|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
The birth year of Jesus appears easy to calculate from the Bible:
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)
The same chapter says John the Baptist baptized Jesus when: "Jesus…was about thirty years of age." (3:23)
Tiberius was joint emperor with Augustus from 12 AD but reigned as "Caesar" from 14 AD. His "fifteenth year" would therefore end some time in 29 AD. Subtract the age of Jesus at baptism – about 30 years – gives 2 BC for Jesus' birth. (Note, there is no year "0".)
In 525 AD the monk Dionysius Exiguus (died 556 AD) calculated Jesus was born in 1 BC. This became the basis for dividing history into BC and AD.
however, rejects both 2 BC and 1 BC. The main reasons are:
no census in 2 BC
CHRISTMAS STAR THEORIES
Jesus' birth-year is connected to the identity of the "Star of Bethlehem" or "Christmas Star" that guided the "wise men" or "Magi" (probably astrologers) to Judea.
The two most popular explanations for the Christmas Star – other than the story being false – are planetary conjunctions and comets.
Florentine painter Giotto Ambroglio di Bondone (1266-1337) painted 38 frescoes in the Capella dell' Arena in Padua, Italy. "The Adoration of the Magi" painted in 1303 shows a comet above the nativity scene. Halley's comet had appeared in 1301 and was Giotto's inspiration. Four centuries later Edmund Halley (1656-1742) calculated that this comet returned every 76 years.
Halley's Comet neared the Earth in 12 BC. Jim Fleming, lecturer in historical geography at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, reasoned that the Magi saw the "star" twice, first in the east and later in the west when they reached Judea. Whenever Halley's Comet comes it appears twice – firstly as it approaches the Sun and secondly after going around the Sun. Furthermore, a census was ordered in 12 BC. Therefore, says Fleming, the Star of Bethlehem was Halley's Comet. (The Advertiser, December 21, 1985)
In 7 BC the planets Jupiter and Saturn performed a "celestial dance" in the constellation of Pisces. In May Jupiter, as viewed from Earth, passed Saturn. In October the Earth's motion made both planets seem to approach each other. In December the planets met again. The German astronomers Johann Kepler (1571-1630) and Christian Idele (19th century) considered these events the Star of Bethlehem.
Hughes, a planetary
scientist at Sheffield University, wrote:
Michael Molnar (1992) suggests the "Star" was a twice-over "lunar occultation of Jupiter" – meaning the Moon covered Jupiter. These happened in 6 BC on March 20 just after sunset and on April 17 before dawn. On both occasions the Moon was a crescent just above the horizon difficult to see. Jupiter was also on the horizon and probably invisible! Molnar argues that ancient astrologers were able to calculate the occurrence of non-visible astrological events. Marcus Chown (1995) calls this hypothesis the "invisible star of Bethlehem". Its main advantage is that 6 BC meshes with Herod killing the infants up to two years of age and himself dying in 4 BC.
In addition to Halley's Comet in 12 BC the Chinese recorded comets in 5 BC and 4 BC. Professor Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University advocates the 5 BC comet. It was observed for 70 days, Herod was still alive, and it's consistent with the census ordered by Caesar Augustus in 8 BC. (The Advertiser, November 2, 1991)
Venus and Jupiter are the two brightest objects in the night sky after the Moon. On August 12, 3 BC the two planets almost seemed to touch. And on June 17, 2 BC again – people in Babylon would have seen the two planets merge into one in the west toward Judea.
Supernova bright enough to be seen during the day occurred in 1006, 1054, 1572 and 1604. Some speculate that the Star of Bethlehem was a supernova – except there's no record of one at that time.
No widescale census involving the Jews during the period we're considering is known. An inscription discovered in Turkey in 1924 mentioned the census of 8 BC. That census, however, applied to Roman citizens and would not have involved the Jewish parents of Jesus. The RSV Bible, quoted above uses the word "enrolment" – does this help?
American Bible scholar Ernest Martin has identified a combined census and oath of allegiance to Caesar Augustus in 3 BC to 2 BC. This corresponded with the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome and with the 25th anniversary of the reign of Augustus. On February 5, 2 BC the Roman Senate bestowed on Augustus the title "pater patriae" (Father of the Country). Bestowal of this title may be connected to the census/oath of that year. (Pratt 1990)
The Jewish historian Josephus Flavius (37-95AD) is a major source of the history of the Jews. He wrote Wars of the Jews and Antiquities of the Jews. Josephus records that 6,000 Pharisees refused to pledge their good will to Caesar a year before Herod died. (Antiquities XVII 4/4) This refusal may also refer to the census/oath of 2 BC – except for the problem of Herod dying in 4 BC.
problem is that Luke
2:1-3 says the enrolment occurred when "Quirinius was governor of
But Roman records mention Quirinius as governor in 6-9 AD!
scholarly debate suggests that Quirinius was governor or joint governor
on an earlier occasion in the BC period. The Lapis Tiburtinus
found in Rome 1764 AD mentions a Roman who became governor twice in
Unfortunately the inscription is damaged and the man's name is
missing – but
most scholars believe it refers to Quirinius.
HEROD'S DEATH AND THE LUNAR ECLIPSE
Herod's death is usually put at 4 BC, sometimes 3 BC.
In 40/39 BC Rome appointed Herod tretrarch (tributary king) of Judea. Herod's reign can also be counted from 37 BC when he took Jerusalem and had the previous king, Antigonus, executed: "…he died…having reigned, since he had procured Antigonus to be slain, thirty-four years; but since he had been declared king by the Romans, thirty seven." (Antiquities XVII 8:1; Wars I 33:8)
This suggests Herod died in 3 BC.
(1990) queries why
both periods – 40 BC and 37 BC – are mentioned because otherwise
reference point is 37 BC:
Pratt (1990) speculates that Josephus used a source that said Herod reigned 37 years without stating the starting point. Josephus also knew that Herod's sons (Archelaus, Antipas and Philip) reckoned their reigns as starting in 4 BC or 3 BC. And indeed ancient coins have been found suggesting this is when their reigns started. Josephus therefore counted back 37 years from 4 BC or 3 BC but this did not give him his normal reference point of 37 BC. To make his history consistent he assumed the 37 years started in 40 BC and he added mention of the 34 years to avoid ambiguity.
Pratt further argues that another son was co-regent with Herod for several years but died prior to Herod. The brothers may have antedated their reigns to the date of their brother's death – and Josephus did not know this. In other words Josephus should have counted 37 years from 37 BC to Herod's death not from 40 BC.
A different possibility is that Josephus counted the reign of each new king of Judea from the start of the Jewish new-year – the month Nisan (March/April). In other words Herod might have reigned for almost a year without this time being counted as part of the 37 years or the 34 years. This argument would put Herod's death in 2 BC or early in 1 BC.
Another consideration is the lunar eclipse. Josephus in 700 pages mentions only one lunar eclipse – which occurred shortly before Herod's death. (Antiquities XVII 6/4) Partial lunar eclipses visible in Palestine occur almost every year – but total eclipses are rare.
Astronomers calculate that lunar eclipses occurred:
problem with 4 BC eclipse
as the one before Herod's death is that Josephus records too many
from the eclipse to the Passover festival. In 4 BC this was 29
The January 10, 1 BC, eclipse was a total eclipse whereas the others were partial. This eclipse would allow about three months until the Passover for the above-listed events to occur. This also fits with a Jewish tradition that Herod died in the month of Shebat – January/February.
Another problem is Josephus says that when Herod died the governor of Syria was Varus – and coins have been found showing Varus as governor in 4 BC. However, Pratt (1990) cites other evidence suggesting Varus was governor twice, the second appointment being in 1 BC.
died in 1 BC what
was the Star of Bethlehem?
Today we distinguish stars which are self-luminous from planets which reflect light. In ancient times both were called "stars" but planets were also "wandering stars". In Jude 13, for example, false Christians are compared to "wandering stars".
In the Bible book of Revelation, Venus is a symbol of Jesus: "I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star." (22:16)
Venus can be either the "morning star" or "evening star" depending on its position in its orbit. (Tauber 1979) Is Revelation 22:16 a hint to the Star of Bethlehem?
Leake (1996) reports:
It's now known that on August 12, 3 BC the two brightest planets in our Solar System, Venus and Jupiter, approached each other – 4.3 arcseconds apart – so that they almost seemed to touch. Ten months later, on June 17, 2 BC Venus and Jupiter approached each other again so close – 0.5 arcseconds apart – that to the naked eye they merged into one "star". (Bidelman 1991) To astrologers this would be very significant.
appeared twice –
before the Magi set out and again when they arrived. The evidence is
if the 3 BC conjunction of Venus and Jupiter motivated the Magi to
their journey at the end of which they saw the same "star" again in
Was Jesus then born in June 2 BC? The Magi probably considered the first Venus/Jupiter conjunction as indicating the conception of the new king and the second his birth or recent birth. It's often argued that the Magi arrived some time after his birth because:
Luke tells of the shepherds who visited Jesus at his birth and also of Jesus taken to Jerusalem for a ceremony that occurred 40 days after birth. (2:22-24) Therefore Joseph and Mary may have stayed in Bethlehem at least 40 days. Matthew tells of the Star and the Magi and that Joseph and Mary then took Jesus to Egypt.
killing of older
babies could have been his way of making sure Jesus was included.
he was uncertain whether the first conjunction indicated the conception
or birth of Jesus.
THE STAR "CAME TO REST"
pointed the Magi
to Judea – that's as precise as it initially got. They then visited
and asked: "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?" Herod in
asked his priests and scribes and they quoted the Old Testament:
sent the Magi to Bethlehem
to find "the child":
argue that a star
or planet cannot "rest over" any one house or even over any one
The phrase "when they saw" suggests the Magi did not see the "star" continuously – they saw it intermittently. This would be the case if there were clouds that night. Also the Bible does not state for how long the Star "came to rest" – Berman assumes the entire night whereas the Bible doesn't say.
Christmas Eve 2000 AD
slow clouds hung over Adelaide, South Australia. I observed a bright
apparently resting over the area a little north of my home. The
resulted from the star being surrounded by almost stationary clouds.
the clouds been thicker and the houses more spaced the star might have
appeared to rest over one particular house.
above analysis Herod
died early in 1 BC about two years later than commonly accepted. The
and oath of 2 BC may be the "enrolment" referred to by Luke. Jesus,
was born in 2 BC and the Star of Bethlehem was a twice-over meeting of
Venus and Jupiter ten months apart. Luke's statement that Jesus was
30 years old "in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar"
the correct and simple answer all along.
B Discover, December
1990, pp 78-79
Bidelman, W P Planetarium, Volume 20, No. 3, September 1991
Chester, C Imprimis, Volume 22, No. 12, December 1993
Chown, M New Scientist, 23/30 December, 1995, pp 34-35
Federer, C A Sky & Telescope, Volume 36, 1968, p.396
Henbest, N New Scientist, 19/26 December, 1992, pp 29-31
Hughes, D Nature, Volume 264, 1976, pp 513-517
------------- 1979 The Star of Bethlehem Mystery, Dent & Sons
------------- New Scientist, 25 December 1999/1 January 2000, p. 82
Jenkins, R & Simpson, J New Scientist, 27 June, 1985, pp 50-53
Josephus Complete Works, Translated by W Whiston, Kregel Publications
Kidger, M 1999 The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomer's View, Princeton University
Leak, J The Australian, December 10, 1996, p. 11
Martin, E 1991 The Star that Astonished the World, ASK Publications
Matthews, M The Advertiser, December 23, 1993, p. 12
Molnar, M R Sky & Telescope, Volume 83, January 1992, pp 37-39
Molnar, M 1999 The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi, Rutgers University
Moore, P Astronomy Now, December 1989, pp 18-20
Pratt, J P Planetarium, Volume 19, No. 4, December 1990, pp 8-14
Tauber, G E Man's View of the Universe, Crown Publishers, p. 47
Thomas, S The Advertiser, December 25, 1997, p. 23.
In my "Star of Bethlehem" article I wrote: "Venus and Jupiter are the two brightest objects in the night sky after the Moon." (#81 p. 20)
textbooks give the
"apparent magnitude", or maximum brightness as observed from Earth, of
objects as follows:
|Sun -26.6||Capella +0.09|
|Full Moon -12.5||Rigel +0.15|
|Venus -4||Procyon +0.37|
|Jupiter -2||Achernar +0.53|
|Sirius -1.4||Beta Centauri +0.66|
|Canopus -0.7||Betelguese +0.7|
|Alpha Centauri -0.3||Altair +0.80|
|Arcturus 0.00||Aldebaran +0.85|
|Vega +0.04||Acrux +0.87|
A difference in magnitude of 1 between two stars means one star is 2.51 times as bright as the other. Jupiter (the second brightest planet) beats Sirius (the brightest star).
Supernovae (caused when stars blow apart) of 1054 and 1572 AD were visible during the day and so were brighter than Sirius, Jupiter or Venus.
G E Tauber (Man's View of the Universe, 1979) assigns the supernova of 1572 a magnitude of –4. Hence, the conjunctions of Venus and Jupiter in 3 BC and 2 BC – my interpretation of the Star of Bethlehem – may have been comparable to this supernova.
The computer program "SKYMAP" confirms some of the Christmas Star information I supplied in Investigator 81.
I argued in #81 that the Star of Bethlehem was a twice-over conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter – occurring August 12, 3 BC and June 17, 2 BC.
Venus and Jupiter are the two brightest objects in the night sky after the Moon. Their conjunction – or apparent joining together as viewed from Earth – would look spectacular compared to the usual night sky, besides being a significant event to astrologers.
SKYMAP supplies diagrams of the sky, as seen from almost any country on Earth, for any date and time between 4000 BC and 8000 AD. The software also gives the rising and setting times for Sun, Moon and planets for any day one chooses.
The "wise men" – more likely astrologers – stated, "For we have seen his star in the east." (Matthew 2:2)
SKYMAP shows that on August 12, 3 BC, Venus and Jupiter rose together – so close they seemed joined – in the east. In Iraq they were 4o above the horizon at 4am and 19o above the horizon at 5.17am at which time sunrise started. These times and altitudes varied slightly from country to country. The conjunction, however, was visible to the east, wherever clouds or mountains didn't obscure it, for about an hour before sunrise throughout the ancient world from Morocco to China.
There was no interference from moonlight that morning as the Moon, on that day, rose at 6.34 and set at 19.38 (7.38 pm).
The theory is that this 3 BC Venus/Jupiter conjunction motivated the "wise men" to head for Israel. As astrologers they would have calculated that Venus and Jupiter would meet again ten months later but in the west rather than the east – and after sunset rather than before sunrise.
What, then, happened at the second conjunction – June 17, 2 BC?
lists the following "Daily Phenomena" for June 17, 2 BC in Jerusalem:
King Herod's priests, according to the Bible, consulted the Old Testament and the astrologers were pointed to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem and only slightly westwards. A star in the western sky therefore could not point out Bethlehem to someone heading south.
This problem is answered if the "wise men" did not follow the road all the way to Bethlehem but turned eastwards off the road and then, after sunset, headed directly west to Bethlehem. Jupiter and Venus would then have dominated the western night sky in front of them for two hours while the full Moon rose behind them. The Bible description – "the star which they had seen in the East went before them" (Matthew 2:9) – would be literally accurate.
The next statement "it came to rest over the place where the child was" can be explained if there were some slow-moving or stationary clouds that night. If the clouds were right then, for perhaps half an hour, Venus and Jupiter might seem to point to Bethlehem. This effect would be strengthened psychologically by the expectation the "wise men" had.
In 3 BC Venus was the "morning star" and the morning star is, in the Bible, a symbol of Jesus. (Revelation 22:16) In 2 BC Venus was the evening star.
June 17, 2 BC was not, however, the birth-date of Jesus even if the above-discussed scenario is correct. The Bible suggests Jesus was taken to Jerusalem for a religious ceremony forty days after his birth. Yet Joseph and Mary also took Jesus to Egypt after the "wise men" visited. This can be harmonised if the visit of the "wise men" on June 17 was forty or more days after Jesus' birth.
also The Birth Date of
Jesus and the Star of Bethlehem (Investigator 81).
The writer of "THE BIRTH DATE OF JESUS" (#81) calculated Jesus' year of birth from him being 30 years old in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius.
He forgot that Tiberius' reign began on 19th AUGUST A.D. 14, and added a full 15 years and arrived at 29 A.D., then added 3½ years of Jesus' Ministry and arrived at A.D. 33 for Jesus' death. Therefore when counting backwards 33½ years he arrived at 2 B.C.
A.D. 29 would be when Tiberius' 15th year finished – NOT when it began. He should have realised that the 15th year of reign began on 19th August A.D. 28 and sometime thereafter Jesus turned 30.
Should Dr. Martin be correct that Jesus was born in September, then in September A.D. 28 Jesus would have turned 30 after August 19 in the same year, and would be logically in Tiberius 15th year of reign.
Three and a half years of Ministry would take us to PASSOVER A.D. 32 with Christ's death. Counting backwards 33½ years takes us to B.C. 3 probably in September.
Calculating the figures the way Investigator did IS NOT WHAT SCRIPTURE IMPLIES – FOR IT SAYS IN THE 15th YEAR, NOT WHEN IT WAS COMPLETED!
From Flavius Josephus' Antiquities, it has been traditionally inferred that Herod died at the end of March 4 B.C. David. W. Beyer in "Josephus Re-Examined" (1998) presents NEW EVIDENCE corroborating the date of Herod's death as 1 B.C. The primary reason given is a false printer typesetting of the Manuscript. "Antiquities" was messed up in the year 1544.
Every Josephus manuscript, found in libraries, before the 1544 printing supports that King Herod died in 1 B.C.
Jesus have been born
in September 3 B.C. with Herod's death late January 1 B.C. the time
is about 15 months.
There seems NO LOGICAL REASON why King Herod killed children TWO YEARS of age unless concluding that Jesus could have been already 12-15 months old.
I calculated Jesus' birth date in Investigator by subtracting 30 from the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. The 15th year, as Malcolm (#118 p. 5) notes, began in August 28 AD and finished in August 29 AD.
I did not distinguish "15 years" and "15th year" i.e. cardinal and ordinal numbers in #81 since the Bible does not specify the month. So I provisionally assumed mid year.
The 15th year marked when the ministry of John the Baptist began (Luke 3:2), not Jesus' ministry.
John was about 6 months older than Jesus (Luke 1:26). Therefore Jesus' ministry may have begun 6 months after John's. Jesus was also tempted for 40 days in Judea. Walking to and from Judea might involve 10-15 days.
All this suggests 29 AD.
Jesus began his ministry
he was "about thirty". (Luke 3:23) The Greek hosei occurs 34
in the New Testament and when used with numbers means "about":
There was a census in 2 BC which could be the census mentioned in Luke 2:1 that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem.
All this fitted with the Star of Bethlehem being the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter on June 17, 2 BC.
Jesus was born at least 40 days before the "star" and the "three wise men" arrived. (Luke 2:22-24)
A further way to lock in the above dates might be to note that Jesus was crucified prior to a "high Sabbath" (John 19:31), which was when a regular Sabbath and Passover coincided. Perhaps astronomy can calculate which year in the 30s of the 1st century this happened. Then we would subtract 3½ years, and 30 years.
Placing Jesus' birth in 2 BC requires that Herod be alive until 2 BC whereas historians put his death in 4 BC. I answered this by demonstrating that the 1st century historian Josephus probably made a mistake. (#81)
Malcolm cites Josephus Re-examined (D. W. Beyer 1998) and says that 4 BC came from a mistake in the typesetting of the manuscript in 1544 AD and correct is 1 BC. That's interesting!
(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.
(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.