The Chronology of Jesus' Public Ministry

Clyde Weber Votaw
1905 The Biblical World  
For all practical purposes the chronology of Jesus' public ministry is fully known and indisputable. The abundant and conclusive testimony of New Testament writers, compared with that of Jewish and Roman historians, establishes the fact that Jesus' life-work was done about 26-30 A. D. We do not need to know the exact year of his entrance into public activity, or of his death, or the precise interval between these two events. No doubt a sense of reality and of possession comes to us in knowing
more » ... e exact year or duration of a past event. But this passion for precise dates is a modern interest. The evangelists who record for us the life of Christ had no such concern for the precise years of Jesus' public ministry-its beginning and end, the deeds and utterances that belonged to it, its culmination. Otherwise they might readily have recorded these dates. As it is, the gospels give us no exact dates for any of the events in the life of Christ. Luke alone of the four evangelists attempted to fix one date, and strangely enough even this eSort has turned out uncertain for us. Luke 3: I, 2 reads: In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. This statement of Luke makes absolutely certain the approximate date of Jesus' public ministry, for we know when Tiberius was emperor (I4-37 A. D.) and when Pilate was procurator (26-36 A. D.). But it fails to give us an exact date (although Luke intended it should do so), for the reason that it is impossible for us to tell surely whether Luke wished to date "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ccesar" from the year when he became a "colleague"I with the I The exact title was Collega ImperWi; cf. Tacitus, Arrals, I, 3. 425
doi:10.1086/473674 fatcat:k2t3677fbjb3vi6ioo73emanz4