Actualizado: 22 ene 2021
For more than 1600 years, December 25 has been synonymous with the birth of Jesus. This tradition began in the 4th century AD. Since then, millions of people believe that the Savior's birth occurred on that date. However, in the first centuries after his death by crucifixion, very few claimed to know his birth's exact date. The debate as to when Jesus was born is still hot, particularly the time of the year. For many biblical scholars, the Bible points to the fall; others argue that Jesus was born in summer. Some researchers claim that He was born in the spring based on the biblical narrative (the shepherds would watch their flocks then, not in winter). The reality is that nobody knows when Jesus was born. All traditional explanations are speculative. It seems unlikely that the Savior could have been born on December 25. The Nativity Story is a widespread belief; but, it is not true!
The Bible does not tell. Marc and John didn't care much about it; their gospels didn't mention it. Matthew and Luke wrote about the birth of Jesus, each in his own ways; while Luke's story begins in Nazareth, Matthew relates Bethlehem's events. These are the only two biblical accounts of Jesus' birth, and neither state the date of delivery of the Savior. Some argued that it is unlikely that the Nativity's many events took place in the seasons told. I hope you understand that the evangelists were not concerned about the exact date of Jesus' birth. Their primary focus centered on stating that God sent his only Son to fulfill His promise of salvation. Paul and Matthew proclaimed Jesus' message of the New Kingdom's coming (Galatians 4:4-5 and Matthew 1:14-15), disregarding the Savior's details about His birth. The gospels do not claim to be historical documents; instead, they are theological chronicles intended to show the life of Jesus during his ministry and passion, not the episodes of his life related to his secular history. To give credence to the veracity of Jesus' birth, Luke and Matthew independently associate Jesus' birth with the reign of Herod the Great. The most important thing about Jesus is that most historians agree that he existed. They decided that his baptism and crucifixion occurred; they are historical events. Accordingly, they can estimate approximate ranges for their occurrence. Using references to these historical events, most scholars believe a birthdate between 6 and 4 BC.
Luke describes two events that deny that he was born on December 25: One, the shepherds were out tending to their flocks (Luke 2:8), which they never did in the winter months. Two, the Lord's parents traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-3). According to imperial records, said census took place several years after the birth of Jesus. In my book, "María Magdalena: la esposa de Jesucristo," Alicia McCallum, who claims to have been Mary Magdalene in a past life, tells a very different story from that of the two gospels. Additionally, a registration census would have been very unpopular at any time. It is improbable that Augustus, emperor at the time, would have ordered a winter census because temperatures often dropped below zero, and the roads were impassable. Additionally, a considerate husband would not subject his wife to challenge the weather and the dangerous roads when she is about to give birth. Think about it for a moment; this is a trip that would take at least a week to cover the 110 kilometers separating Nazareth from Bethlehem.
There is another version that places Jesus' birthdate in the early fall. To estimate this date, some historians count backward from his death when he was about 33 and a half years old on Passover of the year 33 AD (John 19:14-16), arriving at a date marked as 2 BC (Luke 3:23), very unlikely to be exact. The Bible teaches (Matthew 2:16-18) that Jesus was about two years old when Herod ordered the Massacre of the Innocents (www.controversialbible.com published a post about it). Herod the Great died in 4 BC; accordingly, Jesus should have been born in 6 BC, at least.
According to some astrologers, Jesus was born on September 11, 3 BC, in Bethlehem. In their opinion, there is a correlation between Jesus' birth and some astronomical events which supposedly occurred in 5 BC, as reported by Chinese astronomers who affirmed the star of Bethlehem was a comet. His birth in Bethlehem had been anticipated and prophesied 800 years before (Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:2). Some scholars attribute the star to Jupiter and Venus coming together on June 17th, 2 BC. Other researchers claim that the conjunction was between Jupiter and Saturn, which occurred in October of 7 BC. Another method used to estimate Jesus' birthdate is based on when he began preaching (Luke 3:23) in the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1-2). In his work, Historia Ecclesiae, published in AD 313, Eusebius placed the birth of Jesus in the 42nd year of Augustus' reign, coinciding with Cleopatra's death. As you can see, pure speculation all over.
When it comes to Jesus' real birth, most theologians and historians believe it happened between 6 BC and 4 BC. They base their estimates on Matthew's and Luke's descriptions of the events in their accounts of the Nativity, such as the shepherds watching over their sheep at night, or Herod's death. They often count backward from the start of Jesus' ministry. Some scholars, not many, based their estimate on an early Christian tradition stating that the Annunciation, the day when the angel told Mary she would have a baby by divine conception, happened on March 25, nine months later is December 25. Reflecting the Bible's not mentioning the birthdate of Jesus, the New Catholic Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity both state that the exact date of Christ's birth is unknown.
The closest we can get to the real birthdate of Jesus is based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist, who was six months older than Jesus, as per the Bible. If we follow Luke's account, the fall is the most likely station for Jesus' birth. When Jesus was divinely conceived (Luke 1:24-36), Elizabeth, John's mother, was six months pregnant. If we know when John was born, then we can deduct Jesus'. The Bible teaches (Luke 1:5) that Zacharias (John's father) served in the Jerusalem temple during the Abijah, which takes place on June 13-19 in that year. During his time as a temple's priest, Zacharias learned that his wife would have a child, despite her age (Luke 1:8-13). When he got back home by the end of June, Elizabeth conceived, and nine months later (Luke 1:23-24), she gave birth to John by the end of March. If we add six months after John's birth, the end of September seems like the most likely time for Jesus's birth.
All available information, biblical and extra-biblical, point to the impossibility of December 25 as the date of Jesus' birth. There is plenty of evidence that Jesus was not born on December 25, and all biblical scholars know it. Then, why we celebrate Christmas on this date? Some four centuries after Jesus' death, the Roman Empire began to celebrate December 25 as His birthdate. Constantine, the Roman Emperor, converted to Christianity and sanctioned it in 312. To get converts among Constantine's subjects, church leaders concocted their explanation for Jesus' birth in late December. They argued that since God created the world in late March, it is only logical to realize that Jesus would be conceived on the same date; accordingly, he would be born on the winter solstice, which coincidentally, would happen in the pagan winter festivities celebrated by the Romans known as Saturnalia. From Rome, the celebrations extended to other areas of the empire, and soon Christ's Nativity was accepted as of December 25. I found the first acknowledged celebration of the Nativity in a Roman almanac published by Rome's church in 336 AD. As it appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica and Americana, the explanation is that church leaders chose it "to make Christianity more meaningful to pagan converts," and "to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the winter solstice," or Saturnalia as the Romans called it. The festival began on December 17 and ended on December 24. To take advantage of Saturnalia's popularity, church leaders decided to use this celebration's date as the birthdate of Jesus. There you have it; December 25 was established as the date for Christmas because it was popular in pagan religious celebrations.