Wednesday, November 21, 2012

File under: Well, duh. . .

Nick Squires of The Telegraph thinks the pope has made news with a claim he makes in his new book about the date of Jesus's birth.
The entire Christian calendar is based on a miscalculation, the Pope has declared, as he claims in a new book that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly believed.

The 'mistake' was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus or in English Dennis the Small, the 85-year-old pontiff claims in the book 'Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives', published on Wednesday.

"The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years," the Pope writes in the book, which went on sale around the world with an initial print run of a million copies.

"The actual date of Jesus's birth was several years before."

The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new – many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC.

But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world's one billion Catholics is striking.
Um, no. The "miscalculation" made by Dionysius has been well documented and it has been "commonly believed" for years that Jesus was, in fact, born precisely within the time frame offered by the pontiff. He is not raising any doubts about "one of the keystones of Christian tradition." As the article goes on to point out, most scholars agree with the pope, not only on the date of Jesus's birth but also on the fact that there were likely no oxen or donkeys present to witness the blessed event. Again, no threat to any "Christian tradition" except, perhaps, the always popular children's Christmas pageant.

UPDATE: Read George Conger's eviscerating analysis of the whole article at Get Religion.