December 29, 1862
"I am now engaged in circulating my page 129 of 'Mazzaroth,' Part ll, against what I consider a mischievous error."
The error FR refers to has to do with the day of Jesus' birth.
"This time two years our good Baptist teacher unhappily got hold of Adam Clarke's neologian error, that the real day of Christ's birth was 'uncertain,' and many of his poor hearers went home, "If Christmas day is not Christmas day, what are we to believe next?'--disbelieve, they meant. This . . . did not reach me till just in time to circulate among them those pages of 'Mazzaroth' bearing on the subject. Christ was born on the winter solstice, then the 25th of December."
FR's notes on the day of Jesus' birth cover pages 129 through 131 of Mazzaroth. Her main argument is that the census records in Rome were available for inspection in the early years of the church, and that Augustine and Justin Martyr held to December 25 based on that fact. The archives were not destroyed until the Gothic invasion about 535CE, long after December 25 was accepted.
The day and date of Jesus birth is still argued today. (I have done so myself.) The interesting thing here is FR's readiness to combat whatever error or misinformation is in circulation. Was the day really important to defend, or did she consider this error an attack on the church? I'm sure she was familiar with this scripture:
"But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear," 1 Peter 3:15.
December 13, 1862
"I am troubled to-night with a review of Max Müller, 'On the Science of Language,' greatly admiring his views, which in the first place deny that God gave language to Adam, which every one who believes the Bible to be the Word of God must admit."
The development of human language held particular interest for FR because of her unshakable trust in the accuracy of the Bible, and because of how her theory of the original names of the stars and constellations depended on it. This theory was the purpose of her book Mazzaroth. She based the original reason for naming the stars and their figures upon the root meanings of their names.
FR's evidence for all languages springing from one was the explanations for names given to children that are preserved in Genesis. For example, Eve's words at the birth of Cain, her first son: "I have gotten a man"--Cain coming from the root to get.
Believing the account in the scriptures that human beings all spoke the same language until God confused their language and dispersed them from the Tower of Babel , and finding in the Hebrew scriptures evidence that the first language was very like Hebrew, FR was disturbed with current efforts to discredit the Bible's account. She wrote to a friend:
"Beware the delusions of the German school, Müller and Bunsen the most recent of them just now, but there will soon be more springing up like mushrooms, and, like mushrooms, often poisonous."
December 6, 1860
"I have been able in the last fortnight to explain every one of the figures in the Dendera Zodiac and Planisphere, over which I had been puzzling in vain for the last thirty years."
In her younger years, Frances Rolleston had collected piles of information to support her theory that the ancient starry signs and constellations illustrated God's plan of salvation through the God-man Jesus. Now in her seventies and eighties she was organizing that material for publication.
Since she considered this—her book Mazzaroth—to be the major work of her life, it must have been frustrating not to be able to work out the meanings of the zodiac figures from the Temple of Dendera in Egypt. Before the planisphere was removed and brought to France, a drawing of it had circulated, and FR's friend and neighbor, William Hone, had given her a print of it.
FR had worked with planispheres of Greek and Indian origin, and others, but this one had taken 30 years of scrutiny. How triumphant FR must have felt when she told her friend Caroline Dent that she could now explain every one of its figures. A less diligent person might have given up long before.