God’s BirthdayWhy Christ Was Bornon December 25and Why It MattersTaylor R. MarshallSAINT JOHN PRESSMMXIII

Copyright 2013 Taylor Reed Marshall, Ph.D.All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may bereproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,recording, or by any information storage and retrievalsystem without the permission in writing from thepublisher or author.Sacred Scripture citations generally from the 1899 editionof the Douay-Rheims (Challoner) Bible, or based upon it.Marshall, TaylorGod’s Birthday: Why Christ Was Born on December 25and Why It Matters/ Taylor Marshall1st ed.Includes bibliographical references and indexISBN: 978-0-9884425-2-81. Roman Catholicism 2. New Testament. 3. Theology. I.Title.Published bySaint John PressPO Box 568011Dallas, Texas 75365Printed in the United States of AmericaAcid-free paper for permanence and durabilityPlease visit God’s Birthday on the web

Dedicated to my baby girlElizabeth Joy Anne Mary Marshallwho was born earlier this year—2013 years after Christ.Et repleta est Spiritu Sancto Elisabeth (Lk 1:41)


CHRIST ON CHRISTMASIf you watch television or read magazines in themonth leading up to Christmas, you willinevitably come across experts claiming thatJesus of Nazareth was not born on December25, but during the spring months whenshepherds would have been in their fields.They will tell you about how some sillymedieval monk named Denys or Dionysius madea faulty calculation and that Jesus was really bornas early as 7 years “before Christ”—7 BC.Next, the experts will tell you that December25 was chosen by crafty Catholic priests in Romein order to baptize a pagan winter festival with aChristian celebration. They will tell you about theRoman festival of the birth of the UnconqueredSun in December, and how Christians co-optedthe feast for the sake of proselyting the RomanEmpire.I once believed all these arguments. Iconsidered myself an enlightened man. I hadheard these arguments in college, graduatecourses, and even in seminary. I had heard itpreached from pulpits. I assumed that everyone,everywhere knew that Christmas was not reallythe historical birthday of Christ our Lord.Then one day, I had an epiphany. In 2009, Iwrote a successful book on Judaism and early

Christianity titled The Crucified Rabbi. In thisbook, I did a considerable amount of research onJosephus, the most noteworthy Jewish historianof the first century. Much of what we knowabout Judaism and Rome from the time of Christcomes to us from Josephus. My epiphany camewhen I realized that Josephus is a horrible keeper ofdates. He may be a famous historian, but he getsthe numbers and dates wrong all the time.If Josephus kept sloppy, I thought, perhapswe should reinvestigate his chronicle of the deathof King Herod. If Josephus is inaccurate on that,then everything changes when it comes to ourdating of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.Sure enough, I found some interesting items.This discovery led me to study the issue moredeeply, which I did. That’s what this book isabout.This book in your hand challenges the claimthat Jesus was not born on December 25. Evenmore, I challenge the claim that we cannot knowthe year of Christ’s birth. As you will see, theexpert arguments above are as anachronistic asclaiming that Coca-cola invented Santa Clause inthe 1930s in order to compete with Kwanzacelebrations.Consider this. The earliest Christian werekeenly interested in the birthday of Jesus Christwhom they believed to be God incarnate. In theeyes of the earliest Christians, the day of God’sbirth from the stainless womb of the BlessedVirgin Mary was the most important day inhuman history, not counting the days of Christ’sdeath and His resurrection from the dead.

The debate against December 25 as thebirthday of Christ original sprouted as polemicagainst Christianity. It is a plot to deconstruct thehistoricity of biblical Christianity. It is an attemptto relegate Christianity to the realm of myth.More than that, it is an attack on Christ.Ask yourself this. Would the Blessed VirginMary and the Apostles have been at all interestedin knowing the birthdate of the Man they knewto be God Himself? If early Christians believedin the deity of Christ, would they have notrecorded and commemorated the day?I hope this book encourages you to rethinkearly Christianity. Even more, I hope itchallenges you to celebrate Christmas for what ittruly is—the birthday of Christ who is God.Merry Christmas.—December 15, 2013Gaudete SundayTaylor Marshall

THE FULLNESS OF TIMEThe Apostle Paul once wrote, “But when thetime had fully come, God sent forth his Son,born of woman, born under the law, to redeemthose who were under the law, so that we mightreceive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). For Pauland the early Christians, Christ was born in “thefullness of time.” In other words, God chose thisspecific era to bring about His redemptionthrough Christ.As described in my book The Eternal City, thebook of Daniel depicts the advent of the Son ofMan occurring in the era of the FourthKingdom, that is, the Roman Empire. At last, thetime had come. The Roman Empire was secure.Octavian Caesar, the adopted son of JuliusCaesar, had defeated both Pompey and MarkAntony at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.Octavian Caesar emerged as the sole ruler of theRoman Empire. Octavian Caesar was given thenew title Caesar Augustus, and the Pax Romanasettled upon the entire known world. Romanroads extended out from every major city. Romeruled over what is today Spain, Britain, WesternEurope, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, theentire coast along North Africa from Egypt to

the Strait of Gibraltar, and every island to benamed within the Mediterranean Sea.By this time, Jews could be found in everymajor city in the Roman Empire. It is estimatedthat about seven percent of the population of theempire was Jewish. These Jews carried theirbeliefs and Scriptures throughout the world.Jewish synagogues had been founded all over theRoman Empire. In the synagogues, Jews cametogether on the Sabbath to pray, read theScriptures, and listen to the rabbis expound thesacred texts. The synagogues of the empireprovided the original outposts of evangelism forthe Apostles as they went out into the world toproclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Greek wasstill the lingua franca of the empire and theSeptuagint provided the Jewish Scriptures in alanguage accessible to non-Jews. Everything wasset in place so that God could spread message ofthe Messiah to the Gentiles.It seems that the Jews were not the only oneswaiting for a Savior. There is a strong traditionthat even pagan seers began to prophesy of thecoming Christ who would be a heavenly childand king of the world. The prophetic voice of theclassical world belonged to sibyls. The word sibylcomes from the Greek word sibylla, which means“prophetess.” The sibyls were women whouttered prophetic oracles at shrines or templesthroughout the classical world.Visitors to the Vatican are sometimes amazedto learn that pagan sibyls are included along withthe Israelite prophets on the ceiling of the SistineChapel. Michelangelo included five sibyls on the

ceiling of the Sistine Chapel since eachprophesied of the coming of Christ:Erythræan SibylPersian SibylLibyan SibylCumæan SibylDelphic SibylThese prophecies of the Sibyls were well knownin the ancient world. For example, Virgil quotesthe Cumæan Sibyl in his fourth Eclogue:Now the last age of Cumæan Verses is come,Afresh the great cycle of ages begins,Returns the Virgin, Saturnian Kingdoms return,The heavenly Offspring descends from on high.1This was written before the birth of Christ, andyet Virgil acknowledges the Cumæan sibylsprophecy that a Virgin would bring forth aheavenly child from on high. Compare Virgil’swords to those of Saint Gabriel to the BlessedVirgin Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come uponyou, and the power of the Most High willovershadow you; therefore the child to be bornwill be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35).Cicero, the Roman orator and philosopherwrote “It has been announced in ancientprophecies that a king is to appear, to whom menmust do homage in order to be saved.” 2 TheRoman historian Suetonius wrote that“throughout the East an old and constantopinion was frequently expressed to the effectmen starting from Judea were destine at that time

to acquire the world-wide supremacy.” 3 TheRoman historian Tacitus concurs:Men were convinced that it waswritten in the ancient books of thepriests that at that very time the Eastshould grow strong and men startingfrom Judea should acquire thesupremacy.4We read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew thatJesus Christ was born under the reign of CaesarAugustus. The reader should feel the politicaltension between the success of Caesar and birthof a mysterious baby acclaimed as the king ofheaven and earth. The supernatural Kingdom ofGod has crashed into the Fourth Kingdom ofthis world as described in the second chapter ofDaniel. Christ would later answer a nervousPilate with the striking statement: “My kingdomis not of this world” (Jn 18:36).The Angel Gabriel came to a young teenagemaiden named Mary who lived under Romanrule. The message is amazing. According to thevisions of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, theBlessed Virgin Mary was praying for the comingof the Messiah at the very moment the AngelGabriel arrived. Gabriel announced:“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is withyou!”But she was greatly troubled at thesaying, and considered in her mind

what sort of greeting this might be(Lk 1:29).Regarding this angelic salutation of Gabriel, theBlessed Virgin Mary herself related the followinginformation to Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn(died in 1298):My daughter, I want you to knowthat no one can please me more bysaying the salutation which the MostAdorable Trinity sent to me and bywhich He raised me to the dignity ofMother of God. By the word “Ave,”which is the name Eve, I learned thatin His infinite power God haspreserved me from all sin and itsattendant misery which the firstwoman had been subject to.5Moderns would likely dismiss Saint Mechtilde’saccount as pious fiction for the simple fact thatthe Blessed Virgin Mary would not have likelyreceived the angelic salutation in Latin with theLatin greeting Ave. Rather, the Greek of SaintLuke’s Gospel reads Chaire, not the Latin Ave.There is, however, something to r Cornelius a Lapide makes anexcellent observation. Saint Gabriel would haveaddressed Mary in Hebrew, and likely wouldhave begun his annunciation with the Hebrewgreeting “cha-ve” meaning “Live,” as in “Longlive the king” or “Viva Papa” or “Viva CristoRey.” Now then, according to Genesis 3:20, the

Hebrew name of Eve is “cha-va” meaning“living” because, as the Holy Spirit explains, Eveis the “Mother of the Living.”This shows that there is indeed a mysticalmeaning in the original Hebrew greeting ofGabriel to Mary, and that the Virgin’sexplanation to Saint Mechtilde is linguisticallyaccurate within the limits of Hebraic vocabulary.Moreover, this linguistic commonality furtherestablishes Mary as the New Eve. It also revealsthat the Latin Vulgate version captures theoriginal Semitic meaning through an IndoEuropean root.Returning to the angelic greeting, SaintGabriel continued by saying:“Do not be afraid, Mary, for youhave found favor with God. Andbehold, you will conceive in yourwomb and bear a son, and you shallcall his name Jesus. He will be great,and will be called the Son of the MostHigh; and the Lord God will give tohim the throne of his father David,and he will reign over the house ofJacob for ever; and of his kingdomthere will be no end.”And Mary said to the angel, “Howshall this be, since I have nohusband?”And the angel said to her, “The HolySpirit will come upon you, and thepower of the Most High will

overshadow you; therefore the childto be born will be called holy, the Sonof God. And behold, yourkinswoman Elizabeth in her old agehas also conceived a son; and this isthe sixth month with her who wascalled barren. For with God nothingwill be impossible.”And Mary said, “Behold, I am thehandmaid of the Lord; let it be to meaccording to your word.” And theangel departed from her (Lk 1:28-38).Mary, then, was the predestined mother of thelong-expected Messiah. But there is somethingelse that is startling—the identity of themessenger. It is Gabriel, whose name meansMighty Man of God. Gabriel’s role in theAnnunciation is significant because Gabriel onlyappears in one other book of the Bible, the Bookof Daniel. It would seem that Gabriel’s namemeaning Mighty Man of God refers to his role inproclaiming the Incarnation of God the Son—the true Mighty Man of God.It is the Angel Gabriel who explains toDaniel the time of the Messiah’s birth. Gabrielexplains that the Messiah will appear publiclyafter “sixty-nine weeks” (Dan 9:20, 25). Sixtynine weeks is another way of saying sixty-ninesevens (69 x 7 483) or 483 years. The 483-yearcountdown begins, according to Gabriel, “fromthe going forth of the word to restore and buildJerusalem to the coming of an anointed one”(Dan 9:25).

The “going forth of the word to restore andbuild Jerusalem” occurred when King Artaxerxesissued the proclamation to restore and rebuildJerusalem in 453 B.C. (Dan 9:25). If we followthe calculation given by the Archangel Gabriel toDaniel and measure out 483 years from the dateof 453 B.C., we arrive at the date of A.D. 30, thetime of Christ’s baptism and the beginning ofHis public ministry. It is Gabriel who tells Danielthe exact date of the Messiah’s appearance inA.D. 30. It is not surprising then that God sentthe same angel to announce to Mary that thetime had come for the Messiah to be born sothat He would be ready to begin His ministry byA.D. 30.Now Saint Gabriel explained that one moreweek of seven years shall follow after A.D. 30.During this time, “the Messiah shall be cut off,but not for himself” (Dan 9:26). In other words,the Messiah shall die not for Himself, but forothers. Saint Gabriel explains to Daniel that thiswill happen at after “half the week” (Dan 9:27)or three and a half years after A.D. 30. Three anda half years after A.D. 30 brings us to A.D. 33—the year of Christ’s death on the cross. Gabrielforetells the death of the Messiah down to theexact year. The final three and a half years end inA.D. 36, the time marking the vision of SaintPeter in the ninth chapter of Acts which initiatedthe inclusion of the Gentiles into the CatholicChurch. This time also marks the conversion ofSaint Paul and his apostolic mission to theGentiles.When Caesar Augustus called for a census ofthe Roman Empire, he had ruled the Empire for

more than a quarter of a century. God chose thisRoman Emperor to fulfill an obscure Jewishprophecy—that the Messiah should be born inBethlehem:But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,who are little to be among the clans ofJudah,from you shall come forth for meone who is to be ruler in Israel,whose origin is from of old,from ancient days (Mic 5:2).Until this time, Joseph and Mary had lived inNazareth, and it appeared that the miraculousbaby of Mary would be born there. Caesarintervened, and Joseph found himself packing uphis pregnant wife for the ninety-mile journeyfrom Nazareth to Bethlehem. We are only toldthat Joseph went to Bethlehem, “because he wasof the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4).Joseph likely felt the need to go to Bethlehem inorder to ensure that he would not forfeit landthat was his by inheritance. In America, we arerequired to vote in the state of our residence.Failure to prove residence results in giving up theright to vote in that state. We can only conjecturewhy Joseph felt compelled to travel toBethlehem. As a carpenter, Joseph was able towork anywhere. However, for official purposes,he likely wanted to be reckoned with his historicplace of origin.It would have taken about four or five daysto travel the distance between Nazareth andBethlehem. Bethlehem was not only the

prophetic birthplace of the future Messiah, butalso it had been the birthplace of King David andthe site of his anointing as the King of Israel.The Blessed Virgin Mary knew these details, andshe would have recalled the words of the AngelGabriel:He will be great, and will be called theSon of the Most High; and the LordGod will give to him the throne of hisfather David, and he will reign over thehouse of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdomthere will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33).As the Blessed Virgin Mary pondered allthese things in her heart, she likely began torealize that the prophetic voices of the OldCovenant were falling into harmony. It wasindeed the fullness of time.

APPARITION OF MARY TO CAESARThe Roman reign of Caesar Augustus was an eraof peace, prosperity, and felicity. Augustus tookan imperial census during this era of peace, atwhich time he closed the temple of Janus for thethird time, in the fortieth year of his reign. ThePrince of Peace would be born into this historicalparenthesis of peace.According to Saint Bede the Venerable, “Alover of peace, He would be born in a time of themost profound quiet. And there could be noplainer indication of peace than that a censusshould be taken of the whole world, whosemaster Augustus was, having reigned at the timeof Christ’s nativity for some twelve years in thegreatest peace, war being lulled to sleepthroughout all the world.”6Tradition holds that Caesar Augustus learnedfrom the oracle of the Tiburtine Sybil that aHebrew child would silence all the oracles of theRoman gods. Tradition also records that theBlessed Virgin Mary, holding the Christ Child inher arms, appeared to Caesar Augustus on theCapitol Hill. Augustus recognized that this visioncorresponded to the oracle concerning theHebrew child. In response to this apparition ofMary and Jesus, Augustus built an altar in the

Capitol in honor of this child with the title AraPrimogeniti Dei, meaning “Altar of the Firstbornof God.” Over three hundred years later, theChristian emperor Constantine the Great built achurch at this location of the apparition and altar,which is called Basilica Sanctae Mariae de Ara Coeli,meaning “Basilica of Saint Mary of the Altar ofHeaven.”7 If one visits the church today, he willobserve murals of Caesar Augustus and of theTiburtine Sibyl painted on either side of the archabove the high altar. These images recall theoracle, which prophesied the advent of theHebrew “Firstborn of God.” In the fifteenthcentury, this church became famous for a statueof the Christ Child carved from olive wood takenfrom the Garden of Gethsemane outsideJerusalem. The church’s connection to the birthof Christ made it a fitting place for devotion tothe infancy of the Savior.Meanwhile in the Jewish district of Rome, onthe day of Christ’s nativity, a fountain of oilflowed out from the earth in the tavern of acertain man in what is today called Trastevere—theregion south of the Vatican and to the west ofthe Tiber River. This fountain of oil revealed tothe Jews of Rome that the Messiah had at lastbeen born, since Messiah or Christ means“anointed with oil.” To this very day, the Churchof Saint Maria in Trastevere marks the location.The Emperor Septimius Severus, who reignedfrom A.D. 193 to 211, granted the location to theChristians. In A.D. 220, Pope Saint Callixtus Iestablished the site as a church, and his relics stillremain under the church’s high altar. The church

has been rebuilt several times and can still bevisited to this very day.

THE BIRTH YEAR OF CHRISTAs you know, B.C. refers to “before Christ”and it is therefore confusing to hear scholars saythat Christ was born in 4 B.C. This would meanthat Christ was born four years before Christ.However, recent and more precise chronologicalstudies have validated the traditional date ofChrist’s birth at December 25 in 1 B.C.8As way of background, the dating of B.C.(before Christ) and A.D. (anno Domini or year ofthe Lord) derives from the calculations of theDionysius Exiguus. Exiguus means little, so he isoften called Dionysius the Little. Dionysius was aScythian monk living in Rome. He died in aboutA.D. 544. Incidentally, when you write dates,B.C. goes after the number and A.D. goes infront of it. For example:754 B.C.orA.D. 1492In Rome, DionysiusRoman records andcompute the birthcomputation dividedChrist. Dionysius didworked with the bestChurch documents toof Christ. This newtime before and afternot include a year zero.

December 31 in 1 B.C. would have passed toJanuary 1 in A.D. 1.NowDionysiusidentifiedGabriel’sannunciation to the Virgin and the incarnation ofChrist in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Maryon March 25 in the year 1 B.C. He recognizedthe birthday of Christ as being December 25 inthe year 1 B.C. The circumcision of Christ, eightdays after His birth, was on January 1 of A.D. 1.His crucifixion was in the year A.D. 33.The Venerable Bede took up the datingscheme of Dionysius the Little in his EcclesiasticalHistory of the English People, and the rest is history.We still use his dating system to this day—B.C.and A.D.Doubts over the birth year of Christ arose inthe 1600s. Scholars became aware of thechronology provided by the Jewish historianJosephus. Josephus places the death of KingHerod the Great in what Dionysius called 4 B.C.Since Herod tried to kill the infant Christ, then itwould necessarily be the case that Christ wouldbe born before the death of Herod. If Heroddied in 4 B.C., then Christ would need to be bornbefore 4 B.C. And so, ever since the seventeenthcentury, people have been claiming thatDionysius got it wrong and that Christ was bornfour years before Christ.What do we make of all this? Well, eitherJosephus is correct or Dionysius is correct. Bothcannot be right. Until recently most scholarsagreed with Josephus because: A) Josephus livedin the century of Christ, B) Josephus was Jewish,and C) Josephus was a professional historian.

Dionysius was just a monk living in Rome overfive hundred years later.However, there is now good reason forbelieving that Josephus got it wrong. Furtherstudies of Josephus reveal that he was mostcertainly not consistent or accurate in datingseveral key events in Jewish and Roman history.In fact, Josephus contradicts verified history, theBible, and even his own chronology about onehundred times. His dates are not very accurate.The French archaeologist, jurist, and historianTheodore Reinarch was one of the first todocument the many factual and chronologicalerrors of Josephus. Reinarch’s translation ofJosephus is steadily interrupted by commentssuch as “this is a mistake” or “in another bookhis figures are different.”9The following is an example of the poorchronology of Josephus. Josephus records inhis Jewish War that Hyrcanus reigned for thirtythree years. Yet in his Antiquities of the Jews, thatHyrcanus reigned thirty-two years. 10 Yet inanother place in his Antiquities, Josephus says thatHyrcanus reigned only thirty years. That’s threecontradictory claims—two in the same book!In his Jewish War, Josephus records thatAristobulus set the diadem on his head 471 yearsafter the exile. Yet in his Antiquities, he says it was481 years, a ten-year difference. By the way,modern historians now know that it was 490years. Josephus is wrong on all accounts.More examples could be supplied. The fact isthat Josephus was sloppy with dates, especiallywhen they regarded monarchs. So let us take alook at the dates he gives for King Herod. We

discover that Josephus actually gave twocontradictory dates for the death of Herod—4B.C. and A.D. 7 or 8.Josephus writes that Herod capturedJerusalem and began to rule in what Dionysiuswould call 37 B.C., and that Herod lived for 34years after this. If you do the math, this meansthat Herod died in 4 or 3 B.C. Scholars site thisas the authoritative proof that Jesus was bornbefore 4-3 B.C.However, Josephus records a different datingfor the death of Herod elsewhere. Inhis Antiquities, Josephus writes that Herod wasfifteen years old in what we would call 47 B.C.when Caesar appointed Hyrcanus as ethnarch.11But, twice elsewhere Josephus states that Herodwas seventy years old when he died. So if Herodwas 15 in 47 B.C., that means he died at age 70 ineither A.D. 7 or A.D. 8.We have a serious discrepancy in the dates ofJosephus—a window of more than ten years.Moreover, who really knows if either number isaccurate given his mistakes on other historicaldates?Why is this important? It reveals that weshould not allow Josephus to have the last wordon the chronology of Christ. Josephus’ dating ofHerod’s death to 4 B.C. is truly only one versionof his calculations. Why not use his date of A.D.7 or 8? It is rather arbitrary for modern historiansto endorse the date of 4 B.C.The best way to date Herod’s death is byfocusing on the testimony that Herod died a fewmonths after a well-observed lunar eclipse. Withmodern astronomical models, we know that such

a lunar eclipse occurred at Jerusalem beforesunset on December 29 in 1 B.C. This wouldmean that Herod died sometime after A.D. 1.This lines up perfectly with the chronology ofDionysius the Little. Now what about the date?Was Christ truly born on December 25 in 1 B.C.?

WAS CHRIST BORN ON DECEMBER 25?The Catholic Church, from at least thesecond century, has claimed that Christ was bornon December 25. However, it is commonlyalleged that our Lord Jesus Christ was not bornon December 25. For the sake of simplicity, letus set out the usual objections to the date ofDecember 25 and counter each of them.Objection 1: December 25 was chosen in orderto replace the pagan Roman festival ofSaturnalia. Saturnalia was a popular winterfestival and so the Catholic Church prudentlysubstituted Christmas in its place.ReplytoObjection1: Saturnaliacommemorated the winter solstice. Yet thewinter solstice falls on December 22. It is truethat Saturnalia celebrations began as early asDecember 17 and extended till December 23.Still, the dates don’t match up.Objection 2: December 25 was chosen toreplace the pagan Roman holiday Natalis SolisInvicti whichmeans“BirthdayoftheUnconquered Sun.”

Reply to Objection 2: Let us examine first thecult of the Unconquered Sun. The EmperorAurelian introduced the cult of the Sol Invictus orUnconquered Sun to Rome in A.D. 274. Aurelianfound political traction with this cult, because hisown name Aurelian derives from the Latinword aurora denoting “sunrise.” Coins reveal thatEmperor Aurelian called himself the PontifexSolis or Pontiff of the Sun. Thus, Aurelian simplyaccommodated a generic solar cult and identifiedhis name with it at the end of the third century.Most importantly, there is no historicalrecord for a celebration Natalis Sol Invictus onDecember 25 prior to A.D. 354. Within anilluminated manuscript for the year A.D. 354,there is an entry for December 25 reading “NINVICTI CM XXX.” Here N means “nativity.”INVICTI means “of the Unconquered.” CMsignifies “circenses missus” or “games ordered.”The Roman numeral XXX equals thirty. Thus,the inscription means that thirty games wereordered for the nativity of the Unconquered forDecember 25th. Note that the word “sun” is notpresent. Moreover, the very same codex also lists“natus Christus in Betleem Iudeae” for the day ofDecember 25. The phrase is translated as “birthof Christ in Bethlehem of Judea.”12The date of December 25th only became the“Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” under theEmperor Julian the Apostate. Julian the Apostatehad been a Christian but who had apostatizedand returned to Roman paganism. Historyreveals that it was the hateful former ChristianEmperor that erected a pagan holiday on

December 25. Think about that for a moment.What was he trying to replace?These historical facts reveal that theUnconquered Sun was not likely a popular deityin the Roman Empire. The Roman people didnot need to be weaned off of a so-called ancientholiday. Moreover, the tradition of a December25th celebration does not find a place on theRoman calendar until after the Christianization ofRome. The “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun”holiday was scarcely traditional and hardlypopular. Saturnalia (mentioned above) was muchmore popular, traditional, and fun. It seems,rather, that Julian the Apostate had attempted tointroduce a pagan holiday in order to replace theChristian one!Objection 3: Christ could not have been born inDecember since Saint Luke describes shepherdsherding in the neighboring fields of Bethlehem.Shepherds do not herd during the winter. Thus,Christ was not born in winter.Reply to Objection 3: Recall that Palestine isnot England, Russia, or Alaska. Bethlehem issituated at the latitude of 31.7. My city of Dallas,Texas has the latitude of 32.8, and it’s still rathercomfortable outside in December. As the greatCornelius a Lapide remarks during his lifetime,one could still see shepherds and sheep in thefields of Italy during late December, and Italy isat higher latitude than Bethlehem.Now we move on to establishing the birthdayof Christ from Sacred Scripture in two steps. Thefirst step is to use Scripture to determine the

birthday of Saint John the Baptist. The next stepis using Saint John the Baptist’s birthday as thekey for finding Christ’s birthday. We candiscover that Christ was born in late Decemberby observing first the time of year in which SaintLuke describes Saint Zacharias in the temple.This provides us with the approximateconception date of Saint John the Baptist. Fromthere we can follow the chronology that SaintLuke gives, and that lands us at the end ofDecember.Saint Luke reports that Zacharias served inthe “course of Abias” (Lk 1:5) whic

book of Daniel depicts the advent of the Son of Man occurring in the era of the Fourth Kingdom, that is, the Roman Empire. At last, the time had come. The Roman Empire was secure. Octavian Caesar, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, had defeated both Pompey and