access to the academic books to check his work. But to find him accurately quoting a source, dear reader, is a true gem.
Let's destroy it! 😀

The German scholar, Norden, refers to an Egyptian calendar. Let's just grant for sake of argument this calendar exists and gives the solstice date in 1996 BC. So what? It was an Egyptian calendar, not the Roman. Rome won't exist for another thousand years. There was no Roman calendar. Amenemhet didn't say, "the solstice was on January 6." Amenemhet used Egyptian calendars. Amenemhet would have said the solstice was in some Egyptian month you've probably never heard of, then someone else had to calculate that out into the Roman calendar. Converting the Egyptian to Roman is where everything falls apart. The quote moves the date by appealing to calendar errors. Calendar errors where? Egypt or Rome or both? We know they both had errors. Calendar errors are precisely why you cannot match the two calendar systems up. They don't align well. They have different errors and different corrections, some of them quite random. The farther back you go, the worse it gets. The claim that "solstice in 1996 B.C. was 6th January" requires quite a bit of back dating on bad calendars, and therefore is far-fetched speculation and not a fact at all.

Even if you did do calculations to prove January 6 was the solstice in 1996 BC, you still have not proved anyone at that time was aware of it being on January 6, given that there was no Rome, let alone January, to be aware of. 
And you still have not tied Epiphany to a solstice celebration through a chain of evidence. It is ridiculous to say, "2,000 years ago, the solstice happened on this date, therefore everything on this date, in every civilization everywhere, forever and ever, forward and backward in time, is a solstice celebration." That is precisely what is happening here. What they don't have is a clear line of evidence down through time to tie the solstice in 1996 BC to Epiphany in 100 AD. It just assumes they are tied because some German scholar knows about an ancient Egyptian calendar. That is the sum total of the evidence. We need a whole lot more than that to go on!
Pardon us if we do not accept, "It is because I say it is because I really, really want it to be."

Use a star chart to figure out when the solstice was in 1996 BC all you want. It won't help you. All you can match it to is our Gregorian calendar. That does no good. (The answer will be December 21, because the calendar only loses a day every 7,700 years or so.) Try to do your own math and match that in the Julian calendar by counting backwards from 46 BC. You may find the solstice in 2000 BC was January 9. That still doesn't help you because it's anachronistic and, frankly, it's committing the same error as Hoeh.

To Hoeh, this is all about those people in those places at those times honoring January 6 and December 25, specifically, as Nimrod's birthday ...according to calendars that did not exist at that time. Hoeh's claims are built on how things work today. He attacks holidays as we see them today. He failed to adjust his claims for how things worked anciently.

We've reviewed what the citation from Eduard Norden says, now notice what it doesn't say.

It doesn't mention Nimrod. It doesn't claim Nimrod's birthday. It doesn't say 2000 BC, it says 1996 BC. Nimrod should have been long dead by either of those years. Some people say Nimrod was the Scorpion King. That makes him dead over 1,000 years by this point. Some say Nimrod was Sargon of Akkad, in which case he would have been dead around 300 years. Others say Nimrod was really Hammurabi, in which case he wouldn't have been born yet. And Semiramis, she lived in the 800s BC. If you don't know when Nimrod lived, you don't know anything. 
That date was only chosen at all because some German author said the solstice fell on some days. Nothing besides. Everything else is read into it.
It doesn't say Alexander the Great founded a religion or started a holiday, it says he founded a city. It doesn't say Alexander did anything at all on December 25. It says the solstice was on December 25 in 331 BC. But how does it conclude that? It doesn't say how. It just asserts. It starts with dates it can't prove then appeals to an error in the calendar system that didn't exist at the time. Errors are precisely why you can't match the Roman and Greek and Egyptian calendars very well.
Norden doesn't even say what calendar he was referring to. January 6 and December 25 on what calendar, the Julian or the Gregorian? We don't know! Easy to assume Julian because of the solstice moving, but why would a German in the 1800s use the Julian calendar?

Helpful to Hoeh's cause as that citation appears at first, it turns out rather hollow.
That is why I say Hoeh gets almost no support at all from his citation, and that he made it all up.


Today, we have seen several contradictions in Hoeh's claims. I will list just a few:
  • How can errors of a calendar exist hundreds of years before the calendar itself exists? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a solstice on January 6, 1996 BC be important to Nimrod's birth when we don't even know who Nimrod was and all the best candidates weren't alive then? This is a contradiction.
  • How can people of one culture honor the calendar of another culture, or from the future? This is a contradiction.
  • How can dates be important when it's really the moving solstice that is important, or how can the solstice be important when it's really the dates that are important, but yet several dates are ignored and the solstice is ignored too? This is a contradiction.
  • How can Nimrod's birthday be January 6 and December 25, but not January 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and December 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 24, 23, 22, and 21? Especially December 21! This is a contradiction.
  • How can December 25 be the date of the solstice in Alexander's time when it was Julius Caesar who set December 25 as the solstice? This is a contradiction.
  • How can math be based on a 31-day month when the month in question had only 29 days in the target year? This is a contradiction.
  • How can calculations be accurate and be 266 (or more) years off? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a December solstice tradition start in a century when the solstice should have been February? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a certain date always have been kept by the whole world, but only be kept in Babylon and maybe Egypt? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a tradition be introduced to Babylon when it was supposed to be Babylon who started the tradition in the first place? This is a contradiction.
  • How can the Catholics teach the Greeks about Nimrod's birthday then receive Nimrod's birthday from the Greeks? This is a contradiction.
  • How can Alexander teach the Greeks to keep December 25th but the Greek Orthodox keep January 6? This is a contradiction.
  • How can the January 6th date be observed in Rome for 200 years into the Christian era when the date never really caught on in Rome? But it did, but it didn't, but it did. This is a contradiction.
  • How can Hoeh and Armstrong both be right when they say things that cannot both be true at the same time? This is a contradiction.
This is making my head hurt. I could do more of these but I think you get the point. Hoeh made a real mess of things.


Today we've seen many contradictions, anachronisms, and mind-bending confusion. We have seen how the Worldwide Church of God had two different, irreconcilable dates for the birthday of Nimrod. We have seen how they used completely erroneous math and fake history to conjure up a scheme to paint both Epiphany and Christmas as Nimrod's solstice birthday. This led them to make two contradictory claims that cannot both be true. As a bonus, we watched as the official church historian takes the legs right out from under the official church Apostle.
In short - in one article, Herman Hoeh managed to destroy the Church of God's teachings regarding Christmas on December 25th.

This is the plain truth?? If all of this is so true, and so plain, then why the discrepancies?

I bet you didn't know about Nimrod's January 6th birthday, did you? What I'm telling you today shouldn't be a surprise to you. It was printed in the Plain Truth magazine three times! You know, the magazines you were supposed to burn after 1972. Good thing we have the Internet!

The truth is all of this is made up!! Made up using mental acrobatics such as, We know Epiphany is pagan because in 1996 BC a pharaoh made a calendar that shows the solstice. Makes perfect sense!
No one ever celebrated Nimrod on January 6th or December 25th. Every stitch of it is made up using terrible pseudo-history and bad math.

In its greedy zeal to trash mainstream Christianity, it's financial competitor, the Worldwide Church of God simply couldn't pass up on the temptation to connect January 6 to Nimrod. It was unfortunate that Hoeh was not creative enough to invent some other explanation. If he would have said it was the birthday of, oh I don't know, Tubalcain maybe, the Armstrongists would still have eaten it up. Nimrod's birthday was already taken! The bite was too big to chew. Even so, no one seemed to mind. After all, why should they? The Church of God leadership knew the regulars wouldn't notice. And if they did notice, they would be called "demon influenced" and put out of the church.

They call it "God's truth", but it isn't true. They knew it then, and they know it now.

Are you surprised? I sure was! For more than thirty years of my life I followed Armstrongism. That is, until I gave myself permission to ask hard questions.

But this January 6 business isn't sitting well with you, is it? You've seen too much before now that supposedly proved December 25th was always the date to switch to January 6 now, haven't you? Yet, there January 6 is, in print, in the church's flagship magazine, from the most accurately informed historian in the world. It says the December 25 date is the wrong date. Don't think that the solution is simply to disregard the Plain Truth magazine's articles about January 6. This is the Plain Truth we're talking about. They wouldn't put anything untrue in the Plain Truth, would they? That date is official church teaching. You know in your heart of hearts that something is wrong with the official church teaching that Nimrod was born on January 6 and December 25, don't you? You automatically know one birthday cannot be on two different dates. Hoeh did read some history, didn't he? He cited some sources, didn't he? Herbert Armstrong read history and cited sources, too, didn't he? How can both claims be right? They are mutually exclusive. How can both January 6 -and- December 25 be the original date of Nimrod's birth? They can't!
What do you propose to do about that?

As Bereans Did has many articles showing why you should give a second look at the facts about Christmas. In my next article, I hope to demonstrate several more contradictions in the claims about Christmas printed in the Plain Truth magazine from the 1950's through the 1970's. 

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; ) Acts 17:11


xHWA said...

My apologies. I had a few AD's where BC's should have been. That's been corrected.

Byker Bob said...

Excellent article! I've long said that the WCG was influenced not only by the material contained in The Two Babylons, but worse yet, Alexander Hislop's methodology served as a blueprint amongst WCG senior management as to how research should be conducted. It was hardly the unbiased and objective following of an evidentiary trail. Like Hislop, they cherrypicked their "facts" in such a way as to support a foregone conclusion.

Most of us, because of the ways in which we were indoctrinated and brainwashed, would have considered it as "blaspheming God's Apostle" to have done the fact checking which we should have done. I assumed that The Plain Truth told the truth. As it turns out, that magazine was more akin to the old Police Gazette or National Enquirer.


xHWA said...

Thanks, Bob! Totally agreed.

Ya know, as I was talking to a few friends this morning, something popped into my head.

According to Hoeh, Nimrod's birthday originally was January 6. But more correctly, Nimrod's birthday was the winter solstice.
This means wherever the winter solstice is, there is Nimrod's birthday.

Nimrod therefore has multiple birthdays! January 6 was Nimrod's birthday. January 5 was Nimrod's birthday. January 4 was Nimrod's birthday - and the 3rd, the 2nd, the 1st, and half of December as well. All of these are every bit as much Nimrod's birthday as December 25th ever was.

Now.. one absolutely universal claim in Armstrongism is "once pagan; always pagan". This is the very reason anyone makes any to-do about Christmas at all. How often have I heard (and used to say), "You know, Christmas is just Deis Natalis Solis Invicti." Therefore, all of these dates should forever be every bit as much "pagan" as December 25th is accused of being. Anything that happens on any of these dates should be every bit as much "pagan" as Christmas is accused of being.
Add to that the fact that Saturnalia ended December 21st, and Divalia was on the 21st and Lorentalia was on the 23rd.

When is the United Church of God Winter Family Weekend again?

Penny said...

This really exposes the depth to which thought reform takes place in the splinters. The flawed and incorrect use of determining a fact by assuming a conclusion is signature Church of God methodology, as taught and perpetuated by Ambassador College and it's graduates. Teaching people how to think and what to think. Anything outside of it is satanic. This article exposes the subtleties of thought reform very well, convicting themselves by their own words. I hope this breaks through the bonds of fear.

Byker Bob said...

Can't help but agree, xHWA, especially about Nimrod's alleged birthday, and the winter solstice. Since the calendar has been more or less stabilized through the Julian calendar, the winter solstice has remained as December 21. Even if we accept the winter solstice as having been Nimrod's birthday, one can't assume the entire end of December should be labeled as "pagan", since scripture tells us that Jesus was in temple for the Festival of Lights (Hannukah).

The Bible doesn't tell us when Nimrod was born, in fact it tells us very little about the man. It doesn't even tell us that he had a female consort, let alone providing her name. Most of what we "know" about him is based on the guesswork of those presenting themselves as authorities (led by Hislop), who connected the dots between a brief scriptural description, assorted myths, and some obscure historical figures. There is nothing really substantive to this speculation, as compared let's say, to what we know about Julius Caesar, Plato, or Confucius.

I am constantly amazed that twenty years of my life were based on theories and guesswork, authoritatively presented as "the truth", and that members of my family are not only still deeply committed to this, but also preach it!


Dillon said...

The Babylonians used a lunar calendar, which means that if they celebrated Nimrod's birthday, it would shift every year on the Gregorian calendar. But it still wouldn't be on two dates. Hoeh must have wanted to make a connection between Zagmuk and the 12 days of Christmas but Zagmuk is a harvest celebration.

xHWA said...

Hoeh was saying that the Babylonians celebrated the solstice, which he later demonstrated that no one cared about. His goal was to "paganize" Christmas and Epiphany.

You are absolutely correct, Dillon, that under a lunar calendar the solstice would move around each year and never become associated with any single calendar date regardless of what calendar we tie it to. (Not just the winter solstice, but any single event on a lunar calendar would be this way. Yule, Samhain, Eostremonath, etc.) UNLESS that calendar was purposefully adjusted to guarantee that the solstice (or whatever event have you) did fall on one particular calendar date every year. Problem is, there is absolutely no evidence that the Babylonians did this.
I'll go one more and say there is absolutely no evidence for the overwhelming majority of what Hoeh wrote in his article.

There is evidence that the Egyptians adjusted their calendar to try and get their New Year to coincide with the rising of the star Sirius in the summer.
There is evidence that the Jews adjusted their calendar to get the Passover to begin on the 15th of Nissan, and that also had to be after the spring equinox.
There is evidence the Romans and Babylonians adjusted their calendars to start their New Year at the spring equinox.
The Greeks, what can we say about them? They had many, many calendars; each region had their own.

What do we see? All of the cultures in that area had different criteria on how to adjust their calendars. The very basis of Hoeh's claim, of some sort of universal practice tying the winter solstice to a particular date, is pure bunk!

Hoeh just ignored that altogether, and tried to apply our modern calendar to the ancient Near East. His notion was that, according to our Gregorian calendar, the winter solstice was on January 6 in Nimrod's time. But tying something 4,000 years ago to our calendar today leaps over that 4,000 years. You cannot tie things together, then assume the middle. It's anachronistic.

Free Dictionary definition of "anachronism":
The representation of someone as existing or something as happening in other than chronological, proper, or historical order.

It makes sense if you have no idea how things actually happened.

InHocSignoVinces said...

Now I have no doubt that the Armweakists will try to explain your article away by saying,"different cultures celebrated Nimrod's birth on different days." The solstice lasts on one day only so how can the Armweakists say that Nimrod's birth is the solstice and then claim that Nimrod's birth was celebrated on January 6th? Isn't that anachronistic?! January 6th was never, at any point in time, the solstice. In the end they will whine something like this,"Okay, I give up. Nimrod's birthday always lasted for a week and 5 days." Once again we see the Armweakist tactic, that is, moving the goalposts.

Anonymous said...

UHM My guess is they took what they know of what both the Egyptians and Babylonians used as a calendar and their days and then translated those days into the Gregorian calendar. It's not rocket science to know that. Same as using the dates given in the old Testament and cross referencing that with our modern calendar. Duh!

xHWA said...

Except that's not at all what they did, and we demonstrated that.

The events they speak about are not in the Babylonian or Egyptian calendars to begin with. They weren't applying old calendars forward to the Gregorian; they were applying Julian backwards to the old calendars. The Babylonian and Egyptian calendars do not suffer from the mathematical error of the Julian calendar, plus they predate it by hundreds if not thousands of years, so what they were doing is literally impossible.

They took what they wasn't in the Babylonian and Egyptian calendars, applied the error of a future calendar to them, and called it truth.

Larry said...

If anyone believes that Christmas, Easter, etc. Are not pagan look up where there orgin comes from. Question. Do Rabbits lay eggs. Is there a deer that fly threw air. These things are all based on a lie for little children to believe and once they even understand it they grow up believing that is ok too tell a lie. Then by doing this you only get closer thinking well its ok to tell a little white lie. Does God say it anywhere in the Bible it's ok to tell a white lie. What does this tell are children can you blame them for telling you a lie sine you teach them several every year. And all these things have a Pagan orgin. Think about it.

xHWA said...

Hello Larry. We don't think Christmas, Easter, etc are pagan because we have looked up where their origin comes from. We didn't take anyone's word for it. We didn't just go to Wicca website and take what they said for truth. We went to the oldest, most reliable sources we could find, and we went to the newest most reliable experts the world has to offer, and in every instance we found that Christmas, Easter, etc are not pagan at all in their origins.

You mention the Easter Bunny. That has nothing to do with the origins of Easter, and can be safely left out without any effect on the day whatsoever. The Easter Bunny appears quite recently as the first known mention comes from Georg Franck von Frankenau in his writing “De Ovis Paschalibus” [“On Easter Eggs”] in 1682. 1682 is about 1682 years too late to have anything to do with the origins of Easter. Easter is the most well documented of all the holidays.

If you want to ask if it's OK to tell a lie, then let us all apply the same standard to your comments here. You are telling a lie about the pagan origins of Easter. Does God say it anywhere in the Bible it's ok to tell a white lie? Then you must stop telling this lie. A lie it is, no matter how strongly you are attached to it.

To help you better understand the origin of Easter, we have compiled these articles:
Easter FAQ
Easter History Part I
Easter History Part II
The History Channel Flubs Easter

We have many more, of course, so please check them all out. God bless you in your pursuit of truth, and peace to you.

xHWA said...

I read this article a few more times over the past couple days and realized a few new things that never occurred to me before. So, I revamped it. I also edited it for readability. I like it a lot better now.

Sophia said...

This is some great work, you had my head spinning. When I research things I go back to see when it became popularized and by the who’s, what’s the evidence for such theories and beliefs. It seems to be anything Christ related has been hijacked saying it’s formed out of paganism and people just run with it. No kind of real history or truth, just regurgitating a lie told and labeled as truth. It’s really pseudo history and believe me I’ve feel into that trap too. So much to unpack here and it’s really sad to see a majority not caring to even find out why is there such an attack on anything Christ. Satan is the counterfeit, the great deceiver, the father of lies, he perverts everything of God into something we should be ashamed off. I throughly enjoyed your logical reasoning and a history lesson. The contradictions are huge and undeniable. Thanks again!

xHWA said...

Glad you liked it, Sophia.

This article is a bit much. Sorry about that. I had no idea it would be this jam packed when I started writing it. I thought it would be a simple curiosity. Was I ever surprised. I've tweaked it a few times over the years to make it more readable.