The True Bate Of Christ’s Birth -- By: George E. Day

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:9 (Feb 1846)
Article: The True Bate Of Christ’s Birth
Author: George E. Day

The True Bate Of Christ’s Birth

Rev. George E. Day

[The computation of time from the Christian era, universally adopted since the eighth century among Christian nations, is based upon the calculation of the year of Christ’s birth, made in the sixth century by Dionysius Exiguus a Roman monk of Scythian extraction. That this calculation is incorrect, is now generally admitted. The church fathers had only an uncertain tradition and differed among themselves. In modern times, Pearson and Hug, have placed the birth of Christ one year before our era; Scaliger, agreeing with Eusebius, two years; Calvisius Vogel, Paulus, and Süskind, agreeing with Jerome, three; Bengel and Anger, with Wieseler and the common view, four; Usher and Petavius, five; Sanclemente and Ideler, seven.

The present essay, in addition to comprising the results of the

latest investigations on this question, is further valuable as a thorough examination of the credibility of two prominent events recorded in the gospels in connection with the birth of Jesus, both of which have been disputed, viz. the star in the east, and the census under Augustus near the time of Christ’s birth. The former, Prof. Norton (Evidences of the genuineness of the Gospels, Vol. I. Notes, p. lix.) does not hesitate to call “a fiction,” and even grounds his rejection of the first two chapters in Matthew, in part, on their containing what he calls such “a strange mixture of astrology and miracle” as “we find represented in the story of the Magi.” Even supposing the star to have been an extraordinary meteor, it is difficult to perceive the force of this objection, unless indeed we first assume that the birth of Christ was a far less important event than the world has been accustomed to regard it. But if the ground maintained by Wieseler, in this essay in respect to the star in the east, is correct, not only are the objections of Prof. N. stripped of the semblance of plausibility, but the narrative itself, confirmed by undeniable astronomical facts, becomes a remarkable witness in favor of the genuineness of the two chapters, which it is cited by Prof. N. to impeach.

It is only necessary to add that the author of the following essay is a native of Altencelle in the kingdom of Hanover, where he was born, Feb. 28, 1813. In 1836, he was appointed Repetent in Theology; in 1839, Privatdocent; and in 1842, Professor extraordinarius, in the University of Göttingen. The two other works by which he is known to the public are an examination of the genuineness of Mark 16:9–20 and John 21,1 and a treati...

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