Date of the Lord's Baptism

If we assume, upon grounds stated in the essay upon the date of the Lord's birth, that the Passover following His baptism was that of 780, we have to determine how long an interval elapsed between them. Our only data to decide this are the statements of the Synoptists compared with those of John. The former relate how Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan unto John, and was baptized, and how He was immediately led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, and was there forty days. Of His return to the Baptist at the Jordan, they say nothing, but John supplies the omission, (John i. 29.) Returning after the temptation to the Jordan, where the Baptist bears witness to Him as the Lamb of God, He begins to gather disciples, and with Simon and Andrew and others departs to Oana of Galilee; All this may have occupied six or seven days. After the wedding at Cana He went down to Capernaum, but made there only a brief sojourn, and then went up to Jerusalem to the Passover, which fell this year upon the 9th April. Supposing that he reached Jerusalem a month after the wedding at Oana, we find that the whole interval between the baptism and the Passover was from two to three months.1 If this be admitted, the Lord was baptized some time in the month of January, 780.

Against this result, a very strong objection is brought, derived from the relation in which the Lord's baptism stands to John's ministry. From Luke (iii. 1-2) we learn that the word of God came to John in the wilderness in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. If this year corresponds, as is said, to the year 782, and marks the beginning of his work, then John could not have baptized Jesus in 780. Here are two points to be examined : first, what is meant by the word of God coming to John; second, from what point of time is the 15th of Tiberius to be reckoned ?

The obvious and natural interpretation of the Evangelist's language: "The word of God came unto John in the wilderness, and he came into all the country about Jordan preaching—as it is written; " is that it refers to the beginning of his ministry. But as Christ's work in Galilee, which only is mentioned by Luke, began after John's imprisonment, it is said that this imprisonment took place in the 15th year of Tiberius, and that his ministry immediately preceding it is that referred to. That it was early so understood, is said to be shown by Eusebius, (iii. 24,) when he says that the Synoptists " only wrote the deeds of our Lord for one year after the imprisonment of John Baptist, and intimated this in the very beginning of their history." In recent times, the denial that Luke's words refer to the beginning of the Baptist's ministry, has been defended by several eminent chronologists.2 Sanclemente3 attempts to show that the 15th year of Tiberius " non ad initium ministerii Joannis, non ad baptismum a Christo in Jordane suscepturn, sed ad ipsius passionis et crucifixionis tempus ipso evangelista duce atque interprele esse referendum." Brown (92) adopted this explanation in a modified form. " The heading of St. Luke's third chapter contains the date, not of the mission of St. John the Baptist, but of the year of our Lord's ministry, especially in reference to the great events with which it closed." Wieseler, (194,) referring the Evangelist's words to the imprisonment of John, has defended this view most ingeniously and elaborately. It is obvious, that in this way we avoid a great chronological difficulty, but we meet others as great. The 15th year of Tiberius, counting from the death of Augustus, on the 19th August, 767, was the year from August 781 to August 782. Wieseler puts the imprisonment of the Baptist about the middle of March, 782, and his death in April following. Thus the period of his imprisonment is limited to three weeks, which is manifestly too brief. Again, if the statements of Luke (hi. 3-18) have reference to a work of John immediately preceding his captivity, he must have returned from iEnon (John iii. 23) to the Jordan, and thus have begun anew his labors. But this is inconsistent with the fact, that his work had reached its culminating point at the baptism of Jesus. From that time he began to decrease. It could not be said of him in the last stage of his ministry, as Luke relates, (iii. 15,) that " all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or not."

1 Some chronologists would much enlarge this period. Hales puts the baptism six months before the Passover; Usher, says two years and a half old. See Clinton, 2. 234, note. But most agree that it was from two to four months.

2 So Sanclemente, Browne, Wieseler; and following the latter, Tischendorf and Ellicott.

* As cited by Wieseler, 196, note.

We therefore conclude, in common with the great body of chronologists and commentators, that Luke designs to refer the 15th year of Tiberius to the beginning of the Baptist's ministry.1 "We must now turn to the second point, from what period is the 15th year of Tiberius to be reckoned ? Tiberius was the step-son of the emperor Augustus, and was formally adopted by him in 757. After filling several high stations in the civil and military service, he was associated with him in the general administration of the empire in 764 or 765.a Upon,the death of Augustus, on the 19th of August, 767, he became sole ruler. Thus there are two periods from which his rule or administration may be reckoned: that when he was associated with Augustus, and that when he began to rule alone. To which of these periods does Luke refer ? If to the former, the 15th year of his government was that of 779-780 ; if the latter, from 19th August, 781-782. If we accept the latter date, and John began his ministry in August, the baptism of Jesus must be placed in 782.

1 So Meyer, Liechtenstein, Ebrard, Winer, Krafft.

2 According to Greswell, 1. 344, and most, in beginning or middle of 765. According to Sepp, 1. 231, in year from Aug. 763-764.

If He was born in 749 or beginning of 750, He must have been thirty-two or thirty-three years of age at this time, which it is difficult to reconcile with Luke (iii. 23) that He was " about thirty years of age." If born in 748 or 747, He was now thirty-four or thirty-five, which presents a still greater difficulty. Hence many have inferred that Luke, who could not well have overlooked the apparent discrepancy, must have reckoned the 15th year of Tiberius, from the time when he became colleague with Augustus. The importance of this date, and the many difficulties connected with it, demand that we give to it a more particular examination. Three points claim our attention. 1st. The fact of Tiberius' association with Augustus in the government of the empire. This fact is beyond all doubt. The direct evidence is found in Tacitus, Suetonius, and Paterculus, and there are incidental allusions to it in several other writers.1 Tacitus says2 " that on him every honor was accumulated; he was adopted by Augustus for his son, assumed colleague in the empire, and presented to the several armies." He relates also that Tiberius, in reply to the request of the Senate to take the government, said that " Augustus only was capable of so mighty a charge, that for himself, having been called by him to a participation of his cares, he had learned by experience how difficult to bear, and how subject to fortune was the burden of the general administration "—regendi cuncta. In like manner, Suetonius 3 says that " Augustus ordered that Tiberius should be named as his colleague "—collegam suum Tiberium nuncupare jussit. He mentions also a law promulgated by the consuls, that " Tiberius, jointly with Augustus, should rule in the provinces and also take the census "—ut provincias cum Augusto communiter admi?iistraret, simulque censum ageret, Merivale (4. 367) observes: " This communication of proconsular power abroad could hardly admit of any other interpretation than that the son was thereby formally associated in the empire with his father." Paterculus, (103,) alluding to his adoption by Augustus, represents himself as unable to describe the joy of that day; the great concourse of all ranks of the people, and their hopes and prayers. He mentions also the triumph due him because of his victories in Pannonia and Dalmatia, and which was celebrated with great magnificence, after the Senate and people of Rome, on a request being made byiis father that he might be invested with authority equal to his own—ut mquum ei jus in omnibus provinciis exercitibusque esset, quam erat ipsi, had passed a decree to that effect. Paterculus adds, as his own comment, that it would have been unreasonable if he could not have ruled what he had secured.

i See Lardner, 1. 855. a Ann., 1. 3. » August., 97.

Thus the fact is abundantly established, that Augustus did formally associate Tiberius with him in the rule of the empire. At his request, a decree to this effect was passed by the Senate and people. Nor was Tiberius a colleague in name merely. Augustus, very aged, and now sinking under bodily infirmities, was almost wTholly under the control of his wife, the mother of Tiberius, whilst the latter was in the prime of life, active and energetic. In the very nature of the case, Tiberius, from the time of his colleagueship the recognized successor to the imperial throne, must have been a most conspicuous and influential person, and, we may perhaps say, the emperor de facto, although the name and prestige remained with Augustus till his death. That upon this event he did not openly and immediately act as emperor, but paid court to the Senate, as if the Eepublic still existed, and as if he were irresolute about assuming the sovereign rule,1 is attributable to the peculiar political circumstances of the times; and also to his haughty temper, that chose rather to ascribe his elevation to the voice of the people, than to the intrigues of his mother, and to the favor of a wreak, superannuated old man.

2d. When wras Tiberius thus made colleague with Augustus? Most ehronologists agree in placing the decree of the Senate already alluded to, near the end of 764 or beginning of 765.2 We may accept this as the true date. Taking then the year 765, from January to January, as the 1st of Tiberius, the 15th is the year 779. Some time, then, in 779, is the beginning of John's ministry to be placed.

3d. Is it probable, that Luke would compute the reign of Tiberius from his colleagueship ? It is said that there is no proof that this mode of computation was known to any of the fathers, or that it was ever used by any historians.3 Clemens of Alexandria does, however, mention that, according to one mode of computing, Tiberius reigned twenty-two years, according to another twentysix years, which, if it be not a numerical error, indicates a twofold beginning of his reign.

1 Tacitus, Ann., 1. 7.

3 So Greswell, Wieseler, Lichtenstein, Robinson.

3 See Browne, 67, note; Ammer, 75.

Hoffman1 supposes that in Josephus2 there is a reference to the colleagueship, where he states that " Tiberius died after he himself had held the government twenty-two years " —axa)V avros Tt)v apxr]v. The most obvious construction of this phrase, is that which refers it to his sole administration, in contradistinction to his colleagueship. That such a twofold computation took place in the case of some of the later emperors, is unquestioned. A coin exists bearing the inscription: " In the 11th holy year of the government of the emperor Titus." 3 As he himself lived only two years after his father's death, the other nine years must refer to his joint rule with his father as a colleague. And whether the fathers were ignorant that the reign of Tiberius might be reckoned from two epochs, is doubtful. Lardner reasons that they must have known it, because as they almost universally placed the crucifixion in the 15th year, they must have seen how inconsistent it was with Luke, who placed the beginning of John's ministry in that year.

We cannot, without doing St. Luke great injustice as a historian, suppose him to have been ignorant of a fact so public and notorious as that of the association of Tiberius with Augustus in the empire; and there is no good reason why, if knowing it, he should not have taken it as an epoch from which to reckon. If the Italians dated his reign from the emperor's death, that naturally follows from the fact that the imperial authority of Tiberius, during his colleagueship, was little felt in Italy; his administration being especially confined to the provinces. But it gives a good reason why those in the provinces, especially of Asia Minor and Syria, should reckon from the time when he became in regard to them the acting emperor. "Whether by the choice of the word " reign," qye/xozna, rather than Bao-tXaa or /xoz/apxw, he designed to indicate this,4 is uncertain, but the word is certainly applicable to a government administered by more than one person. The cases in all eastern countries where the sons of kings were associated with their fathers in the kingdom were so common, that the double reckoning of their reigns could not have been any thing unusual.

i Cited by Lichtenstein, 129. a Antiq., 18. 6.10.

a Sepp, 1. 230. * So Sepp.

Indeed, the epoch from which to date a reign is often perplexing, and brings no little confusion into chronology. Greswell (1. 336) ascribes the Evangelist's statement to " that scrupulous regard to truth, which we should have a right to expect from an inspired historian. He could not deliberately call that year the 13th of Tiberius which he knew to be really his 15th."

These considerations will, we trust, exculpate the Evangelist from all charges of historical inaccuracy. It is plain that he might reckon the years of Tiberius' reign from that time, when, by his father's desire and the solemnly expressed will of the Senate and people, he entered upon the exercise of imperial power. But whether, in point of fact, Luke thus computes, continues to be matter of dispute.1

To sum up our investigations upon this point, we find three solutions of the chronological difficulties which the statements of Luke present. 1st. That the 15th year of Tiberius is to be reckoned from the death of Augustus, and extends from August 781 to August 782* In this year, the Baptist, whose labors began some time previous, was imprisoned, but the Lord's ministry began in 780, before this imprisonment, and when He was about thirty years of age. 2d. That the 15th year is to be reckoned from the death of Augustus, but that the statement the Lord was about thirty years of age is to be taken in a large sense, and that He may have been of any age from thirty to thirty-five, when He began His labors. 3d. That the 15th year is to be reckoned from the year when Tiberius was associated with Augustus in the empire, and is therefore the year 779. In this case, the language " He was about thirty " may be strictly taken, and the statement, u the word of God came unto John," may be referred to the beginning of his ministry.

Of these solutions, the last seems to have most in its favor; and we shall assume that during the year 779, or the 15th year of Tiberias, reckoned from his colleaguesliip with Augustus, John began to preach and baptize. We. have next to inquire in what period of the year his labors began.

1 In favor of the computation from the colleagueship, Usher, Bengel, Lardner, Jarvis, Greswell, Lichtenstein, Sepp, Friedlieb, Butcher, Patritius; of the sole reign of Tiberius, Lightfoot, Wieseler, Meyer, Ebrard, Tischendorf, Evvald, Browne, Ellicott, Ammer. Clinton says, " We are compelled to conclude that St. Luke computed the years of Tiberius in a peculiar manner," but denies that there is any ground for selecting the year 765 as the year of the colleagueship.

From the fact that the Levites were not allowed to enter upon their full service till the age of thirty, (Numb. iv. 3,) it has been generally supposed, although there is no express law to that effect, that the priests began their labors at the same age. At this period the body and mind were deemed to have reached their full vigor.1 Hence it has been inferred that John must have reached the age of thirty ere he began his ministry. If this inference be correct, he began to preach during the summer of 779, his birth having taken place, as we have seen, in the summer of 749. We may then conclude that he entered upon his work near the middle of 779, when he was about thirty. If so, he began to preach and baptize about July or a little later. How long his labors had continued before Jesus came to him to be baptized, we can but conjecture. That, however, he had been active for a considerable period, is apparent from the statements by the Synoptists respecting " the multitudes that came out to him from Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan," (Matt. iii. 5 ; Mark i. 5 ; Luke iii. 7.) Some months at least must have elapsed ere his fame could have spread so widely, and so many have been drawn to him. And if we suppose that the larger part of these crowds received the rite of baptism at his hands, a still longer period is required. A body of disciples, as distinguished from the multitudes, had already gathered around him. If we add to this, that at Christ's baptism, his work seems to have reached its highest point, and thenceforward began to decline, we cannot well estimate this period as less than six months in duration.

On the other hand, there are some considerations that prevent us from much enlarging this period. The general belief of the Jews that the coming of the Messiah was near, and their earnest desire for it, would naturally turn their attention to John as soon as he appeared in public. His ascetic life, his energetic speech, his boldness of reproof, and the whole character of his teachings, were adapted to produce an immediate and powerful impression upon the people at large. And the frequent gathering of the inhabitants from all parts of the land at the feasts, would serve rapidly to diffuse the tidings, that a new prophet had arisen.

i Greswell, 1. 377.

But as such a phenomenon as this preacher in the wilderness could not long escape the notice of the Pharisees and the ecclesiastical rulers at Jerusalem, so it could not long remain unquestioned. So soon as his popularity became wide-spread, and multitudes began to receive baptism at his hands, they would seek to know who he was, and by wha.t authority he instituted this new rite. But, as appears from John, (i. 19-28,) no such formal inquiry was made by the Pharisees of the Baptist till after the baptism of Jesus. Hence we may infer that his ministry had not yet continued any very long period.

We may also add that John's message, " Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," was plain and easily understood. He was no teacher of abstract doctrines, but a herald of the Messiah, and his words took immediate hold of men's hearts. Thus his mission could be speedily fulfilled.

In view of the above considerations, we conclude that John's ministry may have continued about six months, when the Lord came to be baptized.1 If he was already thirty when he began his work, and his birth be placed in June, 749, six months before that of the Lord, he began in July, 779, to preach and baptize. If about six months elapsed ere the Lord came to him at the Jordan, His baptism was near the beginning of 780. It confirms us in this result, that two or three months must have elapsed from the baptism of Jesus to the first Passover, (John ii. 13.) We rest, then, in the conclusion, that Jesus was baptized December, 779, or January, 780.

In the absence of all other data, we must here consider the tradition that puts His baptism on the 6th of January. It has already appeared in our inquiries into the date of our Lord's nativity, that both His birth and baptism, and also the adoration of the Magi, were originally commemorated on the same day, and that this day was the 6th of January. This feast was called the feast of the Epiphany, emfaveia (Titus ii. 13), and commemorated His manifestation to the world. After the Roman Church had established the feast of the nativity upon the 25th December, it still continued to observe the 6th January in commemoration of the adoration of the Magi and of the baptism, giving, however, more

1 So Lightfoot, Newcome, and many.

prominence to the former than to the latter.1 The Greek Church, on the contrary, after it began to observe the 25th December as the day of the nativity, transferred to it also the adoration of the Magi, and commemorated only the baptism on the 6th January. Thus both the Roman and Greek Churches now agree in the observance of this day as that of the Lord's baptism.

If we now proceed to ask, on what grounds this day was selected as that of the baptism, we obtain no very satisfactory answer. The feast of the Epiphany seems to have been originally commemorative of the baptism as the time when the Lord was first manifested openly as the Son of God, (Matt. iii. 16-17;) and as He was supposed, through a too literal interpretation of Luke, (iii. 23,) to have been just thirty years of age, the day of the baptism was also that of the birth. The same feast, therefore, might well embrace both events. Afterward, other events, coming under the same general idea of manifestation, were included in the commemoration ; the adoration of the Magi, the first miracle at Cana of Galilee, where " He manifested forth His glory," and, later still, the miraculous feeding of the five thousand.2 As all these events could not have taken place on the same day of the year, it becomes doubtful whether any of them can be referred to the 6th of January. The observance of this day as that of the baptism, is first mentioned by Clemens, of Alexandria, as existing amongst the Gnostic Basilidians of that city.3 Some have thought that, as the Egyptians celebrated at this time the feast Inventio Osiridis, the Basilidians adopted both the feast and date from them. But, aside from other objections to this Egyptian origin,4 it is most improbable that the church at large would have borrowed any feast from the Gnostics. We may rather, with Meander,5 suppose it to have originated with the churches in Palestine or Syria. If so, the selection of the 6th January may rest upon some good basis. There can be no question that the baptism, the secunda nativitas, was commemorated before the nativity itself. Beyond the simple fact that the Epiphany was put on this day, we have no knowledge. Sepp, (1. 243,) though in general a defender of tradition, here rejects it, and Jarvis, (467,) at the close of his investigations into the matter, simply says that, as there is no testimony against it, there is no impropriety in considering the 6th January as the true date.1

1 See Missale Komanum. In Epiphania Domini.

2 See Dorner, Christologie* 1. 284 3 Guericke, Archaologie, 201> * See Wieseler, 136. 5 Ch'. Hist., 1. 302.

But there is an objection to the month of January drawn from the climate of Palestine that deserves to be considered. It is said that such multitudes could not have gathered to John in the midwinter, nor could the rite of baptism then have been performed in the cold and swollen Jordan.2 "We must then examine more closely the climatic peculiarities of Judea.

In the inquiry into the date of the Lord's birth, we have already had occasion to speak of the general character of the seasons. That during the winter, or rainy season, after heavy rains the travelling is difficult and fatiguing, all travellers testify.3 But the rains are not constant. Beginning in October or November they fall gradually and at intervals, but become more copious and frequent in December, January, and February, and continue into March and April. It is stated by Barclay, that nine-tenths of all the rain falls in December, January, February, and March. In January, there are gushes of rain and sometimes snow, but in the southern parts of the land the sky clears up and there are often fine days.4 The rain comes mostly out of the west, or west-northwest, and continues from two to six days in succession, but falls chiefly at night. Then the wind turns to the east, and several days of fine weather follow. The whole period from October to March is one continuous rainy season, during which the roads become muddy, slippery, and full of holes; but when the rain ceases, the mud quickly dries up, and the roads become hard,5 though never smooth.

If, as we have supposed, John began to preach in the summer, perhaps in July, there is nothing in these statements to lead us to suppose that he suspended his labors when the rainy season began. During the intervals of clear weather, at least, the people continued to gather to him. Besides, we cannot tell what was the character of this particular season. According to Thomson, (1.129,) the climate is " extremely variable and uncertain.

1 So Bucher, Friedlieb, Browne. " About the last half of January," Greswell. In December or January, Lichtenstein. "In Tisri, about the feast of Tabernacles," Lightfoot. In November, Usher. In Spring, Clinton. The 7th of October, Sepp. Beginning of December, Patritius.

2 So Rcbinson, Sepp. 3 Thomson, 1. 329.

4 Winer, 2. 692. . 6 Herzog's Encyc, 11. 23.

I have seen the rains begin early in November and end in February, but they are sometimes delayed until January and prolonged into May." We cannot, in a climate so changeable, undertake to say that John might not without any serious obstruction continue to preach and baptize throughout the whole rainy season. Greswell (1. 372) finds it specially fitting that he should commence his ministry at a time when water was so abundant, and affirms that " in Judea the winter season would be no impediment to the reception of baptism." So far as regards the valley of the Jordan, he is in this justified by the statements of travellers. This valley lies so low that the cold of winter can scarce be said to be felt there at all. Especially is this true of the lower part of it, where John baptized. Lying twelve or thirteen hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea, it has a tropical climate. Josephus,1 speaking of the plain of Jericho, says: " So mild is the climate, that the inhabitants are dressed in linen when the other parts of Judea are covered with snow." Robinson also, (1. 533,) writing in May, speaks in like terms: " The climate of Jericho is excessively hot. In traversing the short distance of five or six hours between Jerusalem and Jericho, the traveller passes from a pure and temperate atmosphere into the sultry heat of an Egyptian climate." Porter describes the air as being " like the blast of a furnace."

It appears, then, that the mere chilliness of the water of the Jordan running through this deep hot valley, where snow or ice is never found, cannot be so great as to prevent baptism even in midwinter, except perhaps in some very rare instances. Nor is this river usually at its highest stage till April or May. As it was in Joshua's time so is it now. " Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest," (Josh. iii. 15,) or, as explained by Robinson, was full up to all its banks, " ran with full banks, or brimfull." " Then, as now, the harvest occurred during April and early in May, the barley preceding the wheat harvest by two or three weeks. Then, as now, there was a slight annual rise of the river, which caused it to flow at this season with full banks, and sometimes to spread its waters even over the immediate banks of its channel where they are lowest, so as in some places to fill the low tract covered with trees and vegetation along its sides." a i War, 4. 8. 3. a Robinson, 1. 540.

Thomson (2. 453) speaks to the same effect, and explains why the overflow of this river .should be so late in the season as March or April after the rains are all over. This explanation he finds in the fact that its waters come from great permanent springs lying on the southern declivities of Hermon, and which are not at all affected by the early winter rains. " It requires the heavy and long-continued storms of midwinter before they are moved in the least; and it is not till toward the close of winter that the melting snows of Hermon and Lebanon, with the heavy rains of the season, have penetrated through the mighty masses of these mountains, and filled to overflowing their hidden chambers and vast reservoirs, that the streams gush forth in their full volume. The Huleh, marsh and lake, is filled, and then Gennesaret rises and pours its accumulated waters into the swelling Jordan about the first of March."

That there should be occasional floods in this river after longcontinued rains, before the time of harvest, and during the rainy season, is to be expected, and will serve to explain the statements of those travellers who found it swollen during the autumn and early winter. Thus Seetzen * states, that in consequence of a storm accompanied with high cold winds, he Was compelled to remain from the 8th to the 14th January on the bank before he was able to cross. Sepp, (1. 240,) who bathed in it on the 6th January, 1846, found the current swift and the water cold. But such occasional floods do not affect the general rule, that during the winter the water remains at its ordinary level^ and begins to rise toward March, and is highest at the time of harvest. "All rivers that are fed by melting snows are fuller between March and September, than between September and March, but the exact time of their increase varies with the time when the snows melt." %

From what has been said, it follows that so far as the climate is concerned, and the overflowing of the Jordan, no reason exists why John may not have been baptizing in midwinter. That baptisms at this season of the year actually took place in later times, we learn from the testimony of Felix Fabri.3 He says that the cloisters of St. John on the banks of the river at the time of the Abbot Zozima were inhabited by many monks, who about the time of Epiphany—the 6th January—kept high festival there.

i Cited in Ritter, Theil, 15. 517. a Smith's Bib. Diet., 1. 1128.

3 Cited in Bitter, Theil, 15. 539.

The Ahbot of Bethlehem, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, with many monks and clergy, walked down to the river in solemn procession, and after a cross had been dipped in the waters, all the sick through their baptism were healed, and many miracles wrought in behalf of the pious. So in the time of Antoninus Martyr arid Willibaldus, " the annual throng of pilgrims to bathe in the Jordan took place at the Epiphany." 1 It is therefore perfectly credible that John may have baptized many, and with others the Lord, in the month of January.

We may now sum up the results of our inquiry. The .first Passover after the Lord's baptism was that of 780, and fell upon the 9th April. The baptism preceded this Passover some two or three months, and so probably fell in the month of January of that year. John's ministry began soon after he was thirty years of age, or about July, 779. Allowing that his labors had continued six months before the Lord was baptized, we reach in this way also the month of January, 780. Tradition has selected the 6th of this month as the day of the baptism, but we have no positive proof that the tradition is well, or ill-founded. The climatic peculiarities of the country offer no valid objections to this date. Although there is good reason to believe that in December or January Jesus was baptized, yet the day of the month is very uncertain.

i Robinson, 1. 546. Early Travels, 17.