In a brief and simply written essay Jimmy Akin shows how one nineteenth century scholar, Emil Schürer’s, mistakes put a question mark on the exact year of Christ’s birth for over a century. I am far more skeptical about this “scholar,” than Atkin. I find it hard to believe that a historian, such as Schürer, who had encyclopedic knowledge about the history of the Jews during Our Lord’s mortal days (one of his books is, after all, the six-volume A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ) did not know that there was a total lunar eclipse just before the death of Herod the Great (year 1 A.D.). Instead of using that date as a reference, he chose to give more chronological importance to the partial eclipse in 4 B.C. Then, he uses the later date of the partial eclipse to justify Jewish historian, Josephus’, dating of the death of Herod in the 184th Olympiad (July 1, 44 B.C. to June 30, 40 B.C.) instead of the 185th. Since the Gospels are clear that Christ was born during the reign of Herod the Great, then Christ had to have been born at least four years earlier than the traditionally-held date, argues Schürer.
I am confused as to why a New Testament scholar, even a Protestant one, would make such a mistake of oversight. For what purpose? Challenge tradition? Make a name for oneself? “Hey, world, this isn’t really 1990, its 1896!” Something awful sinister about this in my view.
Well, enough of my doubts about Schurer (and all the other modernist German scripture “scholars,” here is Jimmy Akin. And there’s more coming. I’ll keep you posted.