When was Jesus ?
May 7, 2009 Leave a comment
Jesus was arguably the most famous person who ever lived. His birth, life, and death are written about in the most famous and bestselling book of all time, and tens or hundreds of thousands of priests, pastors, ministers, and common folk speak of, and tell stories and write of his life and ministry every day.
- Jesus was born either around 8-6-4 BC or 6-7 AD; A 15 year spread
- Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist during John’s ministry, which according to Luke 3:1-2 began in the “15th year of Tiberius” (around 28-29 AD) and may have lasted up until CE 32
- Jesus’ ministry lasted around one (1) year, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, or three (3) years if you believe the Gospel of John
- Jesus was executed by Pontius Pilate, the governor of Iudaea province between 26 and 36 CE
- Jesus was raised from the dead “on the third day”, and appeared to the disciples and others; and according to Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and John 20:17, ascended to heaven.
- 8 BC – Suggested birth (earliest estimate based on Matthew)
- 5 BC/4 BC – Herod the Great’s death
- 6-7 AD– Suggested birth (latest), Census of Quirinius
- 26/27 AD – Suggested death (earliest), Pontius Pilate appointed governor of Iudaea Province
- 36/37 AD – Suggested death (latest), Pilate removed from office
Luke’s account of the census (Luke 2:1-6) reads as follows:
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David . . .”
Quirinius was governor of Syria in the years 6 – 7 AD. He did order a census. However, the assumption that Jesus was born in the year of Quirinius’ census (6 AD) leads to irreconcilable chronological problems in the later events of his life. It is highly unlikely that Jesus was born in the year of Quirinius’ census…most scholars put Jesus’ birth around 4 BC, a good ten years before the Quirinius census.
There was no census of the whole world, which basically meant the entire Roman Empire, declared by Augustus; at least, if there were, it’s not mentioned in any Roman documents that have been uncovered so far. The census was of Judea, Samaria, and Idumaea–not Galilee (where Luke puts Joseph and Mary). Quirinius used this opportunity to also conduct a census of Syria.
The notion that each male would have to register in the home town of a remote ancestor is not very believable. The entire world of the Roman Empire would have been turned upside-down. There would surely have been records of such widespread dislocations, and there are none. Most all scholars of the times in question agree that it is not reasonable to think that there was ever a decree that required people to travel for purposes of tax registration.
Why do we have Luke’s account of the family traveling for a census while Mary was pregnant with Jesus? Luke wanted to report that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the City of David, in order to fulfill various prophetic interpretations. He also wanted to report that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, presumably for historic reasons. So he wrote the story of Joseph going to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, for a census, and then returning to Nazareth where Jesus was raised.
Matthew does something similar, but has Joseph and Mary living in Bethlehem, and then fleeing to Egypt until Herod died, then returning to Bethlehem, finding another Herod in place, and so moving to Nazareth where there was actually a third Herod, namely Herod Antipas.
So we don’t really know when Jesus was born or died, we have no canonical stories of the early years of the boy, nor any information of his grown up years until he is about 25 to 30 years old and them we have more detailed info for 1 or 3 years and then he dies somewhere around 26 to 37 years AD….How real is this most famous man of all time? Most of the Mediterranean world was literate at this time… the Jews had been for 600 years or so. Where is the accurate information, where are his hundreds and hundreds of followers timely journals or testimonials?
Where was Jesus?
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