Here are the facts as far I know:

  • Jesus must have been born between 4 and 6 B.C. to precede Herod.
  • Jesus's ministry begins when He was about 30 years of age
  • He engages in a 3-3.5 year ministry
  • He is crucified under Pontius Pilate
  • He therefore lives to be around 33 and a half years old

Therefore, shouldn't the year of His death be around 28-29 A.D.?

Why does Wikipedia state:

The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st century Judea, most probably between the years 30 and 33 AD.

Is there that much ambiguity as to the "about"?

I realize there is further complication because Luke states that the "15th year of Tiberius's reign" is when John the Baptist begins to preach. Moreover, there is no scholarly consensus as to whether Luke marks the beginning of Tiberius's reign to when Tiberius was co-regent with Augustus (11 A.D.) or when he takes full possession of power (August of 14 A.D.)

What is the scholarly consensus as to how to how these dates are synthesized?

  • 1
    The weak point is the age of Jesus at his death - there are few details to go on. My understanding is that for various calendar reasons AD 30 or 33 are thought to be when he died, which would give his age as high as 38-39.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 30, 2016 at 5:33
  • @curiousdannii: Why would Luke state that Jesus was "about" thirty years of age when he began his ministry then? Wouldn't he have gone with something like "He was about 35..." ?
    – masque
    Aug 30, 2016 at 5:37
  • That's a question for the Biblical Hermeneutics site ;) without looking into it I'd assume they just more commonly rounded to the nearest ten.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 30, 2016 at 5:56
  • 4
  • Not a criticism, but a clarification of some of your assumptions. To be born during the reign of Herod, Jesus needed to be born before April 4 BCE (realistically 5 BCE) , but there is nothing to say he was born after 6 BCE - even 10 BCE is logically possible (and more consistent with Matthew's nativity account). The synoptic account of the mission of Jesus could be accomplished in less than a year, esp as there is no apparent opportunity for Jesus to go to Jerusalem for the Passover during that period. John makes it at least 3 years. Aug 30, 2016 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


Reading the Wikipedia article cited in the question a little further we come to the Chronology section. In this we read that most scholars consider the most likely date for the Crucifixion to be April in the year 30 AD.

If Jesus was born in the Autumn of 5 BC, for example, He would have turned 4 in the year 1 BC, and turned 5 in the year 1 AD. (There was no Year Zero.) Having turned 5 in the year 1 AD He would turn 25 in the year 21 AD and would have celebrated His thirtieth birthday (if indeed He celebrated birthdays) in Autumn of the year 26.

If He began His ministry in Autumn 26, very close to His 30th birthday, then three years later He would have turned 33 in Autumn 29, and still been 33 at the time of the Crucifixion, and Resurrection, in the Year 30 AD.

On this basis His ministry would have begun in the 15th year since Tiberius became co-emperor.

We do not know for sure any of the dates, but there is no inconsistency in the assumptions made.

  • The calculation of years by BC(Before Christ ) and AD(In the year of the Lord) was done much after the time of Jesus. If the year of his birth is to be determined as BC 4, then the years 3, 2 and 1 would get lapsed, they being years after his birth ! Sep 7, 2016 at 10:37

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