“What year was Jesus Christ born? When was Jesus born?”
The Bible does not provide the exact day or What year was Jesus born? even the exact year in which Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But a close examination of the chronological details of history narrows the possibilities to a reasonable window of time.
The Time Before And After Christ
The biblical details of Jesus’ birth are found in the Gospels. Matthew 2:1 states that Jesus was born during the days of Herod the king. Since Herod died in 4 B.C., we have a parameter to work with. Further, after Joseph and Mary fled Bethlehem with Jesus, Herod ordered all the boys 2 years old and younger in that vicinity killed. This indicates that Jesus could have been as old as 2 before Herod’s death. This places the date of His birth between 6 and 4 B.C.
Yes, this is an important objective question. Perhaps, though, What year was Jesus born? In the meantime, my research has left me with a sense of charm about the question—to get the answer, there is so much flexibility that must be acknowledged. I’ve enjoyed learning how hard we humans have tried during many years of time-counting and calendar-creating both to get the answer right and to undergird Christian expectation.
To begin with, Jesus wasn’t born during Year Zero. That’s because there wasn’t a Year Zero. Logically, What year was Jesus born? there can’t be a Year Zero. Consider the month and day you were born. In my case, it’s October 30. If I were so vastly important that the world’s dating was to hinge on October 30, then the 365 days BEFORE my birth would be termed 1 B.D. (the final year before Dikkon) and the 365 days AFTER my birth would be termed 1 A.D. (the first year after Dikkon). There’s no room for a Year Z.D. (zero Dikkon). And in the era of B.D., we would all count backward; in the era of A.D., we would all count forwards.
biblical verses in what year was Jesus born?
Luke 2:1-2 notes several other facts to ponder: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” We know that Caesar Augustus reigned from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14.
Luke mentions another detail What year was Jesus born? concerning our timeline: “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). Jesus began His ministry during the time John the Baptist ministered in the wilderness, and John’s ministry started “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas” (Luke 3:1-2).
Quirinius governed Syria during this same time period, with records of a census that included Judea in approximately 6 B.C. Some scholars debate whether this is the census mentioned by Luke, but it does appear to be the same event. Based on these historical details, the most likely time of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem is 6-5 B.C.
How to Calculate which Year?
years were also calculated from the date of the accession of absolute power by the then emperor, reporting, for instance, that a certain event happened “in the 16th year of the reign of Caesar Augustus.”
Three dating systems may have seemed complicated, but then something different happened in 1278 AUC. A mathematically-minded monk and member of the Roman Curia, Dionysius Exiguus, invented the concept of A.D.
So Dionysius Exiguus invented A.D., and he placed A.D. 1 where he placed it. We’ve been living with that dominant hinge ever since. But note—more flexibility—even that dominant hinge did not become widely used throughout Europe until 731 A.D. when it was adopted by the Venerable Bede and appeared in his major work The Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
Still, In what Year was Jesus Born?
By 731 and after, it was clear that there had existed a What year was Jesus born? we could call A.D. 1. So that’s the answer to our question—it’s obvious. Jesus was born in A.D. 1—the first year of our Lord Jesus Christ. But not so fast.
There is another way to approach the truth. Let’s review what the Bible and Roman history tell us. Matthew 2:1 tells us that Jesus was born “during the reign of King Herod” the Great. At “about that same time,” the Magi arrived in Jerusalem and reported they had seen the Star in the west and had traveled to worship the boy born to be king.
Herod, vicious enough to have murdered two of his wives and three of his sons when he thought they plotted against him, ordered all male children around Bethlehem “who are two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16) to be murdered. From history, we believe that Herod died in the year 4 B.C. So we might conclude that Jesus must have been born about one or two years before the date of Herod’s death, in order for the Magi to have had time for their travel and to describe to Herod how old the child born at the time of the star must now be.
But there’s more. Luke 3:1 locates the preaching of John the Baptist “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius” which we know from history would be A.D. 29 Roman historians usually—but probably not always—dated the emperor’s accession to absolute power as of the first January 1 after he gained the power). We know that Jesus began preaching shortly after his baptism by John. But how long after? A month? A year? Later, in Luke 3:23, we are told that “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry.” Would that still have been in A.D. 29? So, using the suggestions we have in Luke, arithmetic gets us to this other: maybe Christ was born in any year between about 2 Anno Domini and 3 or 4 Before Christ.
Objective Subjective Question ; what year was Jesus born?
Objective, He seeks to redeem our souls.he calls us to Him. He has been calling us to him since Jesus’ Resurrection. So in what year was Jesus born?
Subjectively, here at the beginning of Advent 2019, while liturgically we await—I hope with patience and anticipatory joy—His birth on December 25, 2019, we can say He will be born, very soon now, as He has been born, each year, during more than two millennia.