Do We know The Exact Date?

The question “When Was Jesus Born?”, happens to be very common and one that many biblical scholars have taken into consideration.

There are several theories and different ideas based upon research that has been done. Most of this insight is based upon considering information that we have from the Bible to help piece the puzzle together.


The Year

A Swiss Julian calendar

Because the death of Herod the Great is pretty certainly placed at 4 B.C., the birth of Christ has been approximated to have happened before Herod’s death. So, between 7 and 4 B.C. according to our modern calendar.

There are some scholars who disagree and place Christ’s birth a bit later, up to what we call 1 B.C. They feel like Herod’s sons claimed Herod died in 4 B.C. to add 3 years to their own claim to fame. But a 5 B.C. birth places profound heavenly manifestations right during Passover. We know Jesus was born in the spring, and the Passover richly testifies of His earthly mission and role as the Lamb of God.

The Star

Star of Bethlehem LDS

Exciting things happened in the heavens in 5 B.C. Matthew described a star that quickly appeared and slowly moved across the night sky, then seemed to “stand” over Bethlehem. There was a sequence of heavenly events that the wise men would have noticed, and perhaps even the shepherds.

In 7 B.C., there was the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn; in 6 B.C., Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars combined in the sky; then in 5 B.C., the Star of Bethlehem might have appeared. There was a comet that came into view in the constellation of Capricorn, an event that was recorded by Chinese astronomers.

The Season

Shepherds in the field lds

Relying on this astronomical evidence of the star, Christ would have been born between March 9th and May 4th. Passover in early April is the most apropos week for several reasons:

  • The symbolism—The Jewish high holiday focuses on the sacrificial lamb, which typifies Christ. All the symbolism of the Passover centers on Christ’s earthly mission—His birth, mission, crucifixion, and resurrection. (The fall holidays are full of Second Coming imagery.)
  • The crowds—There was no room in the inn (guest house) because many thousands of pilgrims had arrived in Jerusalem for the feast. Bethlehem is just a few miles from Jerusalem.
  • The census—Passover was the major feast of the year with more Jews arriving than for any other holiday pilgrimage feast. The Romans counted the number of lambs sacrificed in the temple and multiplied by 10 to approximate the number of Jews in the empire. It was the perfect time for a census.
  • Mary— Women were not required to attend any of these feasts because of their duties at home, but Mary was extremely devout. (In the Bible we see her making pilgrimage for the Passover when Jesus was 12.) It’s possible that Joseph may have tried to talk her out of accompanying him to Jerusalem and Bethlehem because she was “heavy with child.” Her time to give birth arrived during the pilgrimage.

Historical Account

According to the well-known Bible story found in Matthew 2, King Herod ordered the death of all male infants under the age of 2 upon learning of the prophesied birth of Jesus.

We know that Jesus’ parents heard of this decree and immediately fled to Egypt for safety. They supposedly stayed and lived there until King Herod died. This would mean that Jesus would have had to be born before the death of Herod. Historical findings suggest that Herod died around 4 B.C.

With this information in mind, it would follow that Jesus had been born in or around this timeline.  That would put Jesus’ birth most likely between the years of 4 and 6 B.C.

Additional Resources

Wikipedia – Nativity of Jesus, Birth of Jesus