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24 votes
Accepted

Is Xmas a secular name for Christmas?

Word origin As stated in previous answers, the "X" in "Xmas" comes from the Greek word for Christ, Χριστός. However, since precision is important, I want to clarify when the ...
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19 votes
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When was the word "trinity" first applied to God in Christianity?

Without question, Theophilus of Antioch (d. 183) is your man. He wrote in Greek: [God's creations on the first three days--light, sky, and vegetation--] are types of the Trinity [Τριάδος], of God, ...
19 votes

Is Xmas a secular name for Christmas?

Great Britain monks used "X" for "Christ" nearly a thousand years ago. They used "X" for "Christ" while transcribing manuscripts in Old English. They did so because the Greek word for Christ, ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ,...
18 votes
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What is the earliest known instance of a petition directed to Mary?

Sub Tuum Praesidium The earliest known, extant petition prayer to Mary the Θεοτόκος (Theotokos), or Dei Genetrix (the Greek and Latin, respectively, for 'God-bearer' or 'Birthgiver-of-God') is found ...
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16 votes
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What is the earliest historical testimony of the celebration of the nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Attitudes on birthdays In the early church, birthdays (in general) were not seen as something to celebrate. For example, in Origen's 8th homily on Leviticus he writes: But the saints not only do not ...
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16 votes

What is the history behind/Origin of the doxology that often gets added to the end of the Lord's prayer?

I can't find this doxology in the lords prayer as recorded in scripture It is in the King James Version: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, ...
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15 votes
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What is the origin of the Christian tradition of praying before eating?

It appears to be a custom that predates establishment of the Christian religion, but you can find a scriptural example in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25(KJV) That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he ...
14 votes
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Did this phrase "love the sinner but hate the sin" in this form originate in Christianity and who is credited to have first used it?

Augustine of Hippo is basically universally credited with the coinage of the phrase. It is an idea which can easily be supported by the Bible, but he was the first to say it in a form close to its ...
14 votes
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What is the origin of the story that the Apostle John taught only "love one another"?

It's from Jerome's Commentary on Galatians, 6:10: The blessed John the Evangelist lived in Ephesus until extreme old age. His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the ...
13 votes
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What are the first references to a tradition of fasting before partaking of the Lord's Supper?

This practice is attested as early as the first half of the third century, by Tertullian and particularly Hippolytus. Tertullian addresses the topic tangentially while addressing the dangers of women ...
12 votes
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What is the source of the story about the melted gold in the destroyed temple in 70 AD?

The Mystery of the Temple's 'Molten Metals' Two recent apologists told the story, apparently independently, of molten gold seeping between the temple`s foundation stones during the Siege of Jerusalem ...
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12 votes
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Is Luther really the originator of "We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone"?

Calvin The first extant writing to contain the phrase is John Calvin's Antidote to the Council of Trent (1547). First, for context, Calvin was responding to Canon 11 of the sixth session of the ...
12 votes

What is the theological background to the belief that taxation is theft?

Foundations: Taxation and private property are in tension The commandment (Exodus 20) "Thou shalt not steal" implies the right to private property, and this is everywhere assumed in ...
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12 votes
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How did the doctrine of the pope having "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls" originate?

Paragraph 937 of the Catechism is part of an "In Brief" section that occurs at the end of every topic of the Catechism. The "In Brief" sections are intended to summarize the ...
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11 votes
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What is the origin of the story that James had knees as hard as a camel's, because of his praying?

The first recorded instance of the tradition comes from Hegesippus, a second century Christian writer. Unfortunately, his works have been lost, except for a small portion of his writings quoted by ...
  • 7,736
10 votes

What is the source of the belief that the deceased become angels?

In Heaven: A History (1995: Yale University Press) the authors, Drs. Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang, state that Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) had a pivotal role in bringing about a changed view ...
10 votes
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When in the development of trinitarian doctrine was the word "persons" first applied to God?

Tertullian: Earliest extant use of term Tertullian (155 - 240) was, famously, the first Latin writer to use the word "trinity" in his anti-Sabellian treatise Against Praxeas. It also contains the ...
10 votes
Accepted

Where did the formula, "Good works are the fruits of faith," originate?

Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, and Didymus the Blind said things that could be mistaken for the formula, but don't fit all the criteria. The first one to use it unmistakably is Origen, in ...
10 votes

Which church father first taught the perpetual virginity of Mary?

As with many doctrines in the first few hundred years of the church, they tended not to be explicitly defined until heretics arose forcing the church to define doctrine. This is why history is ...
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10 votes
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What is the earliest systematic New Testament commentary?

Origen's commentaries do indeed appear to be the earliest surviving line-by-line, self-contained biblical commentaries. This becomes evident when we examine his closest competitors. We'll look first ...
10 votes
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When were Protestants first called 'Protestants' and what were they, originally, protesting about?

The year was 1529, the event was the Second Diet of Speyer, and the particular matter that brought about labeling of Evangelicals as 'Protestants' was their objecting to undemocratic religious ...
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9 votes

Origin of the idea that "demons" and "fallen angels" are the same thing?

As close as I can understand these Scriptures they apply to the fallen Angels: Revelation 12:7 through 9 NKJV And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the ...
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9 votes
Accepted

When was the first recorded account of pre-tribulation teaching?

John Darby (1800-1882), often considered the father of dispensationalism and one of the founders of the Plymouth Brethren, tends to be given credit for inventing the doctrine, or at least for having "...
9 votes
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What is the origin of the belief that Satan tortures the unsaved in Hell?

There is no biblical support for Satan or any of his demons torturing people in Hell. Rather, the adversary, Satan is said to travel around the world (Job 1:7) and even to have access to God's ...
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9 votes
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Adam and Eve Clothed in Light Before the Fall - Origin of this belief?

It seems this interpretative tradition goes back millennia to the ancient Jews. BioLogos has a short article on the development of the tradition that Adam and Eve "wore" garments of light, attributing ...
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9 votes

What is the history behind/Origin of the doxology that often gets added to the end of the Lord's prayer?

A Catholic priest, Father William Saunders, answers here: Who Added The Doxology? To summarize: The doxology is very old, going back to the first century. To quote the article: In the early ...
9 votes

Who first associated the fourth beast of Daniel 7 with the Roman Empire?

Several commentators before Jerome make this connection. We'll mention three,1 starting with Cyril of Jerusalem (313–386), who indicates that he is not the originator of this interpretation: The ...
8 votes

What is the origin of the moral-civil-ceremonial distinction of the Old Testament law?

Division of the law in the early church The law has been "divided" since the early church, but at first only into two parts. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Augustine, and others described a ...
8 votes

Who was the first to reject the historicity of Adam?

Philo The first-century Jewish theologian Philo may not have been the first Jew to reject the literal historicity of the creation stories, as it is my understanding that educated Alexandrian Jews had ...

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