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Tuesday, 25 December 2018 17:36

Christmas history Part I: When was Jesus born?

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Christmas history Part I: When was Jesus born? Image from Pixabay

When was Jesus born? 

Why, Dec. 25 of Year One, you say? 


Well, you’re probably incorrect in that assumption. Actually, we really do not know for sure when Jesus was born. And no, there is no definitive date of the event anywhere in the Bible. So no one knows, but evidence and history would strongly suggest that the actual day and/or date of the birth of Jesus was probably not Dec. 25.  

To add to the confusion, we don’t even know the year — much less the month or the day — during which Mary gave birth to Jesus. We call our current year “2018 A.D.” (which represents the term “Anno Domini” or “Year of the Lord”) with the idea that Jesus was born 2,018 years ago.  

But that cannot be right. Biblical descriptions denote King Herod as being in power at the time, and being visited by the magi, but Herod died approximately four years prior to what we now denote as “Year One” (not only can there be no logical basis for a “Year Zero” but the number itself did not even exist as a mathematical entity at the time) so Jesus was probably born at least four years earlier (i.e., 4 B.C. [Before Christ]) than we have designated. (Consequently, if we are indeed dating the progression of years as beginning with the time in which Christ was born, we should actually be in Year 2022 rather than 2018.)

As is true with most historical scenarios, there are multiple factors that should be addressed when analyzing the reason(s) that we celebrate a birthday at a particular time without really knowing the day, the month, or even the actual year of such an event.

We owe it mostly to the Romans. While the official religious decree came from Pope Julius around 340, it was Rome’s first Christian emperor, Constantine, who had already denoted Dec. 25 as the date for honoring the birth of Jesus.

But why? There are, of course, multiple theories postulated to account for the determination of Dec. 25 to be the appropriate Christmas in the Christian world.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 December 2018 19:02
C.K. Craven

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