The chronology of Jesus birth and first few years


#1

Hey everyone. I would like to hear the story of Jesus' birth and His first few years in a chronological account. I know that there are different accounts of this in the Gospels and they vary. Therefore, I'd like to hear a timeline or a chronological account of what happened. The differences in the infancy narratives always confuse me.


#2

godandscience.org/apologetics/Paralellgospels.pdf


#3

I am working on a chronolgical synopsis with explanations of possible discrepencies, which should be completed and published by Christmas, but I have the infancy finished and will put it on PDF later today so you can see it from a traditional Catholic prespective. It is still basically a rough draft and will receive a looking over and possible editing when the time comes, but it should be helpful as is.


#4

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:3, topic:342883"]
I am working on a chronolgical synopsis with explanations of possible discrepencies, which should be completed and published by Christmas, but I have the infancy finished and will put it on PDF later today so you can see it from a traditional Catholic prespective. It is still basically a rough draft and will receive a looking over and possible editing when the time comes, but it should be helpful as is.

[/quote]

I look forward to that. I've appreciated everything you've done in the past.


#5

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:3, topic:342883"]
I am working on a chronolgical synopsis with explanations of possible discrepencies, which should be completed and published by Christmas, but I have the infancy finished and will put it on PDF later today so you can see it from a traditional Catholic prespective. It is still basically a rough draft and will receive a looking over and possible editing when the time comes, but it should be helpful as is.

[/quote]

That sounds great! I look forward to it! :thumbsup:


#6

And there was me in my ignorance assuming that the Bible provides only a brief narrative about Jesus infancy, with a brief reference to Him being 12 and at the Temple, jumping to age 29/30 when Jesus Christ started his public ministry when the biblical narrative really only begins in earnest :confused:

I look forward to reading Copland 3's synopsis and educating myself.


#7

Here is the pdf for the chronological synopsis, I have the infancy and a couple of sections concerning John the Baptist that I added to the pdf, I didn't have time to add more. Keep in mind, this is not meant to be a verse by verse commentary but only a synopsis in chronological order with explanations that only concern so-called contradictions and chronological issues. docs.google.com/viewer?url=www.freepdfconvert.com/result/downloadfile/8e9c9197-e417-4ba2-aa61-eebda249bcdd


#8

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:3, topic:342883"]
I am working on a chronolgical synopsis with explanations of possible discrepencies, which should be completed and published by Christmas, but I have the infancy finished and will put it on PDF later today so you can see it from a traditional Catholic prespective. It is still basically a rough draft and will receive a looking over and possible editing when the time comes, but it should be helpful as is.

[/quote]

Sounds intriguing. Could you put a link to it here? Thanks in advance.


#9

[quote="FathersKnowBest, post:8, topic:342883"]
Sounds intriguing. Could you put a link to it here? Thanks in advance.

[/quote]

I haven't finished it yet, I'm about 3/4 of the way done with a rough draft, and then I will go through it with a fine tooth comb, plus I will be adding some indexes for navigating and locating specific passages. Once finished I will have it published in print and on the market for a very low price, and I will also provide it on this forum for free on pdf.


#10

The following chronology appears in my 1859 Haydock Bible:

Gabriel appearing to Zachary, the priest, in the temple, tells him of a son that shall be born to him, whom he shall call John, who shall be a Nazarite and a forerunner of the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias. Luke i. 11.

In the sixth month after John's conception, the same angel is sent to Nazareth to the blessed Virgin Mary, and tells her that she shall conceive by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, bring forth a son, and call his name Jesus. Luke i. 26.

John the Baptist born, six months before our Lord. Luke i. 57.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is born of the blessed Virgin Mary, at Bethlehem, and laid in a manger. Luke ii. 7.

An Angel of God informs the shepherds of the birth of Christ. They go to Bethlehem, and adore him, &c. Luke ii. 10. 20. Mat. ii.

After eight days he is circumcised, and called Jesus. Luke ii. 21.

He is presented to the Lord, in the temple. Holy Simeon blesseth Mary and Joseph, and prophesies concerning Christ. Luke ii. 28, 34.

The wise men come from the East to adore the new-born Saviour, at which Herod begin troubled, sent them to search diligently for the child. They are directed by a star. But they receiving an answer in a vision, that they should not return back to Herod, pursue another way to their own country. Mat. ii. &c.

An Angel of the Lord, appearing to Joseph, orders him to arise, and take the Child and his Mother, and flee into Egypt. Mat. ii. 13.

Herod, perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, orders his people to destroy all the male children in Bethlehem, and the confines thereof, under two years of age. Mat. ii. 16.

Herod dies, and is succeeded by his son Archelaus, his other dominions being divided among the rest of his sons. Jos. Ant. l. 17. c. x.

Joseph with Jesus and his Mother, returns into the land of Israel; but hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea, he retired into Galilee, and dwelt in Nazareth. Mat. ii. 21, 22, 23.


#11

[quote="Euwe, post:6, topic:342883"]
And there was me in my ignorance assuming that the Bible provides only a brief narrative about Jesus infancy, with a brief reference to Him being 12 and at the Temple, jumping to age 29/30 when Jesus Christ started his public ministry when the biblical narrative really only begins in earnest :confused:

I look forward to reading Copland 3's synopsis and educating myself.

[/quote]

This is strange to me between 13 and 28, the bible says nothing about what was going on in his life, that is a very important time in anyones life, Im sure he did some amazing things during those years, but to not even mention it anywhere in the bible..??

I would also love to read thru this time line.


#12

Well, He was growing up during that period. Maybe He went fishing a bit. If it was important it would have been recorded for us. Don't worry about it.


#13

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:7, topic:342883"]
Here is the pdf for the chronological synopsis, I have the infancy and a couple of sections concerning John the Baptist that I added to the pdf, I didn't have time to add more. Keep in mind, this is not meant to be a verse by verse commentary but only a synopsis in chronological order with explanations that only concern so-called contradictions and chronological issues. docs.google.com/viewer?url=www.freepdfconvert.com/result/downloadfile/8e9c9197-e417-4ba2-aa61-eebda249bcdd

[/quote]

Looking fine but you'll have to get the spell check working. You show John The Baptist Preaches Penenance. I think you mean Penance.:)


#14

[quote="mikekle, post:11, topic:342883"]
This is strange to me between 13 and 28, the bible says nothing about what was going on in his life, that is a very important time in anyones life, Im sure he did some amazing things during those years, but to not even mention it anywhere in the bible..??

I would also love to read thru this time line.

[/quote]

Indeed.

I know that there are many people here on this site who have studied the Bible more fully than I have - but that too was my understanding that there was no reference to Jesus and His Life from aged 13 through to age 28/29 in the Bible.

I have no doubt that Jesus ministry was private throughout that part of His life because it, his ministry, is not included for mention in the Bible.

The silence in the Bible as regards that part of Jesus life is fascinating as it is mysterious.


#15

This question is one that is hugely complicated, and not just because of the differences in the accounts of Matthew and Luke.

The historical background for Jesus' birth is exceptionally important to understand in reading the gospels. I have yet to see a historical-critical reading of the gospel birth narratives that (a) accounts for all the history and (b) doesn't dismiss the birth narratives as constructed by Christians to make Jesus seem like he was fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps Pope Emeritus Benedict's recent "Jesus of Nazareth" Book 1 will handle it, but I can't comment.

What I will say is that the end of the reign of Herod the Great is hugely important in interpreting the gospel infancy narratives. Herod the Great came to power with military backing from Rome. Galilee was under direct Roman rule. When he died in 4 BC, the Galilean city of Sepphoris (Tzippori) went into revolt against Roman rule. Varus, the Roman governor of Syria, brutally suppressed the revolt and totally destroyed the city.

When he came to power in 1 AD, Herod Antipas (younger son of Herod the Great) rebuilt Sepphoris as a Roman-style commercial city, building it by tapping the surrounding communities for tax and work. Roman commercialism was economically brutal for Galilee, with many landholders losing their land to debt.

Sepphoris is located less than 4 miles from Nazareth. In all likelihood, Jesus growing up in Nazareth with Joseph, who is described as a "tekton" (more like a builder than a carpenter), would likely have experienced the growing Roman city first-hand, and probably worked there as a tekton himself. Jesus' family would have been landless, totally dependent on the demand for Joseph's labor -- much of which would probably have come from the burgeoning city of Sephhoris rebuilt by Antipas in Rome's image.

Luke places the pregnancy of Mary in the reign Herod the Great. Notably, Luke (unlike Matthew) places Mary in Nazareth during her pregnancy. The Annunciation scene (Luke 1:26-38) ends, and immediately, Luke has Mary traveling to Judah "in haste" (Luke 1:39). Mary remained in Judah with Elizabeth and Zechariah for three months.

Now, reading all that, the account in Luke with Mary leaving "in haste" for Judah in close proximity to a Roman army destroying a city, it sounds a lot like Mary was a refugee who fled to the safety of her cousin's house.

I've not looked in detail at Matthew's birth narrative, but he doesn't place the Holy Family in Nazareth until after the death of Herod the Great. Matthew says that they went to Nazareth to avoid Archelaeus, the son of Herod the Great who was ruling in Judah.

It's really impossible to reconstruct the chronology of Jesus' birth and childhood without knowing what was going on around him. I don't have time to go into it, but there were revolts against a Roman Census, which was suppressed. There was the destruction of Herod Antipas' army by his cuckolded brother Herod Philip (whose wife Herodias jumped husbands against Jewish law). Luke says Antipas killed John the Baptist because he preached against the illegitimate marriage; Josephus says Antipas killed John the Baptist because he was afraid of the crowds that were flocking to John).

I have a hard time believing that Jesus was walking around conscious of his divinity. In fact, when he starts his ministry, members of his family think he's lost his mind (Mark 3:21).

The bottom line is that the history is fascinating, and to me, critical to understanding what Jesus was saying and doing, and what the Gospels say.


#16

[quote="Todd977, post:10, topic:342883"]
The following chronology appears in my 1859 Haydock Bible:

[/quote]

Sorry, while interesting, this chronology is actually just a pious mash-up. The two infancy narratives in the Gospels are not really so compatible.

The Gospels are written with distinctly different theologies, and distinctly different audiences. We can't ignore those differences. Mark is not John, Matthew is not Luke. Each of the gospel writers is an evangelist, not a historian, but their gospels are the best evidence we have of the history.


#17

[quote="thistle, post:13, topic:342883"]
Looking fine but you'll have to get the spell check working. You show John The Baptist Preaches Penenance. I think you mean Penance.:)

[/quote]

Thanks, just changed it! I have spell check but since it was underlined it didn't catch my eye. Once done it will go through a reviewing and editing.


#18

[quote="fnr, post:15, topic:342883"]
When he came to power in 1 AD, Herod Antipas (younger son of Herod the Great) rebuilt Sepphoris as a Roman-style commercial city, building it by tapping the surrounding communities for tax and work. Roman commercialism was economically brutal for Galilee, with many landholders losing their land to debt.

Sepphoris is located less than 4 miles from Nazareth. In all likelihood, Jesus growing up in Nazareth with Joseph, who is described as a "tekton" (more like a builder than a carpenter), would likely have experienced the growing Roman city first-hand, and probably worked there as a tekton himself. Jesus' family would have been landless, totally dependent on the demand for Joseph's labor -- much of which would probably have come from the burgeoning city of Sephhoris rebuilt by Antipas in Rome's image.

...]

Now, reading all that, the account in Luke with Mary leaving "in haste" for Judah in close proximity to a Roman army destroying a city, it sounds a lot like Mary was a refugee who fled to the safety of her cousin's house.

[/quote]

Here's the thing. Sepphoris indeed became a Roman-style city when Antipas rebuilt it, but its population continued to be Jewish. It would be a mistake to think that Romans were always patrolling the streets or pillaging from towns and villages, or that Palestine was 'Romanized'. To the contrary, they actually allowed local officials to govern themselves and for the most part practice their own customs as long as they behaved. I recommend E.P. 'Ed' Sanders' paper Jesus in Historical Context.

Galilee in Jesus' Day: When Herod died, one of his ablest sons, Antipas, inherited Galilee-home of Nazareth, where Jesus lived. Jesus was perhaps two or three years old when Antipas came to power. Antipas was not king, but had a lesser title: tetrarch, "ruler of a fourth," that is, a fourth of Herod's kingdom. Antipas ruled on the same four terms and conditions as his father, meeting them all, except for a little slip, which I shall explain below. Therefore, Rome left him alone. Rome did not send officials to govern Galilee, nor did Roman troops occupy Galilee.

People who imagine that, in the Roman empire, Romans actually governed and policed every substantial city, that Roman or Greek bureaucrats kept good Roman records, and that Roman magistrates enforced Roman law, have not only failed to read Roman imperial history, they have failed to contemplate the question of numbers. There were not enough able Romans to spread around in such a prodigious way. And, besides, why should they exercise such heavy supervision? All they really wanted from a place like Palestine was loyalty and secure borders. They wanted to Romanize Gaul-modern France-and they did so to a considerable degree, but they had no such ambition in Palestine. New Testament scholars and others frequently attribute to the Romans of Jesus' day the objectives that Hadrian, a hundred years later, may have had: to homogenize the empire and to make it all Greco-Roman in culture.40 It is, however, an error to attribute this ambition to Julius Caesar, Augustus, or Tiberius.

Herod's heir, Antipas, also lacked the desire to change the entire culture of his domain. In matters that touched the populace as a whole, he observed the Jewish law. He did not put his face, or that of Augustus, or later that of Tiberius on his coins.41 He did not build gymnasia; there were no Greek schools. He may have built a theater in his first capital city, Sepphoris,42 and possibly in his second capital, Tiberias. There was no reason not to do so, since his father had built a theater near Jerusalem. But the populace of both cities was Jewish. Sepphoris was a Jewish city of long standing,43 and there is no indication whatsoever that Antipas offered bribes to gentiles in and around Palestine to move to Sepphoris, though he doubtless used some gentiles in the way his father had. Even the city of Tiberias, named in honor of the new emperor, which Antipas built from the ground up, was settled mostly by Jews. Since part of it was over a cemetery and since Jews tended to avoid corpse impurity, Antipas had to force high ranking Jews to move there, and he attracted others by various devices (Antiq. 18.36-8). Corpse impurity was not a problem for gentiles, and, had gentiles been his preferred settlers, he would not have needed special exertions to populate his new capital. Tiberias was predominantly Jewish at the time of the great Jewish revolt against Rome, which erupted in the year 66.44


#19

[quote="patrick457, post:18, topic:342883"]
Here's the thing. Sepphoris indeed became a Roman-style city when Antipas rebuilt it, but its population continued to be Jewish. It would be a mistake to think that Romans were always patrolling the streets or pillaging from towns and villages, or that Palestine was 'Romanized'. To the contrary, they actually allowed local officials to govern themselves and for the most part practice their own customs as long as they behaved. I recommend E.P. 'Ed' Sanders' paper Jesus in Historical Context.

Galilee in Jesus' Day: When Herod died, one of his ablest sons, Antipas, inherited Galilee-home of Nazareth, where Jesus lived. Jesus was perhaps two or three years old when Antipas came to power. Antipas was not king, but had a lesser title: tetrarch, "ruler of a fourth," that is, a fourth of Herod's kingdom. Antipas ruled on the same four terms and conditions as his father, meeting them all, except for a little slip, which I shall explain below. Therefore, Rome left him alone. Rome did not send officials to govern Galilee, nor did Roman troops occupy Galilee.

People who imagine that, in the Roman empire, Romans actually governed and policed every substantial city, that Roman or Greek bureaucrats kept good Roman records, and that Roman magistrates enforced Roman law, have not only failed to read Roman imperial history, they have failed to contemplate the question of numbers. There were not enough able Romans to spread around in such a prodigious way. And, besides, why should they exercise such heavy supervision? All they really wanted from a place like Palestine was loyalty and secure borders. They wanted to Romanize Gaul-modern France-and they did so to a considerable degree, but they had no such ambition in Palestine. New Testament scholars and others frequently attribute to the Romans of Jesus' day the objectives that Hadrian, a hundred years later, may have had: to homogenize the empire and to make it all Greco-Roman in culture.40 It is, however, an error to attribute this ambition to Julius Caesar, Augustus, or Tiberius.

Herod's heir, Antipas, also lacked the desire to change the entire culture of his domain. In matters that touched the populace as a whole, he observed the Jewish law. He did not put his face, or that of Augustus, or later that of Tiberius on his coins.41 He did not build gymnasia; there were no Greek schools. He may have built a theater in his first capital city, Sepphoris,42 and possibly in his second capital, Tiberias. There was no reason not to do so, since his father had built a theater near Jerusalem. But the populace of both cities was Jewish. Sepphoris was a Jewish city of long standing,43 and there is no indication whatsoever that Antipas offered bribes to gentiles in and around Palestine to move to Sepphoris, though he doubtless used some gentiles in the way his father had. Even the city of Tiberias, named in honor of the new emperor, which Antipas built from the ground up, was settled mostly by Jews. Since part of it was over a cemetery and since Jews tended to avoid corpse impurity, Antipas had to force high ranking Jews to move there, and he attracted others by various devices (Antiq. 18.36-8). Corpse impurity was not a problem for gentiles, and, had gentiles been his preferred settlers, he would not have needed special exertions to populate his new capital. Tiberias was predominantly Jewish at the time of the great Jewish revolt against Rome, which erupted in the year 66.44

[/quote]

While I agree with your characterization of Sepphoris as a primarily Jewish city, that doesn't mean that the political economy of the city was the same before and after its insurrection. In fact, during the First Jewish War around 66-70, Sepphoris was spared destruction because it did not take part in the rebellion. There is every reason to believe that the construction of Sepphoris and Tiberias resulted in a greater degree of oppression.

More generally, Roman control of Palestine resulted in 3 major uprisings in under 200 years, while the prior 400 years had seen only one, that of the Maccabees.

Although it's important to examine the post-natal history of Jesus' life, the point I'm trying to raise is that Nazareth was so close to Sepphoris at the time of its destruction as to make it a dangerous place to be. As Luke says, Mary left in a hurry after the Annunciation and war would seem like a good explanation.


#20

In support of my contention that Mary may have fled from Nazareth during the Roman attack on Sepphoris, I’ll provide this quote from Josephus, Antiquities:

(In 4 BCE) with all his forces at Ptolemaïs =Akko], (Varus) transferred part to his son and one of his friends, sending them out to fight the Galileans in the area near Ptolemaïs [southwestern Galilee]. Attacking them, (Varus’ son) routed them in battle. He attacked Sepphoris [4 mi. from Nazareth], enslaved the inhabitants and burned the city…
295 But Varus sent (another) part of his army around the countryside, seeking those to blame for the revolt. And when they were pointed out, he punished those who were guilty. There were also those he pardoned. But 2000 happened to be crucified because of this accusation.

The notion that Varus sent part of his army to comb the countryside suggests that Nazareth was a dangerous place to be near the death of Herod the Great.


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