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Q: historical (in)accuracies ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   7 Comments )
Subject: historical (in)accuracies
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: hairyram-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 25 Aug 2004 23:25 PDT
Expires: 24 Sep 2004 23:25 PDT
Question ID: 392765
What was Jesus Christ's real birthday/date of birth?  (Many know that it wasn't
Dec.25th; I have heard that it may be March 25th.)  Please help!
Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
Answered By: till-ga on 26 Aug 2004 01:13 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
It will definitely not be possible to find out the real birthdate of
Jesus Christ. Itīs - to make things even worse - not even possible to
find out the exact year. Some sources state 6 B.C.E. others 4 B.C.E .
Thereīs more confusion and opinions than real facts.

"According to a Roman almanac, the Christian festival of Christmas was
celebrated in Rome by AD 336. In the eastern part of the Roman Empire,
however, a festival on January 6 commemorated the manifestation of God
in both the birth and the baptism ofJesus, except in Jerusalem, where
only the birth was celebrated. During the 4th centurythe celebration
of Christ's birth on December 25 was gradually adopted by most Eastern
churches. In Jerusalem, opposition to Christmas lasted longer, but it
was subsequently accepted. In the Armenian Church, a Christmas on
December 25 was never accepted; Christ's birth is celebrated on
January 6. After Christmas was established in the East, the baptism of
Jesus was celebrated on Epiphany, January 6. In the West, however,
Epiphany was the day on which the visit of the Magi to the infant
Jesus was celebrated.
The reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains
uncertain,but most probably the reason is that early Christians wished
the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the
?birthday of the unconquered sun? (natalis solis invicti); this
festival celebrated the winter solstice, when the days again begin to
lengthen and the sun begins to climb higher in the sky. The
traditional customs connected with Christmas have accordingly
developed from several sources as a result of the coincidence of the
celebration of the birth of Christ with the pagan agricultural and
solar observances at midwinter. In the Roman world the Saturnalia
(December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchange of gifts.
December 25 was also regarded as the birth date of the Iranian mystery
god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness. On the Roman New Year (January
1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were
given to children and the poor. To these observances were added the
German and Celtic Yule rites when the Teutonic tribes penetrated into
Gaul, Britain, and central Europe. Food and good fellowship, the Yule
log and Yule cakes, greenery and fir trees, and gifts and greetings
all commemorated different aspects of this festive season. Fires and
lights, symbols of warmth and lastinglife, have always been associated
with the winter festival, both pagan and Christian. Since the European
Middle Ages, evergreens, as symbols of survival, have been associated
with Christmas. Christmas is traditionally regarded as the festival of
the family and of children, under the name of whose patron, Saint
Nicholas (q.v.), or Santa Claus, presents are exchanged in many

There are almost no reliable historic sources as The Synoptic Gospels
are not written history:

"The Synoptic Gospels, then, are the primary sources for knowledge of
the historical Jesus. They are not, however, the equivalent of an
academic biography of a recent historical figure; instead, the
Synoptic Gospels are theological documents that provide information
the authors regarded as necessary for the religious development of the
Christian communities in which they worked. The details of Jesus'
daily life are almost entirely lacking, as are such important features
as his education, travel, and other developmental experiences. The
characters on the whole are ?flat?: emotions, motives, and
personalities are seldom mentioned. There are, nevertheless, a few
exceptions that show how little is actually known. Peter wavers
(Matthew 14:28?31; Mark 14:66?72); James and John ask for preferential
treatment in the coming kingdom (Mark10:35?40); and Pilate anguishes
over the decision to execute Jesus (Matthew 27:15?23; Luke 23:2?25).
On the other hand, the Pharisees and scribes periodically challenge
Jesus and then disappear, with little indication of what, from their
point of view, they hoped to accomplish. Even Jesus is a rather flat
character in the Gospels. He is sometimes angry and sometimes
compassionate (Mark 3:5; 6:34, respectively), but one can say little
more. This is a frustrating aspect of the Gospels. The situation is
different with regard to Paul, whose letters are extant and
self-revelatory. The force of his personality is in the letters, but
the force of Jesus' personality must be found somewhere behind the

both quotes from:
( The Encyclopedia Britannica CD Rom Edition 2003 )

As expected there is similar uncertainty in another source:

"The early Christians revered Dionysus's birthday as Jesus's birthday
(Christmas) and the three-day Spring festival of Dionysus roughly
coincides with Easter. Jews had their own version of this festival
(the "therapeutae") since at least the year 10 (it is reported by
Philo of Alexandria), which is 23 years before the crucifixion of
Jesus (Armenians still celebrate the birthday of Jesus on january 6)."
( )

Thereīs another source that considers "most likely" the month March
B.C.E. 6 as the month and year:

"On what date was Jesus born?
There are three basic references to the year and the month of the
birth of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, the apostles tell of the
Magi following the star from the east, and the shepherds with their
flock out in the fields. The third reference comes from the dating of
the founding of Rome.

The Magi
The Magi were astrologers and probably came from Persia or southern
Arabia. They are believed to be linked with the priesthood of
Zoroastrianism, who practised astrology. The 5th Century BC historian
Herodotus attested to the astrological prowess of the priests of
Persia. (The Bible does not give the number of magi that visited
Jesus. The number of three was derived from the three (types of) gifts
they presented.) Which star did the Magi follow?
In ancient astrology, the giant planet Jupiter was styled as the
King's Planet, representing the highest god and ruler of the universe:
Marduk to the Babylonians; Zeus to the Greeks; Jupiter to the Romans.
The ringed planet Saturn was deemed the shield of Palestine, while the
constellation of Pisces, which was also associated with Syria and
Palestine, represented epochal events. Jupiter encountering Saturn in
Pisces would have meant that a divine and cosmic ruler was to appear
in Palestine.
The astronomer Kepler noted in the early 17th century that every 805
years, Jupiter and Saturn come into conjunction, with Mars joining the
configuration a year later. Since Kepler, astronomers have computed
that for ten months in 7BC, Jupiter and Saturn travelled very close to
each other in the night sky, and in May, September, and December of
that year, they were conjoined. Mars joined the configuration in
February of 6BC.
The Chinese had more exact and more complete astronomical records than
the astrologers of the Middle East, particularly in their tabulations
of comets and novae. In 1871, astronomer John Williams published an
authoritative list of comets derived from Chinese annuals. Over March
and April 5BC, Comet No. 52 on the Williams list appeared for some 70
days near the constellation Capricorn, and would have been visible in
both the Far and Middle East. As each night wore on, the comet would
seem to have moved westward across the southern sky. This could have
been the Magi's astral marker. Comet No. 53 on the Williams list is a
tailless comet - which could have been a nova - that appeared over
March and April in 4BC in constellation Aquila, which was also visible
all over the East.
The star that the Magi followed - the Star of Bethlehem - could be any
of the astral markers that appeared in 6, 5 and 4BC.
The shepherds
Luke 2: 8: "And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by,
keeping watch over their flocks at night."
In Palestine - as in the rest of the Middle East at the time -
shepherds stayed with their flocks in the fields only from Spring to
Autumn. They brought their sheep in during the winter to protect them
from the cold and rain. It is thus unlikely that the shepherds went to
Bethlehem in December.
The Bible does not mention the celebration of Christ's birthday, and
the early Christians seem not to have celebrated His birthday.
However, to avoid persecution, they would hang holly on their doors
during December just as the Roman pagans did for Saturnalia, their
feasts honouring their god of harvest. Likewise, in September, during
the Jewish Feast of Trumpets (modern-day Rosh Hashanah), they would
borrow some of the custom to protect themselves, carrying on with
their own customs behind closed doors. This added to the speculation
that early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ in September. It
is noted that Jerusalem swelled from about 100,000 people to over 1
million during the Feast of the Trumpets, which meant that there would
have been little room at the inns of Jerusalem and the surrounding
The dating of the founding of Rome
In the 6th Century, the Roman monk-mathematician-astronomer named
Dionysis Exeguus (Dionysis the Little) reformed the calendar to pivot
around the birth of Christ. He dated the Nativity 753 years from the
founding of Rome, calculated to the date King Herod died. But Dionysis
miscalculated, because Herod died only 749 years after the founding of
Rome, thus 4BC.
Herod, who ordered all the babies in Bethlehem younger than 2 years
killed, was, of course, alive when the Magi visited the baby Jesus. So
we know that Jesus was born in or before 4BC, as astronomers point out
when referring to the Star of Bethlehem.
Early Christian appear not to have celebrated the birth of Christ. In
fact, Christmas became widely popular only in the 19th Century.
Christmas today
The reference to the birth of Jesus "two thousand years ago" is wrong
in two ways: a. there was no year 0, thus we have had only 1998 years
since Dionysis (incorrectly) calculated the year of the Nativity. b.
Dionysis's calculation was off by at least 5 years, as mentioned
In the year 274AD, solstice fell on 25th December, and Roman Emperor
Aurelian proclaimed the date as "Natalis Solis Invicti," the festival
of the birth of the invincible sun. In 320 AD, Pope Julius I specified
the 25th of December as the official date of the birth of Jesus
Christ. In 325AD, Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman
emperor, introduced Christmas as an immovable feast on 25 December. In
354AD, Bishop Liberius of Rome officially ordered his members to
celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December.
In some parts of the Roman Empire (mostly the Eastern parts), solstice
was celebrated on 6 January, the last festival day for those who
started solstice on 25 December. (Saturnalia was held over 12 days.)
The Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe celebrate Christmas on 6

Merry Christmas!
The most likely year that Jesus was born, is 6BC, probably in the
month of March. There was no year 0 (zero) recorded, so the 2nd
millennium celebration of the birth of Jesus should have been held in
March 1995. But considering that Nativity was not celebrated at all
for the first 300-or-so years, and that Christmas became widely
popular only in the 19th Century, it remains remarkable that the
birthday of Jesus Christ today is one of the biggest industries in the
world. A rather apt acknowledgement."
( )

None of the many sources I examined states exact dates or years as
they simply do not exist.

I hope this helps to solve your problem.


Search strategy:
( ://
hairyram-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
thank you, thank you, thank you!  that's what i call real research.

Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
From: pugwashjw-ga on 26 Aug 2004 01:33 PDT
Based on Bible scriptures, it could not have been December 25th. At
that time, in Jerusalem, and being in the northern hemisphere, it is
mid winter. Jerusalem does experience very cold weather, even snow.
The scripture at Luke 2;8 states " There were also in that same
country shepherds living out of doors  and keeping watches in the
night over their flocks". They proceeded straight to Bethlehem where
they found Mary. It must have been summer or spring as it was common
practice in those days to keep livestock protected from the weather in
a lower part of the house. Further to this, the Bible says Jesus
preached for three and a half years and there are a number of
prophecies stating this time period. If you count back the three and a
half from the accepted "Easter" period, March/April, the result is
October. October is Spring in Jerusalem, so it fits.
Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
From: gareththewormevans-ga on 26 Aug 2004 04:55 PDT
Correct me if I'm wrong, but surely they didn't use the same calendars
as we do 2000 years ago in Bethlehem!
Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
From: ac67-ga on 26 Aug 2004 07:01 PDT
If December is winter in Jerusalem, how can October be spring in Jerusalem?
Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
From: till-ga on 26 Aug 2004 13:43 PDT
Thank you for your nice words, the excellent rating and of course for the tip.

Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
From: samuelb-ga on 26 Aug 2004 16:41 PDT

The city of Jerusalem is located in the northern hemisphere of the
Earth. Common wisdom says that Autumn goes in the northern hemisphere
from September 22nd to December 21st (astronomically this dates could
vary by 1 or even to days). Anyway, the conclusion is that October in
Jerusalem and its surroundings is Autumn, not Spring.

Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
From: neilzero-ga on 26 Aug 2004 17:53 PDT
I agree, October likely was never Spring in the Northern hemisphere.
The Mormon Church = The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
has revelation that the Savor's birthday was April 6 th, but the exact
year is unknown. Nearly all Mormons celebrate Dec 25 th anyway. We
have our annual conference in early April each year.
 Leap year has been adjusted, and several other calander adjustments
have been made in the last 2000 years, so both the date and year are
subjective.  Neil
Subject: Re: historical (in)accuracies
From: hairyram-ga on 28 Aug 2004 07:28 PDT
Till,  my pleasure.  And thanks to all the other human beings
everwilling to help out... :-)  If there's more you'd like to share,
please don't be shy!

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