1 The Birth Date of Jesus and The Star of Bethlehem Anon #81
2 The Star of Bethlehem – How Bright? Anon #82
3 "SKYMAP" and the CHRISTMAS STAR Anon #88
4 Jesus' Date of Birth Query Malcolm #118
5 Jesus' Date of Birth Anon #119
6  Jesus Birth
L Eddie #153
7  Jesus Birth
Anon  #
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zachariah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:1-3)


(Investigator 153, 2013 November)

I refer to the interesting proposition in the letter, "Jesus born 43 BC", by Jean-Francois Morf in the January 2013 issue of the Investigator magazine. Because of the lack of reliable historical data in the Gospels, it is almost impossible to determine Jesus' date of birth; as Barnes (1948) stated, "The traditional date of the birth of Christ, commonly said to be due to a Scythian monk living at Rome in the sixth century of our era, is valueless." (The Rise of Christianity, pp 78-79)

However, despite the claims by Mr. Morf, the fact that there are Gospel references to individuals who are known to have lived during the first century C.E. suggests a birth date much later than 43 BC for Jesus. Although much of the narrative of the second chapter of Matthew is pure fiction, this does not invalidate the possible time-frame of the events.
According to Matthew (2:1-8) Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great and, to avoid his death, his parents fled with him to Egypt, (2:13). Later, Joseph was told by an angel, in a dream, that Herod had died (2:19-20) and it was now safe to return home. Then, warned by another dream, they "withdrew" to Galilee to avoid Judea which was being ruled by Herod Archelaus (2:22). The "flight" into Egypt is probably part of the later Jesus mythos, and while likely based upon the myth of Isis fleeing from Set with her child Horus, Matthew 2:1-8 certainly suggests an early tradition that Jesus was born circa 4 B.C.E. 

We know that Herod Antipater, (born circa 20 BCE), became the ruler, (tetrarch – "ruler of a quarter") of Galilee and Perea in 4 BCE after the death of his father, Herod the Great and remained in that position until his death in 39 C.E. Reinforcing the likelihood that Jesus lived during this period comes from Luke 3:1-2 which locates the beginning of Jesus' mission as occurring close to the first appearance of John the Baptist, a time when, "… Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas," 

Annas was a former High Priest, and although deposed in 15 C.E. retained much of his political power by manipulating his five sons and son-in-law Caiaphas. (Yosef Bar Kayafa), who served as High Priest from 18-36 C.E. 

Matthew 27:2 and Mark 15:1 claim that the Chief Priests and Elders delivered Jesus "…to Pilate the governor". Matthew 27:11-12, John 18-29-38 and Luke 23:1-4 provides a rather fanciful account of events including philosophical debate between Pilate and Jesus. While much of this was likely the product of the writers' vivid imagination the important fact is the mention of Pilate. We know from independent sources, (Josephus, Philo of Alexander and Roman records), that Pilate was the 5th Prefect (governor) of the Roman province of Judea from 26-36 C.E.

One would expect Jesus to have been about thirty years of age when he began his teaching mission for; at that time, thirty was commonly accepted by both Jews and Spartans to be the time when a male arrived at a man's estate. Furthermore if we can accept John 8:57 it would appear that although an adult, Jesus was "…not yet fifty years old". This, the fact that Caiaphas was High Priest from 18-36 C.E. and Pilate was the Prefect from 26-36 C.E. provides a reasonably reliable time-frame.

While much of the Gospel material is pure fiction, the fact that Pilate, Herod, Annas and Caiaphas are all named suggests these individuals were actually contemporaries of Jesus. The authors of the various Gospels could quite easily have chosen other well-known characters as being involved in the "trial" and sentencing of Jesus, however, the fact that these individuals are specifically mentioned suggests that the events leading to the execution of Jesus must have occurred circa 26-36 C.E. and, if so, this would negate the claims by Mr. Morf that Jesus was born in 43 BC, unless of course Jesus was between 69 and 79 years of age; it also suggests that Jesus did not die in 7 BC!

Mr. Morf appears to be emulating Immanuel Velikovsky in adopting a natural theological approach, attempting to distort fact and fiction to fit his beliefs. It is much more likely that the fantastic events surrounding the birth of Jesus are simply flights of fancy, created long after the death of Jesus. The tales about his virgin birth in Bethlehem, a special star, the wise men, the flight into Egypt, etc. all of which mimic the births of heathen demigods, would not have been known to his parents or early followers; even the writer of the Gospel of Mark, (circa 63 A.D.), appears to have been unaware of these events.

Laurie Eddie



(Investigator 154, 2014 January)

Mr Eddie (#153) expresses doubt regarding the year of Jesus' birth and year of death.

Both years can be calculated from the biblical text and supported with astronomy. I here summarize my previous articles:

Luke says that John the Baptist baptized Jesus when the latter was about 30 years old "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…" (Luke 3:1-3, 21-23) Tiberius became "Caesar" in CE 14; the fifteenth year of his reign was therefore CE 28-29 and Jesus' year of birth 2 BCE. With Jesus' ministry lasting 3 ½ years the crucifixion occurred CE 33.

A plausible "Star of Bethlehem" is the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter which occurred on June 17, 2 BCE. A previous conjunction when the "wise men" saw the Star "in the east" (Matthew 2:2) occurred August 12, 3 BCE. See details in Investigator 81; 88; 119; and 145.

Astronomer Duncan Steel (1999) writes: "Because Passover is at full moon, and the Crucifixion was on a Friday, only certain dates are feasible, 7 April in AD30 and 3 April in AD33 being the chief candidates…" Steel opts for AD 33.

The chief problem with CE 33, and hence Jesus' birth 33 1/2 years earlier, is that it doesn't fit with Herod's death in 4 BCE since Herod was still alive at Jesus' birth.

Steinmann (2009) argues that Josephus from whom Herod's year of death is calculated is misinterpreted and Herod may have died as late as 1 BCE.

The 4 BCE date has been accepted since the 19th century. There are other disagreements, however, in which the Bible seemed wrong for up to 3000 years before confirmed by science — therefore a misunderstanding lasting only centuries is nothing unusual.

Mr Eddie peppers his comments about the birth narratives with words like "fiction", "fanciful", "vivid imagination" and "flights of fancy". Yet those narratives include testable and confirmable history, prophecy and biology — see The Science of Original Sin in Investigator 140.


Steinmann, A. E.  Novum Testamentum Volume 51, Number 1, 2009, pp 1-29

Steel, D. 1999 Eclipse, Headline Publishing, London, p. 21.

Is it possible to preach the Bible and defend it when the audience includes skeptics and atheists?
Such an agenda is attempted by "Anonymous" in Investigator Magazine and on this website: