The birth of Jesus and time itself


By Dave Shaner

Special to the Reporter

There are some events in history that have dramatically shaped the world and the direction it went after that. Some of these include the invention of the wheel, movable type, the discovery/harnessing of electricity, the coming of the computer, etc.

December 25 is a day that has been set aside by most of the Christian world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether one is a Christian or not, this day has affected how we keep track of time.

Our current method of dating is attributed to Dionysius Exuguus, a Christian monk, in AD 525. Prior to this dating system, time was dated most often by when a king served. Thus, even in the Christian scriptures, a time will be referred to like "...In the time of Herod king of Judea ..." (Luke 1:5) or "In the 36th year of Asa's reign" (2 Chronicles 16:1).

Dionysius decided to start dating everything with the birth of Christ. BC, of course, means before Christ. Even the term BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era), which is an alternative for BC/AD, are terms that are still rooted to the birth of Christ.

BC is an abbreviation for Before Christ and is typically listed after the year, for example 300 BC. AD is the latin for Anno Domini, meaning the year of our lord. It is not a reference for the death of Christ as some commonly think.

Using latin grammar, the abbreviation comes before the year, for example this year would be AD 2012. Thus, the entire world today, whether Christian or not, dates history upon the arrival of Jesus. However, years later, historians through careful study found that Dionysius was about four years off in his calculations of the birth of Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus was born around 4 BC. Note that in this system of years, there is no year zero. AD 1 follows 1 BC.

One other aspect is the astronomical record. Scripture records that Magi from the east came to Jerusalem looking for the king of the Jews to worship Him as a result of seeing His star in the east (Matthew 2:2).

Several years ago, I was able to attend a sky presentation at the planetarium in Chicago. It traced back through time to what the position of the planets and stars would have been in the Middle East at the time of the birth of Christ. To everyone's delight, one "star" was much brighter than all of the others. Actually, they concluded that it was an alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and several stars that gave off a brilliant illumination. So, even history traced out, attests to the accuracy of the biblical record.


Dave Shaner is the Senior Minister of the Bellevue Church of Christ, 1212 104th Ave. SE; www.bellevuechurchofchrist.org.

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