Birth of Jesus
Nativity by Robert Campin (c. 1420), depicting the birth of Jesus Christ during Spring
Date6 to 4 BC

The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical sources, but most biblical scholars generally accept a date of birth between 6 BC and 4 BC, the year in which King Herod died.[1][2][3] The historical evidence is too incomplete to allow a definitive dating,[4] but the year is estimated through three different approaches:

The common Christian traditional dating of the birthdate of Jesus was 25 December, a date first asserted officially by Pope Julius I in 350 AD, although this claim is dubious or otherwise unfounded.[7] The day or season has been estimated by various methods, including the description of shepherds watching over their sheep.[2]

Year of birth

Nativity accounts

The nativity accounts in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke do not mention a date or time of year for the birth of Jesus.[a] Karl Rahner states that the authors of the gospels generally focused on theological elements rather than historical chronologies.[3]

Both Luke and Matthew associate Jesus' birth with the time of Herod the Great.[3] Matthew 2:1 states that "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king". He also implies that Jesus could have been as much as two years old at the time of the visit of the Magi, because Herod ordered the murder of all boys up to the age of two years (Massacre of the Innocents), "in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi" Matthew 2:16.[8] In addition, if the phrase "about 30" in Luke 3:23 is interpreted to mean 32 years old, this could fit a date of birth just within the reign of Herod, who died in 4 BC according to most scholars.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Luke 1:5 mentions the reign of Herod shortly before the birth of Jesus.[2] This Herod died in 4 BC. Luke 2:1-2 also places the birth during a census decreed by Caesar Augustus, when Quirinius was governing Judah. Some interpreters of Luke determine that this was the Census of Quirinius, which the Jewish historian Josephus described as taking place circa AD 6 in his book Antiquities of the Jews (written c. AD 93),[3] by indicating that Cyrenius/Quirinius began to be the governor of Syria in AD 6 and a census took place during his tenure sometime between AD 6–7.[b][15][16][c] Since Herod died a decade before this census, most scholars Luke 2:1-2 and generally accept a date of birth between 6 and 4 BC.[1][2][3] On the other hand, a census was not a unique event in the Roman Empire. For example, Tertullian argued that a number of censuses were performed throughout the Roman world under Sentius Saturninus at the same time.[16][15][17] Some biblical scholars and commentators believe the two accounts can be harmonized,[18][19] arguing that the text in Luke can be read as "registration before (πρώτη) Quirinius was governor of Syria", i.e., that Luke was actually referring to a completely different census, though this understanding of the Greek word has been rejected by scholars.[d]

Other gospel evidence

Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees, by James Tissot, c. 1890

Another approach to estimating the year of birth is based on an attempt to work backwards from the point when Jesus began preaching, using the statement in Luke 3:23 that he was "about 30 years of age" at that time.[20] Jesus began to preach after being baptized by John the Baptist, and based on Luke's gospel John only began baptizing people in "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (Luke 3:1–2), which scholars estimate would place the year at about AD 28–29.[20][21][22][23][24] By working backwards from this, it would appear that Jesus was probably born no later than 1 BC.[5][20][23] Another theory is that Herod's death was as late as after the January eclipse of 1 BC[25] or even AD 1[26] after the eclipse that occurred in 1 December BC.[27]

Luke's date is independently confirmed by John's reference in John 2:20 to the Temple being in its 46th year of construction when Jesus began his ministry during Passover, which corresponds to around 27–29 AD according to scholarly estimates.[28]

Theories based on the Star of Bethlehem

Most scholars regard the Star of Bethlehem account to be a pious fiction, of literary and theological value, rather than historical. Nonetheless, attempts have been made to interpret it as an astronomical event, which might then help date Jesus' birth through the use of ancient astronomical records, or modern astronomical calculations. The first such attempt was made by Johannes Kepler who interpreted the account to describe a great conjunction.[citation needed]

Other astronomical events have been considered, including a close planetary conjunction between Venus and Jupiter in 2 BC.[29]

Date of Herod's death

Most scholars concerning the date of Herod's death follow Emil Schürer's calculations published in 1896, which revised a traditional death date of 1 BC to 4 BC.[30][31][32][33][34] Two of Herod's sons, Archelaus and Philip the Tetrarch, dated their rule from 4 BC,[35] though Archelaus apparently held royal authority during Herod's lifetime.[36] Philip's reign would last for 37 years, until his death in the traditionally accepted 20th year of Tiberius (AD 34), which implies his accession as 4 BC.[37]

In 1998, David Beyer published that the oldest Latin manuscripts of Josephus’s Antiquities have the death of Philip in the 22nd year of Tiberius (and not the 20th year, as shown in later editions of the Antiquities). In the British Library, there is not a single manuscript prior to AD 1544 that has the traditionally accepted 20th year of Tiberius for the death of Philip. This evidence removes the main obstacle for a later date of 1 BC for the death of Herod.[38] Beyer's arguments have been questioned by Raymond Jachowski, who argued that Beyer only used ill-attested Latin translations instead of the original Greek manuscripts, some of which date to the 13th and 11 centuries.[39]

Nevertheless, other scholars also support the traditional date of 1 BC for Herod's death,[40][41][42][43] and argue that his heirs backdated their reigns to 4 or 3 BC to assert an overlapping with Herod's rule and bolster their own legitimacy, something that had already been done by a few rulers before them.[38][32][44][31]

According to Dionysius Exiguus: the Anno Domini system

The Anno Domini dating system was devised in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus to enumerate the years in his Easter table. His system was to replace the Diocletian era that had been used in older Easter tables, as he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians.[45] The last year of the old table, Diocletian Anno Martyrium 247, was immediately followed by the first year of his table, Anno Domini 532. When Dionysius devised his table, Julian calendar years were identified by naming the consuls who held office that year — Dionysius himself stated that the "present year" was "the consulship of Probus Junior", which was 525 years "since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ".[46] Thus, Dionysius implied that Jesus' incarnation occurred 525 years earlier, without stating the specific year during which his birth or conception occurred. "However, nowhere in his exposition of his table does Dionysius relate his epoch to any other dating system, whether consulate, Olympiad, year of the world, or regnal year of Augustus; much less does he explain or justify the underlying date."[47]

Bonnie J. Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens briefly present arguments for 2 BC, 1 BC, or AD 1 as the year Dionysius intended for the Nativity or Incarnation. Among the sources of confusion are:[48]

It is not known how Dionysius established the year of Jesus's birth. One major theory is that Dionysius based his calculation on the Gospel of Luke, which states that Jesus was "about thirty years old" shortly after "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (AD 28/29), and hence subtracted thirty years from that date, or that Dionysius counted back 532 years from the first year of his new table.[49][50][51] This method was probably the one used by ancient historians such as Tertullian, Eusebius or Epiphanius, all of whom agree that Jesus was born in 2 BC,[38] probably following this statement of Jesus' age (i.e. substracting thirty years to AD 29).[52] Alternatively, Dionysius may have used an earlier unknown source. The Chronograph of 354 states that Jesus was born during the consulship of Caesar and Paullus (AD 1), but the logic behind this is also unknown.[51]

It has also been speculated by Georges Declercq[53] that Dionysius' desire to replace Diocletian years with a calendar based on the incarnation of Christ was intended to prevent people from believing the imminent end of the world. At the time, it was believed by some that the resurrection of the dead and end of the world would occur 500 years after the birth of Jesus. The old Anno Mundi calendar theoretically commenced with the creation of the world based on information in the Old Testament. It was believed that, based on the Anno Mundi calendar, Jesus was born in the year 5500 (5500 years after the world was created) with the year 6000 of the Anno Mundi calendar marking the end of the world.[54][55] Anno Mundi 6000 (approximately AD 500) was thus equated with the end of the world[56] but this date had already passed in the time of Dionysius. The "Historia Brittonum" attributed to Nennius written in the 9th century makes extensive use of the Anno Passionis (AP) dating system which was in common use as well as the newer AD dating system. The AP dating system took its start from 'The Year of The Passion'. It is generally accepted by experts there is a 27-year difference between AP and AD reference.[57]

Pope Benedictus XVI states that Dionysius Exiguus committed an error.[58][59]

According to Jewish sources

Yeshu in Jewish scholarly sources is speculated by researchers as a reference to Jesus as in Hebrew the word "Yeshu" is used to refer to Jesus and also there are similarities between Talmud Yeshu and Christian Jesus.[60][61] However this fact is disputed, as Yeshu also can mean "may his name and memory be blotted out", probably used as a Damnatio memoriae to censor certain names.[62] Talmud claims that Yeshu lived around the reign of Alexander Jannaeus who lived from 100 BC to 76 BC and since Sanhedrin 107b and Sotah 47a depicts Yeshu taking refuge in Egypt during 88-76 BC persecution of Pharisees, it can be assumed the Talmudic Yeshu was born before 88 BC and after 100 BC. Chagigah 2:2 also depicts Yeshu in same position however claims that Yeshu became an apostate during the refuge in Egypt.[citation needed]

This Talmudic Jewish claim that Yeshu was born before 88 BC and after 100 BC during life of Alexander Jannaeus of Hasmonean dynasty (conflicting with the account that he lived during era of Pontius Pilate, which is sourced from traditional Christian, Josephus and Tacitus) is also repeated in Jewish 11th century medieval tract Toledot Yeshu[63][64] which implies that this belief was alive among at least a number of Jews during these times. Baring-Gould (page 71) notes that, although the Wagenseil version named the Queen as Helene, she is also expressly described as the widow of Alexander Jannaeus, who died BC 76, and whose widow was named Salome Alexandra and she died in BC 67. Yeshu in Toledot Yeshu is Jesus himself and there is no possibility that he is another person named Yeshu because the tract is formed as a response to the claims of gospels. It was widely circulated in Europe and the Middle East in the medieval period as a Jewish response to Christian account.[65][66] Yemenite edition of this tract, which is named "Episode of Jesus", repeats the same claim about the date when Yeshu lived.[citation needed]

However, scholarly consensus generally sees the Toledot Yeshu as an unreliable source for the historical Jesus.[e]

Day and season

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, Govert Flinck, 1639. The presence of the shepherds is important in determining the date of Jesus's birth.

Despite the modern celebration of Christmas in December, neither the Gospel of Luke nor Gospel of Matthew mention a season for Jesus' birth. Scholarly arguments have been made regarding whether shepherds would have been grazing their flock during the winter, with some scholars challenging a winter birth for Jesus,[68] and some defending the idea by citing the mildness of winters in Judea and rabbinic rules regarding sheep near Bethlehem before February.[2][69][70]

Adam C. English, professor of religion at Campbell University, argues for the veracity of December 25 as Jesus's date of birth.[71] English assumes that Zechariah's ministry in the Temple, as described in Luke 1:5–23, took place on Yom Kippur the year before Jesus's birth; he then traces Luke's narrative through the Annunciation and the birth of John the Baptist to conclude that the Nativity occurred on December 25.

Alexander Murray of History Today argues that the celebration of Christmas as the birth day of Jesus is based on a date of a pagan feast rather than historical analysis.[72] Saturnalia, the Roman feast for Saturn, was associated with the winter solstice. But Saturnalia was held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities only up through 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn and in the Roman Forum, as well as a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms. The Roman festival of Natalis Solis Invicti has also been suggested, since it was celebrated on 25 December and was associated with some prominent emperors.[73][74] It is likely that such a Christian feast was chosen for Christ's marked contrast and triumph over paganism; indeed, new converts who attempted to introduce pagan elements into the Christian celebrations were sharply rebuked.[75]

Alternatively, 25 December may have been selected owing to its proximity to the winter solstice because of its symbolic theological significance.[76] After the solstice, the days begin to lengthen with longer hours of sunlight, which Christians see as representing the Light of Christ entering the world. This symbolism applies equally to the celebration of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on 24 June, near the summer solstice, based on John's remark about Jesus that "He must increase; I must decrease." (John 3:30).[77]

In the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Lord's Day (Sunday) was the earliest Christian celebration and included a number of theological themes. In the 2nd century, the Resurrection of Jesus became a separate feast (now called Easter) and in the same century Epiphany began to be celebrated in the Eastern Churches on 6 January.[78] The festival of the Nativity which later turned into Christmas was a 4th-century feast in the Western Church notably in Rome and North Africa, although it is uncertain exactly where and when it was first celebrated.[79]

The earliest source stating 25 December as the date of birth of Jesus is likely a book by Hippolytus of Rome, written in the early 3rd century.[80] He based his view on the assumption that the conception of Jesus took place at the Spring equinox which Hippolytus placed on 25 March, and then added nine months to calculate the date of birth. That date was then used for the Christmas celebration.[81] 25 March would also roughly be the date of his crucifixion, which ancient Christians would have seen as confirming the date of his birth, since many people of that era held the belief that the great prophets were conceived into the afterlife on the same date they were conceived into the world.[citation needed] Ignacio L. Götz suggests that Jesus could have been born "in the late spring of the year because pregnancies began in the fall after the harvests were in and there was enough money for a wedding feast."[82] John Chrysostom argued for a 25 December date in the late 4th century, basing his argument on the assumption that the offering of incense mentioned in Luke 1:8–11 refers to the offering of incense by a high priest on Yom Kippur (early October), and, as above, counting fifteen months forward. However, this was very likely a retrospective justification of a choice already made rather than a genuine attempt to derive the correct birth date.[83] John Chrysostom also writes in his homily on the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Εἰς τὸ γενέθλιον τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡµῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ) that the date of 25 December was well known from the beginning among Westerners.[84]

Other sources stating 25 December as the date of Jesus are:

Lastly, 25 December might be a reference to the date of the Feast of Dedication, which occurs on 25 Kislev of the Jewish calendar. This would require that early Christians simply translated Kislev directly to December.[citation needed]

Research done by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints generally places the birth of Jesus at some point in early to mid April.[86] This research is motivated by a revelation from LDS founder Joseph Smith, which can be read to suggest that 6 April is the birth date of Jesus.[87] September or late March have been suggested by theologian, biblical scholar and author Ian Paul.[88]

Islamic view

In the hadith compilation Tuhaf al-Uqul, the sixth imam, Jafar As Sadiq says the following when approached about the birth of Christ during Christmas: "They have lied. Rather, it was in the middle of June. The day and night become even [equal] in the middle of March". This statement of his does not literally mean it was on 15 June but it is in reference to a day near the spring equinox.[89]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Rahner 1975, p. 731 states that the gospels do not, in general, provide enough details of dates to satisfy the demands of modern historians. Most mainline scholars do not see the Luke and Matthew nativity stories as historically factual; Marcus Borg in Borg & Wright 2009, p. 179 states "I (and most mainline scholars) do not see these stories as historically factual." Funk & Jesus Seminar 1998, p. 499 state, "There is very little in the two infancy narratives that reflects historical reminiscence." For this reason, they do not consider them a reliable method for determining Jesus' date of birth. See also Sanders 1993, pp. 85–88
  2. ^ Josephus 1854, Book 18, Chapters 1–2 indicates that the census under Cyrenius (another form of the name "Quirinius") occurred in the 37th year after Octavian's (i.e., Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus') victory over Marcus Antonius at the Battle of Actium, which secular historical records date to 2 September 31 BC. Therefore 31 BC + 37 years which is AD 6–7. Most scholars therefore believe Luke made an error when referring to the census.(Archer 1982, p. 366)
  3. ^ Brown 1978, p. 17 notes that "most critical scholars acknowledge a confusion and misdating on Luke's part". See for example, Dunn 2003, p. 344 Similarly, Gruen 1996, p. 157, Vermes 2006, p. 96, Davies & Sanders 1984, Brown 1977, p. 554, Harvey 2004, p. 221, Meier 1991, p. 213, Millar 1990, pp. 355–381 and A. N. Sherwin-White, pp. 166, 167.[full citation needed]
  4. ^ In the words of Vermes 2006, pp. 28–30 these arguments have been rejected by the mainstream as "exegetical acrobatics", springing from the assumption that the Bible is inerrant,(Novak 2001, pp. 296–297) and most scholars have concluded that Luke's account is an error.(Brown 1978, p. 17)
  5. ^ According to Van Voorst, "It may contain a few older traditions from ancient Jewish polemics against Christians, but we learn nothing new or significant from it". However, Jane Schaberg contends that the Toledot lends weight to the theory that Mary conceived Jesus as the result of being raped.[67]
  6. ^ Translation: He [Evodius] says the period from the nativity of Christ unto the passing of the mother of God was forty-four years; but the whole of her life, fifty-nine years. This sum obtains if it was in fact the case that she was presented at the temple when she was three years old and there in the holy precincts spent eleven years. Then, by the priest’s hands was placed in the custody of Joseph, with whom she resided four months when she received the joyful announcement from the angel Gabriel. However, she gave birth to the Light of this World, the twenty-fifth day of the month of December, being fifteen years of age.
  7. ^ ut Theophilus indicat: Quid nobis necesse est ad lunae computum cum Iudaeis Pascha facere? Quin sicut Domini natalem, quocunque die VIII Calendarum Ianuarii venerit; ita et VIII Calendarum Aprilis, quando resurrectio accidit, Christi debemus Pascha celebrare.

Citations

  1. ^ a b Dunn 2003, p. 344.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Niswonger 1992, p. 121–124.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rahner 1975, p. 731.
  4. ^ Doggett 2006, p. 579.
  5. ^ a b Maier 1989, pp. 113–129.
  6. ^ Molnar 1999, p. 104.
  7. ^ Pearse 2018.
  8. ^ Freed 2001, p. 119.
  9. ^ Barnes 1968, pp. 204–209.
  10. ^ Bernegger 1983, pp. 526–531.
  11. ^ Gelb 2013, p. 140.
  12. ^ Martin 1989, pp. 93–94.
  13. ^ Schürer, Vermès & Millar 1973, p. 328.
  14. ^ Steinmann 2009, pp. 1–29.
  15. ^ a b Kokkinos 1989, pp. 133–165.
  16. ^ a b Evans 1973, pp. 24–39.
  17. ^ Rhees 2007, Section 54.
  18. ^ Archer 1982, p. 366.
  19. ^ Bruce 1984, pp. 87–88.
  20. ^ a b c Köstenberger, Kellum & Quarles 2009, p. 114.
  21. ^ Freedman & Myers 2000, p. 249.
  22. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 67–69.
  23. ^ a b Novak 2001, pp. 302–303.
  24. ^ Hoehner 1977, pp. 29–37.
  25. ^ Revillo, Juan, & Keyser, John. "Did Herod the 'Great' Really Die in 4 BC?". Hope of Israel Ministries.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Where Was Jesus Born?". Koinonia House.
  27. ^ Pratt, John. "Yet Another Eclipse for Herod". International Planetarium Society.
  28. ^ Scarola 1998, pp. 61–81.
  29. ^ Mosley, J. (1981). "Common Errors in 'Star of Bethlehem' Planetarium Shows". The Planetarian (Third Quarter).
  30. ^ Schürer, Emil. A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, 5 vols. New York, Scribner's, 1896.
  31. ^ a b Marshall, Taylor. The Eternal City (Dallas: St. John, 2012), pp. 35–65.
  32. ^ a b Steinmann, Andrew. From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), pp. 235–238.
  33. ^ Barnes, Timothy David. "The Date of Herod's Death," Journal of Theological Studies ns 19 (1968), 204–219
  34. ^ Bernegger, P. M. "Affirmation of Herod's Death in 4 B.C.", Journal of Theological Studies ns 34 (1983), 526–531.
  35. ^ Josephus, Wars, 1.631–632.
  36. ^ Josephus, Wars, 2.26.
  37. ^ Hoehner, Harold. Herod Antipas, (Zondervan, 1980) p. 251.
  38. ^ a b c Beyer, David (1998). "Josephus Reexamined: Unraveling the Twenty-Second Year of Tiberius". In Vardaman, Jerry (ed.). Chronos, Kairos, Christos II: Chronological, Nativity, and Religious Studies in Memory of Ray Summers. Mercer University Press. pp. 85–96. ISBN 978-0-86554-582-3.
  39. ^ Jachowski, Raymond J. (2015). "The Death of Herod the Great and the Latin Josephus: Re-Examining the Twenty-Second Year of Tiberius". Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism. 11: 9–18.
  40. ^ Edwards, Ormond. "Herodian Chronology", Palestine Exploration Quarterly 114 (1982) 29–42
  41. ^ Keresztes, Paul. Imperial Rome and the Christians: From Herod the Great to About 200 AD (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1989), pp.1–43.
  42. ^ Vardaman, Jerry; Yamauchi, Edwin M., eds. (1989). "The Nativity and Herod's Death". Chronos, Kairos, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies Presented to Jack Finegan: 85–92.
  43. ^ Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Rev. ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998) 300, §516.
  44. ^ Filmer, W. E. "Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great", Journal of Theological Studies ns 17 (1966), 283–298.
  45. ^ Blackburn & Holford-Strevens 2003, p. 767.
  46. ^ Nineteen year cycle of Dionysius Introduction and First Argumentum.
  47. ^ Blackburn & Holford-Strevens 2003, p. 778.
  48. ^ Blackburn & Holford-Strevens 2003, pp. 778–79.
  49. ^ Teres, Gustav (October 1984). "Time computations and Dionysius Exiguus". Journal for the History of Astronomy. 15 (3): 177–88. Bibcode:1984JHA....15..177T. doi:10.1177/002182868401500302. S2CID 117094612.
  50. ^ Tøndering, Claus, The Calendar FAQ: Counting years Archived 24 September 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  51. ^ a b Mosshammer, Alden A (2009). The Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era. Oxford. pp. 319–56. ISBN 978-0191562365.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  52. ^ Finegan, Jack (2015). The Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Hendrickson Publishers. p. 345. ISBN 978-1-61970-641-5.
  53. ^ Declercq, Georges(2000). "Anno Domini. The Origins of the Christian Era" Turnhout, Belgium,[page needed]
  54. ^ Wallraff, Martin: Julius Africanus und die Christliche Weltchronik. Walter de Gruyter, 2006
  55. ^ Mosshammer, Alden A. (2009). The Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era. Oxford University Press, pp. 254, 270, 328
  56. ^ Declercq, Georges (2000). Anno Domini. The Origins of the Christian Era. Turnhout Belgium.[page needed]
  57. ^ Halsall, Guy (2013). Worlds of Arthur: Facts & Fictions of The Dark Ages. Oxford University Press, pp 194 - 200
  58. ^ Pollak, Sorcha (22 November 2012). "Pope Benedict Disputes Jesus' Date of Birth". TIME.com. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  59. ^ Pope Benedict XVI (2012). Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 61–62. ISBN 978-1-4081-9454-6. Retrieved 9 August 2023. is therefore to be placed a few years earlier
  60. ^ Ilan, Tal (2002). Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part I: Palestine 330 BCE–200 CE (Texte und Studien zum Antiken Judentum 91). Tübingen, Germany: J.C.B. Mohr. p. 129.
  61. ^ Stern, David (1992). Jewish New Testament Commentary. Clarksville, Maryland: Jewish New Testament Publications. pp. 4–5.
  62. ^ Howard, George, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, Mercer University Press, 1998. Howard cites Krauss, Das Leben Jesu, p 68
  63. ^ In 1903, G.R.S. Mead, a well known Theosophist, published Did Jesus Live 100 BC?, which treated the Toledot Yeshu as sufficiently authentic and reliable to postulate, on the basis of its mention of historic figures such as Queen Helene, that Jesus actually lived a century earlier than commonly believed.
  64. ^ Mead, George R.S., Did Jesus Live 100 BC? (1903, London, Theosophical Publ'g Society) 440 pages, the Toledoth text (primarily from Strassburg ms) on pages 258-280; https://archive.org/details/didjesuslive100b00meaduoft .
  65. ^ Robert E. Van Voorst. Jesus outside the New Testament. 2000 ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. p. 124. "This is likely an inference from the Talmud and other Jewish usage, where Jesus is called Yeshu, and other Jews with the same name are called by the fuller name Yehoshua, "Joshua"
  66. ^ Schäfer, Peter (2002). Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah. Princeton University Press. pp. 211f. ISBN 0-691-09068-8.
  67. ^ See Van Voorst, op. cit.
  68. ^ "When was Jesus born?". Bibleinfo.com. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  69. ^ Morris 1988, p. 93.
  70. ^ Freed 2001, pp. 136–137.
  71. ^ English, Adam C. (14 October 2016). Christmas: Theological Anticipations. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-1-4982-3933-2. First, we should examine the biblical evidence regarding the timing of the conception. … The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, husband of Elizabeth and father of John the Baptizer, on the day he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense (Luke 1:9) Zechariah belonged to the tribe of Levi, the one tribe especially selected by the Lord to serve as priests. Not restricted to any one tribal territory, the Levite priests dispersed throughout the land of Israel. Nevertheless, many chose to live near Jerusalem in order to fulfill duties in the Temple, just like Zechariah who resided at nearby Ein Karem. Lots were cast regularly to decide any number of priestly duties: preparing the altar, making the sacrifice, cleaning the ashes, burning the morning or evening incense. Yet, given the drama of the event, it would seem that he entered the Temple sanctuary on the highest and holiest day of the year, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. There, beside the altar of the Lord, a radiant angel gave news of the child to be born to Elizabeth. The date reckoned for this occurrence is September 24, based on computations from the Jewish calendar in accordance with Leviticus 23 regarding the Day of Atonement. According to Luke 1:26, Gabriel's annunciation to Mary took place in the "sixth month" of Elizabeth's pregnancy. That is, Mary conceives six months after Elizabeth. Luke repeats the uniqueness of the timing in verse 36. Counting six months from September 24 we arrive at March 25, the most likely date for the annunciation and conception of Mary. Nine months hence takes us to December 25, which turns out to be a surprisingly reasonable date for the birthday. … In Palestine, the months of November mark the rainy season, the only time of the year sheep might find fresh green grass to graze. During the other ten months of the year, animals must content themselves on dry straw. So, the suggestion that shepherds might have stayed out in the fields with their flocks in late December, at the peak of the rainy season, is not only reasonable, it is most certain.
  72. ^ Murray, Alexander, "Medieval Christmas" Archived 13 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine, History Today, December 1986, 36 (12), pp. 31–39.
  73. ^ Bishop Jacob Bar-Salabi (cited in Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Ramsay MacMullen. Yale:1997, p. 155)
  74. ^ Hyden, Marc (20 December 2021). "Merry Christmas, Saturnalia or festival of Sol Invictus?". Newnan Times-Herald. Retrieved 17 February 2023. Around 274 ADᵃ, Emperor Aurelian set December 25—the winter solstice at the time—for the celebration of Sol Invictus who was the 'Unconquered Sun' god. 'A marginal note on a manuscript of the writings of the Syriac biblical commentator Dionysius bar-Salibi states that in ancient times the Christmas holiday was actually shifted from January 6 to December 25 so that it fell on the same date as the pagan Sol Invictus holiday,' reads an excerpt from Biblical Archaeology. / Could early Christians have chosen December 25 to coincide with this holiday? 'The first celebration of Christmas observed by the Roman church in the West is presumed to date to [336 AD],' per the Encyclopedia Romanaᵃ, long after Aurelian established Sol Invictus' festival.
    (a) "Sol Invictus and Christmas". Encyclopaedia Romana.
  75. ^ Talley 1991, p. 88-91.
  76. ^ "Sol Invictus and Christmas". Encyclopaedia Romana. Retrieved 17 February 2023. In the Julian calendar, December 25 marked the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, after which the days begin to lengthen….
  77. ^ "Why do we celebrate Jesus' birth on December 25? - Catholic Answers". www.catholic.com.
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Further reading