What Year was Jesus Born?

28 04 2014

Matthew 1:18

Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little) was a Scythian (Romanian) monk born in 470 AD. He was a theologian, mathematician, and astronomer. Desiring to straighten out and unify the dates for Easter, Dionysius set the date for the incarnation of Jesus at March 25, 1 AD ( Anno Domini ,”the year of our Lord”), in order to put it closer to the spring equinox and Easter. There is no year “0”; dating goes from 1 BC to 1 AD

Prior to the AD designation

1. There was a measurement from the time of Creation- Anno Mundi (“in the year of the world”) or AM.
• It was figured that Jesus was born in 5500 AM and that the world would end at 6000 AM
• Since Dionysius was born in 470 AD, he needed a dating system to correct the error
• Creation was figured to begin on March 25
• The Eastern Orthodox church and Russia kept this dating system until about 1700 AD

2. There was a measurement based on the founding ofRome, putting the year of Jesus’ birth at 754 AUC (Ab Urbe Condita, Latin for “from the founding of the city”).

3. There was an ancient Egyptian (Coptic) method.

4. The modern politically correct measurement is CE (Common Era), based on Dionysius’ method.

Calendar at the time of Jesus’ birth

1. The Julian calendar was adopted by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.
• Months and days were named from the Roman gods or emperors (July was named after himself; August after his son Augustus, October after Octavius)
• It was based on 365.25 days in the year, a few minutes short each year
• It gained 3 days every 400 years
• Since Easter was getting further from the spring equinox and the standard for Easter set up by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, a new method was sought.

2. The Gregorian calendar was adopted by Pope Gregory in 1582 AD.
• Gregorian chants
• Also named the “Christian Calendar” or the “Western Calendar”
o Not accepted by Eastern churches or countries
• It is the calendar we now use with a compensating leap year every 4 years, skipping the leap year 3 times in 400 years
• Gregory lost 10 days when his calendar was adopted
o Sometime in March (can you imagine that happening?)

Was Dionysius right?

1. Herod died in 4 BC and he is the one who slaughtered the innocents in order to kill Jesus. (the year is disputed by some)

2. Other markers would be Tiberius’ reign (Luke 3:1), Josephus’ writings about the death of John the Baptist, the construction of the Temple in (John 2:13), Pilates’ governorship, Paul’s conversion and Roman trials.

3. The year of His birth is estimated to be between 5-3 BC.


1. You can find a direct line of Biblical dating for most of all recorded time.

2. Dating after the coming of Jesus was always about Easter (Resurrection) not Christmas (Nativity).

3. What dating method did Noah bring to us from the other side of the flood?

4. Dionysius Exiguus may be one of the most influential men in history.

5. Other gods are celebrated in our calendar, daily and monthly. In spite of the references, the designation of AD (“in the year of our Lord) is the only one challenged.





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