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What Year Was Jesus Born? The Answer May Surprise You

What year was Jesus born? The answer may surprise you. You might think that Jesus was born in the Year Zero–between 1 B.C. and A.D. 1. You often hear that Jesus was born around 6-7 B.C. The evidence from the Bible and the Church Fathers, however, support a different year. Here’s what the evidence says . . . Not in Year Zero There is a good reason why Jesus wasn’t born in Year Zero: there wasn’t one. The sequence of years before Christ ends at 1 B.C. and the A.D. series picks up... Read More

Jesus’ Birth and when Herod the Great *Really* Died

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus Christ was born in the final years of the tyrant known as Herod the Great. He tells us that when Jesus was born, Herod panicked and had all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed. Fortunately, the Jesus' family escaped to Egypt and remained there until Herod was dead. They didn't have to stay long, though. Here's when Herod the Great actually died . . .   Setting Aside a Common Mistake   For just over a hundred years, the question of when... Read More

Do the “Infancy Narratives” of Matthew and Luke Contradict Each Other?

What do atheist skeptics and liberal Scripture scholars have in common? They both love to find alleged “contradictions” in Scripture. Though there are many of these alleged “contradictions,” one of the favorites of both of these camps is one that you can expect to find being re-hashed again and again on the Internet:—especially now that we are approaching Christmas—the “contradictions” found in what are commonly referred to as “the infancy narratives” of St. Matthew... Read More

Does Luke Contradict Himself on When Jesus Was Born?

St. Luke begins the second chapter of his Gospel with a chronological note about when Jesus was born, writing: "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria." (Luke 2:1-2) This passage has been subject to a lot of criticism, because Luke has already linked the birth of Jesus to reign of Herod the Great (Luke 1:5), and Quirinius did not become governor of Syria until years... Read More

The 100-Year Old Mistake About the Birth of Jesus

You know how people often say that Jesus was born in 4 B.C., 6 B.C., 7 B.C., or a time earlier still? The calculations that lead to these dates are all based on a proposal that was made just over a hundred years ago. But now scholars are challenging this proposal, because it looks like it's wrong. And it's been distorting our understanding of when Jesus was born for over a hundred years. Here's the story. . . . When Herod Died   The Gospel of Matthew records that Jesus was born during... Read More

Did the Accounts of Jesus Evolve?

Biblical skeptics often surmise that the earliest New Testament books tell a very different story than the later books: that the story of Jesus grew with time, becoming more and more incredible, and less and less historical. In other words, the New Testament evolved from history to religious mythology. Recently, I've seen this argument raised about both the Resurrection and the divinity of Christ. First, retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong (who denies the Resurrection) attacked... Read More

Popular News Site Claims Jesus Never Existed

An article titled "5 Reasons to Suspect that Jesus Never Existed" was posted last week at Salon.com and was featured in the Yahoo news feed. The article itself does not contain anything groundbreaking to anyone who follows this debate, but it presents the most common objections. Below are five reasons author Valerie Tarico gives, and how to answer them. 1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.   Tarico uses only an extensive... Read More

Bayes Theorem Proves Jesus Existed (And That He Didn’t)

  In his shockingly neglected Treatise on Probability, John Maynard Keynes put his finger on the difficulty people have with probability, particularly Bayes’s Theorem: "No other formula in the alchemy of logic has exerted more astonishing powers. For it has established the existence of God from the premiss of total ignorance; and it has measured with numerical precision the probability the sun will rise tomorrow." Probability carries with it “a smack of astrology, of alchemy.”... Read More

An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 2 of 2)

NOTE: This it the second of a two part series. Before reading this be sure to check out Part 1.     Many Christians accept that a historical Jesus existed because they never thought to question the idea in the first place, or because they are convinced that the gospels can be read as (more or less) historical accounts and so don't need to be seriously doubted on this point.  But why do the overwhelming majority of non-Christian scholars also accept that Jesus existed? The Total... Read More

An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Scholars who specialize in the origins of Christianity agree on very little, but they do generally agree that it is most likely that a historical preacher, on whom the Christian figure "Jesus Christ" is based, did exist.  The numbers of professional scholars, out of the many thousands in this and related fields, who don't accept this consensus, can be counted on the fingers of one hand.  Many may be more cautious about using the term "historical fact" about this idea, since as with many... Read More

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