Biography of Messiahs and Prophets Jesus Christ Part 1

About the famous religious figure Jesus Christ, biography and history of the Christian leader.

MESSIAHS AND PROPHETS

JESUS (c. 7 B.C.-29 A.D.)

For a person with such immense historical impact, there are relatively few concrete or undisputed details about the birth, life, and death of Jesus. For example, December 25th, Christmas, traditionally celebrated as the date of Jesus' birth, is almost certainly inaccurate, as is the belief that Jesus was born in the year 1 A.D. The December date was imposed in Rome sometime in the sixth century during the reign of Justinian, ostensibly to coincide with the established festivals of the winter solstice. According to information given in the Gospel of Luke, there were shepherds tending their flocks in the fields on the night of Jesus' birth. Shepherds in the Bethlehem area still tend their sheep at night--but only during the blistering days of late summer and early fall, when it is too hot for the sheep to graze in the daylight hours. So, in fact, Jesus may have been born in August or September.

There are questions about the exact year, as well. The Gospel of Matthew says that Jesus was born in the last two years of the reign of King Herod, which would place his birth around 4 B.C. The more widely accepted version in Luke places the birth of Jesus at the time of the first registration in Judea, around 6 or 7 B.C. Corroborating this approximate date is the discovery by Johannes Kepler, the famed 17th-century astronomer, that in the year 7 B.C. Jupiter and Saturn would have been so aligned as to have appeared as an unfamiliar and extremely bright star, perhaps what was taken to be the star of Bethlehem. The appearance of this "star" also suggests Dec. 4 as the actual date of birth.

Jesus was born to Jewish parents who were from the city of Nazareth. His father, Joseph, was a carpenter. His mother, Mary, was a teenaged woman of about 15. Mary became pregnant while she was still betrothed to Joseph. An integral part of Christian belief is that the Virgin Mary was endowed with her child by God; further, that a trusting Joseph, while not directly involved in the miracle, was visited by the angel of the Lord to assure him of Mary's purity and the baby's divinity (Matt. 1:20). Later in the year, when Mary was in an advanced state of pregnancy, she and Joseph had to travel to Joseph's ancestral home of Bethlehem to pay the taxes due the Roman Empire and be counted in the census. By the time they were near the city, Mary was in labor. Because of the census, there was no room available at the local inn, so the couple were forced to spend the night and have their child born in one of the many caves in the region, which are to this day used as shelter by Bedouins and their animals. Eight days later, as the Jewish custom dictated, Jesus was circumcised and a pair of pigeons were sacrificed.

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