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Author Topic:   Would Mary Have Been In Bethlehem?
Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 33 of 156 (508311)
05-12-2009 12:59 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by Michamus
05-10-2009 1:59 PM

The fact that no one ancient source cites an apographe (a registration, census, etc.) in the term Luke reports doesn’t mean it never occurred so. Every history scholars well know that ab omissio (that is, from an omission of a fact in a text) no one can prove that an event cited in a different text has never occurred.

The attempt to base the reasoning on the theory of probability also is fruitless. Imagine some history scholars 2000 years from now. Without all historical documents at their disposal (similarly to us as regards happenings occurred 2000 years ago) they will try to understand, with the help of theory of probability, if Hitler, heading up a huge staff of war strategists, really invaded Russia - his political/military ally (treaty Molotov-Ribbentrop, 1939) - on 1941. Following the thread of your discourse. “This single decision would create a massive drain on the Empire's economy in several forms:

  • Spent resources on travel (thousands of kms)
  • Lost of defensive power in West Europe
  • Possibility of death to travelers (which was a sure hazard in long journeys of thousands of miles)

“Did he repeat the same Napoleon’s tragical error when he decided the same to invade that country (1812) hazarding the lives of his soldiers owing to winter frost?” Only with some informations at their disposable (suppose that they have only some sources citing this invasion, while the other sources omitted this information) and on the basis of the probability would the future scholars conclude that that invasion didn’t occur? You surely see that the problem is focused on the reliability of the sources, not on the probability of the happening to occur.

Who says that the voyage lasted 3 days? Why not 15 days (at the rate of 10 kms at a day, for example), or more? We are disserting on the Bible accuracy. If the Bible doesn’t specify the length of the trip, we are free to suppose a more long voyage, considering Mary’s advanced pregnancy and the Joseph's care for his wife.

I personally have know some women that did give birth a child when they are in the field, having digging the ground for months before their parturitions. They were working in the field until the last day of their pregnancy.

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was hegemon (one who is in power) of Syria twice (2 BCE and 6 or 7 CE). Luke himself says that apographe was the first (protos), to infer that another apographe was occurred, at least. Two registrations are mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures as taking place after Judea came under subjection to Rome. The first is that reported Luke 2:1-3.

Bible critics have said that the only census taken while Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was governor of Syria was about 6 C.E., which event sparked a rebellion by Judas the Galilean and the Zealots. (Acts 5:37) This was really the second registration under Quirinius, for inscriptions discovered at and near Antioch revealed that some years earlier Quirinius had served as the emperor’s legate in Syria (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, by W. Ramsay, 1979, pp. 285, 291).

Since you are searching for references, I content you from now on.
The Dictionnaire du Nouveau Testament in Crampon’s French Bible (1939 ed., p. 360) says: “The scholarly researches of Zumpt (Commentat. epigraph., II, 86-104; De Syria romana provincia, 97-98) and of Mommsen (Res gestae divi Augusti) place beyond doubt that Quirinius was twice governor of Syria.”
Many scholars locate the time of Quirinius’ first governorship as somewhere between the years 4 and 1 B.C.E., probably from 3 to 2 B.C.E. Their method of arriving at these dates, however, is not solid, and the actual period of this governorship remains indefinite.

In the Chronographus Anni CCCLIIII, a list of Roman consuls, the name of Quirinius appears in 12 B.C.E. along with that of Messala. (Chronica Minora, edited by T. Mommsen, Munich, 1981, Vol. I, p. 56) Roman historian Tacitus briefly recounts Quirinius’ history, saying: “[He] sprang from the municipality of Lanuvium—had no connection; but as an intrepid soldier and an active servant he won a consulate under the deified Augustus, and, a little later, by capturing the Homonadensian strongholds beyond the Cilician frontier, earned the insignia of triumph . . . , adviser to Gaius Caesar during his command in Armenia.” (The Annals, III, XLVIII) His death took place in 21 C.E.

Not mentioned by Tacitus is Quirinius’ relationship to Syria. Jewish historian Josephus relates Quirinius’ assignment to Syria as governor in connection with the simultaneous assignment of Coponius as the Roman ruler of Judea. He states: “Quirinius, a Roman senator who had proceeded through all the magistracies to the consulship and a man who was extremely distinguished in other respects, arrived in Syria, dispatched by Caesar to be governor of the nation and to make an assessment of their property. Coponius, a man of equestrian rank, was sent along with him to rule over the Jews with full authority.” Josephus goes on to relate that Quirinius came into Judea, to which his authority was extended, and ordered a taxation there. This brought much resentment and an unsuccessful attempt at revolt, led by “Judas, a Gaulanite.” (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 1, 2, 3, 4 [i, 1]) This is evidently the revolt referred to by Luke at Acts 5:37. According to Josephus’ account it took place in “the thirty-seventh year after Caesar’s defeat of Antony at Actium.” (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 26 [ii, 1]) That would indicate that Quirinius was governor of Syria in 6 C.E.

Peg is right when cites the Lapis Tiburtinus (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, edited by H. Dessau, Berlin, 1887, Vol. 14, p. 397, No. 3613). It contains the statement that on going to Syria he became governor (or, legate) for ‘the second time.’ On the basis of inscriptions found in Antioch containing Quirinius’ name, many historians acknowledge that Quirinius was also governor of Syria in the B.C.E. period. She is right also when mentions the Jewish Antiquities, XVI, 277, 280 [ix, 1]; XVI, 344 [x, 8] to prove the possible duality of the hegemons we discuss.

Josephus lists Quintilius Varus as governor of Syria at the time of, and subsequent to, the death of Herod the Great. (Jewish Antiquities, XVII, 89 [v, 2]; XVII, 221 [ix, 3]) Tacitus also refers to Varus as being governor at the time of Herod’s death. (The Histories, V, IX) Josephus states that Varus’ predecessor was Saturninus (C. Sentius Saturninus).

Many scholars, in view of the evidence of an earlier governorship by Quirinius, suggest the years 3-2 B.C.E. for his governorship. While these dates would harmonize satisfactorily with the Biblical record, the basis on which these scholars select them is in error. That is, they list Quirinius as governor during those years because they place his rule after that of Varus and hence after the death of Herod the Great, for which they use the popular but erroneous date of 4 B.C.E. (if you want, I am able to give you the reasons for this mine date refusal when you ask me). For the same reason, that is, their use of the unproved date 4 B.C.E. for Herod’s death, they give Varus’ governorship as from 6 to 4 B.C.E.; the length of his rule, however, is conjectural, for Josephus does not specify the date of its beginning or of its end. The best evidence points to 2 B.C.E. for the birth of Jesus. Hence Quirinius’ governorship must have included this year or part thereof.

You have to remember that Luke did not write in English (luckily!). Then he didn’t write governor but hegemon. Now, like you well know, this Greek word can include many meanings. This Greek term came from the verb egeomai and it means a guide, a leader (like in Ovid and Herodotus), a head, dux, governor, prefect (like in Sophocles). Some, therefore, suggest that, at the time of what Luke refers to as the “first registration,” Quirinius served in Syria in the capacity of a special legate of the emperor exercising extraordinary powers. A factor that may also aid in understanding the matter is Josephus’ clear reference to a dual rulership of Syria, since in his account he speaks of two persons, Saturninus and Volumnius, serving simultaneously as “governors of Syria.”

An inscription found in Venice (Lapis Venetus) refers to a census conducted by Quirinius in Syria. However, it provides no means for determining whether this was in his earlier or his later governorship.—Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, edited by T. Mommsen, O. Hirschfeld, and A. Domaszewski, 1902, Vol. 3, p. 1222, No. 6687.

Luke’s proved accuracy in historical matters gives sound reason for accepting as factual his reference to Quirinius as governor of Syria around the time of Jesus’ birth. Justin Martyr, a Palestinian of the second century C.E., cited the Roman records as proof of Luke’s accuracy as regards Quirinius’ governorship at the time of Jesus’ birth. (A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, edited by B. Orchard, 1953, p. 943) There is no evidence that Luke’s account was ever challenged by early historians, even by early critics such as Celsus.

Such were not merely to ascertain population figures but, rather, were mainly for purposes of taxation and conscription of men for military service. Also a Bible-critic forum member (mess. #11) admits that “the paramount purpose of the Roman census was for raising taxes”. King James Version (KJV) translate the Greek word with taxing. Then, despite the possible risks, the Emperor decided that the game was worth the candle.
Like today editorialists, the evangelists reported what they found proper to cite in their condensed gospels, omitting what they not found advisable, basing themselves on the model they choose to write.

So, doesn’t exist any motive to tax Luke, and the Bible in general, with unreliability.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by Michamus, posted 05-10-2009 1:59 PM Michamus has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by bluescat48, posted 05-12-2009 1:31 PM Asteragros has responded
 Message 37 by Michamus, posted 05-13-2009 2:22 AM Asteragros has responded
 Message 57 by PaulK, posted 05-16-2009 1:46 PM Asteragros has responded
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Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 35 of 156 (508338)
05-12-2009 4:54 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by bluescat48
05-12-2009 1:31 PM

As regards the authorship of Luke I think you have to examine the proofs with more carefulness.

You say: “is no evidence that Luke wrote ‘Luke’”.
Oh, so all the discovering work of Ludovico Antonio Muratori is gets lost, just after about 270 years!

In reality, we can found in the famous (evidently, not so famous for all the people) Muratorian Fragment - which is in Latin, and dates to the latter part of the second century C.E. - the words: “The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, wrote it in his own name […]”.

As regards the reason of the Emperor’s command to travel back to each one town of origin perhaps it was linked with the fixing of the amount of taxes the Empire was able to obtain from the Palestine.
Everyone had to declare plainly and directly on the spot, under the threat of Imperial seizing, maybe, the amount of his properties and, on this base, the corresponding taxes were effected. A different approach of the Imperial objective (for example a self-declaration of own estates) could bring to a bigger confusion. Moreover, in that epoch were not used topographical maps, land registry on trigonometrical base, and so on.

If you self-declared (so avoiding the travel back to your town of origin), supposing, at the presence of an imperial representative, a reduced amount of properties, you can pay fewer taxes, surely, but the rest that you didn’t included in the declaration became an Imperial property.
Should do you so?

On the other hand, if you self-declared a bigger amount of estates, you can pay a greater amount of taxes and, furthermore, existed the risk that another Hebrew can lay claim his right to the properties you push up in the declaration.
Is this choice a paying proposition better than the previous?

It seems to me that the Imperial choice Luke cites was the best manner to avoid a mishmash of unverifiable self-declarations and riots of people enraged.

Scholar Albert Barnes asserts: “Judea was at that time tributary to Rome. It paid taxes to the Roman emperor; and, though Herod was “king,” yet he held his appointment under the Roman emperor, and was subject in most matters to him. Farther, as this “enrollment” was merely to ascertain the numbers and property of the Jews, it is probable that they were very willing to be enrolled in this manner; and hence we hear that they went willingly, without tumult - contrary to the common way when they were “to be taxed.” (Notes on the Bible)

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Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 54 of 156 (508800)
05-16-2009 10:20 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by Michamus
05-13-2009 2:22 AM

Since this thread was started by Michamus it seems to me appropriate address this message to him, but to avoid proliferation of criss-crosses messages, this answer of mine is directed, implicitly, also to the other “Bible critics”, like BlueScat48, Perdition and so on.

Michamus said: “This would obviously mean that the first Roman census to occur with Quirinius as Governor of Syria would have been 14AD. This is at least 8 years too late for the supposed birth of Jesus.”
Who supposes that the Jesus’ birth was 6 C.E.? I’ve never heard a scholar proposing this idea. Do you want be the first?

I could focus my attention to the historical mistakes you made, but my purpose is to defend the reliability of the Bible. The learned members of this forum become aware surely of this errors of yours.


Whatever a critic (BlueScat48 and similars) may say, the mankind history is full of things that “make no sense” (from some observers viewpoints), at all. (I made yet the example of the Nazi invasion to Russia, but the examples can increase out of all proportion, ranging over through the places and the eras). I hope you are aware of this fundamental characteristics of history so to make not indispensable for my part to cite hundreds of historical facts of this kind.


Here I have to clear an aspect of the imperial edict Luke reports. I thought it was yet clear for all but it seems is not so. The apographe (registration, and similar) addressed the Palestine only!. All the dissertations about the roaming from a continent to another (even from Belgium to Cairo!) from what they crop up?

These contributors have to read the Bible more accurately. Maybe, they forget that, for an example, Hebrew daughters who inherited land were required to marry only in the family of their father’s tribe, in order to prevent the circulation of their inheritance from tribe to tribe (Numbers 36:6-9). So, families were given assignments within the territory of their tribe, than the land was kept in the possession of the same family from generation to generation. The inviolability of the hereditary possession is illustrated in the case of Naboth’s vineyard. Naboth refused either to sell it to the king or to exchange it for another vineyard (1 Kings 21:2-6).

The Greek expression pasan ten oikoumenen literally means all the inhabited (earth). This expression doesn’t intend all the regions of the globe inhabited in that epoch but the Palestine, like part of the Roman Empire. To the linguistics scholars this is not odd. Ptolemy Evergetes (Apud Fabricii Biblioth Gr. Tom. 2. p. 608) calls his kingdom even kosmos, "the world".

Now, about the use of the word oikoumene in Luke text, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament states:

“The word here used . . . usually denotes the inhabitable world, the parts of the earth which are cultivated and occupied. It is sometimes limited, however, to denote an entire land or country, in contradistinction from the parts of it; thus, to denote the whole of the land of Palestine in distinction from its parts, or to denote that an event would have reference to all the land, and not be confined to one or more parts, as Galilee, Samaria, etc.”

Clarke, in his Commentary on the Bible) explains:

“It is agreed, on all hands, that this cannot mean the whole world, as in the common translation; for this very sufficient reason, that the Romans had not the dominion of the whole earth, and therefore could have no right to raise levies or taxes in those places to which their dominion did not extend. Oikoumene signifies properly the inhabited part of the earth, from oikeo, to dwell, or inhabit. Polybius makes use of the very words in this text to point out the extent of the Roman government, lib. vi. c. 48; and Plutarch uses the word in exactly the same sense, Pomp. p. 635. See the passages in Wetstein […]”; “It appears that […] Luke used this word oikoumenein this sense in conformity to the Septuagint [the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (“LXX” from now on, in mine messages)], who have applied it in precisely the same way.”

In fact, Isaiah 13:5 (LXX) has the same expression (pasan ten oikoumenen) referring to the land of Babylon. So in Isaiah 14:26. Similarly, in Isaiah 24:1 (LXX) this expression refers to the Tyre’s country.

In Acts of the Apostles (another Bible book authored by Luke) 11:28 is reported a synonimical expression (holen ten oikoumenen), that, according Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, XX:2:5; 5:2) appears to restrict it to Palestine and not to the globe.

Moreover, local census were inside the frame of August’s political program. According Tacitus (Annales I:11), August leaved, to his death, a Breviarium Totius Imperii where were indicated all the public incomes, the amount of Roman citizens (and the allies), the taxes and the tributes. It's only obvious that these informations could be collected only by an apographe. Not only this. The history reports about local census performed by August. For example, on 28 B.C.E. he called a census for the Gallia. Some papyrus reveal that Egypt, was under local census, at intervals of 14 years Vita di Gesù Cristo (Life of Jesus Christ); author: Giuseppe Ricciotti, 1941, Mondadori, Milan, pages 183-184).

Michamus said: “The type of census stipulated in Luke is not found in any historical references of any kind.[…]. It is quite clear that a Roman census does not require one to return to their home town.” (mess. #3). And: “I notice that you [Peg] had no rebuttal to my historical dates in regard to the timing of the only census that was even remotely close to the supposed date of Jesus birth as well, and the complete lack of an historical evidence for a ‘Luke style’ census having ever occurred at all.”(mess. #17)

Without offending you, we have historical indications that the obligation to go back to the town of origin (mentioned by Luke) was performed also in other cases. A scholar reported that the obligation to be registered in the place of each one origin, belonging to each one stock or lineage, is attested also by an ordinance of Gaius Vibius Maximus, Egypt’s prefect. According it, the census was according in compliance with the families. This scholar added:

“This manner to perform the Palestinian census was a very clever measure, also very opportune, politically. This, because it respected the Hebrew people’s traditions, avoiding, consequently, violent reactions from the part of those subjects […].”(Vangelo secondo Luca tradotto e commentato da Benedetto Prete (Gospel according Luke, translated and edited by Benedetto Prete), Rizzoli Editore, Milan, 1961, page 123).

Then, what’s the problem if Luke reports the local apographe of Palestine?


The information about Quirinius are enough to give reliability to the Luke’s account.
We know from the historical data we have in our possession today that Quirinius was hegemon twice (I’ve yet gave the historical indication about this in mine message #33). The Quirinius’s first political office history records was on 12 B.C.E. In that year were apponted the consuls Publius Sulpicius Quirinius and Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus Appianus Cronologia Universale U.T.E.T. (U.T.E.T. Universal Chronology), 1995, Turin, Italy, on the date "12 a.C."; Vita di Gesù Cristo (Life of Jesus Christ); author: Giuseppe Ricciotti, 1941, Mondadori, Milan, Italy, page 184.

So, since Luke linked the Syria’s apographe period to the synchronical period August/Quirinius, it’s clear that the first Quirinius’ hegemonia over the Syria must be found in period 12 B.C.E. - birth of Christ.
Now, in the about 10-8 B.C.E. span, Marcus Titius was hegemon of Syria; into the period 8-6 B.C.E. it was Sentius Saturninus; from 6 to 5 B.C.E. that assignment was invested by Quintilius Varo Vita di Gesù Cristo (Life of Jesus Christ); author: Giuseppe Ricciotti, 1941, Mondadori, Milan, Italy, page 185.

Since the span 12-8 B.C.E. is too far to be linked with the birth of Jesus, it remains to us the only period 5-1 B.C.E. We don’t possess, until now, no historical data for establish who was the hegemon of Syria, in that period.

Why, it would be considered untrustworthy the Luke’s datum that Quirinius was hegemon of Syria?

Would I say like you have made (“This is so that the moderately to poorly educated christian can believe the book to be accurate in reference to Quirinius as governor of Syria around the time of Jesus birth” (Michamus mess. #24)?

This is the manner to confront data and ideas?
So, if I believe in what Luke stated, it means I am a “poorly educated christian”?
Compliments for your cogent logic.
You should know that the attack ad personam is performed when one is badly off arguments.

So, must I deny the reliability of Luke’s report only for you are very prejudiced about the Bible?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Michamus, posted 05-13-2009 2:22 AM Michamus has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 55 of 156 (508802)
05-16-2009 10:25 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by Perdition
05-12-2009 5:06 PM

Sorry, you have to read the Bible more accurately.

Maybe, you have forget that, for an example, Hebrew daughters who inherited land were required to marry only in the family of their father’s tribe, in order to prevent the circulation of their inheritance from tribe to tribe (Numbers 36:6-9).
So, families were given assignments within the territory of their tribe, than the land was kept in the possession of the same family from generation to generation.
The inviolability of the hereditary possession is illustrated in the case of Naboth’s vineyard. Naboth refused either to sell it to the king or to exchange it for another vineyard (1 Kings 21:2-6).
Then, there wasn't any roaming of people throughout the Roman Empire.
(Please read also my answer to Michamus [mess. #54]).

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Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 72 of 156 (509483)
05-22-2009 3:38 AM
Reply to: Message 57 by PaulK
05-16-2009 1:46 PM

First of all, you say that the Lapis Tiburtinus “appears more likely to mean ‘governor of Asia and governor of Syria’”.

But the lapis doesn’t contain the expressions uno tempore, eodem tempore or similar. So, where do you find that the Latin term iterum (present in the lapis) has the meaning of “and” or “together” (or similar)?

Really more likely the lapis appears to mean “governor of Syria again”, or “…for the second time” (or similar), just the true meaning of iterum suggests us.

Edited by Asteragros, : No reason given.

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Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 125 of 156 (510176)
05-28-2009 10:49 AM
Reply to: Message 73 by PaulK
05-22-2009 3:50 AM

You said once: “Nor does it (the lapis) unambiguously state that the person it refers to was twice governor of Syria (it appears more likely to mean governor of Asia and governor of Syria).”
I’m happy that you now acknowledge that the Latin term iterum in the lapis implies a repetition of the politic office it refers. Even, you even present us, now, the new possibility that the person the lapis refers was twice hegemon in both places: Syria and Asia! Thanks so much. But we are speaking about Joe that ate a pizza in two different occasions. If he, secondly, ate eat twice also a hot-dog, that’s all very well for him, but, in every case, this other interpretation confirms that what Luke refers is both reasonable and plausible.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 73 by PaulK, posted 05-22-2009 3:50 AM PaulK has responded

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 Message 127 by PaulK, posted 05-28-2009 11:13 AM Asteragros has responded

Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 126 of 156 (510177)
05-28-2009 11:00 AM
Reply to: Message 117 by Michamus
05-27-2009 7:23 AM

Reading history to understand what happened in the past is in itself an act of trust toward the ancient writers.
Obviously, there are many ancient essays that are figment of the writers’ imagination (poems, fables, allegories, et cetera). For these works – you probably could agree with me - isn’t important establish their historical reliability.
We are dissertating, instead, about a text that presents itself as a description of ancient happenings. So, also if we, for many reasons, are inclined to exclude the events that are beyond our common human experience (what we called miracles), we are bound to consider as occurred all the events that are plausible.
This isn’t a dogmatic stance but is the only manner to know what occurred in the past.

Very often it happens that an ancient writer (A) asserts that in an any given moment of history, in an any given place, a certain character made this or that action.

Now, if:
- no-one other ancient writer (B+) cites the same event;
- no-one other ancient writer contradicts (B+) the A event description (on sound basis, obviously);
- the event is in itself plausible
we are bound to accept that event as a historical fact.

Moreover, consider texts like Iliad, Odissey, The Argonauts’ Travel, et similia.
Even if we decided to exclude the so-called mythological sections of them, they could be considered – after due consideration – dependable historical sources, for one reason or another. Maybe about geography, social structure, costumes and traditions, war expertise, et cetera, in relation to the people that such works reported to.

It’s also illogic we consider an ancient writer so untrustworthy to believe what he said only if exists another independent confirmation to every statements of him. It would be more logic to remove totally this author from the ancient witness list. But, doing so, we have to be coherent in this matter and so we have to delete all the ancient writers that are included into this narrow requirement.
Do you intend act in this manner?

By saying this I’m not going to assert that all the ancient writers have the same degree of reliability, or that we have to believe an author in toto or, on the contrary, we have to refuse an author in toto. But, isn’t correct we exclude from the trusted sources list an ancient author that reports some events that are unusual (from our viewpoint). So, you cannot conclude Luke is untrustworthy only because he mentions an event that from your viewpoint is unusual, inside the Roman Empire historical environment. The historical data show that these events occurred, also if they weren’t the norm (from your viewpoint).
If you insist to exclude Luke from the trusted historical source list you have to delete from that list – even more so – all the ancient writers that declared events not simply unusual but clearly false (do you exclude Herodotus from this list in view of his assertion that there weren’t vineyards in Egypt?)

Your blunder is a blunder of choice.

Next time you should choose a different Bible example. If you will be able to find an event described in the Bible where all the ancient writers (or, the majority of them) contradict it, we can start to discuss.

Moreover, I encourage you to answer to these questions (also before this international WEB audience):
1) Do you exclude Luke (from the ancient trusted writers’ list) if he (or an any so-and-so) had reported - what we now find in Luke 2 - in a purely chronachistic area, that is, with no relation with any prophecy? If you answer “Yes”, why this would be different?

2) If all the testimonies of the ancient historians would confirm the Luke’s statements about the apographe, do you really believe the prophecy (of Micah 5:2) was fulfilled? Sincerely, don’t you advance other pretexts to reassert what you seem to believe –a priori – that is, it is impossible that a real prophecy exists?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 117 by Michamus, posted 05-27-2009 7:23 AM Michamus has responded

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Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 129 of 156 (510180)
05-28-2009 11:40 AM
Reply to: Message 127 by PaulK
05-28-2009 11:13 AM

You said: “Of course it's not the plausibility of what Luke said that's in question here.”.

This is false.

The plausibility of Luke’s account is a pivotal argument in this topic.

If you consider plausible the Luke’s account then you have to consider him an integrative historical source. In this case, isn’t difficult harmonize him with the other historycal data we possess.

If you consider not plausible the Luke’s account you have to delete, together with Luke, all the ancient writers that cited events not directly confirmed by other ancient writers.

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Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 131 of 156 (510183)
05-28-2009 12:15 PM
Reply to: Message 130 by PaulK
05-28-2009 11:48 AM

First of all, my message (“this particular part of the discussion”) was addressed to Michamus and not to you.
I should continue to discuss to him along a particular thread of conversation. So, if you consider not important the argument of the plausibility of Luke’s account, what’s the problem? It’s enough for you don’t reply a post you not agree the thread of conversation.

Secondly, your definition (“simplistic judgements”) about mine historical data assessment’s criteria is an your personal viewpoint (for what it’s worth).
Me, also, I might say that your historical data assessment’s criteria are over-complicated and without reasonable limits.
But so we will go nowhere.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 130 by PaulK, posted 05-28-2009 11:48 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 133 by PaulK, posted 05-28-2009 12:33 PM Asteragros has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 136 of 156 (510579)
06-01-2009 3:24 PM
Reply to: Message 132 by Perdition
05-28-2009 12:30 PM

You say: We are bound, only, to accept that the event is plausible. We have no reason to accept it as "TRUE" merely because it could have happened and no one said it didn't. I have many works of historical fiction that are very plausible, and I don't know of any other works that explicity contradict them. Am I, in the absence of the author telling me they're fiction, to regard them as true?

So, when we have to decide an event is not only plausible but also an historical fact?
If the text isn’t presented like a fiction but as a chronicle of past events, we have no reason to accept it as true? Fine, doing so we have to delete the majority of ancient writers’ stories!

If you, a priori have doubt on the ancient writers’s reliability you are not able to know what is happened in the past (except but from archaeological discoverings).

Sorry, this is logic, simply.

I’ve yet explained (see my message 126) that there are many ancient essays that are figment of the writers’ imagination (poems, fables, allegories, et cetera). For these works […] isn’t important establish their historical reliability.

So, your claim I have many works of historical fiction that are very plausible and I don't know of any other works that explicity contradict them. Am I, in the absence of the author telling me they're fiction, to regard them as true? has very little to do with the argument we discuss.
We are discuss on Luke’s text. Luke presents his account as historical one, not fiction. His manner to cling his accounts to synchronistic data about men in power of his age shows that his story isn’t a fable or an allegory, but is a chronicle.

A legal writer (I. H. Linton in A Lawyer Examines the Bible, 1943, page 38) once observed: “While romances, legends and false testimony are careful to place events related in some distant place and some indefinite time, thereby violating the first rules we lawyers learn of good pleading, that ‘the declaration must give time and place,’ the Bible narratives give us the date and place of the things related with the utmost precision.
In proof he cited Luke 3:1, 2: “Now, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene. Annas and Cajaphas being the high priests, the word of God declaration came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” [KJV].

There is no indefiniteness here as to time or place, but Luke names no less than seven public officials so that we can establish the time of the beginning of John’s ministry and that of Jesus.

I cannot but agree with A. Rendle Short (Modern Discovery and the Bible , 1955, page 211) when he said: ”It is one of the most searching tests of Luke’s historical sense that he always manages to achieve perfect accuracy.”

Sure, you may agree or not agree with this. But you cannot claim that Luke’s account is comparable to a fiction-story, or that “we have no reason to accept it as true”.

Quite the opposite, we have no reason (owing to his chronachistic account’s plausibility) to accept it as untrue.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 132 by Perdition, posted 05-28-2009 12:30 PM Perdition has responded

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 Message 137 by Perdition, posted 06-01-2009 4:10 PM Asteragros has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 2141 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002

Message 138 of 156 (510592)
06-01-2009 4:30 PM
Reply to: Message 135 by Michamus
05-29-2009 9:26 AM

Every forums gives us the possibility to present to an international audience our viewpoint, our arguments, and our convinctions.
This is the great advantage of this system of communication.
I have no claim to persuade anyone.
I have only the privilege to present what I believe are the arguments in Bible support. Then, the forum readers so have the opportunity to weigh up the arguments presented and draw inferences from them.
My purpose is only this. Nothing else.

I’m surely interested to what others tell me, obviously, also if in a debate manner; while the personal attacks, regardless of facts, it leaves me cold.

So, I will present now some final arguments that - added with the previous ones yet discuss – will complete this debate (from my viewpoint, granted).

I will confine myself to cite excerptions of an interesting study, intersperse sometimes with some mine introductions.

First of all, this scholar presents another linguistic interpretation of Luke’s account:
“[…] the linguistic data of the last few decades indicates that Luke 2:1 should be translated 'BEFORE the census of Quirinius' instead of the customary 'FIRST census of Quirinius' (see Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament, T&T Clark; 1966, pp. 23, 24 and Syntax, p. 32. This would 'solve the problem' without even requiring two terms of office for Quirinius.
And, while we are talking about Greek here... the term Luke uses for Quirinius' 'governorship' is the VERY general term hegemon, which in extra-biblical Greek was applied to prefects, provincial governors, and even Caesar himself. In the NT it is similarly used as a 'wide' term, applying to procurators--pilate, festus, felix--and to general 'rulers' (Mt 2.6). [The New Intl. Dict. of New Test. Theology (ed. Brown) gives as the range of meaning: "leader, commander, chief" (vol 1.270)...this term would have applied to Quirinius at MANY times in his political career, and as a general term, Syria would have had several individuals that could be properly so addressed at the same time. Remember, Justin Martyr called him 'procurator' in Apology 1:34, which is also covered by this term.]” […]

Now he precises the chronological developments of the events:
“Remember, the census in AD 6 is NOT the one of Luke 2.2 (of 8-6 BC.)...but the census of AD 6 DID hit the Jews pretty heavily...at least 600 talents as a nation acc. to Josephus (Antiq. 17.320; Jewish War 2.97--cited in Jeremias' Jerusalem in the Times of Jesus: An investigation into the economic and social conditions during the New Testament period, Fortress: 1969). As a national tax, it DID effect the Jewish folk--loads like this are ALWAYS 'distributed to the people'(!) in addition to the already oppressive tax structure of the Herods...
And Luke does NOT place the 'worldwide census' at the time of the AD 6 tax... but rather puts it some time BEFORE the Syrian-based one in 7-5 BC...
But more accurately, Luke was probably not referring to a taxation census at all--simply a "registration". Registrations were normally associated with (1) taxation (above discussion); (2) military service (Jews were exempt) and (3) special government "ballots". We have conclusive evidence that an empire-wide (in decree, not necessarily execution, of course) registration occurred in the time frame described by Luke!”

At this point this scholar cites another expert (Martin):
"A[nother] reason for placing the nativity of Jesus in 3 or 2 B.C. is the coincidence of this date with the New Testament account that Jesus was born at the time when a Roman census was being conducted: "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the […] world should be registered" (Luke 2:1).
Historians have not been able to find any empire-wide census or registration in the years 7-5 B.C., but there is a reference to such a registration of all the Roman people not long before 5 February 2 B.C. written by Caesar Augustus himself: "While I was administering my thirteenth consulship [2 B.C.] the senate and the equestrian order and the entire Roman people gave me the title Father of my Country" (Res Gestae 35, italics added). This award was given to Augustus on 5 February 2 B.C., therefore the registration of citizen approval must have taken place in 3 B.C. Orosius, in the fifth century, also said that Roman records of his time revealed that a census was indeed held when Augustus was made "the first of men"--an apt description of his award "Father of the Country"--at a time when all the great nations gave an oath of obedience to Augustus (6:22, 7:2). Orosius dated the census to 3 B.C. And besides that, Josephus substantiates that an oath of obedience to Augustus was required in Judea not long before the death of Herod (Antiquities I7:4I-45).
This agrees nicely in a chronological sense with what Luke records. But more than that, an inscription found in Paphlagonia (eastern Turkey), also dated to 3 B.C., mentions an "oath sworn by all the people in the land at the altars of Augustus in the temples of Augustus in the various districts." And dovetailing precisely with this inscription, the early (fifth century) Armenian historian, Moses of Khoren, said the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem was conducted by Roman agents in Armenia where they set up "the image of Augustus Caesar in every temple.''. The similarity of this language is strikingly akin to the wording on the Paphlagonian inscription describing the oath taken in 3 B.C. These indications can allow us to reasonably conclude that the oath (of Josephus, the Paphlagonian inscription, and Orosius) and the census (mentioned by Luke, Orosius, and Moses of Khoren) were one and the same. All of these things happened in 3 B.C."
What this means is that we have very, very clear evidence of an empire-wide registration in the time frame required!”

Now, I cite you the finale summary of this scholar:

“A couple of concluding points:

  • That Augustus MIGHT HAVE issued a world-wide census decree (a record of which is only preserved in Luke's gospel) is ALTOGETHER reasonable and plausible. The data about Augustus' 'propensity' to count and tax is well known. For example, he documents, in his own records, how he counted the Roman nation some three times (Res Gestae Divi Augusti , 8--from Roman Civilization--SourceBook II: the Empire, eds. Lewis and Reinhold, p 12)., and increasingly levied detailed taxes throughout his reign--with the attendant increase in bribery and vice (see Gibbons'Rise and Fall). As vain as he was, it would not be surprising at all for this to have occurred.

  • It was also customary for the Roman empire to take a census when there was a change of local government (e.g. when Archelaus was deposed in AD 6, one of Quirinius' first tasks was to liquidate his estate and hold a census to determine the tribute load.) The implication of this pattern for our discussion is that when Varus became governor of Syria in 7 BC, one of his first acts would have been to take a census (the one which would have produced the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Joseph/Mary.)

  • We KNOW Augustus instituted a 14-year census-cycle for EGYPT in 10/9 BC...(SourceBook II, above, p. 388)...Not only does this give us more confirmation that Augustus was a "countin' sorta guy'" but it may reflect a local execution of a 'worldwide decree' of Augustus.

  • To assert that Augustus did not make such a decree is an affirmative historical statement. And, "the burden of proof, for any historical assertion, always rests upon its author" (Hacket, Historians' Fallacies, Harper: 1970, p 63.).

  • And to argue that Luke was wrong because there was NO worldwide decree (because we don't have a record of the specific decree) is to make a common mistake in historical method--arguing from 'slim' silence (some silence-arguments can be made to work, though). Hacket again:
    "evidence must always be affirmative. Negative evidence is a contradiction in terms--it is no evidence at all. The nonexistence of an object [read: "worldwide decree"-gmm] is established not by nonexistent evidence [read: "we can't find the decree so far"-gmm] but by affirmative evidence of the fact that it did not, or could not exist [e.g. a document that says it did not happen--gmm]" (above, p62)

  • And, in spite of the above methodological and background problems, we DO HAVE CONCRETE EVIDENCE of an empire-wide Augustian registration--literary, archeological, iconographic.

To summarize this section on the 'the missing census of 7/5 BC': I HAVE affirmative evidence and good arguments for such a census:[list]

  • Augustus was this 'type of person' with repeated, known actions along this line.

  • These kinds of events occurred at major changes in ruling personnel--a situation that obtained in Palestine at the time Luke indicates.

  • Parallel events occurred in other Roman-controlled areas, in roughly the same time (i.e. Egypt 10/9 BC).

  • There is not a scrap of contrary data.

  • Quirinius' participation is such an event (along with Varus) is not only possible, but highly likely.

  • We have positive evidence of an empire-wide decree of Augustus within a year or two of the required date.”

    Now, I (Asteragros) think all the arguments have been debated.

    Then, I allow the international forum audience to draw inferences from all the arguments presented.

    Personally, this is my last message in this topic, because for me it’s time to pass to another topic inside this forum.

    Thanks to all.

  • This message is a reply to:
     Message 135 by Michamus, posted 05-29-2009 9:26 AM Michamus has not yet responded

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     Message 140 by PaulK, posted 06-01-2009 5:07 PM Asteragros has not yet responded
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