Monday, December 21st, 2009

Numbering the Years

On a show I was watching the other night someone stated that the reason for the discrepancy between the actual year of Jesus’s birth and the year we have numbered from was due to the person who worked out the count using the year of Emperor Augustus’s reign to work it out but with their having forgotten that Augustus had ruled for several years before being awarded that name.

I still can’t get it to come out correct taking that information as the explanation. Claudius defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31BC, became one of the official rulers of Rome in 30BC and was awarded the title Augustus by the senate in in 27BC. So if the later of these dates were used instead of one of the earlier two dates then that would explain a three or four year discrepancy.

In the book of Matthew Jesus birth is placed within the last two or so years of King Herod’s reign. The wise men visited Herod on their way to see Jesus and the information they gave Herod meant that Jesus could have been as old as two years old at that time. Since the family spent time in Egypt and only returned after Herod died in 4BC. This places Jesus birth somewhere around 6 or 7BC which is almost double the error that would have been made by using the wrong date for the start of Augustus rule over Rome.

Since the six to seven year discrepancy is clearly established from the Bible itself the miscalculation of the date cannot therefore be due to a mistake on when Augustus rule is counted from as the TV show suggested.

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