I love the history channel. They have been doing a series on Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and events of the Bible and how they could have occurred -- if not by miracle.
Today I watched a show that discussed when Jesus might have been born. Several hundred years after the Birth of Christ Christian Priests got together and they thought it would be really cool to have a calendar based on the birth of Christ, and not on some random Roman King.
Since no one, even during the time of Jesus, knew for sure when Jesus was born (mainly because the main emphasis back then was on the death of Jesus), it was determined that the best day to celebrate Christmas was on December 25.
Why was that date chosen? Because it was the chief Pagan holiday. The Priests thought that celebrating the birth of Christ on this day would be a great way of overriding the old celebration and inculcating the new.
A scholar determined that Jesus must have been born on year 473 or something like that of the Roman calendar, so a week after the Birth of Christ starts the new year. That pretty much put to rest the search for the date of the Birth of Christ.
Eighteen hundred years later researchers determined that the scholar who chose the year failed to take into account a few specific details mentioned in the Bible. For one thing, Jesus was born during the rein of King Herad, who died in 2 BC. Therefore, since Herad is mentioned in the Bible for 4 years after the birth of Jesus, then he must have been born in 6 BC.
Another scientist used information about the star of Bethlehem that the three Kings (of course the Bible does not say how many Kings there were) used to find the baby Jesus. The Bible states it occurred in the East. In Jesus's time, the east referred to the Eastern sky in the morning where the sun rises. So, the search was on to determine what event would have occurred in the Easter sky that might have occurred around 6 BC.
Another account of the Bible states that Jesus was born in a manger, during a time when the Shepherds were watching their sheep. During the time of Jesus Shepherds only watched over their sheep at night, which meant he was born at night. Also significant, most of the year sheep were not watched. The only time they were was in the spring, so Jesus would have been born in the spring not winter.
Another scientist determined that other manuscripts of the time make note that the star occurred in the constellation (what was it called?) that was a symbol of of Judaism. Likewise, Zeus was also mentions. More significant, the planet that represented Zeus was Jupiter. Thus, this scientist determined that the star of Bethlehem would have been an event involving Jupiter in the eastern sky, at night, and in the spring, and around the year 6 BC.
So, using his computer, he set out to determine when such an event would have occurred, and he determined, according to his computer, that Jupiter would have been aligned in the Easter sky in this particular constellation on April 18, of 6 BC., which would have been during the rein of King Heran and during the spring.
Likewise, so too would the moon and other things in the sky. The result of such an alignment would have been a remarkable sight for those who saw it, but it would not have been too bright. Which is significant, because the Bible mentions that the Kings (magi, which means they were magicians) had to convince King Herad that there was such a sight in the sky the night Jesus was born, which meant that the sight was there but wasn't too obvious that someone who wasn't looking for it would have seen it.
Isn't that cool? Man I love history. And it just so happens that's my daughter's birthday. She's a Christmas baby -- well, sorta.