Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Slavonic Josephus and the star of Bethlehem

The birth of Jesus has three different dates according to the New Testament. Luke placed the date at 6 AD, at the census (Luke 2:1-3) and at 2 BC per the calculation of John the Baptist's arrival less thirty years (Luke 3:1 and 3:23). Matthew placed the date at the end of Herod the Great's reign, or from 9-4 BC. Obviously, there is a consistency problem with the Gospel accounts. However, most scholars come to the conclusion that Jesus was born in 9-4 BC. This dating is dependent on the "star of Bethlehem" story. The only other account of the "star of Bethlehem" comes from the Slavonic Josephus. This account placed the birth in the early years of Herod, around 25 BC. The "star of Bethlehem" may have been a Christian story, not an historical reality. This story may have had its origin in the Star Prophecy, where many Jews believed that a world ruler would come from Israel. (Josephus attributed the Star Prophecy to Vespasian.) In reality, the "star of Bethlehem" story has two possible dates. Most follow Matthew, who placed the time towards the end of Herod the Great's rule (9-4 BC). I follow the Slavonic Josephus, which dates this story about 20 years earlier, from 30-25 BC. The earlier dating has the following advantages: 1. According to Epiphanius, James, the brother of Jesus, died at the age of 96 in 62 AD. This would have yielded a birth date of 35 BC. This advanced age may be an exaggeration as the same church historian stated that James died a virgin. According to Paul, James was a married man. So, it is very possible that 96 years old is a slight stretch. However, James was probably a very old man at his death (80-96?). The birth of Jesus in 30-25 BC fits in quite nicely with James' age. 2. The Slavonic Josephus placed the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry at 6 AD, during the reign of Archelaus. This John was very fiery, the same as in the Gospels. However, the Slavonic version stated that John preached a nationalism identical to Judas the Galilean. The placement of the John passage was right before Josephus claimed that Judas the Galilean was a preacher different than all the others. Josephus also called Judas a wise man and a clever rabbi. (Josephus never said a word about Jesus!) 3. If Judas the Galilean was born about 25 BC, then he would have been 30 years old at the census uprising (6 AD and the introduction of John). At least, the earlier scenario about Jesus' (Judas the Galilean's) birth fits the other facts (James, John the Baptist and the age 30).

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