Bas Krins
Being a Biblically faithful Christian today.

When was Jesus born?

It is not easy to determine the date on which Jesus was born. That wasn't year 0. The Romans used an era based on the founding of Rome. When the influence of the Roman Empire declined and Christianity became increasingly important, people wanted an era based on the birth of Jesus. This was built in 525 AD. made by the monk Dionysius Exiguus. We know he made a number of mistakes.most convincing calculation of the date of Jesus' birth. So the likely date for Jesus' birth is April 17, 6 BC.

From Luke's history we know that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great. He died in the spring of the year 4 BC, so Jesus was born before the year 4 BC. born. Attempts to make a more accurate calculation are based on mentioning special stars in the sky. Nowadays it is relatively easy to calculate the starry sky on any given date at any given location on Earth. Although it is not possible to unequivocally determine the date of Jesus' birth and numerous different dates have been proposed by researchers, there are two calculations worth considering.

The first calculation assumes that the star the wise men saw must have been an extra bright star. That particularly bright star seen twice by the wise men must have been a conjunction. During a conjunction, two planets align with Earth, making them extra bright. We know that there have been three conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter in the constellation Pisces on May 27 - 29, October 3 - 6, and December 1 - 4 in the year 7 BC. There is also a conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the constellation Pisces in February 6 BC. been. A triple conjunction is rare (in the period from 600 BC to 2000 AD this only occurred 15 times). Furthermore, it is known from Mesopotamian astrology that a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter has an astrological meaning and that the constellation Pisces represents Palestine. The birth of Jesus may have been during the second conjunction. Then the conjunction rose in the east at the setting of the sun. This must have been a sign of birth for the wise men. They then leave for Jerusalem. When the wise men have visited Herod, the third conjunction appears in the south, in the direction of Bethlehem. The wise men would then have needed two months for their journey. That sounds plausible.
There is an entirely different consideration. There are scholars who argue that Jesus must have been born around the Feast of Tabernacles. The reasoning goes as follows. Zechariah belonged to the priestly family of Abijah. According to 1 Chron. 24 this was the 8th of 24 tribes. They took turns serving, each tribe for half a month, so it was the tribe of Abijah's turn in the fourth month. Elisabeth became pregnant that month.
Six months later, Maria became pregnant. So Jesus was born in the 7th month of the following year, which is about the Feast of Tabernacles. In 7 B.C. the Feast of Tabernacles fell from October 8 to October 14. That corresponds quite well with the date based on the second conjunction.
To be honest, there is some criticism of this reasoning. It is believed that Elizabeth became pregnant almost immediately after the angel appeared to Zechariah. That is not necessarily the case. And one wonders whether if Jesus were indeed born around the Feast of Tabernacles, we might not expect a comment about this in the Gospels. This may (partly) explain why the inns in the Jerusalem area were full. During the three feasts of the Ascension – Passover, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Tabernacles – many Israelites traveled to Jerusalem and the overnight accommodations would have been full. Because most people continued to live on the land of their ancestors, it is difficult to understand why so many people had to travel for the census. There is also another flaw in this reasoning. It is true that the 24 tribes took turns serving, but their service lasted a week and not half a month. This invalidates an important principle.

UUntil recently, the above calculation was accepted as the most convincing. Until a new study appeared. The astronomer Michael Molnar conducted research into astrology from the period around the year zero (Michael R. Molnar, The star of Bethlehem, The legacy of the Magi). The reason for this was the fact that this scholar collects old coins as a hobby, and thus discovered that the symbol for Palestine was the constellation Aries, and not Pisces. He started researching the sources and discovered that the idea that Pisces represents Palestine comes from Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel (1437-1508). There is no indication that this was also the case in ancient times. Furthermore, there is no indication that a triple conjunction predicted the birth of a king. A dual conjunction indeed had a meaning among the Babylonians, but no longer in the time of Herod. This scholar subsequently conducted research into the way in which horoscopes were handled. Based on horoscopes, the position of the stars on April 17, 6 BC. on the birth of a king in Palestine. Then when the sun rises, the planet Jupiter is in the constellation Aries. This is what the comment in Matt. 2:2 “For we have seen His star in the east.” And the star that showed the wise men the way to the west? That has been a retrograde movement of this planet. Usually the stars in the sky move towards the east. But due to a certain optical effect, the planets sometimes temporarily move in the wrong direction. That's called a retrograde motion, and the planet Jupiter made such a retrograde motion from August 30 to December 19, 6 B.C. The moment the retrograde motion changes to normal motion, the star stands still for a moment. This is what Matt refers to. 2:9 They heard the king and departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them, until it came and stood over the place where the child was." This means that the wise men lived around December 19, 6 BC. arrived at Jesus. During a 2015 conference in Groningen of scholars from various disciplines, this interpretation by Molnar was considered the most convincing calculation of the date of Jesus' birth. So the likely date for Jesus' birth is April 17, 6 BC.
This explanation explains why Herod did not notice the special star. The star itself was not special and it was not an extra bright star because of a conjunction, but it was a special position of the stars, a special horoscope that could only be interpreted by astrologers.
It is striking that this date is close to the date for Passover. That year, the 15th of Nisan fell on April 19.

Bas Krins