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When Was Jesus Born?

By JEFFARAH GIBSON Tribune Features Writer FOR centuries religious scholars have presented arguments as to whether or not the birth of Jesus actually took place on December 25, which is recognised globally as Christmas Day. Scholars admit, the Bible provides little conclusive evidence that December 25 is the day. On the contrary, based on inferences from the scriptures, some claim the Bible hints to a different date for Jesus' birth. References to the visit by the angel to the shepherds is a classic example. Luke 2: 8-12 says: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Based on this event, some argue Jesus' birth did not take place at any point in December because it was unlikely for shepherds to be in the field during this time. According to the arguments shepherds are usually in the fields during March and October. "I beg to differ with this. Shepherding is a very important activity in the culture of those people. Although people say that shepherds do not tend their sheep during the winter because of the weather and I imagine that would probably not be the best time, but we know how to adapt when it gets cold," Deacon Nixon Lindor of St Mary Star of the Sea told Tribune Religion. "I think the underlying aspect of this is that God comes to us at our lowest point. The major emphasis of this event is that God uses the most unorthodox ways to get his message across. God came the humble shepherds and told them he came to bring them good tidings of great joy. He came to the lowliest of people. He did not go to the kings and queens because a message of hope would be oblivious to those kinds of people," he said. According to online Biblical Archeology Review (BAR) magazine the earliest mention of December 25 as the day of Jesus was found in the Roman Almanac. The Roman Almanac recorded December 25 as the day Christ was born in Bethlehem. Some scholars suggest the date was borrowed from pagan festivities. According to the magazine: "The Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December; barbarian peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times. To top it off, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December 25. Christmas, the argument goes, is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals." BAR online states that this date was intentionally chosen by early Christians as a way get the Christian message across the world making pagans more willing and open to accept and abide by the Christian faith. "This is a Catholic Church tradition and we have a chronological way of determining this. We celebrate the annunciation of Jesus' birth on March 25 and nine months from this date is December 25. Even from the early church fathers this has been a date that coincides with December 25. However, that does not mean he was actually born on this day, it is just a day to commemorate his birth," Deacon Lindor explained. French scholar Louis Duchesne is responsible for the development of another theory surrounding the birth of Jesus. He suggested that determining the date of Jesus' birth lies in the date of his death at Passover. "The calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus died was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation--the commemoration of Jesus' conception." Because of this Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year.

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