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Luke goes into detail concerning the beginning of Christ’s ministry. To quote:

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:1-3)

Tiberius succeeded his father, Augustus Caesar, who died 19th August, AD 14, so if that is our benchmark, John’s preaching would have begun in AD 28, with Jesus’ ministry beginning early AD 29. However, one of the early Church Fathers, Tertullian, had this to say:

“… the Lord has been revealed since the twelfth year of Tiberius Caesar.” (Against Marcion, Book 1, ch. 15)

So, if Tertulian’s date is our benchmark, John’s preaching would have begun in AD 26, with Jesus’ ministry beginning early AD 27. Now, Tertullian wrote this after Luke’s gospel, so he must have known what Luke had said. Why the difference? Was one of them mistaken, or is there another explanation?

  • In order to document any date reliably, it must first be determined when the decision was taken to have a 'year zero' at all. It must have been done retrospectively and the question is - was it done accurately ? – Nigel J Mar 12 '18 at 15:03
  • If I'm not mistaken, 12 + 3 = 15. – Lucian Jul 1 at 16:12

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Tertulian (being a Roman) would have used a Roman calendar system of dating reigns of emperors. So, the part year of AD 14 would have been considered Tiberius' accession, and AD 15 would have been year 1, and so on. Hence the Lord would have been revealed in AD 26. It would have referred to his baptism in the year that John began baptising, and by the time Jesus came out of his wilderness temptation, the beginning his ministry would have been early AD 27.

So Tertulian's system fits well with an AD 30 crucifixion. There is a growing consensus among Bible scholars that this date fits the facts better than the other popular option of AD 33. Also, the Tertulian schema, does not contradict the gospel of Luke as first appears. Yes, Tiberius became sole emperor on the death of his adoptive father, Augustus in AD 14. However, it is a well-known fact that he had become co-regent with his ailing father two years earlier in AD 12. In that year, he was made supreme military commander over Caesar's armies and provinces. Ancient coins from Antioch dated AD 12 display the head of Tiberius and documents attest to his reign being fully in force from that time. Thus, his inauguration in AD 14 as emperor was only a formalisation of a reign that had begun two years earlier.

Therefore, the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius (as Luke put it) would make Jesus' baptism AD 26, just the same as Tertulian's conclusion, albeit by a different method of getting there. Neither Luke or Tertulian were mistaken!

Here is a simple timeline that supports the above explanation. Chronological chart

  • The Roman system of regnal years counted from the day of accession, not (as you seem to imply) from the following New Year's day. I think you have confused the Roman and the Babylonian systems of counting years. Then you write about coins of Tiberius "dated AD 12". How is this date expressed? Do you have any references? – fdb Jul 15 '15 at 9:34
  • Numismatic websites have pictures of Tiberius coins minted from AD 12 onward. I have an interesting picture showing Augustus on one side and Tiberius on the reverse. (struck AD 13 - Lugdunum mint) – Christian Gedge Jul 15 '15 at 12:17
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    I asked you how the date is expressed. They don't say "AD 12", do they? – fdb Jul 15 '15 at 20:03
  • I will post a picture as an additional answer. The information provided by 'Classical Numismatic Group' reads: Augustus, with Tiberius as Caesar. 27 BC-AD 14. AR Denarius (3.68 g, 7h). Lugdunum (Lyon) mint. Struck AD 13-14. CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F PATER PATRIAE, laureate head right / TI • CAESAR • AVG • F • TR • POT • XV •, bare head of Tiberius right. RIC I 226; Lyon 88; RSC 2 (Tiberius and Augustus); BMCRE 507; BN 1682-4. EF, toned. – Christian Gedge Jul 15 '15 at 20:33
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    A 'growing consensus among Bible scholars' does not, necessarily, make a reliable fact. – Nigel J Mar 12 '18 at 15:04
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One thing is sure – Augustus died in AD 14 and Tiberius succeeded him. From that anchor point, we must resolve the ‘contradiction’ between Luke and Tertulian by concluding that:

  • Either Luke or Tertulian was mistaken, (or)
  • Both are right, but they begin counting from different start-points.

I believe the latter option - Tertulian counts from AD 14, and Luke counts from Tiberius’ co-regency beginning AD11/12. Both counts locate John Baptists early ministry (and Jesus’ baptism) in AD 26.

Tiberius’ co-regency has been reliably dated by Roman Empire historian Theodor Mommsen, but some historians have questioned whether his authority was enough to warrant treating it as the beginning of his reign. Apparently it was justified, because his ‘Caesar status’ is indicated by his face appearing on the official coinage during this period. In short, Luke considered Tiberius’ coregency sufficient in status to count from then.

The following picture is a coin showing Augustus with Tiberius as Caesar (reverse side) minted during the co-regency. The information was provided by 'Classical Numismatic Group.' It reads: Augustus, with Tiberius as Caesar. 27 BC-AD 14. AR Denarius (3.68 g, 7h). Lugdunum (Lyon) mint. Struck AD 13-14. CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F PATER PATRIAE, laureate head right / TI • CAESAR • AVG • F • TR • POT • XV •, bare head of Tiberius right. RIC I 226; Lyon 88; RSC 2 (Tiberius and Augustus); BMCRE 507; BN 1682-4. EF, toned.

Tiberius co-regency coin

  • What if Tertullian is just wrong? – A Child of God Apr 29 '17 at 15:40
  • If Tertullian is wrong, then the temple must have been under construction 48 years, and Jesus born AD 3. A co-regency fits the facts best. See timeline above. – Christian Gedge Apr 29 '17 at 21:12
  • But did John the Baptist begin his ministry a year before or in the same year as Jesus did His? – A Child of God Apr 29 '17 at 23:46
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    And there is nothing wrong with a 3 BC date for His birth. – A Child of God Apr 30 '17 at 16:22
  • The Temple could have been started being worked on in 19 BC. This allows for a AD 28 date instead of 27 – A Child of God Apr 30 '17 at 16:48
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Tiberius received tribunician authority for his first five years in the consulship of Gaius Antistius and Laelius Balbus (6 BCE). (Dio Cass. 55.9.1, 4) In the consulship of Aelius Catus and Gaius Sentius, he was granted an additional ten years of tribunician authority in 4 CE. (Dio Cass. 55.13.1a; Vel. Pat. 2.103; cf. Inscrip. It. 13.2, Fasti Amiternini (=CIL 1², p. 320))

Per the coin mentioned and displayed, Tiberius' fifteen year of tribunician power (TR·POT·XV) begins midway through 13 CE, evidenced clearly enough according to the year in which it was renewed, when Lucius Munatius and Gaius Silius were consuls, or 13 CE. (Di Cass. 56.28.1)

Furthermore, Tiberius didn’t receive the co-princeps with Augustus until 14 CE, the same year as the lustrum. (Suet. Tib. 21.1; Dio Cass. 56.29.2; Aug. Res Ges. 8; Vel Pat. 2.123.1-2.) You might want to do some more research. I think some of your conclusions are off a bit.

  • Hi Alex and welcome to the site. You have done a great job of focusing on answering the question asked and evidently did some great research. To make the answer more effective please cite the primary sources instead of just mentioning them. The formatting tools also allow you to include images if applicable (which it appears might be the case). Your contribution is appreciated! – Ruminator Nov 6 '17 at 20:04
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    Apologies. I'm not sure what you mean. I cited the primary sources; Dio Cassius, Velleius Paterculus, Inscriptiones Italiae vol. 13.2, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum vol. 1², Suetonius, and the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, or Monumentum Ancyranum. Are you meaning that I should write them out instead of using their standard abbreviations? – Alex Frazier Dec 5 '17 at 23:39
  • @AlexFrazier - Please can you give full (English) quotes from all sources rather than just references. Please fill out the answer so no one has any doubt where you're answer is heading. Thanks – Andrew Shanks Jun 11 at 9:54
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NOTE: I HAVE ADDED A NUMBER OF LINKS AT THE END OF MY POST

I found this site a few days ago while researching the vexed question of whether Luke was right in saying that Christ was born during the census of Quirinius. I will move swiftly on to try and answer the question about when John the Baptist's preaching began, but to solve the apparent 'Quirinius contradiction', this is resolved simply if one accepts an equally valid translation of the original Greek as "This was the first census, before Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria".

I see that you welcome posts that answer the question and those with many sources listed. I shall probably fail the second criterion. A poster above said: "Either Luke or Tertullian was wrong, or both were using different methods of counting years". I agree with this formulation. The burden of my post is that Luke was correct. I do not say that Tertullian was wrong, but he must have had in mind some other dating procedure.

I am going to frame my answer with a summary of the chronology of the life of Christ, from which it may hopefully be understood that Luke's statement that that John the Baptist's ministry began 'in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar' is correct.

Recent research has brought about a probable answer to the chronology of Christ's life, resolving most of the controversies.

First, the information about the time when it was Zechariah’s lot to burn incense in the temple (Luke 1 v 8), and other data in Luke Chapters 1 to 3, tell us that Christ was probably born at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (“He tabernacled amongst us”). This places His birth in late September/early October.

Next, we can date the year of Christ’s birth as 1 BC. Most scholars have hitherto followed Emil Schuerer’s ‘History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ’ in dating the death of Herod in 4BC. This was based on the Jewish historian Josephus stating that Herod died weeks after a lunar eclipse. However, a far more prominent eclipse occurred on 29 December 1 BC, which places Herod’s death probably in 1 AD. This harmonises with Christ’s birth months before Herod’s death, in line with Matthew Chapter 1.

This date for Christ’s birth gives us precisely 33½ years until His crucifixion on a commonly accepted date: 3 April 33 AD. This was also the 14th day in the first month of the Jewish year, Nisan, thus precisely fulfilling the Passover day of the killing of the spotless lamb (Exodus 12 vv 6-7). Christ had entered Jerusalem on a donkey four days earlier, the 10th of Nisan, thus fulfilling Exodus 12 vv 1-5.

The beginning of Christ’s 3½ year ministry can then by dated be reference to Luke 3 vv 1-2: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness”. Augustus, Tiberius’ predecessor, died on 19 August 14 AD, Tiberius’s reign officially beginning on 18 September. So, given the ordinary meaning of ‘in the fifteenth year', this places the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry between 18 September 28 AD and 18 September 29 AD. That harmonises with John baptising Christ in the autumn of 29 AD, by which time Christ would have fulfilled his 30 years’ service, required under Levitical rules to enter the priesthood (Numbers 4 vv 3 and 23).

Worthy of additional note is Pontius Pilate’s letter to Tiberius, in which he described the night before Christ’s crucifixion in these terms: “The moon was like blood…it did not shine all night long though it was at the full…the moon lost its brightness as though tinged with blood”. Remarkable confirmation of this can be seen today on NASA’s website, which lists all historical lunar eclipses. There is one that began at 33 minutes past midnight on 3 April AD 33 and lasted for 2 hours 50 minutes.

For information I declare that I accept that the human authors of the Bible were inspired by God to write the words that they did and that therefore all the historical information in the Bible is without error.

One reference I have used for this answer is: "Jesus: An Uncommon Journey – Studies on the Historical Jesus", by Armand Puig i Tarrech (2010), LINK: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=elFp5tRSUH0C&redir_esc=y&hl=en

LINKS ADDED ON 12 MARCH 2018

[ EDIT: I apologise for my lack of references. I will add a number of references I used here:

On the subject of the ‘eclipse of Herod’, here are some references about the two eclipses in 1BC, one in January 1 BC, the other in December 1BC. I tend to prefer the arguments of those who select the date of 29 December 1 BC for the eclipse. This would place Herod’s death probably in 1 AD and I would suggest Christ’s death in the autumn of 1 BC. This would make the beginning of Christ’s ministry in 29 AD and, assuming a 3½-year ministry with his ministry spanning four Passovers including the Passover of the Crucifixion, His crucifixion on 3 April 33 AD.

Of the two 1 BC eclipses, the first was apparently a full eclipse but IIRC began very late (about midnight). The one in December was only a 53% eclipse but because it started about dusk it is claimed that it would have been far more memorable and talked about:

http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/herod/herod.html

http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2017/07/29/How-Lunar-and-Solar-Eclipses-Shed-Light-on-Biblical-Events.aspx (also deals with the year of the Crucifixion)

http://www.askelm.com/star/star011.htm

http://expreso.co.cr/centaurs/steiner/herod.html

The date of the Crucifixion was I think calculated as 3 April 33 AD by Sir Isaac Newton. (I would also be interested to know what date the great Bishop Ussher assigned to it). I think most of the references to this date are readily available.

On the subject of the lunar eclipse in the early morning of 33 AD, here is the reference to the NASA site:
https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEhistory/LEhistory.html >>> scroll down to the section ‘ 1CE to 2000 CE’.

On the subject of Pilate’s letters, including the one referring to the blood moon, I looked at this reference:

http://www.orthodox.cn/patristics/apostolicfathers/herpilat.htm (Letters from Pilate)

It is titled ‘LETTERS OF HEROD AND PILATE’ and explains that they “connect Roman history with the death of Christ at Jerusalem. These letters occur in a Syriac manuscript in the British Museum, dated in the sixth or seventh century. There is a Greek copy in a Paris museum”.

I found this reference in ‘The Reports of Pilate, Anaphora Pilati’:

“Pilate observed in his correspondence sent to Tiberius Caesar that there was seen a blood moon eclipse at dusk — ‘…and the moon that was like blood..’; ‘And the moon, which was like blood, did not shine all night long though it was at the full, ‘; ‘…and the moon lost its brightness as though tinged with blood ‘; ‘ and the moon, as if turned into blood ‘; → The Reports of Pilate, Anaphora Pilati”.

I also googled - Reports of Pilate Anaphora Pilati and got this link:

The Reports of Pilate, Anaphora Pilati. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01526047/document

Then I found this link: http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2012/05/11/the-letter-of-pilate-to-tiberius/ …which on a Google search comes up with: by AC Baudoin - ‎2016 22 May 2017 - Rome: the Anaphora Pilati, or “The Report of Pilate.” I shall first briefly intro duce this text and then focus on the paragraph that opens it in some manuscripts, prior to the first person narration. In a second part of the paper, I shall bring to. —————. 1 Baudoin 2012. 2 The creation of a German word reflects ...

This article from one of the young earth creationist groups throws some doubt on whether the lunar eclipse of 3 April 33 AD produced the ‘blood moon’ effects but suggests another possible cause. It is worth a read: https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/crucifixion/did-the-moon-appear-as-blood-on-the-night-of-the-crucifixion/ ]

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    The darkness documented in scripture, at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, was from the 6th hour to the 9th hour which is midday to 3pm. Where was the NASA documented eclipse, which you mention, recorded ? You have a lot of information here, but no links, no references, no citations - which is a great pity for it may be that this is a valuable answer. However, without documented support, it is unreliable. – Nigel J Mar 10 '18 at 23:48
  • I accept the criticisms. I've now given a link to the NASA site, which records an eclipse of the moon beginning at 33 minutes past midnight on 3 April AD 33. NASA has determined that this lasted 2 hours and 50 minutes i.e. until 3.13am. Yes, the three hours of darkness were from midday to 3pm. The lunar eclipse and the three hours of darkness were two separate, but of course related, events. I have added references for the other parts of my post. – 1Tim115 Mar 12 '18 at 12:03
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The April 3, 33 AD crucifixion date mentioned above is astronomically possible. And dispensational theology requires the date to justify its conclusions regarding an end time role to be played by the ethnic Jews. The Dispensational theological establishment uses the chronological analysis of Dr. Harold Hohner in his book Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (or "CALC") to arrive at the required 33 AD crucifixion date. I suspect the "blood moon" theories also require a 33 AD crucifixion date. Dr. Hohner combined this 33 date with a 444/445 start date for the Daniel prophecy to conclude that only 483 years of the Daniel prophecy had passed with his favored crucifixion date on in 33 AD. This would then leave 7 years of the prophecy yet to be realized. Unfortunately, Dr. Hohner appears to have made several critical errors in his 1972 analysis. Dr. Reisner in his book Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, and Theology notes that the translation of John 2:20 required by Dr. Hohner's analysis requires, a translation that is out of context with the larger passage. In other words, it is a miss-translation since the the rules for biblical translation require that the context of any passage be considered before finalizing a translation. I consulted all the major bible translations (NASB, NIV, ESV, KJ, etc) and Dr. Hohner's translation is not to be found in any. If, however, the standard, universal biblical translation of John 2:20 is used, then we arrive at 27/28 for the year for the John 2:20 passage to have occurred. This is what Dr. Martin also proved in his Secrets of Golgotha with his use of John 4:35 as an indication that Christ's first passover of his public ministry was that in the Spring of 28 AD. This is not, unfortunately, the only issue with Dr. Hohner's analysis (I am working on a book review of CALC which I will post on Amazon when done). Since John only notes three passover's during Christ's ministry, a public ministry containing only three passovers then requires a 30 AD crucifixion date since Christ was crucified the day before the final passover mentioned by John. Reisner notes that, given the larger weight of historical fact and the biblical record supporting the 30 AD crucifixion date, any claim that Act's 2:20 indicates a "blood moon" occurred at Christ's death requires an "all too concrete" reading of the apocalyptic passage from the book of Joel quoted by Peter in Acts 2:20. Net, if by "blood moon" you are referring to this passage from Act's, you are reading an act into history that is:

  1. Not mentioned in the biblical accounts of the crucifixion,
  2. Not mentioned in any creditable extra -biblical source, and
  3. Not supported by the over whelming weight of fact and the biblical record that better supports a 30 AD crucifixion date.

As for your comment regarding "God's clock", what more evidence do you need that God's clock was being followed when Christ celebrated the first public passover of his public ministry in the spring of 28 AD which is:

  1. 483 years since Artaxerxes decree to Ezra and
  2. 483 years since the restart of the observation of the seven year sabbatical cycle by Ezra upon his return to Palestine in later 457.

Christ then died in 30 AD which is in the midst of the final seven year period of the Daniel prophecy. And this is consistent with most of the non-dispensational interpretations of Daniel 9:24-27.

As a final note, I see that someone pasted in an image of a diagram from Dr. C. Mervin Maxwell's book God Cares 1. Dr. Maxwell was an Adventist and the Adventist hold to a 31 AD crucifixion date. They also make a compelling argument that a 33 AD crucifixion date is not well supported by the facts of history as we understand them. And Dr. Maxwell was commendably transparent in discussing the astronomical difficulties with a 31 AD crucifixion date while noting that the 30 AD date does not suffer from these issues. What the Adventist miss, and they do not miss much, is that the Jews did not count a sabbatical year as a part of the sabbatical cycle. They believed that each seven year period consisted of a six year period followed by the seventh of sabbatical year. The Adventist believed that Daniel indicates that the messiah would be cut-off half way or in the middle of the final seven year cycle, or in year four of a seven year cycle. But Dr. Wacholder notes that the Jews considered the seventh year to be separate part of the cycle. So if you asked a Jew what the middle year of a seven year sabbatical cycle was, he would respond that "there is no middle year" because they count only six of the seven years. Since 6 is an even number, there is no middle year. So the Daniel 9:24-27 passage is saying the messiah would be cut-off "in the midst" and not "in the middle" of the final seven year period. That said, you must study the Adventist if you want to understand biblical history and prophecy. Their academic rigor and candor are commendable and the volume and intensity of their studies is to be matched by no other denomination. For the record, I am not an Adventist. I would style myself as a "recovering Dispensationalist" (please excuse my attempt at humor). God bless.

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As explained in Doig (1990) [1] ch 12, Luke, a Greek, was probably using the Syro-Macedonian calendar familiar to Theophilus, the Greek recipient of his works, who was probably a resident of Antioch. This calendar was in use through much of the Middle East, including Judea. The rulers of that area reckoned their reigns by this calendar. They used inclusive reckoning, with the new year beginning with the fall lunar month of Dios, somewhere in October. Tiberius became Caesar on 19 August 14 AD. Thus, his first regnal year according to the Syro-Macedonian calendar would be from 25 October 13 AD until 14 October 14 AD. Luke would have measured the fifteen years from that year one by inclusive reckoning. Thus, the "fifteenth year" fell from 20 October 27 AD to 09 October 28 AD, and John the Baptist began his ministry between these two dates. This timeframe is compatible with the constraint of Jesus' baptism taking place no later than 28 January 28 AD (*), leaving a maximum possible time of 3 months during which John could have been preaching before Jesus' baptism.

An alternative possibility is inclusive reckoning from Tishri, assuming that Luke used the Jewish calendar of the Diaspora, which began the year in the fall month of Tishri. In this case the "fifteenth year" would have fallen between 21 September 27 AD and 08 September 28 AD, which is very similar to the case with the Syro-Macedonian calendar.

(*) This constraint arises from taking in conjunction the narrative in the Synoptic Gospels of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert after his baptism and the narrative in John's Gospel of the start of his public ministry up to the first Passover, based on which we can draw the tightest possible timeline of events as:

  • Baptism, desert: 6 weeks (42 days) (Synoptics);
  • Encounter with the first five disciples in Bethany, travel to Galilee, wedding in Cana: 1 week (Jn 1:29-2:11);
  • Stay in Capernaum: 1 week (Jn 2:12);
  • Travel to Jerusalem, Passover: 1 week (Jn 2:13).

Thus, Jesus' baptism must have taken place no later than 9 weeks before the Passover of 28 AD (30 March), i.e. no later than 28 January 28 AD.

To note, Jesus' baptism in Jan. 28 AD and crucifixion in April 30 AD accounts for the three Passovers explicitely mentioned by John:

  1. 28 AD (Jn 2:13): Cleansing of the Temple;

  2. 29 AD (Jn 6:4): Multiplication of the loaves and discourse on the bread of life;

  3. 30 AD (Jn 11:55): Crucifixion.

It also assumes that John's mention of "a feast of the Jews" for which "Jesus went up to Jerusalem" (Jn 5:1) does not refer to a Passover.

[1] Doig, Kenneth F. (1990). "New Testament Chronology". (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990). Online at: http://www.nowoezone.com/NT_Chronology.htm

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For a number of reasons it doesn't really matter what Tertullian said!

First, he was born around 150 to 160 Anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi, too long after the events to be reliable, and, second, he was not speaking under inspiration of God. He might have written "fifteenth year of Tiberius" and it was not transmitted down to us reliably: his writings have not necessarily been preserved faithfully. And finally, possibly, he wrote what he wrote as an interpretation of Luke 3:1, just as others have above. Would he have given more credence to other writings than he would have to the Word of God? Of course not. Should we?

On the other hand, Luke was a very careful and accomplished historian, he wrote the Gospel of Luke before he wrote the Acts of the Apostles (which must have been written about 63,64 AD) and last and most important of all, he wrote under inspiration of God.

So - worrying only about Luke 3:1 - Tiberius Caesar became co-regent in 14 AD (according to Alex Frazier's quotes above) and full (lone) Emperor in September(?) the same year. Whether Luke is calculating from the beginning of the co-regency or the beginning of his exclusive "lone" regency therefore makes not a lot of difference. The only question outstanding then is what method of calculation was Luke using, the accession year system, the inclusive year system, or dating the year of reign from the first day of the reign? (The maximum possible difference is going to be one year.)

Pontius Pilate became governor of Judaea in 26 AD. Clearly, John's ministry couldn't have started earlier than 26 AD. (His appointment was through the choice of Sejanus. Sejanus and his allies were put to death in 31 AD making Pilate more vulnerable to criticism and his position as governor more vulnerable.)

I don't agree with part of the question!! I quote "Luke goes into detail concerning the beginning of Christ's ministry". With respect, in Luke 3:1-3 Luke isn't the slightest bit interested in "the beginning of Christ's ministry". He is not talking about the beginning of Christ's ministry at all, Luke is talking exclusively about the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist. I think that is significant and interesting in itself. Why on earth is the beginning of John's ministry so important?? In fact, we have a marker for the date of the beginning of John's ministry clearly given, and we have uncertainty for the date of the beginning of Jesus's ministry. The implication is that the date of the beginning of John's ministry is more important than the date of the beginning of Jesus's ministry! Think about it. Why is that? I think the only possible answer is that the date of the beginning of John's ministry will constitute a fulfilment of prophecy.

The restarting of a word from God after "62 sevens" is prophesied. The date of the beginning of John's ministry is prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27. "70 sevens" takes us to the crucifixion, "69 sevens" takes us to the time that the word of God came to a prophet once again. The beginning of both the 70 sevens and the 69 sevens is 458 BC the sixth year of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:7), when Artaxerxes issued a decree (Ezra 7:13).

[[Obedience to this decree was the first day of the seventh (Ezra 7:9) of Artaxerxes (457 BC) so the decree itself was in the sixth, 458 BC. Each year runs from March to March, so its still possible the decree could have been made in Jan or Feb of 457. If the decree was issued in Jan or Feb then the prophecy would still hold, with the 490 years using inclusive counting, or 489 years of addition. Either way, the decree of Artaxerxes must be the starting point for the prophecy.

The real point is this: there was no decree issued in 461 BC so 30 AD is not vying with 33 AD as the date of the crucifixion, according to this interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27, which I think is the only possible interpretation.]]

The 70 sevens and the 69 sevens tells us there should be about(?) 7 years between the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist and the crucifixion. Minus 458 plus 70 sevens (i.e. 490 - 458) is 32, adding one year because there is no year zero (no 0 AD, and no 0 BC) gives 33 AD, which must have been the year of the crucifixion, a year which we know has the Passover falling on a Friday as required. And (3rd April) 33 AD minus 7 is 26 AD, the approximate(?) date of the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist.

62 sevens (434 years) prior to the beginning of the ministry of John is about 409 BC, which is the approximate year of completion of the Old Testament, the last book being written being Ezra/Nehemiah. The indication of the date 409 BC for its completion is found in Nehemiah 12:22. Darius reigned 423 to 404 BC. Jonathan/Johanan was High Priest in 411 BC according to the Elephantine Papyri B19 (see pdf english translation at baytagoodah.com, see "appeal" paragraph on page 142 The Aramaic Texts and note the date of the writing of the letter and the date of their original appeal letter to the High Priest Jehoanan). So he must have died and Jaddua become High Priest after 411 BC but before 404 BC. And while Jaddua was High Priest and Darius was still Emperor, the Old Testament was finished with the last book, Ezra/Nehemiah. Why couldn't Chronicles have been written after Ezra/Nehemiah? Because Nehemiah 12:23 tells us it was written in the previous High Priesthood of Johanan.

By the way, the letter from Pontius Pilate to Tiberius is fictional. The writer above should check the source: it is in a fictional work.

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. You should be very careful in using time prophecies to so not to hive the impression that we bend the facts to fit the prophecy (you did not do this) but be careful. More importantly, you MUST provide a good reference for your starting date of 458 BC which some more reliable authorities state as 457 BC (eg, Ptolemy's Canon and Elephantine papyri, etc). Further, the prophecy of the 70 weeks give no significance to the end of the first 7 weeks which you have interpolated. – user25930 Aug 14 '18 at 22:23
  • Peter, thanks for this. Whether its 458 or 457 is pretty horrendous. I am using only the data in Ezra 7, and note Ezra obeyed the decree on the first day of the year, which assuming it is according to the Zoroastrian Calendar would be the Spring equinox, or assuming it is the Jewish calendar would be about the same time, both of 457 BC. Assuming it would take a few months for the Jews to sell their goods and be in a position to obey would take a few months would put the decree itself in 458 BC. But maybe not. And maybe 490 is using inclusive numbering. Honestly, its a bit beyond me. – Andrew Shanks Aug 14 '18 at 23:00
  • Sorry, you are absolutely right! I've changed the text from 458 to 457. What I mean is obedience to the decree is the first day of 457 (e.g. the spring equinox or close (if Jewish calendar)), so the decree itself is likely 458 with some uncertainty. Thanks, I've changed the text. (Its tricky to be succinct, as accurate as poss, and easy to follow, all together.) – Andrew Shanks Aug 15 '18 at 9:20
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Dr. Ernest Martin in his book Secrets of Golgotha builds on the 1970's work of Benjamin Wacholder of Hebrew Union University proposes that John 4:35 indicates that Jesus celebrated the first public passover of his ministry during a Sabbatical Year, and that Sabbatical year ran from 27 to 28 AD. Dr. Rainer Reisner in his book Paul's Early Period notes that John the Baptists arrest and imprisonment would been particularly understandable if it occurred during an "explosively apocalyptic" year given Antipas' documented concern with uprisings. As Wacholder pointed out, the messianic expectations of the Jews were at their highest during the Passover season of the Sabbatical years. Wacholder also states that the Jews of that era believed the prophecy of Daniel was synchronized with the Sabbatical years as re-started by Ezra in 457. Finally Wacholder notes that the Jews also expected their messiah to appear suddenly at the temple in Jerusalem. Based on Martin's insight in to John 4:35 it appears Christ began his public ministry with the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem at the Passover of 28 AD. This would have been the 483rd year from the re-start of the Sabbatical cycle by Ezra and on the eave of the final seven year period of the Daniel prophecy. This makes it probable that John the Baptist began his ministry in 26/27 or 27/28 just prior to Christ's. Dr. Riesner notes that Antipas went to Rome to gain Caesar's approval for his marriage to Herodias. Since Tiberius left Rome for good in 26 AD (again from Dr. Reisner), Antipas must have seen Caesar no later than 26 AD. This would track well with John beginning his ministry in 26 or 27 after Antipas married Herodias. I suggest that Martin's insight makes John 4:35 an "anchor point" for the beginning of Christ's public ministry. The biblical record will then support a crucifixion date on 30 or 31 AD at the latest. Of course 30 AD is widely accepted as one of only two astronomically possible crucifixion dates. So it looks like John began his ministry in 26 or 27 AD. I highly recommend Martin's analysis as well as that of Reisner.

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    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please use the editor to provide good paragraph breaks and other formatting features. – user25930 Nov 5 '18 at 8:39
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enter image description hereLook at it this way. With Careful understanding you will find that Jesus actually was baptized by John in 27 AD. Besides looking at some of the charts above I see that people are doing there own thing not allowing the Bible to interpret itself. It's 490 yrs. 70 weeks 70 weeks * 7 days = 490 days, Each Day represents a 1 year. The Temple construction started 457 BC.

  • Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site functions. When you say, "Each Day represents 1 year ..." you are introducing an idea that is external to the context of the question. It's okay to do so provided you explain where the idea comes from, and how it is relevant to the question. The downvote you have attracted indicates that a reader may have considered your idea unhelpful in regard to the question. – enegue Oct 27 '17 at 23:05
  • Keith - you should also state the origin of the book illustration you have included. – user25930 Aug 14 '18 at 23:34
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Go to the origin of all dates and calculations thereof; the motion of the stars, planets, et al. The blood moon on the day of Christ's crucifixion can be calculated exactly; April 3,33AD approximately 3:00 PM. We don't have to speculate and guess about this, just use GOD's clock aka the Universe.

  • More detail might be helpful. – Christian Gedge Jul 13 '18 at 21:35
  • Your answer is more like a comment. We are looking for more elaborate answers on the BH site. Please take the tour to see how this site is different from others and then have a look over here. Do return with some more detail and context, please. – Constantin Jinga Jul 16 '18 at 8:14

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