Skip to comments.When was Christ born?
Posted on 12/04/2008 7:15:40 AM PST by meandog
In holiday season many Christians have been merrily, joyously, and some perhaps even seriously, solemnly, and reverently, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. However, one wonders how many gave any significant thought to the issue of when was Christ born. If they had they would quickly have discovered that despite all thy mythology and legend that surrounds this holiday season, we really do not know when Christ was born. We know neither the year, nor the month, nor the day. For that matter we dont know the time of day either. God in his wisdom has chosen not to reveal to us anything concerning the exact date of this momentous event so long foretold by the prophets and awaited by the faithful. That should teach us something about the wisdom of even having such a holiday season when God in his wisdom has denied us the information that is absolutely necessary as a foundation for it. The purpose of this article is not to develop that thought, but to establish what the Scriptures do teach about the timing of Christs birth, about the date of the incarnation.
Let us begin by examining the sacred record of Christs birth as recorded in the Scriptures. While the Scriptures give us no definitive dates, there are a number of clues that point as to the time of year that Christ must have been born. Lukes account of the nativity of our Lord is the most detailed and almost all these clues are found in his gospel. We will develop a number of these clues and see where they lead us
(Excerpt) Read more at americanpresbyterianchurch.org ...
On Christmas Day. By definition.
Around the end of September, beginning of October.
To me the only thing that matters is THAT He was born.
Which brings me to one of my hobby horses:
We already agree that our calendar is wrong, off by anywhere from 2 to 16 years, depending on who’s doing the reckoning, and further in error because of the absence of a year zero.
The more fundamental point is that God did not intend us to mark His years by the birth of Jesus.
If He had intended this we would have a Biblical fixing of the date.
Further, the day of Jesus’ birth is unremarkable as all men are born.
However, very few return from the dead, that event is remarkable, and it is the defining moment of Christianity, the very moment of proof that his sacrifice was not in vain. And the Bible gives a precise reference for when this happened!
Clearly this was the date the calendar was supposed to start!
For extra points, this makes our calendar off by anywhere from 17 to 30 years. That makes this something like Holy Year 1991 to Holy Year 1978, giving us anywhere from 9 to 22 years to get our affairs in order before the real end of the millennium...
A few years before Strom Thurmond.
That is my understanding as well.
I’ll read it all later but seems a leap to assume that the conception of John was within one month of the announcement. I can see it now, Z coming back and writing it all out for his wife and she says, “hey old man, you want what? Get out of here.” It would take him at least a month to talk her into sex. Then even with divine assistance, a couple of months isn’t unusual for getting those juices started. Just saying. In the “manner of women?” I read more into that than the author.
> Around the end of September, beginning of October.
I share this opinion.
I base it on counting backwards 33 1/2 years from His crucifiction.
However, this means Jesus was probably CONCEIVED near the end of December.
When does life begin?
Probably late spring early summer.
When does life begin?
Which millenium would that be?
Good point...but I also believe that it is impossible to dispute the opinion of the early Church as to exactly when he was born. Astronomical records point to a winter sky (perhaps Halley's comet) for the "star" and, besides, even if he were indeed born in late autumn wouldn't it reason that the Maji would have arrived in Bethlehem sometime in December?
The Church celebrates the Annunciation on March 25. This is when Jesus came to earth.
We should celebrate that.
it is really only important that he was born, but, for trivia folks: 11 September 3 BC at about 7pm
When one collates the Biblical references avaiable, it lists some very, very specific signs in the sky concerning the Moon’s location in Virgo, etc, etc which actually pins it to within an hour, bracketed by Herod’s death tied to a lunar eclipse, etc, etc. The information available in the Bible gets quite explicit. Just need some advanced, computer based astronomy and there you are.
He was born on the Festival of Trumpets. After 40 days, Mary’s purification and the Jesus’ dedication was on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and of course his cruxification was on Passover. Interesting how some many key factets of his life work on key Jewish calendar holidays.
Must be coincidences? hmmm
According to some, August 4, 1961.
By the time the Maji arrived, Jesus was already a “young child” and living in a “house” with his parents, not a babe in a manger.
See Matthew 2:11
Actually, we do know the time of year He was born, and we've got a good idea of the day. Luke gives us the clue we need (Zechariah's priestly order) to know the time of John's conception (mid-summer) with just a bit of study in the Judaica, and tells us point blank that Yeshua's conception was six months later. It should also be noted that John, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, was probably born on Passover, the time of year when we set out a cup for Elijah in the expectation of his reappearance.
We do know for a fact that Yeshua was not born in December, because it rains, sleets, and snows in the Judean mountains during the winter months, so the sheep of Bethlehem would have been closed up in pens, not out in the fields with their shepherds.
Roman law was a bit fluid about when to collect taxes, especially if a census was involved, because they had to allow time for individuals to travel. In this case, registration may have been due by January, but there's no reason why Joseph and Mary, on their way to Jerusalem for Sukkot, wouldn't have stopped off in Bethlehem to register on their way (Bethlehem being only six miles south) to get it over with instead of traveling during the rainy season three months later.
Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, makes sense as the birth-date: It is the most joyful of the Feasts, and has the theme of celebrating God dwelling with His people. Tradition tells us that the construction of the Tabernacle began on Sukkot, and 2Chr 5:3 tells us that the inauguration of the First Temple, when the Divine Presence came to dwell in it, took place on Sukkot. It lasts for eight days (really, seven plus a bonus day), which would neatly correspond with Yeshua's birth and circumcision on the eighth day.
And finally, there was absolutely zero reason for the very-pregnant Mary to travel along with Joseph if they were only going for secular tax registration. On the other hand, if the event coincided with a pilgrimage Feast, it makes sense that the Messiah's earthly parents would want to be extra-scrupulous in observing all the Feasts.
While I can't say with 100% certainty that Yeshua was born on Sukkot, I can say with 100% certainty that He wasn't born on Christmas, which was originally a pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice. He was probably conceived close to what is now Christmas, however, which may be why the early Church began adopting and altering that holiday.
00/00/00 (they weren’t Y2K compliant back then
Probably in April. “Shepherds tending their flocks by night” Shepherds were not in the fields in winter time!
I've thought that April 1st would be His birthday and since Satan hates God so much, we call it April Fools day!!
I'll investigate further.
Ah, yes the annual When Was Christ Born thread!
September 11 3BC between 6-730 am I believe.
So he’s hiding his birth certificate out of humility, eh?
Doh! I was 12 hours off...just plain forgot I guess!
Well how can there be a birth certificate if he was born in a manger?
Maybe another reason there isn’t an ‘original’ hospital copy.
Of course, since there were only 24 orders, that meant that each served twice a year on opposite ends. So Zachariah would have also served about six weeks after Sukkot before returning, potentially pushing John's birth to early- or mid-winter.
The reason I believe the first option has to do with the significances of the Feasts. It makes far more sense for John to have been born at Passover (when expectations for the coming of Elijah are at their highest) and Yeshua on Sukkot (when we celebrate the building of the Tabernacle and Temple and God dwelling with His people) than the other way around.
Feast of Booths also called the Feast of Tabernacles. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, In the Greek dwelt is Strong's G4637 - skēnoō
There is a hint(Remez) in John 1:14 shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
and dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory,
glory as of the only begotten
from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
1) to fix one's tabernacle,
have one's tabernacle,
abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle
2) to dwell
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh,
In the Greek dwelt is
Strong's G4637 - skēnoō
It can be determined by finding out when Zachariah was doing his priestly duties in the temple. It was the "course of Abia" Luke 1:5-8. Now Elizabeth got preggers then and 6 months later, Mary got pregnant. 9 months later Jesus was born. Through a long and intricate study, we find when the course of Abia, or "Abija" in some translations, was,( in the OT), and add 15 months you get Tabernacles.
Now that is just facts we can deduce from the Bible.
In the symbolic realm, Tabernacles celebrates the "Light Of the World". A pole has swaddling cloth wrapped at the top dipped in oil and is lit. The priest declares "Behold the Light of the World", as he points to the lit pole in the courtyard. Tabernacles is the only Jewish Feast for the whole world. Jesus came for the whole world. All others are for Jews only. In John 1, we see the Word was in the beginning, the Word was with God and the Word was God, clearly meaning Jesus. In verse 14 we see, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." The word "dwelt" there is actually the word "tabernacled", and is the only time in the Bible it is used in that fashion. There are many more reasons to believe Jesus came to us on Tabernacles, but these are the most convincing. Each time a Temple or Tabernacle was built for God to "dwell" with His people, it was dedicated on Tabernacles.
On a side note, you hear many Christians and Jews talking today about rebuilding a new Temple on the Temple Mount. If that temple is built it will be for or by the Antichrist. Revelations tells us that the Second Coming of Christ will be the New Temple building time. Jesus will first re establish the Sabbath on Saturday, and bring with Him the plans for the New Temple.
First of all, I marvel at the attention this gets every year, because Christmas is a feast day, it’s not an exercise in historical precision. If you didn’t know the day a child was born (say they were adopted from another country), you’d pick a day and celebrate that. The point is to set aside time for a commemoration, and if you fixate on the calendar date you’ve already lost the whole point.
Second of all, I am not a little bemused by all of the modern theorists who posit this reason or that reason why the date is not the day we commemorate. It’s all pure speculation, and the fact that a hundred different individuals come up with a hundred different dates tells me that we have no compelling reason to overturn the traditional date.
Thirdly, some of the Church Fathers said in the 4th century that the date had been established by the Roman Church *on the basis of the Roman census records*. The census records were kept in Rome and were quite familiar to the early Christians (Tertullian mentions them I believe); it is therefore entirely possible that the traditional date is based on historic documentation.
Also, I hear these theories about Dec. 25th being an originally pagan festival. What people fail to realize is that paganism at this late date (and even as early as the gnostics) was a complete mish mash and borrowed from Christianity as well as other religions. Gods that were widely worshipped in 300 A.D. could well have been completely unknown to the Augustan Age. Unless evidence is found that the festival/cult in question *predated* Christianity, then it could just as easily have been pagans coopting the date from Christians and not the other way around. Or just pure coincidence. At any rate, the earliest source of the date that I know of (from the 4th century) has BOTH the pagan feast day and Christmas on December 25th. It’s somewhat speculative which came first, but I’ll side with Christianity on this one.
Oh... you meant the FIRST Christ?
Ultimately we will never really know exactly when our Lord was born. And that does not matter because we really do not need to know. If we needed to know God in his goodness and wisdom would have caused the inspired authors of the gospels to record that information. And if God had intended that his church celebrate the birth of his Son he most certainly would have both provided the necessary information and instructed us to do so. Jesus was the King of the Jews. The Jews did not celebrate their birthdays, not even the birthdays of their kings. The only birthdays recorded in the Bible are the birthdays of Pharaoh and of Herod, the Edomite. Both these recorded birthdays were celebrated with bloody cruelty, with Pharaohs baker being hung and John the Baptist being decapitated. The Bible does not give us much incentive to celebrate birthdays and no instructions or examples to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, The King of the Jews.
What the Bible does clearly teach is that Christ was born in the fall and not on December 25th. The latter date was the great pagan holy day of the ancient world. It was the birthday of the sun god, when at the winter solstice, the sun that had been in decline grew stronger again and regained new life. It was Baals birthday. It was Tammuz birthday. To the Romans it was the birthday of the invincible sun. God has given us just enough information for his purposes. He has not given us enough information to determine the exact date of Christs birth and thus be able to institute on mere human authority a celebration of his birth. He has also given us enough information to clearly demonstrate that Christ was not born at the time of the winter solstice and thus show us that participating in pagan traditions and resurrecting pagan festivals on the basis of a pretended birth of Christ at that time of year is totally without foundation or merit. God in his wisdom has given us the information that we need. May we have the wisdom to walk according to that knowledge and depart from evil.
Probably in April. “Shepherds tending their flocks by night” Shepherds were not in the fields in winter time!
You forgot about Daylight Savings Time, didn't you???
Christmas is not Christ’s birthday.
It’s the day we celebrate his birth.
Amen. But not the ONLY thing; not only WAS He born, but he died and rose again; the most singular and unique event of all history.
I'm just joyful that Jesus came to save my life. Hallelujah.
It is my learned opinion that Jesus Christ was born on His birthday, in the year He was born.
It doesn’t matter. If it did God would have told us.
Alfred Edersheim accepts the traditional date based on the following historical evidence:
At the outset it must be admitted, that absolute certainty is impossible as to the exact date of Christs Nativity - the precise year even, and still more the month and the day. But in regard to the year, we possess such data as to invest it with such probability, as almost to amount to certainty. ...
6. Lastly, we reach the same goal if we follow the historically somewhat uncertain guidance of the date of the Birth of the Baptist, as furnished in this notice (St. Luke i. 5) of his annunication to his father, that Zacharias officiated in the Temple as on of the course of Abia (see here vol. i. p. 135). In Taan. 29 a we have the notice, with which that of Josephus agrees (War vi. 4. 1. 5), that at the time of the destruction of the Temple the course of Jehoiarib, which was the first of the priestly courses, was on duty. That was on the 9-10 Ab of the year 823 A.U.C., or the 5th August of the year 70 of our era. If this calculation be correct (of which, however, we cannot feel quite sure), then counting the courses of priests backwards, the course of Abia would, in the year 748 A.U.C. (the year before the birth of Christ) have been on duty from the 2nd to the 9th of October. This also would place the birth of Christ in the end of December of the following year (749), taking the expression sixth month in St. Luke i. 26, 36, in the sense of the running month (from the 5th to the 6th month, comp. St. Luke i. 24). But we repeat that absolute reliance cannot be placed on such calculations, at least so far as regards month and day. (Comp. here generally Wieseler, Synopse, and his Beiträge.) (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix VII.)
Monday, Sept 16, -5 Julian calendar
On his birthday, of course! ;-P
Seriously, I was always struck by the high school planetarium trip where they discussed the historical trail of evidence that he was actually born in June. The December holiday was supposedly chosen so that the christian celebration of Christ’s birth would go unnoticed due to the drunken festival of the Romans.
But, because I’m getting old (LOL), I have to admit the details on their evidence is pretty fuzzy at this point.
It also doesn't get around the issue of the fact that the sheep and their shepherds weren't still out in the field come December due to it being Israel's rainy season, and being pretty darn cold up in the mountains. To quote Adam Clark:
It was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts [wilderness], about the passover [sic], and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As the passover [sic] occurred in the spring, and the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole of the summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light on this disputed point. (Clarke's Commentary, vol. V, p. 370)Shalom.
What’s your source on the wrapping of the pole? I like that, but I’ve never seen it before.