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Sunday, December 20, 2009

More on Quirinius

For those who are intrigued by the vagaries of biblical history, here are a couple more pieces dealing with the historicity of Quirinius:

And for those with way too much time on their hands, here is another article, but this time one trying to prove that the seeming contradiction between Luke and Matthew on the dating of the Nativity proves, once and for all, that the Bible is not trustworthy.

Now, I am NOT saying these pages' conclusions prove the matter once and for all. There are serious scholarly arguments about the archaeology involved and questions about what is possible and what is proven about a census that took place toward the end of Herod's life. Biblical archaeology can be a tremendously frustrating pursuit because archaeology does not prove the Bible as solidly as we would sometimes like. More often than not, the believer tends to see what is possible and the skeptic deals only with what is proven. It can make for difficult conversations.

Note: It is not questioned that Caesar Augustus took a census of Roman citizens starting in 8 BC. This census would have taken 2-3 years to complete and could very well provide the background for Luke 2:1-3. It is also fairly well established that Quirinius was in Syria around that time in some military role, though quite possibly not as governor. What is questioned by some is whether Palestine would have been included in this census, whether the census also counted non-Roman citizens like Joseph and Mary, whether the census would have required people to go to their hometowns, and whether Quirinius was in some way involved in this census. The links listed above provide the possibility that each of these questions could be answered in a way that makes Luke's account feasible.

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