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Separating Fact from Fiction on the Birth of Christ (Part 1)

I’m excited to have Dr. Thomas Wayment discuss fact and fiction surrounding stories of the birth of Christ.  Dr. Wayment is a New Testament scholar at BYU.  You may want to bookmark this page as later in the week we will compare notes with fellow scholar Dr. Jeffrey Chadwick, who think Jesus was born in December.  Is there such clarity in the New Testament?  Tom and co-author Lincoln Blumell wrote an article in BYU Studies on the dating of Christ’s birth.

Tom:  Our intent wasn’t to say, “It’s not really December, it’s April.”  Our intent was to say “We can’t know within that kind of time frame, especially not a month.”  A year, we might get within a year or two is about the best we can do.

What is the span of years that we can pinpoint the birth of Jesus?

Tom:  It seems that everyone agrees that Herod was alive when Jesus was born.  That gives us a pretty good point after which we can start talking.  Herod dies in 4 B.C.  That’s a date there is not a lot of dispute about.  I’ve seen a recent monograph and some are saying maybe spring of 5 B.C.

One real monkey-wrench here is that Luke says that there was a census by a man named Quirinius or Cyrenius in translation that a lot of Latter-day Saints use, and he is governor in Syria in 6 A.D.  So there is no possible way that Herod is alive and Cyrenius does a census.

So there is a decade gap between these two dates.  What does Tom think is the best date?  Check out our conversation….

Is it true that estimate range from 5 B.C. to 6 A.D for the birth of Jesus?
Is it true that estimate range from 5 B.C. to 6 A.D for the birth of Jesus?