Jesus’ Birth – Traditional vs Actual Site

Where Was Jesus Born?

Note: The following Post is taken from an upcoming book by Joseph Lenard entitled Mysteries of Jesus’ Life Revealed—His Birth, Death,  Resurrection, and Ascensions. For an overview and complete chapter listing of this fascinating study, click here.

Traditional Site vs Actual Site of Jesus’ Birth 

The destination tourists are taken to see where Jesus was born is a cave! This is the traditional site of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

Standing over the traditional site is The Church of the Nativity, a basilica of the Roman Catholic Church, which was built by Emperor Justinian in 530 AD (6th Century). The basilica was built over the cave which Roman Emperor Constantine had identified as the birthplace of Jesus. At the request of his mother, Helena, Constantine built the original basilica over that cave in the 4th Century. After the original basilica was destroyed, the present basilica was constructed by Emperor Justinian.

So how did Helena and her son, Emperor Constantine (who ruled from AD 306–337), establish the site of Jesus’ birth? Did they have excellent historical records and eyewitness accounts to lead them to the correct site in Bethlehem? Well, not exactly. They found their site by relying on dreams and visions.

This was the same way they determined the site for the crucifixion and for the tomb in which Jesus was buried in Jerusalem, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is located to the west of the current “Temple Mount.” Although I find all of this fascinating, I support a totally different site for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, which I present in a later Post.

The site which Helena and Constantine selected for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus was the site of the pagan Temple of Venus, which was built by Roman Emperor Hadrian (who ruled from AD 117–138). It turns out that the site of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was also a pagan site – a sacred grove of the Babylonian religion. In my opinion, this hardly seems a good site for God to have chosen for the birthplace of His Son!

It is truly remarkable that the present basilica over the tradition site of the birth place of Jesus has stood since AD 530, especially given all of the wars that have been fought in the Middle East. Early in its history, the present basilica was apparently spared destruction by the Persians in AD 614 because they saw the depictions of the Magi (from ancient Persia) on its walls.

Although the history regarding the traditional birth site of Jesus is “interesting,” I believe a stronger case can be made for Migdal Edar in Bethlehem as the actual birthplace. I believe this site is both more interesting and biblically correct.

Note: In my next Post I will discuss the case for Migdal Edar being the birthplace of Jesus.