Vatican City — Pope Benedict XVI revealed the third installment in his trilogy dedicated to the life of Jesus, and said Christ may have been born earlier than previously thought.
Our modern calendar, which begins with the birth of Jesus Christ, was created by a 6th century monk, Dionysius Exiguus. However, it may be mistaken about his date of birth.
According to the Telegraph, the Pope says that Exiguus — who is considered to be the inventor of the Christian calendar — “made a mistake in his calculations by several years. The actual date of Jesus’ birth was several years before.”
The suggestion that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 has been debated by historians, theologians, and spiritual leaders for centuries. But the fact that the leader of the Catholic Church has his doubts makes the case different this time around.
Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, was published Tuesday. It is predicted to be a best seller, like the previous two installments, and a million copies have already been printed. The book is expected to be translated into 20 languages for publication in 72 countries.
The Infancy Narratives follows the life of Jesus from his birth to his presentation in the temple at age 12. The Pope described the book as a “small antechamber” to the trilogy, according to the Vatican Press Office.
Pope Benedict writes that the Gospel of Matthew claims that Jesus was born when Herod the Great ruled in Judea. If Herod died in 4 B.C., Jesus must have been born earlier than Exiguus originally document.
The Gospel of Luke contends that Jesus was born when Quirinius was governor of Syria in A.D. 6.
Pope Benedict also took the opportunity to reaffirm the doctrine of the virgin birth as an “unequivocal” truth of faith. He reminds readers that sexual intercourse did not play in the conception of Jesus, and that the virgin birth is a “cornerstone of faith” and a sign of “God’s creative power.”
Do you think Pope Benedict is right that Jesus was born earlier than originally believed?