Herod’s Death, Jesus’ Birth and a Lunar Eclipse

Letters to the Editor debate dates of Herod’s death and Jesus’ birth

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2015.—Ed.


Giotto, Adoration of the Magi, c. 1306.

Both Luke and Matthew mention Jesus’ birth as occurring during Herod’s reign (Luke 1:5; Matthew 2:1). Josephus relates Herod’s death to a lunar eclipse. This is generally regarded as a reference to a lunar eclipse in 4 B.C. Therefore it is often said that Jesus was born in 4 B.C.

But physics professor John A. Cramer, in a letter to BAR, has pointed out that there was another lunar eclipse visible in Judea—in fact, two—in 1 B.C., which would place Herod’s death—and Jesus’ birth—at the turn of the era. Below, read letters published in the Q&C section of BAR debating the dates of Herod’s death, Jesus’ birth and to which lunar eclipse Josephus was referring.

When Was Jesus Born?
Q&C, BAR, July/August 2013

Let me add a footnote to Suzanne Singer’s report on the final journey of Herod the Great (Strata, BAR, March/April 2013): She gives the standard date of his death as 4 B.C. [Jesus’ birth is often dated to 4 B.C. based on the fact that both Luke and Matthew associate Jesus’ birth with Herod’s reign—Ed.] Readers may be interested to learn there is reason to reconsider the date of Herod’s death.

This date is based on Josephus’s remark in Antiquities 17.6.4 that there was a lunar eclipse shortly before Herod died. This is traditionally ascribed to the eclipse of March 13, 4 B.C.

Unfortunately, this eclipse was visible only very late that night in Judea and was additionally a minor and only partial eclipse.

There were no lunar eclipses visible in Judea thereafter until two occurred in the year 1 B.C. Of these two, the one on December 29, just two days before the change of eras, gets my vote since it was the one most likely to be seen and remembered. That then dates the death of Herod the Great into the first year of the current era, four years after the usual date.

Perhaps the much-maligned monk who calculated the change of era was not quite so far off as has been supposed.

John A. Cramer
Professor of Physics
Oglethorpe University
Atlanta, Georgia

In the free ebook Who Was Jesus? Exploring the History of Jesus’ Life, examine fundamental questions about Jesus of Nazareth. Where was he really born—Bethlehem or Nazareth? Did he marry? Is there evidence outside of the Bible that proves he actually walked the earth?

When Was Jesus Born? When Did Herod Die?
Q&C, BAR, January/February 2014

Professor John A. Cramer argues that Herod the Great most likely died shortly after the lunar eclipse of December 29, 1 B.C., rather than that of March 13, 4 B.C., which, as Cramer points out, is the eclipse traditionally associated with Josephus’s description in Jewish Antiquities 17.6.4 (Queries & Comments, “When Was Jesus Born?” BAR, July/August 2013) and which is used as a basis to reckon Jesus’ birth shortly before 4 B.C. Professor Cramer’s argument was made in the 19th century by scholars such as Édouard Caspari and Florian Riess.

There are three principal reasons why the 4 B.C. date has prevailed over 1 B.C. These reasons were articulated by Emil Schürer in A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, also published in the 19th century. First, Josephus informs us that Herod died shortly before a Passover (Antiquities 17.9.3, The Jewish War 2.1.3), making a lunar eclipse in March (the time of the 4 B.C. eclipse) much more likely than one in December.

Second, Josephus writes that Herod reigned for 37 years from the time of his appointment in 40 B.C. and 34 years from his conquest of Jerusalem in 37 B.C. (Antiquities 17.8.1, War 1.33.8). Using so-called inclusive counting, this, too, places Herod’s death in 4 B.C.

Third, we know that the reign over Samaria and Judea of Herod’s son and successor Archelaus began in 4 B.C., based on the fact that he was deposed by Caesar in A.U.C. (Anno Urbis Conditae [in the year the city was founded]) 759, or A.D. 6, in the tenth year of his reign (Dio Cassius, Roman History 55.27.6; Josephus, Antiquities 17.13.2). Counting backward his reign began in 4 B.C. In addition, from Herod the Great’s son and successor Herod Antipas, who ruled over Galilee until 39 B.C., who ordered the execution of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14–29) and who had a supporting role in Jesus’ trial (Luke 23:7–12), we have coins that make reference to the 43rd year of his rule, placing its beginning in 4 B.C. at the latest (see Morten Hørning Jensen, “Antipas—The Herod Jesus Knew,” BAR, September/October 2012).

Thus, Schürer concluded that “Herod died at Jericho in B.C. 4, unwept by those of his own house, and hated by all the people.”

Jeroen H.C. Tempelman
New York, New York


John A. Cramer responds:

Trying to date the death of Herod the Great is attended by considerable uncertainty, and I do not mean to claim I know the right answer. Mr. Tempelman does a good job of pointing out arguments in favor of a 4 B.C. date following the arguments advanced long ago by Emil Schürer. The difficulty is that we have a fair amount of information, but it is equivocal.

The key information comes, of course, from Josephus who brackets the death by “a fast” and the Passover. He says that on the night of the fast there was a lunar eclipse—the only eclipse mentioned in the entire corpus of his work. Correlation of Josephus with the Talmud and Mishnah indicate the fast was probably Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month (mid-September to mid-October) and Passover on the 15th day of the first month (March or April) of the religious calendar. Josephus does not indicate when within that time interval the death occurred.

Only four lunar eclipses occurred in the likely time frame: September 15, 5 B.C., March 12–13, 4 B.C., January 10, 1 B.C. and December 29, 1 B.C. The first eclipse fits Yom Kippur, almost too early, but possible. It was a total eclipse that became noticeable several hours after sundown, but it is widely regarded as too early to fit other information on the date. The favorite 4 B.C. eclipse seems too far from Yom Kippur and much too close to Passover. This was a partial eclipse that commenced after midnight. It hardly seems a candidate for being remembered and noted by Josephus. The 1 B.C. dates require either that the fast was not Yom Kippur or that the calendar was rejiggered for some reason. The January 10 eclipse was total but commenced shortly before midnight on a winter night. Lastly, in the December 29 eclipse the moon rose at 53 percent eclipse and its most visible aspect was over by 6 p.m. It is the most likely of the four to have been noted and commented on.

None of the four candidates fits perfectly to all the requirements. I like the earliest and the latest of them as the most likely. The most often preferred candidate, the 4 B.C. eclipse, is, in my view, far and away the least likely one.

If Jesus was born in Bethlehem, why is he called a Nazorean and a Galilean throughout the New Testament? Learn more >>

A Different Fast
Q&C, BAR, May/June 2014

John Cramer responds to Mr. Tempelman’s letter to the editor (“Queries and Comments,” BAR, January/February 2014) that Herod’s death occurred between a “fast” and Passover. Mr. Cramer acknowledges that the fast of Yom Kippur fits the eclipse but doesn’t fit the time frame of occurring near Passover. There is, however, another fast that occurs exactly one month before Passover: the Fast of Esther! The day before Purim is a fast day commemorating Queen Esther’s command for all Jews to fast before she approached the king. Purim fell on March 12–13, 4 B.C. So there was an eclipse and a fast on March 12–13, 4 B.C., one month before Passover, which would fit Josephus’s statement bracketing Herod’s death by a fast and Passover.

Suzanne Nadaf
Brooklyn, New York


John A. Cramer responds:

This suggestion seems plausible and, if I recall correctly, someone has already raised it. The consensus, if such exists, seems, however, to be that the fast really should be the fast of Yom Kippur, but resolving that issue requires expertise to which I make no claim. Too many possibilities and too little hard information probably leave the precise date forever open.

When Did Herod Die? And When Was Jesus Born?
Q&C, BAR, September/October 2014

Regarding the date of the death of Herod the Great, the question of which lunar eclipse and which Jewish fast the historian Josephus was referring to must be considered in light of other data that Josephus reported. Professor John Cramer’s suggestion that an eclipse in 1 B.C.E. would place Herod’s death in that year, rather than the generally accepted 4 B.C.E., cannot be reconciled with other historical facts recorded by Josephus.

As is well known, Herod’s son Archelaus succeeded him as the ruler of Judea, as reported by Josephus (Antiquities 8:459). Josephus also recorded that Archelaus reigned over Judea and Samaria for ten years, and that in his tenth year, due to complaints against him from both Jews and Samaritans, he was deposed by Caesar Augustus and banished to Vienna (Antiquities 8:531). Quirinius, the legate or governor of Syria, was assigned by the emperor to travel to Jerusalem and liquidate the estate of Archelaus, as well as to conduct a registration of persons and property in Archelaus’s former realm. This occurred immediately after Archelaus was deposed and was specifically dated by Josephus to the 37th year after Caesar’s victory over Mark Anthony at Actium (Antiquities 9:23). The Battle of Actium is a well-known event in Roman history that took place in the Ionian Sea off the shore of Greece on September 2 of the year 31 B.C.E. Counting 37 years forward from 31 B.C.E. yields a date of 6 C.E. for the tenth year of Archelaus, at which time he was deposed and Quirinus came to Judea. And counting back ten years from that event yields a date of 4 B.C.E. for the year in which Herod died. (The beginning and ending years are both included in this count, since regnal years for both Augustus and the Herodians were so figured.)

These reports, and the chronology derived from them, provide compelling evidence for the generally accepted date of Herod’s death in the spring of 4 B.C.E., shortly after the lunar eclipse of March 13, regardless of the fact that eclipses also occurred in other years.

Jeffrey R. Chadwick
Jerusalem Center Professor of Archaeology and Near Eastern Studies
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Read Lawrence Mykytiuk’s BAR article “Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible” >>

There’s More Evidence from Josephus
Q&C, BAR, January/February 2015

In the letter to the editor in BAR, September/October 2014, Jeffrey Chadwick gives the argument for the death of Herod in 4 B.C. [used for determining the date of Jesus’ birth]. For over a century, this has been part of the standard reasoning for the 4 B.C. of Jesus’ birth. However, it does not come to grips with all of the data from Josephus. Elsewhere I have written about this. [An excerpt by Professor Steinmann can be read below.—Ed.]

One cannot simply and positively assert that a few short statements by Josephus about the lengths of reigns of his sons can be used to prove that Herod died in 4 B.C. Instead, one needs critically to sift through all of the evidence embedded in Josephus’s discussion as well as evidence external to Josephus to make a case for the year of Herod’s death.

Andrew Steinmann
Distinguished Professor of Theology and Hebrew
University Marshal
Concordia University Chicago
Chicago, Illinois


Read an excerpt from Andrew E. Steinmann’s book From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), pp. 235–238 [footnotes removed]; see also his article “When Did Herod the Great Reign?” Novum Testamentum 51 (2009), pp. 1–29.

Originally Herod had named his son Antipater to be his heir and had groomed Antipater to take over upon his death. However, a little over two years before Herod’s death Antipater had his uncle, Herod’s younger brother Pheroras murdered. Pheroras had been tetrarch of Galilee under Herod. Antipater’s plot was discovered, and Archelaus was named Herod’s successor in place of Antipater. Seven months passed before Antipater, who was in Rome, was informed that he had been charged with murder. Late in the next year he would be placed on trial before Varus, governor of Syria. Eventually Herod received permission from Rome to execute Antipater. During his last year Herod wrote a will disinheriting Archelaus and granting the kingdom to Antipas. In a later will, however, he once again left the kingdom to Archelaus. Following his death his kingdom would eventually be split into three parts among Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip.

Josephus is careful to note that during his last year Herod was forbidden by Augustus from naming his sons as his successors. However, in several passages Josephus also notes that Herod bestowed royalty and its honors on his sons. At Antipater’s trial Josephus quotes Herod as testifying that he had yielded up royal authority to Antipater. He also quotes Antipater claiming that he was already a king because Herod had made him a king.

When Archelaus replaced Antipater as Herod’s heir apparent some two years before Herod’s death, Antipater may have been given the same prerogatives as Archelaus had previously enjoyed. After Herod’s death Archelaus went to Rome to have his authority confirmed by Augustus. His enemies charged him with seemingly contradictory indictments: that Archelaus had already exercised royal authority for some time and that Herod did not appoint Archelaus as his heir until he was demented and dying. These are not as contradictory as they seem, however. Herod initially named Archelaus his heir, and at this point Archelaus may have assumed royal authority under his father. Then Herod revoked his will, naming Antipas his heir. Ultimately, when he was ill and dying, Herod once again named Archelaus his heir. Thus, Archelaus may not have legally been king until after Herod’s death in early 1 B.C., but may have chosen to reckon his reign from a little over two years earlier in late 4 B.C. when he first replaced Antipater as Herod’s heir.

Since Antipas would eventually rule Galilee, it is entirely possible that under Herod he already had been given jurisdiction over Galilee in the wake of Pheroras’ death. This may explain why Herod briefly named Antipas as his heir in the year before his death. Since Antipas may have assumed the jurisdiction over Galilee upon Pheroras’ death sometime in 4 B.C., like Archelaus, he also may have reckoned his reign from that time, even though he was not officially named tetrarch of Galilee by the Romans until after Herod’s death.

Philip also appears to have exercised a measure of royal authority before Herod’s death in 1 B.C. Philip refounded the cities of Julias and Caesarea Philippi (Paneas). Julias was apparently named after Augustus’ daughter, who was arrested for adultery and treason in 2 B.C. Apparently Julias was refounded before that date. As for Caesarea Philippi, the date of its refounding was used to date an era, and the first year of the era was 3 B.C. Apparently Philip chose to antedate his reign to 4 B.C., which apparently was the time when Herod first entrusted him with supervision of Gaulanitis.

Additional support for Philip having been officially appointed tetrarch after the death of his father in 1 B.C. may be found in numismatics. A number of coins issued by Philip during his reign are known. The earliest bear the date “year 5,” which would correspond to A.D. 1. This fits well with Philip serving as administrator under his father from 4–1 B.C. He counted those as the first four years of his reign, but since he was not officially recognized by Rome as an independent client ruler, he had no authority to issue coins during those years. However, he was in position to issue coinage soon after being named tetrarch sometime in 1 B.C., and the first coins appear the next year, A.D. 1, antedating his reign to 4 B.C. While the numismatic evidence is not conclusive proof of Herod’s death in 1 B.C., it is highly suggestive.

Given the explicit statements of Josephus about the authority and honor Herod had granted his sons during the last years of his life, we can understand why all three of his successors decided to antedate their reigns to the time when they were granted a measure of royal authority while their father was still alive. Although they were not officially recognized by Rome as ethnarch or tetrarchs until after Herod’s death, they nevertheless appear to have reckoned their reigns from about 4 B.C.

“Herod’s Death, Jesus’ Birth and a Lunar Eclipse” was originally published on January 7, 2015.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

How December 25 Became Christmas: Andrew McGowan’s full article from the December 2002 issue of Bible Review

Christmas Stories in Christian Apocrypha by Tony Burke

Who Was Jesus’ Biological Father?

Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

Tour Showcases Remains of Herod’s Jerusalem Palace—Possible Site of the Trial of Jesus

Herod Antipas in the Bible and Beyond


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  1. julie says

    Jesus was not born in December but September and the magi would have found him as a young child ( toddler) around 4 BC he was born in 2 BC

  2. Grant says

    An interesting analysis of the Star of Bethlehem by F.A. Larson makes the case for the 1 BC date even more intriguing (http://www.bethlehemstar.net/). Larson claims that Josephus’ records originally show Herod’s death in 1 BC (as I recall) but a transcription error saw that change in later versions… ? Anyway, it’s an interesting analysis of what the Star of Bethelehem phenomonon was about.

  3. Maurice says

    I am absolutely unqualified to comment on the eclipses and Josephus. However, I agreee with Julie. Unless I can not read scripture Herod died after Jesus was already in Egypt and most likely when Jesus was already two years old or older to it if the star appeared at the moment of His birth.

  4. Chris says

    Immanuel Yeshua ben YHVH
    Born 15th day of 7th Biblical Month
    Gregorian Year of 15 BC..
    Yeshua was 12 When Herod died…

  5. Christopher says

    I am pretty amazed that chronology in the ancient world, has not been more exhaustively calibrated with recorded astronomical observations, observations which in many cases can be verified with near absolute accuracy. In my reading recently it seem that even the dating of the Caesars in the early Roman empire may not be fully reconciled with known astronomical observations. This is clearly an area where astronomers and historians should be collaborating.

  6. Dennis says

    It seems that the latest view on Jesus’ birth is 1st Nisan in 6BC, according to Rabbi Jonathan Cahn (Messianic Jew). Although I always thought Jesus was born at the Feast of Tabernacles, and the census referred to the Jews returning to their place of birth, which apparently was not necessary for a Roman census, it seems that the men of the time would have been in Jerusalem at the feast of tabernacles, according to the rabbi.
    It seems that there was a series of triple conjunctions of Jupiter, Saturn and the Sun in 7BC, while in 6BC there was a further conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus that the Magi would have recognised as the birth of a new king in Bethlehem. It seems that the Magi would have arrived when Jesus was nearly two.

  7. Kurt says

    The date of Herod the Great’s death provides an illustration of problems that can be encountered in dating by lunar eclipses. Josephus’ writings (Jewish Antiquities, XVII, 167 [vi, 4]; XVII, 188-214 [viii, 1–ix, 3]) show Herod’s death occurring shortly after a lunar eclipse and not long before the start of the Passover season. Many scholars date Herod’s death as in 4 B.C.E. and cite as proof the lunar eclipse of March 11 (March 13, Julian calendar) in that year. Because of this reckoning, many modern chronologers place the birth of Jesus as early as 5 B.C.E.
    However, that eclipse in 4 B.C.E. was of only 36-percent magnitude and would have attracted the attention of very few people at the early morning hour that it occurred. Two other eclipses took place in 1 B.C.E., either one of which might fit the requirement of an eclipse not long before the Passover. The partial lunar eclipse of December 27 (December 29, Julian calendar) that year was perhaps observable in Jerusalem but probably not as a conspicuous event. According to calculations based on Oppolzer’s Canon of Eclipses (p. 343), the moon was passing out of the earth’s shadow as twilight fell in Jerusalem, and by the time it was dark the moon was again shining full. On the other hand, it is not included in the comprehensive listing by Manfred Kudlek and Erich Mickler. Thus the extent to which that eclipse was visible in Jerusalem or whether it was visible at all is uncertain at this point in history. More striking than either of the above was the late-night lunar eclipse that occurred in the early hours of January 8, 1 B.C.E. (January 10, Julian calendar). This was a total eclipse in which the moon was blacked out for 1 hour 41 minutes. It would have been noticed by anyone who was awake, even if the sky was overcast. So during the years here discussed, more than one eclipse occurred shortly before a Passover. Viewed from the standpoint of information available now, it seems that the one most likely to have been noted was that on January 8, 1 B.C.E.—Solar and Lunar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East From 3000 B.C. to 0 With Maps, by M. Kudlek and E. H. Mickler; Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany; 1971, Vol. I, p. 156.
    Source: http://www.jw.org/en/ ,ONLINE LIBRARY,Lunar eclipses, Select Your Language Languages: 701 total.

  8. Kurt says

    The 4 B.C. eclipse cannot be historically sustained. Josephus expressly states that Herod was 70 years old at his death. Josephus also states that Herod was 25 years old when given the government of Galilee by his father, Antipas, who, in turn, received the government of Judea in the spring of 46 B.C. from Julius Caesar following his Alexandrian War (48 B.C.). This would place Herod’s birth in 71 B.C., making 1 B.C. his seventieth year and the year of his death. There are approximately 16 additional synchronizations that may be added to this from Josephus, all of which correlate with a 1 B.C. death, many of which Andrew Steinmann covers in his piece “When did Herod the Great Reign” available at this link: http://www.academia.edu/9786536/When_Did_Herod_the_Great_Reign. However, what must clinch the matter for those who believe in the plenary inspiration of scripture is Luke’s attestation that Jesus was on the threshold of his 30th birthday at his fall baptism in A.D. 29, the 15th year of Tiberius (Lk. 3:1, 23). This would place Jesus’ birth in 2 B.C., placing Herod’s death sometime thereafter, precluding 4 B.C. as a possibility.

  9. DALLAS says

    There are many fasts in Judaism, and fixating on Yom Kippur to the exclusion of others is a mistake. There are two major (full-day) fasts, Yom Kippur and Tisha b’Av. Yom Kippur falls on 10 Tishrei, at the end of summer or early fall, just before or after the autumnal equinox. Tisha b’Av, the Ninth of Av, falls in high summer and marks the destruction of both Temples.

    In addition, there are five minor (daylight-only) fasts. As mentioned, a month before Passover and the day before Purim falls the Fast of Esther. There are four others scattered through the year (10 Tevet, in early winter; 17 Tammuz, three weeks before 9 Av; Fast of Gedaliah, seven days before
    Yom Kippur; fast of the first-born, 14 Nissan). See http://www.jewfaq.org/holidaye.htm.

    And for lunar eclipses, if no one else was awake to observe one, the priests in Jerusalem surely would have (and Jospehus was a priest). They were organized into round-the-clock watches. Since a lunar occurs only a full moon (middle of the month), they certainly would have noted it. In ancient times, in all organized religions, priests were astronomers, among other things.

    As for Jesus’ birth, if we just go by the Gospels, it’s most likely to have been in the spring, as that’s the birthing season for lambs. Not decisive, to be sure, but still a striking fact.

  10. john says

    That monk who cited 1BC for Jesus birth. was Dionysius. Exiguus & if he used a pagan calendar ,it would have appeared to be 1BC,as Y’ESHUA was born in the Month. Tishri of 1AD / 4001A M (Anno Mmundi)
    Using pagan calendars to date Biblical Events does not work.
    Pope. Gregory & Christopher. Clavius were responsible for the 4BC date,as Clavius found the 3 year dicrepency,but Pope Gregory was not brave enough to correct his calendar AD,as riots property damage & many deaths had resulted from his 10 DAYS deletion from the Month of October in 1386 ( Actual), when a Papal Bull ordered that Thursday 4th October was to be followed by Friday 15th October,& many thought they had somehow been cheated out of 10 days pay…..Pope. Gregory quietly added the 3 years on to the erroneous 1BC date to make it 4BC.Thus ‘history’ has been misdated as a result.
    The correct way to describe Y’eshua’s birth ,is 1AD. or. 4001 AM….

  11. Krzysztof says

    There are differences on the date of birth and death (30 or 33 A.D) of Jesus from Nazareth; is there some (hisotrical) source document on the date of execution of John the Baptist by Herod?

  12. Gary says

    I have worked on this considerably.

    Birthdate of Yeshua the Nazarene: sunset of 9-11-3 BCE to 9-12-3 BCE. 9-11-3 BCE somewhat more probable. This is straight from the Revelation of Saint John, and NASA astronomical data.

    Conception: 11-27-4 BCE to 12-26-4 BCE. Human gestation is 38 to 42 weeks. The Jews of the time considered your conception to be your birthday. This is why they do not “know” when Yeshua was “born”. From the middle of your last menstrual period, add 28 days. Two weeks on either side of that later date is your “birthday” range. Interestingly, if Yeshua WAS born on 9-11-3 BCE, and he WAS two weeks premature (not unusual for young girls, with their first birth — many were already married by 12.5 years of age, and boys by 14.5 years), then his “birthday”, by a Jewish consideration back then, could be 12-25-4 BCE.

    Death: 4-3-33 BCE. Well established by the eclipse. The time of day is afternoon most likely at sunset; I am not fully finished with this part. Hung on the cross for more than one day; it explains the three days thing, which is questioned as being too long, from the records.

    Herod’s death was close to 1 BCE, most likely getting close to the end of winter. I have it down to a few weeks. A misunderstanding of the politics of the Roman Empire dates his death much earlier than that (coinage, how you calculate the first year of a reign in the differing Jewish and Roman perspectives, and when Herod turned effective control of the tetrarchies over to his sons, while still remaining in physical possession of the crown and all of its trappings, and Jerusalem). There is a precedent for Herod saying one of his sons “ruled”, while he was actually still in control.

    The ministries of John the Baptist and Yeshua combined were almost exactly 3.5 years (a time, times, and half a time). For John, the active part of his ministry was almost exactly a year (a time), which was followed by Yeshua’s active ministry (times and half a time = 2.5 years). The total is like only 3.5 days shorter than 3.5 years. It all works out, and all accounts are supported by this. There are no real discrepancies between the records still extant. But I am not finished writing this.

    I even have pinpointed the date that Yeshua read Isaiah in the synagogue in Sepphoris, which was a surprise to me.

  13. Rus says

    Maybe all of those who think this is original groundbreaking research could bother themselves to look at Ernest Martin’s 1991 (& reprinted in 1998) work, “The Star That Astonished the World.” These scholars who are thinking that they are conducting original work might realize they have been wasting time.

  14. MIKE says





  15. Gary says

    As it is a big book I am writing, I have not gotten around to double-checking all of this information yet, but anyway:

    Herod died in 1 B.C., (1) after a day that the Jews observe as a fast which happened (2) just before an eclipse of the moon (3); before the Passover (Jewish Antiquities XVII:166-167, 213).

    (1) There were only four lunar eclipses observable over Palestine from 7 B.C.E. to 1 B.C.E.: a total eclipse on March 23, 5 B.C.E.; a total eclipse on September 15, 5 B.C.E.; a partial eclipse on March 13, 4 B.C.E., and, a total eclipse on January 10, 1 B.C.E. Drawing from information which is too lengthy to present here (it takes numerous pages to draw it all out), all of these eclipses can be discounted as being the eclipse seen just before Herod’s death, except for the eclipse of January 10, 1 B.C.E. Note that the Gregorian vs. Julian discrepancy diminishes towards zero, as you approach 1 B.C.E. / 1 C.E.

    (2) There are always several candidates for a fast occurring before Passover. The fast calendar of 1 B.C.E. is perhaps quite a bit different from today’s, and could even possibly include an older form of Yom Kippur Katan (literally, the little Yom Kippur) on the 29th of specific months. One can only speculate on this. There are even several fasts of individuals, such as the Feast of Moses, that occur within the Jewish year. But I note especially the fast of the Tenth of Tevet, which commemorates the start of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and which would have been a prefiguring feast of supreme spiritual and political importance to the Jews in the days of the Roman-backed, Jerusalem-sacking, Idumean usurper Herod. This fast occurred on January 5, 1 B.C.E. The proposal to include Purim is erroneous, as it is by far not a fast day.

    (3) The first night of Passover fell on April 7 in 1 B.C.E.

    The Tenth of Tevet is a before dawn to nightfall fast, today. It could easily have been, and likely was, a 25 hour fast in the time of Herod.

    From this data, I propose that Herod died between sunset of January 6, 1 B.C.E. to sunset of January 7, 1 B.C.E., i.e., the day after the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet. This is “just before” sunset of 10 B.C.E.

    I would like to see the original text of Josephus, to see if “just before” can be translated into English differently, such as “shortly before”.

  16. Gary says

    Or, possibly, sunset of January 5 to sunset of January 6, 1 B.C.E. I will have to double-check my NASA vs. Jewish calendar conversion data.

  17. Alistair says

    From St John in Revelation one can also calculate the date of the Nativity.
    I have read a letter by Dick Gagel, Aberdeen, Scotland who points out that in The Birth of Christ Recalculated by Dr. Ernest L. Martin 1978.the date is calculated from astronomical data in Revelation.
    To quote:”All of the following is culled from The Birth of Christ Recalculated by Dr. Ernest L. Martin (ELM), a late acquaintance of mine, a trained meteorologist, historian and author. As this publication emanated from a fundamentalist Protestant background, it remained under the radar of most people.

    Notwithstanding the many opinions voiced by SIS contributors that Jesus’ birthdate could probably never be ascertained, the necessary data have been available for nigh on two millennia albeit in encrypted form in the oldest NT book of Revelation, chapter 12, verses 1-2:
    “And there was a great wonder [sign] in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered”

    The giveaway is the word “sign” in vs 1. According to Genesis, the celestial bodies were to be regarded as giving signs (1:14). Some early Jewish opinion included among these “signs” the astronomical associations between the sun, moon, planets, and other constellations (Philo, Op.Mund.,55; Rashi, Commentary, vol. I, p.5). There can hardly be a doubt that astronomical “signs” are mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Lange, Commentary, vol. X, p.34).

    The essential factor is the identification of the Woman. She is “in heaven” – in the astronomical sense – as the sun and the moon are associated with her. This strongly suggests that the Woman herself is some kind of constellation which the two primary luminaries can traverse. Indeed, the word “sign” used here is the same one used by the ancients to denote the zodiacal constellations (Liddell and Scott, Lexicon, p.1448). And since the sun and the moon are amidst or in line with the Woman, this indicates it must be a constellation located within the normal paths of the sun and the moon. The only sign of a Woman which exists along the ecliptic is that of Virgo the Virgin. She occupies, in body form, a space of about 50 degrees along the ecliptic. (The head actually bridges some 10 degrees into the previous sign of Leo and her feet overlap about 10 degrees into the following sign of Libra.) In the period 3 BC the sun entered the head position of the Woman about August 12, and exited from her feet about October 1st. But the sun more precisely “clothes” the Woman, i.e. covers her mid-body, somewhere between the neck and the middle part of her legs. In that year the sun would have “clothed” the Woman for a 20-day period, from about August 27 to about September 15.
    The moon is said to be located “under her feet”. Since the feet of Virgo represent the last 7 degrees of the constellation (in Jesus’ time this was between 185 and 192 degrees along the ecliptic) the moon has to be positioned somewhere within those degrees. But it has to be in that exact location when the sun is mid-bodied to Virgo. In 3 BC these two factors came to precise agreement for a 14 hour period on September 11/12. This relationship began about 6.30 am Palestine time and lasted until around 8.30 pm. This was the only time in the entire year that such a thing could take place. But there is more. If the moon is located under Virgo’s feet at the same time the sun is in the uterine position, the moon has to be in crescent form, i.e. a new moon occasion. It has therefore to be the first day of some lunar month in late summer – the first of Tishri in 3BC – no other month is possible.”

    This estimate also supports the ! BC date for the death of Herod.
    However I do not agree that Revelation is the oldest book, as the Gospels were surely written before it, as they just do not sound like books written after the catastrophes of the Neronian persecution and the fall of Jerusalem, whereas Revelation clearly does mention the persecution and the siege of Jerusalem…
    Alistair McFarlane, Ireland.

  18. Eliezer says

    Gary – maybe you work too hard and think too little, Neither the Jews of that time nor the Jews of this time EVER considered the day of conception to be a birthday.


  19. Eliezer says

    Nor the Jews of an earlier time, come to think of it.

  20. Andrew says

    Greetings everyone…great debate. I want to side wholeheartedly with Mr. Templeman and respond to the main suggestion against him that the “fast” Josephus mentions means Herod’s death in proximity to Yom Kippur.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, we are told plainly in Josephus–in the citations already given above–that Archelaus mourned his father for a full week and then Passover began. In our Gregorian calendar, that would put Herod’s death from about March 25th-April 2nd in 4 BCE, the latter date being 8 Nisan, a week before Passover.

    Secondly, Yom Kippur is far from the only fast in the Bible. There is Tisha B’Av for example, commemorating the destruction dates of both Temples. More to the point however is THE FAST OF ESTHER, right before Purim.

    Now since Herod died at after a lunar eclipse (full moon) but before Passover (the next full moon), it makes sense that Purim (a full moon feast) is the last full moon Herod saw. Haman and Herod were of Edomite stock–in fact Herod was a direct descendant of Haman (long story), so it makes sense both men die at the same full moon.

    So yes there was a fast before the last full moon before Passover. Herod died just after the FAST of Esther (Esther 9:31, Josephus Antiquities 11:228-229), . In 4 BCE, 2 Adar 13 hit on a Shabbat (Friday-Saturday) and the eclipse happened 4 days later. There may be some debate if the Rabbinic rules of pushing a Shabbat Esther Fast back to Thursday applied then, but either way it was within a week of the lunar eclipse and therefore all of Josephus’ details fit much better in March than they can in December. Here are his words:

    165 Now it happened, that during the time of the high priesthood of this Matthias, there was another person made high priest for a single day, that very day which the Jews observed as a fast. 166 The occasion was this:–This Matthias the high priest, on the night before that day when the fast was to be celebrated, seemed, in a dream, {b} to have intercourse with his wife; and because he could not officiate himself on that account, Joseph, the son of Ellemus, his kinsman, assisted him in that sacred office. 167 But Herod deprived this Matthias of the high priesthood, and burnt the other Matthias, who had raised the sedition, with his companions, alive. And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon. (Antiquities, 17:165-167 JOE)

    As a result, there is nothing contradicting the 4 BCE date, and frankly I am surprised that the person who advocated Yom Kippur made no effort at all to even acknowledge other possible fast dates on the Hebrew calendar.

    I have also found 1 BCE advocates I have studied tend not to really give a lot of evidence for their view (from what I have seen). For example, there are claims that Josephus was altered from a 1 BCE reckoning to a 4 BCE reckoning but no one produces a manuscript. Also, no one I have seen from that camp seems to have looked at the fact that Josephus and Roman historians like Tacitus and others agree on the same dating chronology, so now are all Tacitus’ mss also altered? It strains credulity to suggest such in my view. Not even the well respected late Dr. Ernest Martin addressed these issues adequately in “The Star that Astonished the World” and he has done a lot of great research in other areas that I greatly respect.

    I should also point out that partial eclipses (this one was at 40%) counted as genuine in the Middle East of the 1st century. The Babylonian astronomy school at Sippar for example counted partial eclipses and total ones as legitimate.

    Finally, those into the Star of Bethlehem studies likewise look at spectacular conjunctions in 3 and 2 BCE as “proof” of a 1 BCE Nativity. Having researched the archaeo-astronomy for 25 years I believe I can prove those events relate to Messiah’s infancy years, not his birth. So when Jupiter and Venus have the super close conjunction for example, it may simply mean mother and child are safe back in Nazareth.

    Hope this helps!

    Andrew Gabriel Roth
    Translator of the Aramaic English New Testament (AENT)

  21. Gary says

    Sanhedrin Chapter XI.:

    The same [Antonius; three possibilities] questioned again the same [Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nassi 135-219 C.E.]: At what time does the soul come into the body–at the moment of conception, or at the time the embryo is already formed? And the answer was: When it is already formed. Said Antoninus to him: Is it possible that a piece of flesh shall keep three days or more without being salted, and it shall not become stinking? And therefore it must be said: At conception. Said Rabbi: This teaching I accepted from Antoninus, and a support to him is to be found in [Job, x. 12]: “And thy providence watched over my spirit.”

    Antoninus questioned Rabbi again: At what time does the evil spirit reach man? At the time the embryo is formed, when it comes out from the womb? And he was answered: At the time it is formed. Rejoined Antoninus: If so, the embryo would kick the entrails of the mother and go out; therefore it must be from the time it comes out. And Rabbi said: This teaching I received from Antoninus, and he is supported by Gen. iv. 7: “Sin lieth at the door.”

    Which is proof positive that this was a subject of discussion and debate about the time of Yeshua. From a legal point of view, an embryo was not yet a person, for the purposes of inheritance. But this does not preclude the recognition that the embryo is alive. The two cannot be confused; life, and the ability to inherit.

    If an embryo is not alive until birth, then how does it move or kick? How is it “quickened” in the womb? Quickening, during pregnancy, is when the mother feels the embryo moving. Quickened is defines as “Primarily, to make alive; to vivify; to revive or resuscitate, as from death or an inanimate state.” Fourteen Psalms mention quickening as giving life to dead flesh. The Jews of Yeshua’s time were versed in the Psalms, and considered David to be an authority in many matters, including this.

    The birth of Caesar was also known at the time. This was not the first Cesarean performed in the ancient world. Premature births, whether the child survived or not, also were not totally unknown.

    “From the time I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” The Timeless One, knew you, even before your birth, while you were in the womb. But if you are not alive, you are not a you. This was well known, and of course, debated.

    I also misread my notes. I will have to readjust the timeframe for Herod’s death to match “after a day that a fast was observed before an eclipse, before Passover”. Antiquities shows Herod still alive after “And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon”, which was January 10. Herod gathered the heads of the families into the hippodrome (about 4 days total); sought a cure in the baths (about 6 days total), which involved slow travel (about another 6 days); had Antipater killed (add a day); died five days later; was buried (same day); was mourned by Archelaus for seven days; Archelaus partied (likely 2 days); took the throne (1 day) and addressed the people; the people petitioned him (from 1 to 3 days later); Passover arrived (April 7, 1 B.C.E.) So, Herod had to have died between approximately February 1 to March 25, 1 B.C.E.

  22. Gary says

    I did not add:

    Up until 4 centuries ago, the Jews did not even celebrate birthdays. It was considered to be an evil, for who could determine what only Hashem knew? Who even knew if He had created a man, or a girl? Three places in the Scriptures, the celebration of birthdays is mentioned, in association with some calamity.

    From Job 3:

    After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day [of birth; 24 hours]. 2 And Job spake, and said, 3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night [part of a 24 hour period] in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.

    Inanimate meat without a life spirit within it, cannot be a man, nor a child.

    9 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day: 10 Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.

    How could something not yet alive, know sorrow from that day?

    11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

    This could be argued pre-or post-birth.

    16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.

    This references miscarriages, wherein the fetus was yet so unformed, that the miscarriage is not even outwardly known.

    26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.

    Cryptic; not yet dead; not yet born. Yet trouble was his assigned lot, even before birth.

    Job’s children were slain for celebrating “their day”. Basically, celebrating their birthdays, calculated from 9 months before their physical birth, is an abomination; for only Hashem knows the exact day. Celebrating it one year after exiting the womb, is an abomination also; as they were already alive in the womb, from an undetermined date, and it is a falsehood to say otherwise. The ancient Jews played it safe, and did not celebrate this uncertainty at all.

    Ecclesiastes 7:1: A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

  23. Gary says

    The periodicity and recurrence of eclipses is governed by the Saros cycle, a period of approximately 6,585.3 days (18 years 11 days 8 hours). It was known to the Chaldeans as a period when lunar eclipses seem to repeat themselves, but the cycle is applicable to solar eclipses as well. Each series typically lasts 12 to 15 centuries and contains 70 or more lunar eclipses. Straight from NASA: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/SEsaros.html

    After spending 597 B.C.E. to 539 B.C.E. in the Court of the Chaldean (neo-Babylonian) Empire (626 B.C.E. to 539 B.C.E.), the royal and priestly classes would have been well aware of Chaldean astronomy. And the Chaldeans predicted, and attached great significance to, recurring Saros Series eclipses.

    Those letter writers who discuss the possibility of someone in Jerusalem “noticing” an eclipse, need to understand that eclipses were predictable, and were watched for, and were confirmed as having met the expected periodicity. So, the time of day or night that an eclipse occurred, is irrelevant to its actually being seen by accident. Also, there were always guards on the walls, and at the gates, of every city, who would have noticed any aberrant celestial event. From 100 B.C.E. to 100 C.E., every eclipse was a member of one of the many Saros Series (as are all lunar eclipses, throughout history).

    January 10, 1 B.C.E. is a Saros Series 58 eclipse. Saros Series 58 is composed of 73 lunar eclipses, of which 24 (32.9%) were total (world-wide). NASA has maps, which show when and where these eclipses occurred. http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEsaros/LEsaros058.html

    All of the eclipses in question belong to predictable Saros Series, so not one of them was a surprise to the Priesthood.

  24. Gary says

    Most rabbis began their ministry as Torah rabbis, teaching at the synagogues and schools to the young children. Only a rare few continued on with their education to become master rabbis. It wasn’t until the age 40 where they would be considered one who had understanding in the Law, and when they finally turned the age of 50, they would be given the honor to counsel others, meaning having their own talmidim. That meant they were able to give their own interpretation of the Law. It was at this point when a rabbi could become a master rabbi. By this time, he would be considered a wise, aged man.

  25. John says

    I’m surprised that no-one has mentioned four other factors within the above discussion:
    • Daniel’s The Seventy Weeks Prophecy
    • The decree of the Persian king, Artaxerxes I Longimanus
    • The ‘prophesied dates’ of the Messiah’s anointing and His crucifixion
    • Jesus’ age at the beginning of His ministry
    Daniel’s prophecy (Dan 9:25-27), set out a period of 69 weeks (or sevens) of years (i.e. 483 years) from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah.
    That decree is widely accepted to have been that of the Persian king Artaxerxes I Longimanus which occurred in the 7th year of his reign (Ezra 7:7-8). Artaxerxes ruled from September 465 to October 424 BC, thus the 7th year would have been 458-457 BC. The Persian calendar ran from spring to spring, so September 465 BC to spring 464 BC would have arguably been Artaxerxes’ accession year, his official reign beginning in 464 BC. The Jewish religious year was Nisan to Adar (spring) and the civil year Tishri to Elul (autumn). Ezra left Babylon in the 1st with an entourage and arrived in Jerusalem in the 5th month. This is likely to have been a spring/summer caravan trek, rather than an autumn/winter one. The 1st month must therefore have been that of the religious year (i.e. Nisan). The commentaries support this. This further reinforces the decree of Artaxerxes occurring in 457 BC rather than the year he ascended the throne (458). Thus 457 BC is the starting year of Daniel’s prophecy. There could be further scrutiny on whether to use inclusive or exclusive reckoning, but assuming exclusive for the moment, -457 + 483 +1 = 27 AD [there is no 0 BC/0 AD].
    We know from the gospels that Jesus’ ministry lasted 3½ years, and assuming an autumn nativity (widely held, but for the moment not quite so important), that brings us to 31 AD as the year of the crucifixion – or possibly 30 AD based on closer examination (my own view). Daniel 9:26-27 does not state that the Messiah would be cut off after 3½ years of His ministry, but there is an inference to that effect. The event seems to be mirrored by the “prince who is to come” (the Antichrist) breaking the 7-year covenant “in the middle of the week”.
    (BTW, some argue in favour of Sir Robert Anderson’s calculations of converting the 69 weeks into days to come up with a 445 BC decree and a 32 AD crucifixion, but I don’t buy that for a number of reasons that are beyond this discussion.)
    The NT is ‘specific enough’ in stating that Jesus was ‘about thirty’ when he began His ministry (Luke 3:33). Some translations are a tad more ‘general’, but Young’s Literal Translation (amongst others) renders this from the Greek as “Jesus himself was beginning to be about thirty years of age”. In other words it was around His 30th birthday. This immediately followed His baptism, the Holy Spirit descending on Him as a dove and the Father’s voice heard from heaven (Luke 3:32) – the very day He was anointed as the Messiah (and following. This was the fulfilment of Dan 9:25 “…Until Messiah the Prince…” and that prophecy is extremely specific about its numbers. 30 was also the age at which priests were allowed to perform service in the temple (Num 4), and the significance will not go unnoticed.
    Immediately after this event “Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil…” (Luke 4:1-2). As Messiah His first task was to take on and defeat Satan. This titanic spiritual battle, at the end (Matt 4:2) of a 40-day fast (not 37 or 44), was also part of His ‘coming of age’. We can therefore reasonably deduce that His age of 30 is given as a pretty accurate reference point.
    So on that basis that Jesus became the Christ/Messiah in the fall of 27 AD (or possibly 26 AD) when He was 30. 27-30-1= 4 BC. This ties in with the birth of Jesus in that year, or possibly in 5 BC, depending on inclusive/reckoning. It does not however support a date in 1 BC for the birth of our Saviour, otherwise Luke would have written ‘about 26” or ‘27’ or ‘28’ – and that makes Jesus too young to begin His Messiahship – not yet ‘of age’ physically and spiritually.
    God is precise.

  26. Jerry says

    Herod the Great was in Jerusalem when the Wisemen came in Matthew 2; that is very significant. The last few months of Herod’s life, according to Josephus, he was out of Jerusalem and seeking help for his ailments. He did not live in Jerusalem. Then he died in the Spring of 4 B.C. All of this leads me to say that the date for Christ’s birth is probably closer to 6 or 5 BC. Why was everyone so upset with what the Wisemen said? It is because it was on the heels of Herod’s execution of Alexander and Aristobulus in 7 BC. It is better to say 6 or 5 BC for a probable date of Christ’s birth, because it is closer to 7 BC. We know for sure the sons were executed in 7 BC. For the 4 BC date, Herod was out of town and not in Jerusalem. This also may mean a crucifixion date of A.D. 29 or 30 rather than A.D. 33 as some would suppose.

    Jerry Knoblet
    Author of the book Herod the Great

  27. dwight says

    We must not forget that Y’Shua was alreadyTWO years old when HEROD THE GREAT had the baby boys TWO years old and under in BETHLEHEM and its districts murdered as he was trying to kill the MESSIAH, for it had been TWO years since the WISE men had appeared to him in JERUSALEM. Joseph and Mary were WARNED in a dream that HEROD was seeking to kill their son the MESSIAH, so they were instructed to FLEE into EGYPT which they did. Afterwards the Angel told them that he who sought to DESTROY their CHILD was now DEAD. If HEROD died in 4BC then Y’Shua was at LEAST TWO YEARS OLD when HEROD died making the Messiah’s birth at LEAST 6BC – However, we do not know how long Joseph and Mary and the SON OF GOD lived in EGYPT before HEROD THE GREAT died.

  28. Tamás says

    julie says
    Jesus was not born in December but September and the magi would have found him as a young child ( toddler) around 4 BC he was born in 2 BC
    😀 Sancta simplicitas…

  29. DENNIS says

    Ah, BC years count DOWN, not up as do AD years. A person born in 4 BC would be two years old in 2 BC, five years old in 1 AD, and ten years old in 6 AD.

  30. Tamás says

    Not exactly. A person born in 4 BC would be two years old in 2 BC, but only four years old in 1 AD, and nine years old in 6 AD, since there was not 0. year.

  31. Andy says

    Yes if Jesus was born in 2 BC, he wouldn’t have even been born in 4 BC. It seems Julie doesn’t understand that BC years count down not up.

  32. YonYob says

    We cannot ignore the records from the New Testament in the Gospel of Luke.

    Luke 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

    We learn that John the Baptist is only six month older that Jesus and Jesus started his ministry when he was about 30 as recorded in the gospel of Luke.

    Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

    The Roman Emperor Tiberius succeeded his step-father, Augustus Caesar, on the 19th of August in 14AD. Therefore, the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign, when St. John the Baptist began his ministry (as the Romans calculated their years) was from August 19th, 28AD to August 18th, 29AD. However, if St. Luke was using the Syrian method of calculating, then the reign of Tiberius would have been from September – October 27AD to 28AD (for a discussion of post-ascension dating see the document “How We Date the Reigns of Old Testament Kings”).

    From the year calculated as the beginning of St. John the Baptist’s ministry and the information concerning the difference in months between John and Jesus’ conceptions, it can be calculated that both St. John and Jesus’ births were probably in year 3/2 BC.

    In conclusion therefore: If Jesus Born in 3/2 BC then Heron did not die in 4BC.

  33. Martha says

    Regarding Quirinius:
    Quirinius, mentioned in Luke’s Nativity narrative, was a very capable Roman general who was putting down a rebellion in what is now northern Turkey and Armenia long before the Augustan Census of 6 CE. The rebellion, beginning in 12 BCE, was finally quelled by 4 BCE. Quirinius may well have been acting governor and was definitely the supreme military commander of the region, rather like MacArthur in Japan, with headquarters in Damascus, from 3-2 BCE when there was no official Roman governor in the province of Syria.

    In 1 BCE, Caius Caesar, the 18 year old grandson of Julius Caesar and cousin and heir to the imperial throne after Augustus, was sent to the region to learn firsthand the problems and techniques for governing the far-flung empire. Quirinius, who was there at the time, was given charge of the heir, to be his mentor. The youth died in 4 CE from wounds received in a military skirmish as he was returning to Rome. Quirinius returned to Rome in that year and remained in Rome until being officially appointed governor of Syria from 6 to 11 CE.

    So for a long period from about 12 BCE to 11 CE, with only one two-year hiatus from 4 to 6 CE when he was in Rome, Quirinius was in the middle east. Damascus was the military headquarters of three Roman legions. Only a governor could have legions at his disposal, and the entire large region that includes today’s Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and northern Israel was governed from Damascus. Judea was governed by a procurator, which was a Roman post in the bureaucracy that was lower than the rank of governor, so Quirinius would still have been the highest ranking official either as de facto or named governor of the entire province, even able to keep an eye on the Judean procurator, whom a governor or commanding general outranked. He was reported by Tactitus as being an unusually capable administrator.

    One of the first things Quirinius might have done in 3 BCE was to order a census, in order to establish where to position his troops to put down insurrections, as well as for tax purposes and land ownership grievances that might come before him for judgment. This possible (I think probable) census may well have been the census that Luke mentions “when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” A governor could order a census on his own; a Roman governor was a viceroy in essence, who spoke for and took the place of the Emperor. So an order from a governor was the same as an order from Augustus.

    Also, Roman law mandated that property owners be present at their property during a census. Joseph, who was of the House of David, may well have owned or been in line to inherit property in Bethlehem, so he would naturally have gone to Bethlehem with his pregnant wife to be present at his property as the law required. Lunar eclipses aside, historically the time frame of 3-2 BCE seems the most likely for the birth of Jesus, because (a) Herod was alive (he died in either 2 or 1 BCE according to many modern scholars), (b) Quirinius the commanding general and/or acting governor was in Damascus, and (c) Joseph and Mary were en route to or in Bethlehem. That is the only time period in which all the most important people in the Nativity story were alive and where Luke’s gospel reports them as being. The Augustan census of 6 CE is an historical fact, but there were other censuses taken by the Romans both before and after the famous Augustan census that has had scholars and churchmen wrangling for decades if not centuries. There is no reason that Quirinius would not have ordered at least a regional census when he, as commanding general, had the administration of Syria thrust upon him in 3 BCE and maybe even as early as late 4 BCE, when the former governor was recalled to Rome for being completely inept. Quirinius, trying to whip the civilian bureaucracy back into shape, probably ordered a census by 3 BCE. He also years later was present in Damascus as the official governor in 6 CE when Augustus ordered a general census of the entire empire. But he had been in the middle east for a total of 18 years before his governorship of Syria ended in 11 CE. The question is: why would anyone question Luke’s gospel, which was written by one who access to eyewitnesses including members of Jesus’ own family, even possibly Jesus own mother? These people would surely know who was governor of Syria, that Herod had not yet died, and where Joseph and Mary were at the time of Jesus’ birth, and there is no reason why Luke would take such pains to record the historical moment, and the various rulers of specific regions, if the information was not well-known and its accuracy not open to dispute.

  34. Gary says

    This needs to be approached from another angle. Which is, why do we have a 1 B.C.E. and a 1 C.E. year date, with a zero point in between, in the first place?

    Because, this was calculated by a Roman, using continuous, extant Roman records concerning Consulships, in 525 C.E. He used the “about 30 years” of Luke, to calculate the zero point.

    The closer you get to the zero point for the birth of Yeshua, the closer you get to the traditional ancient belief as to the proper date of His birth.

    You have to give the Ancients their due — They did not have things like football, Dancing With the Stars, cell phones, and Good Morning America to distract them from their philosophical studies.

    Fundamentally, you have to prove that Dionysius Exiguus made a significant error in his calculation in the first place, to fully discount his calculation. And it is not impossible, that he had several to dozens of other Roman and other records to use as cross-references, which records no longer exist, as of today.


    Again, it all hinges upon the testimony of Luke; but I believe that Dionysius was being careful in his reckoning. The dates of Consulships were a given quantity, in the Roman records. We still have copies of these, today.


    Why tell me, “Sorry,” when some of the links you share support what I and many others are saying?

  35. Gary says

    Martha covered most of the pertinent Census of Quirinius information. These are excerpts from something I was working on, using that same information, which I had also located:

    “I postulate that censuses were overseen by the Romans in every province and their surrounding region after every significant revolt that occurred. This was due to population dynamics and demographics, the changes of fortune of the survivors in the province, the need to raise additional taxes to pay for the suppression of the revolt, plus the cost of the more significant presence and oversight of the province by the Roman’s during the to follow occupation of it…

    I propose that when Herod put the tetrarchies into effect, Rome saw a reason to do a census of the people in Palestine, so that they would know how many people were in the four different tetrarchies. This census would have been proposed by Rome prior to 4 B.C.E., to go into effect when the tetrarchies they approved of began. The Roman-overseen (by Quirinius?) census of the volatile four tetrarchies would have probably occurred in c. 4 to 2 B.C.E., and have been started shortly after Herod effectively “died” as king, and his sons started to rule the areas beyond the immediate region of Jerusalem in his stead, while Herod the Great lay there suffering and begging to be killed. This could have resulted in a messianic revolt, “post-Herod the Great.”

    I would opt for Quirinius and his legion, or at least some Roman legion, coming to Jerusalem between 4 and 2 B.C. E. to help with keeping order during a provincial census. The fourteen year censuses were done Empire-wide. Keep in mind that a census was generally done every five years in Rome and in the provinces, or whenever it could be done properly, between periods of provincial and even Roman unrest. And Quirinius as Legate also had the authority to call for a census on his own for any reason he saw fit. But the 4 to 2 B.C.E. census and registration would have run in conjunction with the oath of loyalty that was being required Empire-wide by Augustus.

    It would be in the interest of any Emperor to have an independent and loyal legion in the East. Quirinius would not need to wait for orders from Rome to reach him by ship or by courier before acting in the best interests of Rome and the Emperor. The lesson of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony less than a generation before was not lost on the Roman leadership. I forward here the proposition that Quirinius’s job as Legate in Syria was nothing less than to be there to prevent the outbreak of another costly, Eastern-based civil war within the Empire itself.”

    Just more food for thought, and a stick for stirring the pot…

  36. Timothy says

    The most recent results of my own research are available via the Timeline button on my web page at http://timlynn2.wix.com/tegworlds. Using logic not derived from any of the above arguments, the low limit of Jesus’ birth is a couple of months prior to 2 BC, and Herod’s death after that.

    If anyone finds statements in my database that are in error, and can supply corrected or improved replacements, I would appreciate it. I have no agenda in this matter beyond trying to narrow the limits on when historical events could have occurred. My method is simply to compare everything to everything else.

  37. Timothy says

    To save you some time in looking all this up, here are the two proofs in question (you may want to print them before reading):

    Timeline Proof V.2.51 04-04-2016 17:33:59

    Conclusion (6501,1): Herod I the Great dies 2.19315 years before to 6.42622
    years after BC/AD (modern calendar)

    Proof min: Herod I the Great dies no later than 6.42622 years after BC/AD
    (modern calendar)

    Statements | Reasons
    1) Coponius becomes prefect of Judea at least .00001 years | Wikipedia
    before Coponius stops being prefect of Judea |
    2) Herod Archelaus stops being ethnarch of Judea; Samaria and | Wikipedia
    Idumaea (Edom) at least 0 years before Coponius becomes |
    prefect of Judea |
    3) Coponius stops being prefect of Judea at least 0 years | Wikipedia
    before Marcus Ambivulus becomes prefect of Judea |
    4) Herod Archelaus stops being ethnarch of Judea; Samaria and | Steps 1 and 2
    Idumaea (Edom) at least .00001 years before Coponius stops |
    being prefect of Judea |
    5) Marcus Ambivulus becomes prefect of Judea at least 2.91052 | Wikipedia
    years before Marcus Ambivulus stops being prefect of Judea |
    6) Herod Archelaus stops being ethnarch of Judea; Samaria and | Steps 3 and 4
    Idumaea (Edom) at least .00001 years before Marcus |
    Ambivulus becomes prefect of Judea |
    7) Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) no later than | Dio Cassius;
    16.12799 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    8) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies at least 0 years | Dio Cassius;
    before Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    9) Marcus Ambivulus stops being prefect of Judea at least 0 | Wikipedia
    years before Annius Rufus becomes prefect of Judea |
    10) Herod Archelaus stops being ethnarch of Judea; Samaria | Steps 5 and 6
    and Idumaea (Edom) at least 2.91053 years before Marcus |
    Ambivulus stops being prefect of Judea |
    11) Herod Archelaus becomes ethnarch of Judea; Samaria and | Wikipedia
    Idumaea (Edom) at least 6.79121 years before Herod |
    Archelaus stops being ethnarch of Judea; Samaria and |
    Idumaea (Edom) |
    12) Herod I the Great dies at least .00001 years before Herod | Wikipedia
    Archelaus becomes ethnarch of Judea; Samaria and Idumaea |
    (Edom) |
    13) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies no later than | Steps 7 and 8
    16.12799 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    14) Annius Rufus becomes prefect of Judea at least .00001 | Wikipedia
    years before Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies |
    15) Herod Archelaus stops being ethnarch of Judea; Samaria | Steps 9 and 10
    and Idumaea (Edom) at least 2.91053 years before Annius |
    Rufus becomes prefect of Judea |
    16) Herod I the Great dies at least 6.79123 years before | Steps 11 and 12
    Herod Archelaus stops being ethnarch of Judea; Samaria and |
    Idumaea (Edom) |
    17) Annius Rufus becomes prefect of Judea no later than | Steps 13 and 14
    16.12798 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    18) Herod I the Great dies at least 9.70176 years before | Steps 15 and 16
    Annius Rufus becomes prefect of Judea |
    19) So: Herod I the Great dies no later than 6.42622 years | Steps 17 and 18
    after BC/AD (modern calendar) |

    Proof max: Herod I the Great dies no earlier than 2.19315 years before BC/AD
    (modern calendar)

    Statements | Reasons
    1) Jesus begins ministry at least .00001 years after John the | Luke 3:16;23;
    Baptist begins ministry | John 1:15;27;
    | 30
    2) John the Baptist begins ministry at least .00001 years | Luke 3:1-3
    after Pontius Pilate becomes prefect of Judea |
    3) Jesus begins ministry at least .00002 years after Pontius | Steps 1 and 2
    Pilate becomes prefect of Judea |
    4) Pontius Pilate becomes prefect of Judea no earlier than 0 | Wikipedia
    years before Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea |
    5) Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no earlier than | Luke 3:23
    30.99922 years before Jesus begins ministry |
    6) Jesus begins ministry at least .00002 years after Valerius | Steps 3 and 4
    Gratus stops being prefect of Judea |
    7) Magi arrive at Jerusalem at least .00001 years after Jesus | Matt 2:1
    born to Mary daughter of Eli |
    8) Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no earlier than | Steps 5 and 6
    30.99919 years before Valerius Gratus stops being prefect |
    of Judea |
    9) Herod I the Great inquires where Christ was to be born at | Matt 2:4
    least .00001 years after Magi arrive at Jerusalem |
    10) Magi arrive at Jerusalem no earlier than 30.99918 years | Steps 7 and 8
    before Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea |
    11) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies no earlier than | Dio Cassius;
    0 years before Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    12) Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) at least | Dio Cassius;
    16.11431 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    13) Herod I the Great asks Magi when star appeared at least | Matt 2:7
    .00001 years after Herod I the Great inquires where Christ |
    was to be born |
    14) Herod I the Great inquires where Christ was to be born no | Steps 9 and 10
    earlier than 30.99917 years before Valerius Gratus stops |
    being prefect of Judea |
    15) Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea at least | Wikipedia
    .00001 years after Annas (Ananus; Ananias) stops being high |
    priest |
    16) Annas (Ananus; Ananias) stops being high priest at least | Luke 3:1-2
    12.61223 years after Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome |
    17) Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome at least .07941 years | Wikipedia
    after Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies |
    18) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies at least | Steps 11 and 12
    16.11431 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    19) Joseph takes Mary and Jesus to Egypt at least .00001 | Matt 2:14
    years after Magi depart for their own country |
    20) Magi depart for their own country at least .00001 years | Matt 2:12
    after Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem |
    21) Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem at least .00001 years after | Matt 2:9;11
    Herod I the Great asks Magi when star appeared |
    22) Herod I the Great asks Magi when star appeared no earlier | Steps 13 and 14
    than 30.99916 years before Valerius Gratus stops being |
    prefect of Judea |
    23) Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea at least | Steps 15 and 16
    12.61224 years after Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome |
    24) Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome at least 16.19372 | Steps 17 and 18
    years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    25) Herod I the Great dies at least .00001 years after Joseph | Matt 2:14-15
    takes Mary and Jesus to Egypt |
    26) Joseph takes Mary and Jesus to Egypt at least .00002 | Steps 19 and 20
    years after Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem |
    27) Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem no earlier than 30.99915 | Steps 21 and 22
    years before Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea |
    28) Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea at least | Steps 23 and 24
    28.80596 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    29) Herod I the Great dies at least .00003 years after Magi | Steps 25 and 26
    visit Jesus in Bethlehem |
    30) Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem no earlier than 2.19319 | Steps 27 and 28
    years before BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    31) So: Herod I the Great dies no earlier than 2.19315 years | Steps 29 and 30
    before BC/AD (modern calendar) |


    Timeline Proof V.2.51 04-04-2016 17:31:49

    Conclusion (13952,1): Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli 2.19323 years before
    to 5.07744 years after BC/AD (modern calendar)

    Proof min: Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no later than 5.07744 years after
    BC/AD (modern calendar)

    Statements | Reasons
    1) Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) no later than | Dio Cassius;
    16.12799 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    2) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies at least 0 years | Dio Cassius;
    before Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    3) Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome no later than .08486 | Wikipedia
    years after Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies |
    4) Jesus begins ministry no later than 16.99957 years after | Jerome/Eusebiu
    Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome | s
    5) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies no later than | Steps 1 and 2
    16.12799 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    6) Jesus begins ministry no later than 17.08443 years after | Steps 3 and 4
    Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies |
    7) Jesus begins ministry no later than 33.21241 years after | Steps 5 and 6
    BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    8) Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli at least 28.13498 years | Luke 3:23
    before Jesus begins ministry |
    9) So: Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no later than | Steps 7 and 8
    5.07744 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |

    Proof max: Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no earlier than 2.19323 years
    before BC/AD (modern calendar)

    Statements | Reasons
    1) Jesus begins ministry at least .00001 years after John the | Luke 3:16;23;
    Baptist begins ministry | John 1:15;27;
    | 30
    2) John the Baptist begins ministry at least .00001 years | Luke 3:1-3
    after Pontius Pilate becomes prefect of Judea |
    3) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies no earlier than | Dio Cassius;
    0 years before Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    4) Annular-total solar eclipse (2/15/17 Julian) at least | Dio Cassius;
    16.11431 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) | Ginzel et al;
    | Redshift 3;
    | Espenak and
    | Meeus
    5) Jesus begins ministry at least .00002 years after Pontius | Steps 1 and 2
    Pilate becomes prefect of Judea |
    6) Pontius Pilate becomes prefect of Judea no earlier than 0 | Wikipedia
    years before Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea |
    7) Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea at least | Wikipedia
    .00001 years after Annas (Ananus; Ananias) stops being high |
    priest |
    8) Annas (Ananus; Ananias) stops being high priest at least | Luke 3:1-2
    12.61223 years after Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome |
    9) Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome at least .07941 years | Wikipedia
    after Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies |
    10) Augustus (Octavian; Caesar Augustus) dies at least | Steps 3 and 4
    16.11431 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    11) Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no earlier than | Luke 3:23
    30.99922 years before Jesus begins ministry |
    12) Jesus begins ministry at least .00002 years after | Steps 5 and 6
    Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea |
    13) Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea at least | Steps 7 and 8
    12.61224 years after Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome |
    14) Tiberius (I) becomes ruler of Rome at least 16.19372 | Steps 9 and 10
    years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    15) Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no earlier than | Steps 11 and 12
    30.99919 years before Valerius Gratus stops being prefect |
    of Judea |
    16) Valerius Gratus stops being prefect of Judea at least | Steps 13 and 14
    28.80596 years after BC/AD (modern calendar) |
    17) So: Jesus born to Mary daughter of Eli no earlier than | Steps 15 and 16
    2.19323 years before BC/AD (modern calendar) |

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    There are many more proofs, but check the relative timeline listing RELTIMES.LST first (best viewed with Notepad).

  38. Elijahovah says

    I dont know where John gets his information to think that 1386 has a 10-day difference from Julian to Gregorian, it is an 8-day difference (not 10 as in 1582AD).Further Dionysius used 532AD as 19x 28-year cycle of weeks, and 28x 19 year lunar. This means that 532 years before January 1 of 532AD is the January 1 of 1BC (not 1AD) and is very easily seen that 1 AD was never menat to be 1st year of Lord butu one whole year of Lord. Has nothing to do with zero that existed by Mayans and Persians 500 to 1300 years before Jesus. As for Sabbath i wish to know why Josephus would not be comparing an Atonement Sabbath of a high-priest whose service was only 1 day 24 hours to that of their deaths also on a single 24-hour Sabbath Saturday which opens with an eclipse. I refer to Sabbath Saturday 1bc January 10. The March 13 of 4bc is a Wednesday.

  39. Elijahovah says

    AND i would also like to point out that Catholics regarded Jesus as the 30-year death and resurrection of Osiris as if his ministry was but 3-6 months baptized and killed in the saem 30AD. This is what could push a 33.5 year man back to 4bc. However, the greatest reason is because in 786AD the Pope wanted to resolve the 800AD Greek world of a 6000-year Adam (5200bc). So rather than use Eusebius he commisioned Beatus of Liebana who mistakenly adds up 5227 years not 5200. Thus when this means 5227 from Adam to Christ birth as baby, it is easily washed over as Adam to Christ birth baptism in 27AD by the Anglican Church. THAT then results in 4bc calculations. And the former Catholic baptism and death of 30AD becomes only his death because Baptism has now been made 27AD. The new errors are from HIDING past errors to save face. Just as they still do with the AmarPal Hamurabi game equals Nimrod who was killed by Abram then Shem then Esau. They ignore the expressions says kings are just like NImrod the mighty hunter. Like him, not are him. In other words to be like Nimrod and have fame, then other kings did worse than he did. It is like demons wanting more fame than Satan, then Satan gets all the blame for things he didnt do but all the bad in the world did in his name with him as the excuse.

  40. Bryan says

    My question would be this, if Jesus was taken to Egypt to avoid the edict by Herod that all babies two years and younger be put to death, and Herod as some are suggesting here died in 4 BC, wouldn’t that place Jesus’s birth anywhere from 7 to 10 BC since He stayed in Egypt until the death of Herod?

  41. Gertoux says

    The first coin minted by Herod the Great after his victory over Jerusalem in July 37 BCE is dated Year 3 (L Γ). Given that Jewish reigns began on 1st Nisan (April), Year 3 was from April 36 BCE to March 35 BCE. Consequently his Year 37 was from April 2 BCE to March 1 BCE.
    According to Josephus, Herod the Great reigned 37 years and died (on 2 Shebat according to Megillat Taanit 23a) after a day the Jews observed as a fast (on 10 Tebeth according to 2Ki 25:1, Zc 8:19) and just before an eclipse of the moon (Jewish Antiquities XVII:166-167,213). Between 5 BCE and 1 CE there was only one full lunar eclipse , which is dated 9/10 January 1 BCE. In 1 BCE, 10 Tebeth was 5 January and 2 Shebat was 26 January.
    The first coin minted by Herod Philip after his father’s death on 26 January 1 BCE is dated year 3 (L Γ). Consequently his Year 3 was from April 1 BCE to March 1 CE.
    In the decree breviarium totius imperii published in Rome on Monday 12 May 2 BCE, Caesar Augustus announced his registration called the “inventory of the world”: This census —the first— took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria [3-2 BCE] and everyone [in Judea] went to his own town to be registered (Lk 2:1-2), birth of Jesus in Bethlehem on Monday 29 September 2 BCE. Judas the Galilean rebelled during the (second) registration of Herod Archelaus’ kingdom (Ac 5:37) of Quirinius in 7 CE (Jewish War II:117-118,433).

    See: Herod the Great and Jesus Chronological, Historical and Archaeological Evidence.

  42. Wendell says

    Tis a sight to behold. Now we cannot even determine the year when King Herod the Great died. As such, it means we will never know when Jesus was born, that is if we are relying on Matthew’s Gospel which is the only one linking Jesus’ birth to King Herod the Great. This controversy proves to me that that the Lord God Almighty did not authorize (let alone order) one gospel to be written. If he had they would have been written soon after his crucifixion or even before and not until nearly a half-century had elapsed. You folks engaged in this dispute cannot see the for the trees. Luke has his Jesus going into Jerusalem at the same time either King Herod or Achelaus ruled. Is not this the same Herod who wanted to kill Baby Jesus? The Lukan Joseph and Mary took their baby Jesus into the lion’s den (within a few weeks after he was born) whereas the Matthewan Holy Family took their baby Jesus into Egypt? All this debate over eclipses and such is almost laughable. If Matthew had really been inspired he would have told his reader’s exactly when Jesus was born and when Herod died. And explain this to me: why would Herod order babies to be killed who were two years old AND UNDER? This would include poor little babies who came out of their mommies’ wombs just days and weeks before the Infant Execution Order (IEO) was issued even though Jesus was born nearly two years before. Was Old Herod just spiteful and mad because the Wise Men did not return and inform him when the young child Jesus was located? And can we imagine what the Emperor thought about Herod after receiving his “after-action” report to Rome telling about how he had even killed “new borns” in the hope one was the young- child Jesus? This was indeed a mighty wide swath taken in this IEO. Moreover, if there was such a killing of babies in order to liquidate a baby usurper King (Jesus), why then the reluctance of Pilate to (some three decades later) eliminate this same man who was now an ADULT USURPER KING (and had made a triumphant entry on a ass being hailed as the King of Israel? Is not it absurd for Pilate to be trying to save the same Adult Usurper King whom King Herod the Great some three decades before had reportedly killed innocent babies in order to get this same king when he was a Baby Usurper King? (Let me inquire: Has anyone ever heard of a judge with a lick of sense rendering the following judgment and sentence in a criminal case relating to a defendant charged with a capital offense: “I find you INNOCENT and sentence you to be hanged by the neck [or crucified] until you are dead”?) In truth, there was no killing of innocent babies pursuant to an order by King Herod the Great. These nativity stories are nothing but legends and YARNS, but we have highly-educated people treating them like history. No wonder the religious impulse has caused the world today to reach the brink of destruction. Muslims believed Muhammad went to heaven on an ass whereas Christians believed Elijah ascended in a fiery chariot. Matthew does not tell us that if Jesus ascended. Luke says in his gospel it was on the evening of the resurrection Jesus went up but then in Acts says it was some forty days latter; so take your pick and also flip a coin to see if Jesus ascended from Bethany or the Mount of Olives.

  43. Laverne says

    Other than the Bible, does evidence exist that Jesus existed?

  44. Wendell says

    I would like to see some competent and substantial evidence if any exists. Josephus made a reference to Christ but many scholars claim it is just spurious editing by apologists. There seem to be lots of books written these days setting forth the proposition that Jesus was not a historical personage. Bruno Bauer reached such a conclusion way back in the 19th century and others have joined in with that assertion in our modern day. Schweitzer said it would be a “wretched deception” if it turned out that Jesus was not historical. I would say it would be “wretched” but it is also wretched that Jesus turns out to be a failed prophet yet he has been converted into a deity (one-third of the Trinity). How in the world any sane person can believe that the Lord God Almighty would raise from the dead a prophet who had prophesied presumptuously is beyond me. In truth the Jews’ Tribal God of the Old Testament says in Deuteronomy 18:18 et seq. that such a failed prophet is not to be feared (and not to be heeded I would imagine). Moreover, we are told that the penalty for being wrong is this: such a failed prophet SHALL DIE. One could say that Jesus died early and unexpectedly (and not after a long life and by natural causes). He also died outside the walls of Jerusalem and not in the city (the place where true prophets were supposed to die according to Jesus’ own words). In like manner, John the Baptist must not have been a true prophet for he died young and a long ways from Jerusalem. And what about this: In the Fourth Gospel, the Baptist denied that he was Elijah even though in the Synoptic Gospels Jesus said he was. Well, if Elijah came so would the Kingdom of God and the Son of Man and the God’s rule of peace and righteousness. So someone was mistaken. Seems to me John the Baptist turned out to be right (and Jesus wrong) inasmuch as the Kingdom God and his rule of peace and righteousness DID NOT COME which means Elijah did not come. Even if Jesus was historical, he was “historically mistaken” as proved by the nonoccurrence of the coming of the end (eschaton).

  45. Stjepan says

    There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the World,
    and that is an idea whose time has come.

    Victor Hugo
    19th Century Author

    Following text is based on and close related to the BAR’s (Biblical Archeology Review) article about King Herod’s death possibly connected with lunar eclipse in March 4 B.C., and discussion which followed after that article.



    Along with my very deep appreciation to the BAR, to all readers of the BAR, and their followers and commentators, I would like to express my opinion regarding one very interesting topic.

    I am a passionate researcher of ancient history, kind of free researcher, and I am focused very much on all cultures before new era especially. I have been following BAR for some time already, and now, after reading mentioned article, I am motivated very much to make my own contribution to the discussion on final days of King Herod the Great and the birth of Jesus. Both these topics are extremely interesting from the point of view of Real History, and I am pretty sure some new elements, some new clues, will be very welcome.

    First about the death of the King Herod. Regarding this point I need to express my very firm opinion that he did die during 4 B.C. – most probably early in the spring. The story of lunar eclipse in 4 B.C. should be examined more thoroughly. Because, it seems to me, this eclipse is very important, almost as key to decipher what really had happened with King Herod the Great, and because, according to my opinion, the death of King Herod is closely connected with the birth of Jesus, then we can probably solve both problems just with proper understanding the lunar eclipse in March 4 B.C. The importance of that lunar eclipse we can see even from the Josephus himself, because, according to the fact mentioned in BAR’s commentaries, it was the only eclipse he did mention in his entire work. This also means something, I think. At that ancient time eclipse was much more than time marker.

    To understand that, few more ideas should be developed.

    One of the reasons we have so many mysteries about any ancient civilization and culture is the fact that we don’t understand them properly. We don’t understand completely how they functioned. With our brains fully focused on technology, and with such very superficial, so called fragmented and mechanistic brains, we cannot understand cultures which embodied some deeper spiritual values and very profound understanding of natural laws. To be even more concrete, at that time astrology was not detached from astronomy, they both were one science, one comprehensive holistic science with very profound understanding of sophisticated natural laws which govern evolution in this vast Universe which surrounds us. So, let we try for the moment, just for the moment, to look on these things on a way they did.

    First of all, to go straight to the point, an eclipse was not a good omen. Astrologer who did not warn a king or an emperor on a forthcoming eclipse, this astrologer was beheaded for sure. An eclipse is a special time when, according to deeper spiritual insights, natural laws are not functioning as they use to function in any other normal situation. Eclipse is a very powerful mechanism of Evolution Force for not to be stacked, not to be interrupted on any way. Eclipse simply shakes everything, the things are not as usual, and along with this Evolution Force would find the way for next step to go on. So, from the point of Evolution, eclipses are very good thing actually. But, wise and knowledgeable individuals of ancient times noticed that eclipses would have tendency to bring some negative vibrations. An eclipse was a bad omen for our ancients, and they were feared by them. And they were feared with reason, because, eclipses could be disastrous and dreadful. They could provoke terrible events to happen. At that ancient time astrologers would suggest people not to look at any eclipse regardless of the fact how fantastic this phenomena, the show on the sky, could possibly be. They would suggest people not to eat and drink during that time also. And all that irrelative to the fact weather eclipse is visible in own geographic area or not. Even if not being visible, affliction was there. They claimed that afflicted field of life had started to be excited some six months before the eclipse already, depending of the strength of the eclipse itself, and the effect could last even six months after the very eclipse did happen. An eclipse time for them was not an excellent time for starting anything new; no new business to be started, no new relation to be entered, no any undertaking should be done about eclipse time. That was a time for introverting, spiritual practices, not going out from the house. But, it was good to do some activities any way. For them, eclipse period was good time for cleaning the house. It is very good time for braking relationship as well. If they wanted to destruct some things, eclipse was ideal time. Perfect time to destruct something or ruin something or someone. Because, as I already mentioned, they did understand natural laws are functioning different way during the eclipse time. Many wars had started just about eclipse time. An Eclipse was even more important on mass level, because it influences masses very much. Many king’s astrologers have searched for weak points of opponents and rivals, and eclipse time was proved as being excellent for this purpose. Very often history has shown that at that ancient time war between two kings, was actually war between two astrologers, and the king with more knowledgeable astrologer was winner, of course. Certainly, an astrologer was not developing tactic for battle field, though he could take his part in this story as well, but he was telling the king when to do what. Good beginning, half job done! …. This is an old proverb, and it was used for both, construction and destruction, for good ideas … and for these not so god as well. Because, we should always have on mind that our ancients did understand very well the principle of dualistic nature of the life itself; that we actually live in dualistic world. There are good guys around who think always evolutionary way … but there are also some other guys around, who could possibly have who knows what kind of wired ideas. These ideas of theirs were not always so evolutionary.

    So, that was just one small fragment how our ancients did look on these things. No doubt, every eclipse was very important, as well as role of astrologer to predict it, and to offer some remedies. That was the time when astrologer was staying very high in social structure. Very often it happened that they were part of priesthood, because they needed a good knowledge of astronomy for their religious feasts and ceremonies. So, priests and astrologers, they both were watching on stars and moving of planets very carefully, as well as searching for good and bad omens.

    As I am researching Vedic Civilization and consequent Vedic Culture very much, the Culture which had predated to all civilizations of Near East, I am familiar with Vedic Astrology-Jyotish. I am not an expert, to be honest, but anyway, I think I have enough of knowledge to make some observations. By following BAR discussions about the death of King Herod and possible connection with some eclipse, an idea came to check something.

    There is a very powerful tool, software for casting natal charts, called Jagannatha Hora (JH).


    I have been using it for a long time, and can say, it’s simply amazing. Just to say, I am not acting as an agent of JH; it’s a freeware after all. I made many contemporary natal charts, and some very interesting ancient, but this we can maybe discuss some other time. Now, we can forget all these spiritual aspects of astrology, because, I am sure many BAR readers would not wishing to go so far. Because, somebody would say, it is not scientific. What is scientific and what is not, and who will decide what is scientific and what is not, all that can certainly be topic for some other discussion. But now, let we for the moment forget all that, and let we use this tool, this software which, by the way, is very scientific, just as a time tool. Let we use it just as kind of time machine, which will bring us some 2000 years back in time.

    My idea was to check that eclipse on 13th of March 4 B.C. in detail. First of all, I did find web site of NASA where all eclipses, solar and lunar, for last several thousand years are exposed, as well as all these forthcoming in next few millenniums. They are all there on one place, and one can do research in detail. Very quickly I found the one labeled “13 March -3”. Please note that in astronomy there is a year zero “0”, and it is actually referring to 1 B.C. Then, “-1” represents 2 B.C., “-2” is 3 B.C. and “-3” is 4 B.C., and so forth. So, the year 4 B.C. is actually “-3” in astronomical terms. OK, the one labeled “13 March -3” is there.

    Jagannatha Hora software uses ordinary year labeling, so 4 B.C. is actually “-4”. But, when I entered this date, March 13th 4 B.C. into JH program, the lunar eclipse was not there.

    Figure 1 – Jyotish Chart for 13th of March 4 B.C. seen by ephemerides based calculation called Planetary Model. There is no eclipse. Sun and Moon are not opposite to each other, and they are not associated with any Lunar Node.

    By such programs it is very easy to see lunar or solar eclipse time. For lunar eclipse Sun and Moon should be completely at the same degree but opposite to each other, in opposite signs of the zodiac, and they need to be closely connected with nodes, North or South Lunar Node. And it should be full Moon. Sun and Moon are directly opposing each other every month, but that doesn’t mean we have lunar eclipse every month. This is because Sun and Moon are not moving on the same plane. Their paths meet-cross only in two points, and this is being called North and South Lunar Node. So, when they are properly aligned with nodes, and that means, they are on the same plane, and as they are opposite to each other, the Earth is in-between, and that means that Moon is passing through the shadow of the Earth. In Vedic astrology the penumbral eclipse is not being considered, only total and partial lunar eclipses are considered. For lunar eclipse there is a rule that Sun or Moon should be in the range of 11 degrees and 15 minutes of arc (plus … minus) to the nodes. If they are in one degree of arc plus-minus, that means, this lunar eclipse is total.

    So, the date March 13th 4 B.C. does not show any sign of lunar eclipse. Then we can play little bit, and move the Moon by the Time Tool embedded into the program, to be completely opposite to the Sun. That did happen on March 21st 4 B.C. When I checked how far the Moon from any lunar node is, I was shocked. It was only about 16 minutes of arc. It is not mistake! It is not 16 degrees of arc! Its 16 minutes of arc! So, Moon was completely aligned with the Ketu, South Lunar Node, at the same degree.

    Figure 2 – Jyotish Chart for 21st of March 4 B.C. seen by ephemerides based calculation (Planetary Model). It is shown Total Eclipse with only 16 arc-minutes of difference in position of Moon and South Lunar Node, while Moon and Sun are opposite to each other.

    Figure 3 – NASA specification for the lunar eclipse in March 4 B.C.

    So, here we have difference of about 8 days. It seems that lunar eclipse did happen some 8 days after the mentioned day, and it was very strong. That was the Total Eclipse. It seems, it appeared at 8PM (20h22min20sec), what was ideal time to be observed and watched. How much was possible to be seen from Jerusalem, I do not know right now. But that is irrelevant any way. It was strong, powerful and functional even without seeing it. Priesthood, astrologers and all scholars certainly knew about it. Ordinary people did not pay attention about such things anyway.

    To be honest, I was intrigued by this discovery, and that motivated me to do additional research. I checked many ancient lunar eclipses and all of them has some shift; shift of about 8-10 days. Even the legendary Columbus Eclipse was shown by JH to be on 10th of March 1504 A.D., instead of 1st of March as NASA claims. But then, when I checked first few eclipses after 1582 A.D., when Gregorian calendar was introduced, then dramatic change again. There is no shift! JH software puts eclipses right to the mentioned time. I checked several recent ones … and … no mistake, everything is fitting perfectly well.

    So, now it is clear! There is some problem with calendar conversion in the year 1582 A.D. Is this possible? How could that happen?

    Now we need to say little bit more about the story how JH performs its own calculations. Basically there are two options, and both can be invoked optionally along with just few clicks.

    First one is based on ephemeris. It uses planetary ephemerides to calculate position of each planet for any given time. JH uses so called Swiss Ephemeris done by Swiss company Astrodienst. They are not making ephemeris themselves; they took ephemeris from NASA’s Company Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from Pasadena, Los Angeles. JPL is huge company with about 5000 employees, but historically and practically completely leaned on and attached to the Caltech University. They are doing many things, and among others they have been making ephemeris for everything whatever moves in our Solar system. For every planet, for every moon satellite, and every asteroid since it was discovered, registered and introduced … they make ephemerides for absolutely everything. They measure positions of all these objects every day precisely, and register these values. Then, by knowing the path of the object, velocity and direction, they recalculate positions of that object in far past and in far future, and they make ephemeris for this also. On such a way every planet has ephemeris from the time of about 13000 B.C. till maybe few thousands in the future. This is really an extraordinary work, and all Space programs are based on these ephemeris. Every flight of every spacecraft is based on these ephemeris. They are used for planetarium software also. Such files are usually big, close to 3 GB, what is not a problem for big users like NASA, but can be a big problem for astrology software developers. This is now where this Swiss based company Astrodienst comes in. They use basic original JPL file, they extract out what they don’t need, and they compress it heavily to reduce the size. Their final product is a file of about 100 MB. This is comfortable for practical use in astrology, and that becomes the core for planetary calculation engine for astrology software developers. So such compressed file will be taken by astrology software developers, they will also extract out what they don’t need, they will reduce the size again, and in final stage we have very sophisticated and very powerful tool for astrological interpretations based on ephemerides.

    So, calculation of positions of planets based on ephemerides is then oriented to find two closer ephemerides of the specified date and time, and based on velocity and direction of moving of the planet, positions of planets for any given time are interpolated and generated. This is just very simple story about natal chart casting. In reality it is more complex to be honest. Luckily we have computers today, and such software programs, what saves us from very exhaustible calculations. We just enter personal data, and in les then second we have natal chart done.

    So, complete system is very precise, and JH developers declared possible error in fractions of second of arc for all dates after 1000 B.C. For more ancient dates, like 3000 B.C. or similar, they declare possible error within few minutes of arc, what is still good enough for astrology purpose. But they are developing and improving this software all the time, as well as the precision of basic ephemerides is constantly being improved, so in final stage we have a situation that errors developers do declare are permanently getting smaller and smaller.

    Another method of calculation embedded in JH, which can be optionally engaged at any time, IS NOT based on ephemeris. It uses completely different approach in calculation. It is based on certain formulas taken from classic Vedic text Sri Suryasiddhanta (SSS). Hence, ancient Vedic Rishis, Vedic Scholars, after observing moving of planets for very long period of time, derived very special formulas which can help finding position of any planet at any time. They use the principle of counting elapsed time from one fixed point on the Ecliptic, and this is defined by big conjunction of planets in the midnight before February 18th 3102 B.C. This is very good system also, but it is proved as not so precise when we go deep in history, deep in our past time, so to say. It is precise enough to consider contemporary natal charts, and maybe even up to hundred years plus-minus, but not very precise when considering ancient charts. My research has shown, for ascendant calculation, it generates mistake of about 1 degree of arc for every 400 years, and if we apply it for dates around 4 B.C., it will generate mistake of about 5-6 degrees what is significant mistake. Mistake can vary for different planets. So, it is shown that this system is definitely not practical for ancient dates.

    This is true, it is not practical for serious use in astrology when ancient dates are considered, but in our case, it can be a good indicator. It can be a good control method. As I was plunging deeper and deeper into this eclipse problem research, I was just thinking … well … let see what this other system will tell about eclipse in March 4 B.C. Shifting to this system within JH is very simple, just few clicks. And then … it was there … SSS system of calculation came to the same day, March 21, 4 B.C., just with few degrees of difference in planetary longitudes. So practically, I’ve got almost the same result as with system based on ephemeris, what is very indicative, and can show that complete story of putting this lunar eclipse on 21st of March 4 B.C., instead of March 13th, is actually very well based.

    Figure 4 – Jyotish Chart for 21st of March 4 B.C. seen by the Sri Suryasiddhanta method of calculation. One can observe shift in longitudes of all planets for few degrees. This is logical to expect, but most important clue is that it shows the same day as ephemerides based method.

    I checked many eclipses on this way: ancient ones, contemporary and far future forthcoming. Result is the same. By using double system checking all eclipses of present time and future time are fitting very well. And everything is going well until behind this magic borderline … 1582 A.D. … then this shift of about 10 days occurs for all lunar eclipses. I’ve tried to use Julian calendar also, which is embedded in JH as option. This calendar uses similar principle as SSS, it measures elapsed time from one fixed point on the Ecliptic, and that point is fixed to some 4000 years B.C. I was thinking, maybe that will show this phantom March 13th. But it did not! According to the JH software, lunar eclipse in Julian calendar occurs on March 23, 4 B.C.

    I also checked many solar eclipses, and result is absolutely the same. Solar eclipse is very easy to detect with JH software as well. Sun and Moon should be in the same zodiac sign, at the same degree, and they should be lined up with one of nodes within 18 degrees plus minus. And it should be a New Moon. This is the Solar Eclipse.

    Lunar eclipses in 1 B.C. and 2 B.C., I did check as well, and they follow the same sample, and not fitting into the mentioned dates. But, I think they are not of any importance anyway. Because, most important events we follow now, like the death of King Herod the Great and the birth of Jesus, they did happen in 4 B.C. and 5 B.C. respectively. According to my opinion, our focus should be on these years.

    So, to conclude, interestingly, on no way I could replicate lunar eclipse on 13th of March 4 B.C. with JH software. Two different systems of calculation, though based on the same platform, they both appoint on 21st of March 4 B.C., and I am close to believe this is the right date. But still, in spite of all these proves, I would consider an option that JH software, though internally consistent, and showing precise positions of planets relative to each other, it can still be that this software maybe does not show proper date somehow. I am inviting all BAR readers and truth loving scientists to continue this research if possible. Maybe astronomers and NASA Eclipse Department would know which calendar to use to get lunar eclipse to be on March 13th 4 B.C. I am little bit confused, to be honest. It was supposed to be very easy. As we live now in the era of Gregorian calendar, I was thinking, there is a codex, general practice, so to say, to transfer all dates of ancient time into Gregorian calendar with no losing one single second, not to mention day or year, or even years. But, is that true? Did we maybe lose something?

    But anyway, we see that 21st of March is very plausible. So now, let we for the moment take this new date of eclipse, 21st of March 4 B.C., as a possible final solution. Does it change anything? Oo yes, it changes a lot! Then it turns to be exactly as Josephus and some other sources claimed. From commentaries in BAR I saw, that King Herod did die between lunar eclipse which could possibly be on fast day, and before the Passover. So he died after the lunar eclipse and before the Passover of that year. According to my opinion, the fast itself should be connected with the lunar eclipse. Why? It was there in my introduction word where I already mentioned that our ancients recommended fasting during eclipse hours, or complete day if possible. After eclipse is finished, they took a bath and eat afterward; food which was freshly prepared after the eclipse, and not processed before or during the eclipse. So, this fast was probably not some regular every year fast on that day. It was there due to the lunar eclipse. Jewish priesthood at that time still preserved a lot of profound understanding of natural laws functioning. This is basically one very important point inherited from Vedic Culture.

    On Internet I found Passover of that year was on 10th of April. So, he could possibly die some few days after lunar eclipse on 21st of March. That could be around March 28-29 4 B.C.

    This will also make this eclipse very important, because, it seems, it was strong and powerful. This we should also read between lines in the report of Josephus. If this is the only eclipse mentioned in his entire work, then that definitely means this particular eclipse is very important one. We should always consider the fact that Josephus was not a free writer, he was not a free historian. He functioned in captivity, and he exposed, and he wrote, what he was told to. But, in his heart he was true, honest and proud Jew, and very possibly here and there, between lines, he entered some important true clues. I think, the story of Lunar Eclipse in March 4 B.C. is exactly such one case.

    Regarding the date of Passover in 4 B.C., well, I do not have enough information to check with JH software. But, that should be checked also, because, as we can see, I do not know if we can lean on dates exposed in History Books. Passover is traditionally linked with 15th day of month Nisan, and some astronomer converted it into 10th of April 4 B.C. Time notation according to Jewish calendar is probably all right. Nevertheless, as we have seen from eclipse case, we should be very careful with conversion to Gregorian calendar, and I suggest this to be reexamined.

    Well, there is much, much more to say about importance of that lunar eclipse in March 4 B.C., but that would exceed an intention of this text. That would definitely enter us into the field of Vedic Astrology-Jyotish, which actually has something to say, to be completely honest. But, as I mentioned before, let we stay out of the domain of astrology for this time. We just used very sophisticated astrology software as a time tool, as a time machine, to reconstruct the true image of the sky some few thousand years before our time. This progress of Science is amazing, isn’t it! Just few clicks with mouse and we can see an image of sky at any time of Biblical Era, and even far beyond that. Isn’t it wonderful!? With phenomenal precision I’ve generated some charts even from about 3000 B.C., and even further back in time, so casting natal charts and seeing planetary positions for the time of Jesus is even lesser problem.

    In addition I will specify two more lunar eclipses. One is so called Columbus lunar eclipse.

    Figure 5 – So called Columbus lunar eclipse, specified to be in March 1st 1504 A.D., but JH software shows it was on March 10th same year. According to legend Columbus used it to manipulate native people of Jamaica who stopped offer him a food and supply. Is this legend based on false lunar eclipse time?

    Figure 6 – NASA specification for lunar eclipse in March 1504 A.D.

    Another additional lunar eclipse is the one which took place in June 1602 A.D. This one, same as all others after 1582 A.D., JH software is possible to replicate with great precision.

    Figure 7 – Jyotish Chart for evening of June 4th 1602 A.D. This one eclipse is perfectly fitting into NASA declared timing. I inserted this eclipse just to show how precisely JH software replicates exact date and time for all eclipses after year 1582. A.D.

    Figure 8 – NASA specification for lunar eclipse in June 1602 A.D.

    So, that will conclude my small research on lunar eclipse in March 4 B.C. and possible connection with last days of King Herod the Great. Mistakes in observations are possible. Intention of this text is to expose possible problem, not to offer all solutions. I’ve noticed something very unusually is happening with ancient eclipse dates, but I am sure it must be some logical explanation behind. More research should be done with team of different kind of experts.

    Just to say that I am using last version of Jagannatha Hora software, Version 7.66, which is based on latest release of Astrodienst DLL file in 2014, and last version of original file from Jet Propulsion Laboratory released in 2013. … JPL DE431.

    Stjepan Spanicek
    Zagreb, Croatia
    December 2016.

  46. Jason says

    Wendell, no. The Flavium Testimonium is accepted by most scholars as partially genuine, but with some Christian glosses to bring it closer to their account. The second reference to Jesus, in Josephus’s reference to John, the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, is considered to be completely genuine.

    In order of primacy the records of Jesus are the writings of Paul, the Gospels, Josephus, and Tacitus.

    Also, Ockham’s Razor applies. The most parsimonious explanation for the belief there was a rabbi from Nazareth in Galilee called Jesus, who was reputed to be a wonder worker and exorcist, is that there was a rabbi from Nazareth in Galilee called Jesus, who was reputed to be a wonder worker and exorcist. That is why it doesn’t matter if a credentialed historian is an atheist, an agnostic, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Christian. They all believe that a Jewish rabbi from Nazareth in Galilee was the founder of Christianity.

    There is no widespread support for the Christ-myth, it’s regarded as a lunatic fringe idea in scholarly circles.

    As for the rest of your argument. In the ancient world personal honour was a matter of concern, and one of the worst things a person could do was claim more than what they were entitled to. When the Pharisees came to John the Baptist asking if he claimed to be Elijah, they were trying to make him puff himself up in the eyes of the community, disqualifying himself in their eyes. Hence it was Jesus who acknowledged him, as Elijah “if you are willing to accept it”. It was acknowledgement from others that mattered.

    Likewise the promise of peace was only if Israel received her Messiah, but as Jesus said when weeping over Jerusalem, “You were not willing.”

    Your age/location requirements seem arbitrary. Jeremiah died in Egypt so, by your criteria, not a prophet. Daniel died in Babylon so, not a prophet. Jesus spoke of Jerusalem itself as one who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her. He even laid on Jerusalem, “And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”

    So your argument is confused and arbitrary, not to mention culturally ignorant.

  47. Jose says

    I would like to know if for some reason, some body would tell us, if there are some play in this dates the fact that the Roman calendar does not have a signal for year “cero” making the turn from B.C.E.I(1) to I (1) A.C.E.?

  48. Charles says


    dear bar,

    in your q&c, bar january/february, 2014 post, you have an error. in the last paragraph you have it that herod antipas ruled over galilee until 39 b.c. it should be 39 a.d.

    charles beck

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