Michele Kennedy (16 July 2011)
"Jesus Birthday Re-Examined"

Dear R-1000,
Thank you for your response to the date of Jesus' Birth.
I did  a little more research on this matter, and discovered where the discrepancy occurs.
At the above listed site he explains that there seems to have been a typesetting error in regards to Herod's birthday being in 4 BC.
"The Bible recounts that Herod learned of the Messiah's birth from astronomers who had seen the Star of Bethlehem. He tried to kill the child, so, obviously, the Bible records that Herod was alive at Jesus' birth. Remember that this mattered to Kepler, because historians of his time apparently inferred from Josephus' history that Herod died in 4 BC (9). Necessarily, Kepler assumed Christ was born before that date, perhaps 5 BC or earlier. So, those are the years for which he scanned the skies for the Star. Even with the power of his newly discovered laws of planetary motion, he didn't find the phenomena we will examine here. He searched the skies of the wrong years."
"But modern scholarship has deepened our understanding of Josephus' manuscripts. A recent study was made of the earliest manuscripts of Josephus' writings held by the British Library in London, and the American Library of Congress. It revealed a surprise that allows us to target our mathematical telescopes better than could Kepler (10). It turns out that a copying error was a primary cause of the confusion about the date of Herod's death. A printer typesetting the manuscript of Josephus' Antiquities messed up in the year 1544. Every single Josephus manuscript in these libraries dating from before 1544 supports the inference that Herod passed in 1 BC. Strong recent scholarship confirms that date (11). Knowing this, and since Herod died shortly after Christ's birth, our investigation turns to the skies of 3 and 2 BC."

"Computers. One more factor accounts for your hearing about the Star now instead of long ago: computers. When Kepler calculated a sky map, it was laborious. Plenty of pens and ink. And when the calculations were complete, he had a picture of the sky at a single moment of time. If he had selected the wrong day to search for the Star, he might find nothing. More pens and ink. But Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion are playthings for a computer. The equations are solved almost instantaneously by modern astronomy software available to anyone for about $50 (12).

With software which incorporates Kepler's equations, we can create a computer model of the universe. In minutes we can produce thousands of the sky maps which were a great labor before computers. We can animate the universe in real time at any speed we choose, make months pass in moments or wind back the clock. We can view the sky precisely as it moved over Jerusalem 2000 years ago.

And when we look up, examining the correct years, we find remarkable things."


  • Footnotes: 9, 10, 11, 12
  • Josephus does not state the date of Herod's death as we would today with our modern calendar system. Deriving the date of death from his writings necessarily involves inference. The primary bases for the inference are the date of a lunar eclipse mentioned by Josephus as closely preceding Herod's death, the duration of his term in office, and the term of office of his son and successor, Philip. For thorough treatments of the date of Herod's death as being 1 BC, see Finegan, at footnote 4 and Martin, at footnote 11. See also, Beyer, at footnote 10.

  • David W. Beyer, "Josephus Re-Examined: Unraveling the Twenty-Second Year of Tiberius", in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II, edited by E. Jerry Vardaman (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-86554-582-0.

  • Andrew Steinmann, "When Did Herod the Great Reign?" Novum Testamentum Volume 51, Number 1, 2009 , pp. 1-29

    Ernest L. Martin, The Star That Astonished the World (Second Edition; Portland, Oregon: ASK Publications, 1996) ISBN 0-94-5657-87-0. This book is a "must have" reference work if you would like to study the Star. It contains a wealth of material corroborating the date of Herod's death as 1 BC.

  • For example: Starry Night, the program used for the present investigation, is available at www.space.com.