chapter  1
The Pre-Medieval Church
Pages 10

The central figure of the medieval church died almost half a millennium before the date usually given for the beginning of the Middle Ages. Enigmatic as it may sound, Christ was born Before Christ. When in the sixth century Dionysius Exiguus used the birth of Christ to date the beginning of the Christian era, he mistakenly believed that Christ was born in the Roman year 754 ab urbe condita (‘from the founding of the city’), and that year is called the first year of the Christian era: AD 1. In fact, King Herod, during whose reign Christ was born, died in the Roman year 750, and the date given by modern scholars for Christ’s birth generally falls between 8 and 4 BC. The date of Christ’s death – and, indeed, his age at the time of his death – are not known for certain, but he was probably executed in the year AD 30.