Article Images Copyright © 2020 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. It doesn’t come as a surprise to most people that Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25th in the year 0. It’s an interesting journey that Rick Larson took in order to find the birth date of Jesus based on celestial activity. This likely has more to do with setting the scene for the shepherds to meet the angels and see the heavenly host, which would have been the stars. So based on the fact that Herod was probably the king when Jesus was born, and that Herod probably died before Jesus was very old, we can roughly estimate the year of Jesus’ birth to be around 7-4 BCE.eval(ez_write_tag([[250,250],'biblology_com-banner-1','ezslot_15',124,'0','0'])); This is the one historical detail that both Matthew and Luke agree upon. WHEN WAS JESUS ACTUALLY BORN? American King James Version ×), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. By 731 and after, it was clear that there had existed a year we could call A.D. 1. All that said, this gives us no additional information in our quest to determine the year of Jesus’ birth. This is the reason why Mary, Joseph, and Jesus flee to Egypt in Matthew 2. Therefore, it must also have been the date of the Annunciation, the day Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce her conception of Jesus. For an ancient ruler to kill 20 babies, especially to protect his royal lineage, no one would really bat an eye. There is a benefit to fixing a date for Christmas day, even if it seems arbitrary. But here’s a spoiler alert: there are problems with most of them.eval(ez_write_tag([[728,90],'biblology_com-box-4','ezslot_0',123,'0','0'])); This detail is given to us by both Matthew and Luke. Elizabeth was six months pregnant when Mary arrived, and Mary left three months later. But, like we’ve already discussed in this post, Jesus was likely not born in the winter, which means he probably wasn’t born on March 25th. and the Syrian governorship of Quirinius (see REGISTRATION for the probable dates of Quirinius’ administration), and toward the close of the reign of Herod the Great over Judea.—Mt 2:1, 13, 20-22; Lu 1:24-31, 36; 2:1, 2, 7. When Quirinius took over as governor of Syria in 6, he was tasked with conducting a census on a much smaller scale. He is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion.Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (the Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.. Moreover, the ancient world wasn’t nearly as interested in exact historical details as we are today. Daniel’s 2300 ‘Day’ Prophecy – Fully Decoded: December 21, 2100 A.D. I have a B.A. Answer #1 | 24/12 2014 20:32 He was not born CERTAINLY on December 25th. California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. September 29, 2 B.C. Again, there’s not much here. Since their birth narratives (and the rest of their books) are so different, it’s unlikely that either author had access to the other author’s work. Now, let’s take this a step further. What year was Jesus born? School calendars and public holidays have been established to coincide with this time. 23:34-35), also known as Sukkot. While we can’t know for sure when Jesus was born, there are many scholars who believe that, by looking at the story of Zacharias and … An when you look at Herod the Great, he was apparently a pretty bad dude. I've spent my life learning about the Bible and I am passionate about helping others discover the beautiful and imaginative world of the scriptures. Nine years after the death of Herod the Great.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'biblology_com-leader-1','ezslot_3',126,'0','0'])); Okay, well the Quirinius detail was a parenthetical note anyway. Luke was not dropping hints for us about what time of the year this scene took place. So what about Quirinius? so it had to be BEFORE 4 BC. Based on available historical data and literary corroboration, the best guess we have for the year of Jesus’ birth is anywhere between 7 and 4 BCE, during the reign of Herod the Great. and A.D. 1. Now I want to take this post down another turn. According to “We can approximate the month of Jesus’ birth to be around the time of Tishri (mid to late September). The incarnation event didn’t happen the day that Jesus emerged from Mary’s womb. Christians began celebrating Christmas sometime in the third or fourth century and no one really wrote down the reason for the December 25th date. The economies of developed nations rely on the financial boost provided during Christmas season. Another theory is that December 25th was established as Christmas Day by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 AD. A Constructive Approach to Christian Engagement In Politics. Two cases will be presented below: one case for a Tishri (Sukkot) birth, and the other for the traditional late December date. According to Matthew’s gospel, we can assume that Jesus was pretty young when Herod died. Okay cool, so have some more politicians. So surely there are other sources to corroborate this story and give us a rough estimate on the date. Somewhere through the centuries that belief changed to focus on conception. Had Jesus truly been conceived on March 25th, we can count forward nine gestational months and land on… drum roll please… December 25th. We have very good reason to believe that Jesus spent most of his formative years in Nazareth, so they couldn’t have been in Egypt for very long. Why Did Jesus Want His Miracles to Stay Secret? How was the date of Christmas decided, and when was Jesus really born? His purpose was to establish when Easter should be celebrated by working backwards using a complicated system of his own. "Since John was born on Passover, the 15th day of Nisan (the 1st Jewish month), Jesus would have been born six months later on the 15th day of Tishri (the 7th Jewish month). Well, it’s not really that simple. That’s because the early church was not nearly concerned with Jesus’ birth as they were with his conception. Not that any great doctrine rests on the calculations below, but it sure is nice that we can have reasonable confidence that the dates of Jesus’ birth and death are secure and can be gleaned from a combination of biblical and extrabiblical historical data. What is the Process of Exegesis? And I’m not sure anyone is any better off than we were at the beginning. Perhaps due to the obvious fact that there were some prophets who did not die on their birthday. When Jesus was born, shepherds and their flocks were in the fields at night ^ par. The actual date wasn't mentioned in the Bible or the writings of the early Church leaders. Some say devising “the pagan festival of the ‘Birth of the Unconquered Son’” was “an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians,” according to this article. The argument I’ve heard my whole life is that Christians decided to start celebrating Christmas on the 25th because of a few different pagan holidays. Common era. Based on his calculations, Larson dated the birth of Jesus to December 25th, in the year 2 BCE. Our 50 Favorite Christmas Bible Verses for the Holiday Season, The Christmas Bible Story: Read the Nativity of Jesus in Scripture. Yes, you read that right. He was born into an extended family living away from home and … Then we can discuss when he was born. Your email address will not be published. As for when Jesus was really born, many Christians base their calculation on the birth of Jesus's cousin, John the Baptist. Let’s forget about Quirinius and talk about the census itself. One pretty significant historical detail Matthew discusses in his Gospel is what has often been referred to as the Slaughter of the Innocents. That’s right, it’s true – even the greatest scholars can only speculate using everything we know about available historical accounts and the stars in the heavens. Required fields are marked *. Or maybe Luke was just wrong about Quirinius being the governor at the time. ROME — As Christmas approaches, debate often arises over when exactly Jesus was born. Based on the biblical literature, he was likely born sometime between February and October sometime before the year 4 BCE. But it’s an interesting topic for speculation! Is this a question we can even know the answer to? Realistically, however, stated shepherds would not have been tending their flocks in December when the weather was cold; they would have continued shepherding no later than October. This date is worked out from the "fact" that Jesus died at Easter at 33 and a … If a world leader in 2020 were to murder 20 babies, it would be a pretty big scandal. The biblical authors were not interested in divulging this information. As we move to Luke, things get a bit more… problematic. But is December 25 actually the date when Jesus was born… But to get to those hints we have to forget momentarily about Jesus’ birthday and back the truck up about nine months. Neither date is likely correct in light of several clues uncovered by historians and information in the Bible itself. But if that’s the case, when was Jesus actually born? It was readily accessible in the community’s narratives about Jesus. Our current calendar was set 100's of years later, and people at that time were off a bit in estimating the date of Jesus's birth. So as much as we’d like to know exactly when we should be singing “Silent Night” and hanging stockings over our fireplaces, December 25th is as good as any date. So far we’ve spent a lot of time talking about when Jesus might have been born. Why Was Jesus Being from Nazareth Derogatory? To this day, Jesus’ actual date of birth remains unknown, despite numerous historic and scientific efforts. (Egypt Today.). There were two dating systems at the time of Julius Caesar in AD46. For instance, maybe he knew that Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth before and after Jesus’ birth, but he also knew that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. So now we can better understand the date of the Christ mass. So the last few years "before Christ" on our calendar were actually after Christ was born. Quirinius became governor in the year 6. Thanks for speculating with me and taking this strange journey through church history. in biblical languages and an M.A. In Christmas, these traditions would continue. Okay, let’s just say for the sake of argument that there was an empire-wide census taken by Augustus sometime between the years 7 and 4 BCE. It would have been pointless to order a census where each person had to go back to the place where they can trace their lineage back to. And this was the reason that Mary and Joseph, citizens of Nazareth, traveled to Bethlehem. Boom! Neither date is likely correct in light of several clues uncovered by historians and information in the Bible itself. Churches organize special events around this time. We’re still at our rough estimate of 7-4. Several factors are involved in establishing the year of Christ’s birth. We haven’t gotten very far, but it’s been a fun conversation to have. There is one super tiny detail in Luke’s Gospel that might give us a super tiny lead, allowing us to narrow down Jesus’ birthday to a few months. There are a few details that we can try to use as anchors in our investigation. Perhaps this started with the belief that, since the Bible says things like “Moses lived 250 years,” he must have been born on the same day that he died. is a member of the Salem Web Network of sites including: Copyright © 2020, Jesus’ approximate age at the start of His ministry (30) is also supplied in the book of Luke, so we can determine that Christ was likely born around 2 or 3BC. There’s nothing in the writings of the ancient church that lead us to believe this was the reason. We know there was a celestial event which alerted the Magi, and this can also be dated. So Jesus’ birthday, based on the shepherd activity, most likely took place sometime between March and early October. When was Jesus actually born? When Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, it was easier for the newly formed church to repurpose the pagan observance of the winter solstice between December 17-25, since citizens were already prepared to celebrate the day. So where can we place this in history? When was Jesus really born? It’s not important that we believe the early church was right on all these points. One must seek the opinions of the most trusted scholars in this matter. Here, she enjoys digging into God’s word when not working or taking part in ministry activities. John the Baptist’s preaching took place during “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius” ().Jesus’ approximate age at the start of His ministry (30) is also supplied in the book of Luke, so we can determine that Christ was likely born around 2 or 3BC. “This festival was a time of merrymaking, and families and friends would exchange gifts,” stated. Was Jesus really born on December 25th, as the western Christian tradition maintains, or does Scripture allow us to infer a different time for His advent here on earth? But can we get even more specific than that? Here’s the thing. Another argument takes the reverse view. That means Jesus had to be born in the year 6 CE. Yet as with all biblical literature, we need to read “history” through ancient eyes and not through our own. Jesus was born at midnight on 12/31/00, by the Gregorian calendar. The best I can tell is that it was Jewish tradition that a prophet died on the same day that he was conceived. In order for the early church to come up with a date for Jesus’ conception, they first had to come up with a date for his death. While this is an interesting topic of discussion, that’s really all it is. Well, we’ve already said it a couple of times, and there’s not much more we can add to it. He even gives more details than that to help us narrow it down. So that’s the answer to our question—it’s obvious. (Before Christ) and A.D. (anno Domini, the year of our Lord) doesn’t that mean Jesus was born in year one (since we don’t count year zero)?Actually, the issue is a bit more complex than that.Starting the calendar with the birth of Christ didn’t come about until the Jesus was born in either 4 or 2 BC depending on the actual date of Herod the Greats death. Perhaps this was added later by scribes trying to pinpoint the census. Not long ago, I wrote a blog post about the goal of exegesis. By Dr. David R. ReaganAccording to Luke 1:24-26, Mary conceived Jesus in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. Bible scholars also try to time Christ’s birth by timing the birth of his cousin John according to the sparse information about Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary outlined in Luke. This means that Jesus was born Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment. As we continue down the rabbit hole, we’ll examine the historical details in the Gospel, we’ll take a brief look at failed scientific explorations, and we’ll talk about why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday at the end of December. ), is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Check out our tips for Bible Journaling with your iPad! The Conclusion for Answering What Year was Jesus Born. Matthew was not historically or scientifically describing the Star of Bethlehem event in his Gospel. All rights reserved. EVERY year on Christmas Day, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus with churches across the country telling the nativity story. There is another way to approach the truth. Here we are, at the end of this post. The point of a census was to count population sizes. Understand that from this point forward, this is all 100% speculation. This should have been a standout event in ancient history, right? 5BC–AD33. The nativity accounts in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke do not mention a date or time of year for the birth of Jesus. I know he wasn't born on the 25th of December. Although it’s not impossible, it seems unlikely that Jesus was really born on December 25. The day and month of Christ’s birth are even more difficult to establish. In an age where “our fast-moving lives have wreaked havoc on our relationships,” as Rick Warren said, and we feel disconnected from one another, celebrating Jesus’  birth unifies the church body both locally and at large. Despite not knowing the exact birthday of Jesus, we celebrate his birth on December 25th as has been Christian tradition for centuries. But what we can know is that Luke’s census is anything but helpful when trying to determine an exact year of Jesus’ birth. Divide that in half to get about 20 baby boys, give or take a few. Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter every year, but few know when Jesus was actually born and when he died. It could have been years. The miracle of Jesus’ birth wasn’t necessarily his birth. Answer for question: Your name: Answers. You might think that Jesus was born in the Year Zero--between 1 B.C. You often hear that Jesus was born around 6-7 B.C. Karl Rahner states that the authors of the gospels generally focused on theological elements rather than historical chronologies. Jesus was born approximately six months after the birth of his relative John (the Baptizer), during the rule of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus (31 B.C.E.–14 C.E.) We’re going to explore a lot of rabbit holes in this blog post. The Star of Bethlehem, Reneke told New Scientist, may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a … Selecting a new date for celebrating Christ’s birth would require massive adjustments at both commercial and institutional levels. John's father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah ( Luke 1:5 Luke 1:5 THERE was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the … He decided that Christ was born in AD1, and his system was adopted in Europe around 200 years later. But hey, speculating can be beneficial from time to time. Recent Comments Why would he tell us that small detail? Our year counting system was developed in the year 525 CE by Dionysius Exiguus. Here are three reasons why Jesus may not have been born on December 25 at all. There is alot of conjecture and debate as to the actual date. But that was fun. Is this a question we can even know the answer to?eval(ez_write_tag([[728,90],'biblology_com-medrectangle-3','ezslot_4',122,'0','0'])); To this day, Jesus’ actual date of birth remains unknown, despite numerous historic and scientific efforts. If that didn’t sound very confident, good. There is no definitive answer. The year Jesus was born is not given in the biblical account (Luke 2). But there are some hints that can get us going in the right direction. But not so fast. This was just a census of Judea. Nobody is really quite sure what Luke is doing here. Maybe that means we can get a more precise date for Jesus’ birth. Instead of starting with the exact date, let’s widen our scope a bit. John the Baptist’s preaching took place during “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius” (Luke 3:1). Unfortunately Matthew doesn’t tell us how long the young family lived in Egypt. Jesus (c. 4 BC – AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. So yes, no matter where you put the birth of Jesus, Augustus was the emperor. Flocks in the Fields. The events took place within living memory of the writers or their families, such as the reign of Herod during which time Matthew tells us Christ was born. 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