The Star Of The East. -- By: Theodore Appel
BSac 35:137 (Jan 1878) p. 147
The Star Of The East.
Part First. It is now generally conceded that the Saviour of the world was born at least four years before the beginning of the Christian era. The current chronology, introduced during the sixth century by the monk Dionysius, without much critical examination, and adopted by Archbishop Usher over two centuries ago, is therefore not less than four years in error. This has been satisfactorily demonstrated by the most careful investigation of the subject in more recent times. King Herod died in the year 749 of the founding of Rome according to one date of this event, or in 750 according to another; and of course Christ could not have been born
BSac 35:137 (Jan 1878) p. 148
in the year 753 or 754, the time usually fixed for his birth. If, then we add four years — the difference most generally adopted— to the present year of our Lord, we have eighteen hundred and eighty-two years as the period which has elapsed since the incarnation.
In regard to the particular day of the year, however, when that event took place, there has been a vast amount of discussion, but without any reliable results. The early Christians, who might have ascertained the precise date, made more account of the event itself than of the day, and they have therefore left no references in their writings which would give the scholar a clew to the solution of the question. One of the oldest and best established traditions handed down in the church at Borne assigns it to the twenty-fifth of December — the day now generally adopted in Christian countries to commemorate the advent of our Saviour on earth. In modern times an objection has been urged against this date, because it occurs in the winter, when shepherds could not be supposed to be out in their fields watching their flocks by night. But it must be remembered that Palestine lies in a southern latitude, and that its winters differ materially from ours or those of northern Europe. With occasional snow or frosts that do not last long, the cold is not so intense or continuous as in more northern climes. The winter is prevailingly the rainy season,; and the earth, which had been left dry and parched by the heat of summer, with scarcely any sign of vegetation left, is now clothed with a green verdure, while the grain-fields everywhere present a cheerful and flourishing appearance. As a general thing, shepherds have come home with their flocks from distant mountains and valleys, whither they led them during the summer for pasture, and have them safely inclosed in sheepfolds on account of the unpleasant state of the weather. But travellers inform us, just as we might expect, that there are always some intervals of fair weather during this rainy season, when shepherds lead out their flock...
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