In Christian theology the nativity marks the birth of Jesus in fulfillment of the divine will of God, to save the world from sin. The artistic depiction of the nativity has been an important subject for Christian artists since the 4th century. Artistic depictions of the nativity scene since the 13th century have emphasized the humility of Jesus and promoted a more tender image of him, as a major turning point from the early "Lord and Master" image, mirroring changes in the common approaches taken by Christian pastoral ministry.
The date of birth for Jesus of Nazareth is not stated in the gospels or in any secular text, but a majority of scholars assume a date between 6 BC and 4 BC. The historical evidence is too ambiguous to allow a definitive dating, but the date has been estimated through known historical events mentioned in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew or by working backwards from the estimated start of the ministry of Jesus. Luke 2:1 states that Jesus was born when "Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria." All that is generally accepted is that Jesus was born before 4 BC, the year of Herod's death.