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The common belief that Jesus was born on the year 1 is the result of an innocent mistake made in 533 by the Roman abbott Dionysus Exiguus. He knew that it was impossible to say when Jesus was born, but he knew, or thought he knew, when Herod died. So, he devised the new Christian calendar to begin on the year of Herod's death. He based the date of Herod's death on the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus, but was unaware that Augustus only adopted that name four years after his reign began, going by his birth name of Octavius until then.

If Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod the Great, as stated in both Matthew and Luke, then he was born no later than 4 BCE. However, Matthew' Gospel says that Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem because he feared the birth of a rival, and when the wise men did not return, he killed all the infants under two years old. Since Herod died as an old man in 4 BCE, this event must have occurred some years earlier, when he was still young enough to expect to rule for several more years and to worry about Jesus growing up and challenging him. His concern was clearly not for the succession of his son, as he later demonstrated that he was not overly concerned about Archelaus succeeding him. In fact he recommended to the Romans that Archelaus only succeed him in the territory of Judea, with his other sons succeeding him in other territories that Rome had granted Herod.

So, on this evidence, Jesus would have been born several years before the year 4 BCE, possibly before 10 BCE.
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Jesus was born on or before 4 BCE, because Herod died 4BCE.
Jesus was born on or after 6 CE, because Cyrenius became governor of Syria on 6CE:-

Luke2:2 And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

In other words nobody knows. Realistic Summary: In all the detail in the Additional Input section which follows this section, there are some missing facts: Herod was king of the Jewish people, and although he had cut a deal with Augustus, and was tributary to Rome, he was an absolute monarch within his territory and responsible for its internal security and rule. There were no Roman governors above him. On Herod's death in 4 BCE, Augustus split his kingdom into petty states to prevent any unified Jewish unrest and Herod's son Archelaus inherited the area which included Judaea as Ethnarch - not king, but ruler of the local Judaean people. These became disenchanted with him and persuaded Augustus to depose him in 6 CE. To avoid further trouble, Augustus appointed a Roman as Prefect to rule Judaea as a sub-province, under the Governor of Syria province, Quirinius (mis-spelt Cyrennius). With this new local status of direct Roman rule, it was necessary to establish the basis for Roman taxation (as opposed to the system of the Ethnarch). So it was necessary for Quirinius, Governor of Syria, to conduct a census (for taxation purposes). So this was a census where, without modern records, people had to move to their place of origin to register, which is what brought Joseph to Bethlehem - not a routine tax census. That is the setting for Luke's version. Trying to contort this by saying Quirinius was effectively governor a decade and a half earlier is playing with reality - when Herod was king, he was king, and there was no suggestion he was under a Roman governor - the deal he cut with Augustus put him totally in control of his territory, directly responsible to Augustus only - no intermediaries. The same applied to the other principalities within the Empire. The disparity of Luke's dates with Matthew arises from different sources. The Gospel accounts were formalised a century and a half later, patched together from a variety of sources. The final writers had to search out anything they could find - using various versions of Mark as a basis, they did their best of put together credible additional accounts from the wide variety of stories then circulating. In 130 CE, Bishop Papias was desperately interrogating descendants of the Apostles as he disbelieved most of the written sources, described a Mark which was random stories of Paul, hadn't heard of Luke, and said no one could understand Matthew as it was in Aramaic. The Gospels we have today are a result of this later construction, taking whatever scraps which were available. Matthew has amalgamated stories of three distinct Jesuses - a would be king prepared to take a throne by force, a poor itinerant preacher and a miracle worker. Luke has used excerpts directly from the Psalms which pre-date Jesus, and an unrelated story of a triple crucifixion where one survived - from historian Josephus. There are extant today over 50 Gospels of various types and credibility, some of them mind bending. The four we have settled on today are reconstructions dating over 200 years after the events. In this situation, to be imagining they contain 'Gospel truth' strays from reality. We can either construct the most credible likely course of events and avoid claiming impossible-to-verify detail, or create accounts which cannot be classed as historical, but rather a religious story.
Additional input from WikiAnswers contributors:
  • It depends on what religion you ask. Some still think Jesus was born on December 25th when we celebrate Christmas. Most Christian religions will agree that He was born in the spring. April 6th is a date which stands out, I think the Catholics and Mormons feel this is the day Jesus was born.
  • A monk known as Dennis the Little (Dionysius), recognized that Julian dates of the 28-year week cycle and of the 19-year lunar cycle will repeat in 532 years. So he calculated the birth of Jesus as the span of time to 532 AD. However, we now need to recognize that span to year 532 AD is 532 years but we have changed our concept and now use it to say 532nd year. The date the Magi christened the baby as king is one year earlier on Jan 6 of what we call 1 BC, not 1 AD which is one year as baby king. Our concept was changed when we created BC as years Before Christ. So the astronomic number ZERO year is better to perceive real time for years BEFORE CHRIST. This means if Jesus was born in 2 BC as Africanus and Eusebius imply, it is only 1 year before the year that Dennis calculated as 532 years. Ussher places 30 years of Jesus as 4 BC to 29 AD and never corrects it because culture is insisting on both as fixed dates. But Ussher is not the source of 4 BC, he is just allowing schools to have their say. Nor is the eclipse in Josephus the source for 4 BC since that eclipse is minor compared to those 3 years later. Beatus is clearly the source because his listing figures to add up to 5200 years but add up to 5227 years forces the Church to cover it over by saying a 27 AD Christ is reborn. This means the error developed from 786-1650 AD and taken to Britain.
  • No one knows exactly, but He couldn't have been born any later than 4 B.C. When was Jesus born? If King Herod died in 4 BC. and believed the Old Testament that a king of kings would be born in Jerusalem and he sent officers to check out to see if it was true that a child was born in a manger, and those same officers came to faith and fell to worship Jesus and then warned Joseph and Mary that they should leave to Egypt until King Herod died then working backwards all of that probably took a year. Now we are at 5 BC and Herod wanted all children 2years and under killed. I think that puts it at 7 BC. also every great event falls on a feast day which I think fell on October 1 in 7 BC.
  • Also Esau and Jacob were born in the Hebrew year 9006, or in our Gregorian calender year of 2007 BC. God loved Jacob but hated Esau, so God renamed Jacob 'Israel'. This was 2000 years before the birth of Christ in the Hebrew year 1106 or 7 BC. That's definitely something worth checking out.
  • Christ was born in the year 2 B.C.
  • He was probably born about 4 B.C. The "B.C." and "A.D." system was not created until many centuries after the birth of Christ and there was a slight miscalculation. Christ has to have been born by 4 B.C. because the Gospel of Matthew places his birth within the lifetime of Herod the Great, whom we know from sources outside of the New Testament died 4 B.C.
  • 2008 years ago AD. 1
  • The original scholarship that set the date for the beginning of the Christian (or Common) Era was close, but flawed. There are a few different opinions, but it seems that Jesus was born roughly some time between BCE 6 and CE 6. BCE (Before Common Era) is the same as BC.
  • Jesus was about 30 when he began his ministry, and this means he was killed when he was about 31-33 years old. Since we have good data on Pontius Pilate's tenure, by working backwards we can then estimate Jesus' birth as between 7 and 4 BC. As this year is 2008 (ie, 2,008 years after Jesus was erroneously believed to be born in year zero), this means Jesus was born around 2012 - 2015 years ago this year, probably somewhere within 4 years of the year 1 AD (say 4 BC to 4 AD).
    As to the actual time of year, He was not born on December 25th because that was winter and shepherds traditionally do not tend their sheep in the open then because it is too cold:-
    Luk 2:8 KJV And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

    Our association of Christmas with 25 December is solely due to Constantine. When the emperor granted the toleration of Christianity, he wanted a celebration that coincided with his own favorite festival - that of the Sun God around 25 December. So, the Western Church complied with the establishment of the feast of Christmas. The Eastern Church did not celebrate the birth of Jesus, but rather concentrated on the visit of the Magi, and they placed this event in early January.
    No-one knows what time of year Jesus was born, but since traditionally in the Middle east the birth date of a child was not the date they were born but instead the date they were conceived, this would be about the 25th September.
  • Jesus was born Oct 2, in 7 BC. This is based on the fact that Herod gave the order to kill 2 years before he died which would be 6 BC and Jesus was already born. But remember all of the feast days were given by God as a shadow of things to come that is why we know Jesus was born Oct 2 of 7 BC just like the flood occurred on May 21 4990 BC and Jesus will return using the order of feast days given to Moses on May 21 2011.
  • c4BC is the year Jesus was born.
    Many people believe he was born December 25th
    But, i believe he was born September 29th, 5 B.C
    about 6 bc
  • According to the Gospel of Mathew Jesus was born
    December 25th near the end of Herod's reign, which
    would place his birth at 6-4 BCE. Luke tells us that
    Jesus was born around the time the Roman governor
    Quirinus took a census (ballot/survey) in Judea. That
    would place his birth at 6-7 CE, ten years from the
    end of Herod's death. But many people believe that
    Jesus was born on December 25th 0 no A.D or B.C.
    We as a nation believe that Lord Jesus Christ was born
    on December 25th, while we are not really sure at what
    stage of history he really was born in, we celebrate his
    birth nonetheless.


* Before 4BCE
35 BC is proven in the Bible
Matthew 2:1-12 (King James Version)1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
Matthew 2:16 (King James Version) 16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
Luke 2:1-8 (King James Version)1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

It is also quite reasonable to assert that where an author has repeatedly been proven to be factual and reliable, as Luke has, that we can take things which have yet no evidence as likely to be correct. In any case, this is certainly not so here as evidence exists:

Regarding the time of Year


According to Luke 2:8 the shepherds were out in the fields watching their flocks at night. This is apparently unlikely to take place in the winter and is thought by some to have been late September, which would make the end of December of the previous year as the time of the miracle of the incarnation. The adoption of December 25 has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual date of Jesus' birth. This is not an unusual thing even in modern times as a holiday for the birthday of the Queen Elizabeth II of England is not held on her actual birthday either.

Evidence from Common Ancient Literary Usage


It is not at all significant that the exact date is not known to us as the fact of both Jesus' birth and death and glorious resurrection are more important to the writers and their meaning, not the actual date in chronological terms, such as we are obsessed with today. Ancient writers commonly only focused on key events in a life or in the history of a nation. In any case, September would be autumn in Israel. Jesus was born sometime before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC.
Luke the careful historian follows the usual custom of other ancient writers by using a known event to anchor the timing of another viz. Jesus birth. Both the census decreed by Augustus Caesar, and the position of Quirinius were undoubtedly known to those who were contemporary with the events.

The visit of the wise men to Jerusalem and Herod and the subsequent murder of the children were also undoubtedly known. In connection with murder, Herod even killed his own son. This led Augustus to remark in reference to Herod's Jewish aversion to pigs and this event, 'It is better to be Herod's sow than to be his son.' So, although this event does seem 'in character' for Herod, it is not useful at this point for our inquiry due to a lack of detail from elsewhere.

Evidence Regarding Herod's Death


Since Luke has provided a number of historical 'anchors', it is possible to state with certainty that Jesus was not born after 4 BC. Herod the great is known to have died around the time of a lunar eclipse which can be fixed by astronomers at 12-13 March in the year 4 BC.

Evidence from the Account of the Wise Men


Although not corroborated elsewhere, what this account shows is that Luke puts the birth of Jesus some considerable time prior to the death of Herod. This is shown in the fact that Luke refers to Herod's reckoning, 'according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.'Thus his ordering the slaying of the children 'from two years old and under,' demonstrates the considerable time that had transpired since Jesus' birth, probably close to two years.

Evidence from a 'Hostile Witness'

Julian 'the apostate' born in 331 AD was so called since, even though he was raised as a Christian, he renounced and became an enemy of Christianity when he came to the imperial throne as Emperor in the year 361. As Emperor he had access to all the imperial records and so wrote in a defiant tone when speaking of the enrolment of Mary and Joseph at Bethlehem, as it is mentioned in Luke 2 above.

"There is absolutely no known record of evidence that Jesus was "enrolled as one of Caesar's subjects," unless it was at the time which Julian affirms. He says : "Jesus, whom you celebrate, was one of Caesar's subjects. If you dispute it, I will prove it.....for yourselves allow that he was enrolled by his father and mother at the time of Cyrenius." (Lardner, Works, 7:626-27) as quoted from Merril F Unger, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody, Chicago 1988. p. 231.

Evidence from Patristic Sources


The references to the works of Justin Martyr and Tertullian are relevant in that they appeal to the records of the Romans. Such were evidently still extant at the time, and so could have and would have been gladly used by the opponents of Christianity at the time.
Justin Martyr (born 105 AD) says: "Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registries of the taxing under Quirinius your first procurator in Judea." (First Apology, chapter 34.)
The context was Justin defending the Christians from persecution by the government. He is most unlikely to appeal to their own records if they did not exist or contradicted his account and so thus giving them a further reason for accusation against the Christians.
Tertullian (born 160 AD) in similar context of defence also appeals to the Romans own records. In referrring to the same enrolment event Tertullian says:
"There is historical proof that at this very time a census had been taken in Judea by Sentius Saturninus, which might have satisfied their inquiry repsecting the family and descent of Christ." (Marcion 4.19).
With respect to Luke's reference, it must be pointed out that Luke refers to the timing of the census, not who carried it out. Although, of course, it is likely that Cyrenius was involved in the census where he had jurisdiction.

With respect to Luke's reference, it must be pointed out that Luke refers to the timing of the census, not who carried it out. Although, of course, it is likely that Cyrenius was involved in the census where he had jurisdiction.

Evidence on the Census of Cyrenius (Quirinius)

The common custom of ancient historians was to use knows events or people to provide a 'fix' or 'historical marker' to the time of their particular event. This was no doubt partly due to the fact that the modern calendar system did not yet exist. Luke does this when in 2 v 2 of his Gospel he refers to the taxing made when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria.
It used to be thought that because there was no evidence supporting Luke's reference in Luke 2 v 2 to the taxing and to Cyrenius being Governor at this time, it therefore did not occur. However, as with many other Bible events, evidence has been found that such taxings occurred every 14 years and Cyrenius was indeed twice Governor of Syria. Thus Luke's reference to this as the first taxing is particularly apt. The second census of 6 AD was due at that time. The census referred to in Luke was thus due in 8 BC and it is considered that it was somewhat delayed due to political strife between Herod and Rome and so possibly occurred as late as 6 BC.

The discovery of evidence regarding the first Governorship of Cyrenius also resolves the apparent contradiction between the date of the death of Herod and Cyrenius' (also known as Quirinius) second term of office some ten years later.
This evidence relates to:

The Lapis Tiburtinus Inscription

This Roman inscription discovered in 1764 contains reference to an officer who was governor over Syria twice in his lifetime. The name of the person to whom the inscription applies is part of a small section which is no longer present. A number of historians and archaeologists, familiar with the other details described on the inscription consider that it can only apply to Quirinius, thus confirming that he governed Syria twice.
Others, consider that the inscription must apply to someone else, since they regard the 'Governors' of Syria to all be known. However, it is also known that the term used by Luke, the Greek word hegemon can apply to prefects, provincial governors and even Caesar himself. The New Testament usage is fairly broad, applying to all Roman rulers of high authority, including such people as Pilate, Festus, and Felix.
Thus, the inscription could apply to Quirinius who is believed to have operated as a special Legatus Augustii at the same time as Saturninus was the provincial Governor. Exactly the very same relationship applied when Vespasian was later working with Marcianus. Vespasian conducted the war in Palestine, while Mucianus, with exactly the same title and rank was governor of Syria.

At the same time, it must be conceded that, even if the inscription does not apply to Quirinius, it speaks of someone being Governor of Syria twice. Thus there is no reason this also could not have applied to Quirinius.
Finally, this also fits in with the later conduct of a more controversial census in 6 AD. If Quirinius had conducted the earlier census, he, with that experience, would more likely be entrusted with a second.
Those scholarly authorities who believe Quirinius to indeed be the person here referred to include: Mommsen, Borghesi, de Rossi, Henzen, Dessau, Ramsay and others.
Summary: The point of all this is that there is no contradiction between the 'taxing' referred to in Luke 2:2 and the later census of Quirinius in 6 AD. Thus it is reasonable to assume Jesus was indeed born when it would seem most likely, in the period around 6 BC.

The exact day and year of the birth is not as important as the impact of the life lived. A whole range of dates have been given but as there is no agreement when Christ was born, this means that there will be no agreement as to the date of Christ's death 33 years later. However, the dates of Christ's birth and death are actually unimportant: what is important is that He died for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, and offers eternal life to all who accept Him as Lord and Saviour.

Introduction

Whilst many have tried to calculate the date of Christ's birth, the only definitive documentation is that of the accounts of Matthew and Luke, as the gospels of John and Mark have no mention of his birth. Dates of birth in those days were unimportant events; even a hundred years ago dates of ordinary people were confused - my own grandmother was unsure of her own birthday (June 14th? 24th?, 28th?) and our next door neighbour who celebrated her 100th birthday a few years ago only realised at that point that she had been born three weeks earlier than she thought, when her children obtained her birth certificate as proof before applying for a letter from the Queen (customary in the UK). So, in those days, 2000 years ago, dates for ordinary people were of little importance.
So this brings us to the two documentations that record Christ's birth:_

Matthew's Account

Matthew is writing from a Jewish perspective trying to persuade the reader that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, as he includes many quotes from the prophets corroborating this and the importance of the prophecies in the story of Jesus' birth. It is only in Matthew's account where we hear of the Wise Men, again underlining Matthew's belief that the Messiah came for all - Jews and, in the case of the Wise Men, foreign Gentiles too. Other than that, Matthew's account gives little away regarding dates except for the clues in the Magi's story. We are told they approach Herod declaring that a while before that the Star appeared. They visit the child in a house (not the inn stable) [2:11] suggesting that Mary and Joseph settled in Bethlehem for a while after the birth. After the King realises he's tricked he kills children two years and younger, which suggests strongly that by this time Jesus was getting on for that age. Therefore Jesus would have been born around 18 months or so earlier. We are told, by external sources, that Herod died in 4BC which places the birth at around 5-6BC.
The mistake of believing that Herod lived a long time afterwards shows little knowledge of Jewish beliefs. Apart from some sects, the Jews believed that, after death, they lived on through their descendents. If Herod's son Archelaus had been killed by a usurper to the throne, Herod's lineage would cease. This, to a Jew, would be a far greater threat than mere death or losing the power to the throne. We are also told that after Herod's death Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt [2:14-21] taking the child [Greek = 'toddler'] with them and moved through Judea to Galilee Therefore, it is almost certain that Herod died shortly after his murder of the innocents, which still places Christ's birth at around 6BC.

Luke's Account

Luke takes a totally different angle on things. Luke was a doctor (as mentioned by Paul) and a (his Gospel) and the other (the Acts of the Apostles) telling of the events of the early Church. Both accounts were addressed to 'Theophilus' (Greek = God-lover) which strongly suggests that, as a learned doctor he was commissioned to write a definitive account of events. Luke makes it perfectly clear why he wrote his accounts: '…since I have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.' [1:2-4]. He seems true to his word in that his accounts are riddled with names, dates, external events and so on, to place the birth (and other events) in context for a person (Theophilus) who did not know first-hand the events that happened in the Holy Land at that time. While Luke was also not a first-hand witness to events, reading between the lines in both accounts it is very evident that he had interviewed Peter, Paul, Mary the mother of Jesus, John and others. Having accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys, he would have known Peter and John through Paul, and hence Mary, Jesus' mother, through John (who took her into his home after the crucifixion [John 19:27]).
Luke then had investigated the events of the birth most likely from Mary, much in the same way as an investigative journalist or biographer would do today - to ensure that all facts were corroborated and correct.
The question is, are the accounts in Luke's gospel correct? Sadly, there are few external contemporary sources that corroborate the events in Luke's gospel. However, we have Luke's second book - that of Acts, that can be corroborated. The events, the history of the churches throughout the Mediterranean area, the descriptions of Corinth, Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Crete, Ephesus, Malta and so on all are all recorded by the Church's earliest members - people like Polycarp - and these accounts corroborate with Luke's accounts and remarkably with with modern archaeological discoveries, and contemporary historical sources from the Greek and Roman Empires. It seems that Luke was not just thorough in his research, but extremely thorough. If alive today he would no doubt be regarded as one of the great historians of the day. Therefore, if we accept that his book of Acts is a truly historic document, then, as the writer also of his gospel, we must also assume that this too is accurate historically. This theory is currently being confirmed as more and more archaeology done in the Holy Land seems to agree with Luke's descriptions and claims.

The Quiriniuas Problem

There is, of course, the question of the governorship of Syria by Quirinius. Roman historians place his governorship at around 6AD - far too late for Matthew's account of the birth, and also too late for the other birth-placing dates Luke mentions at the start of his gospel. Luke mentions Quirinius' census of 7AD in his second book of Acts (5:37) so he was well aware of it. Therefore, his assertion that Quirinius was a governor in Syria on another occasion earlier than this seems hardly to be a slip or error. So we have the problem that Roman historians place Quirinius as a governor just once in Syria, in 6AD, and Luke asserts an earlier governorship as well as the accepted one detailed in Roman history.
The answer to this contradiction is that in 2:2, Luke mentions that the Nativity census is the 'first census'. The original Greek inflexion heavily suggests that that there was at least another census of which this was the first. The second census, of course, was the one that Luke mentions in the book of Acts (see above). Whilst Roman history records Quirinius as being governor in Syria just once, Luke suggests that Quirinius was a governor before in the same area, holding a census which would have been described as his 'first census' to distinguish it from this infamous taxation census which happened much later. It is also recorded in Roman history that when Quirinius was in charge of subduing the Homanadensians from 10 BC to around 6 BC he assumed military governorship of the surrounding provinces of Syria. Many of these areas became annexed into the Roman Empire, and so it is likely that Luke, writing much later, records Quirinius as a governor of the area that the Jews knew as Syria, whilst the Roman records record Quirinius being the official governor of a united Syria and its annexes only in 7 AD. Thus, in accordance with Luke's reputation in Acts and his gospel, it is very likely that his recording of Quirinius being a governor (whilst not the official Roman Governor) in the areas surrounding Syria which later on, in Luke's time, became annexed to Syria and the rest of the Roman Empire.

This, then places the time of Jesus' birth firmly around 6 BC using both Matthew's and Luke's accounts.

As for the time of year, what is certain is that the birth did not take place in winter (such as December 25th). This date was agreed on by the early church to replace pagan festivals to confirm Christianity's predominance over the old religions. Luke's gospel records shepherds 'abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night'[2:8]. This would be unthinkable in winter when the temperatures drop at night (even in that part of the world) to several degrees below freezing. Sheep were kept in the warmer valleys (or indoors) in winter, and only allowed to graze through the night in the summer months. Furthermore, Luke's record of Mary laying Jesus 'in a manger' [2:7] suggests that the manger was not used at that time for animal feed because the animals were outside. This places the birth, therefore, sometime between May and September in around 6BC.

Therefore, the events seem to pan out as follows:

Jesus is born around 6BD sometime between May and September. Quirinius has assumed a military governorship in the areas that were annexed to Syria, known simply as 'Syria' in Luke's day. Augustus is on the throne of Rome. Around late 5 BC to early 4BC the Wise men arrive at a house in Jerusalem to pay homage to Jesus, having discovered his whereabouts from Herod's advisers. Herod commands all the children of 2 and under in Bethlehem to be murdered, in accordance with the Wise Men's date for his birth. Jesus, Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt - a journey of a few weeks. Herod dies late 4BC, and his son Archelaus assumes the throne. Jesus, Mary and Joseph return from Egypt but pass through Judea on to Galilee where they settle once more in Nazareth, around late 4 to early 3 BC. Finally Quirinius becomes officially Governor of Syria and orders a second (or subsequent) census in 7AD.
It seems therefore that the actual date of the birth will never be actually known, but, as one contributor above mentioned, his date of birth is unimportant. What is important is what Jesus said and did, and how, by his passion, death, resurrection and ascension, redeemed the world against sin so that humanity's relationship with God could be restored. Opinion If we are going to have personal summaries and discussions of the Answers provided by others on the main page, then it is reasonable that this summary is also placed on the main page - a level playing field.
The clear consensus of historians is that Quirinius was governor anywhere in the Near East on only one occasion, being from 6 CE, and that the only census under Quirinius took place in 6 or 7 CE. The Jewish military leader and historian, Josephus, said that the census of 6-7 CE was the first one that involved Jews. So, there was no 'first census' under Quirinius - because there was only one. Historians also reject the claim that there was a census ordered by Augustus throughout the entire empire. They also say that, even if there had been a census in Syria before 4 BCE, it would not have applied to Judea because Herod had the autonomy to raise his own taxes on any basis he thought fit.
Therefore the "Quirinius problem" is a problem. Raymond E. Brown (An Introduction to the New Testament) says that the Quirinius census was a census of Judea (now a province) but not of Galilee. He says, "The best explanation is that, although Luke likes to set his Christian drama in the context of well-known events from antiquity, sometimes he does so inaccurately." This is not to dispute that the most likely date for the birth of Jesus is prior to 6 BCE.
We may agree, for different reasons, that Matthew is the better gospel source to decide how much prior to 6 BCe the birth was. The problem is that scholars believe that the Matthew account is a literary invention, with the nativity of Jesus based loosely on the story of Moses. As long as that is a reasonable hypothesis, we can not accept with certainty the evidence of Matthew that he may have been born nearly two years before Herod's death. In fact, we can not even accept with certainty the evidence of Matthew that Jesus was born several years before Herod's death. They are simply equally possible explanations.
Actually nobody knows when he was born
He Was born in 0 ad. Ad Means After death talking about Jesus. BC means before christ again talking about Jesus.
Matthew 2:1, Jesus was born on or before 4BCE. Herod died 4 BCE: "In the days of Herod."
Luke 2:1-7, Jesas was born 6 CE. Cyrenius became Governor of Syria 2:1-7: "When Cyrenius was governor of Syria." 1 a.D.
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