A merry Christmas to all of you, especially those who intend to get annoyed by the end of this article.
For while we are busy turning (practically) this world upside down because of December 25 Christmas Day, some scholars are bursting out laughing. The truth is that Jesus was NOT born on December 25, 0001AD at midnight.
Actually, the time, date and the year of Jesusâ€™ birth are unknown and, on the present evidence, unknowable. The earliest gospel, Mark, skips it.
Later Gospels of Matthew and Luke, wrote extensively about it but contradict each other in important particulars and offer little to base any dependable argument on.
But scholars have sank their teeth in this issue to come up with several dates none of which so absolute. Perhaps the closest to the truth is September 11.
First, let us see why December 25 does not even come closer to Jesusâ€™ birthday. Winter Biblical sources say:
as the shepherds were out in the fields, watching over their flock by nightâ€¦December is winter time in Israel and those who know winter will ascertain that no Jew (those animal loving sub nomads) would permit flock out on a winter night.
Even the census mentioned during Jesusâ€™ birth would have been impossible in winter: it would have been an unimaginable mistake to put a whole population in motion.
According to Sara Ruhin, the 1990 chief of the Israeli weather service, the temperature in the area of Bethlehem in December averages around 7 degrees Celsius (Uganda is 28oC on average) but can drop to well below freezing, especially at night.
That area has three months of frost: December with an average of -1.6 C.; January with -1.1 C. and February with 0 C. Snow is common for two or three days in Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem in December and January.
These were the winter months when the roads are unusable and people stayed mostly indoors.
King Herod All Gospels agree that Jesus was born in the reign of Herod the Great. But Roman records show this Herod to have died in 4 BC, four years before the purported birth year of Christ.
The census The Gospel of Luke talks of Caesar Augustus' decree for census while Quirinius was governor of Syria (Lk 2: 1-3). But while the first ever census among the Jews was during Quirinius governorship, this could not have happened until at least 6A.D, the first year that Judea came under direct Roman rule.
The star Matthewâ€™s Gospel refers to an unusual star, which hung over Bethlehem at the time. On December 17, 1603, a German astronomer, John Kepler observed a striking conjunction of the planets Saturn and Jupiter in constellation Pisces and calculated that a similar conjunction must have occurred in 7 BC. Could this have been the star Matthew talked about?
Seventy nine years later, an English astronomer Edmund Halley discovered the comet (which now bears his name) and referred to it as the star of Bethlehem. But the most coincidental of its periodic flypasts nearest to the time of Jesusâ€™ birth was calculated to have occurred in 12 BC!
Most recently, British astronomers, David Clark of the Royal Greenwhich Observatory, John Parkinson of Dorking's Mullard Space Science Laboratory and Richard Stephenson of Newcastle University offered yet another theory that the star of Bethlehem was not a comet. It was an exploding star, visible to the Chinese astronomers of the Han dynasty for more than 70 days in 5 BC. Even when confusing, none points to 1AD. So, when was He born?
Like President Museveni, Jesus did not know his birthday. Nor did the people around him care to take note. But, as with our elders in Uganda, people used events around the times to locate their birthday possibilities.
We have to do the same for Jesus. Lukeâ€™s Gospel dates Jesusâ€™ baptism and beginning of His mission to the 15th year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius calculable at 29AD and says Jesus was 30. Calculating back puts his birth at 2 AD.
Bible scholars indicate his ministry took three and a half years. Since he died during the Passover (their month of Nisan), we only have to go back six months to discover his birthday. Six months puts us to the month of Tishri, which falls between our September and October.
September 11, 3BC at 7p.m. Luke 2 says Mary came to the Temple for purification, 40 days after the birth of Jesus. This day is the modern Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.
Thus the 40th day of Maryâ€™s purification had begun at the end of Yom Kippur, the end of the 10th day of the 7th month, because the purification was done at the earliest opportunity - at the beginning of the 40th day after birth.
And since the 6th month normally had only 29 days, Mary's 39 days of purification had to have begun around sundown on the 1st day of the 6th month, called Elul. In 3 BC, the 1st of Elul was September 11th.
This was the night of the first sighting of the new moon of Elul, which the Magi in Babylon actually recorded on a clay tablet.
This cuneiform tablet the Magi made at that hour, 2008 years ago, can be found in the British Museum. Cuneiform scholars have identified the date on this tablet as equivalent to September, 11, 3 BC.
Luke says the shepherds went to town telling people what they had seen earlier that evening. People had no electricity in those days and would have been asleep by 7 or 8 p.m. Therefore, the birth took place within a few minutes of 6:30-7:30 pm on the evening of September 11th, 3 BC.
Historian Ernest L. Martin consulted NASA lunar-phase tables and found agreement with the image of the heavens recorded in Revelation 12. Tables showed the sun and the moon were, relative to Virgo, at the time Jesus was born, pin-pointing at the sunset of September 11th of 3 BC.
Autumn of 2BC Not everyone agrees though. Some historians seem to favour 2BC as the right time. Tertullian, (born about 160 AD) stated that Augustus began to rule 41 years before the birth of Jesus and died 15 years after that event. Augustus died on August 19, 14 AD, placing Jesusâ€™ birth before 2 BC.
Tertullian also notes that Jesus was born 28 years after the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC, which gives a date of 2 BC
Another historian, Iraneus, born about a century after Jesus, also notes that Jesus was born in the 41st year of the reign of Augustus. Since Augustus began his reign in the autumn of 43 B.C., this also appears to substantiate the birth in 2 B.C.
Eusebius (264-340 A.D.), the â€˜Father of Church Historyâ€™, ascribes it to the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and the 28th from the subjection of Egypt on the death of Anthony and Cleopatra.
The 42nd year of Augustus ran from the autumn of 2 B.C. to the autumn of 1 B.C.
The subjugation of Egypt into the Roman Empire occurred in the autumn of 30 B.C. The 28th year extended from the autumn of 30 B.C. to the autumn of 2 B.C. The only date that would meet both of these constraints would be the autumn of 2 B.C.
Other scholars argue that since John the Baptist was born at the Passover during Spring and Jesus was born 6 months later, autumn qualifies as the month.
March 1, 7 BC, at 1:21 a.m One Rev. Don Jacobs, author of Astrologyâ€™s Pew in Church used the star positioning to pinpoint Jesusâ€™ birth to March 1, 7 BC, at 1:21 a.m. in Bethlehem.
He writes, â€œThe birth chart for this moment in time contains a cluster of six planets in Pisces: the Sun, Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.
(Joining all these gives an image of a fish - no wonder the fish was used as a symbol for Jesus). With all this Pisces energy, Jesus was highly spiritual, compassionate, and willing to sacrifice himself for othersâ€.
Jacobs used this chart to follow the events, which occurred in Jesusâ€™ life and showed what astrological transits he was experiencing each time.
Jesus was born on September 11