Sabbath to Sunday
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The Resurrection- Appearances and the Origin of Sunday Observance


Rome and the Origin
of Sunday


Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday

Sun-Worship and the Origin of Sunday

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FROM SABBATH TO SUNDAY:   
A HISTORICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE RISE OF SUNDAY OBSERVANCE IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY  

Chapter 8

SUN-WORSHIP AND THE ORIGIN OF SUNDAY

Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University

The choice of Sunday as the new day of Christian worship cannot be explained solely on the ground of negative anti-Judaic motivations. For instance, Christians could have achieved the same objective by adopting Friday as a memorial of Christ’s passion. We might say that anti-Judaism created the necessity for substituting a new day of worship for the Sabbath, but it did not determine the specific choice of Sunday. The reasons for the latter must be found elsewhere. 

Several significant studies have suggested that Christians may have derived "a psychological orientation" toward Sunday from the sectarian solar calendar used by Qumranites and similar groups, where the annual omer day and day of Pentecost always fell on Sunday.1 Though allowance must be made for such a possibility, we are at a loss to find any explicit patristic reference associating Easter-Sunday or weekly Sunday with this sectarian solar calendar.2 Moreover, if our thesis is correct that Sunday observance originated in Rome by the beginning of the second century, rather than in Jerusalem in the apostolic period, it seems most unlikely that Christians of pagan background would have derived the date for their annual and/or weekly Sunday festivities from a Jewish sectarian liturgical calendar, especially at a time when new festivals were introduced to evidence separation from Judaism. 

The influence of Sun-worship with its "Sun-day," provides a more plausible explanation for the Christian choice of Sunday. The chief objection against this possibility is of chronological nature. W. Rordorf, for instance, argues that "We can consider the possibility that the origin of the Christian observance of Sunday was influenced by some sun-cult only if a "day of the sun" existed before the Christian observance of Sunday, that is to say if we can prove the existence of the seven-day planetary week in pre-Christian times."3 

He maintains however that "since the earliest evidence for the existence of the planetary week [i.e. our present week, named after seven planets] is to be dated toward the end of the first century A.D.," at a time when "the Christians observance of Sunday was a practice of long standing," any influence of Sun-worship on the origin of Sunday is to be categorically excluded.4 

There is no question that the existence of the planetary week with its "Sun-day—dies solis" is crucial for determining any influence of Sun-worship on the Christian adoption of Sunday observance, inasmuch as the Sun before the existence of a weekly "Sun-day" was venerated every morning.5 It is not indispensable however that the planetary week should have originated in pre-Christian times, if Sunday-keeping was introduced in the early part of the second century. In fact, if it can be proved that the planetary week was in existence in the Greco-Roman world already in the first century of our era and that the Sun was venerated at that time on Sunday, then the possibility exists that Christians—especially new pagan converts—in their search for a new day of worship to differentiate themselves from the Jews could have been favorably predisposed toward the day of the Sun. The existence of a rich Biblical tradition that associated God and Christ with the power and splendor of the Sun could well have facilitated an amalgamation of ideas. To verify the validity of this hypothesis we shall briefly consider the following factors: 

(1) Sun-worship and the planetary week prior to A.D. 150. 

(2) The reflexes of Sun-worship in Christianity. 

(3) The day of the Sun and the origin of Sunday. 


(1) Sun-worship 
and the planetary week prior to A.D. 150


Sun-worship. Was Sun-worship known and practiced in ancient Rome in the first century A.D., and if so, to what extent? Gaston H. Halsberghe, in his recent monograph The Cult of Sol Invictus (part of the series on Oriental Religions in the Roman Empire edited by the living authority on the subject, M. J. Vermaseren), presents persuasive texts and arguments indicating that Sun-worship was "one of the oldest components of the Roman religion."6  

According to his well-founded conclusions, the Sun-cult in ancient Rome experienced two phases. Until the end of the first century A.D., the Romans practiced what he calls an "autochthonous [i.e. native or indigenous] Sun-cult," but "starting in the second century A.D., the Eastern Sun-worship began to influence Rome and the rest of the Empire."7 A sampling of evidences will suffice to make us aware of its existence and importance. 

A calendar of the time of Augustus (the Fasti of Philocalus dated before 27 B.C.) beside the date of August 9th reads: "Soli indigiti in colle Quirinali—to the native Sun on Qjuirinal hill."8 Scholarly opinion differs on the interpretation of the phrase "native Sun—Sol indiges" which occurs in few ancient Roman texts, inasmuch as the Romans could well have designated the Sun as their national god, though in actuality it was an imported deity. 9 However, even granting that Sol indiges was not really indigenous to the Romans, the fact remains that it was regarded as a Roman god. 

After the conquest of Egypt (31 B.C.) Augustus sent two obelisks to Rome and had them "dedicated to the Sun—Soli donum dedit"10 in the Circus Maximus and in Mars Field to thank the same god for the victory. Tertullian reports thatin his time (ca. A.D. 150-230) "the huge Obelisk" in the circus was still "set up in public to the Sun," and that the circus "was chiefly consecrated to the Sun."11 

Several altars of the first century A.D. have been found dedicated to "the Sun and the Moon—Solis et Lunae."12 Nero (A.D. 54-68) attributed to the Sun the merit for the discovery of the plot against him and erected the famous "Colossus Neronis at the highest point of the velia, representing the Sun, with the features of Nero and with seven long rays around his head."13 Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), who identified himself with the Sun in his coins, according to Elius Spartianus (ca. A.D. 300) "dedicated to the Sun" the Colossus Neronis after removing the features of Nero.14 Tacitus (ca. A.D. 55-120) also reports that Vespasian’s (A.D. 69-79) third legion "according to the Syrian custom, greeted the rising sun."15 

Halsberghe maintains that from the beginning of the second century the Eastern cult of "Sol Invictus—Invincible Sun" penetrated in Rome in two different fashions: privately, through the cult of Sol Invictus Mit hra and publicly through that of Sol Invictus Elagabal. 16 While we disagree with the author on the date of the diffusion of Mithraism, since there are significant indications that it had reached Rome already in the first century A.D., 17 the differentiation between the two cults is persuasively demonstrated. Mithraism primarily was a private cult, though it numbered among its adherents magistrates and emperors. Sol Invictus Elagabal, on the other hand, was a popular cult with grandiose temples and during the rule of the young Emperor Elagabalus (A.D. 2 18-222) was made the official cult of the whole empire. 

These diversified forms of Sun-worship, resulting from the penetration of Eastern Sun-cults, substantiate Halsberghe’s conclusion that "from the early part of the second century A.D. the cult of Sol Invictus was dominant in Rome and in other parts of the Empire. "18 The identification and worship of the Emperor as Sun-god, encouraged by the Eastern theology of the "King-Sun," and by political considerations, undoubtedly contributed to the diffusion of a public Sun-cult.19 

Planetary week. Since the expansion of the Sun-cult is contemporaneous with the origin of Sunday, is it possible that the former influenced the latter? A causal relationship between the two is conceivable only if the planetary week with its "dies solis—day of the Sun" already existed in the first century A.D. in the Greco-Roman world. Only in this case the predominant Sun-cult could have enhanced the day of the Sun and consequently influenced Christians to adopt it for their weekly worship after reinterpreting its symbolism in the light of the Christian message. 

Scholarly opinion differs on the question of the origin of the planetary week. Some view it as a pagan interpretation of the Jewish week while others regard it as a strict pagan astrological invention.20 D. Waterhouse argues persuasively in favor of an amalgamation of Babylonian, Greek, Egyptian and Jewish ingredients.21 For the puropse of our research the time of its penetration is more important than the causes of its origin. 

The existence and common use of the planetary week already in the first century A.D. are well attested by several testimonies. In the present study we need refer only to few of them. The Roman historian Dio Cassius, who wrote his Roman History between A.D. 200-220, reports that Jerusalem was captured both by Pompey in 63 B.C. and by Gaius Sosius in 37 B.C. "on the day even then called the day of Saturn."22 That the praxis of naming the days of the week after the planetary deities was already in use before Christ is further corroborated by the contemporary references of Horace (ca. 35 B.C.) to "dies Jovis—Thursday"23 and of Tibullus (ca. B.C. 29-30) to dies Saturni—Saturday."24 Dio Cassius himself speaks of the planetary week as "prevailing everywhere" in his time to the extent that among the Romans it was "already an ancestral custom."25 

Two Sabine calendars found in central Italy in 1795 and a third one which came to light at Cimitele, near Nola in southern Italy, in 1956 (all three dated no later than the time of Tiberius (A.D. 14-37),26 present in the right column the eight letters from A to H of the eight-day Roman nundinum market week and in the left column the seven letters from A to G, representing the seven-day planetary week.27 In addition to these calendars should be considered also several so-called "indices nundinarii" (some of them dated in the early empire).28 These give the name of the towns and the corresponding days of the planetary week (which always starts with Saturday—dies Saturni) on which the market was to be held.  

In the light of these and other indications, the archeologist Attilio Degrassi at the Third International Congress of Greek and Roman Epigraphy (1957) stated: "I wish to insist on my conviction that this planetary week . . . did not become known and commonly used, as generally believed, only in the first half of the first century A.D., but already in the first years of the Augustan era [27 B.C. –A.D. 14]... This is a conclusion that appears inevitable after the discovery of the calendar of Nola."29 

Subsequent indications of the widespread use of the planetary week in the first century A.D. are impressive. A brief listing of them will suffice for our purpose. A stone calendar found in Puteoli (dated first century A.D.) contains the date and name of three planetary days; "[Mercu]ri—[Wednesday], Jovis—[Thursday], Veneris—E Friday]."30 Apollonius of Tyana, a renowned wonder-worker, according to his biographer Philostratus (ca. A.D. 170-245) in a trip he took to India between A.D. 40-60, received from larchas, an Indian sage, seven rings each named after the "seven stars" and he wore them "in turn on the day of the week which bore its name.’’31 

Petronius, a Roman satirist (died ca. A.D. 66) in his novel The Banquet of Trimalchio describes a stick calendar which Trimalchio had affixed on the doorpost with the number of the days on the side and "the likeness of the seven stars" on the other side. A knob was inserted in the respective holes to indicate the date and the day. 32 Sextus Julius Frontinus (ca. A.D. 35-103), a Roman soldier and writer, in his work The Stratagems, referring to the fall of Jerusalem of A.D. 70, writes that Vespasian "attacked the Jews on the day of Saturn, on which it is forbidden for them to do anything serious and defeated them."33 

In Pompeii and Herculaneum there have been uncovered not only two series of mural pictures of the seven planetary gods in an excellent state of preservation 34 but also numerous wall-inscriptions and graffiti either listing explicitly the plan. etary gods of the week or giving the planetary name of the day of a particular date. 35 A two-line mural inscription for instance reads: "the 9th day before the Kalends of June [May 24] theEmperor.. . it was the day of the Sun."36 Such evidence erases all doubt of the widespread use of the planetary week before A.D. 79, the date of the destruction of Pompeii by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. 

A pictorial calendar found on the wall of the ruins of the baths of Titus (A.D. 79-81) deserves mention on account of its originality. In a square frame there appear in the upper row the pictures of the seven planetary gods. In the center are the twelve signs of the zodiac representing the months and on the two sides appear the numbers of the days, on the right the days I to XV, and the left, the days XVI to XXX. Beside each of these there are holes where knobs were inserted to indicate the month, the number of the day and the protecting planetary god. Its location in such a public building is indicative of its popular use.37 

Plutarch (ca. A.D. 46-after 119) the celebrated Greek biographer, in a treatise entitled Symposia, written in question-and-answer form between A.D. 100-125, poses the question: "Why are not the days which have the names of the planets arranged according to the order of the planets but the contrary?" 38 Unfortunately, only the title of this dialogue has been preserved. However, the question per se implies not only that the planetary week was commonly used by the end of the first century, but also that apparently by then most people could not even account for the differences between the current astronomical order of the planets and that of the planetary week.39 

Numerous testimonies could be cited in support of the wide use of the planetary week in subsequent centuries, but these would be too late to be relevant to our research.The above brief listing of evidence shows conclusively that the planetary week was known and used in ancient Rome at least since the beginning of our Christian era.41 

The Enhancement of the Day of the Sun. The contemporaneous existence of Sun worship and of the planetary week suggests the possibility that with the development of the former, the day dedicated to the Sun took on greater importance.42 This is corroborated by the process whereby the primacy and prestige of the day of Saturn was transferred to that of the Sun. In fact, initially the day of the Sun "had nothing to distinguish it from the other days"43 since it was the second day of the week following Saturn-day which was the first. In time, however, the day of the Sun came to occupy the first and "most venerable" position. 

The process which led to the enhancement of Sun-day at the expense of Saturn-day is difficult to trace because of the lack of explicit information regarding what religious customs, if any, were associated with either day. This may be due, partly at least, to the Roman concept of religion as being social, political and external. Religion was viewed, as V. Monachino explains, "as a contract between the State and the gods" rather than as a personal devotion expressed by participation in weekly worship services.44 The significant official religious ceremonies were attended primarily by aristocrat s and dignitaries who displayed their religiosity merely by fulfilling external rituals. 

This is not to belittle the preference the day of the Sun received for social and religious purposes. Constantine in his two constitutions of March 3 and July 3 A.D. 321, by describing the day of the Sun as "venerable—venerabilis" and as "famous for its veneration—veneratione sui celeb rem,"45 shows, as aptly noted by Arthur Weigall, "that he was thinking of it as a traditional sun-festival."46 The veneration of the Sun, however, seemingly did not require pagans to participate on Sunday in special public Sun-worship services.47  

This matter is illuminated by a statement of Tertullian found in his apology To the Pagans (written in A.D. 197). Replying to the taunt that Christians were Sun-worshiper because "they prayed toward the east" and "made Sunday, a day of festivity," he writes: "What then? Do you do less than this? Do not many among you, with an affectation of sometimes worshiping the heavenly bodies likewise, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise? It is you, at all events, who have even admitted the sun into the calendar of the week; and you have selected its day [Sunday] in preference of the preceding day [Saturday] as the most suitable in the week for either an entire abstinence from bath, or for its postponement until the evening, or for taking rest and for banqueting."48 

This statement provides significant information: (1) it indicates that at that time both Christians and pagans shared the custom of praying toward the east and of spending Sunday as a feast day; (2) it suggests that the Romans not only had adopted the planetary week, but had also already selected Sunday in the place of Saturn-day as their day of rest and feasting; (3) it mentions the nature of the pagan Sunday-keeping, that is, a social festival marked primarily by abstention from bathing, idleness and banqueting. 

When did the day of the Sun come to acquire such a festal character in ancient Rome? No certain indications are available to pinpoint the time. Pliny the Elder (died A.D. 79) in his Natural History writes that "in the midst of these planetary gods moves the Sun, whose magnitude and power are the greatest . . . he is glorious and preeminent, all-seeing and all-hearing."49  

Several Mithraea or sanctuaries of the pagan Sun-god Mithra have been found where the Sun occupies a dominant place in the sequence of the planetary gods. In the Mithraea of the Seven Portals and of the Seven Spheres (both excavated at Ostia, the ancient port city of Rome)50 as well as in the Bononia relief,51 the Sun occupies either the first or the last or the highest place among the planetary gods. The Epicurean Celsus (ca. A.D. 140-180) similarly describes the famous Mithraic ladder of the seven gates to be ascended by regenerated souls by starting with Saturn and ending with the dominant Sun.52 This pre-eminence assigned to the dies Solis—Sunday, as F. Cu-mont notes, "certainly contributed to the general recognition of Sunday as a holiday."53 

That the day of the Sun enjoyed preeminence already by the middle of the second century is clearly indicated by the famous astrologer Vettius Valens. In his Anthology composed. between A.D. 154 and 174,54 in explaining how to find the day of the week of any given birth date heexplicitly states:"And this is the sequence of the planetary stars in relation to the days of the week: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn."55  

The preeminence of Sunday is also implied in Justin Martyr’s threefold reference to it in his I Apology 67. Why in his brief exposition of the Christian worship did he mention three times "the day of the Sun"? Why did he present the creation of light on the first day as the first reason for the Christian Sunday gathering? Apparently because the day was venerated by the Romans. By associating Christian worship with both the day and the symbolism of the pagan Sun, Justin, as we suggested earlier, aimed at gaining from the Emperor a favorable appraisal of Christianity. 

Though not sufficiently explicit to establish the exact time when the day of the Sun emerged as the first and most important day of the week, these few indications do reveal however that it occurred in concomitance with the development of Sun-worship which became widespread beginning from the early part of the second century. 

If the day of the Sun, enhanced by the prevailing Sun-cult, did supplant the day of Saturn in the Roman world by the beginning of the second century, one may ask, did Christians, as well expressed by B. Botte, "adapt the day of the Sun to the Christian Sunday as they adapted the natalis invicti [December 25] making it the symbol of the birth of Christ Sun of righteousness"?56 In other words, could not the Christian adoption of Sunday observance in place of the Sabbath be contemporaneous and related to the emergence of the day of the Sun over that of Saturn in the Roman world? We shall attempt to answer this question first by briefly considering some general reflexes of the Sun-cult in Christian thought and practice and then by focusing on the specific influence of the pagan day of the Sun on the Christian adoption of that day. 


(2)Reflexes of Sun-Worship on Christianity

Christians resented and denied the accusation of being Sun-worshipers (and even suffered horrible martyrdoms rather than offer a pinch of incense on the imperial altars), yet as Jacquetta Hawkes well puts it, "with the malicious irony so often apparent in history, even while they fought heroically on one front, their position was infiltrated from another."57 For instance, while on the one hand, Tertullian strongly refuted the pagan charge that the Christians were Sun-worshipers,58 on the other hand he chides the Christians at length for celebrating pagan festivals within their own communities.59 That Christians were not immune to the popular veneration of the Sun and astrological practices is attested by the frequent condemnation of these by the Fathers.60 

Three significant reflexes of Sun-worship in the Christian liturgy can be seen in the theme of Christ-the-Sun, in the orientation toward the east and in the date of Christmas. These we shall briefly examine, since they shed some light on the possible causal relationship between Sun-worship and the origin of Sunday observance. 

Christ-the-Sun. In numerous pagan pictorial representations which have come down to us, the Sun or Mithra is portrayed as a man with a disk at the back of his head.61 It is a known fact that this image of the Sun was used in early Christian art and literature to represent Christ, the true "Sun of righteousness." In the earliest known Christian mosaic (dated ca. A.D. 240) found in the Vatican necropolis below the altar of St. Peter (in the small mausoleum M. or the Iulii), Christ is portrayed as the Sun (Helios) ascending on the quadriga chariot with a flying cloak and a nimbus behind his head from which irradiate seven rays in the form of a T (allusion to the cross?).62 Thousands of hours have been devoted to drawing the sun-disk with the equal-armed cross behind the head of Christ and (from the fifth century) the heads of other important persons. 

The motif of the Sun was used not only by Christian artists to portray Christ but also by Christian teachers to proclaim Him to the pagan masses who were well acquainted with the rich Sun-symbology. Numerous Fathers abstracted and reinterpreted the pagan symbols and beliefs about the Sun and used them apologetically to teach the Christian message.63 Does not the fact that Christ was early associated in iconography and in literature (if not in actual worship) with the Sol invictus— Invincible Sun, suggest the possibility that even the day of the Sun could readily have been adopted for worshiping Christ, the Sol iustitiae—the Sun of Justice? It would require only a short step to worship Christ-the.’Sun, on the day specifically dedicated to the Sun. 

Eastward Orientation. The Christian adoption of the East in place of Jerusalem as the new orientation for prayer provides an additional significant indication of the influence of the Sun cult on early Christian worship. The Jews (as indicated by Daniel’s custom and by Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple)64 considered praying toward Jerusalem to be an obligation which determined the very validity of their prayers. That primitive Christians continued to adhere to such a practice is evidenced by the JudaeoAhristian sect of the Ebionites who, as reported by Irenaeus, "prayed toward Jerusalem as if it were the house of God."65 

The Fathers advance several reasons for the adoption of the eastward position for prayer. Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150-215) explains that "prayers are offered while looking toward sunrise in the East" because the Orient represents the birth of light that "dispels the darkness of the night" and because of the orientation of "the ancient temples."66 For Origen (ca. A.D. 185-254) the East symbolizes the soul that looks to the source of light.67 Others urged Christians to pray looking toward the East to remind themselves of God’s paradise and/or of Christ’s coming.68 

Christians who had previously venerated the Sun, facing the necessity of dissociating themselves from the Jews, apparently not only abandoned Jerusalem as the orientation for prayer, but also reverted, unconsciously perhaps, to the direction of sunrise, reinterpreting its meaning in the light of the Christian message. One wonders, was the change of direction for prayer from the Jewish temple to sunrise interrelated also with the change of the worship day from the "Jewish" Sabbath to the day of the Sun? While prayer per se is not a weekly (at least it ought not to be) but a daily religious practice, could not the daily praying toward the Sun have encouraged Christians to worship also weekly on the day of the Sun? Moreover, could not the fact that Christ and His resurrection were associated with the rising sun have easily predisposed Christians to worship the rising "Sun of Justice" on the day of the Sun? 

Cultured and well-meaning pagans, according to Tertullian, correlated the Christian praying toward the East with their Sunday observance, presenting both customs as one basic evidence of Christians’ Sun-worship. Tertullian denied the charge, attributing to the pagans the very same customs. Note, however, that both the accusers and the refuter interrelate the two customs, presenting them as one basic indication of Sun-worship.69  

This close nexus between the two customs, admitted even by the pagans, suggests the possibility that Christians could well have adopted them contemporaneously because of the same factors discussed above. This is the conclusion which also F. A. Regan reaches after an extensive analysis of patristic references dealing with the orientation toward the East. He writes: "A suitable, single example of the pagan influence may be had from an investigation of the Christian custom of turning toward the East, the land of the rising sun, while offering their prayers. . . . For in the transition from the observance of the Sabbath to the celebration of the Lord’s day, the primitive Christians not only substituted the first day of the week for the seventh, but they went even further and changed the traditional Jewish practice of facing toward Jerusalem during their daily period of prayer."70 

The strong attraction exerted by the solar cults on the Christians suggests the possibility therefore that these influenced not only the adoption of the eastward direction for daily prayers but also of the day of the Sun for the weekly worship. 

The Date of Christmas. The adoption of the 25th of December for the celebration of Christmas is perhaps the most explicit example of Sun-worship’s influence on the Christian liturgical calendar. It is a known fact that the pagan feast of the dies natalis Solis Invic ti—the birthday of the Invincible Sun, was held on that date.71 Do Christian sources openly admit the borrowing of the date of such a pagan festivity? Obviously not.72 To admit borrowing a pagan festival, even after due re-interpretation of its meaning, would be tantamount to an open betrayal of the faith. This the Fathers were anxious to avoid.  

Augustine and Leo the Great, for instance, strongly reprimanded those Christians who at Christmas worshiped the Sun rather than the birth of Christ.73 Therefore, it is well to keep in mind that in the investigation of the influence of the Sun-cults on the Christian liturgy, the most we can hope to find are not direct but indirect indications. This warning applies not only for the date of Christmas but for that of Sunday as well. 

Few scholars maintain that the date of the 25th of December was derived from astronomical-allegorical observations. It was the opinion of some Fathers that both the conception and passion of Christ occurred at the time of the vernal equinox on the 25th of March.74 Reckoning from that date the nine months of pregnancy of Mary, the date of the birth of Christ was computed to be the 25th of December. 0. Cullmann rightly observes however that these computations "can scarcely have given the initiative."75 They seem to represent rather an a posteriori rationale advanced to justify an already existing date and practice. To the majority of scholars, as stated by J. A. Jungmann, "It has become progressively clear that the real reason for the choice of the 25th of December was the pagan feast of the dies natalis Solis Invicti which was celebrated in those days with great splendor."76 

Gaston H. Halsberghe in his recent monograph The Cult of Sd Invictus, already cited, similarly concludes: "The authors whom we consulted on this point are unanimous in admitting the influence of the pagan celebration held in honor of Deus Sol Invictus on the 25th of December, the Natalis Jnvicti, on the Christian celebration of Christmas. This influence is held to be responsible for the shifting to the 25th of December of the birth of Christ, which had until then been held on the day of the Epiphany, the 6th of January. The celebration of the birth of the Sun god, which was accompanied by a profusion of light and torches and the decoration of branches and small trees, had captivated the followers of the cult to such a degree that even after they had been converted to Christianity they continued to celebrate the feast of the birth of the Sun god."77 

Let us note that the Church of Rome (as in the case of Easter-Sunday so in the question of the celebration of Christmas) pioneered and promoted the adoption of the new date. In fact the first explicit indication that on the 25th of December Christians celebrated Christ’s birthday, is found in a Roman document known as Chronograph of 354 (a calendar attributed to Fuzious Dionysius Philocalus), where it says: "VIII Kal. Jan. natus Christus in Betleern Judaeae—On the eighth calends of January [i.e., December 25th] Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea."78 That the Church of Rome introduced and championed this new date, is accepted by most scholars. For instance, Mario Righetti, a renowned Catholic liturgist, writes: "After the peace the Church of Rome, to facilitate the acceptance of the faith by the pagan masses, found it convenient to institute the 25th of December as the feast of the temporal birth of Christ, to divert them from the pagan feast, celebrated on the same day in honor of the "Invincible Sun" Mithras, the conqueror of darkness."79 

In the Orient, however, the birth and the baptism of Jesus were celebrated respectively on January 5 and 6. B. Botte, a Belgian Benedictine scholar, in a significant study concludes that this date also evolved from an originally pagan feast, namely Epiphany, which commemorated the birth and growth of light.80 It was not an easy task for the Church of Rome to get the Eastern churches to accept the new date of December 25th, since many of them "firmly adhered to the practice of observing the festival of Christ’s birth in its old form as an Epiphany festival on January 5th-6th."81 

It would take us beyond our immediate scope to trace the process of adoption by the various Christian communities of the Roman Christmas date. It will be sufficient to notice that the adoption of the date of December 25th for the celebration of Christ’s birth provides an additional example not only of the influence of the Sun-cult, but also of the primacy exerted by Rome in promoting liturgical innovations. 

The three examples we have briefly considered (Christ-theSun, the eastward orientation, and the Christmas date) evidence sufficiently the influence of Sun-cults on Christian thought and liturgy. J. A. Jungmann summarizes it well when he writes that "Christianity absorbed and made its own what could be salvaged from pagan antiquity, not destroying it but converting it, Christianizing what could be turned to good."82 These conclusions justify a more direct investigation of the influence of the pagan veneration of the day of the Sun on the Christian adoption of the very same day. 


(3)The Day of the Sun and the Origin of Sunday

The association between the Christian Sunday and the pagan veneration of the day of the Sun is not explicit before the time of Eusebius (ca. A.D. 260-340). Though Christ is often referred to by earlier Fathers as "True Light" and "Sun of Justices"83 no deliberate attempt was made prior to Eusebius to justify Sunday observance by means of the symbology of the day of the Sun. On the other hand Eusebius several times refers explicitly to the motifs of the light, of the sun and of the day of the Sun, to explain the substitution of the Christian Sunday for the Jewish Sabbath.  

For example, in his Commentary on Psalm 91 he writes: "The Logos has transferred by the New Alliance the celebration of the Sabbath to the rising of the light. He has given us a type of the true rest in the saving day of the Lord, the first day of light. . . . In this day of light, first day and true day of the sun, when we gather after the interval of six days, we celebrate the holy and spiritual Sabbaths. . . . All things whatsoever that were prescribed for the Sabbath, we have transferred them to the Lord’s day, as being more authoritative and more highly regarded and first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath. In fact, it is on this day of the creation of the world that God said: ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ It is also on this day that the Sun of Justice has risen for our souls."84 

Eusebius’ two basic reasons for the observance of Sunday, namely, the commemoration of the creation of light and of the resurrection of the Sun of Justice,85 are reiterated almost verbatim by Jerome (ca. A.D. 342-420), when he explains: "If it is called day of the Sun by the pagans, we most willingly acknowledge it as such,since it is on this day that the light of the world has appeared and on this day the Sun of Justice has risen."86 

In a sermon attributed to Maximus of Turin (d. ca. A.D. 400-423) we find an extreme development. The very designation "day of the Sun" is viewed as a proleptic announcement of the resurrection of Christ: "We hold the day of the Lord to be venerable and solemn, because on it the Savior, like the rising sun conquered the darkness of the underworld and gleamed in the glory of the resurrection. This is why the same day was called day of the Sun by the pagans, because the Sun of Justice once risen would have illuminated it."87 

These and similar texts where the meaning of and the motivation for Sunday observance are explicitly interrelated to the symbology of the day of the Sun, come to us from a later period when Sunday was already well established. Since these statements represent later admissions, can they be legitimately utilized to ascertain the influence of the day of the Sun on the origin of Sunday observance? We shall answer this ques tion by raising another, namely, is it not possible, as remarked by F. H. Colson, that "what the Christians of a later epoch wrote may well have been said and thought by them of the earlier, even if it was not written"?88 

Let us not forget that prior to the Edict of Milan (A.D. 313) Christians were an illegal minority forced to defend their beliefs and practices from pagan accusations and influences. Tertullian, we noticed, though he speaks of the day of the Sun which both Christians and pagans celebrated, avoids using the sun-symbology to justify the Christian Sunday seemingly for two reasons: firstly because that would have supported the pagan accusation that Christians were Sun-worshipers (a charge he strongly resented); secondly, because he was cognizant of the influence which pagan festivals still had on the Christians.89  

In his treatise On Idolatry, for instance, Tertullian exclaims: "How widked to celebrate them [i.e. pagan feasts] among brethren."90 Therefore, any attempt to associate the day of the Sun with the Christian Sunday, at a time when the latter was still a young institution, could have been readily misinterpreted by Christians still susceptible to pagan influences. Besides, this would have sanctioned existing pagan accusations. A century later, however, when Sunday observance became well established, the Fathers, at least some, did not hesitate to designate the Christian Sunday as "the true day of the Sun."91  

This denomination should not be regarded as "a new apologetic technique," but rather an explicit admission of what had been an implicit recognition. 92 Is it possible that even the Biblical notion of the sun and of light predisposed Christians favorably toward the day and the symbolism of the sun? It is a fact that there existed in Judaism and in primitive Christianity a rich and long-standing tradition which viewed the Deity as the True Light and the Sun of Righteousness. 93 Malachi, for example, predicted that "the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings" (4:2). 94  

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, announced the coming of Christ, saying "the sunrising (anatole) from on high has visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness"95 (Luke 1 :78-79). John, both in his Gospel and in Revelation, repeatedly describes Christ as "the light of men," "the light shining in darkness," "the true light,"97 "a burning and shining lamp."97 Even Christ defined Himself as "the light of the world’98 and urged His followers to "believe in the light’’ in order "to become sons of light."99 The book of Revelation closes with the assurance that in the new earth there will be no need of the sun because "God will be their light."100 

The existence of two distinct traditions, one Judaeo-Christian which associated the Deity with the Light and the Sun, and the other pagan which venerated the Sun, especially on Sun-day, could well have produced an amalgamation of ideas within the Christian community. This process could have predisposed those Christians who had previously venerated the Sun and who now needed to differentiate themselves from the Jewish Sabbath, to adopt the day of the Sun for their weekly worship, since its symbology well expressed existing Christian views. Such considerations were possibly encouraged by the valorization in the Roman society of the day of the Sun in place of the preceding day of Saturn.101 

It should be clearly stated, however, that by adopting the day of the Sun, Christians did not intend to sanction and/or to encourage the worship of the pagan Sol invictus (an insinuation that Tertullian emphatically repudiates),102 but rather to commemorate on that day such divine acts as the creation of light and the resurrection of the Sun of Righteousness. Both events, they noticed, not only occurred on the day of the Sun, but could also be effectively proclaimed through the rich symbology of the sun. 

Eusebius well exemplifies this in the passage we cited earlier, where referring to the day of the Sun he writes, "It is on this day of the creation of the world that God said. ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ It is also on this day that the Sun of Justice has risen for our souls."103 In associating the creation of light and the resurrection of Christ with the day of the Sun, Eusebius was expressing explicitly what had been implicitly understood by many Christians for a long time. We noticed, for instance, that almost two centuries earlier, Justin Martyr placed in juxtaposition the creation of light and the resurrection of Christ with the day of the Sun .104 Why? Presumably because all three (creation of light, resurrection of Christ and day of the Sun) shared a common denominator, namely, association with the Sun-Light of the first day. 

How did Christ’s resurrection come to be associated with sunrising? Apparently because, as we noted earlier, there existed a Judaeo-Christian tradition which described the Deity by means of the symbolism of the sun. Justin in his Dialogue with Trypho cites several Old Testament passages to prove that Christ is "more ardent and more light-giving than the rays of the sun."105 This theme was undoubtedly encouraged by prevailing solar beliefs which Christians found to supply an effective symbology to proclaim the Christian message.  

Melito of Sardis (d. ca. A.D. 190), for example, utilizes the common beliefof the daily baptism of the sun and stars in the ocean and of their daily rising to disperse darkness,106 to explain the baptism and resurrection of Christ: "If the sun washes itself with the stars and the moon in the ocean, why should not Christ have washed himself in the Jordan? He, the king of the heavens and the chief of creation, the Sun of the orient, who appeared both to the dead in Hades and to the mortals in the world! He, the only Sun who rose from heaven."107 

An earlier indication of the viewing of Christ’s resurrection as the rising of the sun, is provided by Ignatius (ca. A.D. 110) in his Epistle to the Magnesians. Referring to what we have concluded to be the Lord’s life, he adds, "on [or by] which also our life arose through him and his death" (9:1). It has been noted that the Bishop here "uses a verb which is regularly applied to the rising of the heavenly bodies [anatello] and not that which is commonly used of the resurrection from the dead [anistemi]108 Should we regard this as purely coincidental? B. Botte replies emphatically that "it is impossible." He then raises a significant question: "If the resurrection of Christ is presented by the image of a rising star, is it rash to think that S. Ignatius intended to allude discreetly to the designation of the day of the sun which had been given to Sunday?"109 

To conclude that Ignatius was referring to the day of the Sun when he employed the verb commonly used for sunrising to describe the resurrection is hazardous. The subject of the immediate context, as we noticed, is the prophets who obviously did not observe the day of the Sun. The fact however thatIgnatius views the resurrection of Christ as the sunrising, suggests the possibility of an early amalgamation of ideas. In other words, since Sunday was the day of the Sun and since Christ’s resurrection was viewed as the rising of the "Sun of Justice," it would only take a short step for Christians to associate the two.  

In fact, in their search for a day of worship distinct from that of the Jews, Christians could well have viewed the day of the Sun as a providential and valid substitution. Its symbology fittingly coincided with two divine acts which occurred on that day: the first creation of light and the rising of "the Sun of the second creation." F. H. Colson rightly points out that this coincidence could well have been regarded as "a proof that in this pagan institution the Divine Spirit had been preparing the world for something better. In fact, the devout convert might well rejoice to be able to put a Christian construction on what had been a treasured association of his pagan past."110 

These feelings we noticed are explicitly expressed at a later date. Maximus of Turin views the pagan day of the Sun as the prefiguration of the "Sun of Justice" who "once risen would have illuminated it."111 Eusebius similarly clearly states that "the Savior’s day.., derives its name from light, and from the sun.’’112 It is true that such bold admissions are not found in earlier sources, but the earlier unwillingness of the Fathers to acknowledge explicitly the adoption of the day of the Sun and/or of its symbology can be satisfactorily explained, as we said above, by the existing necessity to safeguard a recently introduced institution.  

Today, for instance, Christians generally do not fear to admit that their Christmas celebration (date, lights, trees, gifts, etc.) derives from the pagan festivity of the Natalis So/is Invicti. Why? Undoubtedly because such an admission would hardly tempt any Christian to commemorate the birth of the Sun-god rather than that of Christ. For early Christian converts from paganism however, the situation was altogether different. Any explicit acknowledgment that pagan dates and symbols had been borrowed to commemorate Christ’s birth and resurrection could readily have encouraged many Christians to relapse (as actually happened) into their recently abandoned pagan practices. It was therefore this danger of "paganizing" a recently "Christianized" pagan festivity that led the Fathers, initially at least, to avoid, as a precautionary measure, establishing an explicit interdependence between the Christian Sunday and the pagan day of the Sun. 

Conclusion. In this chapter we have found that all the necessary ingredients for the day of the Sun to influence the origin of Sunday observance were already present when the latter made its appearance. 

Various Sun-cults were predominant in ancient Rome by the early part of the second century. That these attracted the imagination and interest of Christian converts from paganism, we found evidenced by the development of the theme of Christ-the-Sun, and by the adoption of the eastward orientation for prayer and of the date of the 25th of December. The existence of a rich Biblical tradition which associated the deity with the Sun and Light seemingly facilitated, if it did not encourage such an amalgamation of ideas. 

The valorization of the day of the Sun over that of Saturn, as a result of the diffusion of the Sun-cults, possibly oriented Christians (who desired to differentiate themselves from the Sabbath of the Jews) toward such a day.113 This choice how ever, it must be stated again, was not motivated by their desire to venerate the Sun-god on his day, but rather by the fact that its symbology could fittingly commemorate two important events of the history of salvation—creation and resurrection: "it is on this day that the Light of the World has appeared and on this day that the Sun of Justice has risen."114 Moreover, the day of the Sun enabled Christians to explain also the Biblical mysteries to the pagan world by means of an effective symbology that was very familiar to them. 

Our investigation into the origin of Sunday observance has so far focused on two major contributory factors. The first, anti-Judaism, which appears to have caused a widespread devaluation and repudiation of the Sabbath, thereby creating the exigency of a new day of worship. The second, the development of Sun-cults with the consequent enhancement of the day of the Sun over that of Saturn, a contingency which apparently oriented Christians toward such a day, since it provided an adequate symbolism to commemorate significant divine acts. However, no adequate consideration has yet been given to the theological motivations for Sunday observance presented in the early Christian literature. Since these provide additional insights into this complex question of the origin of Sunday, we shall now direct our attention to them before drawing a final conclusion. 


NOTES TO CHAPTER 8

1. See above p. 119 fn. 88. 

2. J. V. Goudoever, Biblical Calendars, 1959, pp. 161-162, argues for the influence on early Christianity of the old calendar of Enoch and Jubilees, by referring to Anatolius (d. Ca. A.D. 282), Bishop of Laodicea. The Bishop defends the celebration of the Quartodeciman Passover after the vernal equinox by appealing to Jewish authorities such as Philo, Josephus and "the teaching of the Book of Enoch" (cited by Eusebius, HE 7, 32, 14-20). Note however that Anatolius is not defending Easter-Sunday but the Quartodeciman Passover. Moreover to justify the celebration of the latter after the vernal equinox, the Bishop does not cite only the Book of Enoch but also several Jewish writers such as Philo, Josephus, Musaeus, Agathobuli who "explaining questions in regard to the Exodus, say that all alike should sacrifice the passover offerings after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month" (Eusebius, HE 7, 32, 17). The fact that some of the writers mentioned were not representatives of sectarian Judaism, suggests that the insistence on the celebration of Passover after the vernal equinox was common to both sectarian and normative Judaism. 

3. W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 181; C. S. Mosna, Storia della domenica, p. 33, shares the same view: "To be able to speak of influence [of Sun-worship] on Sunday, one should demonstrate that the day dedicated to the Sun already existed in the earliest times of the Christian community as a fixed day that recurred regularly every week, and that it corresponded exactly to the day after the Sabbath. For this, one should demonstrate the existence of the planetary week before Sunday." 

4. W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 37; note Rordorf’s categorical statement: "If the question is raised whether the origins of the Christian observance of Sunday are in any way connected with the Sunday observance of the Mithras cult, it must be answered with a definite No" (loc. cit.). 

5. Regarding Sun-worship in India, Persia, Syria and in the Greek and Roman world, see F. J. Dölger, Sol Salutis, 19252, pp. 20f., 38f.; for Palestine see Realencyklopddie far protestantische Theologie und Kirche, 1863, s.v. "Sonne, bei den Hebräem," by W. Baudissin; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 1964, s.v. "Sonne," by H. Baumann; F. J. Hollis, "The Sun-cult and the Temple at Jerusalem," Myth and Ritual, 1933, pp. 87-110; that the Sun-cult was widespread before Josiah’s reform is well estab. lished by passages such as 2 King 23:11, "[Josiah] removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord ... and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire"; cf. also Ezek. 8:16 and Wisdom 16:28: "To make it known that we must rise before the sun to give thee thanks and must pray to thee at the dawning of the light." Philo, De vita contemplativa 3, 27, reports that the Therapeutae prayed at sunrise, seeking for heavenly light. 

6. Gaston H. Halsberghe, The Cult of Sol Invictus, 1972, p. 26. This thesis was proposed earlier by A. von Domaszewski, Abhandlungen zur Romischen Religion, 1909, p. 173. 

7. Gaston H. Halsberghe (fn. 6), pp. 27 and 35. 

8. Fasti of Philocalus, CIL I, 2, 324 or Fasti of Amiternum, CIL IX, 4192. F. Altheim, Italien und Ram, 1941, II, pp. 24-25, provides abundant evidences that Sol Indiges was worshipped in Rome as early as the fourth century B. C. In the oldest calendar the Sun-god is associated with Jupiter. Marcus Terentius Varro (116—ca. 26 B.C.) De re rustica 1, 1,5, reports that the Sun and the Moon were usually invoked immediately after Jupiter and Tellus. Tacitus (ca. A.D. 55-120) mentions that in the Circus there was an old temple dedicated to the Sun (Annales 15, 74, 1; cf. 15,41, 1). 

9. G. Wissowa, Religion und kultus der Ramer, 19122, pp. 31Sf. argues that the expression "indigiti-native" could only have designated the Sun-cult as native when the Eastern Sun-cults arose. 

10. CIL VI, 701; A. Piganiol, Histoire de Rome, 1954, p. 229, holds that Augustus favored the worship of the Sun and "gave priority to the gods of light"; Halsberghe (fn. 6), p. 30, is of the opinion that Augustus did not intend to import to Rome the Egyptian solar god, but rather to give credit for the victory to the ancient Roman Sol: "No single deity of the Roman pantheon could more rightfully claim this glorious victory than the ancient Roman Sal, since it was achieved through his special intervention and protection. The two obelisks which were symbols of the Sun god in Egypt, constitute additional support for this interpretation." Anthony, before Augustus, portrayed the Sun god on his coins and after marrying Cleopatra he renamed the two sons of the queen as Helios and Selene (cf. A. Piganiol, op. cit., p. 239; H. Cohen, Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l’empire rornain, I, p. 44, fn. 73; W. W. Tarn, The Cambridge Ancient History, 2nd ed., X, p. 68; cf. Dio Cassius, Historia 49, 41 and 50, 2, 5, 25. Cicero (106-43 B.C.) shows the high esteem that cultured Romans had for Sun worship when he describes the Sun as "the lord, chief, and ruler of the other lights, the mind ‘and guiding principle, of such magnitude that he reveals and fills all things with his light" (De republica 6, 17, LCL, p. 271). 

11.Tertullian, De spectaculis 8, ANF III, p. 83; Tacitus (fn. 8) confirms the existence of the temple dedicated to the Sun in the circus. 

12. Cf. CIL I, 327; XIV, 4089; V, 3917; VI, 3719; these texts are discussed by Halsberghe (fn. 6), p. 33. 

13. H. Mattingly, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, 1940 I, pp. 134 and 171; cf. Tacitus, Annales 15, 74. 

14. Elius Spartianus, Hadrianus 19, LCL Scriptores Historiae Augustae I, p. 61; cf. A. Piganiol (fn. 10), pp. 288, 332-333, explains that Hadrian associated himself with the Sun "whose image appears on the last coins"; cf. H. Cohen (fn. 10), II, p. 38, n. 187, 188. 

15. Tacitus, Historiae 3, 24. 

16. Gaston H. Halsberghe (fn. 6), p. 35; cf. A. von Domaszewski (fn. 6), p. 173. 

17. According to Plutarch (A.D. 46-125), Vita Pompeii 24, Mithra was introduced into Rome by the Cilician pirates taken captives by Pompey in 67 B.C. Papinius Statius (d. ca. A.D. 96) in a verse of the Thebaid speaks of "Mithra, that beneath the rocky Persean cave strains at the reluctant-following horns" (Thebaid I, 718-720, LCL I, p. 393). Turchi Nicola, La Religione di Roma Antica, 1939, p. 273: "The Mithraic religion was made known through the pirates ... but its influence was particularly felt beginning with the first century after Christ"; the same view is expressed by Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra, 1956, p. 37; Textes et Monuments, 1896-1899, I, p. 338: "The propagation of the two religious [i.e., Mithraism and Christianity] was approximately contemporaneous" cf. Enciclopedia Cattolica, 1952, s.v. "Mithra e Mithraismo," by M. J. Vermaseren: "Mithra entered Rome (67 B.C.) with the prisoners of Cilicia . . . Its diffusion increased under the Flavii and even more under the Antoninii and Severii." 

18. Gaston H. Halsberghe (fn. 6), p. 44. 

19. This point is well expressed by Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra, 1956, p. 101. 

20. E. Schürer, "Die siebentagige Woche im Gebrauch der christlichen Kirche der ersten Jahrhunderte," Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 6 (1905): 18f., advocates that the planetary week developed independently of the Jewish week, primarily as a result of belief in the seven planets. W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 33, argues persuasively "that the planetary week as a whole developed in association with the Jewish week." The diffusion of the Jewish Sabbath in the Greco-Roman world would have attracted astrological belief in the evil influence of the planet Saturn. Subsequently the other planets were attached to the remaining days of the week. F. H. Colson, The Week, 1926, p. 42, maintains that the planetary week is not "a pagan interpretation of the Jewish week" since the order of the planets is not the real one, but an astrological invention developed by the belief that each individual hour of the day was under the control of a planet. This explanation is given by Dio Cassius (ca. A.D. 220) in his Historia 37, 18-19. Distributing the 168 hours of the week to each of the planets according to their scientific order, the first hour of Saturday stands under the protection of Saturn, who assumes the control over the day. The first hour of the second day falls to the Sun, the first hour of the third day to the Moon and so forth. In other words, the planet which controlled the first hour became the protector of the day, dedicated to it. The same explanation is found in the chronographer of A.D. 354 (Chronica minora: Monumenta Gernraniae Hist., auctores antiquissimi, IX, 1892); F. Boll, "Hebdomas," PaulyWissowa VII, col. 2556f. gives detailed proof that the planetary week did not originate in Babylon. 

21. S. D. Waterhouse, "The Introduction of the Planetary Week into the West," The Sabbath in Scripture and History (to be published by Review and Herald): "Thus it came about that the ingredients for the planetary week were brought together; the concept ‘of planetary gods being taken from the Babylonians, the mathematics having been supplied by the Greeks, and the dekans or hours, adopted from the Egyptians. Alexandria, possessing a large, indigenous, and influential Jewish population, was well suited for bringing in a final ingredient, that of the Hebrew weekly cycle." 

22. Dio Cassius, Historia 49, 22, LCL 5, p. 389; cf. Historia 37, 16 and 37, 17; Josephus, Wars of the Jews 1, 7, 3 and Antiquities of the Jews 14, 4, confirms Dio Cassius’ account, saying that the Romans succeeded in capturing the city because they understood that Jews on the Sabbath only acted defensively. 

23. Horace, Satirae 2, 3, 288-290, LCL p. 177, represents a superstitious mother as making this vow: "‘0 Jupiter, who givest and takest away sore affliction,’ cries the mother of a child that for five long months has been ill abed, ‘if the quartan chills leave my child, then on the morning of the day on which thou appointest a fast, he shall stand naked in the Tiber.’" The translator H. R. Fairelough explains: "This would be dies Jovis [the day of Jupiter], corresponding to our Thursday" (loc. cit.); cf. J. Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1928, s.v. "Sunday"; Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 18) refers several times to the seven-day week: "You may begin on the day . . . less fit for business, whereon returns the seventh-day feast that the Syrian of Palestine observe" (Ars Anratoria 1, 413-416; cf. 1,75-80; Remedia Amoris 217-220). 

24. In one of his poems, Tibullus explains what excuses he could have found for staying in Rome with his beloved Delia: "Either birds or words of evil omen were my pretexts or that the sacred day of Saturn had held one back" (Carmina 1, 3, 15-18). The day of Saturn was regarded as an unlucky day (dies nefastus) for undertaking important business. Sextus Propertius, a contemporary of Tibullus, speaks, for instance, of "the sign of Saturn that brings woe to one and to all" (Elegies 4, 1, 8 1-86). 

25. Dio Cassius, Historia 37, 18, LCL p. 130: "The dedication of the days to the seven stars which are called planets was established by Egyptians, and it spread also to all men not so very long ago, to state it briefly how it began. At any rate the ancient Greeks knew it in no way, as it appears to me at least. But since it also prevails everywhere among all the others and the Romans themselves . . . is already to them an ancestral custom." W. Rordorf, Sunday, pp. 27 and 37, takes Dio Cassius’ statement that the planetary week had come into use "not so very long ago," to mean that it did not exist before "the end of the first century A.D." This conclusion, however, is invalidated first by Dio’s own comment that the planetary week was prevailing everywhere and that the Romans regarded it as an ancestral custom (a new time cycle does not become widespread and ancestral overnight); secondly, by Dio’s mention that already back in 37 B.C., when Jerusalem was captured by Sosius and Herod the Great, the Sabbath "even then was called day of Saturn" (Historia 49, 22). Moreover note that Dio makes the Greeks, not the Romans, the terminus ante quem the planetary week was unknown. We would therefore agree with C. S. Mosna that "the planetary week must have orginated already in the first century B.C." (Storia della domenica, p. 69). 

26. The Sabine calendars have been dated by T. Mommsen between 19 B.C. and A.D. 14, see CIL 12, 220; this date is supported by Attilio Degrassi, "Un Nuovo frammento di calendario Romano e la settimana planetaria dei sette giorni," Atti del Terzo Congresso Internationale de Epigrafia Greca e Latina, Rome, 1957, p. 103; the article is included by the author in his Scritti vari di antichità, 1962, pp. 681-691; Degrassi is of the opinion that even the newly found calendar of Nola "is not later than the time of Tiberius" (p. 101). 

27. That the letters from A to G stand for the seven days of the planetary week, as stated by A. Degrassi (fn. 26), p. 99, "has been recognized long ago." This is proven by the fact that they occur "for the whole year in the manuscript Philocalian Calendar of A.D. 354" (bc. cit.). Herbert Thurston explains the Sabine calendars, saying: "when the Oriental sevenday period, or week, was introduced, in the time of Augustus, the first seven letters of the alphabet were employed in the same way as done for the nundinae, to indicate the days of this new division of time. In fact, fragmentary calendars on marble still survive in which both a cycle of eight letters—A to H—indicating nundinae, and a cycle of seven letters—A to G—indicating weeks, are used side by side (see Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, 2nd ed., I, 220. The same peculiarity occurs in the Philocalian Calendar of A.D. 356, ibid., p. 256). This device was imitated by the Christians, and in their calendars the days of the year from 1 January to 31 December were marked with a continuous recurring cycle of seven letters: A, B, C, D, E, F, G" (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911, s.v. "Dominical Letter"). 

28. A. Degrassi (fn. 26) pp. 103-104; cf. CIL 12, 218; one has been found in Pompei:i and therefore it is prior to A.D. 79, CIL IV, 8863; these calendars are also reproduced by A. Degrassi in his recent edition of Inscriptiones Italiae, 1963, XIII, ns. 49, 52, 53, 55, 56. 

29. A. Degrassi (fn. 26), p. 104, (emphasis supplied). 

30. CIL X, part I, 199 (No. 1605). 

31. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 3,41, LCL I, pp. 321, 323. 

32. Petronius, Sat yricon 30, LCL, p. 45. 

33. Frontinus, Strategemata 2, 1, 17, LCL, p. 98; Dio Cassius’ account is strikingly similar: "Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most" (Historia 65,7, LCL, p. 271. 

34. For a good reproduction of the Pompeiian painting of the planetary gods see Erasmo Pistolesi, Real Museo Borbonico, 1836, VII, pp. 116-130, plate 27; cf. "Le Pitture Antiche d’Ercolano," Real Accademia de Archeologia, III, pp. 257-263; H. Roux Ain~, Herculanum et Pompei: recueil g,~n~ral des peintures, bronzes, mosaiques, 1862, pp. 106-109; cf. J. Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 1928, s.v. "Sunday." 

35. CIL I, part 1, 342; CIL IV, part 2, 515, no. 4182; at Herculaneum was found inscribed in Greek upon a wall a list entitled "Day of the Gods" followed by the names of the seven planetary deities in the genitive form, CIL IV, part 2, 582, no. 5202; cf. CIL IV, 712, no. 6779; see E. Schiirer (fn. 20), pp. 27f.; R. L. Odom, Sunday in Roman Paganism, 1944, pp. 88-94. 

36. CIL IV, part 2, 717. no. 6338. 

37. Attilio Degrassi, Inscriptiones Italiae, 1963, XIII, pp. 308-309, plate 56; Troianus Marulli, Sopra un’antica cappella cristiana, scoperta di fresco in Roma nelle terme di Tito, 1813; I. A. Guattani, Meinorie enciclopediche per il 1816, pp. 153f. table 22; Antonius De Romanis, Le Antic/ic catnere esquiline, 1822, pp. 21, 59f. 

38. Plutarch’s Complete Works, III, p. 230. 

39. According to the geocentric system of astronomy of that period, the order of the planets was as follows: Saturn (farthest), Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, and Moon (nearest). In the planetary week, however, the days are named after the planets in this sequence: Saturn Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus; for a discussion, see R.L. Odom (fn. 35), pp. 11-17. 

40 R. L. Odom (fn. 35), pp. 54-124, surveys the evidences for the planetary week till the third century A.D. 

41. This conclusion is shared by several scholars; see F. H. Colson (fn. 20), p. 36: "Reviewing the evidence discussed ~above, we see that the planetary week was known in some sense in the Empire as early as the destruction of Pompeii and most people will think a century earlier"; B. Botte, "Les Denominations du dimanche dans la tradition chrdtienne," Le Dimanche, Lex Orandi 39, 1965, p. 16: "When Tibullus wrote his Elegy, the use of the planetary week had already entered the customs. But, considering, on the one hand, the absence of any allusion prior to this date and, on the other hand, the abundance of indications beginning from the second century, we clearly see that the change took place toward the beginning of the Christian era"; cf. H. Dumaine, "Dimanche," DACL IV, 911. 

42. F. H. Colson (fn. 41), p. 75, rightly notes: "A religion in which the supreme object of adoration was so closely connected if not identified with the Sun, could hardly fail to pay special reverence to what even non-Mithraists hailed as the Sun’s-day." 

43. W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 35; note that initially the day of the Sun was the second day of the planetary week, following the day of Saturn which was first. This is clearly proved, for instance, by several stone calendars (so-called indices nundinarii) where the days of the week are given horizontally, starting with the day of Saturn; see above fn. 28. In a mural inscription found in Herculaneum the "Days of the Gods" are given in capital Greek letters, starting with "kronou [of Saturn], Heliou [of Sun] . . ." (CIL IV, part 2, 582, no. 5202). A similar list was found in Pompeii written in Latin and beginning with "Saturni [of Saturn]" (CIL IV, part 2, 712, no. 6779). W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 35, rightly stresses this point: "It must, however, be emphasized straight away that in the planetary week Sunday always occupied only the second place in the sequence of days." 

44. V. Monachino, De persecutionibus in imperio Romano saec. I-IV et de polemica pagano-christiana saec. II-III, Gregorian University, 1962, p. 147. 

45. The text of the first law of March 3, 321 is found in Codex Justinianus III, 12, 3 and that of July 3, 321, in Codex Theodosianus II, 8, 1. Considering the fact that the necessity to legislate on a social custom such as a day of rest, arises when this endangers public welfare (as suggested by the exception made for farmers), it is plausible to suppose that the veneration of the day of the Sun was already a well-rooted tradition. 

46. Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, p. 236. 

47. According to Eusebius, The Life of Constantine 4, 18 and 20, Constantine recommended that Christians, including the soldiers, "attend the services of the Church of God." For the pagan soldiers the Emperor prescribed a generic prayer to be recited on Sunday in an open field. (cf. Sozomen, HE 1, 8, 12). This imperial injunction cannot be taken as an example of traditional pagan Sunday worship, since the motivation of the legislation is clearly Christian: "in memory . . . of what the Saviour of mankind is recorded to have achieved" (NPNF 2nd, I, p. 544). Moreover it should be noted that the Constantinian law did not prohibit agricultural or private activities but only public. This shows that even at the time of Constantine the pagan observance of Sunday was quite different from the Jewish keeping of the Sabbath. 

48. Tertullian, Ad Nationes 1, 13, ANF III, p. 123. W, Rordorf, Sunday, p. 37, argues that Tertullian does not allude to the day of the Sun but to that of Saturn, since he later speaks of Jewish customs such as the Sabbath which pagans had adopted. Unfortunately Rordorf fails to recognize that Tertullian responds to the charge that Christians are Sun-worshipers, first, by making the pagans themselves guilty of having adopted the day and the veneration of the Sun; and secondly, by showing them how they had deviated from their tradition by adopting even Jewish customs such as the Sabbath. For an analysis of the passage, see my Italian dissertation, pp. 446-449; F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 35, recognizes that Tertullian refers to Sunday. 

49. Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia 2, 4, LCL, p. 177. 

50. Samuel Laechli, Mithraism in Ostia, 1967, p. 11, 13, 14, 38-45, 72-73. The Mithraeum of the Seven Doors is dated A.D. 160-170 while that of the Seven Spheres is dated late in the second century. In the former, the Sun’s "door" is the tallest and widest; in the letter, the Sun’s sphere is presumably the last; see Leroy A. Campbell, Mithraic Iconography and Ideology, 1968, pp. 300-307, figs. 19 and 20. 

51. On the Bononia relief the planetary gods are placed on the face of the tauroctone arch and they run counter clockwise from Luna (Monday) at the right, followed by Mars (Tursday) and so on, closing with Sol (Sunday) at the left; see F. Cumont, Textes et Monuments,1886-1889, II, p. 261 and I, p. 119; cf. L.A. Campbell (fn. 50), p. 342. 

52. In Origen, Contra Celsunr 6, 21-22. Celsus lists the planets in the reverse order (Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Moon, Sun) enabling the Sun to occupy a significant seventh position. Note that though the arrangement of the gods of the week-days may vary in Mithraic iconography, the sequential order of the planetary deities is not disrupted and the Sun usually occupies a preeminent position. Priscillian (ca. A.D. 370) provides a slightly different list but always with the Sun at the top (Tractatus 1, 15). In the Brigetio relief, however, the planetary gods follow the regular sequence of the planetary week from Saturn to Venus; see L. A. Campbell (fn. 50) plate XXXIII. 

53. F. Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans, 1912, p. 163; Cumont also comments: "Each day of the week, the Planet to which the day was sacred was invoked in a fixed spot in the crypt; and Sunday, over which the Sun presided, was especially holy" (The Mysteries of Mithra, 1956, p. 167); cf. Textes (fn. 51) I, p. 119: "The dies Solis was evidently the most sacred of the week for the faithful of Mithra and, like the Christians, they had to keep holy Sunday and not the Sabbath" (cf. also p. 325). A statement from Isidore of Seville (ca. A.D. 560-636) best summarizes the priority Sun worship accorded to the day of the Sun: "The gods have arranged the days of the week, whose names the Romans dedicated to certain stars. The first day they called day of the Sun because it is the ruler of all stars" (Etymologiae 5, 30 PL 82, 216). 

54. The date is established by Otto Neugebauer and Henry B. Van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes, 1959, p. 177. 

55. Vettius Valens, Anthologiarum 5, 10, ed. G. Kroll, p. 26. Robert L. Odom, "Vettius Valens and the Planetary Week," AUSS 3 (1965): 110-137 provides a penetrating analysis of the calendations used by Vettius Valens and shows convincingly that "Vettius Valens, who undoubtedly was a pagan, used the week of seven days, [and] reckoned the seven-day week as beginning with the day of the Sun (Sunday) and ending with ‘the sabbatical day’ (Sabbath day)" (p. 134); H. Dumaine "Dimanche" DACL IV, 912 defends the same view on the basis of different evidences; cf. W. H. Roscher, "Planeten," Aligeineines Lexikon der griech. und röm. Mythologie, 1909, col. 2538. 

56. B. Botte (fn. 41), p. 21. 

57. Jacquetta Hawkes, Man and the Sun, 1962, p. 199. 

58. Tertullian strongly rejected the pagan accusation that the Christians’ rejoicing on Sunday was motivated by the worship of the Sun (see Apology 16, 1 and Ad Nationes 1, 13, 1-5, ANF III, p. 31 and p. 122). Similarly Origen regarded Celsus’ likening of Christianity to pagan mystery religions, Mithraism included, as absurd and unworthy of eithei refutation or repetition (see Against Celsus 1, 9 and 6, 22, ANF IV, p. 399-400 and 583). 

59.Tertullian, On Idolatry 14 ANF III, p. 70: "How... wicked to celebrate them [i.e., pagan festivals] among brethren! . . . The Saturnalia and New-year and Midwinter’s festivals and Matronalia are frequented—presents come and go—New-year’s gifts—games join their noise—banquets join their din! Oh, better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians for itself!" 

60. Jack Lindsay, Origin of Astrology, 1972, provides in chapter 20 "Pagan and Christians" (pp. 373-400) a valuable and concise survey of the influence of astrological beliefs on early Christianity. Origen complains that many Christians believed that nothing could happen unless it had been decreed by the stars (Philocalia, 23). H. Dumaine and De Rossi point out that the names of the planetary week used in Christian funerary inscriptions reflect the prevailing superstition, according to which the day mentioned belonged to the protecting star ("Dimanche" DACL IV, 872-875; cf. E. Schürer (fn. 20), pp. 35-39). The Fathers protested against such beliefs. Philaster, Bishop of Brescia (d. ca. A.D. 397) condemns as heresy the prevailing belief that "the name of the days of the Sun, of the Moon . . . had been established by God at the creation of the world. . . . The pagans, that is, the Greeks have set up such names and with the names also the notion that mankind depends from the seven stars" (Liber de haeresibus 113, PL 12, 1257). In a document attributed to Priscillian (ca. A.D. 340-385) anathema is pronounced against those Christians who "in their sacred ceremonies, venerate and acknowledge as gods the Sun, Moon... and all the heavenly host, which are detestable idols worthy of the Gehenna" (Tractatus undecim, CSEL 18, p.14); cf. Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum ed. C. W. Barlow, 1950, p. 189; Augustin, In Psalmos 61, 23, CCL 39, p. 792. 

61. A number of examples can be seen in F. Cumont, Textes et monunrents II, p. 202, no. 29; p. 210, no. 38; p. 241, no. 73; p. 290, no. 145; p. 311, no. 169; p. 350, no. 248; p. 434, no. 379. 

62. See E. Kirschbaum, The Tomb of St. Peter and St. Paul, 1959, pp. 3Sf.; P. Testini, Archaelogia Cristiana, 1958, p. 167. The mosaic came to light during the recent excavations (1953-1957) under the altar of St. Peter’s basilica; cf. an artistic reproduction of Christ portrayed as Sol Invictus in F. Cumont (fn. 61), I, p. 123, table no. 6. 

63. Justin, Dialogue 121, ANF I, p. 109 contrasts the devotion of Sun-worshipers with that of the Christians, who on account of the word of Christ who "is more blazing and bright than the might of the sun ... have suffered and still suffer, all kinds of torments rather than deny their faith in Him." In a document attributed to Melito, Bishop of Sardis (d. ca. A.D. 190) a striking parallelism is established between Christ and the sun: "But if the sun with the stars and the moon wash in the ocean, why should not Christ also wash in the Jordan? The king of the heavens and the leader of creation, the sun of the east who both appeared to the dead in Hades and to the living in the world, and this only Sun rose from Heaven" (On Baptism, ed. J. B. Pitra, Analecta Sacra Spicilegio Solesmensi, 1884, 2,5). Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150-215) elaborates diffusely on the symbol of Christ as true Light and true Sun and applies to Christ a common pagan designation for a heavenly god: "pantepoptes"—the one who looks down on all." Clement skillfully urges the pagans to abandon their rites of divination and be initiated instead into Christ the true Sun and Light (see Protrepticus II, 114, 1, GCS 1,80, 16; Stromateis 7,3,21,6, GCS 3, 15, 28; Paedagogus 3,8,44,1, GCS 1, 262, 7). Origen (ca. A.D. 185-254) manifests the same predilection for the denomination "Sun of Justice": "Christ is the Sun of Justice; if the moon is united, which is the Church, it will be filled by His light" (In Numeros homilia 23, 5, GCS 7, 217, 24; cf. In Leviticum homilia 9, GCS 6, 438, 19). Cyprian (d. A.D. 258) Bishop of Carthage exhorts believers "to pray at sunrise to commemorate the resurrection ... and to pray at the setting of the sun ... for the advent of Christ" (De oratione 35, CSEL 3, 292). Ambrose (A.D. 339-397), Bishop of Milan, to counteract the widespread Sun-cult, frequently contrasts Christ "lumen verum et Sol iustitiae—true light and Sun of justice" with the "Sol iniquitatis—Sun of iniquity" (In Psalmos 118, sermo 19,6 CSEL 62, 425, 4f). A. J. Vermeulen, The Semantic Developntent of Gloria in Early Christian Latin, 1956, p. 170, comments that Christians did not adopt an exclusive apologetic attitude, but "they took a much easier view of certain pagan customs, conventions and images and saw no objection, after ridding them of their pagan content, to adapting them to Christian thought." J. Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, p. 299, offers a similar observation. Eusebius of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 500) writes: "I know many who worship and pray to the Sun. For at the time the sun is rising they pray and say, ‘Have mercy upon us,’ and not only sun-worshipers and heretics do this, but also Christians, departing from the faith, mingle with heretics" (PG 86, 453). That the problem assumed alarming proportions is indicated by the vigorous attack of Pope Leo the Great (d. A.D. 461) against the veneration of the Sun by many Christians (Sermon 27, In Nativitate Domini, PL 54, 218). F. J. D6lger, Sol Salutis. Gebet und Gesang in christlichen Altertum. Mit besonderer Riicksicht auf die Ostung in Gebet und Liturgie, 1925, provides especially in chapters 20 and 21 an extensive documentation of the influence of Sun-worship on the Christian liturgy. 

64. Dan. 6:11; 2 Chron. 6:34f; cf. Jewish Encyclopedia, 1907, s.v. ‘‘Prayer." 

65. Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 1,26, ANF I, p. 352. 

66. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7, 7, 43, GCS 3, 32. 

67. Origen, De oratione 32, GCS 2, 400, 23. 

68. Apostolic Constitutions 2, 57, 2 and 14, specific instructions are given to ensure that both the church building and the congregation face the orient. Moreover believers are urged to "pray to God eastward, who ascended to the heaven of heavens to the east; remembering also the ancient situation of paradise in the east. . ." (ANF VII, p. 42); cf. Didascalia 2, 57, 3; Hippolytus, De Antichristo 59, GCS 1, 2, 39-40; Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (A.D. 315-386) instructed his baptismal candidates to face first the West, the devil’s domain, and facing that direction, they were to say: "I renounce you Satan" and then after "severing all ancient bonds with hell, the Paradise of God, which is planted in the East is open to you" (Catechesibus 1,9, Monumenta eucharistica, ed. J. Quasten, 2,79). An early Christian Syrian author tells us: "The Apostles therefore established that you should pray toward the east, because ‘as the lightning which lighteneth from the east is seen even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be,’ that by this we may know and understand that He will appear suddenly from the east" (Didascalie d’Addai 2, 1, see F. Dolger (fn. 5) p. 72, n. 3); cf. also Basil, De Spiritu Sancto27, 64, PG 32, 189; Gregory of Nyssa, De oratione Domini 5, PG 44, 1184; Augustine, De sermone Domini in morte 2, 5, 18, PL 34, 1277. 

69. See above fn. 48. 

70. F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 196, 

71. In the Philocalian calendar (A.D. 354) the 25th of December is designated as "N[atalis] Invicti—The birthday of the invincible one" (CIL I, part 2, p. 236); Julian the Apostate, a nephew of Constantine and a devotee of Mithra, says regarding this pagan festival: "Before the beginning of the year, at the end of the month which is called after Saturn [December], we celebrate in honor of Helios [the Sun] the most splendid games, and we dedicate the festival to the Invincible Sun. That festival may the ruling gods grant me to praise and to celebrate with sacrifice! And above all the others may Helios [the Sun] himself, the king of all, grant me this" (Julian, The Orations of Julian, Hymn to King Helios 155, LCL p. 429); Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among Greeks and Romans, 1960, p. 89: "A very general observance required that on the 25th of December the birth of the ‘new Sun’ should be celebrated, when after the winter solstice the days began to lengthen and the ‘invincible’ star triumphed again over darkness"; for texts on the Mithraic celebration of Dec. 25th see CIL I, p. 140; Gordon J. Laing, Survivals of Roman Religion, 1931, pp. 58-65, argues persuasively that many of the customs of the ancient Roman Saturnalia (Dec. 17-23) were transferred to the Christmas season. G. Brumer, Jahrbuch für Liturgiewissenschaft, 1935, p. 178f and K. Prumm, Stimmen der Zeit, 1939, p. 215, date the festival of December 25 back to the Emperor Aurelian (A. D. 270-275), whose fondness for the worship of the Sun is well known. The hypothesis rests on Augustine’s censure of the Donatists (PL 38, 1033) for failing to observe January 6th. This, however, hardly implies that Christians celebrated Christ’s birthday on December 25th already at that time. 

72. An exception is the comment of an unknown Syrian writer who wrote in the margin of the Expositio in Evangelia of Bar-salibaeus (d. A.D. 1171) as follows: "Therefore the reason why the aforesaid solemnity was transferred by the Fathers from the 6th of January to the 25th of December, they explain to have been as follows: It was a solemn rite among the pagans to celebrate the festival of the rising of the sun on this very day, December 25th. Furthermore, to augment the solemnity of the day, they were accustomed to kindle fires, to which rites they were accustomed to invite and admit even Christian people. When therefore the Teachers observed that Christians were inclined to this custom, they contrived a council and established on this day the festival of the true Rising" (J. S. Assemanus, Bibliotheca orientalis 2, 164, trans. by P. Cotton, From Sabbath to Sunday, 1933, pp. 144-145). 

73. Augustine, Sermo in Nativit ate Domini 7, PL 38, 1007 and 1032, enjoins Christians to worship at Christmas not the sun but its Creator; Leo the Great (fn. 63) rebukes those Christians who at Christmas celebrated the birth of the sun rather than that of Christ. 

74. L. Duchesne, Christian Worship: Its Origin and Evolution, 1919, pp. 260f., presents this hypothesis as a possibility. M. Righetti, Manuale di Storia Liturgica, 1955, II, pp. 68-69, explains that the date of March 25th "though historically unfounded, was based on astronomical-allegorical considerations, namely that on the day of the vernal equinox the world was created." According to this theory, on the same date of March 25 creation began and Christ, as Augustine says, was "conceived and crucified" (De trinitate 4, 5, PL 42, 894); cf. Hippolytus, In Danielem commentarius 4, 23, for a similar view. 

75. 0. Cullmann, The Early Church, 1956, p. 29. Cullmann maintains that two factors contributed "to the separation of the festival of Christ’s birth from Epiphany, and to the transference of the former to December 25th," namely, "the dogmatic development of christology at the beginning of the fourth century" and the influence of the pagan festival held in honor of the Sun—god on December 25. Theologically, Cullmann argues, it became necessary, after the condemnation at the Council of Nicaea of the doctrine that God the Son did not become incarnate at his birth, to dissociate the festival of the birth from that of the Epiphany. Both festivals were celebrated, especially in the East, on January 5th-6th (as birth-baptism), and this must have been objectionable, since the birth of Christ commemorated under the common theme of "Epiphany=appearing," could easily be misinterpreted heretically. This theological explanation, though very ingenious, hardly justifies the adoption of December 25, especially in the West. In fact, to be able to speak of separation of the two festivities, it is necessary to prove first of all that in Rome, Christians had previously celebrated Christmas on January 6, a fact that we have not found. 

76. Joseph A. Jungmann, The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great, 1962, p. 147; L. Duchesne (fn. 74), p. 26, also recognizes this as a more plausible explanation: "A better explanation is that based on the festival of Natalis Invicti, which appears in the pagan calendar of the Philocalian collection under the 25th of December. . . . One is inclined to believe that the Roman Catholic Church made the choice of the 25th of December in order to enter into rivalry with Mithraism"; John Ferguson, The Religions of the Roman Empire, 1970, p. 239, defends the same view; cf. Franz Cumont (fn. 71), p. 89 and (fn. 51), I, p. 342: "It appears certain that the commemoration of the nativity was placed on December 25, because on the winter solstice was celebrated the rebirth of the invincible god. By adopting this date ... the ecclesiastical authorities purified somehow some pagan customs which they could not suppress." 

77. Gaston H. Halsberghe (fn. 6), p. 174; 0. Cullmann (fn. 75), p. 35, explicitly states: "The choice of the dates themselves, both January 6th and December 25th, was determined by the fact that both these days were pagan festivals whose meaning provided a starting point for the specifically Christian conception of Christmas"; the same view is emphatically expressed by B. Botte, Les Origines de la Noël et de l’Épiphanie, 1932, p. 14; cf. C. Mohrmann, "Epiphania," Revue des Sciences Philosophiques (1937): 672. 

78 T. Mommsen, Chronography of Philocalus of the Year 354, 1850, p. 631; L. Duchesne, Bulletin critique, 1890, p. 41, has established that the calendar goes back to 336, because the Depositio nra rtyrum is preceded in the Philocalian by the Depositium episcoporum of Rome, which lists Sylvester (d. A.D. 335) as the last pope. 

79. M. Righetti (fn. 74), II, p. 67; this view is widely held: see L. Duchesne above fn. 76; 0. Cullmann (fn. 75), p. 30: "The Roman Church intentionally opposed to this pagan nature cult its own festival of light, the festival of the birth of Christ." 

80. B. Botte (fn. 41), pp. 14f; see above fn. 75. 

81. Q. Cullmann (fn. 75), p. 32; for a concise account of the diffusion of and opposition to the Roman Christmas, see M. Righetti (fn. 74), II, pp. 70f. 

82. Joseph A. Jungmann (fn. 76), p. 151. 

83. See above fn. 63. 

84. Eusebius, Cominentaria in Psalmos 91, PG 23, 1169-1172; cf. below fn. 112. 

85. Note that Justin Martyr, long before Eusebius, alludes to the same two motivations (though not so explicitly) in his I Apology 67, see above p. 230 and below p. 265. 

86. Jerome, In die dominica Paschae homilia CCL 78, 550, 1, 52; the same in Augustine, Contra Faustum 18,5; in Sermo 226, PL 38, 1099, Augustine explains that Sunday is the day of light because on the first day of creation "God said, ‘Let there be light! And there was light. And God separated the light from darkness. And God called the light day and the darkness night" (Gen. 1:2-5). 

87. Maximus of Turin, Homilia 61, PL 57, 371; Gaudentius, Bishop of Brescia (ca. A.D. 400), Sermo 9, De evangelica lectione 2, PL 20, 916 and De Exodo sermo 1, PL 20, 845, explains that the Lord’s day became first in relationship to the Sabbath, because on that day the Sun of righteousness has appeared, dispelling the darkness of the Jews, melting the ice of the pagans and restoring the world to its primordial order; Eusebius, Life of Constantine 4, 18, NPNF 2nd, I, p. 544, explicitly states: "The Savior’s day which derives its name from light and from the sun"; cf. Hilary of Poitiers, Tractatus in Psalmos 67, 6, CSEL 27, 280; Athanasius, Expositio in Psalmos 67, 34, PG 27, 303; Ambrose, Hexaemeron 4, 2, 7; and Epistula 44, PL 16, 1138. 

88. F. H. Colson (fn. 20), p. 94. 

89. See above fns. 48, 58 and 60. 

90. Tertullian, On Idolatry 14, ANE III, p. 70; Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum, ed. C. W. Barlow, 1950, p. 189, forcefully rebukes Christians, saying: "What madness it is therefore, that one who has been baptized in the faith of Christ should not worship on the Lord’s day, the day on which Christ rose from the dead, but says rather that he worships the day of Jupiter and Mercury. . . . These have no day but were adulterers and magicians... and died in evil." 

91. We found this to be true also in the case of Christmas. Only later were Christians willing to explicitly admit the borrowing of a pagan festival; see above fn. 72. 

92. This point is well made by F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 157. 

93. For instance, Justin Martyr, Dialogue 121, ANF I, p. 260, associates Christ with the Sun on the basis of Scriptural texts: "The word of His truth and wisdom is more ardent and more light-giving than the rays of the sun... Hence also the Scripture said, ‘His name shall rise above the sun.’ And again Zechariah says, ‘His name is the East.’" 

 
94. Psalm 84:11 applies the title sun to God Himself: "For the Lord God is a sun and a shield"; Psalm 72:17, alluding to the Messiah, says: "May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun"; cf. Isaiah 9:2; 60:1-3, 19-20; Zechariah 3:8. 

95. John 1:4-5. 

96. John 1:9. 

97. John 5:35. 

98. John 8:12; cf. 9:4-5. 

99. John 12 :34. 

100. Rev. 22 :4. In the inaugural vision John describes Christ’s face "like the sun shining in full strength" (Rev. 1:16). Note also that when Christ was transfigured before Peter, James and John, it is said: "his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light" (Matt. 17:2). See F.A. Regan, Die Dominica, pp. 157-163 for further texts and discussion. 

101. E. Lohse, "sabbaton," TDNT VII, p. 29, fn. 228, admits this possibility: "A contributory factor was undoubtedly the fact that from the first century B.C., the seven-day week named after the planets had been increasingly adopted in the Hellenistic-Roman world. The day of Saturn was generally regarded as an unlucky day, while Sunday which followed it was a particularly good day." 

102. See above fn. 58. 

103. Eusebius, Commentaria in Psalmos 91, PG 23, 1169-1172. 

104. Justin, I Apology 67; the passage is quoted and discussed above, pp. 230-231. 

105. Justin, Dialogue 121, see fn. 93. 

106. Macrobius, Saturnalia 1, 9, 9 speaks of the sun as "opening the day in the orient and closing it in the occident"; Juvenal, Satirae 14,280: "Herculeus heard the roaring sun in the bottom of the sea" and "The sun roars when it rises as when a red hot iron is immersed in water." 

107. Melito of Sardis, Fragment VIIIb, 4, SC 123, p. 233; Zeno of Verona frequently uses solar metaphors to explain Christian teachings. He compares the baptism of the neophytes to immersion of the sun in the ocean and the rising of the sun to the immortal glory promised to the believers (Liber II, 46, PL 11, 503A and 504). 

108. F.H. Colson (fn. 20), p. 92. 

109. B. Botte (fn. 41), p. 21. 

110. F. H. Colson (fn. 20), p. 93. 

111. Maximus of Turin, Homilia 61, PL 57, 371. 

112. Eusebius, Life of Constantine 4, 18, NPNF 2nd, I, p. 544. 

113. Several scholars support this conclusion: Franz Cumont (fn. 53), p. 163, affirms: "The preeminence assigned to the dies solis also certainly contributed to the general recognition of Sunday as a holiday"; P. Cotton (fn. 72), p. 130, similarly notes: "It cannot be denied that the pagan use of Sun-day has had an appreciable effect upon Christianity in bringing the Christian Sun-day into preeminence in the Church as the sole day of worship"; cf. F. H. Colson (fn. 20), p. VI; 0. Cullman (fn. 75) acknowledges the association between the resurrection and the day of the Sun by the middle of the second century: "From the middle of the second century the term ‘Sunday’ occurs for the former ‘Lord’s Day’ This means that the Christians’ thought about the redemptive act of the resurrection of Christ . . . had already become associated with the symbolism of the sun." Cullmann, however, fails to prove that the designation "Lord’s day" is prior to that of "Sunday." 

114. Jerome, In die dominica Paschae homilia, CCL 78, 550, 1, 52.


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