Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

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Jubal
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Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

Post by Jubal »

Hiyas,

Here's a simple question about the traditional account, not related to whether Jesus is historical, just a close look at the dates from a purely mathematical and pedantic standpoint.

First, I assume the following for this discussion :
  • the year 1 AD followed the year 1 BC (this is the usual approach, having no year 0.)
  • the era changed overnight from December 31st, 1 BC to January 1st, 1 AD (even though this is a retrojection.)
  • Jesus was born around the start of our era, when BC changed to AD (not concerned with the more likely 4BC to 6AD or whenever.)
  • Jesus was born on December 25th (even though it's a late tradition.)
(Remember this is a pedantic point about math, not history.)

Here's the problem - December 25th is only a week before the end of the year.

One might think that baby Jesus was born in the year 1 Anno Domini (AD), right ?
i.e. December 25, 1 AD, right ?
(1 AD can be read out like : "Our Lord's Year (number) One".)

But that would mean that the whole year was 1 AD, even though the first 51 weeks were before Jesus was born. January 1st, 1 AD would be the very first day of the AD era - a mismatch of 51 weeks.

Alternatively, a closer fit occurs if we assume that Jesus was born in the last week of the year 1 BC on December 25th, 1 BC - a mismatch of 1 week before the start of the AD era.

No way around it, either :
  • the AD era started 51 weeks before Jesus
    or
  • Jesus was born BC
Question :
which do you choose, how would you make sense of that ?

Jubal

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Re: Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

Post by FWI »

[Replying to post 1 by Jubal]
Jubal wrote:Which do you choose, how would you make sense of that?


I believe that the Christ was born in the B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). Which, was labeled as such, because of his birth being reasonably close to the transition of B.C. (Before the Christ) to the C.E. or after his birth. The available writings, which tells the story of King Herod strongly suggests this. We can also review the text in the N.T., which suggests that the Christ was not yet 50 years old, while still alive (John 8:57). This also suggests that he was over 40 years old at this time.

However, there is no biblical or external evidence, which suggest that the Christ was (actually) born on December 25…Christian teachers, such as: Clement suggested November 18 and Hippolytus figured the day to be on a Wednesday. There is an anonymous document written in 243 C.E., which claims the birth was on March 28.

Additionally:

In Luke 2:7-8: according to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke’s account “suggests that the Christ may have been born in summer or early fall. Since, December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night� (p. 309).

There also is a question about the reason for the parents of the Christ being in Bethlehem. If, it was for a census, these were not taken in the winter.

The council of Nicea in the 4th century C.E. was an attempt to bring the pagans and Christians (Greeks and Hellenistic Jews) together under the Roman Emperor Constantine. Given, the difficulties associated with this desire, the December 25 date (a pagan holiday) was a compromise that most of the Christians made with paganism (William Walsh, The Story of Santa Klaus, 1970, p. 62) to bring about a peaceful resolution to the strife at the time.

In Ecclesiastes 7:1-2, there is a principle, which states that: ones death is better than ones birth. So, applying this principle to the Christ would show that he "probably" didn't want his followers to observe his birth, but only his death…

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Re: Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

Post by showme »

Jubal wrote: Hiyas,

Here's a simple question about the traditional account, not related to whether Jesus is historical, just a close look at the dates from a purely mathematical and pedantic standpoint.

First, I assume the following for this discussion :
  • the year 1 AD followed the year 1 BC (this is the usual approach, having no year 0.)
  • the era changed overnight from December 31st, 1 BC to January 1st, 1 AD (even though this is a retrojection.)
  • Jesus was born around the start of our era, when BC changed to AD (not concerned with the more likely 4BC to 6AD or whenever.)
  • Jesus was born on December 25th (even though it's a late tradition.)
(Remember this is a pedantic point about math, not history.)

Here's the problem - December 25th is only a week before the end of the year.

One might think that baby Jesus was born in the year 1 Anno Domini (AD), right ?
i.e. December 25, 1 AD, right ?
(1 AD can be read out like : "Our Lord's Year (number) One".)

But that would mean that the whole year was 1 AD, even though the first 51 weeks were before Jesus was born. January 1st, 1 AD would be the very first day of the AD era - a mismatch of 51 weeks.

Alternatively, a closer fit occurs if we assume that Jesus was born in the last week of the year 1 BC on December 25th, 1 BC - a mismatch of 1 week before the start of the AD era.

No way around it, either :
  • the AD era started 51 weeks before Jesus
    or
  • Jesus was born BC
Question :
which do you choose, how would you make sense of that ?

Jubal
As Herod, who sent his troops to kill the "king of the Jews" (Matthew 2:2), died around 4 B.C., and the astronomical sign in the sky was around 6 B.C., then the birth would have been around 6 B.C.

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Post by Jubal »

I thought I made it clear that I was not talking about history, but the oddity of Jesus traditional birth-date being one week before (or 51 weeks after) the change of era from BC to AD.

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Post by StuartJ »

Jubal wrote: I thought I made it clear that I was not talking about history, but the oddity of Jesus traditional birth-date being one week before (or 51 weeks after) the change of era from BC to AD.
You did.

Awfully hard to get through to some folks.

However ...

We've had a recent thread here entitled "Thoughts From the Womb" ...

Where we've been assured, by at least one person of faith, that the zygote Jesus could think.

Now, linking that with the old cogito ergo sum ...

We may assert that the Son of Yahweh, the Lord and Saviour of All Mankind, the Redemptor, was here on the floor of the Dome of Heaven, tucked up inside the uterus of the BVM, existing and thinking away happily for around 40 weeks before the first Christmas.

Therefore, in a pedantic, mathematical, theological, Cartesian sort of way, I posit that the Year of Our Lord, One, is correct.
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Re: Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

Post by Divine Insight »

Jubal wrote: (Remember this is a pedantic point about math, not history.)

Question :
which do you choose, how would you make sense of that ?
For me it's easy.

The answer is that the Christians did not invent the calendar year. The Calendar year had already been well-established and the Christians were not in a position to make radical changes to the structure of the entire Calendar. Obviously if they could then they would have designed their newly invented Calendar with Jesus being born on January 1st, (just by arbitrary definition of their new Calendar)

But clearly they could not do such a drastic thing.

However what already was a common practice was for various cultures to NUMBER the years however they saw fit. So apparently you could number the years however you wanted to, as long as you didn't mess with the overall structure of the calendar which was actually designed around the rotation of the earth on its axis (giving rise to the days), the orbit of the earth around the sun (giving rise to the year), and the orbit of the moon around the earth (giving rise to the "moonths", or months).

So all of that was already carved in "Celestial Stone". The only thing left open to arbitrary choice would be how you decide to actually number the years. When you started counting years wouldn't change the calendar much at all. But it could confuse a lot of people who might have already been numbering them differently.

So since this is all the Christians could do they would most likely pick the year in which Jesus was born as the FIRST "Year of Our Lord". And so the year Jesus was born would become year 1 A.D. It wouldn't matter that Christ's birth wasn't in perfect sync with the calendar new year. The year in which he was born could still be arbitrarily numbered as 1 A.D.

Anything prior to that year would then be considered to be B.C.

There is no "mathematical" problem here because the Birth of Jesus isn't really defining the calendar. The year in which he was born is simply being used to start numbering the years from that year forward. And of course, the years B.C. would be retroactively renumbered backward in time.

Keep in mind that in the beginning this was just a Christian convention. Obviously after Roman made Christianity the official religion of the state, this kind of numbering of the calendar years became officially formalized in state commerce. And of course after that it just grew until it became a standard for anyone who wanted to do commerce with Rome, or anyone else who was doing commerce with Rome.

To be honest, I'm no expert in precisely how this all unfolded historically. But I'm pretty sure my main points are correct.

So all this amounted to was a change in how the years were arbitrarily numbered. It wasn't a complete reinvention of the calendar. The calendar is based on the motions of the earth and moon, not on the birth of Jesus.

This is also why they can say that Jesus was born on December 25th instead of January 1st without any problem. It was widely understood that they didn't re-invent the calendar. They simply chose a new arbitrary numbering system for the years based on the birth of their demigod Christ.

So it's not a calendar based on the birth of Christ. It's just a religion choosing to number the years based on the birth of Christ. They didn't change the actual calendar.

~~~~~
Edited to add:

By the way, this would mean that technically Jesus was born on December 25th, 1 A.D. (by Christian convention)

That's just the way it would work out. Keep in mind also that all of this calendar stuff wasn't done for many decades after the death of Jesus. So it's hard to know how the Jews had been numbering years at the time Jesus might have actually been born,. But they most certainly woiuldn't have been calling it year 1 A.D.

I would think that some historians must know how the Jews were numbering years back in those days. To be honest I have never even thought about this. But you can be certain that the Jews weren't calling the year Jesus was born in 1 A.D. They necessarily had to be calling it something else. They had to be using a different numbering system back then to count the years.

Now that you have me thinking about this I am inspired to look into it, just out of curiosity. Surely historians who have studied these time periods would know what calendar system was being used at the time of the birth of Jesus and how the Jews had been counting the years at that time. Surely they had calendars back then. They had commerce, surely they were keeping track of dates.
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Re: Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

Post by RedEye »

Divine Insight wrote: That's just the way it would work out. Keep in mind also that all of this calendar stuff wasn't done for many decades after the death of Jesus.
A lot later than that:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini
  • This dating system was devised in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor, but was not widely used until after 800.
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Re: Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

Post by Divine Insight »

RedEye wrote:
Divine Insight wrote: That's just the way it would work out. Keep in mind also that all of this calendar stuff wasn't done for many decades after the death of Jesus.
A lot later than that:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini
  • This dating system was devised in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor, but was not widely used until after 800.
Thanks.

My comments were intended as a guess, and I was actually allowing the term "decades" to abstractly mean (some arbitrary time far beyond the birth and death of Jesus). But yes, I see now I should have been suggesting centuries. In fact, I see now that I wouldn't have been far off had I guessed a millennium. :D

So this is even more interesting concerning how they were actually numbering the years during those 800+ years. I haven't taken the time to research it, but I do recall reading somewhere that the Romans were numbering their years based on the founding of the Roman Empire, or something like that. So I was probably also wrong about suggesting that Rome ever actually using this Christian method of numbering in their commerce.

I probably offered too many "guesses" in my post. :D

None the less I think the gist of the ideas I proposed are correct. The timing of exactly how things happened was where I was way off.

One thing I was right about for sure, the Jews weren't calling the year Jesus was born 1 A.D. I think I got that much right. :mrgreen:
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Post by FWI »

[Replying to post 4 by Jubal]
Jubal wrote:I thought I made it clear that I was not talking about history, but the oddity of Jesus traditional birth-date being one week before (or 51 weeks after) the change of era from BC to AD.


Maybe not! You used the date of Dec. 25 (four times) and stated it was a tradition. Where, it (the Dec. 25 date of birth) can also be labeled as history (a past event, notable for its important, unusual or interesting events. Hence, if you introduce a false claim or accepted tradition, as the basis for your question, then it is "quite appropriate" for others to challenge this and explain their position.

So, if the date of Dec. 25 can be refuted, your assessment of one week before birth or 51 weeks after birth can't be used to determine the change of an era.

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Re: Was Jesus born BC or AD ?

Post by marco »

Jubal wrote:

Jesus was born BC

which do you choose, how would you make sense of that ?
Because the year zero does not exist in the calculation, we had the problem of when to celebrate the millennium. When we start with 1AD, then at the close of 1999, we have covered 1 year less than a thousand, so purists would have it that the celebrations should have taken place at the end of 2000.


Another numbering system was AUC, (ab urbe condita - from the foundation of Rome, supposedly in 753 BC). The Emperor Claudius, who was fascinated by history, celebrated 800 years of Roman rule in 47AD. The decision to make the year Our Lord was born in as 1AD, means that no matter when he was born, that year is 1 AD.
April of 1AD was technically a few months before Christ's supposed birthday, but it was nonetheless in the year 1AD. Christ coloured the entire year, regardless of when his nativity took place.


Muslims celebrate the flight of Muhammad, the Hegira, completed in September 622AD as being their starting year.

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