[quote="Jesusstreet, post:1, topic:81513"]
I have heard estimates ranging from 12 BC to 4 BC Some say in September. We know there was a Census of the Romans, that must give us some historical clues. There was a rare astronomical phenomenon on that day which brought the wise men to the manger. I have always pictured it as being in the night after they had sought lodging at the inn, and could find no place to stay but the manger. But what's the best evidence for the year and time of year?
A few things.
1.) The magi came to "the house," if we go by Matthew. Only Luke mentions a "manger."
2.) We don't even know for sure whether 'the star' which the magi saw was really a "rare astronomical phenomenon," even though a lot of folks think it is (probably under the influence of paintings and movies which show this gigantic orb of light flaring at the night sky). For all we know it could be something more mundane and less prominent than people often think, something which only them - who were astrologers, after all! - knew the significance of.
3.) About the supposed 'inn', I'd recommend you to read this (shameless plug! :blush:) and this.
4.) According to Luke, Jesus was born "while they were there." Again, while popular culture often portrays Mary being on the verge of giving birth while en route to or immediately upon arrival at Bethlehem - which prompts a frantic search by the couple for proper lodgings - the text as it is written seems to allow for a wider interpretation, so Mary and Joseph could have been in Bethlehem for some period of time when she finally bore her Child.
5.) We don't know the exact day Jesus was born (December 25 for most of Christendom and January 6 for the Armenian Church are not necessarily the actual days when it occurred - the fact that there exists two different dates for the commemoration of the event should prove that), but we can make some guesses as to the year when He was born. Both Matthew and Luke agree that Jesus was born late in the reign of Herod the Great (who according to conventional reckoning, reigned from 37 BC to 4 BC): some, based on Matthew's account where the infants and toddlers of Bethlehem two years and under were commanded to be slain, think that it could have occurred somewhere during the final years of Herod. For this reason, most settle for a date around 6 to 4 BC, though others would assign a wider range of 7-2 BC.
Luke adds a mention of a census held during the governorship of Quirinius, which took place in AD 6. On the face of it, Luke seems to be contradicting himself, and so there are those who believe that Luke made a chronological error in referring to the census. Others have attempted to reconcile its account with Matthew, ranging from a grammatical approach to the translation of the word prote used in Luke to be read as "registration **before* Quirinius was governor of Syria*" (traditionally translated as "the **first* registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria*") to archaeological arguments and references to the Church Father Tertullian that indicate that a 'two-step census' was performed, involving an early registration.