Was Jesus Born on December 25th?


Q. Was Jesus really born on December 25th? I have heard he was born in the spring.

A. ARGUMENT FOR DECEMBER BIRTHDATE OF JESUS

 I believe that we do celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on the right day or very close to it. This is not mandatory dogma or a matter of faith, but why doubt it without a very good reason and without sound historical evidence?

MARY

Mary knew when Jesus was born. And she would have passed on this information to His disciples and lots of other people. For the Church, His birth signified the INCARNATION OF GOD INTO HUMAN FLESH and therefore, was extremely important. Everyone would have wanted to know His birthday. If it had turned out that the Church authorities really did not know when He was born, they might have chosen a random date or one to supplant a pagan holiday. But there is no evidence of this. However, there is very early evidence that late December  was when He was born.

Zechariah

The rotation system, in New Testament times, for Levitical priests to serve at the Jerusalem Temple, has been worked out by the Israeli scholar Shemaryahu Talmon. There is no shadow of doubt about the order of this system. John the Baptist was from the family of Abijah. So his father, Zechariah was required to officiate twice a year. And the latter period of service for his family,  was late September. For this reason John’s conception was celebrated on September 23 in very early Church calendars and his birth on June 24, nine months later.

Since, at the Annunciation, Mary was told that Elizabeth was six months pregnant, that would place the conception of Jesus at around March 25 and nine months later is December 25th would be His birthday!

We cannot prove Zehcarias was visited by the Angel in September but it is a very real possibility and goes hand in glove with the historical dates of John’s conception and birth and Jesus’ conception and birth on Decembeer 25 th. Therefore, if Zacharias served during the end of September and Elizabeth conceived shortly thereafter, we can place the date of Jesus’ birth during the month of Tevet, in late December.

To recap:

1. Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was conceived just after Yom Kippur (late Sept) and born 9 months later in (late June).

2. If John was conceved around September 23, Jesus would have been  conceived in (late March), six months after John the Baptist (Luke 1:24-27, 36) near Passover, and born 9 months later during late December.

Luke 1:36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.

3. Circumstantial Evidences:

Church history, since the time of the late first century, has attested to a late December birth.

Hippolytus, in the second century AD, argued that this was Christ’s birthday.

In the fourth century,

John Chrysostom (347-407) argued that December 25th was the correct date. Chrysostom taught that Zechariah received the message about John’s birth on the Day of Atonement and John the Baptist was born sometime in June or July, and the birth of Jesus took place six months later, in late December (or early January). There was never a question about the period of Jesus’ birth either in the East or in the West; only in the recent years this date was challenged.

OBJECTION: “But the sheep would not have been out in the winter….”

RESPONSE: Early Jewish sources suggest that the sheep around Bethlehem were outside year-round. In the normal traffic of shepherds they move around and come near Bethlehem from November to March of the year. But then these may very well have been the special class of Levitical shepherds who kept the sacrificial lambs. They do not move around, because they supply the lambs for daily sacrifice from whom people bought their approved lambs, which are without blemishes. The climate near Bethlehem is more like Southern California, it is after all Mediterranian. It is not a Canadian or Russian climate. Nevertheless, In England sheep are kept outside in the snow. It ensures very good thick wool.

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