My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 20-22
Ever since Elders B.H. Roberts and James Talmage gave their opinion on this verse about a century ago, many members have understood it to mean that Jesus was born on April 6, AD 1. However, early Church members, including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young never seemed to read this revelation in this manner.
First, a problem arises when one considers archaeology and history. According to the Bible, King Herod the Great sought to kill the infant Jesus, and slaughtered all children from 2 years and under in Bethlehem. Archaeology shows that Herod died in 4 BC, so either the Bible is wrong on this story of Herod, or Jesus was more likely born around 6 BC.
Next, with the new Joseph Smith Papers Project, we now see that D&C 20: was not intended to be part of the revelation initially, but was an introduction header to the section provided by John Whitmer, the scribe. Somewhere along the line of publishing, it was included as part of the revelation. The question then becomes, does an introduction approved by the Church membership as doctrine equate to a revelation establishing the date of Jesus’ birth? Thanks to the JSPP and the Church’s recent 2013 online scripture updates, we will be able to understand the revelations we have even better, and perhaps reduce the amount of speculation on just what the scriptures say.
So, when was Jesus born? Around 6 BC, and we do not know exactly which day, although April 6 may be as good a day as any.