www.thain.com Site updates


Year of the Incarnation corrected from 1 BC to 2 BC

When I first set up this site I had already put in some ten years' occasional study of the Chronology of the Bible (for most of that time it was a pleasant sabbath day task). Now if we had only the first three gospels to go on we should have little cause to believe that the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus had extended beyond a single year, for of all the evangelists only John mentions more than one passover. And John also records this:-

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (John 5:1)

Although aware that some chronologers had taken the feast recorded in John 5:1 above to be a Passover, I decided originally against doing so because the text does not say "the feast", and it certainly doesn't say "the feast of the passover". It says just "a feast", and I did not consider that to be sufficient grounds for reckoning it a passover. And for that matter I still don't.

However a recent study of The Harmony of the Gospels by William Newcome (1729 - 1800) has convinced me that the feast of John 5:1 was indeed a Passover. Newcome collated and tabulated the events of The Life of Jesus and it is now clear to me that an extra passover has to be added to His ministry, and thus an extra year. The date of the Cross is a fixed point (after which nothing in scripture is dated anyway) so the extra year has to be added at the beginning of The Life, meaning that Jesus was born one year before the year I had originally calculated. I now consider that instead of having been born in 1 BC, Jesus was born in the year we now call 2 BC (reckoning backwards of course from the Cross in AD 32 and the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70). Perhaps counter-intuitively, this change does not affect anything substantial in the Chronology. Of course it has made me look again very carefully at the reckoning of the 490 years of judgment which fell upon Jerusalem, and in fact I believe it has effected an improvement. The reckoning is now more symmetrical and the table looks the better for it. The lack of symmetry had always bothered me slightly; but as tabular symmetry is not a fundamental requirement of chronology and I couldn't put my finger on anything which was wrong with the table as it stood, neither could I justify changing anything. However I do have to admit that I'm not unhappy at the improvement in symmetry which has now resulted. For those few brave souls who may be interested I have summarised the calculation in a short PDF here

And very thankfully, nothing else anywhere in the chronology is affected.
Home