Notes from Irving Wasserman: On Plato

[In progress]

Preface

   The nearest semblance we may have to what Plato did regarding Socrates may be to try to collect notes from the classes of our greatest teachers, so that despite the unstateable truth of the living word and the introduction to philosophy in the circumstance, what has occurred might in somehow be preserved.

   There are reasons not to do this sort of thing, yet these seem outweighed by the reasons to do it, and next. I feel indeed like Apollodorus at the opening of Plato’s Symposium, coming to a friend or two with a speech of the philosopher. Wasserman did not write, but then, neither did Socrates, though they both took education through conversation and the greatest books with the utmost seriousness.

   One would wish to communicate the excitement of philosophy in those days, as we had studied psychology and evolutionary biology in search of the beginning of the way, or what we would call the way to the way, an “apprenticeship.” We wound up seeking a “psychology of consciousness,” and at the same time, the depths and heights of Jungian psychology. It is here, when our mentor James Blight, Historian of Freud, went off to Harvard, that we found Irving Wasserman, as though in the corner of a philosophy department in a corn field in Western Michigan.

   Notes from classes are in a way one’s own, what he was able to glean of what occurred and what was said. We mix in our own thoughts, and summarize in our own words, while trying to record triggers for memory of whole accounts. Separate thoughts of my own triggered by the lectures, I would later set off to the right, underangle or pediment. The first class to transcribe would be that called “Plato,” as it was in 1980, and then again in 1982, taught in the Ancient division to be followed by Medieval and Modern, sections for which each in a remarkable department would produce the best of the studies in their satchel,  In 1981 and then again in 1983, he did a class called “Political Philosophy,” in which we read Plato’s Republic and Shakespeare’s Tempest, and these would be most worth transcribing from the notebooks which may otherwise be soon lost in the mists.

We’ll see how this goes:

Plato 1980

The opening is “Why Plato wrote dialogues”]

1) Bring Socrates to us

2) Promise of insight, sobering significance

3) Plato never speaks directly to his reader

[Quote from 7th Letter] 4) “Concerning these things there is no written work of mine, nor will there ever be, for they cannot be expressed in words…”

Therefore there is no Platonic doctrine?

Plato wrote dialogues because of this.

“Mystical?” God help us!

Dramatic discourse precludes that philosophical wisdom

[Concretism   Showing and telling (Donahue) [ I seem to be recalling a saying of a High school English teacher, Mr. Donahue, on the distinction between telling someone something and showing them.]

6) Philo (sophy) carries implications for actions

9) The philosophic endeavor begins with a dilemma + admission of profound ignorance. ? Who knows

Philosophy is dangerous

Is it good to be gadflied, unsettled?  [yes- self knowledge faith

^ (change)                wisdom- Prove it. Insanity?]

“Never dig a pit for a student that you cannot fill” [ a saying from Tho. Aquinas]

Definitions abstract dangerously from the context

Philosophy can end only with a personal conclusion

Dialogues are Plato’s resolution to the paradox that philosophy cannot be written

Plato’s solution of the paradox of the writing of philosophy

The reader

a) excitement of radicals who dig conflict

b) fallacious arguments are dramatically significant

c) The written word knows not to whom it should speak. -(Phaedrus).

inflexible, fixed.

[p. 2] Top: Dialogue relates learning to living

Living word can function in context of relationship (symbol: sideways 8)

DB asks: Why is a dialogue less limited than a treatise?

Empathy- understanding- To climb into Socrates’ barefeet

“I see a dialogue as painting a picture

Treatise: bare facts “What is it that happened to you” [-Wasserman]

The speaker who can empathize his audience.

*To enshrine forever the greatest and the rarest things, deeds

*Fossilized ideas which come alive.

*Plato wrote for Socrates’ immortality.

To combine the power of spoken and written word to overcome the limitations in each.

In the dialogue, Socrates in 1980 still knows when to speak

Choose according to interest

One must participate directly in philosophy to understand

Abstract statements can only be understood in context.

Q[uestion] of the unity of Plato’s thought

Don’t presume [arrow] ideas of (~ unity) stages of Plato’s thought

*Exoteric- ostensible meaning

Esoteric meaning also (~literal)

[p.3] R. Gustavson: “funny that (Euthyphro) thought men and gods have the same standards.”

Euthyphro- Q of the gods- what if you don’t Q[uestion] the gods?

Trial- ” [Question of the gods]

Socrates “The right way is…” with rational backing; considering

similar value, rat[ional] argument produces objective ethic

There are paradigms in…

An art/ paradigms paradigms paradigms paradigms paradigms.

There is much more than content and process.

Conscience- daimon never tells Socrates what to do

Only interferes when he is inclined to get get excessive.

Euthyphro

Divine law/ Athenian law

P. 24: Plato’s theory of the Ideas [G edition of Euthyphro].

s-self [a picture is drawn: head with arrows out the eyes straight ahead and out the eyes, around front and over. Another arrow, a not equal sign, another arrow curving out around and down, = impiety. [Self knowledge and reflection does or does not equal impiety]

Soc. remaining on a formal rather than theoretical level

logic/ definition

Euthyphro fills the content

A drawing of a man out of a heart with dividing lines (quite a nice doodle- there are many on these pages, which means that time was occupied listening and musing) with the words to the left: I am that which is: Atman/Brahman

[p.] 25: “I shall tell you a great many other facts about our religion”

That which makes all pious actions pious (?)

“You can’t define anything that way-” -Wasserman

I write: Because one is then dealing with nature itself ?

“It is because they disagree about some action that some say it has been done rightly and others wrongly

Even if all x is wrong

What is piety>? Impiety? What is the predication

x is that which is

hierarchical abstraction of a verb  a process  -being  abstraction

That which one comes across in the search for self-knowledge.

It is like the wind, to try an to catch, not to catch, like Donovan’s wind.

[p. 5] Top: Where there is piety, there is moral rectitude But where there is moral rectitude there is not always piety.

an art of knowing what to give and what to ask for

Shattering of self-confidence to open the way to true wisdom.

Review

Piety is what I am doing now (definition mistake)

  • Euthyphro sets himself up as the measure of all things

Definition in gods who disagree about good and evil (perfection)

contradiction   removed (arrow)    all gods love is pious

what is pious or holy is loved because it is pious (~ is ~)

4. Euthyphro silent

Socrates- Piety is that part of justice which attends to the care of the gods

The good would have to provide a norm for gods, rather than be what the gods do.

By making piety part of the just, he leads Euthyphro to

What do the gods do

The good-the light

Because it can’t turn on agreeing at all

[Do not define quality

What is the process. definition.

[head with self-reflecting arrow] The good is that which is found by light.  There is light and dark which never [triangle: “…changes.”

objection %. degree light/dark, man is both…

…is indefinable…]

Piety is part of the just means that not all of the just is pious.

[p. 6]

Lecture of Friday                     Of essence- its not that we know better now, but that it                                                             is different now.

All the virtues are one

That which results from light

Last words on the Euthyphro

Piety is pleasing to all the gods

consists in service to the gods which is not a barter.

Service is an art which involves knowledge.

Every art involves knowledge.

 

Every pious act is just, but not every just act is pious: [Circles drawn, the just around the pious.]

What Socrates is doing here are pious

The dialogues are an exhibition of Socrates’ piety.

[Piety is an aspect of being, being is impredicable.]

Selection on “Christian” Rock, from “Rock Commentaries” IX

   In honor of Creed, we will include a list of ten Christian Rock songs, or songs that could be played toward the purpose by a christian rock band. These are songs that could make up a great Christian Rock concert, enriching a small and struggling genre. Why this should be is a good question, if one considers that there is fine Christian bluegrass music out of the middle of America. There is Christian classical, but not Christian Big Band or square dancing music. Some modes do not fit. The purpose of music itself is to glorify the Creator, as Henry Schaeffer says. There is some question here, though, of whether the rock beat is not itself corrupt and irredeemable. But if Christianity is also a soaring of the intellect, and enlists the greatest passions, one would think the rock mode might be especially suited, if one could find the right way, and this we think was done by Scot Stipe of Creed and in Jesus Christ Superstar to some extent. The acoustic or folk ballad type of explicitly Christian music is somehow easier to come by, and there are some among my simply best of all songs list below. But there will be no longer any excuse that there should not be very successful Christian Rock concerts. The first three penitent songs, and not explicitly Christian, though they demonstrate the recognition of wrong in a Biblical context. Locomotive breath, studied above with Aqualung, is included because the fellow caught as if on a tragic train ride ends by picking up Gideon’s Bible, though I am not sure I have understood the meaning aright. God stole the handle, or seems to the fellow to have taken away the means of stopping the tragic train.

15. In the Light Led Zeppelin

14. In My Time of Dyin’ Zeppelin

13. Take Me to the River, Talking Heads

12. Locomotive Breath Jethro Tull

11. House of the Rising Sun Eric Burden

10. Stealin Uriah Heep

9. Jesus Children Steevie Wonder

8. Aqualung side two (above)

7. All along the Watchtower (above)

6. Presence of the Lord Blind Faith (

5. Easy Livin Uriah Heep

This is a thing I’v never known before, its called easy livin’

This is place I’v never seen before, and I’v been forgiven

Easy Livin, and I’v been forgiven, since You’ve

Taken your place in my heart.

Somewhere along the lonely road, I had tried to find you

Day after day on that winding road I had walked behind you

  1. Love One Another Jesse Colin Young
  1. Love reign O’er Me The Who Quadrophenia
  1. Pride (In the Name of Love) U2

Wikipedia: Santa Claus

Or: How Saint Nicholas came to live at the North Pole

Santa Claus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1881 illustration by Thomas Nast who, along with Clement Clarke Moore’s poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus.

The modern portrayal of Santa Claus frequently depicts him listening to children’s Christmas wishes.

Santa Claus, also known as Father ChristmasSaint NicholasSaint NickKris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved children on the night of Christmas Eve (24 December) or during the early morning hours of Christmas Day (25 December).[1] The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas (a fourth-century Greek bishop and gift-giver of Myra), the British figure of Father Christmas, and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas (himself also based on Saint Nicholas). Some maintain Santa Claus also absorbed elements of the Germanic god Wodan, who was associated with the pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.

Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, jolly, white-bearded man—sometimes with spectacles—wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white-fur-cuffed red trousers, red hat with white fur, and black leather belt and boots and carrying a bag full of gifts for children. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.[2][3][4] This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children’s books, films, and advertising.

Santa Claus is said to make lists of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior, and to deliver presents, including toys and candy, to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and coal to all the misbehaving children, on the night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of his elves, who make the toys in his workshop at the North Pole, and his flying reindeer, who pull his sleigh.[5][6] He is commonly portrayed as living at the North Pole, and laughing in a way that sounds like “ho ho ho”.

Predecessor figures

Saint Nicholas

A 13th-century depiction of St. Nicholas from Saint Catherine’s MonasterySinai

Saint Nicholas of Myra was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes.[7] He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany) he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.

In 1087, while the Greek Christian inhabitants of Myra were subjugated by newly arrived Muslim Turkish conquerors, and soon after their Greek Orthodox church had been declared to be in schism by the Catholic church (1054 AD), a group of merchants from the Italian city of Bari removed the major bones of Nicholas’s skeleton from his sarcophagus in the Greek church in Myra. Over the objection of the monks of Myra the sailors took the bones of St. Nicholas to Bari, where they are now enshrined in the Basilica di San Nicola. Sailors from Bari collected just half of Nicholas’ skeleton, leaving all the minor fragments in the church sarcophagus. These were later taken by Venetian sailors during the First Crusade and placed in Venice, where a church to St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors, was built on the San Nicolò al Lido. St. Nicholas’ vandalized sarcophagus can still be seen in the St. Nicholas Church in Myra. This tradition was confirmed in two important scientific investigations of the relics in Bari and Venice, which revealed that the relics in the two Italian cities belong to the same skeleton. Saint Nicholas was later claimed as a patron saint of many diverse groups, from archers, sailors, and children to pawnbrokers.[7][8] He is also the patron saint of both Amsterdam and Moscow.[9]

During the Middle Ages, often on the evening before his name day of 6 December, children were bestowed gifts in his honour. This date was earlier than the original day of gifts for the children, which moved in the course of the Reformation and its opposition to the veneration of saints in many countries on the 24th and 25 December. The custom of gifting to children at Christmas has been propagated by Martin Luther as an alternative to the previous very popular gift custom on St. Nicholas, to focus the interest of the children to Christ instead of the veneration of saints. Martin Luther first suggested the Christkind as the bringer of gifts. But Nicholas remained popular as gifts bearer for the people.[10][11][12]

Father Christmas

“Ghost of Christmas Present”, an illustration by John Leech made for Charles Dickens‘s festive classic A Christmas Carol (1843).

Father Christmas dates back as far as 16th century in England during the reign of Henry VIII, when he was pictured as a large man in green or scarlet robes lined with fur.[13] He typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food and wine and revelry.[13] As England no longer kept the feast day of Saint Nicholas on 6 December, the Father Christmas celebration was moved to the 25th of December to coincide with Christmas Day.[13] The Victorian revival of Christmas included Father Christmas as the emblem of ‘good cheer’.[14] His physical appearance was variable,[15] with one famous image being John Leech’s illustration of the “Ghost of Christmas Present” in Charles Dickens‘s festive classic A Christmas Carol (1843), as a great genial man in a green coat lined with fur who takes Scrooge through the bustling streets of London on the current Christmas morning, sprinkling the essence of Christmas onto the happy populace.[13][14]

Dutch, Belgian and Swiss folklore

Sinterklaas, Netherlands (2009) on his horse called Slecht Weer Vandaag or Amerigo

In the Netherlands and Belgium, the character of Santa Claus has to compete with that of Sinterklaas, Santa’s presumed progenitor. Santa Claus is known as de Kerstman in Dutch (“the Christmas man”) and Père Noël (“Father Christmas”) in French. But for children in the Netherlands Sinterklaas remains the predominant gift-giver in December; 36% of the Dutch only give presents on Sinterklaas evening or the day itself (December 6[16]), whereas Christmas (December 25) is used by another 21% to give presents. Some 26% of the Dutch population gives presents on both days.[17] In Belgium, Sinterklaas day presents are offered exclusively to children, whereas on Christmas Day, all ages may receive presents. Sinterklaas’ assistants are called “Zwarte Pieten” (in Dutch, “Père Fouettard” in French), so they are not elves.[18] In Switzerland, Père Fouettard accompanies Père Noël in the French speaking region, while the sinister Schmutzli accompanies Samichlaus in the Swiss German region. Schmutzli carries a twig broom to spank the naughty children.[19]

Germanic paganism, Wodan, and Christianization

An 1886 depiction of the long-bearded Norse god Odin by Georg von Rosen

Prior to Christianization, the Germanic peoples (including the English) celebrated a midwinter event called Yule (Old English geola or giuli).[20] With the Christianization of Germanic Europe, numerous traditions were absorbed from Yuletide celebrations into modern Christmas.[21] During this period, supernatural and ghostly occurrences were said to increase in frequency, such as the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.[citation needed] The leader of the wild hunt is frequently attested as the god Wodan (Norse Odin), bearing (among many names) the names Jólnir, meaning “Yule figure”, and Langbarðr, meaning “long-beard”, in Old Norse.[22]

Wodan’s role during the Yuletide period has been theorized as having influenced concepts of St. Nicholas in a variety of facets, including his long white beard and his gray horse for nightly rides (compare Odin’s horse Sleipnir) or his reindeer in North American tradition.[23] Folklorist Margaret Baker maintains that “the appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is the 25th of December, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Giftbringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed Sleipnir, visiting his people with gifts. … Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus, prospered with St Nicholas and the Christchild, became a leading player on the Christmas stage.”[24]

In Finland, Santa Claus is called Joulupukki (direct translation ‘Christmas Goat’).[25] The flying reindeer could symbolize the use of fly agaric by Sámi shamans.[26]

History

Origins

Early representations of the gift-giver from Church history and folklore, notably St Nicholas (known in Dutch as Sinterklaas), merged with the English character Father Christmas to create the character known to Americans and the rest of the English-speaking world as “Santa Claus” (a phonetic derivation of “Sinterklaas”).

In the English and later British colonies of North America, and later in the United States, British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further. For example, in Washington Irving‘s History of New York (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into “Santa Claus” (a name first used in the American press in 1773)[27] but lost his bishop’s apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. Irving’s book was a lampoon of the Dutch culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention.

19th century

Illustration to verse 1 of Old Santeclaus with Much Delight

1850 illustration of Saint Nicolas with his servant Père Fouettard / Zwarte Piet

December 24, 1864. This has usually been a very busy day with me, preparing for Christmas not only for my own tables, but for gifts for my servants. Now how changed! No confectionary, cakes, or pies can I have. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard. Christmas Eve, which has ever been gaily celebrated here, which has witnessed the popping of firecrackers … and the hanging up of stockings, is an occasion now of sadness and gloom. I have nothing even to put in 8-year-old daughter Sadai’s stocking, which hangs so invitingly for Santa Claus. How disappointed she will be in the morning, though I have explained to her why he cannot come. Poor children! Why must the innocent suffer with the guilty?

Diary of Dolly Lunt Burge – written during the latter part of the American Civil War.[28]

In 1821, the book A New-year’s present, to the little ones from five to twelve was published in New York. It contained Old Santeclaus with Much Delight, an anonymous poem describing Santeclaus on a reindeer sleigh, bringing presents to children.[29] Some modern ideas of Santa Claus seemingly became canon after the anonymous publication of the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (better known today as “The Night Before Christmas”) in the Troy, New YorkSentinel on 23 December 1823; Clement Clarke Moore later claimed authorship, though some scholars argue that Henry Livingston, Jr. (who died nine years before Moore’s claim) was the author.[7][30] St. Nick is described as being “chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf” with “a little round belly”, that “shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly”, in spite of which the “miniature sleigh” and “tiny reindeer” still indicate that he is physically diminutive. The reindeer were also named: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem (Dunder and Blixem came from the old Dutch words for thunder and lightning, which were later changed to the more German sounding Donner and Blitzen).[31]

By 1845 “Kris Kringle” was a common variant of Santa in parts of the United States.[32] A magazine article from 1853, describing American Christmas customs to British readers, refers to children hanging up their stockings on Christmas Eve for “a fabulous personage” whose name varies: in Pennsylvania he is usually called “Krishkinkle”, but in New York he is “St. Nicholas” or “Santa Claus”. The author[33] quotes Moore’s poem in its entirety, saying that its descriptions apply to Krishkinkle too.[34]

As the years passed, Santa Claus evolved in popular culture into a large, heavyset person. One of the first artists to define Santa Claus’s modern image was Thomas Nast, an American cartoonist of the 19th century. In 1863, a picture of Santa illustrated by Nast appeared in Harper’s Weekly.

Thomas Nast immortalized Santa Claus with an illustration for the 3 January 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly. Santa was dressed in an American flag, and had a puppet with the name “Jeff” written on it, reflecting its Civil War context.

The story that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole may also have been a Nast creation. His Christmas image in the Harper’s issue dated 29 December 1866 was a collage of engravings titled Santa Claus and His Works, which included the caption “Santa Claussville, N.P.”[35] A color collection of Nast’s pictures, published in 1869, had a poem also titled “Santa Claus and His Works” by George P. Webster, who wrote that Santa Claus’s home was “near the North Pole, in the ice and snow”.[36] The tale had become well known by the 1870s. A boy from Colorado writing to the children’s magazine The Nursery in late 1874 said, “If we did not live so very far from the North Pole, I should ask Santa Claus to bring me a donkey.”[37]

The idea of a wife for Santa Claus may have been the creation of American authors, beginning in the mid-19th century. In 1889, the poet Katharine Lee Bates popularized Mrs. Claus in the poem “Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride”.

“Is There a Santa Claus?” was the title of an editorial appearing in the 21 September 1897 edition of The New York Sun. The editorial, which included the famous reply “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus“, has become an indelible part of popular Christmas lore in the United States and Canada.

In Russia, Ded Moroz emerged as a Santa Clause figure around the late 19th century[38] where Christmas for the Eastern Orthodox Church is kept on January 7.

20th century

L. Frank Baum‘s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, a 1902 children’s book, further popularized Santa Claus. Much of Santa Claus’s mythos was not set in stone at the time, leaving Baum to give his “Neclaus” (Necile’s Little One) a wide variety of immortal support, a home in the Laughing Valley of Hohaho, and ten reindeer—who could not fly, but leapt in enormous, flight-like bounds. Claus’s immortality was earned, much like his title (“Santa”), decided by a vote of those naturally immortal. This work also established Claus’s motives: a happy childhood among immortals. When Ak, Master Woodsman of the World, exposes him to the misery and poverty of children in the outside world, Santa strives to find a way to bring joy into the lives of all children, and eventually invents toys as a principal means. Santa later appears in The Road to Oz as an honored guest at Ozma’s birthday party, stated to be famous and beloved enough for everyone to bow even before he is announced as “The most Mighty and Loyal Friend of Children, His Supreme Highness – Santa Claus”.

Images of Santa Claus were further popularized through Haddon Sundblom‘s depiction of him for The Coca-Cola Company‘s Christmas advertising in the 1930s.[7][39] The popularity of the image spawned urban legends that Santa Claus was invented by The Coca-Cola Company or that Santa wears red and white because they are the colors used to promote the Coca-Cola brand.[40] Historically, Coca-Cola was not the first soft drink company to utilize the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising—White Rock Beverages had already used a red and white Santa to sell mineral water in 1915 and then in advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923.[41][42][43] Earlier still, Santa Claus had appeared dressed in red and white and essentially in his current form on several covers of Puck magazine in the first few years of the 20th century.[44]

A man dressed as Santa Claus fundraising for Volunteers of America on the sidewalk of street in Chicago, Illinois, in 1902. He is wearing a mask with a beard attached.

The image of Santa Claus as a benevolent character became reinforced with its association with charity and philanthropy, particularly by organizations such as the Salvation Army. Volunteers dressed as Santa Claus typically became part of fundraising drives to aid needy families at Christmas time.

In 1937, Charles W. Howard, who played Santa Claus in department stores and parades, established the Charles W. Howard Santa School, the oldest continuously-run such school in the world.[45]

In some images from the early 20th century, Santa was depicted as personally making his toys by hand in a small workshop like a craftsman. Eventually, the idea emerged that he had numerous elves responsible for making the toys, but the toys were still handmade by each individual elf working in the traditional manner.

The 1956 popular song by George Melachrino, “Mrs. Santa Claus”, and the 1963 children’s book How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas, by Phyllis McGinley, helped standardize and establish the character and role of Mrs. Claus in the popular imagination.

Seabury Quinn‘s 1948 novel Roads draws from historical legends to tell the story of Santa and the origins of Christmas. Other modern additions to the “story” of Santa include Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the 9th and lead reindeer created in 1939 by Robert L. May, a Montgomery Ward copywriter, and immortalized in a 1949 song by Gene Autry.

In popular culture

Santa1905PuckCover.jpg

By the end of the 20th century, the reality of mass mechanized production became more fully accepted by the Western public.[citation needed] Elves had been portrayed as using assembly lines to produce toys early in the 20th century. That shift was reflected in the modern depiction of Santa’s residence—now often humorously portrayed as a fully mechanized production and distribution facility, equipped with the latest manufacturing technology, and overseen by the elves with Santa and Mrs. Claus as executives or managers.[46] An excerpt from a 2004 article, from a supply chain managers’ trade magazine, aptly illustrates this depiction:

Santa’s main distribution center is a sight to behold. At 4,000,000 square feet (370,000 m2), it’s one of the world’s largest facilities. A real-time warehouse management system (WMS) is of course required to run such a complex. The facility makes extensive use of task interleaving, literally combining dozens of DC activities (putaway, replenishing, order picking, sleigh loading, cycle counting) in a dynamic queue … the DC elves have been on engineered standards and incentives for three years, leading to a 12% gain in productivity … The WMS and transportation system are fully integrated, allowing (the elves) to make optimal decisions that balance transportation and order picking and other DC costs. Unbeknownst to many, Santa actually has to use many sleighs and fake Santa drivers to get the job done Christmas Eve, and the transportation management system (TMS) optimally builds thousands of consolidated sacks that maximize cube utilization and minimize total air miles.[47]

In 1912 the actor Leedham Bantock became the first actor to be identified as having played Santa Claus in a film. Santa Claus, which he also directed, included scenes photographed in a limited, two-tone color process and featured the use of detailed models.[48][49] Since then many feature films have featured Santa Claus as a protagonist, including Miracle on 34th StreetThe Santa Clause and Elf.

In the cartoon base, Santa has been voiced by several people, including Stan Francis, Mickey RooneyEd AsnerJohn Goodman, and Keith Wickham.

Santa has been described as a positive male cultural icon:

Santa is really the only cultural icon we have who’s male, does not carry a gun, and is all about peace, joy, giving, and caring for other people. That’s part of the magic for me, especially in a culture where we’ve become so commercialized and hooked into manufactured icons. Santa is much more organic, integral, connected to the past, and therefore connected to the future.

— TV producer Jonathan Meath who portrays Santa, 2011[50]

Many television commercials, comic strips and other media depict this as a sort of humorous business, with Santa’s elves acting as a sometimes mischievously disgruntled workforce, cracking jokes and pulling pranks on their boss. For instance, a Bloom County story from 15 December 1981 through 24 December 1981 has Santa rejecting the demands of PETCO (Professional Elves Toy-Making and Craft Organization) for higher wages, a hot tub in the locker room, and “short broads,” with the elves then going on strike. President Reagan steps in, fires all of Santa’s helpers, and replaces them with out-of-work air traffic controllers (an obvious reference to the 1981 air traffic controllers’ strike), resulting in a riot before Santa vindictively rehires them in humiliating new positions such as his reindeer.[51] In The Sopranos episode, “…To Save Us All from Satan’s Power“, Paulie Gualtieri says he “Used to think Santa and Mrs. Claus were running a sweatshop over there … The original elves were ugly, traveled with Santa to throw bad kids a beatin’, and gave the good ones toys.”

In Kyrgyzstan, a mountain peak was named after Santa Claus, after a Swedish company had suggested the location be a more efficient starting place for present-delivering journeys all over the world, than Lapland. In the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, a Santa Claus Festival was held on 30 December 2007, with government officials attending. 2008 was officially declared the Year of Santa Claus in the country. The events are seen as moves to boost tourism in Kyrgyzstan.[52]

The Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of Santa Clauses is held by ThrissurKeralaIndia where on 27 December 2014, 18,112 Santas came overtaking the current record of Derry City, Northern Ireland. On 9 September 2007 where a total of 12,965 people dressed up as Santa or Santa’s helper which previously brought down the record of 3,921, which was set during the Santa Dash event in Liverpool City Centre in 2005.[53] A gathering of Santas in 2009 in Bucharest, Romania attempted to top the world record, but failed with only 3,939 Santas.[54]

Traditions and rituals

Chimney tradition

The tradition of Santa Claus entering dwellings through the chimney is shared by many European seasonal gift-givers. In pre-Christian Norse tradition, Odin would often enter through chimneys and fire holes on the solstice.[citation needed] In the Italian Befana tradition, the gift-giving witch is perpetually covered with soot from her trips down the chimneys of children’s homes. In the tale of Saint Nicholas, the saint tossed coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, down a chimney when he finds the window locked. In Dutch artist Jan Steen‘s painting, The Feast of Saint Nicholas, adults and toddlers are glancing up a chimney with amazement on their faces while other children play with their toys. The hearth was held sacred in primitive belief as a source of beneficence, and popular belief had elves and fairies bringing gifts to the house through this portal. Santa’s entrance into homes on Christmas Eve via the chimney was made part of American tradition through the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” where the author described him as an elf.[55]

Christmas Eve rituals

A man dressed as Santa Claus waves to children from an annual holiday train in Chicago, 2012.

In the United States and Canada, children traditionally leave Santa a glass of milk and a plate of cookies; in Britain and Australia, he is sometimes given sherry or beer, and mince pies instead. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, it is common for children to leave him rice porridge with cinnamon sugar instead. In Ireland it is popular to give him Guinness or milk, along with Christmas pudding or mince pies.

In Hungary, St. Nicolaus (Mikulás) comes on the night of 5 December and the children get their gifts the next morning. They get sweets in a bag if they were good, and a golden colored birch switch if not. On Christmas Eve “Little Jesus” comes and gives gifts for everyone.[56]

In Slovenia, Saint Nicholas (Miklavž) also brings small gifts for good children on the eve of 6 December. Božiček (Christmas Man) brings gifts on the eve of 25 December, and Dedek Mraz (Grandfather Frost) brings gifts in the evening of 31 December to be opened on New Years Day.

Hanging up stockings for Santa Claus, Ohio, 1928

New Zealand, British, Australian, Irish, Canadian, and American children also leave a carrot for Santa’s reindeer, and are told that if they are not good all year round that they will receive a lump of coal in their stockings, although the actual practice of giving coal is now considered archaic. Children following the Dutch custom for sinterklaas will “put out their shoe” (leave hay and a carrot for his horse in a shoe before going to bed, sometimes weeks before the sinterklaas avond). The next morning they will find the hay and carrot replaced by a gift; often, this is a marzipan figurine. Naughty children were once told that they would be left a roe (a bundle of sticks) instead of sweets, but this practice has been discontinued.

Other Christmas Eve Santa Claus rituals in the United States include reading A Visit from St. Nicholas or other tale about Santa Claus, watching a Santa or Christmas-related animated program on television (such as the aforementioned Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and similar specials, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, among many others), and the singing of Santa Claus songs such as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town“, “Here Comes Santa Claus“, and “Up on the House Top“. Last minute rituals for children before going to bed include aligning stockings at the mantelpiece or other place where Santa cannot fail to see them, peeking up the chimney (in homes with a fireplace), glancing out a window and scanning the heavens for Santa’s sleigh, and (in homes without a fireplace) unlocking an exterior door so Santa can easily enter the house. Tags on gifts for children are sometimes signed by their parents “From Santa Claus” before the gifts are laid beneath the tree.

A classic American image of Santa Claus.

Ho, ho, ho

Ho ho ho is the way that many languages write out how Santa Claus laughs. “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!” It is the textual rendition of a particular type of deep-throated laugh or chuckle, most associated today with Santa Claus and Father Christmas.

The laughter of Santa Claus has long been an important attribute by which the character is identified, but it also does not appear in many non-English-speaking countries. The traditional Christmas poem A Visit from St. Nicholas relates that Santa has:

… a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly

Home

Santa Claus’s home traditionally includes a residence and a workshop where he creates—often with the aid of elves or other supernatural beings—the gifts he delivers to good children at Christmas. Some stories and legends include a village, inhabited by his helpers, surrounding his home and shop.

In North American tradition (in the United States and Canada), Santa lives on the North Pole, which according to Canada Post lies within Canadian jurisdiction in postal code H0H 0H0[57] (a reference to “ho ho ho”, Santa’s notable saying, although postal codes starting with H are usually reserved for the island of Montreal in Québec). On 23 December 2008, Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, formally awarded Canadian citizenship status to Santa Claus. “The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete,” Kenney said in an official statement.[58]

There is also a city named North Pole in Alaska where a tourist attraction known as the “Santa Claus House” has been established. The United States Postal Service uses the city’s ZIP code of 99705 as their advertised postal code for Santa Claus. A Wendy’s in North Pole, AK has also claimed to have a “sleigh fly through”.[59]

Each Nordic country claims Santa’s residence to be within their territory. Norway claims he lives in Drøbak. In Denmark, he is said to live in Greenland (near Uummannaq). In Sweden, the town of Mora has a theme park named Tomteland. The national postal terminal in Tomteboda in Stockholm receives children’s letters for Santa. In Finland, Korvatunturi has long been known as Santa’s home, and two theme parks, Santa Claus Village and Santa Park are located near Rovaniemi. In Belarus there is a home of Ded Moroz in Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park.[60]

Parades, department stores, and shopping malls

Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade, 1918, Toronto, Canada. Having arrived at the Eaton’s department store, Santa is readying his ladder to climb up onto the building.

Giant Santa Claus, Philippines

Santa Claus appears in the weeks before Christmas in department stores or shopping malls, or at parties. The practice of this has been credited[dubious ] to James Edgar, as he started doing this in 1890 in his Brockton, Massachusetts department store.[61] He is played by an actor, usually helped by other actors (often mall employees) dressed as elves or other creatures of folklore associated with Santa. Santa’s function is either to promote the store’s image by distributing small gifts to children, or to provide a seasonal experience to children by listening to their wishlist while having them sit on his knee (a practice now under review by some organisations in Britain,[62] and Switzerland[63]). Sometimes a photograph of the child and Santa are taken. Having a Santa set up to take pictures with children is a ritual that dates back at least to 1918.[64]

The area set up for this purpose is festively decorated, usually with a large throne, and is called variously “Santa’s Grotto”, “Santa’s Workshop” or a similar term. In the United States, the most notable of these is the Santa at the flagship Macy’s store in New York City—he arrives at the store by sleigh in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the last float, and his court takes over a large portion of one floor in the store. The Macy’s Santa Claus in New York City is often said to be the real Santa. This was popularized by the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street with Santa Claus being called Kris Kringle. Essayist David Sedaris is known for the satirical SantaLand Diaries he kept while working as an elf in the Macy’s display, which were turned into a famous radio segment and later published.

In Canada, malls operated by Oxford Properties established a process by which autistic children could visit Santa Claus at the mall without having to contend with crowds.[65] The malls open early to allow entry only to families with autistic children, who have a private visit with Santa Claus. In 2012, the Southcentre Mall in Calgary was the first mall to offer this service.[66]

In the United Kingdom, discount store Poundland changes the voice of its self-service checkouts to that of Santa Claus throughout the Christmas retail period.[67]

Santa Claus portrayed by children’s television producer Jonathan Meath, 2010

There are schools offering instruction on how to act as Santa Claus. For example, children’s television producer Jonathan Meath studied at the International School of Santa Claus and earned the degree Master of Santa Claus in 2006. It blossomed into a second career for him, and after appearing in parades and malls,[68] he appeared on the cover of the American monthly Boston Magazine as Santa.[69] There are associations with members who portray Santa; for example, Mr. Meath was a board member of the international organization called Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas.[70]

Letter writing to Santa

Writing letters to Santa Claus has been a Christmas tradition for children for many years. These letters normally contain a wishlist of toys and assertions of good behavior. Some social scientists have found that boys and girls write different types of letters. Girls generally write longer but more polite lists and express the nature of Christmas more in their letters than in letters written by boys. Girls also more often request gifts for other people.[71]

Many postal services allow children to send letters to Santa Claus. These letters may be answered by postal workers or outside volunteers.[72] Writing letters to Santa Claus has the educational benefits of promoting literacy, computer literacy, and e-mail literacy. A letter to Santa is often a child’s first experience of correspondence. Written and sent with the help of a parent or teacher, children learn about the structure of a letter, salutations, and the use of an address and postcode.[73]

According to the Universal Postal Union (UPU)’s 2007 study and survey of national postal operations, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has the oldest Santa letter answering effort by a national postal system. The USPS Santa letter answering effort started in 1912 out of the historic James Farley Post Office[74] in New York, and since 1940 has been called “Operation Santa” to ensure that letters to Santa are adopted by charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses and individuals in order to make children’s holiday dreams come true from coast to coast.[72] Those seeking a North Pole holiday postmark through the USPS, are told to send their letter from Santa or a holiday greeting card by 10 December to: North Pole Holiday Postmark, Postmaster, 4141 Postmark Dr, Anchorage, AK 99530-9998.[75]

In 2006, according to the UPU’s 2007 study and survey of national postal operations, France’s Postal Service received the most letters for Santa Claus or “Père Noël” with 1,220,000 letters received from 126 countries.[76] France’s Postal Service in 2007 specially recruited someone to answer the enormous volume of mail that was coming from Russia for Santa Claus.[72]

Other interesting Santa letter processing information, according to the UPU’s 2007 study and survey of national postal operations, are:[72]

  • Countries whose national postal operators answer letters to Santa and other end-of-year holiday figures, and the number of letters received in 2006: Germany (500,000), Australia (117,000), Austria (6,000), Bulgaria (500), Canada (1,060,000), Spain (232,000), United States (no figure, as statistics are not kept centrally), Finland (750,000), France (1,220,000), Ireland (100,000), New Zealand (110,000), Portugal (255,000), Poland (3,000), Slovakia (85,000), Sweden (150,000), Switzerland (17,863), Ukraine (5,019), United Kingdom (750,000).
  • In 2006, Finland’s national postal operation received letters from 150 countries (representing 90% of the letters received), France’s Postal Service from 126 countries, Germany from 80 countries, and Slovakia from 20 countries.
  • In 2007, Canada Post replied to letters in 26 languages and Deutsche Post in 16 languages.
  • Some national postal operators make it possible to send in e-mail messages which are answered by physical mail. All the same, Santa still receives far more letters than e-mail through the national postal operators, proving that children still write letters. National postal operators offering the ability to use an on-line web form (with or without a return e-mail address) to Santa and obtain a reply include Canada Post[77] (on-line web request form in English and French), France’s Postal Service (on-line web request form in French),[78][79] and New Zealand Post[80] (on-line web request form in English).[81] In France, by 6 December 2010, a team of 60 postal elves had sent out reply cards in response to 80,000 e-mail on-line request forms and more than 500,000 physical letters.[73]

Canada Post has a special postal code for letters to Santa Claus, and since 1982 over 13,000 Canadian postal workers have volunteered to write responses. His address is: Santa Claus, North Pole, CanadaH0H 0H0; no postage is required.[82] (see also: Ho ho ho). (This postal code, in which zeroes are used for the letter “O”, is consistent with the alternating letter-number format of all Canadian postal codes.) Sometimes children’s charities answer letters in poor communities, or from children’s hospitals, and give them presents they would not otherwise receive. From 2002 to 2014, the program replied to approximately “one million letters or more a year, and in total answered more than 24.7 million letters”;[83] as of 2015, it responds to more than 1.5 million letters per year, “in over 30 languages, including Braille … answer[ing] them all in the language they are written”.[84]

In Britain it was traditional for some to burn the Christmas letters on the fire so that they would be magically transported by the wind to the North Pole. However this has been found to be less efficient than the use of the normal postal service, and this tradition is dying out in modern times, especially with few homes having open fires.[85] According to the Royal Mail website, Santa’s address for letters from British children is: Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ [86]

In Mexico and other Latin American countries, besides using the mail, sometimes children wrap their letters to a small helium balloon, releasing them into the air so Santa magically receives them.[85]

In 2010, the Brazilian National Post Service, “Correios” formed partnerships with public schools and social institutions to encourage children to write letters and make use of postcodes and stamps. In 2009, the Brazilian National Post Service, “Correios” answered almost two million children’s letters, and spread some seasonal cheer by donating 414,000 Christmas gifts to some of Brazil’s neediest citizens.[73]

Through the years, the Finnish Santa Claus (Joulupukki or “Yule Goat“) has received over eight million letters. He receives over 600,000 letters every year from over 198 different countries with Togo being the most recent country added to the list.[73] Children from Great Britain, Poland and Japan are the busiest writers. The Finnish Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi, however the Santa Claus Main Post Office is situated in Rovaniemi precisely at the Arctic circle. His address is: Santa Claus’ Main Post Office, Santa Claus Village, FIN-96930 Arctic Circle. The post office welcomes 300,000 visitors a year, with 70,000 visitors in December alone.[73]

Children can also receive a letter from Santa through a variety of private agencies and organizations, and on occasion public and private cooperative ventures. An example of a public and private cooperative venture is the opportunity for expatriate and local children and parents to receive postmarked mail and greeting cards from Santa during December in the Finnish Embassy in Beijing, People’s Republic of China,[87] Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland, and the People’s Republic of China Postal System’s Beijing International Post Office.[88][89][90][91] Parents can order a personalized “Santa letter” to be sent to their child, often with a North Pole postmark. The “Santa Letter” market generally relies on the internet as a medium for ordering such letters rather than retail stores.[undue weight? ]

Tracking Santa Claus

The Christmas issue of NOAA‘s Weather Bureau Topics with “Santa Claus” streaking across a weather radar screen, 1958

A number of websites created by various organizations track Santa Claus each year. Some, such as NORAD Tracks Santa, the Airservices Australia Tracks Santa Project,[92][93][94] the Santa Update Project, and the MSNBC and Bing Maps Platform Tracks Santa Project[95][96] have endured. Others, such as the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport‘s Tracks Santa Project[97][98][99] and the NASA Tracks Santa Project,[100] no longer actively track Santa.

1955 Sears ad with the misprinted telephone number that led to the creation of the NORAD Tracks Santa program

The origins of the NORAD Tracks Santa programme began in the United States in 1955, when a Sears Roebuck store in Colorado Springs, Colorado, gave children a number to call a “Santa hotline“. The number was mistyped, resulting in children calling the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) on Christmas Eve instead. The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first call for Santa and responded by telling children that there were signs on the radar that Santa was indeed heading south from the North Pole. A tradition began which continued under the name NORAD Tracks Santa when in 1958 Canada and the United States jointly created the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).[101][102] This tracking can now be done via the Internet and NORAD’s website.

In the past, many local television stations in the United States and Canada likewise claimed they “tracked Santa Claus” in their own metropolitan areas through the stations’ meteorologists. In December 2000, the Weather Channel built upon these local efforts to provide a national Christmas Eve “Santa tracking” effort, called “SantaWatch” in cooperation with NASA, the International Space Station, and Silicon Valley-based new multimedia firm Dreamtime Holdings.[103] In the 21st century, most local television stations in the United States and Canada rely upon outside established “Santa tracking” efforts, such as NORAD Tracks Santa.[104]

Many other websites became available year-round, devoted to Santa Claus and purport to keep tabs on his activities in his workshop. Many of these websites also include email addresses which allow children to send email to Santa Claus. Some websites, such as Santa’s page on Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces, however have used or still use “bots” to compose and send email replies, with occasional unfortunate results.[105][106]

In addition to providing holiday-themed entertainment, “Santa tracking” websites raise interest in space technology and exploration,[107] serve to educate children in geography.[108] and encourage them to take an interest in science.[109][110]

Criticism

Calvinist and Puritan opposition

Santa Claus has partial Christian roots in Saint Nicholas, particularly in the high church denominations that practice the veneration of him, in addition to other saints. In light of this, the character has sometimes been the focus of controversy over the holiday and its meanings. Some Christians, particularly Calvinists and Puritans, disliked the idea of Santa Claus, as well as Christmas in general, believing that the lavish celebrations were not in accordance with their faith.[111] Other nonconformist Christians condemn the materialist focus of contemporary gift giving and see Santa Claus as the symbol of that culture.[112]

Condemnation of Christmas was prevalent among the 17th-century English Puritans and Dutch Calvinists who banned the holiday as either pagan or Roman Catholic. The American colonies established by these groups reflected this view. Tolerance for Christmas increased after the Restoration but the Puritan opposition to the holiday persisted in New England for almost two centuries.[113] In the Dutch New Netherland colony, season celebrations focused on New Year’s Day.

Excerpt from Josiah King’s The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas (1686), published shortly after Christmas was reinstated as a holy day in England; Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.

Following the Restoration of the monarchy and with Puritans out of power in England,[114] the ban on Christmas was satirized in works such as Josiah King’s The Examination and Tryal of Old Father Christmas; Together with his Clearing by the Jury (1686).[115]

Reverend Paul Nedergaard, a clergyman in Copenhagen, Denmark, attracted controversy in 1958 when he declared Santa to be a “pagan goblin” (“en hedensk trold” in Danish) after Santa’s image was used on the annual Christmas stamp (“julemærke”) for a Danish children’s welfare organization.[116] A number of denominations of Christians have varying concerns about Santa Claus, which range from acceptance to denouncement.[117][118]

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement, wrote: “the children should not be taught that Santa Claus has aught to do with this [Christmas] pastime. A deceit or falsehood is never wise. Too much cannot be done towards guarding and guiding well the germinating and inclining thought of childhood. To mould aright the first impressions of innocence, aids in perpetuating purity and in unfolding the immortal model, man in His image and likeness.”[119]

Opposition under state atheism

Under the Marxist–Leninist doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations—along with other religious holidays—were prohibited as a result of the Soviet antireligious campaign.[120][121] The League of Militant Atheists encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, among them being Santa Claus and the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays including Easter; the League established an antireligious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement.[122][123]

The government of the People’s Republic of China officially espouses state atheism,[124] and has conducted antireligious campaigns to this end.[125] In December 2018, officials raided Christian churches just prior to Christmastide and coerced them to close; Christmas trees and Santa Clauses were also forcibly removed.[126][127][128]

Symbol of commercialism

In his book Nicholas: The Epic Journey from Saint to Santa Claus, writer Jeremy Seal describes how the commercialization of the Santa Claus figure began in the 19th century. “In the 1820s he began to acquire the recognizable trappings: reindeer, sleigh, bells,” said Seal in an interview.[129] “They are simply the actual bearings in the world from which he emerged. At that time, sleighs were how you got about Manhattan.”

Writing in Mothering, writer Carol Jean-Swanson makes similar points, noting that the original figure of St. Nicholas gave only to those who were needy and that today Santa Claus seems to be more about conspicuous consumption:

Our jolly old Saint Nicholas reflects our culture to a T, for he is fanciful, exuberant, bountiful, over-weight, and highly commercial. He also mirrors some of our highest ideals: childhood purity and innocence, selfless giving, unfaltering love, justice, and mercy. (What child has ever received a coal for Christmas?) The problem is that, in the process, he has become burdened with some of society’s greatest challenges: materialism, corporate greed, and domination by the media. Here, Santa carries more in his baggage than toys alone![130]

In the Czech Republic, a group of advertising professionals started a website against Santa Claus, a relatively recent phenomenon in that country.[131] “Czech Christmases are intimate and magical. All that Santa stuff seems to me like cheap show business,” said David König of the Creative Copywriters Club, pointing out that it is primarily an American and British tradition. “I’m not against Santa himself. I’m against Santa in my country only.” In the Czech tradition, presents are delivered by Ježíšek, which translates as Baby Jesus.

In the United Kingdom, Father Christmas was historically depicted wearing a green cloak.[citation needed] As Father Christmas has been increasingly merged into the image of Santa Claus, that has been changed to the more commonly known red suit.[132] However, Santa had been portrayed in a red suit in the 19th century by Thomas Nast among others.[133]

A law in the U.S. state of Ohio prohibits the usage of Santa Claus or his image to sell alcoholic beverages. The law came to attention when the beer brand Bud Light attempted to use its mascot Spuds MacKenzie in a Santa Claus outfit during a December 1987 ad campaign; Bud Light was forced to stop using the imagery.[134]

Controversy about deceiving children

Psychologists generally differentiate between telling fictional stories that feature Santa Claus and actively deceiving a child into believing that Santa Claus is real. Imaginative play, in which children know that Santa Claus is only a character in a story but pretend that he is real, just like they pretend that superheroes or other fictional characters are real, is widely believed to be valuable. However, actively deceiving a child into believing in Santa Claus’s real-world existence, sometimes even to the extent of fabricating false evidence to convince them despite their growing natural doubts, does not result in imaginative play and can promote credulity in the face of strong evidence against Santa Claus’s existence.[135][136]

Various psychologists and researchers have wrestled with the ways that young children are convinced of the existence of Santa Claus, and have wondered whether children’s abilities to critically weigh real-world evidence may be undermined by their belief in this or other imaginary figures. For example, University of Texas psychology professor Jacqueline Woolley helped conduct a study that found, to the contrary, that children seemed competent in their use of logic, evidence, and comparative reasoning even though they might conclude that Santa Claus or other fanciful creatures were real:

The adults they count on to provide reliable information about the world introduce them to Santa. Then his existence is affirmed by friends, books, TV and movies. It is also validated by hard evidence: the half-eaten cookies and empty milk glasses by the tree on Christmas morning. In other words, children do a great job of scientifically evaluating Santa. And adults do a great job of duping them.[137]

— Jacqueline Wooley

Woolley posited that it is perhaps “kinship with the adult world” that causes children not to be angry that they were lied to for so long.[137] However, the criticism about this deception is not that it is a simple lie, but a complicated series of very large lies.[138]

Typical objections to presenting Santa Claus as a literally real person, rather than a story, include:

With no greater good at the heart of this lie than having some fun, some have charged that the deception is more about the parents, their short-term happiness in seeing children excited about Santa Claus, and their nostalgic unwillingness to prolong the age of magical thinking, than it is about the children.[136]

Others, however, see little harm in the belief in Santa Claus. Psychologist Tamar Murachver said that because it is a cultural, not parental, lie, it does not usually undermine parental trust.[140] The New Zealand Skeptics also see no harm in parents telling their children that Santa is real. Spokesperson Vicki Hyde said, “It would be a hard-hearted parent indeed who frowned upon the innocent joys of our children’s cultural heritage. We save our bah humbugs for the things that exploit the vulnerable.”[140]

Most of them do not remain angry or embarrassed about the deception for very long. John Condry of Cornell University interviewed more than 500 children for a study of the issue and found that not a single child was angry at his or her parents for telling them Santa Claus was real. According to Dr. Condry, “The most common response to finding out the truth was that they felt older and more mature. They now knew something that the younger kids did not”.[141] In other studies, a small fraction of children felt betrayed by their parents, but disappointment was a more common response.[136] Some children have reacted poorly, including rejecting the family’s religious beliefs on the grounds that if the parents lied about the unprovable existence of Santa Claus, then they might lie about the unprovable existence of God as well.[136] By contrast Kyle Johnson of King’s College wrote, “It’s a lie, it degrades your parental trustworthiness, it encourages credulity, it does not encourage imagination, and it’s equivalent to bribing your kids for good behavior.”[142]

See also

Related figures

  • Amu Nowruz
  • Belsnickel — a German gift-giver and punisher of naughty children, a.k.a. Kriskringle
  • Companions of Saint Nicholas
  • Ded Moroz — (Father Frost, Russian: Дед Мороз) plays a role similar to Santa Claus
  • Joulupukki — original Santa-Claus from Finland
  • Krampus — in German-speaking Alpine folklore, a horned figure who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved
  • Mikulás — Hungary, Poland, Romania Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, a figure who brings treats before Christmas
  • Moș Gerilă — name of a character from Romanian communist propaganda
  • Olentzero — Basque character, possibly derived from Roman traditions
  • Saint Nicholas of Myra
  • Saint Basil —who is believed to bring Christmas gifts for children in Greek Orthodox tradition
  • Sinterklaas — Dutch mythical figure
  • Tomte — Scandinavian mythical character
  • Yule Goat — Scandinavian Christmas symbol
  • Yule Lads — a group of Icelandic figures who may leave gifts or rotting potatoes in the days before Christmas

Other

References

Notes

  1. ^ Krulwich, Robert. “How Does Santa Do It?”. ABC News. Retrieved 25 December2015.
  2. ^ Coke denies claims it bottled familiar Santa image, Jim Auchmutey, Rocky Mountain News, 10 December 2007.
  3. ^ “Santa’s arrival lights up the Green”. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012.
  4. ^ Penne L. Restad (5 December 1996). Christmas in America: A HistoryISBN 9780195355093.
  5. ^ B. K. Swartz, Jr.; THE ORIGIN OF AMERICAN CHRISTMAS MYTH AND CUSTOMS Archived 30 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine; Retrieved 22 December 2007
  6. ^ Jeff Westover; The Legendary Role of Reindeer in Christmas Archived 3 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine; Retrieved 22 December 2007
  7. Jump up to:a b c d “Santa Claus: The real man behind the myth”NBC News. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
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  12. ^ “Ein Verkaufsfahrer diente als Vorbild – angeblich – manager magazin”.
  13. Jump up to:a b c d William J. Federer (2002). “There Really Is a Santa Claus: The History of St. Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions” p. 39. Amerisearch, Inc., 2002
  14. Jump up to:a b Jacqueline Simpson, Steve Roud (2000) “English Folklore”. Oxford University Press, 2000
  15. ^ A children’s party given in England on 26 December 1842 featured ‘venerable effigies’ of Father Christmas and the Old Year; ‘ … Father Christmas with scarlet coat and cocked hat, stuck all over with presents for the guests … ‘ R. L. Brett, ed., Barclay Fox’s Journal, Bell and Hyman, London, 1979
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  18. ^ “Sinterklaas Arrival–Amsterdam, the Netherlands”. St. Nicholas Center. 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
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  20. ^ Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Mythology and Legend, page 187. Cassell.
  21. ^ Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology, pages 379–380. D.S. Brewer. & Orchard (1997:1987).
  22. ^ For the wild hunt, Simek (2010:372–373). For Jólnir, see Simek (2010:180) and Orchard (1997:189). For Langbarðr, see Simek (2010:186).
  23. ^ For example, see McKnight, George Harley (1917). St. Nicholas: His Legend and His Role in the Christmas Celebration and Other Popular Customs, pages 24–26, 138–139. G. P. Putman’s sons. & Springwood, Charles Fruehling (2009). “If Santa Wuz Black: The Domestication of a White Myth”, pages 243–244. As published in Studies in Symbolic Interaction: Volume 33 of Studies in Symbolic Interactions Series. Emerald Group Publishing. ISBN 9781848557840 archive.org copy
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  28. ^ A Woman’s Wartime Journal, An account of Sherman’s devastation of a southern plantation. Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge, 1988 (orig. 1927), Cherokee Publishing, Marietta GA. ISBN 0-87797-149-8.
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  69. ^ Mary Ann Georgantopoulos (23 December 2007). “Miracle on Mass. Ave.: City Santa takes suit seriously”The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 November 2010Santa Claus is coming to town. More accurately, he’s from town—Cambridge that is. Jonathan Meath is the perfect fit for a Santa.
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  71. ^ “Understanding What Christmas Gifts Mean to Children” by Jenniina Halkoaho and Pirjo Laaksonnen, pages 248–255 in “Young Consumers” and their reference to the 1994 article by Otnes, Cele, Kyungseung Kim, and Young Chan Kim. “Yes, Virginia, There is a Gender Difference: Analyzing Children’s Requests to Santa Claus.” in the Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 28, no. 1 (Summer 1994), pp. 17–29
  72. Jump up to:a b c d “Santa Claus receives more than six million letters annually and growing, 20 Dec 2007”Asian Tribune. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  73. Jump up to:a b c d e “No small job for postal elves, 15 Dec 2010”. Universal Postal Union – UPU. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
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  85. Jump up to:a b ‘Letters to Santa Claus’. (2000). In The World Encyclopedia of Christmas. Gerry Bowler, Editor. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Limited. pp. 131–132.
  86. ^ “Christmas letters to Santa”. Royal Mail. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  87. ^ “About this site – Embassy of Finland, Beijing – Consulates General of Finland, Shanghai and Guangzhou : Current Affairs”. Finland.cn. 16 May 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  88. ^ “Beijing Post Office”. Beijing Your Way. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  89. ^ “Beijing International Post Office”. Vip.fesco.com.cn. Retrieved 21 December2010.
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  92. ^ “Santa 2010 website by Airservices Australia”. Mirror.airservicesaustralia.com. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
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  94. ^ “New technology to map Santa’s flight, 24 Dec 2009”The Observer. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
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  98. ^ “DFW Airport’s ‘Santa Tracker’ Is Operational, by BJ Austin, 24 Dec 2009”. PBS KERA. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  99. ^ “From NORAD Santa Tracker To Twitter: Santa Tracking For Christmas Eve 2009, by Danny Sullivan, 23 Dec 2009”. Search Engine Land. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  100. ^ “Here Comes Santa Claus! Watch it on the Web!, 24 Dec 2005”. WRAL.com – Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville – North Carolina’s TV Station website. Archived from the original on 8 August 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  101. ^ Gurnon, Emily (23 December 2014). “How A Sears Typo Led To NORAD’s Santa Tracker”Forbes. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  102. ^ “Norad Santa Tracker: Christmas tradition began with a wrong number”CBC News. CBC. 24 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
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  106. ^ “For a Jolly Good Time, Chat With Santa on Windows Live Messenger, 13 Dec 2006”. Microsoft. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  107. ^ “NORAD Tracks Santa – Citation – Space Certification Program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category, December 2007”. Space Foundation. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  108. ^ “Hi-tech helps track Santa Claus, December 24, 2008”. BBC News. 24 December 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
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  112. ^ Bowler, Gerry (27 July 2011). Santa Claus: A Biography. Random House. ISBN 978-1551996080.
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  114. ^ “History – Ten Ages of Christmas”. BBC. 13 March 2005. Archived from the original on 13 March 2005. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  115. ^ Nissenbaum, chap. 1
  116. ^ Clar, Mimi (October 1959). “Attack on Santa Claus”. Western Folklore18 (4): 337. doi:10.2307/1497769JSTOR 1497769.
  117. ^ Santa Claus: The great imposter, Terry Watkins, Dial-the-Truth Ministries.
  118. ^ To Santa or Not to Santa, Sylvia Cochran, Families Online Magazine.
  119. ^ Eddy, Mary Baker (1925). Miscellany, p. 261, in Prose Works other than Science and Health. Trustees under the will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, Boston, USA.
  120. ^ Connelly, Mark (2000). Christmas at the Movies: Images of Christmas in American, British and European Cinema. I.B.Tauris. p. 186. ISBN 9781860643972A chapter on representations of Christmas in Soviet cinema could, in fact be the shortest in this collection: suffice it to say that there were, at least officially, no Christmas celebrations in the atheist socialist state after its foundation in 1917.
  121. ^ Echo of Islam. MIG. 1993. In the former Soviet Union, fir trees were usually put up to mark New Year’s day, following a tradition established by the officially atheist state.
  122. ^ Luzer, Daniel (26 November 2013). “What a Real War on Christmas Looks Like”Pacific Standard. Retrieved 12 November 2014There were several anti-religious campaigns, the most dramatic of which occurred in the 1920s. According to a piece published by the School of Russian and Asia Studies: In 1925, Christmas was effectively banned under the officially atheist Soviets, and was not to return to Russian lands until 1992. The New Year celebration usurped the traditions of a Christmas Tree (Ёлка), Santa (known in Russian as “Дед Mopoз” or “Grandfather Frost”), and presents. In the Russian tradition, Grandfather Frost’s granddaughter, the Snow Maiden (Снегурочка), always accompanies him to help distribute the gifts. Elves are not associated with the holiday. The state prohibited people from selling Christmas trees. There were even festivals, organized by the League of Militant Atheists, specifically to denigrate religious holidays. Their carnivals were inspired by similar events staged by activists after the French Revolution. From 1923 to 1924 and then again from 1929 to 1930 the “Komsomol Christmases” and Easters were basically holiday celebrations of atheism.
  123. ^ Ramet, Sabrina Petra (10 November 2005). Religious Policy in the Soviet UnionCambridge University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780521022309The League sallied forth to save the day from this putative religious revival. Antireligioznik obliged with so many articles that it devoted an entire section of its annual index for 1928 to anti-religious training in the schools. More such material followed in 1929, and a flood of it the next year. It recommended what Lenin and others earlier had explicitly condemned—carnivals, farces, and games to intimidate and purge the youth of religious belief. It suggested that pupils campaign against customs associated with Christmas (including Christmas trees) and Easter. Some schools, the League approvingly reported, staged an anti-religious day on the 31st of each month. Not teachers but the League’s local set the programme for this special occasion.
  124. ^ Dillon, Michael (2001). Religious Minorities and China. Minority Rights Group International.
  125. ^ Buang, Sa’eda; Chew, Phyllis Ghim-Lian (9 May 2014). Muslim Education in the 21st Century: Asian Perspectives. Routledge. p. 75. ISBN 9781317815006Subsequently, a new China was found on the basis of Communist ideology, i.e. atheism. Within the framework of this ideology, religion was treated as a ‘contorted’ world-view and people believed that religion would necessarily disappear at the end, along with the development of human society. A series of anti-religious campaigns was implemented by the Chinese Communist Party from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. As a result, in nearly 30 years between the beginning of the 1950s and the end of the 1970s, mosques (as well as churches and Chinese temples) were shut down and Imams involved in forced ‘re-education’.
  126. ^ Holl, Daniel (20 December 2018). “Chinese City Cuts Down Christmas”. The Epoch Times. City law enforcement officials were ordered to “crack down on street-side Christmas trees, Santa Clauses and anything related to Christmas,” said the memo. “Completely control the use of park-squares and other public spaces against promoting religious propaganda activities.” Communism, being officially atheist, has long been at odds with anything related to faith or religion, and Christmas has long since been a target. Other far-left political groups, including the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and even the Nazi Party, suppressed Christmas related activities.
  127. ^ “Alarm over China’s Church crackdown”BBC. 18 December 2018. Among those arrested are a prominent pastor and his wife, of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan. Both have been charged with state subversion. And on Saturday morning, dozens of police raided a children’s Bible class at Rongguili Church in Guangzhou. One Christian in Chengdu told the BBC: “I’m lucky they haven’t found me yet.” China is officially atheist, though says it allows religious freedom.
  128. ^ “Santa Claus won’t be coming to this town, as Chinese officials ban Christmas”. South China Morning Post. 18 December 2018. Christmas is not a recognised holiday in mainland China – where the ruling party is officially atheist – and for many years authorities have taken a tough stance on anyone who celebrates it in public. … The statement by Langfang officials said that anyone caught selling Christmas trees, wreaths, stockings or Santa Claus figures in the city would be punished. … While the ban on the sale of Christmas goods might appear to be directed at retailers, it also comes amid a crackdown on Christians practising their religion across the country. On Saturday morning, more than 60 police officers and officials stormed a children’s Bible class in Guangzhou, capital of southern China’s Guangdong province. The incident came after authorities shut down the 1,500-member Zion Church in Beijing in September and Chengdu’s 500-member Early Rain Covenant Church last week. In the case of the latter, about 100 worshippers were snatched from their homes or from the streets in coordinated raids.
  129. ^ How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus: One Theory, interview with Jeremy Seal at the St. Nicholas Center.
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  131. ^ “Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry”. Archived from the original on 20 January 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007., Hilda Hoy, The Prague Post, 13 December 2006.
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  134. ^ “Spuds Can’t Promote Beer Dressed as Santa”Associated Press. 2 December 1987. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
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Bibliography

Further reading

 

Wikipedia: St. Nicholas of Myra

Saint Nicholas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“He is said to have been imprisoned and tortured during the Great Persecution under the Emperor Diocletian (ruled 284–305),[38][39] but was released under the orders of the Emperor Constantine the Great (ruled 306–337).[15]
Saint Nicholas
Jaroslav Čermák (1831 - 1878) - Sv. Mikuláš.jpg

Full-length icon of Saint Nicholas by Jaroslav Čermák, showing him with a halo, dressed in clerical garb, and holding a book of the scriptures in his left hand while making the hand gesture for the sign of the cross with his right.
Defender of Orthodoxy, Wonderworker, Holy Hierarch, Bishop of Myra
Born Traditionally 15 March 270[1]
PataraRoman Empire
Died Traditionally 6 December 343 (aged 73)
MyraByzantine Empire
Venerated in All Christian denominations which venerate saints
Major shrine Basilica di San NicolaBari, Italy
Feast 5/6 December in Western Christianity; 19 December in Eastern Christianity (main feast day – Saint Nicholas Day)
22 May [O.S. 9 May] (translation of relics)[2]
Attributes Vested as a Bishop. In Eastern Christianity, wearing an omophorion and holding a Gospel Book. Sometimes shown with Jesus Christ over one shoulder, holding a Gospel Book, and with the Theotokos over the other shoulder, holding an omophorion
Patronage Children, coopers, sailors, fishermen, merchants, broadcasters, the falsely accused, repentant thieves, brewers, pharmacistsarcherspawnbrokersAberdeenGalwayRussiaGreeceHellenic NavyLiverpoolBariSiggiewiMoscowAmsterdamLorraineRoyal School of Church Music and Duchy of Lorraine, students in various cities and countries around Europe

Saint Nicholas of Myra[a] (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343),[3][4][b] also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek maritime city of Myra in Asia Minor (Ancient GreekΜύρα, modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire.[7][8] Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker.[c] Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus (“Saint Nick”) through Sinterklaas.

Very little is known about the historical Saint Nicholas. The earliest accounts of his life were written centuries after his death and contain many legendary elaborations. He is said to have been born in the Greek seaport of PataraLycia in Asia Minor to wealthy Christian parents.[9] In one of the earliest attested and most famous incidents from his life, he is said to have rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a sack of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay a dowry for each of them. Other early stories tell of him calming a storm at sea, saving three innocent soldiers from wrongful execution, and chopping down a tree possessed by a demon. In his youth, he is said to have made a pilgrimage to Egypt and the Palestine area. Shortly after his return, he became Bishop of Myra. He was later cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, but was released after the accession of Constantine. An early list makes him an attendee at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but he is never mentioned in any writings by people who were actually at the council. Late, unsubstantiated legends claim that he was temporarily defrocked and imprisoned during the Council for slapping the heretic Arius. Another famous late legend tells how he resurrected three children, who had been murdered and pickled in brine by a butcher planning to sell them as pork during a famine.

Fewer than 200 years after Nicholas’s death, the St. Nicholas Church was built in Myra under the orders of Theodosius II over the site of the church, where he had served as bishop and Nicholas’s remains were moved to a sarcophagus in that church. In 1087, while the Greek Christian inhabitants of the region were subjugated by the newly arrived Muslim Seljuk Turks, and soon after their church was declared to be in schism by the Catholic church, a group of merchants from the Italian city of Bari removed the major bones of Nicholas’s skeleton from his sarcophagus in the church without authorization and brought them to their hometown, where they are now enshrined in the Basilica di San Nicola. The remaining bone fragments from the sarcophagus were later removed by Venetian sailors and taken to Venice during the First Crusade. His relics in Bari are said to exude a miraculous watery substance known as “manna” or “myrrh[attribution needed], which some members of the faithful regard as possessing supernatural powers.

Biographical sources

Very little at all is known about Saint Nicholas’s historical life.[10][11] Any writings Nicholas himself may have produced have been lost[12] and he is not mentioned by any contemporary chroniclers.[12] This is not surprising,[13] since Nicholas lived during a turbulent time in Roman history.[13] Furthermore, all written records were kept on papyrus or parchment, which were less durable than modern paper,[14] and texts needed to be periodically recopied by hand onto new material in order to be preserved.[14] The earliest mentions of Saint Nicholas indicate that, by the sixth century, his cult was already well-established.[15] Less than two hundred years after Saint Nicholas’s probable death, the Eastern Emperor Theodosius II (ruled 401–450) ordered the building of the Church of Saint Nicholas in Myra, which thereby preserves an early mention of his name.[16] The Byzantine historian Procopius also mentions that the Emperor Justinian I (ruled 527–565) renovated churches in Constantinople dedicated to Saint Nicholas and Saint Priscus,[17][16] which may have originally been built as early as c. 490.[17]

Nicholas’s name also occurs as “Nicholas of Myra of Lycia” on the tenth line of a list of attendees at the Council of Nicaea recorded by the historian Theodoret in the Historiae Ecclesiasticae Tripartitae Epitome, written sometime between 510 and 515.[16][15] A single, offhand mention of Nicholas of Myra also occurs in the biography of another saint, Saint Nicholas of Sion,[11] who apparently took the name “Nicholas” to honor him.[11][18] The Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion, written around 250 years after Nicholas of Myra’s death, briefly mentions Nicholas of Sion visiting Nicholas’s tomb to pay homage to him.[11][18][15] According to Jeremy Seal, the fact that Nicholas had a tomb that could be visited serves as the almost solitary definitive proof that he was a real historical figure.[19][18]

In his treatise De statu animarum post mortem (written c. 583), the theologian Eustratius of Constantinople cites Saint Nicholas of Myra’s miracle of the three counts as evidence that souls may work independent from the body.[17] Eustratius credits a lost Life of Saint Nicholas as his source.[17] Nearly all the sources Eustratius references date from the late fourth century to early fifth century,[17] indicating the Life of Saint Nicholas to which he refers was probably written during this time period, shortly after Nicholas’s death.[17] The earliest complete account of Nicholas’s life that has survived to the present is a Life of Saint Nicholas, written in the early ninth century by Michael the Archimandrite (814–842), nearly 500 years after Nicholas’s probable death.[20]

Despite its extremely late date, Michael the Archimandrite’s Life of Saint Nicholas is believed to heavily rely on older written sources and oral traditions.[21][22] The identity and reliability of these sources, however, remains uncertain.[22] Catholic historian D. L. Cann and medievalist Charles W. Jones both consider Michael the Archimandrite’s Life the only account of Saint Nicholas that is likely to contain any historical truth.[20] Jona Lendering, a Dutch historian of classical antiquity, notes that Michael the Archimandrite’s Life does not contain a “conversion narrative“, which was unusual for saints’ lives of the period when it was written.[22] He therefore argues that it is possible Michael the Archimandrite may have been relying on a source written before conversion narratives became popular, which would be a positive indication of that source’s reliability.[22] He also notes, however, that many of the stories recounted by Michael the Archimandrite closely resemble stories told about the first-century AD Neopythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, an eight-volume biography of him written in the early third century by the Greek writer Philostratus.[22] Christian storytellers were known to adapt older pagan legends and attribute them to Christian saints.[22] Because Apollonius’s hometown of Tyana was not far from Myra, Lendering contends that many popular stories about Apollonius may have become attached to Saint Nicholas.[22]

Life and legends

Family and background

Accounts of Saint Nicholas’s life agree on the essence of his story,[23] but modern historians disagree regarding how much of this story is actually rooted in historical fact.[23] Traditionally, Nicholas was born in the city of Patara (Lycia et Pamphylia), a port on the Mediterranean Sea,[9] in Asia Minor in the Roman Empire, to a wealthy family of Greek Christians.[23][24][25][26][27][9] According to some accounts, his parents were named Epiphanius (ἘπιφάνιοςEpiphánios) and Johanna (ἸωάνναIōánna),[28] but, according to others, they were named Theophanes (ΘεοφάνηςTheophánēs) and Nonna (ΝόνναNónna).[9] In some accounts, Nicholas’s uncle was the bishop of the city of Myra, also in Lycia.[29] Recognizing his nephew’s calling, Nicholas’s uncle ordained him as a priest.[29]

Generosity and travels[edit]

The dowry for the three virgins (Gentile da Fabriano, c. 1425, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome)

After his parents died, Nicholas is said to have distributed their wealth to the poor.[22][29] In his most famous exploit,[30] which is first attested in Michael the Archimandrite’s Life of Saint Nicholas, Nicholas heard of a devout man who once had been wealthy, but had lost all his money due to the “plotting and envy of Satan.”[22][31] The man had three daughters, but could not afford a proper dowry for them.[31][22][29][d] This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment, be forced to become prostitutes.[22][29][31] Hearing of the girls’ plight, Nicholas decided to help them, but, being too modest to help the family in public (or to save them the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to the house under the cover of night and threw a purse filled with gold coins through the window opening into the house.[22][29] He did the same thing the next two nights,[22][29][33] giving the man a total of three bags of gold, one for each of his three daughters.[22][29][33]

According to Michael the Archimandrite’s version, on the third night, the father of the three girls stayed up and caught Saint Nicholas in the act of the charity.[22][29][34] The father fell on his knees, thanking him.[22][29][34] Nicholas ordered him not to tell anyone about the gift.[22][29][34] The scene of Nicholas’s secret gift-giving is one of the most popular scenes in Christian devotional art, appearing in icons and frescoes from across Europe.[35] Although depictions vary depending on time and place,[35] Nicholas is often shown wearing a cowl while the daughters are typically shown in bed, dressed in their nightclothes.[35] Many renderings contain a cypress tree or a cross-shaped cupola.[35]

The historicity of this incident is disputed.[22] Adam C. English argues for a historical kernel to the legend, noting the story’s early attestation as well as the fact that no similar stories were told about any other Christian saints.[36] Jona Lendering, who also argues for the story’s authenticity, notes that a similar story is told in Philostratus’s Life of Apollonius of Tyana, in which Apollonius gives money to an impoverished father,[22] but states that Michael the Archimandrite’s account is markedly different.[22] Philostratus never mentions the fate of the daughters and, in his story, Apollonius’s generosity is purely motivated out of sympathy for the father;[22] in Michael the Archimandrite’s account, however, Saint Nicholas is instead expressly stated to be motivated by a desire to save the daughters from being sold into prostitution.[22] He argues that this desire to help women is most characteristic of fourth-century Christianity, due to the prominent role women played in the early Christian movement,[22] rather than Greco-Roman paganism or the Christianity of Michael the Archimandrite’s time in the ninth century, by which point the position of women had drastically declined.[22]

In another story, Nicholas is said to have visited the Holy Land.[29] The ship he was on was nearly destroyed by a terrible storm,[29] but he rebuked the waves, causing the storm to subside.[29] Because of this miracle, Nicholas became venerated as the patron saint of sailors.[29]

Bishop of Myra

Saint Nicholas Saves Three Innocents from Death (1888) by Ilya Repin

After visiting the Holy Land, Nicholas returned to Myra.[29] The bishop of Myra, who had succeeded Nicholas’s uncle, had recently died[29] and the priests in the city had decided that the first priest to enter the church that morning would be made bishop.[29] Nicholas went to the church to pray[29] and was therefore proclaimed the new bishop.[23][29][37] He is said to have been imprisoned and tortured during the Great Persecution under the Emperor Diocletian (ruled 284–305),[38][39] but was released under the orders of the Emperor Constantine the Great (ruled 306–337).[15] This story sounds plausible, but is not attested in the earliest sources and is therefore unlikely to be historical.[40]

One of the earliest attested stories of Saint Nicholas is one in which he saves three innocent men from execution.[32][41] According to Michael the Archimandrite, three innocent men were condemned to death by the governor Eustathius. As they were about to be executed, Nicholas appeared, pushed the executioner’s sword to the ground, released them from their chains, and angrily chastised a juror who had accepted a bribe.[41] According to Jona Lendering, this story directly parallels an earlier story in Philostratus’s Life of Apollonius of Tyana, in which Apollonius prevents the execution of a man falsely condemned of banditry.[22] Michael the Archimandrite also tells another story in which the consul Ablabius accepted a bribe to put three famous generals to death, in spite of their actual innocence.[42] Saint Nicholas appeared to Constantine and Ablabius in dreams, informing Constantine of the truth and frightening Ablabius into releasing the generals, for fear of Hell.[42]

Later versions of the story are more elaborate, interweaving the two stories together.[32] According to one version, Emperor Constantine sent three of his most trusted generals, named Ursos, Nepotianos, and Herpylion, to put down a rebellion in Phrygia,[32] but a storm forced them to take refuge in Myra.[32] Unbeknownst to the generals, who were in the harbor, their soldiers further inland were fighting with local merchants and engaging in looting and destruction.[32] Nicholas confronted the generals for allowing their soldiers to misbehave[32] and the generals brought an end to the looting.[43] Immediately after the soldiers had returned to their ships, Nicholas heard word of the three innocent men about to be executed and the three generals aided him in stopping the execution.[44] Eustathius attempted to flee on his horse,[44] but Nicholas stopped his horse and chastised him for his corruption.[45] Eustathius, under the threat of being reported directly to the Emperor, repented of his corrupt ways.[46] Afterward, the generals succeeded in ending the rebellion and were promoted by Constantine to even higher status.[46] The generals’ enemies, however, slandered them to the consul Ablabius, telling him that they had not really put down the revolt, but instead encouraged their own soldiers to join it.[46] The generals’ enemies also bribed Ablabius and he had the three generals imprisoned.[46] Nicholas then made his dream appearances and the three generals were set free.[47]

Council of Nicaea[edit]

Detail of a late medieval Russian Orthodox fresco showing Saint Nicholas slapping Arius at the First Council of Nicaea, a famous incident whose historicity is disputed[48][22]

In 325, Nicholas is said to have attended the First Council of Nicaea,[15][22][49] where he is said to have been a staunch opponent of Arianism and devoted supporter of Trinitarianism,[50] and one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed.[51] Nicholas’s attendance at the Council of Nicaea is attested early by Theodore the Lector’s list of attendees, which records him as the 151st attendee.[15][16] However, he is conspicuously never mentioned by Athanasius of Alexandria, the foremost defender of Trinitarianism at the Council, who knew all the notable bishops of the period,[52] nor is he mentioned by the historian Eusebius, who was also present at the council.[12] Adam C. English notes that lists of the attendees at Nicaea vary considerably, with shorter lists only including roughly 200 names, but longer lists including around 300.[36] Saint Nicholas’s name only appears on the longer lists, not the shorter ones.[36] Nicholas’s name appears on a total of three early lists, one of which, Theodore the Lector’s, is generally considered to be the most accurate.[22] According to Jona Lendering, there are two main possibilities:

  1. Nicholas did not attend the Council of Nicaea, but someone at an early date was baffled that his name was not listed and so added him to the list.[22] Many scholars tend to favor this explanation.[53][48]
  2. Nicholas did attend the Council of Nicaea, but, at an early date, someone decided to remove his name from the list, apparently deciding that it was better if no one remembered he had been there.[22]

A later legend, first attested in the fourteenth century, over 1,000 years after Nicholas’s death, holds that, during the Council of Nicaea, Nicholas lost his temper and slapped “a certain Arian” across the face.[48] On account of this, Constantine revoked Nicholas’s miter and pallium.[48] Stephen D. Greydanus concludes that, because of the story’s late attestation, it “has no historical value.”[48] Jona Lendering defends the historicity of the incident, arguing that, because it was embarrassing and reflects poorly on Nicholas’s reputation, it is inexplicable why later hagiographers would have made it up.[22] Later versions of the legend embellish it,[48] making the heretic Arius himself[48][54] and having Nicholas punch him rather than merely slapping him with his open hand.[48] In these versions of the story, Nicholas is also imprisoned,[48][54] but Christ and the Virgin Mary appear to him in his cell.[48][54] He tells them he is imprisoned “for loving you”[48] and they free him from his chains and restore his vestments.[48][54] The scene of Nicholas slapping Arius is celebrated in Eastern Orthodox icons[48] and episodes of Saint Nichola at Nicaea are shown in a series of paintings from the 1660s in the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari.[53]

Other reputed miracles[edit]

Illustration of Saint Nicholas resurrecting the three butchered children from the Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne (created between 1503 and 1508)

One story tells how during a terrible famine, a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he killed them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham.[29][55] Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, saw through the butcher’s lies[29][56] and resurrected the pickled children by making the Sign of the Cross.[29][56] Adam C. English notes that the story of the resurrection of the pickled children is a late medieval addition to the legendary biography of Saint Nicholas[36] and that it is not found in any of his earliest Lives.[36] Jona Lendering states that the story is “without any historical value.”[40]

Though this story seems bizarre and horrifying to modern audiences,[56] it was tremendously popular throughout the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period and widely beloved by ordinary folk.[56][29][40] It is depicted in stained glass windows, wood panel paintings, tapestries, and frescoes.[56] Eventually, the scene became so widely reproduced that, rather than showing the whole scene, artists began to merely depict Saint Nicholas with three naked children and a wooden barrel at his feet.[56] According to English, eventually, people who had forgotten or never learned the story began misinterpreting representations of it.[57] The fact that Saint Nicholas was shown with children led people to conclude he was the patron saint of children;[57] meanwhile, the fact that he was shown with a barrel led people to conclude that he was the patron saint of brewers.[58]

According to another story, during a great famine that Myra experienced in 311–312, a ship was in the port at anchor, loaded with wheat for the Emperor in Constantinople. Nicholas invited the sailors to unload a part of the wheat to help in the time of need. The sailors at first disliked the request, because the wheat had to be weighed accurately and delivered to the Emperor. Only when Nicholas promised them that they would not suffer any loss for their consideration, the sailors agreed. When they arrived later in the capital, they made a surprising find: the weight of the load had not changed, although the wheat removed in Myra was enough for two full years and could even be used for sowing.[59]

Relics[edit]

Gemile[edit]

Ruins of the fourth-century church on the island of Gemile where some scholars believe Saint Nicholas was originally entombed[60]

It has long been traditionally assumed that Saint Nicholas was originally buried in his home town of Myra, where his relics are later known to have been kept,[40][60] but some recent archaeological evidence indicates that Saint Nicholas may have originally been entombed in a rock-cut church located at the highest point on the small Turkish island of Gemile, only twenty miles away from his birthplace of Patara.[60] Nicholas’s name is painted on part of the ruined building.[60] In antiquity, the island was known as “Saint Nicholas Island”[60] and today it is known in Turkish as Gemile Adasi, meaning “Island of Sailors”, in reference to Saint Nicholas’s traditional role as the patron saint of seafarers.[60] The church was built in the fourth century, around the time of Nicholas’s death,[60] and is typical of saints’ shrines from that time period.[60] Nicholas was the only major saint associated with that part of Turkey.[60] The church where historians believe he was originally entombed is at the western end of the great processional way.[60]

Myra[edit]

Photograph of the desecrated sarcophagus in the St. Nicholas Church, Demre, where Saint Nicholas’s bones were kept before they were removed and taken to Bari in 1087[61]

In the mid-600s, Gemile was vulnerable to attack by Arab fleets, so Nicholas’s remains appear to have been moved from the island to the city of Myra, where Nicholas had served as bishop for most of his life.[60] Myra is located roughly forty kilometers, or twenty-five miles, east of Gemile[60] and its location further inland made it safer from seafaring Arab forces.[60] It is said that, in Myra, the relics of Saint Nicholas each year exuded a clear watery liquid which smelled like rose water, called manna, or myrrh, which was believed by the faithful to possess miraculous powers.[62][63] Because it was widely known that all Nicholas’s relics were at Myra in their sealed sarcophagus, it was rare during this period for forgers of relics to claim to possess those belonging to Saint Nicholas.[64]

A solemn bronze statue of the saint by Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky was donated by the Russian government in 2000, and was given a prominent place in the square fronting the medieval Church of St. Nicholas. In 2005, mayor Süleyman Topçu had the statue replaced by a red-suited plastic Santa Claus statue, because he wanted an image more recognisable to foreign visitors. Protests from the Russian government against this were successful, and the bronze statue was returned (albeit without its original high pedestal) to a corner nearer the church.[65]

On 28 December 2009, the Turkish government announced that it would be formally requesting the return of Saint Nicholas’s skeletal remains to Turkey from the Italian government.[66][67] Turkish authorities have asserted that Saint Nicholas himself desired to be buried at his episcopal town, and that his remains were illegally removed from his homeland. In 2017, an archaeological survey at St. Nicholas Church, Demre was reported to have found a temple below the modern church, with excavation work to be done that will allow researchers to determine whether it still holds Nicholas’s body.[68]

Bari[edit]

Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy where most of the relics of Saint Nicholas are kept today[69]

After the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Byzantine Empire temporarily lost control over most of Asia Minor to the invading Seljuk Turks,[61] and so Greek Christians of Myra became subjects of the Turks.[61][70] At the same time the Catholic Church in the West had declared (in 1054 AD) that the Greek church, the official church of the Byzantine Empire, was in schism. Because of the many wars in the region, some Christians were concerned that access to the tomb might become difficult.[61] Taking advantage of the confusion and the loss by the Greek Christian community of Myra of its Byzantine imperial protection, in the spring of 1087, Italian sailors from Bari in Apulia seized part of the remains of the saint from his burial church in Myra, over the objections of the Greek Orthodox monks in the church.[61][71][72][73]

Procession of St. Nicholas, Bari

Adam C. English describes the removal of the relics from Myra as “essentially a holy robbery”[74] and notes that the thieves were not only afraid of being caught or chased after by the locals, but also the power of Saint Nicholas himself.[74] Returning to Bari, they brought the remains with them and cared for them.[61] The remains arrived on 9 May 1087.[61][40] Two years later, Pope Urban II inaugurated a new church, the Basilica di San Nicola, to Saint Nicholas in Bari.[40] The Pope himself personally placed Nicholas’s relics into the tomb beneath the altar of the new church.[40] The removal of Saint Nicholas’s relics from Myra and their arrival in Bari is reliably recorded by multiple chroniclers, including Orderic Vitalis[75][40] and 9 May continued to be celebrated every year by western Christians as the day of Nicholas’s “translation”.[40] Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Turks have both long regarded the unauthorized removal of the relics from Myra as a blatant theft,[61][76] but the people of Bari have instead maintained that it was a rescue mission to save the bones from the Turkish invaders.[61][77] A legend, shown on the ceiling of the Basilica di San Nicola, holds that Nicholas once visited Bari while he was alive and predicted that his bones would one day rest there.[76]

Prior to the translation of Nicholas’s relics to Bari, his cult had been known in western Europe, but it had not been extremely popular.[40] In autumn of 1096, Norman and Frankish soldiers mustered in Bari in preparation for the First Crusade.[78] Although the Crusaders generally favored warrior saints, which Saint Nicholas was not, the presence of his relics in Bari made him materially accessible.[79] Nicholas’s associations with aiding travelers and seafarers also made him a popular choice for veneration.[80] Nicholas’s veneration by Crusaders helped promote his cult throughout western Europe.[81]

After the relics were brought to Bari, they continued to produce “myrrh”, much to the joy of their new owners. Vials of myrrh from his relics have been taken all over the world for centuries, and can still be obtained from his church in Bari. Even up to the present day, a flask of manna is extracted from the tomb of Saint Nicholas every year on 6 December (the Saint’s feast day) by the clergy of the basilica. The myrrh is collected from a sarcophagus which is located in the basilica vault and could be obtained in the shop nearby. The liquid gradually seeps out of the tomb, but it is unclear whether it originates from the body within the tomb, or from the marble itself; since the town of Bari is a harbour, and the tomb is below sea level, there have been several natural explanations proposed for the manna fluid, including the transfer of seawater to the tomb by capillary action.

In 1966, a vault in the crypt underneath the Basilica di San Nicola was dedicated as an Orthodox chapel with an iconostasis in commemoration of the recent lifting of the anathemas the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches had issued against each other during the Great Schism in 1054.[82] In May 2017, following talks between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, a portion of the relics of St. Nicholas in Bari were sent on loan to Moscow. The relic was on display for veneration at Christ the Savior Cathedral before being taken to St. Petersburg in mid-June prior to returning to Bari.[83] More than a million people lined up in Moscow for a momentary glimpse of the gilded ark holding one of the saint’s ribs.[84]

Venice[edit]

The church of San Nicolò al Lido in Venice claims to hold roughly 500 bone fragments from Nicholas’s skeleton,[85][69] which scientific examinations have confirmed are anatomically compatible with the bones in the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari.[85][74]

The sailors from Bari only took the main bones of Nicholas’s skeleton, leaving all the minor fragments in the grave.[86] The city of Venice had interest in obtaining the remaining fragments of his skeleton[87] and, in 1044, they dedicated the San Nicolò al Lido monastery basilica to him on the north end of the Lido di Venezia.[88] According to a single chronicle written by an anonymous monk at this monastery, in 1100, a fleet of Venetian ships accompanied by Bishop Henri sailed past Myra on their way to Palestine for the First Crusade.[89] Bishop Henri insisted for the fleet to turn back and set anchor in Myra.[89] The Venetians took the remaining bones of Saint Nicholas, as well as those of several other bishops of Myra, from the church there, which was only guarded by four Orthodox monks, and brought them to Venice, where they deposited them in the San Nicolò al Lido.[90] This tradition was lent credence in two scientific investigations of the relics in Bari and Venice, which confirmed that the relics in the two cities are anatomically compatible and may belong to the same person.[91][92][85] It is said that someone dies every time the bones of Saint Nicholas in Venice are disturbed.[75] The last time the bones were examined was in July 1992.[75]

Other locations[edit]

Tomb of Saint Nicholas near Thomastown, Ireland

Because of Nicholas’s skeleton’s long confinement in Myra, after it was brought to Bari, the demand for pieces of it rose.[63] Small bones quickly began to disperse across western Europe.[93] The sailors who had transported the bones gave one tooth and two fragments chipped from Nicholas’s sarcophagus to the Norman knight William Pantulf.[86] Pantulf took these relics to his hometown of Noron in Normandy, where they were placed in the local Church of St. Peter in June 1092.[86] In 1096, the duke of Apulia gave several bones of Saint Nicholas to the count of Flanders, which he then enshrined in the Abbey of Watten.[86] According to legend, in 1101, Saint Nicholas appeared in a vision to a French clerk visiting the shrine at Bari and told him to take one of his bones with him to his hometown of Port, near Nancy.[94] The clerk took a finger bone back with him to Port, where a chapel was built to Saint Nicholas.[94] Port became an important center of devotion in the Nicholas cult[94][40] and, in the fifteenth century, a church known as the Basilique Saint-Nicolas was built there dedicated to him.[94] The town itself is now known as “Saint Nicolas de Port” in honor of Nicholas.[40]

The clergy at Bari strategically gave away samples of Nicholas’s bones to promote the cult and enhance its prestige.[94] Many of these bones were initially kept in Constantinople,[94] but, after the Sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, these fragments were scattered across western Europe.[94] A hand claimed to belong to Saint Nicholas was kept in the San Nicola in Carcere in Rome.[94] This church, whose name means “Saint Nicholas in Chains”, was built on the site of a former municipal prison.[58] Stories quickly developed about Nicholas himself having been held in that prison.[58] Mothers would come to the church to pray to Saint Nicholas for their jailed sons to be released[58] and repentant criminals would place votive offerings in the church.[58] As a result of this, Nicholas became the patron saint of prisoners and those falsely accused of crimes.[58] An index finger claimed to belong to Saint Nicholas was kept in a chapel along the Ostian Way in Rome.[94] Another finger was held in Ventimiglia in Liguria.[94] Today, many churches in Europe, Russia, and the United States claim to possess small relics, such as a tooth or a finger bone.[95][69]

An Irish tradition states that the relics of Saint Nicholas are also reputed to have been stolen from Myra by local Norman crusading knights in the twelfth century and buried near ThomastownCounty Kilkenny, where a stone slab marks the site locally believed to be his grave.[96] According to the Irish antiquarian John Hunt, the tomb probably actually belongs to a local priest from Jerpoint Abbey.[97]

Scientific analysis[edit]

Saint Nicholas, Russian icon from first quarter of the 18th century (Kizhi monasteryKarelia)

Whereas the devotional importance of relics and the economics associated with pilgrimages caused the remains of most saints to be divided up and spread over numerous churches in several countries, Saint Nicholas is unusual in that most of his bones have been preserved in one spot: his grave crypt in Bari. Even with the allegedly continuing miracle of the manna, the archdiocese of Bari has allowed for one scientific survey of the bones.[98] In the late 1950s, while the crypt was undergoing much-needed restoration, the bones were removed from it for the first time since their interment in 1089.[39] A special Pontiffical Commission permitted Luigi Martino, a professor of human anatomy at the University of Bari, to examine the bones under the Commission’s supervision.[39] Martino took thousands of measurements, detailed scientific drawings, photographs, and x-rays.[39] These examinations revealed the saint to have died at over seventy years of age[39] and to have been of average height and slender-to-average build.[39] He also suffered from severe chronic arthritis in his spine and pelvis.[39]

In 2004, at the University of Manchester, researchers Caroline Wilkinson and Fraco Introna reconstructed the saint’s face based on Martino’s examination.[39] The review of the data revealed that the historical Saint Nicholas was 5’6″ in height and had a broken nose, which had partially healed, revealing that the injury had been suffered ante mortem.[99][100] The broken nose appeared to conform with hagiographical reports that Saint Nicholas had been beaten and tortured during the Diocletianic Persecution.[39] The facial reconstruction was produced by Dr. Caroline Wilkinson at the University of Manchester and was shown on a BBC2 TV program The Real Face of Santa.[99][100] In 2014, the Face Lab at Liverpool John Moores University produced an updated reconstruction of Saint Nicholas’s face.[39]

In 2017, two researchers from Oxford University, Professor Tom Higham and Doctor Georges Kazan, radiocarbon dated a fragment of a pelvis claimed to belong to Saint Nicholas.[85][101][69] The fragment originally came from a church in Lyons, France[85][101][69] and, at the time of testing, was in the possession of Father Dennis O’Neill, a priest from St Martha of Bethany Church in Illinois.[85][101][69] The results of the radiocarbon dating confirmed that the pelvis dates to the fourth century AD, around the same time that Saint Nicholas would have died, and is not a medieval forgery.[85][101][69] The bone was one of the oldest the Oxford team had ever examined.[85] According to Professor Higham, most of the relics the team has examined turn out to be too young to have actually belonged to the saint to whom they are attributed,[85] but he states, “This bone fragment, in contrast, suggests that we could possibly be looking at remains from St Nicholas himself.”[85] Doctor Kazan believes the pelvis fragment may come from the same individual as the skeleton divided between the churches in Bari and Venice,[85][101][69] since the bone they tested comes from the left pubis,[85] and the only pelvis bone in the collection at Bari is the left ilium.[85] In the absence of DNA testing, however, it is not yet possible to know for certain whether the pelvis is from the same man.[101][69]

Veneration and celebrations[edit]

Saint Nicholas (Uroš Predić 1903)

Among the Greeks and Italians he is a favorite of sailors, fishermen, ships and sailing. As a result and over time, he has become the patron saint of several cities which maintain harbours. In centuries of Greek folklore, Nicholas was seen as “The Lord of the Sea”, often described by modern Greek scholars as a kind of Christianized version of Poseidon. In modern Greece, he is still easily among the most recognizable saints and 6 December finds many cities celebrating their patron saint. He is also the patron saint of all of Greece and particularly of the Hellenic Navy.[102]

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Nicholas’s memory is celebrated on almost every Thursday of the year (together with the Apostles) with special hymns to him which are found in the liturgical book known as the Octoechos. Soon after the transfer of Saint Nicholas’s relics from Myra to Bari, a Russian version of his Life and an account of the transfer of his relics were written by a contemporary to this event.[103] Devotional akathists and canons have been composed in his honour, and are frequently chanted by the faithful as they ask for his intercession. He is mentioned in the Liturgy of Preparation during the Divine Liturgy (Eastern Orthodox Eucharist) and during the All-Night Vigil. Many Orthodox churches will have his icon, even if they are not named after him. In Oriental Orthodoxy, the Coptic Church observes the Departure of St. Nicholas on 10 Kiahk, or 10 Taḫśaś in Ethiopia, which corresponds to the Julian Calendar’s 6 December and Gregorian Calendar’s 19 December.[104][105]

Saint Nicholas depicted in a 14th-century English book of hours

Nicholas had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day, 6 December. For those who still observe the Julian calendar the celebration currently takes place thirteen days later than it happens in the Gregorian calendar and Revised Julian calendar.[106]

In late medieval England, on Saint Nicholas Day parishes held Yuletide “boy bishop” celebrations. As part of this celebration, youths performed the functions of priests and bishops, and exercised rule over their elders. Today, Saint Nicholas is still celebrated as a great gift-giver in several Western European and Central European countries. According to one source, in medieval times nuns used the night of 6 December to deposit baskets of food and clothes anonymously at the doorsteps of the needy. According to another source, on 6 December every sailor or ex-sailor of the Low Countries (which at that time was virtually all of the male population) would descend to the harbour towns to participate in a church celebration for their patron saint. On the way back they would stop at one of the various Nicholas fairs to buy some hard-to-come-by goods, gifts for their loved ones and invariably some little presents for their children. While the real gifts would only be presented at Christmas, the little presents for the children were given right away, courtesy of Saint Nicholas. This and his miracle of him resurrecting the three butchered children made Saint Nicholas a patron saint of children and later students as well.[107]

Santa Claus evolved from Dutch traditions regarding Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas). When the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam, they brought the legend and traditions of Sinterklaas with them.[108] Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York existed in the early settlements of the Hudson Valley, although by the early nineteenth century had fallen by the way.[109] St. Nicholas Park, located at the intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue and 127th Street, in an area originally settled by Dutch farmers, is named for St. Nicholas of Myra.[110]

Iconography[edit]

Russian Orthodox statue of Saint Nicolas, now in a corner near the church in Demre

Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Russian merchants. Fresco by Dionisius from the Ferapontov Monastery.

Saint Nicholas is a popular subject portrayed on countless Eastern Orthodox icons, particularly Russian and Serbian ones. He is depicted as an Orthodox bishop, wearing the omophorion and holding a Gospel Book. Sometimes he is depicted wearing the Eastern Orthodox mitre, sometimes he is bareheaded. Iconographically, Nicholas is depicted as an elderly man with a short, full, white, fluffy beard and balding head. In commemoration of the miracle attributed to him by tradition at the Council of Nicea, he is sometimes depicted with Christ over his left shoulder holding out a Gospel Book to him and the Theotokos over his right shoulder holding the omophorion. Because of his patronage of mariners, occasionally Saint Nicholas will be shown standing in a boat or rescuing drowning sailors; Medieval Chants and Polyphony, image on the cover of the Book of Hours of Duke of Berry, 1410.[111]

“Icon of Saint Nikola the Wonderworker”, Moscow Governorate

In depictions of Saint Nicholas from Bari, he is usually shown as dark-skinned, probably to emphasize his foreign origin.[112] The emphasis on his foreignness may have been intended to enhance Bari’s reputation by displaying that it had attracted the patronage of a saint from a far-off country.[112] In Roman Catholic iconography, Saint Nicholas is depicted as a bishop, wearing the insignia of this dignity: a bishop’s vestments, a mitre and a crozier. The episode with the three dowries is commemorated by showing him holding in his hand either three purses, three coins or three balls of gold. Depending on whether he is depicted as patron saint of children or sailors, his images will be completed by a background showing ships, children or three figures climbing out of a wooden barrel (the three slaughtered children he resurrected).[113]

In a strange twist, the three gold balls referring to the dowry affair are sometimes metaphorically interpreted as being oranges or other fruits. As in the Low Countries in medieval times oranges most frequently came from Spain, this led to the belief that the Saint lives in Spain and comes to visit every winter bringing them oranges, other ‘wintry’ fruits and tales of magical creatures.[113]

Music[edit]

In 1948, Benjamin Britten completed a cantataSaint Nicolas on a text by Eric Crozier which covers the saint’s legendary life in a dramatic sequence of events. A tenor soloist appears as Saint Nicolas, with a mixed choir, boys singers, strings, piano duet, organ and percussion.[114]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ GreekἍγιος ΝικόλαοςHágios NikólaosLatinSanctus Nicolaus
  2. ^ The date of his birth and the year of his death are disputed,[5] but 6 December has long been established as the traditional date of his death.[5] Jeremy Seal remarks, “As vampires shun daylight, so saints are distinguished from ordinary mortals by the anniversaries they keep. The date of their death rather than their birth is commemorated.”[6]
  3. ^ Νικόλαος ὁ ΘαυματουργόςNikólaos ho Thaumaturgós
  4. ^ Joe L. Wheeler and Jona Lendering both note that the legends of Saint Nicholas are filled with sets of three, which may be symbolic for Nicholas’s vehement defense of the Holy Trinity.[32][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book of Martyrs. Catholic Book Publishing. 1948.
  2. ^ “Serbia”. Saint Nicholas Center. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 4 April2012.
  3. ^ “Who is St. Nicholas?”. St. Nicholas Center. Archived from the original on 10 October 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  4. ^ “St. Nicholas”. Orthodox America. Archived from the original on 7 September 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  5. Jump up to:ab Seal 2005, p. 2.
  6. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 2–3.
  7. ^ Lloyd, John; Mitchinson, John (December 2008). The book of general ignorance (Noticeably stouter edition). Faber and Faber. p. 318. ISBN978-0-571-24692-2.
  8. ^ Cunningham, Lawrence (2005). A brief history of saints. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 33. ISBN978-1-4051-1402-8The fourth-century Saint Nikolaos of Myra, Greek Anatolia (in present-day Turkey) spread to Europe through the port city of Bari in southern Italy… Devotion to the saint in the Low countries became blended with Nordic folktales, transforming this early Greek Orthodox Bishop into that Christmas icon, Santa Claus.
  9. Jump up to:abcd Collins, Ace (2009). Stories Behind Men of Faith. Zondervan. p. 121. ISBN9780310564560Nicholas was born in the Greek city of Patara around 270 AD. The son of a businessman named Theophanes and his wife, Nonna, the child’s earliest years were spent in Myra… As a port on the Mediterranean Sea, in the middle of the sea lanes that linked Egypt, Greece and Rome, Myra was a destination for traders, fishermen, and merchant sailors. Spawned by the spirit of both the city’s Greek heritage and the ruling Roman government, cultural endeavours such as art, drama, and music were mainstays of everyday life.
  10. ^ Wheeler 2010, pp. vii–x.
  11. Jump up to:abcd Seal 2005, pp. 14–15.
  12. Jump up to:abc Seal 2005, p. 14.
  13. Jump up to:ab Wheeler 2010, pp. vii–viii.
  14. Jump up to:ab Wheeler 2010, p. viii.
  15. Jump up to:abcdef Blacker, Burgess & Ogden 2013, p. 250.
  16. Jump up to:abcd Wheeler 2010, p. ix.
  17. Jump up to:abcdef Blacker, Burgess & Ogden 2013, p. 251.
  18. Jump up to:abc Wheeler 2010, p. x.
  19. ^ Seal 2005, p. 15.
  20. Jump up to:ab Wheeler 2010, p. xi.
  21. ^ Introduction to Michael the Archimandrite’s Life of Saint Nicholas
  22. Jump up to:abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzaaabacadaeaf Lendering 2006, p. Nicholas of Myra.
  23. Jump up to:abcd Blacker, Burgess & Ogden 2013, p. 249.
  24. ^ Domenico, Roy Palmer (2002). The regions of Italy: a reference guide to history and culture. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN0-313-30733-4Saint Nicholas (Bishop of Myra) replaced Sabino as the patron saint of the city… A Greek from what is now Turkey, he lived in the early fourth century.
  25. ^ Burman, Edward (1991). Emperor to emperor: Italy before the Renaissance. Constable. p. 126. ISBN0-09-469490-7For although he is the patron saint of Russia, and the model for a northern invention such as Santa Claus, Nicholas of Myra was a Greek.
  26. ^ Ingram, W. Scott; Ingram, Asher, Scott; Robert (2004). Greek Immigrants. Infobase Publishing. p. 24. ISBN9780816056897The original Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, was a Greek born in Asia Minor (now modern Turkey) in the fourth century. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life to Christianity.
  27. ^ Lanzi, Gioia (2004). Saints and their symbols: recognizing saints in art and in popular images. Liturgical Press. p. 111. ISBN0-8146-2970-9Nicholas was born around 270 AD in Patara on the coast of what is now western Turkey.
  28. ^ Lanzi, Gioia (2004). Saints and their symbols: recognizing saints in art and in popular images. Liturgical Press. p. 111. ISBN0-8146-2970-9Nicholas was born around 270 AD in Patara on the coast of what is now western Turkey; his parents were Epiphanius and Joanna.
  29. Jump up to:abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwx Ferguson 1976, p. 136.
  30. ^ Bennett, William J. (2009). The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas. Howard Books. pp. 14–17. ISBN978-1-4165-6746-2.
  31. Jump up to:abc Michael the Archimandrite, Life of Saint Nicholas Chapters 10–11
  32. Jump up to:abcdefg Wheeler 2010, p. 38.
  33. Jump up to:ab Michael the Archimandrite, Life of Saint Nicholas Chapters 12–18
  34. Jump up to:abc Michael the Archimandrite, Life of Saint Nicholas Chapters 16–18
  35. Jump up to:abcd Seal 2005, p. 1.
  36. Jump up to:abcde English & Crumm 2012.
  37. ^ Faber, Paul (2006). Sinterklaas overseas: the adventures of a globetrotting saint. KIT Publishers. p. 7. ISBN9789068324372The historical figure that served as model for the Dutch Sinterklaas was born around 270 AD in the port of Patara in the Greek province of Lycia in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). His Greek name Nikolaos means something along the lines of “victor of the people”.
  38. ^ Blacker, Burgess & Ogden 2013, pp. 249–250.
  39. Jump up to:abcdefghij Wilkinson 2018, p. 163.
  40. Jump up to:abcdefghijkl Lendering 2006, p. Medieval Saint.
  41. Jump up to:ab Michael the Archimandrite, Life of Saint Nicholas Chapter 31
  42. Jump up to:ab Michael the Archimandrite, Life of Saint Nicholas Chapter 33
  43. ^ Wheeler 2010, pp. 38–39.
  44. Jump up to:ab Wheeler 2010, p. 39.
  45. ^ Wheeler 2010, pp. 39–40.
  46. Jump up to:abcd Wheeler 2010, p. 40.
  47. ^ Wheeler 2010, p. 41.
  48. Jump up to:abcdefghijklm Greydanus 2016.
  49. ^ Wheeler & Rosenthal, “St Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas”, (Chapter 1), Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005
  50. ^ Federer, William J. (2002). There Really Is a Santa Claus – History of St. Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions. Amerisearch, Inc. p. 26. ISBN978-0965355742.
  51. ^ Davis, Leo Donald (1990). The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787) Their History and Theology. Liturgical Press. p. 58. ISBN0-8146-5616-1.
  52. ^ Wheeler 2010, p. xii.
  53. Jump up to:ab Seal 2005, p. 93.
  54. Jump up to:abcd Wheeler 2010, p. 35.
  55. ^ “St. Nicholas Center ::: Saint Nicolas”http://www.stnicholascenter.org.
  56. Jump up to:abcdef English 2016, p. 132.
  57. Jump up to:ab English 2016, pp. 132–133.
  58. Jump up to:abcdef English 2016, p. 133.
  59. ^ Le Saux, Françoise Hazel Marie (2005). A companion to Wace. D.S. Brewer. ISBN978-1-84384-043-5.
  60. Jump up to:abcdefghijklm Keys 1993.
  61. Jump up to:abcdefghi Jones 1978, pp. 176–193.
  62. ^ de Ceglia, Francesco Paolo: “The science of Santa Claus : discussions on the Manna of Nicholas of Myra in the modern age”. In Nuncius – 27 (2012) 2, pp. 241–269
  63. Jump up to:ab Seal 2005, pp. 135–136.
  64. ^ Seal 2005, p. 135.
  65. ^ “Saint Nicholas”St. John Cantius Parish. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  66. ^ “Turks want Santa’s bones returned”BBC News. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  67. ^ “Santa Claus’s bones must be brought back to Turkey from Italy”Todayszaman.com. 28 December 2009. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  68. ^ “Tomb of St Nicholas may have been discovered in Turkey”. ir.ishtimes.com. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  69. Jump up to:abcdefghi Cullen 2017.
  70. ^ Seal 2005, p. 101.
  71. ^ Ott, Michael (1907). “Nicholas of Myra”. The Catholic Encyclopedia11. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  72. ^ Butler, Albin (1860). Lives of the Saints2.
  73. ^ Wheeler, Joe L.; Rosenthal, Jim (2005). “Chapter 1”. St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas. Thomas Nelson. ISBN9781418504076.
  74. Jump up to:abc Medrano 2017.
  75. Jump up to:abc Seal 2005, p. 131.
  76. Jump up to:ab Seal 2005, pp. 93–94.
  77. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 100–102.
  78. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 114–115.
  79. ^ Seal 2005, p. 115.
  80. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 115–116.
  81. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 114–116.
  82. ^ Seal 2005, p. 117.
  83. ^ “Major relics of St Nicholas visit Russia”, Vatican Radio, May 21, 2017
  84. ^ Filipov, David. “Why more than a million Russians have lined up to see a piece of the rib of Saint Nicholas”, The Washington Post, June 29, 2017
  85. Jump up to:abcdefghijklm University of Oxford 2017.
  86. Jump up to:abcd Seal 2005, p. 136.
  87. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 125–127.
  88. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 125–126.
  89. Jump up to:ab Seal 2005, p. 127.
  90. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 127–136.
  91. ^ “Ci sono ossa di san Nicola anche a Venezia?”[There are also bones of St. Nicholas in Venice?]. enec.it (in Italian). Europe – Near East Center. Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  92. ^ “Ma le ossa sono tutte a Bari?” [Are all the bones in Bari?]. enec.it (in Italian). Europe – Near East Center. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  93. ^ Seal 2005, pp. 136–137.
  94. Jump up to:abcdefghij Seal 2005, p. 137.
  95. ^ “Relics of St. Nicholas – Where are They?”. Saint Nicholas Center. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  96. ^ “Heritage Conservation Plan: Newtown Jerpoint County Kilkenny”(PDF). An Chomhairle Oidhreachta/The Heritage Council. 2007. p. 81. Archived from the original(PDF) on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  97. ^ Hunt 1974.
  98. ^ “Anatomical Examination of the Bari Relics”. Saint Nicholas Center. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  99. Jump up to:ab “The Real Face of St. Nicholas”St. Nicholas Center. St. Nicholas Center. Retrieved 15 December2016.
  100. Jump up to:ab “The Real Face of Santa”. (navigate to 4th of 4 pictures)
  101. Jump up to:abcdef Coughlan 2017.
  102. ^ “Greece”. St. Nicholas Center. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  103. ^ “Feasts and Saints, Commemorated on May 9”. Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  104. ^ “St. Nicholas the Wonderworker”Synaxarium (Lives of Saints). Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  105. ^ “Commemorations for Kiahk 10”. Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Retrieved 13 December2013.
  106. ^ Carus, Louise (1 October 2002). The Real St. Nicholas. Quest Books. p. 2. ISBN9780835608138In Myra, the traditional St. Nicholas Feast Day is still celebrated on December 6, which many believe to be the anniversary of St. Nicholas’s death. This day is honored throughout Western Christendom, in lands comprising both Catholic and Protestant communities (in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Saint’s feast date is December 19). On December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day, some American boys and girls put their shoes outside their bedroom door and leave a small gift in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon will be there.
  107. ^ McKnight, George H. (1917). St. Nicholas: His Legend and His Role in the Christmas Celebration and Other Popular Customs. New York: Putnam’s. pp. 37–52. ISBN978-1115125055. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  108. ^ Joe Wheeler & Jim Rosenthal, “St. Nicholas A Closer Look at Christmas”, (Chapter 8), Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005.
  109. ^ Hageman, Howard G., 1979. “Review of Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bari, and Manhattan: Biography of a Legend”, Theology Today, Princeton. Princeton Theological Seminary. vol. 36, issue 3Archived7 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  110. ^ “St. Nicholas Park”, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
  111. ^ Wheeler, Rosenthal, “St Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas”, p. 96, Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005.
  112. Jump up to:ab Seal 2005, p. 111.
  113. Jump up to:ab “St. Nicholas”St. John Cantius Parish.
  114. ^ “Saint Nicolas / Op. 42. Cantata for tenor solo, chorus (SATB), semi-chorus (SA), four boy singers and string orchestra, piano duet, percussion and organ”. Britten-Pears Foundation. 1948. Retrieved 5 December 2018.

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Asano, Kazoo, ed. (2010). The Island of St. Nicholas. Excavation and Research of Gemiler Island Area, Lycia, Turkey. Osaka: Osaka University Press.
  • Wheeler & Rosenthal (2005). St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas. Nelson Reference & Electronic.[full citation needed
    ]

The First Meeting of Jerusalem and Ancient Greece: Josephus on Alexander, 333 B. C.

   Alexander, the pupil of Aristotle for a while, met with the High Priest at Jerusalem on his way to conquer Asia, as reported by Josephus. From Book xi. 4-5, Jaddua the high priest was in terror when he heard that Alexander was coming. Alexander had sent a letter to Jerusalem during his siege of Tyre, asking for provisions, auxiliaries, and suggesting that Jerusalem send tribute now instead to him rather than Darius. The high priest had answered Alexander that…”he had given his oath to Darius not to bear arms against him; and that he would not transgress this while Darius was in the land of the living.” After the siege of Tyre, when Alexander was approaching, he and the people then appealed to God for protection,…

…whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage, and adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest should appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits proper to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent. Upon which, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced; and declared to all the warning he had received from God. According to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king. And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests, and the multitude of citizens…

Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine purple and scarlet clothing, with his miter on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the High priest. The Jews also did altogether, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the High priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, I did not adore him, but that God who hath honoured him with his high priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians. whence it is, that having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind. And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the High Priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city; and when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the High priest and the priests. And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favors they pleased of him whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all that they desired; and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Medea to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired; and when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army on this condition, that they should continue under the laws of their forefathers he was willing to take them with him, many more were ready to accompany him in his wars.

One interesting point in this story is the double true or verdical dream.  That Alexander had seen the name on the breastplate, and the high priest was instructed to show the name is rather astonishing. There is nothing like this in all the history of dreams. Another is of course the interpretation of Daniel. The five are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, the legs being the East and West empires, then the feet and toes…5 from each, iron and clay, and from this will emerge 10 kings, in ch. 12, etc.

   A personal note: My first history lesson came from Mad Magazine, when at the age of 12 I read from Al Jaffe: Alexander the Great was not really so great.” I wondered about this through all my studies. One wonders why Alexander was not better advised- though he had dismissed Aristotle.

 

1) The goal is not world conquest. Don’t keep going east, but establish and consolidate- and enjoy! Rule for the good of the ruled and the realm: Why not?

2) Deal with the question of succession immediately, and work on institutions that secure Greek liberty. What if Alex had Thomas Jefferson and James Madison?

3) Don’t be all full of yourself. You MIGHT be lucky, but learn what a mortal god is- and go find Diogenes in his bucket!

On Baptism: A Fragment

   The text for the day celebrating the Baptism of Jesus is John 1, after :19-34, and 3. Jesus does baptize after he is baptized by John. The word “Essene” apparently means “bather,” and with the Mikveh the Jews are likely the fuirst Baptists. In the US, that was Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island.
   The following is from my part of a discussion attempting to answer a question on what Baptism is. The inquirer had been told that baptism is necessary to become a Christian, and is either by water, by blood or by desire. At first, I think I know what they mean, but eventually, I figure out that I do not know what the statement cited intends to say. In the mean time, I have hit the fundamental points from which I would write an attempted account of the meaning of baptism- if I were to try to do that. The thoughtful reader may gather plenty on their own. It is a very hard question. Any comments are most welcome.

I:

   Jesus did baptism passively, by John, not actively baptizing others. But I say: Socrates is saved,” a paradox. We align ourselves toward the mysteries. Mom says: “Baptism removes original sin” which is the proper answer. I also say “Noriega is not saved, despite being “baptized.” The mystery is a re-ordering of the soul, which is why one in such penance appears quite confused.

   What no one understands is whether by “water and the spirit” he means the outward ritual and the inward mystery it reminds us of, which comes by penance, or if it means the Christ, shown in the separate sacrament “Confirmation.” Jesus himself did baptism + transfiguration. Mysteries.

II:
III:

   We do baptism, then first communion, Eucharist and wine, then Chrism, anointing, and that seems as good as anyone gets it. Baptists were called rebaptizers, cause they figured a guy has to choose voluntarily. Who knows?

   The relevant scripture here is John 1:34, where John the Baptist contrasts “water,” his baptism, and says Jesus baptizes with the “Holy Spirit-” and we don’t know, again, what this means. But he says to Nic., “Are you a teacher of all Israel, and you don’t get this?” So it is not a new.

   Where is that quotation from? The Christians were not even called Christians until Antioch, in Acts 11-12, When Peter sees the vision and Paul and others begin to preach the way to non-Jews. Jesus did not tell them directly to do that (But it does seem correct).

IV:

   Oh, also, there is a diabolic opposite, as shown in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” But “Be not afraid. I go before you always.”

   Again, it is the core of psychology, and our psych can barely address it. Jung, Vol. 5, though, “Symbols of Transformation.” The Meno, 81 is just profound, especially with the Allegory of the cave..

   Our part is always penance. There are deep things too: Penance is accompanied by a regression of eros toward the origin, so Nicodemus, “…return to our mother’s womb?’ Through our mortal origin to His eternity, says Augustine. Cohen’s “Suzanne.”

   John, Andrew and James were followers of John the Baptist. Baptism seems to have been passed on from the earliest. It is Israeli: Mikvah. Peter says it is the meaning of Noah, “8 were saved by water.” It seems too to come from the washing of the newborn.

   I’m still trying to figure what that guy meant by “blood” and “desire.” I like how, in the Catholic Catechism, anyone, in a pinch, may do baptism, like if a guy is dying and wants it quick.

   Socrates in the myth of Recollection, in the Meno (81 a-e), and in the Allegory of the Cave (Republic VII), shows the mysteries too. Hence these are about human nature, not customs. The customs align us toward the mysteries, help us recollect- but we don’t do them by human making.

…Right, he could mean like Cohen’s Suzanne and the loss of love…but I doubt it! Romeo and Juliet ARE a saint! Or else it’s Juliet, but not quite Romeo alone. And the “blood” is just bloody wierd. Bet it was a Witness. Maybe ‘e means the wine?

Epistula Apostolorum

Below is first the Wiki and then the text of the Epistula Apostolorum, the letter from the 12 apostles, pasted from Early Christian Writings, from M.R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament. It requires further study, but it is entirely possible that it is authentic, written or inscribed by John, who is listed first among the authors. As with the vision of Mary seen by Sister Lucy of Fatima, a mark of its authenticity seems to be the prayers and compassion for the damned and those on the way to damnation, especially those that might be shown to cease hurting their fellow humans with their eternal souls, which are this, and if the soul is immortal, this forever. Another text and translation is in the 7 volume collection of Ernest Richardson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers.

   This work seems to be written by John, yet quite early, showing a number of stories amplified later in the Gospel of John, and beginning with the wedding at Cana where water is turned into wine. John list his name first, and would have been the one most likely to be chosen to write, as some of the apostles did not write at all, while John was the best educated. To have a writing of John in addition to the two works in the New Testament is quite astonishing in a number of ways, and like the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hamadi, seems to come out at the present time for a reason, as a number of the teachings are more clear after the history of what has occurred in concluding the second millennium.

Epistula Apostolorum

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The Epistula Apostolorum (Latin for Letter of the Apostles) is a work from the New Testament apocrypha. Probably dating from the 2nd century CE, it was within the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, but not rediscovered in the Western world until the early 20th century. In 51 chapters, it takes the form of a letter from the apostles describing key events of the life of Jesus, followed by a dialogue between Jesus and the apostles.

The work’s apparent intent is to uphold orthodox Christian doctrine, refuting Gnosticism – in particular the teachings of Cerinthus – and docetism. Although presented as having been written shortly after the Resurrection, it refers to Paul of Tarsus. It offers predictions of the fall of Jerusalem and of the Second Coming.

Origin[edit]

The text is commonly dated to the 2nd century, perhaps towards the middle of it. (See New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings, Volume 1. Wilhelm Schneemelcher, ed., Westminster John Knox Press, 1991 ISBN 0-664-22721-X, p. 251). CE Hill (1999) dates the Epistle to “just before 120, or in the 140s” and places “… the Epistula in Asia Minor in the first half of the second century.” [1]

The text was used regularly by the relatively isolated Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and was evidently not considered heretical by that church. The work was lost to the West until a complete version in Ethiopic translation was discovered and published in the early 20th century. A fragmentary Coptic manuscript of the fifth or 4th century, believed to be translated directly from the original Greek, and one leaf of a Latin palimpsest, dating to the 5th century, were then identified as deriving from the same text.[2]

Format[edit]

Although the text is framed as a letter, and the first 20% (10 chapters) begins in this manner, describing the nativityresurrection, and miracles of Jesus, this framing is only done extremely superficially. In fact, the remainder of the text recounts a vision and dialogue between Jesus and the apostles, consisting of about sixty questions, and 41 short chapters. The text is by far the largest epistle in either the New Testament or Apocrypha.

Content[edit]

The text itself appears to be based on parts of the New Testament, in particular the Gospel of John, as well as the Apocalypse of PeterEpistle of Barnabas, and Shepherd of Hermas, all of which were considered inspired by various groups or individuals during periods of the early church.

Countering Gnosticism[edit]

The whole text seems to have been intended as a refutation of the teachings of Cerinthus, although “Simon” (probably Simon Magus) is also mentioned. The content heavily criticises Gnosticism, although it does so not so much as a polemic against it, as an attempt to shore up the faith of non-Gnostics against conversion to Gnosticism. In particular the text uses the style of a discourse and series of questions with a vision of Jesus that was popular amongst Gnostic groups, so as to appeal to the same readers.

However, the text is at pains to point out that it is not a secret teaching, that the content applies universally rather than to one group, and that everyone can easily come to learn its content, strongly differing with the esoteric mysteries inherent in Gnosticism.

Parable of the foolish virgins[edit]

One of the most important parts in this respect is the parable of foolish virgins:

And we said to him: Lord, who are the wise and who are the foolish? He said to us: Five are wise and five foolish; for these are those of whom the prophet has spoken: ‘Sons of God are they.’ Hear now their names.

But we wept and were troubled for those that slumbered. He said to us: The five wise are Faith and Love and Grace and Peace and Hope. Now those of the faithful which possess this shall be guides to those that have believed in me and on he that sent me. For I am the Lord and I am the bridegroom whom they have received, and they have entered in to the house of the bridegroom and are laid down with me in the bridal chamber rejoicing. But the five foolish, when they had slept and had awaken, came to the door of the bridal chamber and knocked, for the doors were shut. Then they wept and lamented that no one opened to them.

We said unto him: Lord, and their wise sisters that were within in the bridegroom’s house, did they continue without opening to them, and did they not sorrow for their sakes nor entreat the bridegroom to open to them? He answered us, saying: They were not yet able to obtain favour for them. We said to him: Lord, on what day shall they enter in for their sisters’ sake? Then said he to us: He that is shut out, is shut out. And we said unto him: Lord, is this word (determined?). Who then are the foolish? He said to us: Hear their names. They are Knowledge, Understanding (Perception), Obedience, Patience, and Compassion. These are they that slumbered in them that have believed and confessed me but have not fulfilled my commandments.

— Chapter 42-43

The Resurrection[edit]

Other polemical features include emphasising the physical nature of the resurrection, to counter docetism, by having the apostles place their fingers in the print of the nails, in the spear wound in his side, and checking for footprints (like similar imagery in the Gospel of John, having the appearance of design to specifically counter docetism rather than to reflect history).

Fully 20% of the text is devoted to confirming the doctrine of resurrection of the flesh, in direct conflict with the Gospel of Truth‘s criticism of this stance; it states that the resurrection of the flesh happens before death, which is to be understood esoterically. When Jesus is questioned further on this point, he becomes quite angry, suggesting that the pseudonymous author of the epistle found the Gnostics’ stance both offensive and infuriating.

Allusions to Paul[edit]

Since the text is ostensibly written in name of the apostles from the period immediately after Jesus’ resurrection, it necessarily excludes Paul of Tarsus from the category “apostle”. However, given the importance of Paul and his writings to the mainstream church, it is not surprising that the author of the text chose to put in a prediction of Paul’s future coming. The description of the healing of Paul’s blindness in Acts by Ananias is changed to healing by the hands of one of the apostles, so that Paul is thus subordinate to them.

Prophecies[edit]

The work quotes an ancient prophecy about a new Jerusalem arising from Syria and the old Jerusalem being captured and destroyed (as happened in 70). This latter prophecy is likely to have been invented, as it is unknown in any previous texts.

One of the reasons that the text probably fell into disuse by the mainstream churches is that its claim that the Second Coming shall be 150 years after the time of the vision to the apostles obviously failed to occur. Whether the text was ever considered heretical by the Catholic churches is unknown, as there are no clear references to it in the extant ancient Christian literature. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church evidently accepted it as basic orthodoxy.

Bibliography[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ CE Hill, 1999, The Epistula Apostolorum: An Asian Tract from the Time of Polycarp, p.1
  2. ^ M.R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1924) 485-503.

External links[edit]

Sister Lucy: The Angels of Peace and of Portugal

   In the famous visions of Saints Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, the Angels come first, as if to prepare the Children for what would occur from May through October of 1917. Again, one key indicator of the genuineness of the visions is the concern of both the angels and Mary with saving, rather than condemning, the souls of the damned. Another indicator is the disregard of the visions for convention, as in giving the Eucharist and wine to the children. The Children take convention seriously, but the angels do not, but the vision allows the children to “religious” through whatever convention. Protestants do not even regard these visions, and many will object to the Trinity inherent, but the living complexity contains a “theology” quite beyond intentional invention.

This is the very first apparition, in 1915:

Around midday, we ate our lunch. After this, I invited my companions to pray the Rosary with me, to which they eagerly agreed.
We had hardly begun when, there before our eyes, we saw a figure
poised in the air above the trees; it looked like a statue made of
snow, rendered almost transparent by the rays of the sun.
“What is that?” asked my companions, quite frightened.
“I don’t know!”
We went on praying, with our eyes fixed on the figure before
us, and as we finished our prayer, the figure disappeared. As was
usual with me, I resolved to say nothing; but my companions told
their families what had happened the very moment they reached
home. The news soon spread, and one day when I arrived home,
my mother questioned me:

Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 76

 

In 1916, for the first time with Jacinta and Francisco, Lucia relates:

We ate our lunch and said our Rosary. I’m not sure whether
we said it that day in the way I have already described to Your
Excellency, saying just the word Hail-Mary and Our-Father on each
bead, so great was our eagerness to get to our play! Our prayer
finished, we started to play ‘pebbles’!
We had enjoyed the game for a few moments only, when a
strong wind began to shake the trees. We looked up, startled, to
see what was happening, for the day was unusually calm. Then we
78
saw coming towards us, above the olive trees, the figure I have
already spoken about 12. Jacinta and Francisco had never seen it
before, nor had I ever mentioned it to them. As it drew closer, we
were able to distinguish its features. It was a young man, about
fourteen or fifteen years old, whiter than snow, transparent as crystal
when the sun shines through it, and of great beauty. On reaching
us, he said:
“Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.”
Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead
touched the ground, and made us repeat these words three times:
“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon
of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and
do not love You.”
Then, rising, he said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary
are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”

pp. 76-77

Lucia continues, describing the vision of the Angel of Portugal:

 

…As soon as we arrived there, we knelt down, with our foreheads touching the ground, and began to repeat the prayer of the
Angel: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You…”, I don’t
know how many times we had repeated this prayer, when an extraordinary light shone upon us. We sprang up to see what was
happening, and beheld the Angel. He was holding a chalice in his
left hand, with the Host suspended above it, from which some drops
of blood fell into the chalice 14. Leaving the chalice suspended in
the air, the Angel knelt down beside us and made us repeat three
times:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You
profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul
and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the
world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference
with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits
of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg
of You the conversion of poor sinners.”
Then, rising, he took the chalice and the Host in his hands. He
gave the Sacred Host to me, and shared the Blood from the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco 15, saying as he did so:
“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly
outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and
console your God.”

His words engraved themselves so deeply on our minds that
we could never forget them. From then on, we used to spend long
periods of time, prostrate like the Angel, repeating his words, until
sometimes we fell, exhausted. I warned my companions, right away,
that this must be kept secret and, thank God, they did what I wanted.
Some time passed 13, and summer came, when we had to go
home for siesta. One day, we were playing on the stone slabs of
the well down at the bottom of the garden belonging to my parents,
which we called the Arneiro. (I have already mentioned this well to
Your Excellency in my account of Jacinta). Suddenly, we saw beside us the same figure, or rather Angel, as it seemed to me.
“What are you doing?” he asked. “Pray, pray very much! The
most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on
you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”
“How are we to make sacrifices?” I asked.
“Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as
an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in
supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down
peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering
which the Lord will send you.”

And the third vision of the Angel, from pp. 78-79 of Lucia:

As soon as we arrived there, we knelt down, with our foreheads touching the ground, and began to repeat the prayer of the
Angel: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You…”, I don’t
know how many times we had repeated this prayer, when an extraordinary light shone upon us. We sprang up to see what was
happening, and beheld the Angel. He was holding a chalice in his
left hand, with the Host suspended above it, from which some drops
of blood fell into the chalice 14. Leaving the chalice suspended in
the air, the Angel knelt down beside us and made us repeat three
times:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You
profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul
and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the
world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference
with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits
of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg
of You the conversion of poor sinners.”
Then, rising, he took the chalice and the Host in his hands. He
gave the Sacred Host to me, and shared the Blood from the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco 15, saying as he did so:
“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly
outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and
console your God.”

   These three visions prepared the children for the visions of Fatima, and so, as it is Palm Day, it seems a good preparation. To pray and make sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, even the people we know who hate us for nothing, etc- is the profound teaching that little kids would not think of and churchmen not think to invent. The angel of Portugal, too, makes clearer the line “In Portugal, the faith will always…which begins the third secret, after some lacuna.

[The Three Secrets of Fatima are addressed in an earlier blog]

   The Church has of course been asked to perform the consecration of Russia to the immaculate heart of Mary, the Pope and all the Bishops, but the Bishops now won’t do it, and Russia takes offence, and threatens this or that. A great stumbling block seems to me to be the assumption of the East and West churches that the human organization by region is the true church- like they never read the allegory of the cave!

Genesis on Man [commentary, draft blog]

The updated version of this essay is available in the menu at the top of the page,under “Revelation.”

   Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is easily among the ten or so greatest books possessed by mankind. As with the book of Revelation, and scripture generally, more so than other books, the reading of the text unfolds anew each time we take up the work, so that comment is inexhaustible, yet always insufficient. Even while we are dependent upon the stewards of the text for access to the original language, Genesis in English may be the most influential of all books, so that some understanding is required for the study of man and history, having now set the principles of Western Civilization. Having then recently attended a course of taped classes, and needing to come up with a term paper, I will write an essay as best able. For, As Steven Rowe professor at Grand Valley, would say, “no impression without expression.” We learn better by trying to write, regardless of deficiency.

   Abraham, with Melchizedek, swears by “God Most High, the maker of heaven and earth (14:19; 22; 12:1).” Genesis is unique, or nearly so, in presenting the transcendent God, above and beyond anything in heaven or on earth. The same is God, directing Christians, Israel and Islam. Genesis tells the history of Israel from the beginning, through Noah, to the distinction from the rest of mankind of Israel as the twelve tribes of the sons of Jacob. It is entirely possible that Moses, writing Genesis, retained an oral teaching of the Creation from Abraham, who may have had this from a source common with the Gilgamesh tradition of Babylon, Ur and Erech, even passed on from those who spoke to Noah, only 292 years prior to the birth of Abraham. Written Hebrew seems to come after the captivity in Egypt, related to Arabic and Egyptian alphabet and script, but the story of the flood does not come from Egypt (Plato, Timeaus 22c). Spoken Hebrew is from Eber, the son of Shem, prior to the division of languages after the flood, and so it may be original language, at least from Noah.

I. Chapter One

  Leo Strauss writes: The first account (of creation) ends with man; the second account begins with man.”[Note 1]. So in considering Genesis on man, we may approach the account of the creation. The second account, in Chapters 2-3, is a drawing out of 1:26: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” That is, the story of Eden is an explanation of what it means that man is made in the image and likeness of God, drawing out the account of the male and female, leading up to the account of how man became “like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

   The first chapter leads up to the distinction of man among the beings. Its summary is the work of reading and commentary. Strauss writes:

“The clue to the first chapter seems to be the fact that the account of the creation consists of two main parts…” “The first part begins with light, the second with the sun,…” “Only on the third and sixth days were there two acts of creation.” (p.11)… The creatures of the fourth to sixth days are “able to separate themselves from their places…” “The principle of the second half, the fourth to sixth day, is local motion. It is for this reason and for this important reason that the vegetative world precedes the sun; the vegetative world lacks local motion.”

                                                           On the Interpretation of Genesis, p. 11

   Except that the green world precedes the sun, the order of the creation is astonishingly like the account we have from modern science. The author knows that the birds and fish are as if creatures of a different day, and the same day as the creeping things, just as we distinguish the age of the dinosaurs from that of the mammals. As has been noted, the first three chapters set something like the places to be inhabited by the beings created on the fourth through sixth days, vegetation too making something like a garden [Note 2]. The Fourth day makes the Sun, moon and stars, which move, and then on the fifth day, it is beings which change their courses. Then on the sixth day, in the second speaking, man. Strauss draws out this teaching:

Local motion is separation of a higher order, …to be set off against a background” of what is not moving…Local motion is followed by life. Life too must be understood as a form of separation…animals can change not only their places, but also their courses. From this it follows that the being created last, namely man, is characterized by the fact that he is a creature which is separated in the highest degree; man is the only being created in the image of God…finally, a being which can separate itself from its way, the right way (p.11-12). Man “can move or change his place to the highest degree. But this privilege, this liberty, freedom, is also a great danger. Man is the most ambiguous creature; hence man is not called good, just as heaven is not called good…(p. 17).

   As Jung too notes, there is a medieval commentary which notices that unlike the other days of creation, on the second day, the text does not say that God “saw that it was good (Maimonides, Guide, II. 50, p. 353″ Similarly, on the sixth day, after the creation of the animals and man, it does not say that God saw that it was good, but says that he saw the whole was “very good.” Heaven, it is said, or “sky,” is incomplete, as is man, the one to be completed by the ascent or redemption of man.

II. The First Sentence

   Maimonides explains that the correct translation of the first sentence is: “In the origin, God created what is high and what is low” (Guide, p. 352). “En Archae” is the Greek written by John for In the beginning when he repeats the opening of the Bible (John 1:1). An archae is a ruling principle or first principle. The word “Baro” is used uniquely of Gods’s creating. Barashis Elohim Baro’…Is the Hebrew, “In  the Beginning, God created…” It is said that heaven is demoted as the focus of interest, but it is quite possible, we think, that the account of heaven is simply set aside, turning to the earth, which was “without form and void.” Augustine, too, notes that the coming into being of the angels, assumed by the text to exist, is not described, unless it is included in the light created on the first day (City of God, XI.9). The first sentence may be a chapter summary rather than an act of creation without a word. It is indicated that this book, like other ancient books, was titled later, not by the author, so that the first sentences functioned as a title. The text does not decide the question later introduced (Sacks, The Lion and the Ass, p. ), of creation “out of nothing.” What exists when God speaks first is the formless earth and the wind of God moving on the face of the deep.” We imagine sea, but what the earth as formless is becomes clear as the waters are separated and the dry land appears. Water is not created, but separated out. There is also motion or “energy,” even before light. “Saw,” or seeing, and “good,” too, are not brought to be with the light, but must be assumed to just ” be.” Sacks note too that evening and morning are not brought to be, but simply result from the creation of “day,” or, what we call “light” and its separation from “darkness” or “night.” The heaven and earth of the first sentence, the earth that is formless, cannot be the same as the  sky and earth of the second day, as dry land has not yet been separated out. Earth in the first sentence might mean the whole visible world that we distinguish from the intelligible, not the planet, which appeared not even as round to the view of the writer, nor even the ground beneath the sky. Is it possible that he did not see that days depend upon sun, or are caused by the sun rising? Did he think there are waters above because rain falls, as when the windows of the deep are opened? Could the author have seen the sun as rather inhabiting than causing the day? But, it seems, there must also be space and time, which may as well be permanent or eternal, as Aristotle teaches, so far as Genesis is concerned. It surely does not say that time itself was created, introducing the contradiction of a time before time. The six days of the creation might from another view be seen as ongoing, as light too is even now still being created, ontological precedence being set in in a temporal articulation. There is also “face” and “the deep.” “Word,” too, is in or before the beginning, and the trinity is hence said to be present in the first three sentences of scripture. It does not say otherwise what the creation is “out of,” but that it is “by his word (Psalm; Note 3]” When Jesus turns water into wine, he need not begin with nothing. When he heals the blind man, he uses clay. From the image of God in man, one suggestion would be “out of himself,” even as Eve springs from the rib of man.

III.

Evening

Note 1 “On the Interpretation of Genesis,” p. 17.

Note 2 The New American Bible, Reading Guide.

Note 3 There is no scriptural teaching of creation “out of nothing.” The closest is Maccabees 7:28 …God did not make them out of things that existed.” Hebrews 11: 1-3 “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.”

Bibliography

The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Oxford University Press, 1973, 1977.

The New American Bible. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.

Anastaplo, George. Class at the Clearing in Wisconsin, 1990.

Augustine. The City of God.

Maimonides, Moses. Guide of the Perplexed. Translated by Shlomo Pines. Chicago: University of Chicago APress, 1963.

Keller, Werner. The Bible As History. NY: William Morrow and Company, 1956.

Sacks, Robert. The Lion and the Ass. Interpretation.

Strauss, Leo. On the Interpretation of Genesis.

________. Athens and Jerusalem: Some Preliminary Reflections. In Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy. Edited by Thomas Pangle. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

_____________. Progress or return? The Contemporary Crisis.