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The "Census of Quirinius" refers to the enrollment of the Roman Provinces of Syria and Iudaea for tax purposes taken in 6/7CE during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria, after the banishment of Herod Archelaus and the imposition of direct Roman rule on what became Iudaea Province (the conglomeration of Samaria, Judea proper, and Idumea).[1] An account of the census was given by the first century historian Josephus,[2] who associated it with the beginning of a resistance movement that he called the Zealots.

In Christianity, the Gospel of Luke connects the census with the birth of Jesus, which the Gospel of Matthew places about a decade earlier (c. 4 BCE), during the rule of Herod the Great. Bible scholars have traditionally sought to reconcile these accounts; while most current scholars regard this as an error by the author of the Gospel of Luke.[3]

The Census

The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that in 6-7,[4] after the exile of Herod Archelaus (one of the sons and successors of Herod the Great), Quirinius (in Greek, Κυρήνιος, sometimes transliterated Cyrenius), a Roman senator, became governor (Legatus) of Syria, while an equestrian assistant named Coponius was assigned as the first governor (Prefect) of the newly-created Iudaea Province. These governors were assigned to conduct a tax census for the Emperor in Syria and Iudaea.[5]

Now Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to be a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money;

Josephus links this census in Iudaea to an uprising under Judas of Galilee. Probably the imposition of taxation associated with it was the main cause, although religious objections to numbering the people of Israel may well have played a part; the biblical account of the census carried out by King David implies that it was a sinful act.[6] Josephus did not imply that they had much immediate success, but he regarded their actions as the beginning of a Zealot movement that encouraged armed resistance to the Roman empire, culminating eventually in the First Jewish-Roman War..[7] The leaders of the uprising claimed that the census and taxation associated with it were tantamount to slavery. It is unclear as to whether this was based on the fact that for the first time in many years they were to pay taxes to a foreign power, or simply that they feared the tax burden would be too high; it has been argued that the combination of Roman and Jewish religious taxes was no higher a burden than in the neighbouring provinces. In any case, it was not unusual for the Roman census process to provoke resistance; in 10 CE, a provincial census caused an uprising in Pannonia, and the revolt of Arminius may have been caused by Varus’ decision to start taxing the region in 9 CE, even though the area had been under Roman rule since 12 BCE.[8] In 36 CE, the tribe of the Clitae, subjects of Archelaus of Cappadocia, objected to attempts by him to impose a Roman-type census on them for the purpose of paying tribute, and the ensuing revolt had to be put down by a force sent by the governor of Syria.[9]

Augustus is known to have taken a census of Roman citizens at least three times, in 28 BCE, 8 BCE, and 14 CE.[10] There is also evidence that censuses were taken at regular intervals during his reign in the provinces of Egypt and Sicily, important because of their wealthy estates and supply of grain.[11] In the provinces, the main goals of a census of non-citizens were taxation and military service.[12] The earliest such provincial census was taken in Gaul in 27 BCE; during the reign of Augustus, the imposition of the census provoked disturbances and resistance.[13]

The Census in the New Testament

The Gospel of Luke mentions the census in the infancy narrative of Jesus:

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2:1-7NRSV)

This passage has long been considered problematic by Biblical scholars, since it places the birth of Jesus around the time of the census in 6 CE, whereas the Gospel of Matthew indicates a birth during or just after the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BCE, ten years earlier.[14] In addition, no historical sources mention a worldwide or even a Roman-controlled world census which would cover the population as a whole; those of Augustus covered Roman citizens only;[15] and it was not the practice in Roman censuses to require people to return to their ancestral homes.[16]

Modern scholars tend to explain the disparity as an error on the part of the author of the Gospel, concluding that he was more concerned with creating a symbolic narrative than a historical account,[17] and was either unaware of, or indifferent to,[18] the chronological difficulty. The Gospel associates the birth of Jesus with that of John the Baptist, in the time of King Herod's reign.[19] The same author, in Acts of the Apostles, associates the census with the much later revolt of Theudas.

Traditional scholars, especially in past scholarship when Biblical inerrancy was more or less taken for granted, have sought to reconcile these details. For the most part this has involved the postulation of an earlier census carried out, or begun, during the reign of King Herod. It may have been in response to this problem that Tertullian, writing around 200 CE, stated that the census had been taken by Gaius Sentius Saturninus (legate of Syria, 9-6 BCE) rather than Quirinius.[20]

Sixteenth to eighteenth centuries

In The Credibility of the Gospel History (1727), Nathaniel Lardner listed and assessed the arguments which had been advanced up to that point:

Calvin in 1556 had argued that Josephus must be mistaken, a view supported by Baronius, who suggested that Quirinius must have been governor of Syria once or even twice before. A further suggestion of Calvin, supported by Henri Valois, was that the decree of Augustus was issued towards the end of Herod’s reign, but the census was not in fact carried out until Quirinius became governor in 6/7 CE. Another proposal of Valois was that Tertullian must have been correct in attributing the census to Saturninus; others suggested the text should read "Quintilius". Writing in 1702, William Whiston,[21] supported by Prideaux[22], made a suggestion similar to that of Calvin: that the census was carried out under Herod, but the tax was not raised until Cyrenius was appointed governor on the banishment of Archelaus.

Finally there were alternative translations of the text. One proposed by Herwaert in 1612[23] and supported by Kepler, Whitby,[24] Perizonius and Leclerc although rejected by Casaubon,[25] involved translating the words of Luke as "this taxing was made before Cyrenius was governor of Syria". A different translation was proposed by Theodore Beza and supported by many others: "This first enrolment was made, when Cyrenius was governor of Syria", arguing that Quirinius must have carried out the census during Herod's reign, operating as a subordinate or equal of the serving governor.[26]

Lardner rejects most of these arguments. Quirinius could not have been governor before, because the names of the governors during Herod were known, and "there is no room for Cyrenius at this time"; references to other names cannot be accurate, because all the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke refer to Quirinius, as did Justin Martyr, writing before Tertullian;[27] the suggestion of a ten-year gap between the edict and census was directly contrary to Luke's text; and the suggestion of a similar gap between census and taxation is contradicted by Josephus, who "is as express in this matter as can be".

While not absolutely rejecting Herwaert's translation, he says he is "not fully satisfied", finding it "a very uncommon use of the word", that does not appear to have been understood in this way by any of the Early Christians writers such as Justin Martyr or Eusebius. He prefers Beza's approach because at least it agrees with the traditional interpretation, that the census was carried out by Quirinius, but proposes a variant offered by Joseph Scaliger: "This was the first assessment of Cyrenius, governor of Syria", arguing that the reference is not to the title Quirinius had at the time, but the one he would later be known by.[28]

Lardner's work was influential - his preferred interpretation was adopted by William Paley in 1803.[29] However, more skeptical views were also beginning to be felt. In his Philosophical Dictionary (1765), Voltaire quotes the views of Dumarsais on the passage in Luke: "how many decided falsehoods are contained in these few words".[30]

Nineteenth century

Some variants of the arguments Lardner had discussed continued to be put forward in the early nineteenth century. Johann Leonhard Hug, in 1808, argued that Quirinius had carried out the census while Saturninus was governor. Heinrich Paulus and William Hales[31] supported the idea that the census was initiated by Augustus under Herod, but not carried into effect until 6 CE. Friedrich Tholuck, along with Storr and Friedrich Süskind, repeated Herwaert's translation, implying a census under Herod before Quirinius. Georg Benedikt Winer, however, described that translation as "not merely ambiguous, but awkward and ungrammatical", and suggested that the original name in the text was Quintilius.[32]

In his groundbreaking 1839 book, Das Leben Jesu, the scholar David Friedrich Strauss rejected all of these arguments, affirming that Luke's account was a fiction ("we have before us two equally unhistorical narratives … composed … quite independently of each other"[33]) intended to show the birth of Jesus as a fulfilment of prophecy: "The Evangelist ... knew perfectly well what [Mary] had to do [in Bethlehem]; namely, to fulfil the prophecy of Micah, by giving birth, in the city of David, to the Messiah".[34] A similar approach was adopted by the French scholar Ernest Renan in his bestselling 1863 book, The Life of Jesus: "Jesus", he asserted firmly, "was born at Nazareth".[35].

More traditional scholars continued to propose ways of reconciling the Luke account with that of Josephus. Georg Philipp Eduard Huschke[36] in 1840 and Wieseler in 1843[37] supported the Herwaert translation. But in an influential study published in Latin in 1854[38] and in an expanded version in German in 1869,[39] August Wilhelm Zumpt proposed a new approach: he revived the theory of Baronius, that Quirinius had previously been governor of Syria, but placed this after the death of Herod, in 3 BCE This still conflicted with the account in the Gospel of Matthew, which clearly indicates the birth of Jesus before the death of Herod; Zumpt suggested that the census might have been initiated towards the end of Herod's reign, and only completed when Quirinius was governor, and therefore known by that name.

Zumpt's theory received widespread support,[40] especially when supported by the historian Theodor Mommsen, who interpreted the Tiburtine Inscription, a Roman inscription discovered in 1746, as referring to someone who had twice been legate (governor) of Syria, and speculated that this might refer to Quirinius.[41]. For some time, this became the mainstream position among biblical scholars. In 1896 the Scottish archaeologist Sir William Ramsay developed this theory further, although he argued that Quirinius had been governor as far back as 10 BCE, alongside Saturninus.[42]

In 1886, however, the theologian Emil Schürer, in his monumental study, Geschichte des judischen Volks im Zeitalter Jesu Christi (A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ), closely criticised the traditional view. He raised five points which showed, he believed, that the Luke account could not be historically accurate: (1) nothing is known in history of a general census by Augustus; (2) in a Roman census Joseph would not have had to travel to Bethlehem, and Mary would not have had to travel at all; (3) no Roman census would have been made in Judea during the reign of Herod; (4) Josephus records no such census, and it would have been a notable innovation; (5) Quirinius was not governor of Syria until long after the reign of Herod.[43]

Twentieth century

In 1931 Groag questioned the interpretation that had been placed on the Tiburtine inscription, pointing out that the stone merely refers to someone who held a legateship for the second time in the province of Syria, but does not specify that the earlier legateship was also in Syria.[44] Ronald Syme, stating that "there is no reason for believing that [Quirinius] was twice governor of Syria,"[45] suggested that man referenced in the inscription was more likely to be L. Calpurnius Piso. Groag argued that it referenced M. Plautius Silvanus.[46]

An important element in the theory that Quirinius was twice governor of Syria was the belief that he had conducted the Homonadensian war from Syria, and that this war took place between 3 and 2 BCE.[47] But Syme argued in 1934 that the campaign might be better dated to 6 BC, and that Quirinius conducted it as governor of Galatia, rather than as governor of Syria,[48] a view supported by most modern scholars.[49] They hold this position, in part, for reasons of historical precedent. As J.G.C. Anderson observed, "A second tenure of Syria or indeed any other consular province under one and the same emperor by a senator who was not a member of the imperial house [i.e., Quirinius] is unparalleled."[50]

There were still some who defended a previous term of government by Quirinius. Thomas Corbishley argued in 1934 that there was room for Quirinius as governor around 10 BCE.[51] Ethelbert Stauffer, in 1960, suggested that Quirinius had operated as a ‘Generalissimo of the East’ from 12 BCE.,[52] neither have been supported. Instead, most attempts to reconcile Luke with Josephus focused on the alternative translations in the tradition of Herwaert. F.M. Heichelheim, in 1938, argued that the "original meaning" of the text was properly rendered as "This census was the first before that under the prefectureship of Quirinius in Syria".[53] This position has been followed by several other scholars.[54] Heichelheim's proposed translation was rejected by Horst Braunert, who argued that the reference in Acts 5:37 to "the census", implied that Luke knew only of one,[55] and that ancient sources clearly understood the phrase in question to mean "the first census." The proposed translation has been described by others as "implausible" (A. N. Sherwin-White),[56] "almost impossible" (Daniel B. Wallace),[57] and "obviously a last-ditch solution to save the historicity involved" (Joseph Fitzmyer).[58] None of the seven most popular English translations of the New Testament accepts the alternative interpretation.[59]

Many of the suggestions put forward involve a census carried out on Roman orders under King Herod. Under Herod, Palestine was a client kingdom which paid tribute to the Romans.[60] He raised the money for this tribute through taxation of his subjects.[61] The people of Herod's kingdom were not directly taxed by the empire; thus a census and taxation during Herod's rule, if ordered and administered by an imperial official, would be unprecedented. Ramsay argues that Luke does not claim the census was conducted by a Roman official.[62] B. W. R. Pearson suggested that such a census could have been carried out under Herod[63] Citing historian E. T. Salmon, he observed that client kingdoms "possessed no more than interim status"[64] and argued that such a census is plausible,[65] citing the Roman-type census ordered by King Archelaus of Cappadocia, of the tribe of Clitae in Cilicia Tracheia.[66] Like the census in Iudea, the attempted census by Archelaos was forcefully resisted by the Clitae.[9] Schürer argued that an earlier enrollment in Judea would have evoked the same response, and that this would have been noted by Josephus.[67]

A few authors have suggested that the Gospel of Luke correctly refers to the census of 6 CE, and that the account in the Gospel of Matthew is wrong,[68] [69]

The majority view among modern scholars is that there was only one census, in 6 CE, and the author of the Gospel of Luke deviated from history in connecting it with the birth of Jesus.[70][71][72] In The Birth of the Messiah (1977), a detailed study of the infancy narratives of Jesus, the American scholar Raymond E. Brown concluded that "this information is dubious on almost every score, despite the elaborate attempts by scholars to defend Lucan accuracy."[73] W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders ascribe this to simple error: “on many points, especially about Jesus’ early life, the evangelists were ignorant … they simply did not know, and, guided by rumour, hope or supposition, did the best they could”.[74] Fergus Millar, on the other hand, suggests that Luke's narrative was a construct designed to connect Jesus with the house of David.[75]

Historicity of Luke's details

A worldwide census

Some sources questioned the historicity of other parts of Luke's account. He describes a decree of Augustus requiring registration of the whole oikoumene οἰκουμένη. This word literally means the "inhabited [world]", but was frequently used to indicate the Roman Empire.[76] No simultaneous census of the entire Empire in Augustus' time is attested to outside of Luke,[77] though Luke's account does not necessarily mean that the whole empire was enrolled at once.[78] J. Thorley argued that Luke's wording only means that Augustus decreed that the registration practices that had been employed in Italy for centuries and in the provinces for some time should be extended throughout the Roman world, including client kingdoms.[79] Sherwin-White suggested that Luke intended to refer only to a policy of universal registration promulgated by Augustus, and that this was first implemented in Judea under Quirinius.[80]

Details of census practice

Luke's statement that Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem 'because he was descended from the house and family of David' has often been called into question, since it appears to imply that people were required to return to their ancestral home; James Dunn wrote: "the idea of a census requiring individuals to move to the native town of long dead ancestors is hard to credit".[81] E. P. Sanders considered it unreasonable to think that there was ever a decree that required people to travel to their ancestral homes to be registered for tax purposes, and supplied a number of arguments in support.[82] A papyrus from Egypt dated 104 CE requiring people to return to their homes for a census has sometimes been cited as evidence of a requirement to travel;[83] however, this refers only to migrant workers returning to their family home, not their ancestral home.[84] However, Raymond E. Brown suggested that “One cannot rule out the possibility that, since Romans often adapted their administration to local circumstances, a census conducted in Judea would respect the strong attachment of Jewish tribal and ancestral relationships.”[85]

See also

Footnotes

  1. H.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, ISBN 0674397312, page 246: "When Archelaus was deposed from the ethnarchy in 6 CE, Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea were converted into a Roman province under the name Iudaea."; page 274: "Josephus connects the beginnings of the extremist movement with the census held under the supervision of Quirinius, the legate of Syria, soon after Judea had been converted into a Roman province (6 CE)."
  2. Antiquities 18
  3. Raymond Brown, Christ in the Gospels of the Liturgical Year, (Liturgical Press, 2008), page 114. See, for example, James Douglas Grant Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) p344. Similarly, Erich S. Gruen, 'The expansion of the empire under Augustus', in The Cambridge ancient history Volume 10, p157, Geza Vermes, The Nativity, Penguin 2006, p.96, W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders, 'Jesus from the Jewish point of view', in The Cambridge History of Judaism ed William Horbury, vol 3: the Early Roman Period, 1984, Anthony Harvey, A Companion to the New Testament (Cambridge University Press 2004), p221, Meier, John P., A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Doubleday, 1991, v. 1, p. 213, Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. London: G. Chapman, 1977, p. 554, A. N. Sherwin-White, pp. 166, 167, Millar, Fergus (1990). "Reflections on the trials of Jesus". A Tribute to Geza Vermes: Essays on Jewish and Christian Literature and History (JSOT Suppl. 100) [eds. P.R. Davies and R.T. White]. Sheffield: JSOT Press. pp. 355–81.  repr. in Millar, Fergus (2006). "The Greek World, the Jews, and the East". Rome, the Greek World and the East (University of North Carolina Press) 3: 139–163. 
  4. Emil Schürer, Fergus Millar (editor), Geza Vermes (editor), The history of the Jewish people in the age of Jesus Christ Vol I, (Continuum, 1973), page 424: "It was started ... in the earliest in the summer of C.E. 6." and completed "at the latest in the autumn of C.E. 7"
  5. Josephus, Antiquities 17.355 & 18.1-2; c.f. Matthew 2:22
  6. Jewish Encyclopedia, page 653; Rivka Gonen, Contested Holiness, KTAV Publishing House (2003), pages 37-8.
  7. Antiquities 18.3-10. See also Emil Schürer (1973). The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ: Volume I. revised and edited by Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar and Matthew Black (revised English ed.). Edinburgh: T&T Clark. pp. 381–382. ISBN 0-567-02242-0. ; Josephus places the exile of Archelaus and the census of Quirinius in the thirty-seventh year since the Battle of Actium — 6 / 7 CE.Antiquities 17.342-4. Archelaus' exile in 6 CE is confirmed by Cassius Dio 55.27.6;Antiquities 18.26
  8. Jack Pastor, Land and Economy in Ancient Palestine, Routledge (London 1997), page 139.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Fergus Millar, Rome, the Greek World, and the East, UNC Press (2006), page 238
  10. Res Gestae 8
  11. For provincial censuses under Augustus, cf. H. Braunert, "Der römische Provinzialzensus", Historia: Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte 6 (1957), pages 192ff
  12. R. E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday), p. 549.
  13. Fergus Millar. The Roman Near East: 31 B.C.E - C.E. 337. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp. 48, 250. 
  14. e.g. R. E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday), p. 547.
  15. Emil Schürer (revised by Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar and Matthew Black), The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Continuum International, 1973, Volume I page 401.
  16. James Douglas Grant Dunn, Jesus Remembered, p. 344; E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, Penguin, 1993, p86
  17. Marcus J. Borg, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith, (HarperCollins, 1993), page 24.
  18. Elias Joseph Bickerman, Studies in Jewish and Christian History, Page 104
  19. Luke 1:5-36
  20. Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem (Against Marcion), Book IV, Chapter XIX: "But there is historical proof that at this very time a census had been taken in Judaea by Sentius Saturninus, which might have satisfied their inquiry respecting the family and descent of Christ."
  21. William Whiston, Short Chronology of the Old Testament, and of the Harmony of the Four Evangelists, London, 1702
  22. Humphrey Prideaux, The Old and New History Connected, 1715-17
  23. Johann Georg Herwart, Nova et Vera Chronologia, Munich 1612, p.189
  24. Daniel Whitby, A Commentary on the Gospels and Epistles, 1703
  25. Nathaniel Lardner, "Objections against Luke ii, 1, 2 Considered", The Credibility of the Gospel History, (1729), page 317.
  26. Archbishop Ussher made a similar proposal in his The Annals of the World, The Sixth Age, 1658; he states that Quirinius carried out the census as proconsul of Cilicia while Saturninus was governor of Syria; another who advanced this idea was Francis Junius (Francis Junius "the elder", whose Notes and Annotations, together with those of Theodore Beza were adopted for the King James Bible) commented, with reference to the respective roles of Saturninus and of Cyrenius in carrying out the census: "C. Sentius Saturninus, a consular, held this census of the whole empire as principal augur, because Augustus determined to impart the sanction of religion to his institution. The agent through whom Saturninus carried out the census in Judæa was the governor Cyrenius, according to Luke, chap. ii." Philip Schaff et al. ANF03/Tert./Five Books Against Marcion/Book IV/Ch. XIX/Note 23
  27. The First Apology of Justin Martyr, Chapter XXXIV
  28. Nathaniel Lardner, The Credibility of the Gospel History, (1729), page 333; Friedrich Spanheim made the same suggestion in his Ecclesiastical annals (1631-39), Translated by George Wright (1829), p191:"St. Luke calls him governor by anticipation."
  29. William Paley, Evidences of Christianity, 1803 (pp229-30)
  30. César Chesneau Dumarsais, Analyse de la religion chrétienne, cited in Voltaire, "Contradictions", Dictionnaire philosophique (1765), although he ascribes it to Charles de Saint-Évremond.
  31. John Kitto, ed., A cyclopædia of biblical literature,
  32. Georg Benedikt Winer, A Grammar of the New Testament Diction, Translated by Edward Masson, T. & T. Clark (1860), page 259; Strauss, Leben Jesu.
  33. Strauss, p. 176
  34. Strauss page 149
  35. Ernest Renan, The Life of Jesus, Chapter Two (English translation, originall published 1863: republished Book Tree, 2007, page 36.)
  36. Philipp Eduard Huschke, Über den Zensus zur Zeit der Geburt Jesu Christi (Berlin 1840)
  37. chronolog. Synopse der vier Evangelien. Hamburg. 1843.
  38. De Syria Romanorum provincia ab Caesare Augusto ad T. Vespasianum, in Comment. Epigraph., Berol. 1854, vol. ii. 88-125
  39. Das Geburtsjahr Christi, Leipzig, 1869
  40. eg edelsheim, schaff
  41. T. Mommsen, introductory remarks to his edition of Res Gestae (Berlin, 1883, second edition), pp. 161-78. The inscription reads in part: "… PRO•CONSVL•ASIAM•PROVINCIAM•OPT… DIVI•AVGUSTI•ITERVM•SYRIAM•ET•PHO…" (missing text represented above by "…"). Translated it reads: "… proconsul obt[ained] Asia Province … of the divine Augustus again Syria and Pho…" Text available here. Published as ILS 918 = Victor Ehrenberg; A. H. M. Jones (1976). Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Augustus and Tiberius (2nd edition, reprinted with addenda ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. no. 199). ISBN 0-19-814819-4.  Translated in David C. Braund (1985). Augustus to Nero: A Sourcebook on Roman History: 31 B.C.E.-C.E. 68. Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble. p. no. 362. ISBN 0-389-20536-2. 
  42. Ian Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1978, page 103.
  43. Schurer
  44. Groag, "Prosopographische Beiträge," Jahreshefte des österreichischen archäologischen Instituts in Wien 21-22 (1924), pp. 448ff; this position is summarized in A. N. Sherwin-White (1963). Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 163–164. ISBN 0-19-825153-X. 
  45. R. Syme, "Galatia and Pamphylia under Augustus," Klio: Beiträge zur alten Geschichte 9 (1934), p. 133.
  46. Ronald Syme (1952) [1939]. The Roman Revolution (corrected ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 398–399. ISBN 0-19-881001-6. 
  47. J.G.C. Anderson, "The Position Held by Quirinius for the Homanadensian War" in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. X: The Augustan Empire (44 B.C.E. - C.E. 70), ed. S.A. Cook, F.E. Adcock, M.P. Charlesworth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1934, repr. with corrections 1989), pp. 877-8
  48. R. Syme, "Galatia and Pamphylia under Augustus: The Governorship of Piso, Quirinius and Silvanus," Klio: Beitraege zur Alten Geschichte, 27 (1934), pp. 122ff)
  49. Cf. B. Levick, "Greece and Asia Minor from 43 B.C. to A.D. 69," in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 10, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1996), p. 650; idem, Roman Colonies in Southern Asia Minor (Oxford, 1967), pp. 203-14; R. Syme, "The Titulus Tiburtinus," repr. in Roman Papers, ed. A. Birley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979-), vol. 3, pp. 869-884; and Anderson, "The Position Held by Quirinius," as cited above
  50. J.G.C. Anderson, "The Position Held by Quirinius for the Homanadensian War' in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. X: The Augustan Empire (44 B.C.E. - C.E. 70), ed. S.A. Cook, F.E. Adcock, M.P. Charlesworth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1934, repr. with corrections 1989), pp. 877-8.
  51. T Corbishley, Journal of Roman Studies 24 (1934), 43-49; but see Ronald Syme, Anatolica: Studies in Strabo, Oxford University Press (1995) p260; also Ian Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke Eerdmans (1978), p.103.
  52. ?Hoehner
  53. F.M. Heichelheim, "Roman Syria," in An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, ed. T. Frank (Baltimore, 1938), pp. 161; F. F. Bruce, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) p. 192
  54. Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament, pp. 23-24; H. W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), p. 21; L. H. Feldman in W. Brindle, "The Census and Quirinius: Luke 2:2" in JETS 27 (1984), pp. 48-49; P. W. Barnett, ‘Apographē and apographesthai in Luke 2:1-5’, Expository Times 85 (1973-1974), 337-380; Ben Witherington III, What Have They Done With Jesus? (San Francisco: Harper, 2006), p. 101.
  55. H. Braunert, "Der römische Provinzialzensus und der Schätzungsbericht des Lukas-Evangeliums," Historia: Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte 6 (1957), p.212
  56. Sherwin-White, p. 171, n. 1.
  57. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan (1996), page 304
  58. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (Anchor Bible), page 401
  59. Michael R. Molnar, The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi, Rutgers University Press (1999), page 60.
  60. Emil Schürer, A History of the Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1890) vol 1, ii. p. 122; Michael Grant, Herod the Great (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1971) p. 171; cf. Josephus, Jewish War 1.14.14
  61. Michael Grant, Herod the Great (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1971) p. 171
  62. William Mitchell Ramsay, Was Christ born in Bethlehem? 1891, chapter 5
  63. see F. M. Heichelheim, ‘Roman Syria’, in An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome (6 vols; ed. T. Frank; Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1933-1940), vol. 4, pp. 160-162; cf. Brook W. R. Pearson, "The Lucan censuses, revisited" in Catholic Biblical Quarterly (April 1999), p. 266.
  64. E. T. Salmon, A History of the Roman World from 30 B.C.E. to C.E. 138 (Methuen’s History of the Greek & Roman World 6’ 6th ed.; London: Methuen, 1986), p. 104-105.
  65. Brook W. R. Pearson, "The Lucan censuses, revisited" in Catholic Biblical Quarterly (April 1999), p. 272.
  66. Lily Ross Taylor, "Quirinius and the Census of Judaea", in American Journal of Philology 54 (1933), 120-133, p. 131. Our source for the taxation of the Cietae is Tacitus, Annales 6.41
  67. Schürer, pp. 418-419
  68. J. Duncan M. Derrett, "Further Light on the Narratives of the Nativity," Novum Testamentum 17.2 (April, 1975), pp. 81-108; Mark Smith, "Of Jesus and Quirinius", Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62 (2000), pp. 278-293
  69. Note that this appears to conflict with the reference to Jesus being "about thirty years of age" when he began preaching (Luke 3:23). John Thorley, "The Nativity Census: What Does Luke Actually Say?" Greece & Rome vol. 26 no. 1 (April 1979) p. 81 and n. 1; R. E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday), p. 548. On the other hand, if Herodian scholar Nikos Kokkinos is correct that Herod Antipas did not marry Herodias until 34 CE, then the beginning of Jesus' ministry would have to be pushed forward to the year 35 and Luke's approximate age for Jesus at that time would be correct. Nikos Kokkinos, The Herodian Dynasty (Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), pp. 266-69
  70. James Dunn remarks: “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Luke was mistaken”.James Douglas Grant Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) p344. Similarly, Erich S. Gruen, 'The expansion of the empire under Augustus', in The Cambridge ancient history Volume 10, p157
  71. Geza Vermes comments, "from whatever angle one looks at it, the census referred to by Luke conflicts with historical reality".Geza Vermes, The Nativity, Penguin 2006, p.96
  72. John P. Meier considered "attempts to reconcile Luke 2:1 with the facts of ancient history... hopelessly contrived": Meier, John P., A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Doubleday, 1991, v. 1, p. 213; see also A. N. Sherwin-White, who concluded that "[t]he attempt to defend Luke" by postulating a census of Quirinius before AD 6 "was misconceived", and that Luke, in bringing together John's nativity under Herod and Jesus' under Quirinius, accepted [an] incompatible synchronism". Sherwin-White, pp. 166, 167
  73. Raymond E. Brown The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke, Anchor Bible; Updated edition (1999), page 413.
  74. W.D Davies and E. P. Sanders, 'Jesus from the Jewish point of view', in The Cambridge History of Judaism ed William Horbury, vol 3: the Early Roman Period, 1984.
  75. "Only Matthew and Luke take the story back to the birth of Jesus, and do so in wholly different and incompatible ways. . . Both birth narratives are constructs, one historically plausible [i.e. Matthew], the other wholly impossible [i.e. Luke], and both are designed to reach back to the infancy of Jesus, and to assert his connection to the house of David... and his birth in Bethlehem."Millar, Fergus (1990). "Reflections on the trials of Jesus". A Tribute to Geza Vermes: Essays on Jewish and Christian Literature and History (JSOT Suppl. 100) [eds. P.R. Davies and R.T. White]. Sheffield: JSOT Press. pp. 355–81.  repr. in Millar, Fergus (2006). "The Greek World, the Jews, and the East". Rome, the Greek World and the East (University of North Carolina Press) 3: 139–163. 
  76. Henry George Liddell; Robert Scott (1940). A Greek-English Lexicon. revised by Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. s.v. οἰκουμένη. ISBN 0-19-864226-1. 
  77. Schürer, pp. 407-411
  78. Ben, III Witherington, New Testament History: A Narrative Account p. 65
  79. John Thorley, "The Nativity Census: What Does Luke Actually Say?" Greece & Rome vol. 26 no. 1 (April 1979) p. 82
  80. Sherwin-White, pp. 168-169
  81. James Douglas Grant Dunn, Jesus Remembered, p. 344
  82. For example, that it would require people to keep track of millions of ancestors; tens of thousands of descendants of David would all be arriving at Bethlehem, his birthplace, at the same time; and Herod, whose dynasty was unrelated to the Davidic line, would hardly have wished to call attention to royal ancestry that had a greater claim to legitimacy. He adds that it would have been the practice for the census-takers, not the taxed, to travel, and that Joseph, resident in Galilee, would not have been covered by a census in Judaea. E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, Penguin, 1993, p86; see also Bart Ehrman, A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, p103.
  83. Bromiley, Geoffrey W, editor 'The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia', Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1995, page 655, 'For example, a British Museum decree of Gaius Vibius Maximus, prefect of Egypt (C.E. 104), ordered all who were out of their districts to return to their homes in view of the approaching census (cf. Lk. 2:1-5).'
  84. Ralph Martin Novak, Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts, Continuum International, page 297.
  85. R. E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday), p. 549

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