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The matter is exceedingly complex, but capable of a convincing solution if we weigh all the evidence carefully, without prejudice.Then 5 BC emerges as by far the most credible date of Jesus' birth.The same evidence is mishandled by all attempts to set His birth earlier than 5 BC or later than 4 BC. Based on a new look at several lines of evidence, they maintain that he died in early 1 BC.Since the Gospels clearly affirm that Jesus was born when Herod the Great was still alive (Matthew 2), the dominant view in days past was that Jesus was born no later than 4 BC, generally viewed as the year terminating Herod's reign. They therefore decide that an ancient tradition setting Jesus' birth in 3/2 BC must be correct (1).If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.
Between the difficulty in reconciling different versions of the tale and the 2,000 years of popular interpretation and culture layered on top of them, much of what people commonly know about the story of Jesus’ birth, from the date to where it took place, is wildly different from what the Gospels have to say.
For the sake of simplicity, let us set out the usual objections to the date of December 25 and counter each of them.
Objection 1: December 25 was chosen in order to replace the pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia.
This detail — the only clue in the Gospels about the timing of the birth — suggests that Jesus’ birthday was not in the winter, as shepherds would have been watching their flocks only during the lambing season in the spring.
In the colder months, the sheep probably would have been corralled.