The Research by Pastor J. R. Church!


    "For several years, I suggested that Jesus was probably born on September 11, 3 B.C., when Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus between the feet of Leo.   My confidence in this claim came from the book, “The Star that Astonished the World,” by Dr. Ernest L. Martin.   He espoused the 3 B.C., date, and it seemed feasible to me at the time..



     Furthermore, moving forward 33 1/2 years would cause the date of crucifixion to be on April 15, A.D. 32.   That also seemed good to me, since a lunar eclipse occurred on the other side of the world, beginning around 9 A.M., Jerusalem time and concluding around noon, just in time for the sun to go out; in which case, the people on the night side of Earth would see a double lunar eclipse.
     However, there is a fundamental flaw with that date.    According to Starry Night Pro, an astronomy algorithm computer program with a week-by-week calendar, the full moon of Passover would have been observed on Monday evening, April 14, A.D. 32, and the crucifixion would have been on Tuesday. Whoops! I had a problem!


     So I went back to the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus to see if I could determine the date of the nativity.   Somehow, I had overlooked a wealth of documentation.   To begin with, I wanted to know when Herod the Great died, and just how much “wiggle room” I could have to play with.


    First of all, Herod was given Israel’s royal title in Rome in 40 B.C., three years before he established his rule. Herod conquered Jerusalem on Kislev 28 (January 1, 37B.C.), during the “Sabbatical Year.” Israel observed a Sabbatical Year, beginning on October 8, 38 B.C., and continuing until September 26, 37 B.C. (Antiq. XIV, xvi, 2). This is irrefutable proof that locks in the chronology.

    Furthermore, Herod conquered Jerusalem during the “185th Olympiad,” when “Marcus Agrippa and Caninius Gallus were consuls at Rome.” History agrees that these men came into office on January 1, 37 B.C. The 185th Olympiad began in July of 40 B.C., and continued for four years until July of 36 B.C. Josephus said that Herod’s victory over Jerusalem came on the same day on which Pompey had conquered Jerusalem “twenty-seven years” earlier.


      Pompey conquered Jerusalem on Kislev 28, (December 28,   63 B.C.), thus marking
the beginning of Herod’s 34-year reign on January 1, 37 B.C. — in the 27th year (being 26 years) after Pompey conquered Jerusalem. 
     Furthermore, Josephus said that Herod ended the rule of the Hasmoneans after 126 years. That dates from the year, 163 B.C., when a peace treaty was struck between the Syrians and Judea (also a Sabbatical year), and Maccabeus was appointed to be the governor. Such a multitude of facts are impossible to ignore.


The Lunar Eclipse


     According to Josephus, a lunar eclipse occurred during the final months of Herod’s illness. Josephus reported that a group of young adult men were arrested while pulling down the golden eagle from above the door of Herod’s Temple. Their trial took place in Jericho. Herod was there to testify against them, but had to recline on a couch because he was too ill to stand up. His disease was growing increasingly worse. Josephus wrote that the men were condemned to be burned, along with the High Priest, Matthias: “Herod … burnt … Matthias, who had raised the sedition, with his companions, alive.


    And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon.  But now Herod’s distemper greatly increased upon him after a severe manner, and this by God’s judgment upon him for his sins: for a fire glowed in him slowly, which did not so much appear to the touch outwardly as it augmented his pains inwardly” (Antiquities, XVII, vi, 4&5).


     Dr. Martin had suggested the date of a lunar eclipse on January 10, 1 B.C.     However, most historians hold to an earlier lunar eclipse that occurred on March 13, 4 B.C. According to Starry Night Pro, the moon began to show the earth’s shadow about 1:30 A.M., and finished around 6:30 A.M., with the darkest coverage being about 3:30 A.M., on the night of March 13, 4 B.C.


     Shortly before his death, Herod received a letter from Augustus Caesar about the wickedness of his son, Antipater, and suggesting that he should be either banished or executed.  Herod was so despondent, he tried to commit suicide, but was restrained.  His wailing caused the soldiers to dispatch a squad to execute Antipater. Five days later, Herod succumbed to his illness. Josephus wrote that he died “… having reigned 34 years; but since he had been declared king by the Romans, thirty-seven” (Antiq., XVII, viii, 1). This fixes Herod’s death in 4 B.C., some months after the lunar eclipse of March 13, 4 B.C.


     Josephus also records that Archelaus succeeded Herod as king, but was deposed after 10 years rule (Antiq., XVII, xiii, 2), and his kingdom was annexed to Syria, and placed under the jurisdiction of Cyrenius. This occurred in A.D. 6. Therefore, the date of Herod’s death had to be fixed in 4 B.C.       


The Birth of Christ


   Herod’s death in 4 B.C., presents a problem for a proposed 4 B.C. birth date. Even if Herod was alive, he would have been too ill to meet with the Magi. While attempting to determine the day of the week on which the crucifixion occurred, I learned that if the crucifixion occurred in A.D. 30, it would have been on Friday. The full moon of Passover was observed on Thursday evening, April 6. If this was the date, and if Jesus was 33 years and six months old when crucified, then He would have been born in 5 B.C., possibly on Rosh Hashanah, Tishri 1 (Oct. 3rd, 5 B.C.). If this is the case, then my elaborate theory about Jesus being born in 3 B.C., just “went down in flames” (so to speak). 

J. R. Church   Dec. 1, 2010



 “Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the STAR appeared. the king had heard these things, he was troubled, sand all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child, and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."

    When they had heard the king they departed; and lo, the STAR, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

    When they SAW THE STAR, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." 


 “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."

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