We do know that in the scriptures, the year (and day) of Christ's conception and birth is not terribly clear. Early tradition stated it was in the 3rd year of the 194th Olympiad (i.e. between July 2 BC and June 1 BC).
In one of the few scriptures referring to it,
Three of the gospels record that Jesus's baptism was followed by 40 days in the wilderness. At the time Jesus had been living with his family in Nazareth, west of the Sea of Galilee (Kinnereth).
The four gospels then record about one year of ministry —
Click here for a map in Jesus's day, including Cana and Nazareth. Click here for a modern photo of the Sea, taken in the west looking towards the east at its southern end. The sea is actually a freshwater lake, 53 kilometres in perimeter and 210 metres below sea level, very low.
Note, the first three gospels tend to move around at times, reflecting the theme involved in each specific passage. John, in contrast, the writer of the fourth gospel, sets out a consecutive chronology of events.
After the first disciples visit him in Nazareth
One year of ministry for Jesus (not three) was the general understanding of the early church fathers, as seen in the writings of
Then finally, we have those events leading up to the crucifixion and his resurrection on Sunday March 25th in
Earliest records show that Jesus entered Jerusalem to huge acclaim the previous Sunday, March 18th. Traditionally, he entered via the Golden Gate (a gate currently walled up) in the eastern part of the city. The Jews sought to have him killed but were unable, due to the crowds everywhere
John incidentally reveals Judas's father Simon to be the leper Simon, owner of the house in Bethany where the anointing occurred and the receiver of a humbling object lesson from the Lord. So, both were proud, cold and cranky, like son, like father.
And now, it was Thursday, March 22nd, the 14th day of the Jewish month, and the day a passover lamb was due to be killed
Jesus was laid in a tomb prior to Saturday, then resurrected early on Sunday morning, March 25th, now the third day in that passover week.
As he had prophesied Matthew 12:39-41, from Thursday - Saturday he had been three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, like Jonah, in the belly of the monster, at the mercy of and constrained by the earth's wicked thoughts and plans.
Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection, which is Thursday May 3rd. Pentecost followed ten days later on Sunday May 13th, 31 AD.
And from Christmas week at the beginning of 30 AD (on Friday Dec 30 to be precise) to Thursday May 3rd in 31 AD is exactly 70 weeks, another reflection of God's perfect timing.
In terms of his birth, as there was never a starting year called Zero AD, Jesus's first year occurred in what we now call 1 BC (when he was in Egypt). And according to early tradition, Jesus was circumcized — his foreskin cut — and given his name on Friday January 1st 1 BC, born Friday December 25th 2 BC and conceived by the Holy Spirit Wednesday March 25th 2 BC.
If so, then John the Baptist, who was
Though there is no scripture to confirm a Friday December 25th birthday - called "day of Venus" in Latin and "Venerdi" in Italian, it was certainly recorded in early writings - e.g. the consul lists of Philocalus of 354 AD, with 2 BC matching that date with the correct day of the week. Click here to view further references from the earliest times. And we also know, from
Luke 16:16 "The Law and the Prophets were until John; from then the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is pressing into it".
Matthew 12:28 "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you".
Click here for more background on the change from BC to AD, formally implemented by Dionysius, using scholarly Easter data obtained from church councils in Alexandria in Egypt. And click here for an account of the death of King Herod, almost certainly in 1 BC, or 1 AD at the latest.
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