Biblical dating

A blanket of snow covers the little town of Bethlehem, in Pieter Bruegel’s oil painting from 1566.Although Jesus’ birth is celebrated every year on December 25, Luke and the other gospel writers offer no hint about the specific time of year he was born.Jesus is crucified the next morning—still, the 15th.Easter, a much earlier development than Christmas, was simply the gradual Christian reinterpretation of Passover in terms of Jesus’ Passion.But how had they settled on the dates December 25 and January 6?

Surprising as it may seem, Clement doesn’t mention December 25 at all.Its observance could even be implied in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5:7–8: “Our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.Therefore let us celebrate the festival…”); it was certainly a distinctively Christian feast by the mid-second century C. But over time, Jesus’ origins would become of increasing concern.The Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide well-known but quite different accounts of the event—although neither specifies a date. E., further details of Jesus’ birth and childhood are related in apocryphal writings such as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Proto-Gospel of James.These texts provide everything from the names of Jesus’ grandparents to the details of his education—but not the date of his birth. E., a Christian teacher in Egypt makes reference to the date Jesus was born.Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21].” Clearly there was great uncertainty, but also a considerable amount of interest, in dating Jesus’ birth in the late second century.

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