Kathy Petersen’s Blog

When was Jesus born?

Posted in Bible, Christianity by Kathy on January 17, 2008

No, not on December 25 1 B.C. or A.D. 1! I’m not worrying about the year–probably 3-6 years “Before Christ,” thanks to whoever messed up the calculations back a thousand years ago or so. I’m talking about the day. Why is it celebrated on Dec. 25? Because back in the early centuries, when Catholicism had become established as the official denomination of Christianity, they began to meet the pagans half-way on some religious things, to make Christianity more palatable for them. One of the things they did was to change certain pagan holidays (such as the winter solstice celebrations) into “Christian” holidays, such as Christmas. This let the heathen continue to worship in their old forms, but with a Christian bent to it. And this is why many Christians do not celebrate Christmas–because of the heathen heritage. There are few people who have really looked at this question who would still place Jesus’ birth in the winter–and those who do would probably just say, “We don’t know when it was, and it could have been then.”

But I think it was around September, and very likely on whatever day was the Day of Atonement (now known as Yom Kippur). The particular day is probably impossible to know–and if it were important, I daresay it would be specified in the Gospels–but I read something years ago that mentioned that of the three chief Jewish holy days of the Law, something important happened in Christianity on two of them–those being Passover (the crucifixion, of course), and Pentecost (when Peter and others preached in languages they had never learned, and 3,000 were converted and added to the church). But nothing is said of the Day of Atonement, which was typically in late September-early October. That’s circumstantial evidence, though–complete inference.

What is known about Christ’s birth is in the Gospels, but there is no clear way to know from those accounts when it was, except that the shepherds were outside watching their flocks the night Jesus was born, and that is unlikely to have been the case in the middle of winter in Palestine.

So what makes me think it was September and not, say, June? Well, Christ was killed on the Passover, which corresponds to our Easter, so probably around March or April. In one of the Gospels, it is stated that Jesus began his earthly ministry when He “began to be about 30 years old.” (I think this is also the age in the Law when priests began to serve.) I can’t remember right now if his earthly ministry is ever stated to be about 3 & 1/2 years long, but it definitely lasted more than 3 years and fewer than 4, based on the number of Passovers. Plus, in Old Testament prophecy (as well as in the Revelation) 3 & 1/2 years is extremely significant–especially in Daniel. So, if He began His earthly ministry around 30 years old, and continued for 3 & 1/2 years, and was killed in the early spring at the age of 33 & 1/2, then He must have been born about half a year before March-April, which is September-October.

Reading through the Bible, and looking at the significance of Old Testament “types and shadows” being fulfilled in the New Testament, it is obvious that God likes to do things like this. For instance, it is said that Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt on the very day that fulfilled the end of the prophecy of their enslavement. Coincidence that it was the very day? I don’t believe that God leaves things up to coincidence or chance. 🙂

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