Even as Christians celebrate the festive season, no one knows the exact time or place or month or year when Jesus of Nazareth was born.
This is even more true when one considers that the same Christians do celebrate Christmas on different occasions, with Orthodox observing it in January.
In any case, the calendar that is followed in the West was only created in the 6th Century, long after Jesus of Nazareth was born. Hence, in calculating back the years, the holy monk made a mistake by neither having a zero year between the years 1 BC and 1 AD.
Moreover if Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, who only died in 5BC as Mathew’s gospel tells us, then there is no way Jesus could have been born after that, say in 1AD.
And to complicate matters, James the younger brother of the Lord was the one born in the year 1AD and not Jesus. No wonder for a long time, some Christians always referred to James rather than Jesus as the Lord.
OMOLE JOSEPH, Voi
St Luke story
I read with keen interest several letters by Rev Martin Olando and, while supporting his sentiments on the debate whether December 25 is the exact day Jesus was born, it would appear that the day allocated for Christmas is not exactly the day when the holy Christ was born.
Writing about the time of Jesus’ birth, the Bible says: “And there were shepherds in the same country (Judea) abiding in the field, and keeping watch at night over the flocks” (Luke 2: 7, 8).
Commenting on this statement of Luke, Bishop Barns in his book, Rise of Christianity on page 79 says: “There is moreover, no authority for the belief that December was the actual birthday of Jesus.
If we can give any credence to St Luke’s birth-story of the shepherds keeping watch by night in the fields near Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus did not take place in winter, when the night temperature is so low in the hill country of Judea that snow is not uncommon.
How then in the light of historical research into the origin of Christianity and Luke’s statement did the belief ever come to be entertained by Christians that Jesus was born in December? It seems very surprising winter and not summer was considered?
The incident referred to in Luke very probably took place in the month of August or September when fresh dates are found on palm-trees in Judea.
HUSSEIN S. HAFIDH, Mombasa