How can Jesus be born in 4 BC when he is literally Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t his birth date be 1 BC or 1 AD?

In the system originally proposed by Dionysius Exiguus, the Scythian monk who came up with the system of dating things from the birth of Christ in what we now call 525 AD, he was born in 1 AD. Unfortunately, he figured things wrong.

To reach the origin point of his calendar, Dionysius had to work through regnal lists of kings, clues in the Bible, and so on to arrive at a precise value for how long before his own day Jesus was born. In what’s now 525 AD, he reckoned that it was 525 years earlier. However, later scholarship turned up errors and inaccuracies in Dionysius’s work. One of the key problems here is that he miscalculated the death of Herod, which happened about 529 years before Dionysius’s time. Herod was alive when Jesus was born, so it turns out that Jesus was born at least four years before Dionysius thought he was.

But by the time that was figured out, it was too late. There were by that time many centuries of documents, books, contracts, and other bits of timekeeping across Christendom which would have to be changed to bring the calendar in line with its nominal revised origin point. The standard was too well established, and so we live with the error.

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