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The Actual Year of Christ's Birth

The Actual Year of Christ's Birth

While the ascertainment of the precise year in which Jesus Christ was actually born may
not have any soteriological implications, it does contribute greatly to the historicity of Christ, and thus a basis for belief in Him. It is currently, commonly assumed/accepted that the Year of Christ birth was ca. 5/4 B.C. (based upon the accepted date of Herod’s death). As it is widely known this date corrected the 4-year mistake made by 5th century A.D. monk Dionysius Exiguus in his calculation of Christ’s birth. However not even this corrected date is the right one as there are several key corroborating points found in the Bible and History that strongly point to an earlier date for Christ’s birth, namely in ca. 8 B.C. Here are these main key points, here quite succinctly presented, but to be expounded upon in greater detail in a forthcoming book on the topic.

Visit of the Wisemen            
-The Wisemen visited Jesus when he was about two years old, while then living in a house and not when he was newly born in a manger. (Matt 2:7, 11, 16). It was the shepherds who visited Jesus on the very night He was born when it was announced to them by a company of angels. (Luke 2:8-20). This point is strongly corroborated by the fact that Joseph and Mary offered a poor family’s offering for the dedication of Jesus (Luke 2:24 = Lev 12:8) which would not have been reflective of their honest/truthful means status if they had already received the greatly abundant (cf. DA 65.1) ‘treasure gifts’, which included the currency of gold, (enough to buy a lamb), from the Wisemen (Matt 2:11b).

-In the book Desire of Ages 60.1 E.G. White (see more on her here) makes the statement that ‘the “star” of Bethlehem was not a fixed star, nor planet, but “a distant company of shining angels”’ and indeed, upon, as it was brought forth during this discussion, more careful study and analysis, there is ample, adequate and sufficient explicit and implicit corroborating exegetical, textual, scientific and astronomically-based evidence to validate this inspired extra-biblical statement. See also Rev 1:20; cf. Rev 12:4 (discussed here) where (commissioned) “angels” are re-presented as “stars”. (cf. Rev 22:16 & Isa 14:12, 13). Based on this valid basis it is seen that the so-called “Star” that the Wisemen saw while in their Eastern homeland indeed later on, reappeared and proceeded to guide them to Bethlehem, and even stood right over the very house where Jesus was. (Matt 2:9-10). To do so, it indeed was not a naturally occurring Star (nor a planet or an eclipse as some assume), unless it was remotely controlled, among other things. Indeed EGW statement here is specifically and overall much more satisfactorily substantiated (in a Biblical context), than the mainly subjective theories advanced to try to identify this star. Therefore attempts to date Christ’s birth without such a miraculous intervention is ultimately futile.
            And the fact that the Num 24:17 “Star” prophecy could be fulfilled by a “company of angels” is seen by the fact that, as also presented in its section in this post, in Bible prophecy a star is symbolic of an angel (e.g., Rev 1:20; 12:4). Also see commenting here.

-As it was mentioned at the top, Jesus was born before Herod’s death, which was indeed in 4 B.C., thus if He was already 2 years old when the wisemen visited Him, he was born in at least 6 B.C.

The Roman Census
- In Luke 2:1-2, Luke is specifically saying in the Greek that the Census ordered by Augustus Caesar when Jesus was born was ‘the prior census [cf. similar usage/meaning in Rev 4:1 (=Rev 1:10)] which came to be (before) Quirinius governing of Syria.

- A census that actually took place under Quirinius is known to have taken place in 6 A.D. which indeed corroborates with the known dates of Quirinius governorship in Syria.

- A Roman Census was known to regularly occur every 14 years. Therefore the census before Quirinius’ took place in 8 B.C. (No year “0").

-And Caesar Augustus is known to have taken a census [perhaps injunctively] of Roman citizens at least three times, in 28 BC, 8 BC, and 14. (Res Gestae Divi Augusti, 8) ["the achievements of the deified Augustus"].

Independent Testimony
-Church Father Tertullian, writing ca. 300 years before Dionysius Exiguus, matter-of-factly claims ‘historical proof for a census taken in Judea by the then governor of Syria, Sentius Saturninus and which was the census mentioned at the time of Christ’s birth.’ (Tertullian, Against Marcion 4 19:1 ANF). It is independently known that the governship in Syria of this Gaius Sentius Saturninus took place from ca. 10 to 6 B.C.

Other Pertinent Biblical Data
A proper translation of Luke 3:23 shows that Luke was not saying that ‘Jesus was beginning to be about 30 years of age,’ but that ‘He began His ministry, being somewhere in His 30's.’ Also Jesus was not a Levitical priest entering the Temple service (Heb 7:14) so, contrary to what is commonly supposed, He did not have to wait to be 30 years old (i.e., according to Num 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, 47) in order to begin His ministry. Furthermore that age requirement was soon lowered to 25 (Num 8:24) and then later, even down to 20 years in the time of King David (1 Chr 23:24). 

-If Jesus was indeed born in ca. 8 B.C. then, he would have been baptized at about 35, and thus crucified at about 38 years. In the light of this more advanced age during His ministry, the comment made to Him the he was ‘not yet 50 years of age’ (John 8:57) makes somewhat more logical sense as it is said of someone approaching his 40's, instead of someone still in his early 30's, with Christ’s actual age not exactly known by the accusing Jewish leaders, but guestimated, and/or thought to be, around His forties. 

-According to this earlier birth year of 8 B.C., Jesus and His family would also have thus spent about 2 years in Egypt immediately following the wisemen’s visit in 6 B.C. while awaiting Herod’s death which took place in 4 B.C.

I have made further comments/discussions on this topic on this Christian Forum thread.

[Actually...I have just noticed (October 27, 2012, -ca. 2 years later) that at some point after our original discussion someone, evidently a moderator, went back and most irresponsibly (i.e., without any due indicators) went back and selective hacked up that discussion, evidently, in order to “moronically”, for lack of a more spiritually descriptive Biblical term, remove everything that had no valid argument against, namely, the corroborating proofing, as stated above, that the Star of Bethlehem was not a natural occurrence, but indeed “a distant company of shining angels.” So that discussion at some point really has no sequitur flow as parts of posts are cut off and entire postings have been removed, -though the moderator (presumedly, guilefully) tries to make is seem that the Reply #’s are sequential and unbroken. I have therefore provided my draft copy of that discussion which includes the entire discussion as it originally was. See this PDF copy.

The Bible is clear that “prophesying” is an available, and most valuable gift of the Church (e.g, 1 Cor 14:1) and also must be tested (1 Thess 5:19-21; cf. this post) and that implies and involves that what is said will not actually be something that has already and/or explicitly been stated in the Collected/Canonical Text. So that “testing” involves seeing if a prophetic claim/statement harmonize and/or rightly elucidates Scripture. And in this case, the statement made in the book Desire of Ages 60.1 passes that “test”. (cf. 2 Chr 20:20)]

Conclusion
            There is indeed more supporting, and most importantly, perfectly corroborating, evidence for an 8 B.C. date for Christ’s birth than the commonly assumed 5/4 B.C. year. So the actual current A.D. year, i.e., ‘since the year of our Lord’, is, from the current ‘2012’ year, not even, 2016, but 2020!

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