Thoughts on Paul Lawrence’s ‘Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh’, by John Sharp

You would think that this is a fairly straightforward question. However, those of us who attended Paul Lawrence’s absorbing talk on ‘Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh’ will be aware that the matter is far from simple. For one thing, there is no year zero, so 1 BC is followed by 1 AD. This causes complications when calculating a time-span that overlaps the BC/AD divide. The debate around the birth of Jesus is concerned with links between references in the New Testament and known and dateable historical or astronomical events. Many scholars think 4 BC is the correct date, but Paul showed how his current reckoning of a birth date of 1 BC or 2 BC can be justified from the sources. Further discussion about the three gifts was also intriguing. Were they brought by wise men or kings, and what exactly are ‘wise men’? Altogether this was a fascinating exploration of a theme appropriate for the time of year.


By John Sharp

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