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It’s likely that you’ve heard at least once in your life that Jesus was born on April 6. But is that really a true doctrine? How do we know?

In his 1915 classic entitled Jesus the Christ, Elder James E. Talmage maintained that Jesus Christ was born on April 6 in the year 1 B.C. Talmage was apparently the first LDS writer to propose this particular date. Nearly a century has passed since his book appeared, and in that time it has become practically axiomatic among Latter-day Saints that Jesus was born on April 6 in that year. But was He? Here is what prophets and apostles have said regarding the date Christ was born.

19th Century Prophets & Apostles

During the 19th century, latter-day prophets from Joseph Smith to Lorenzo Snow evidently made no specific comments on the date of Jesus’s birth. Never did Joseph interpret the wording of Doctrine and Covenants 20:1 to suggest that April 6 should be regarded as the Savior’s birth date, although he said that it was “by the spirit of prophecy and revelation” that April 6 was pointed out to him as the precise day on which he “should proceed to organize” the Church of Jesus Christ in this dispensation. Similarly, as far as I have been able to ascertain, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow recorded no comments on the subject of Christ’s birth either.

One LDS apostle in the 1800s did offer a proposal for Jesus’s birth date that was different from the traditional Christian date of December 25. Elder Orson Pratt proposed the date of April 11 in the year 4 B.C. as the Savior’s birthday, based on his own calculation of the number of days between the signs of Jesus’s birth and death as described in the Book of Mormon. But Elder Pratt’s suggestion of April 11 never captured the imagination of the LDS public in his day and has been largely forgotten.

Elder B. H. Roberts, however, felt that the passage in Doctrine and Covenants 20:1 did support the year 1 B.C. as the year of Jesus’s birth. And the notion of Jesus having been born in the spring season was not uncommon among the Latter-day Saints in the late 1800s. In a 1901 Christmas message from the First Presidency, President Anthon H. Lund mentioned April as the month he preferred for the birth of the Savior.

20th Century Prophets & Apostles

During the 20th century, three different LDS apostles published major studies on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and in them offered models for the date of Jesus’s birth. The diversity of opinion in these three studies is of particular interest.

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