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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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BIRTHDAY.—In Matthew 14:6 and Mark 6:21 this word represents the Gr. τὰ γενέσια in the account of the king’s (Herod Antipas) feast to his nobles, at which John the Baptist was condemned to death. It has been suggested, however, though without much acceptance, that the anniversary referred to was that of Herod’s accession, not strictly that of his birth. Γενέσια, which in Attic Greek means ‘the commemoration of the dead,’ is in the later language interchangeable with γενέθλια (birthday celebrations), and there seems no reason why the translation of Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 and Authorized Version should not be right (see Swete on Mark 6:21, and Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, s.v.). The custom of observing the birthday of a king was widely spread in ancient times (cf. Genesis 40:20, 2 Maccabees 6:7; Herod. ix. 110).

For the question of the date of our Lord’s birth, and the authority for the traditional 25th December, see art. Calendar.

C. L. Feltoe.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Birthday'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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