WJL, I am unable to find any credible independent reference to a 40-day fast connected with Tammuz as the basis for Lent beyond Hislop, who in turn makes the ridiculous assertion without reference. I’m afraid you’re asking for a refutation of something Hislop made up. In any case, it is clear from the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Lent that there is no evidence we got ours from “Babylonianism”.
As a Jewish believer in Jesus I find this a fascinating question. While 40 is a significant number in scripture I do not see any Biblical support for the 40 days of Lent. Jesus fasted for 40 days before he was tempted by the devil so maybe someone could make a case for it. I don’t see it as wrong or pagan if the focus is on the Lord. I don’t think that any of you on this forum are actively worshiping a pagan deity even if the time of lent has pagan origins.
However I find celebrating passover or (Pesach) which is commanded in Scripture and recognizing Jesus as the “Lamb of G-d who takes away the sin of the world” is something I can do with a clear conscience without the fear of pagan origins. Jesus died on Passover and he was raised to life on the feast of first fruits(also a Biblical feast). This is also the day we begin to count the omer for 49 days and the 50th day is Pentecost(Shavuot). On the 40th day of the counting of the omer Jesus(Yeshua is his Hebrew name) ascended into heaven. Then on the 50th day is Pentecost(Shavuot) a Jewish feast commanded in Leviticus and also the day that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers. Being the Pastor of a Messianic Jewish Congregation and a local Baptist Church I have asked similar question about the practice of Lent with no real satisfying answers. The one answer that resonates with Catholics and Jews alike is “TRADITION”. Regardless of our differing ways to observe the death and resurrection of Our L-rd Scripture says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Col 3:17 (NIV)
I would just say “Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert before beginning his ministry. Do you believe Jesus was Weeping for Tammuz? I fast for 40 days every year to draw myself closer to God and make sure that my vocation is in line with His will, I fast for 40 days because Jesus fasted for 40 days.” I’d then refer them to Matthew 4:2 and Luke 4:2
I missed this the first time around, so now here’s my :twocents:
There may have been a relationship between the Christmas tree and the pagan Yule logs, but that’s not what I think about when I look at the tree that my wife has decorated.
There may be a coincidence between the date that the Church has selected to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s birth and the winter solstice or the Roman festival of Saturnalia, but that’s not what I think about when I go to Mass on December 25.
And I triple-dog guarantee you that during the 40 days of Lent, Tammuz and Ishtar don’t even cross my mind.
Weeping for who?! The 40 days of Lent comes from Christ fasting 40 days in the desert. That seems pretty obvious.
bmullins explained it nicely:
One basic problem with the theory is that the calendrical timing is all off. In Mediterranean agriculture, the growing seasons are different than most of North America, California excluded. The period of Tammuz’s “life” stretches from late fall when the rains begin and everything turns green, until the last of the grain is harvested and threshed–a date that could never occur prior to Passover (since Passover celebrates the FIRSTfruits of the wheat harvest–Ex 34:22). Thus the mourning festival for Tammuz–which certainly did exist–would have coincided more closely with Shavuot (Pentecost–June; around the summer solstice) so probably at least a month or two AFTER Easter. (Also cf. the name given to the month; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_calendar). When everything turns brown in summer is when Tammuz “dies” in Babylonian mythology.
Also, I know of no Mesopotamian source that says the mourning period lasted specifically for 40 days. I guess one could argue that it lasted during the entire month of Tammuz, but that would be 28/9 days at best.
See Noel Robertson, “The Ritual Background of the Dying God in Cyprus and Syro-Palestine” Harvard Theological Review 75:2: 313-59.
I don’t think Jesus cared at all for “Tammuz” (as she is a pagan deity and not real) nor do I believe there was any connection between His fasting for forty days and any pagan celebration. I think the number 40 is significant in scripture but not because of pagan beliefs, but because it is a number G-d chooses to use to accomplish His will. I personally have no problem with Catholics celebrating Lent as long as the focus is on pleasing the L-rd and honoring Him. There are obvious pagan influences in Christianity and Judaism but I also believe there are Judeo-Christian influences on paganism as well. As believers in Jesus as long as we put the Word of G-d before tradition and are led by the Spirit I believe we can know His truth.
The truth is, if you want to know the truth you should search for the truth. If you want to defend your faith, then you are actively seeking to deny the truth. Seek the truth, not arguments you can use to defend yourself.
How then does one get to the “the truth”. Let’s trackback where this information is coming from. Getting to the root of the “paganism in Catholicism/Christianity” problem in popular culture, is a bit convoluted. It seems to come from Ralph Woodrow, who wrote “Babylon Mystery Religion”. However, much of his writings were based on Alexander Hislop. So we should really start with Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons”.
“The Two Babylons” is a book likely published to discredit the Catholic church. Though it may have been done to discourage Catholic followers, it may have also been done with pure intentions, furthermore it may be accurate. So as not to reject this out of hand as anti-establishment literature, research into the book should be undertaken.
After searching for a while I was unable to find an original copy of the book published in 1858 but found this version on the web:
However, what we truely desire is someone to go through each of his 265+ references to validate or invalidate each one. No takers? Well, Ralph Woodrow, who wrote “Babylon Mystery Religion” based on “The Two Babylons” and may have caused most of the more recent stir, actually talked about this later in life. Eventually, going so far as to pull the original book and replace it with a newer book, “The Babylon Connection”. A book, in which he claims to “look at the oft-quoted THE TWO BABYLONS by Alexander Hislop, and [provide] some much needed clarification on [the] subject.”
However, that’s not freely available over the web. Copyright is not the friend of research. The very best short read on the subject I could find was here, where Woodrow argues against Hislop and another writer argues for him:
After reading this, my impression is that many of the traditions practiced today, like lent, were taken on sometime after the first council of nicaea (AD 325). Some, likely to give Christians an alternative to pagan traditions, others out of ignorance of their pagan beginnings and still others may have never been pagan to begin with.
The truth is always more complicated than you would like. Which is why complex truth, or complex fiction can continue for so long unproven.
You can see Ralphs commentary directly on his site as well for substantiation.