ON THE DATE OF THE NATIVITY

Letter addressed to Mr. Bosanquet by Dr. Lauth (Munich).

[Extracted from TSBA, 4:2, 1878, 226-47.]

Read 2nd February, 1875.

    Dear Sir,

You have treated in these same Transactions1 most interestingly, and as it seems to me, most successfully, upon the date of Christ's nativity. As this subject concerns not only our belief as Christians, but also our science as chronologists, you will not deem it superfluous that I shall endeavour to afford several new points of view, in order to corroborate your result, tending to fix the year 3 before our common era as the very year of Christ's nativity.

I. This date is borne out as the true one by the simple computation that the Roman indictions, even in our own calendar down to this day, are reckoned by the addition of 3 years to the number of the current year. Thus, for instance, we obtain the corresponding indictional cipher of 1874 by dividing 1877 by 15, making 125 cycles, remainder 2, and this number 2 forms the signature of our present year 1874. Hence it follows that the pentekaidekaeteric period must have begun originally just with the year 3 before our era. If it be objected that the indictions really, as a practical cycle, begin with 312, in the reign of Constantine, it must be borne in mind that the first general enrolment of the great Roman empire issued from Augustus, and that Quirinus, as governor of Syria according to St. Luke, was the executor of the imperial edict, during his governorship from -4 to + 1, as is demonstrated by Dr. Zumpt's valuable essay. This [p.227] enrolment ([Greek]) of Quirinus' is styled [Greek], even as much with respect to his second [Greek] in A.D. 9—which was a partial one, and only relating to Archelaiis and his province—as because it was the first of all, the model of the subsequent enrolments for military or census purposes. In the same manner as we in our calendars continue to enregister the Roman indictions, without making any use of them, so they may have been latent or dropped between Augustus and Constantine; this omission is owing to circumstances either unknown to us for the want of sources, or to the intrusion of other cycles during the above-mentioned interval. We call in German this indictional number "Roemer-Zins-Zahl " = Romanorum censualis numerus, and, indeed, the existence of this entry, even in our calendars, warrants us that the primordial census happened in the year 3 before our common era.

II. When Dionysius Exiguus in A.D. 525, 200 years after the decree of the Nicean Council (a.d. 325) concerning the Passover-feast, fixed for the first time the Christian era, he chose this very year 525, just because2 with it the 35th indictional cycle expired (525/15 = 35), and he thus indicated expressly that our Lord's nativity coincided with the beginning of an indiction, viz., he acknowledged the temporal concurrence of the Virgin Mary's delivery with Augustus' edict, carried out by Quirinus. If so, it is the more to be wondered at that he made a blunder of 3 years, for, by all we know of him, he was a learned man, who must have had knowledge of the true epoch of the indictions.

I am going to explain this notory contradiction, and to prove that Dionysius' error originated not from ignorance, but from a current system of the Alexandrian mathematicians and chronologists.

Let us begin with Theon. This very accurate astronomer fixes the epoch of IMenophres or the Sothiac period as happening 1705 years before 384 A.D. Hence it has been generally concluded that the year 1322 before Christ was the [p.228] first of this cycle. But, on the other side, our astronomical, yea, the simplest mathematical calculations, prove strikingly that the 1st Thoth vague coincided with the 20th July during the tetraeterid 1325, 1324, 1323, 1322. Theon, then, has chosen the last or fourth year (when the intercalation was made) of the tetraeterid instead of the first.

The same difference of 3 years is met with in Censorinus, who states that in the 100th year before 238 the dogstar rose on the 20th July. This is 139 A.D., but we find that this coincidence took place during the whole tetraeterid 136, 137, 138, 139 A.D. It is evident that once more the fourth year is chosen for the first.

Another instance is afforded by an Arabic writer,3 who counts the first regnal year of Abtinus (Antoninus) as the 886th of the era of Bochtenasr (Nabonassar). The latter part of this year 886 belongs to 139 A.D. His warrant is Ptolemy.

After having observed this constant system of Alexandrian astronomers or chronologists, I was led to the conviction that this manner of reckoning was owing to Egyptian sources, and that it was derived from an astronomico-calendaric method connected with the apparition of a memorable star.

In reading this word you will have guessed instantly that I am going to speak on the celebrated star of the Magians; but I intend not to treat this matter at large or to an especial purpose. This star has been deemed a meteor, rising suddenly and vanishing again after a short delay. Others have thought of a comet with a longer apparition. Kepler and Ideler have identified it with the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, happening 747 A.U.C., or 7 B.C. Kepler was himself an eye-witness of such a conjunction in 1603; in 1604 it was associated with Mars, and there also appeared a new fixed star, "Stella nova in pede Serpentarii." Why should there not have been at the same time a memorable coincidence, for instance, in the Egyptian calendar, so that the Magi of the East, led by the apparition of an extraordinary phenomenon, went to Jerusalem in search of the new-born [p.229] 'Kiug of the Jews'? I think such a plurality of heavenly signs would not be ill suited to the chronological centre of mankind.

III. It is generally allowed and acknowledged that the birth of the Messias was thought of in connection with a peculiar star. When in the time of Hadrian, 120 A.D., a Jewish pretender arose, with the professed intention to resuscitate the Davidic kingdom and the political power of the Jews, he assumed the name Bar-Cochab ([Greek]), ''Son of the Star.'' This presumptuous title was converted, after his defeat, into Bar-Cozab, "Son of the Lie," and Jerusalem levelled with the soil was called Aelia (Hadiiani). I am now going to establish that even in the time of the first overthrow under Vespasianus and Titus, the idea of an extraordinary star prevailed. Suetonius tells that it was a general opinion in the whole world, "in fatis esse, ut (homines) Judaea profecti, rerum potu-entur," and that Vespasianus, because he had vanquished Galba and Vitellius, after his starting up from his province of Judaea, referred this omen to his own person; indeed, he was styled, like the other emperors, "the god," "pe nuter" by the Egyptians. But it deserves especial notice that this word nuter, "god," is found expressed by a star (4) for the first time in the cartouche of Vespasianus. We see therein a confirmation not only of Suetonius's report, but also of the fact that Vespasian annexed to himself what was meant originally as an attribute of the Messias. Hence we could easily infer that really an extraordinary apparition of a star had happened at the birth of the Messias.

Now let us consider the Egyptian calendar, consisting of the so-called wandering (vague) year and the fixed (leap) Sothiac year. These double forms prevailed not only amongst the astronomers, but also in civil life, notwithstanding the fixation performed in 25 B.C., under Augustus.4 Thus, for instance, a Grćco-demotic inscription5 is dated, [p.230] "year 17th of Tiberius, the 18th Tybi of the Ionian = 1st Mechir of the Egyptian." Both these dates correspond to the 13th January, 31 a.d. Then, if we make the application of this double calendar backwards to the temporal horizon of Christ's birth, we find that the dogstar, or Sirius (Sothis), rose heliacally on the 1st Mesoi'i vague during the tetraeterid 5, 4, 3, 2 before our era. I shall prove in a larger work of mine ("Sothis") which I am now composing, that the Egyptians noticed the minor coincidences as well as the chief ones when the rising of Sirius coincided with the first day of the first month (Thoth vague). It is not required to enter here into a more especial investigation; it may suffice to cite the great authority of the Tanitic decree, where it is stated that the coincidence of the rising dogstar ([Greek]) with the first day of Payni vague ([Greek]) caused the fixation of Euergetes I.

Thus, then, it must be considered as a proved fact that the learned Egyptians noticed the apparition of the most splendid dogstar in the tetraeterid 5, 4, 3, 2 as a very memorable one. Now we conceive (better, I think, than before) why Herod, that jealous and cruel tyrant, when he ordered the innocent babes to be slaughtered, asked from the Magians (St. Matthew ii, 7) the accurate time of the appearance of the star, and why he slaughtered the Bethlehemitic children, [Greek] (ii, 16), "a himatu et infra." For, indeed, according to your thesis and my additional proofs, that 3 before our era = birth of Christ, there were two years of the tetraeterid elapsed, in which the heliacal rising of the dogstar had corresponded to the 1st Mesori vague. I think no other hypothesis accounts so well for the [Greek] or bimatus as mine, and we have thus found the very source of Herod's question and the Magians answer.

IV. This question of Herod's about the exact time of the appearance of the star was not made without a good reason, concerning, as it did, the birth of a new king: [Greek] "Where is the (new-) born King of the Jews?" the Magians themselves had asked. This character as a "King of the Jews" remained, in fact, [p.231] attached intimately to the Messias till His death, the death on the cross, with the inscription, "Jesus Nazarenns Rex Judaeorum." Hence the very excited suspicion of the jealous tyrant, who was himself an intruder upon the last national dynasty of the Hasmoneans. In the sacred books was announced a new king from David's stem—the more reason to Herod for fear, who did not spare even a son of his in the general slaughter of Bethlehem.

It has been deemed a proof to the contrary, that Flavius Josephus keeps a deep silence about this Herodian deed; but he may have forgotten to mention it, not having found it in the work of his warrant, Nicolaus Damascenus, court-historian of Herod. But this lacuna is fully compensated by Macrobius. This author, who in his book, "Saturnalia," nowhere bespeaks himself a Christian, tells (ii, 4) as an anecdote of Augustus, "Quum audivisset, inter pueros, quos in Syria Herodes rex Judseoram infra himatum jussit interfici, filium quoque ejus occisum (esse), ait, 'Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam. filium.''' Had Macrobius said "... porcum . . . puerum," he would have committed an ambiguity, puer signifying also slave, but the quibble would have been more striking in Latin. I warrant that Augustus spoke it in the Greek language, [Greek]. The same quibble between [Greek] and [Greek] is met with already in Aristophanes. The meaning of Augustus was, "It is better to be one of the swine of Herod than his son, for the former, he, being a Jew, does not slaughter."

I am going now to produce a further reason in behalf of my hypothesis, that the search after the two years' old children originated from the Egyptian double year and the coincidence of the rising dogstar with 1st Mesori during the tetraeterid 5-2 B.C.

In a former work6 I have proved that the name of the month Mesori is to be decomposed into mes, "birth," and Hori, "of Horus." I have stated that in this month's name is revealed a great dynastic festivity, Horus being the type and model of all legitimate successors or crown-princes. In [p.232] another treatise7 I have shown that the serpent held by Horus is an emblem proper to this youthful god, who, like Hercules, even in his cradle overthrows all fiendish reptiles. Now, this emblem of Horus is always met with in his hand as symbolical of the month Mesori. Then the Magians could, with full reason, ask for the horn king, because the rising dogstar was announcing meanwhile the first tetraeterid of Mesori. But it is to be noted that even in the fact that Christ's nativity is not congruent with the first year, we possess a warrant for His historical and independent existence.

V. Taking into consideration the nationality of the Magians, I cannot help citing Chalcidius,8 although his passage may be founded upon St. Matthew's: "Sane notanda est alia sanctior et venerablior historia, quas perhibet de ortu stelhe citjusdam, non m or bos mortesque denuntiantis, sed desceusum Dei venerabilis ad human ae conversationis re- rumque mortalium gratiam, quam stellara, quum noctnrno itinere suscepissent Chalda^orum profecto sapientes viri et consideratione rerum coelestium satis exercitati, qusesisse dicuntur recentis Dei ortum; repertaque ilia majestate puerili, venerati esse et vota Deo tanto convenienter nuncupasse."' But how do we explain the peculiarity that these three wise men have received the title of kings in the tradition, the sacred text styling them only [Greek]? Perhaps the Eusebian list of Manetho's XXVHth Dynasty throws some light on this point; whereas Africanus had placed Aapelns after Kambyses as second reign, Eusebius exhibits after [Greek] the reading, "[Greek], 7 months," [Greek], in full harmony with Herodotus, iii, 67: [Greek]. Hence it follows that in the time betwixt Africanus (222) and Eusebius (325) a change had taken place in respect to the designation of the interregnum. This circumstance may possibly account for the peculiarity of the names—legendary ones—formed afterwards as nomina proopria of the three Magians, perhaps with respect to their gifts— gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

[p.233]

If we consider tliese names, Caspar, Melcbior, Balthasar, under such a point of view, we may find a meaning therein. It is well known from Berosus and Syncellus, that the most ancient town Sipara, near Babylon, was dedicated to the Sun, and held the sacred books concerning the flood ot Xisuthros. Supposing, now, that a syllable or word like כסא, meaning "throne," was prefixed, we should obtain a compound name Cassipar, or Caspar, with the meaning "throne of Sipara." In the same manner Balth-asar would be decomposed into בעלת baalth, "domination," and אשור Aschur, "Assyria," written Asar in the oldest Egyptian texts. There is a representation in one of the Roman catacombs9 where one Magian of the three wears a cap or hat like the Assyrians.

If we look on the third one, who occupies usually the middle of them, he is always represented as a black man, but not of the usual negro type. It is the Melchior, whose name betrays, no doubt, the Semitic root מלכ melech, "king." As to the second constitutive part of his name, it is surely the Egyptian word aur written יאר jeor, "the Nile." Now, in the same manner as Homer takes [Greek] both for the river and the land of Egypt, so we obtain for Melchior the meaning, "King of Egypt"; and his black colour may be attributed to the original meaning of Cham: Kemi, [Greek], the "black-grounded land," [Greek];. At any rate, the three names were formed with respect to the three oldest kingdoms of the ancient world, Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt^ in order to state that these states, or their representatives or kings, might be considered as doing homage to the new-born King of the Jews.

VI. There is another point which betrays an Egyptian origin—the exact day of Christ's nativity, as related by Clemens of Alexandria. You have already made mention of it in your valuable paper by translating, "Our Lord was born in the twenty-eighth year" (that is, the 28th year of the Egyptian era of the battle of Actium, Aug. B.C. 3-2), "when first the census was ordered to be taken in the reign of [p.234] Augustus. And there are those who have determined not only the year of the Lord's birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, and in the 25th day of Pachon(s)."—Strom. 1.

I may here observe, that the 28th year since the battle of Actium, if we pay no attention to the Nabonassarian era, was counted from September B.C. 31, as you have stated in your note. Thus we have once more the year 3 before our era as the exact year of Christ's nativity.

As to the tradition that the 25th Pachon(s) was His birthday, it is of course merely Egyptian, and must be judged by the Egyptian calendar, of the vague year, in the same manner as we have met with the month Mesori. Now it is very remarkable that the god Chons, the third member of the divine triad at Thebes, performs the same with with respect to the moon as Horus with respect to the sun. The representations agree perfectly with this hypothesis, showing the god Chons always with the full moon on his head, viz., in his highest degree of development.

Furthermore, in my above-mentioned work, "Les Zodiaques de Denderah," I have proved by evidence that the name Pa-Chons was derived from a great festival, held in the night of the full-moon. A Greek papyrus in the Museum at Leyden bears: [Greek], and I have noted, "Cette date du 25 Pachon(s) pour la fete lunaire des [Greek] est tres remarquable." Indeed, the Egyptians could not choose another date of their whole calendar, if they intended to make the Lord's birthday coincide with the most striking lunar festivity.

If we pay but a little attention to the character of the vague year, we are convinced in a short time that the same lunar phases returned after every 25th year; this number of vague years being equal to 309 synodic mouths of about 29˝ days each, so that 59 days represent a double lunation. You perceive that I am speaking of the so-called Apis-period. In the work I am now occupied with, I have stated, on monumental proofs from Edfu, that the year 3 before our common Dionysian era is the 22nd of the cycle, having as signature the number 14/25 i.e., on the 1st Thoth the moon had about three [p.235] days passed its plenikmium. Counting until 25 Pachons we obtain 248 days, which divided by 59, or the double lunation, gives the quotient of 4, equal 8 months of 29˝ days each, with remainder 12, that is, very near a full-moon.10 Q.E.D.

Besides this great lunar festival on the 25th Pachons, every 22nd year of the Apis-period, there was annually, in the same month, at the full moon, another feast, which I have pointed out in Plutarch, "De Is. et Osir.," ch. 8, "les Egyptiens croient le cochon un animal impur" (in this respect the Egyptians were the instructors of the Jews) .... "mais le motif qu'ils en donnent lors du sacrifice et du reipas d'un cochon, celebre une fois tannee, au temps de la pleine lune, en disant que Typhon Osiris on le croit une fable," etc. I have mentioned, moreover, the passage of Herodotus, ii, 47: "(il) rapporte cette meme fete ou Ton immolait et ou Ton mangeait les cochons, a la lune ([Greek]), et dit expressement, que cela ne se faisait cix une fois par an, au temps de la j'leine lune." Lastly, I have proved the truth of these testimonies by showing, in the "Zodiac of Denderah," a man within the lunar disc, holding a hog by the tail or the hind-legs, with the unquestionable gesture and intention of an offering, as the symbol of the month Pachons. You will perhaps wonder that I here insist upon a fact which seems not to be connected with our question; but allow me to direct your attention to the circumstance that we have herein a double exception of the rule, and "exceptiones semper sunt strictissimge interpretationis." For the Egyptians offered and ate hogs only once a-year, and in this very point there is the only difference betwixt them and the Jews in regard to [Greek]. The meaning of the Egyptians, when they had become Christians, and fixed Christ's birthday on the 25th Pachons, seems to have been a double one—this night (full moon!), within which falls the birth of our Saviour, was the [p.236] death of all impurity, and at the same time began the al)olition of the Jewish exclusive law with respect to eating hogs'-flesh.

I feel confirmed in this hypothesis by a passage of St. Hieronymus ad numerum Euseb. mmclii = 120 A.D.: "Aelia (Jerusalem) ab Aelio Hadriano condita .... et in fronte ejus porte, qua Bethlehem egredimur, sus sculptus in marmore." It is clear that Hadrian intended this emblem as an ignominy for the Jews, not for the Christians. But its application just on the door leading towards Bethlehem, points also to the above-mentioned overthrow of impurity, if not to Augustus quibble ([Greek]) with respect to the Bethlehemitic slaughter.

Returning to our 2oth Pachons of the year 3 before our era, and reckoning backwards from the fixed point 1 Mesori = 20th July, we find the 25th Pachons corresponding with the 14th May. It is, at any rate, worth noticing that in a great part of southern Germany people write C+M+B+ on all their doors on the night preceding the 1st of day, and let these signs stand until the end of that month. Here we see Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar as a sort of Averrunci, or [Greek] of saints, and invoked against all impure spirits. How far pagan or old Germanic traditions are mingled in these proceedings, I leave for others to examine and to decide.

Finally, it seems that the Egyptians, in fixing our Lord's nativity on a fall-moon, have intended to comprehend His whole lifetime between two memorable plenilunia. A similar remark may be made on the traditional birth-day, 25th of December, in the ecclesiastical calendar. I think the meaning was to give him the normal length of life, 33 years, or an average generation, three of which make a century; but this and many other questions may yet remain undiscussed until a favourable discovery affords new materials.11

[p.237]

VII. If I have not been unsuccessful in explaining the reason why we must maintain ann. 3 before our Dionysian era as Christ's birth-year, by the help of Egyptian sources, I wish once more to draw your attention to Augustus' general enrolment, performed in the same year by Quirinus throughout Syria and Palestine. It has been for many years my full conviction that the idea of this cadaster was inspired in the mind of the Roman emperor by an Egyptian custom. As this act of government forms the genesis or starting-point of the true Christian era, you will perhaps not neglect a hint, although of a slight kind, derived from Egyptology.

We learn from Diodorus and others, not least by the nature of the land itself, that geometry was thought an Egyj)tia7i discovery, the yearly inundation of the Nile necessitating continual measurements; indeed we find almost in all temples that the inferior slabs represented the Egyptian nomes, or provinces personified, with the respective productions, doing homage to the king, as has been pointed out by Mr. Harris.12 Dr. Brugsch's geography of ancient Egypt is founded chiefly on such representations. He mentions, besides others,13 a list of the Egyptian nomes and protecting divinities on the outer wall of the Theban temple of the goddess Ape (hippopotama). Although the figures and texts are greatly damaged, we read, nevertheless, without any difficulty or uncertainty, the names of Atitokrator Kaisar(os) = Emperor Augustus. This monarch leads successively all the nomes with their productions to the god Osiris-Unnophris ("the Good Being"), and in harmony with this is another monument, dedicated also by Augustus to the goddess Isis, of the town Pe-she-n-Hor, "the lake of Horus" (Shenhoor of the modern inhabitants). We learn by this that Augustus had done homage to the great general triad, Osiris, Isis, Horus, precisely in the Theban nome, the centre of the country. It is much to be regretted that no date is preserved; only we may conclude from the indications of the [p.238] text, which mentions the nomes of Nubia us pacified, that the representation in the temple of Ape falls after the prefecture of Petronius, perhaps at the time when his successor, Ćlius Gallus, with Strabo, travelled in the southern parts, 20 B.C. A more precise date might be derived from the inscription of the first compartment, where Augustus says to "Osiris-Unnophris, the great one at Thebes, the prince at Heliopolis, the only lord of Memphis" "Thou art the king of heaven, the prince of the divine star (of Orion) of the month.''

A very regrettable lacuna deprives us of the means of determining the epoch; we can only infer that Osiris is apostrophised here in his double quality as Orion and Osiris-Aah-Lunus.

The sacred bull Apis being an incarnation of Osiris-Lunus, it is to be hoped that we can approximately point out the year of the 25-ëteric period. I shall mention also, by the way, that amongst the lunar eponymies14 of the month, Osiris occupies the 3rd day, named mes r-mah tep, "prime of the moon" (first quarter), to which corresponds the 16th day, with the denomination mes r-mah snau, "wane of the moon" (second quarter). According to the great calendar of festivals at Edfu,15 the chief feasts of Osiris were: at Thebes, the months Phaophi, Choiakh, Pachons, Payni; at Memphis, Tybi I, Mechir I; at Heliopolis, the neomeny, the sexta, and the decima quinta. We see in these last ones the true lunar character of Osiris-Lunus distinctly expressed, and as the monument of Augustus at Thebes apostrophises Osiris-Lunus in his threefold presidency of these three capitals of Egypt, we may search for a combination.

There is a very curious double-date at Edfu,16 which reads, " This fair day, year 30, Payni 9, feast of the conjunction of Osiris-Lunus with the Sun : this is the sexta of the month Paoni (in the lunar calendar)." I have found that this is the exact year of Euergetes II, 140 B.C. (counted from 170 B.C.), and is the 11th of the Apis-cycle, whose signature is -J4' The feast of the 15th day (like the god Chons) represents the full-moon; [p.239] so we have one of the three lunar phases recorded under Heliopolis. The second phase, the sexta, is likewise clearly indicated, and indeed corresponds with Payni 9th, in the 13th year of the Apis-cycle. Two years before, in the 28th of Euergetes II, the same text of Edfu presents the double date, 18 Mesori = 23 Epiphi, difference 25 days, corresponding to a full century, if we reckon backwards from 142 B.C. to 242 B.C., in which precise year Euergetes I. introduced the fixed year.17 Moreover, the same text says that "between year X, Epiphi 7 of Euergetes I, which was a sexta, the first sexta of all," and "year X, Epiphi 7 of Philopator, elapsed 25 years." This reckoning is fully borne out.

Now it must be remembered that Augustus, with respect to his Egyptian reform of the calendar {2b B.C.), only resumed the work of Euergetes I; hence the eminent role of the sexta in the temple of Edfu, founded by Euergetes I, and hence the same meaning of the sexta in our general text of Thebes. The third phase, the neomeny, is indicated under Memphis, Tybi I, Mechir I, whereas the previously cited Payni appears under Thebes, without any further indication of the precise day.

Now if we combine these instances, Augustus addresses Osiris-Lunus at Thebes in a triple character: (1) the neomeny records his calendaric reform, B.C. 25, where the first Thoth coincided with 0 or 25/25; (2) the sexta, reminds of Payni 9 at Edfu, and the 13th year of the cycle 13 B.C.; (3) the full moon, 12/25, indicates the 19th year of the Apis-cycle. The year 6 B.C. therefore is probably the true date of Augustus' monument at Thebes, relating to the general cadastration of Egypt under the form of an offering to the generally worshipped triad. At any rate, notwithstanding the uncertainty about the exact year, owing to the most regrettable lacuna18 of the text, the Theban monument of Augustus demonstrates clearly that he borrowed from thence the idea of enrolling the estates of his whole empire.

[p.240]

VIII. It is an accepted fact, that of all the Gospels that of St. Luke affords the most precise chronological indications. The legend takes this companion of St. Paul to have been a painter and in intimacy with, the Virgin Mary. Although I lay no great stress on this tradition, nevertheless it deserves noticing that those records which belong to the inner family events are followed by the remark [Greek]. Thus, ii, 19, about the adoration of the shepherds. The same remark is met with ii, 51, [Greek]. This concerns the answer of the twelve-years'-old Jesus, [Greek], to the words of the Virgin Mary, [Greek].

There is undoubtedly a sort of parallelism between these two passages, and as the former relates to the [Greek] of Quirinus, why may not the second belong also to a similar event, which for its not lesser importance was fixed likewise in the memory? Surely there were in our Lord's life until His 30th year more facts and speeches worthy to be recorded, and legend has afterwards sought to fill up this great lacuna or gap with fictitious ones. Surely, at every visit paid to Jerusalem on the Passover festivity, there had happened something of like nature which might be registered in a written account of his life. But such a record not existing, the historian was confined to oral communications, which dwell for the most part on the striking and chronological events. If we consider the above-cited travel to Jerusalem under this point of view, we shall be struck with the fact that at the same time Quirinus once more officiated as taxator of Archelaus and the people's possessions. For, according to the list drawn by Dr. Zumpt, P. Sulpicius Quirinus came back to Judaja in the year 6 A.D., and his successor, Q. Creticus Silanus, in the year 11. Allowing to Quirinus the same duration of governorship as the first time, from -4 with +1, viz., 5 years, the 12th year of Jesus will correspond to the middle of his second quinquennium; and this fact, as a most memorable one, because the same Quirinus being also connected with the birth of the child, [p.241] might cling very closely to the memory of the Virgin Mary. For this second enrolment was made under the protestation of Judas Galilaeus (Gaulanites) and his partisans. The same St. Luke mentions this riot (Acts v, 37), in perfect harmony with Flavius Josephus,19 in the following manner: [Greek]; (second) [Greek]20. This adds an additional weight to my proof, that the second census of Quirinus is intimately connected with our Lord's presence in Jerusalem in His 12th year. If we read St. Luke's narrative, influenced by this consideration, we shall better account for the difficulty that Joseph and Mary [Greek] "knew not" that the young Jesus had remained in Jerusalem, while they themselves retreated ([Greek]), and that they made a whole journey, presuming he would be with the caravan. This negligence is in open contradiction to their sorrowful inquiries after Him amongst their relations and acquaintances, and as they did not find him there, to their three days' researches in Jerusalem, where they discovered Him finally with good luck amidst the masters of the divine law.

But the whole difficulty would be removed by supposing as I do, that the rebellion of Judas Galilasus against Archelaus and the [Greek], from political reasons of national independence, broke out even at the Passover festivity, where a great crowd of Jews had come to Jerusalem. In this riot the members of the Holy Family, as well as others, might be separated and scattered in different directions. Joseph and Mary, as Galilceans, had the more reason to fear and to fly, because Judas, the leading head of the rebellion, was himself a Galilcean, who was himself slain on this occasion with his fellow-mutineers. Not having found the beloved Jesus amongst the caravan, they returned to Jerusalem, braving the danger. Thus what was a seeming negligence is converted now into a proof of their love.

Meanwhile Jesus Avas sitting in the temple amidst the [p.242] doctors of the law hearing and questioning. This peaceful occupation, close to a dangerous rebellion, is rendered intelligible by Josephus21 stating that the high-priest Joazar had succeeded in persuading the Jews [Greek]. Thus the high-priest and his fellow brethren in the ministry might converse quietly with the young Jesus, and we obtain through this hypothesis an account for the name of Annas, besides that of Caiaphas, in St. Luke iii, 2; for it was the same Quirinus who, according to Josephus, in the 37th year after the battle of Actiura, had substituted Annas (Ananus) for Joazar. We see here once more the fact confirmed that the 15th year of Tiberius' hegemonship, St. Luke iii, 1, must be counted from his 15th tribunicise potestatis, which coincided with the beginning of the second indictional cycle (12 of our era), and that Annas was named by him only for the purposes of this same cadastration.

IX. Again, a few (3) years afterwards, was renewed the indiction of 15 years. I deem it not a mere accident that Tiberius was assumed by Augustus as "collega imperii, consoi's tribunicia, potestatis," the 15th time, just in the year 12 of our common era. For Tiberius, who died after a reign of 23 years, counted 38 years of tribuniciae potestatis; he must, therefore, needs have had 15 when he was "umnes per exercitus ostentatus."22 Moreover, St. Luke, whose 3rd chapter begins with the much talked of chronological signature [Greek] seems not to have meant his fifteenth regnal year since the death of Augustus, else he would have chosen another expression than [Greek], which corresponds to the decree next following of Pontius Pilatus, [Greek]. I am therefore of nearly, but not exactly, the same opinion as Nicolas Mann and others,23 that the 15th year of Tiberius' hegemonship relates to his [p.243] association with Augustus, who assumed him as "collega imperii" in the year 12 of the Dionysian era. We will now find the reason why St. Luke has preferred this mode of reckoning to the common computation, which counts Tiberius' years from Augustus' death.^ He states, then, that in the I5th year of Tiberius' hegemony, "the Word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the desert."

As we know by Flavius Josephus' own experience,24 there was a general rule about public service in Judea, that none should enter it before his 30th year, either at the beginning or expiration of it. Now St. John was older than Jesus by half a year, and if we fix the beginning of his preaching and baptizing in the middle of the 15th year of Tiberius' hegemony, at the end of this year, 26 of our era, the second indiction expired, and a new one began, with Christ's having attained the same normal age of 30 years, for public activity. Again, it is St. Luke who (iii, 23) states, [Greek]. "Also Jesus himself (like John) was about 30 years old when he began (to enter the public career)." These words refer back to verse 21, where it is said that Jesus had been baptized by John after the other people. Instead of [Greek], verse 23, Clemens of Alexandria, Strom. 1, reads [Greek], "when he came (to be baptized)"; or, in connection with verse 16, [Greek]. In no case can [Greek] be construed with [Greek], 30, because [Greek] appears. In this manner we obtain tico indictions from Christ's birth to His entrance upon His public career; and now, I think, we have fully accounted for St. Luke's especial mode of counting Tiberius25 years of [Greek]. But a new difficulty presents itself when we come to the question of the four (or three) Passovers. I do not feel disposed now to enter here into a more minute [p.244] inquiry, as I intend only to present to you a short sketch. I restrain myself, therefore, to declaring that I adopt the full moon of the 15th Nisan, Friday, 7th April, 30 a.d.,26 as the exact date of Christ's crucifixion; but this memorable date not falling into the consulate of the two Gemini27 (if we pay no respect to the termini "a Palibus ad Palilia"), it would seem that I have not satisfied all the conditions of the question. For the present I only state that the very accurate Julius Africanus presents the same date under the form Olympiad 202, 2 = 30 of our common era.28 As to the legendary day of the Holy Fathers for the crucifixion, "VIII Kal. Apriles," 25th of March, it seems to me obvious that it arose from the intention to make Christ's death coincide with the day of His presumed conception, and betrays a dependency on the ecclesiastical Christmas Day, 25th December. We should, I think, now write, "VIII Idus Apriles" as the true day of the crucifixion; but this question, as also many similar ones, may remain open to further discussion.

X. Corresponding to the star of the Magians at Christ's birth, a darkness [Greek] (an eclipse) of the sun is related to have happened at His death, by three of the four Gospels. Theophilus of Antiochia quotes (libr. iii, sub finem sseculi ii) a passage of Thallos, who had entitled this darkness an eclipse. Phlegon of Tralles, who flourished under Hadrianus and Antonius, had mentioned, as Origenes (ii contra Celsuni) relates, in the 13th or 14th book of his Chronica, that an eclipse happened under Tiberius [Greek]; and Africanus, in one of his fragments, adds the words: [Greek], "evidently this" (related by the Gospels). It needs not that we care for the discrepant date. Olympiad 202, 4 as given by Eusebius and Syncellus, For these writers, [p.245] like many others, misunderstood or completed Africanus' era 5500 to 5502, and thus they must have set down Olympiad 202, 4 instead of 202, 2, as Africanus himself had done in order to obtain three years for the preaching of Jesus. At any rate, there is no question of an ordinary eclipse of the sun caused by the new moon, whereas the death of Christ coincided with the full moon. I am not willing to enter into an especial inquiry about the weight of Thallos' and Phlegon's testimony; I insist only on the fact that, according to the three Gospels, an extraordinary darkness or eclipse of the sun happened for three hours until the death of Christ. For it makes no difference through what cosmical body the darkness was caused; at any rate, there was an eclipse (failing, obumbratio) of the sun. And as in scientific matters the difficulty is not solved by throwing it aside or entitling it nonsense, we must seek a plausible explanation.

For the sake of shortness, I declare that this [Greek] seems to me intimately connected with the star of the Magians. In the same manner as this peculiar phenomenon had announced with a bright light the birth of Christ, His death might be symbolized and brought to general knowledge by the extinction of this especial light above.

There are in our common calendar three saints: Pancratius, Servatius, Bonifacius (12, 13, 14 May), called the "cold saints" and highly feared by the gardeners, who do not care to expose their tender plants to the open air during these three days, Alexander von Humboldt, in his "Kosmos," explains this extraordinary cooling of temperature by supposing that meteoric or planetoid bodies obstruct the passage of a part of the rays of the sun, so that they do not reach our earth.

Moreover, it is a well known fact that the considerable number of little planets between Mars and Jupiter are supposed to have formed at one time a greater planet. Kepler, in discovering the famous rule of the planetary distances, had conjectured that between Mars and Jupiter something would be found—long before the planetoids themselves were discovered. In following this rule Uranus and Neptune were also pointed out. I have already quoted [p.246] his observation of the "Stella nova in pede Serpentarii,'' which was no doubt a fixed star, appearing with a bright light and vanishing again after a year and three months.

Likewise the star of the Magians, which was presumably a suddenly revealed one, may have disappeared or become dark after a short delay, witnessing once more by its adumbration of the solar disc its undisturbed existence, but scattered into many parts like the veil of the temple and the rocks, following or causing the earthquake (St. Matthew xxvii, 51). It has been objected that St. John, an eye witness of Christ's death, does not at all mention this darkness; but it must be borne in mind that his Gospel, written after the others for their completion, could neglect facts already related; in his Apocalypsis vi, 12-17, there is a vision perfectly similar to the fact related by the three other Gospels, which might be a recollection of the celestial events at the day of the Crucifixion; for again it is question of a great day, [Greek].

Accept, dear Sir, this decad of mine about Christ's nativity with indulgence, and believe me to be.

Yours truly,
Lauth.


[p.247]

ADDENDA TO DR. LAUTH'S PAPER ON THE NATIVITY.

With reference to pages 242 and 243 of the foregoing learned paper of Dr. Lanth, I would suggest that it is unnecessary to enter into the question, whether in speaking of the fifteenth year of Tiberius, St. Luke intended really to refer to the twelfth year of his reign, after the death of Augustus; considering that Dr. Lauth is satisfied that the Nativity of Jesus Christ must be placed in the year B.C. 3.

It appears to me that the years from the Nativity to the Crucifixion should be counted thus:—

Birth of Jesus Christ in Autumn 3 BC
One year old in Autumn .... 2
Two years old in Autumn .... 1
 
  Death of Herod in February or March B.C. 1, soon after the lunar eclipse 10th Jan. 1
Three years old in Autumn .... 1
Ten years old in Autumn .... 8
Thirty years old in Autumn .... 28
Thirty-one years old in Autumn 29
 

"And Jesus himself was about thirty years of age,"
Luke iii, 23, from Autumn a.d. 28
to Autumn A.D. 29.

The fifteenth of Tiberius ended in August 29
Baptism of Jesus in May or June, A.D. 29.

Thirty -two years old in Autumn 30
Thirty -three years old in Autumn 3 1
Thirty-four years old in Autumn 32
About thirty-four in April ... 33
Clatsmore, Dec. 21th., 1875.
First Passover, Spring 30
Second Passover Spring 31
Third Passover Spring 32
Crucifixion, old style, 3rd
April 33 at the full moon on Friday.

J. W. BOSANQUET.


NOTES

1 "Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology," 1872, p. 98.

2 It may be that also the beginning of a new Apis-period with anno I aerae Dionysianae co-operated in this determinate fixation, so that our jubilees coincide with the 25-eteric cycle of the sacred Bull. See further under VI.

3 Ideler. "Handbuch der Chronologie," ii, 627.

4  Of. my treatise on this subject, entitled "Die Schalttage des Euergetes und Augustus" (The Intercalary Days of Euergetes and Augustus) in the Trans. of the Royal Academy of Munich, February, 1874.

5 Cf. Zeitschrift fur aegyptische Sprache u. Alterth, 1872, p. 31.

6 "Les Zodiaques de Denderah," 1864.

7' "liber aUiigyptischo Musik" (Sitzungshcrichte d. K. Akad. d. W. 1873. summer).

8 In Plato's "Tim.," p. 325.

9 Wiseman, "The Church of the Catacombs."

10 It must be borne in mind that 309 synodical months are too short by 25 vague years, and that in the year we are speaking of about ˝ of the whole Sothiac-period, to which the Apis-period was attached, were already gone. Difference, 2'' 11'' 24'" 36˝ If we add these to the remainder 12, we shall have 14'' ll'' 24˝ 36S almost exactly a full moon. I have obtained this result by mere calculation, without any help from astronomical or lunar tables.

11 Plutarch ("De Is. ut Osir.,'" ch. 55) relates that the young Horus ([Greek] = Har-pu-chrat, "Horus, the child") is born, [Greek] and that the conceptional days (this meaning must belong to the expression [Greek]) are feasted, [Greek]. Here we have the same two epochs as in 25th March to 25th December, 9 months.

12 "Hieroglyphical Standards representing places in Egypt, supposed to be Nomes and Toparchies." London, 1853.

13 "Geograph. Inschriften," i, p. 96, Tafel xvii foil. Cf. p. 146, 198. Cf. "Reiseberichte," p. 135.

14 Brugsch, "Materiaux," &c., pi. iv.

15 Ibid., pi. v, 4 ; vi, 1, 13.

16 Zeitschrift fur aegjptische Sprache, &c., 1872, pp. 14 and 41.

17  Cf. my "Schalttage des Euergetes I."

18  It would be worthy the zeal of a scientific society to make, or order to be made, further excavations on the southern wall of the Ape temple.

19 "Antiquitt.," xxii, 1, 6 ; xviii; Bell. Jud. ii, 17, 8.

20 Cf. Acts xxi, 38.

21 "Antiquitt.," xviii.

22 "Tacit. Annal.," i, 3.

23 Cf. "Quarterly Review," 1872, p. 511, note, and Dr. Zumpt's essay.

24 "Suetonius in Vita Tiber.," xx, 21, "dedicata est ab eo Concordiee eedes (Tauro et Lepido coss.) (Dio Cass.) .... non multo post lege per Consules lata, ut ProTincias cum Augusto communiter adminislraret, censumque simul ageret."

25 "Yitse Josephi," vii; "Bell. Jud.," xx, 4; "Photius Cod.," Ixxvi, [Greek] (30th) [Greek], &c. Cf. "Havercamp.," ii, Append, p. 57, "missus deinde anno setatis tricesimo (a Christio, Ixvii) cum potestate in Galilseam."

26 Your own thesis, 3rd April, 33 A.D., is congruent with the crucifixion-day of our present year 1874.

27 Cf. Sanclementius, "De vulg. ser. Emendat.," p. 493, s. 99.

28 Epiphanius brings the Consulate of the two Oemini twice—under this name, anno 29; and under the designation of Rufus (Fufius) and Sabellius, anno 30. Tacitus keeps an eloquent silence about the year 30, relating only the events of the years 29 and 31. In the last chapter (ii) of Book V, he mentions a disagreement between the consuls Trio and Segulus, who are nowhere to be found.