Luke 2:2 Marchant

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Unlike Holding and Miller's articles, this one by Ronald Marchant is a complete one:

THE CENSUS OF QUIRINIUS The Historicity of Luke 2:1-5

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 which "Luke" refers to in Acts 5:37.
2 - Quirinius commanded a Syrian legion in Cilicia during Herod the Great's reign.

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

1 - Herod was demoted by Augustus in 8 BCE.
2 - Quirnius conducted a census of independent Apamea.

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 which "Luke" refers to in Acts 5:37.

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 "highly likely" that there would have been a Roman Census while Herod the Great was King.

1 - Herod was demoted by Augustus in 8 BCE.

1 - There is no specific evidence that an independent Kingdom ever had a Roman census.

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.

4 - Extant Roman Coins for Judaea start in 6 CE. Just when Josephus tells us that Rome took Financial control of which started with a Census. If Herod the Great handled the Production of money during his reign he also probably handled the Collection of it.


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

2 - Quirinius conducted a census of independent Apamea.

1 - History indicates that Apamea was not independent but Roman.

2 - Even if this was the Exception the rule would still be no Roman census of independent Kingdoms.

--JoeWallack 12:20, 13 Aug 2006 (CDT)