Jesus Christ was born about 6 B. C. and was crucified about 29 A. D. He was the founder of Christianity. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a village in Palestine five miles (8km) south of Jerusalem. Palestine was under Roman domination with Herod the Great as its puppet ruler. There is no way of reckoning Jesus’ exact birth date. The Christian calendar, devised in the sixth century, places the Nativity in the year 1 A. D. Most calendars, however, believe that Herod died in 4 B. C. and that Jesus was born two or three years earlier.
The nativity has been celebrated on December 25 since the fourth century A. D. Luke tells of the decree of Emperor Augustus that required everyone to go to his native village to be taxed. Mary and her husband Joseph had to go from their home in Nazareth, Galilee, to Bethlehem, Judea. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. A manger (a feeding trough for livestock) served as a crib. Luke reports that shepherds came to worship him, and Matthew tells of the wise men from the east, who saw a brilliant star in the sky and came to pay homage to him.
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Herod, alarmed by the birth of a child described by the wise men as “King of the Jews,” ordered the massacre of all young children in or near Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus. Joseph and his family escaped by fleeting to Egypt. After Herod died Joseph took his family back to Nazareth. The parents were devout Jews. Jesus received careful religious instruction and spent much time in studying the Scriptures (Old Testament). His language was Aramaic, a Semitic tongue. Joseph was a carpenter, and Jesus probably learned the trade. Mark (6:3) reports that Jesus had four brother and these were James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon.
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