Luke 2:2 Ankerberg

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Dr. John Ankerberg tries to present a complete Defense here:

Was Luke Wrong About the Census Under Quirinius?


The answer is "yes". Good night everyone. Just kidding!

The Key Points of supposed Defense are:

1) "Luke" refers to the first time Quirinius held a leadership position in Syria and Josephus refers to the second time.

1 - The use of "first" in 2:2 distinguishes from a second census.
2 - Quirinius commanded a Syrian legion in Cilicia during Herod the Great's reign.

2) It is "more than probable" that there would have been a Roman Census while Herod the Great was King.

1 - Egyptian censuses were taken every 7 years and there was one in 4-3 BCE.
2 - Augustus had significant motivation to conduct a Census.
3 - Romans took censuses in client Kingdoms.


Here are the Problems with the Key Points above:

1) "Luke" refers to the first time Quirinius held a leadership position in Syria and Josephus refers to the second time.

:1 - The use of "first" in 2:2 distinguishes from a second census.''

1 - The Likely understanding of Luke 2:2 is that "Luke" is referring to Quirinius' Governorship. Why would "Luke" refer to other than the top leader of Syria without qualifying? The combination of "ruling" and "Syria" without any other identifying word implies the top ruler or Governor. Combine this observation with our specific evidence that Quirinius was Governor of Syria and lack of specific evidence that Quirinius held any other leadership position relative to Syria. There is no record of any Roman Governing the same Province twice. The related verb "ruling" is also in the present tense. Use of the present tense as opposed to past tense makes it more likely that what was meant was the only time that Quirinius ruled Syria. "The first time that Quirinius ruled Syria" vs. "The first time that Qurinius was ruling Syria."

2 - You have the problem that Quintilius Varus was governor of Syria from 6 B.C. to beyond Herod's death in 3 B.C.

3 - In his related detail analysis in Birth of The Messiah, Raymond Brown says to the effect that if it wasn't for the apparent contradiction no one would consider if Quirinius was Governor/a Leader of Syria twice.

4 - The identification "Luke" uses in Acts is "the census" which not only fails to distinguish from the census of 2:2 where we would expect "Luke" to if it was a different census but actually confirms it was the same census by use of "the".

5 - "Luke's" use of "first" here may have theological motivation. She probably liked the idea that at the supposed time of Jesus' birth there was a World wide accounting and a starting point for the history of Judea which she was interested in. Using Jesus' supposed birth as a starting point there definitely were other censuses that "Luke's" readership would be aware of, much more so than Quirinius' which would have been much farther in the past.


1) "Luke" refers to the first time Quirinius held a leadership position in Syria and Josephus refers to the second time.

:2 - Quirinius commanded a Syrian legion in Cilicia during Herod the Great's reign.''

1 - "Luke's" supposed reference here would now be very Indirect. For an important time marker she would be referring to someone other than the Governor of Syria, situated in other than the Province of Syria (Galatia) and not holding a set Position (instead holding a special command). Why use such an Indirect time marker and if it was used shouldn't there be some qualification?


2) It is "more than probable" that there would have been a Roman Census while Herod the Great was King.

:1 - Egyptian censuses were taken every 7 years and there was one in 4-3 BCE.''

1 - Historian Richard Carrier tells us that the Egyptian census was every 14 years. Ankerberg Confesses to us that based on a 14 year cycle nothing happened in 4-3 BCE.

2 - Censuses of the Egyptians after Rome conquered were every 14 years because that was the Tradition in Egypt. There is no evidence of the conducting of a census every 14 years anywhere else.


2) It is "more than probable" that there would have been a Roman Census while Herod the Great was King.

:2 - Augustus had significant motivation to conduct a Census.

:3 - Romans took censuses in client Kingdoms.''

1 - No matter how much motivation Augustus had there is no evidence that a Roman census was ever made of an allied Kingdom. That was one of the prime motivations in obtaining Kingdom status allied to Rome. You were permitted to conduct your own census and pay Rome an agreed upon amount.

2 - Josephus specializes in chronicling the history of Herod the Great and provides no reason for thinking there was any such census.

3 - Josephus details the Judean resistance to the Roman census after Herod the Great. Presumably a census during Herod the Great's reign would have generated even more resistance.

--JoeWallack 16:57, 13 Aug 2006 (CDT)