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­Pope questions Christ’s birth year in new book

Published time: November 22, 2012 16:13
Edited time: November 22, 2012 20:13
AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli

AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli

A new book written by the Pope questions one of the fundamentals of the Christian religion. The head of the Roman Catholic Church argues the Christian calendar is based on a miscalculation and is therefore wrong.

In the book Benedict XVI goes on to suggest Christ was born several years earlier than is commonly thought.

In the final instalment of the Pope’s “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy dedicated to Christ’s infancy, the pontiff writes of an error made by 6th century monk Dionysius Exiguus or Dennis the Small, who apparently “made a mistake… by several years” calculating the beginning of our calendar. 

"The actual date of Jesus’ birth was several years before,"
he claims.

The concept is not new. Many historians and scholars agree with Pope Benedict XVI, believing Jesus Christ was rather born sometime between 6BC and 4BC.

Dionysius Exiguus invented the new Christian calendar as an alternative to the one that was current at the time. It was based on the years of reign of Emperor Diocletian, a tyrant who persecuted Christians. The Exiguus system eventually replaced the Diocletian in Europe around the year 800 and started the use of Anno Domini.

The allegation Dionysius Exiguus made a mistake is still a questionable theory, as no one knows how exactly Dionysius made his calculations.

The book hit the stores on Wednesday after it has been translated into other languages from original German. The first part was published in 2007 and was annotated as a "personal search for the face of the Lord." The second instalment was published in 2011.