According to the Westar Religious Institute in America, it was a monk from Russia called Dionysius Exiguus who was asked by Pope John to work out the dates for Easter. It was back in 527 A.D. when Dionysius formalized the date of Jesus’ birth as December 25 on the Christian calendar. The current head of the Catholic Church Pope Benedict writes in his new book called “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives” that Dionysius got it wrong. He says the calculation of the beginning of the calendar based on the birth of Jesus was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake on his calculations by several years. Professor of Classics, Nature and History at Warwick University, Kevin Butcher says the idea that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 is nothing new. Churchmen in the 17th century had also challenged the date before.
This discrepancy has been known about for many centuries, in fact. In the 17th century it became quite apparent that the calculations by Dionysius Exiguus were incorrect. The dating basically rests on the New Testament. Birth of Jesus occurs during the reign of King Herod the Great. And King Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., so if this story about the birth of Jesus under Herd is correct, obviously he would have to be born before 4 B.C. Trying to reconcile the various discrepancies is quite difficult anyway, whether this is particularly important to an article of faith I don’t know, I don’t think so.
Professor Butcher says Dionysius’ dating system was just one of many.
There were plenty of other dating systems in use. This is one of the reasons why it was so hard for Dionysius to figure out the date, in the first place. There are lots of competing dating systems. And trying to create some kind of universal one is very hard, if you’re working with lots of other dating systems.
Caroline Farrow is from the Catholic Voice and says most religious people know that the day recognized as Christmas Day and Jesus’ birthday is, in fact, wrong.
The Pope isn’t really saying anything new. I think the media is just trying to find a bit of a negative story.
It’s not only the issue of data of Christ’s birthday that the Pope has raised in his book. He also dispels the myth of the nativity set. According to “Jesus in Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives”, there were no ox, no little donkey or other animals at Jesus’ birth. Caroline Farrow is from the Catholic Voice says people shouldn’t focus on what just surrounds the nativity set.
This is his own personal interpretation and he’s looking in a way in which Luke and Matthew have interpreted historical facts.
Pope Benedict wrote that the inclusion of domestic animals in the nativity scene may have been inspired by pre-Christian traditions, probably written by an early prophet in the 7th century B.C. Caroline Farrow thinks the Pope is setting people a challenge to view Christmas differently. But the Pope does say in his book that no one will give up the ox or the little donkey in their scenes. We asked Christmas shoppers if not having the little donkey next to baby-Jesus on a bed of straw changes the way they celebrate Christmas.
Not really. I’ll celebrate it anyway. I believe in God.
That doesn’t really affect me. I’m not particularly religious anyway. To me Christmas is about something else. It’s about seeing people, giving presents, general good will. I celebrate it not because some baby was born one day or the other day 2000 years ago.
The Book “Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narratives” traces Christ’s early life until the age of 12 and is published around the world in 9 different languages.