Thanksgiving is the unoffical start to the Christmas season. I’m both excited and sad to share this episode with our listeners. I’m excited to introduce you an astronomer, Dr. John Pratt. In this first episode, we’ll talk about dating both the First Vision and the birth of Christ. It turns out that John says these events are related!
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John: So, if you look at when is the Friday the 14th of Nisan, it’s either A.D. 30 or 33. you’ve got two choices. When you read the ancient fathers, Eusebius and those, they tell you about when Christ was born, and it’s about either two or one B.C. That would make him 33 years old when he’s crucified. That’s what everybody believed until different things happened, and everybody switched things. If you believe in Josephus, who is wrong on so many things, he gives the date of the death of Herod. He had, I believe, two records in front of him and he gives two different dates. He picked between them, and he picked the wrong date. I have a whole paper on this. So, he says, he basically is saying the Herod died about 3 B.C. Then, modern scholars say, “Well, we don’t like 3, but 4 B.C. there was an eclipse to the moon, when he died.” So, they’re all excited about 4 B.C., eclipse of the moon. Then, if he died in 4 B.C., that means you’ve got to pick the earlier date for his resurrection, AD 30.
John: But, there was a total eclipse of the sun on December 27th, 1 BC, which is the actual eclipse. Anyway, they’ve had it wrong all this time. About 10% of scholars believe in the A.D. 33 date, but something like 90% believe in the A.D. 30 date.
GT: So, you think he was born in 1 BC?
John: Yeah, April 6th, 1 B.C.
GT: April 6th, 1 B.C.
John: It’s right out of James Talmage [book], Jesus the Christ. “We believe Jesus was born…” He’s actually born on the evening before, just like we hold Christmas Eve pageants, the night before, when the shepherds are in the field. So, we would technically call it April 5th, after sunset, but on the Hebrew calendar, after sunset is part of the next day. The day to celebrate is April 6.
GT: This is interesting. I’m just going to throw it out there really quickly. Dr. Jeffrey Chadwick at BYU…
John: Yes, I know.
GT: He thinks it was in December.
John: Oh my goodness.
GT: And then Thomas Wayment says you really can’t pick a date.
John: I know. Bless their hearts. They’re doing the best they can. Everybody’s trying the best they can. I read Chadwick’s 55-page letter to BYU Studies. He’s doing the best he can.
GT: I think we’re going to have to make this a good Christmas episode. This will be good. There’s more dispute about…
John: The thing I have that Chadwick and nobody else has, is there’s a whole series of sacred calendars on his birth date. I mean, I’ll just [say this.] There’s a whole series and his birth date is very important and new stars are appearing and things. It’s a holy day on many calendars.
When do you think Christ was born?
I interviewed Dr. John Pratt back in June, and I’m extremely sad to report that John passed away on October 12, 2021, from COVID pneumonia. I wish he had a chance to see it before he passed. So, I’d like to dedicate this interview to his family. We’ve lost a brilliant mind and spirit and I mourn the loss for all of us. I hope you enjoy our conversation….
Don’t miss our other conversations about the Birth of Christ!
Dr. Jeffrey Chadwick: Jesus Was Born in December
235: Myth of the Lambing Season (Chadwick)
234: Is Christmas a Celebration of Sun? (Chadwick)
233: How Jesus’s Death Relates to his Birth Date (Chadwick)
231: Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, & Birth of Christ (Chadwick)
229: Was Jesus Born in December? (Chadwick)
Dr. Thomas Wayment Talks New Testament Scholarship, JST
230: Christmas Legends: Herod, Wise Men, the Star (Wayment)
228: Separating Fact and Fiction on Birth of Christ (Wayment)