From almost the beginning of mankind, there had been an expectation that a special person, sent from God, would be born among men to rescue the oppressed from their enemies. The anointing was what would give that individual the title of "Messiah," or as it has been transliterated from the Greek language - Messiah.

The world had been prepared for the arrival of the Christ by way of two "world" conquerors: Alexander of Macedonia and Augustus Caesar. Though he died at age 33, Alexander had conquered lands from Greece to India. Augustus had turned the defunct Roman Republic into an empire that reached to Britain and surrounding the Mediterranean Sea in his long career.

Timing Edit

The Year Edit

The Roman historian Luke was very careful in giving the dates of the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry, but his indicators for the birth of Jesus were not as precise. Luke 3 begins:

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, 2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
Luke had spent the better part of chapter 1 of his gospel covering the birth of John the Baptist before moving on to the birth of Jesus. Since the baptism of Jesus was a turning point in both their lives, Luke sets the stage for this event. Historians set the reign of Tiberius Julius Caesar as September 18, AD 14, to March 16, AD 37[1]. The 15th year of that reign would most likely have begun on January 1, 29. For a time, John seems to have ministered alone, for many had been baptized before Jesus came to be baptized.[2] Luke puts Jesus's age to be "about thirty years of age" (the age of eligibility for a priest[3]). Counting back 30 years from AD 29 comes to the year 2 BC (for there is no "year 0"). It appears that the scholarship in the 6th century AD "missed" by at least a year[4].

The clue from history that Dionysius used was a lunar eclipse occurring shortly before the death of Herod the Great. Since Herod was "king" of Judea at the time of Jesus's birth, there had to have been an eclipse visible from Jerusalem that year. There was a total eclipse of the moon in December of 1 BC.[5] The commonly held date of 4 BC is wrong, for that was a partial eclipse. Dionysius was right after all.

Since Herod had the baby boys two years and younger killed, the assumption is that the magi had seen the star a full two years before, that is, according to the modern interpretation, in 6 BC. But a partial eclipse doesn't fit the bill, so the December 29, 1 BC, date works in favor of a birth date in the second year prior to the king's death. Furthermore, there is a Biblical text that places the birth of Jesus based on the alignment of stars and planets. This is significant because the magi were following a "star."[6]

The Date Edit

The Apostle John was shown a "sign in the heavens" that pinpoints the very hour of the birth of Jesus. The sign is found in Revelation 12:

1 ¶  And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3  And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4  And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5  And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
This formation is actually cyclical, appearing about every 14 years. Since being "clothed with the sun" is not visible from the earth, this "wonder" had to come in a vision. It may or may not have been occurring in real time as John was being shown it, though the formation would have occurred in AD 95 and in 3 BC. The 'dance' of Venus and Jupiter (brightest 'wanderers') in the constellation of Virgo would have been in the evening of 1 Tishri (Feast of Trumpets [seventh trumpet]) which fell on September 11, 3 BC.[7]

The Visitors Edit

Luke and Matthew provide two very different stories concerning the birth of Jesus. Both affirm the virginal birth[8] as predicted some 600 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah.[9] However, Luke's account gives events that appear first chronologically. Again, Luke gives good clues to at least the time of year: six months after the course of Abijah for the conception of Jesus.[10] Also, the fact that the shepherds were keeping the sheep in the open field[11] rules out December 25th (or January 6th) as a probable birth day for Christ.

The angel who announced the birth of Jesus came to one of the lowest of the working class in first century Judea -- shepherds. They were dirty men, doing a dirty job, that were shunned by respectable folk [12] Though they were in awe and came to see the baby still in the manger, they did not bring a gift. They probably did not own any of the sheep which they looked after. And so, when Mary went to the temple, she only had doves to sacrifice[13].

  2. Luke 3:23
  3. Numbers 4:3
  6. Matthew 2:1-10
  8. Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:26-37
  9. Isaiah 7:14
  10. Luke 1:5, 26
  11. Luke 2:8
  13. Luke 2:24