Mary's 10 Year Pregnancy


I read the following in a book review of The Pagan Christ. Any ideas on how to answer this claim? Thanks

There is no trace whatsoever of Augustus’ decree that the whole world should be registered. “It’s simply a means of getting Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for theological reasons. The messiah had to be of Davidic descent, and thus from Bethlehem.” Luke says the birth happened while Quirinius was governor of Syria. That means it couldn’t have happened before 6 C.E., the year we know he took office. At the same time, Matthew says Jesus was conceived while Herod the Great was in power of Judea. But Herod died in 4 B.C.E.! That adds up to a “ten-year pregnancy!”


**Thank you for your post. I will await to see other responses.

As for me - it does not matter the year. Jesus came to earth - and for me - that is everything.**


Here’s your answer:


Let’s not exaggerate. There is no year zero, so it was only a nine-year pregnancy.


Nine months…nine years…what’s the difference? :stuck_out_tongue:


As the mother of three I can tell you the nine months sometimes SEEMED like nine years. . .


I knew someone would say that…:stuck_out_tongue:


Glad to oblige. :smiley:


There is actually a very good explanation.

The “enrollment” was more likely to be an oath of allegiance to the emperor taken in 3BC, not the census taken for the purpose of taxation by Quirinius in 6AD. The historian Josephus writes that the emperor Augustus required every person in every Roman province to swear a public oath of allegiance at one time or another. This would explain why we don’t see an historical record of a “census” taking place at the time of Jesus’ birth - it was not a census but an oath of allegiance. The whole Roman empire had to profess emperor Augustus to be "Father’ of the empire and took the official title of “Father” in 2 BC.

Quirinius was provincial legate of Syria in 6AD. A legate is the head of a whole province, like a governor. Quirinius held this position for about a year and this is most certainly when the census for the purpose of taxation took place. Church Father Justin Martyr writes that Quirinius was also a “Procurator” in Judea at some point in his career. A procurator is much lower position than legate and so it makes sense that Quirinius was procurator of Judea earlier and became legate of Syria later. Tertullian confirms in his writings that Saturninus was official legate of Syria at the time of the Nativity.

There were different words for different types of governing roles and Luke uses the same word for Quinirius’s “governorship” as he does for Pontus Pilates governorship, a further indication that Luke is referencing an earlier position as proconsul of Judea rather than legate of Syria.

Quirinius was likely the administrator of a Judean oath-registration at around 3 BC while he was proconsul before conducting another census for the purpose of taxation in 6AD while he was legate. Mary was with child during the first oath-registration enrollment just prior to Cesar Augustus declaring himself to be “Father” rather than during the second taxation-census enrollment.

There is a pretty good consensus that this is what actually took place. There is a good essay about it in the Ignatius Study Bible.



That is not entirely correct. A baby is in its first year between 0 and 1. A baby is 1 between 1 and 2. So there was a year zero, it was the first year. There was no zeroth year. And the reason there is no such word as zeroth, is because it doesn’t exist, but the year zero does exist. Ordinal vs Cardinal. Our calendar just happens to be Ordinal in its description even though it is written Cardinal, but it doesn’t change the amount of time. It would be minimal 9 and maximum 10.999999. Average of 10.


Primary School Maths aside one of the best sites I have seen for the dating of the birth of Jesus Christ is


I remember reading that Cyrinus served two terms as governor of Syria. That would account for the apparent date anomaly.


Actually there is such a word as zeroth, even if it isn’t commonly encountered.

And when using astronomical dating, or a proleptic Gregorian calendar using the ISO8601 standard there is indeed a year 0, a year -1, year -2, and so on. In that case year 0 is the same as 1 BC and -1 is 2 BC.


I realize I made a blunder which should have been picked up. I said It would be minimal 9 and maximum 10.999999. Average of 10. What I meant was minimum 8.0 and maximum 9.999999. Average 9. Which killed the idea that I wouldn’t say 10 itself but one would naturally replace 9.999999 in their head with 10.

I am going to have to start using the word zeroth in conversation.

closed #15

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