Pope Benedict XVI blesses faithful during his weekly general audience on November 21, 2012 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday voiced his support for diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza on the eighth day of the conflict and spoke of his concern at the escalating violence. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Jesus Christ was actually born many years earlier than previously thought. At least that's what the Pope says.
In his book, "Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives," the Pope claims that a "mistake" was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus, translated as "Dennis the Small" in English.
"The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years," the Pope writes in the book. "The actual date of Jesus's birth was several years before."
The Telegraph has more details:
The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new – many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC.
But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world's one billion Catholics is striking.
Dennis the Small, who was born in Eastern Europe, is credited with being the "inventor" of the modern calendar and the concept of the Anno Domini era.
He drew up the new system in part to distance it from the calendar in use at the time, which was based on the years since the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian.
There are doubts about how exactly Dennis calculated the year of Christ's birth. In other words, the Pope's view is not uncommon and certainly not earth shattering.
"The Bible does not specify a date for the birth of Christ. The monk instead appears to have based his calculations on vague references to Jesus's age at the start of his ministry and the fact that he was baptised in the reign of the emperor Tiberius," The Telegraph reports.
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