Questions Surrounding Jesus’ Birth/Part 11

By: Dr. John Ankerberg with various Scholars; ©{{{copyright}}}
When Was Jesus Born?

Ed. note: This article is based upon the transcript from programs produced by the John Ankerberg Show. Additional material has been added for this print version.

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When Was Jesus Born?

Dr. John Ankerberg: Do we know when Jesus was born?

Dr. Edwin Yamauchi:[1] We have a good idea. Josephus tells us that there occurred an eclipse in the spring of 4 B.C. when Herod died and we know that Jesus was born when Herod was still alive.

Dr. John Ankerberg: Historians think Jesus was born before April of 4 B.C. Why? Evidence from Matthew 2:1 and Luke 1:5 tell us Jesus was born while Herod the Great was still living. Herod died while Jesus was less than two years old, according to Matthew 2:15. Historians have calculated Herod’s death happened in 4 B.C. They’ve done so on the basis of Romans records and the writings of Josephus where he tells about an eclipse of the moon that occurred the year Herod died. That eclipse has been dated as happening about March 12 of 4 B.C. Further, Josephus tells us that the Passover that year occurred soon after Herod’s son, Archelaus, assumed the kingship. Historians know the Passover occurred on April 17 of 4 B.C. Therefore, when you put all these facts together, since Jesus was born shortly before Herod’s death, he must have been born before April 4 B.C. or possibly a short time before that in 5 B.C.

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  1. Dr. Edwin Yamauchi: Professor of History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. One of the leading experts in the United States in Biblical archaeology and the history of the Christian religion. Ph.D. in Mediterranean studies, focusing primarily on the study of ancient languages. While studying in Israel he participated in the excavation in Jerusalem uncovering parts of the marble pavement of the ancient Herodian Temple which was destroyed during the days of Jesus. He is the author of Persia and the Bible, The Stones and the Scriptures and The Archaeology of the New Testament Cities in Western Asia Minor.

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