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Re: [XTalk] Re: The census of Quirinius: Carlson's rendering of Lk. 2.2

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  • Ken Olson
    ... hypothesis in development that this solution might support or shoot down? No, new hypothesis from me. I just don t think the RSV is so bad here. Sorry,
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 3 2:19 PM
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      On 3 September, David Hindley wrote:

      >>Can I ask where you intend to go with the answer? Doe you have a
      hypothesis in development that this solution might support or shoot
      down?>>

      No, new hypothesis from me. I just don't think the RSV is so bad here.
      Sorry, I haven't gotten around to responding to Stephen's last post yet.

      >>While I have seen Stephen's solution on his site before, I've not
      allowed myself to be drawn into the debate, as it tends to devolve
      into tit for tat bickering, as you noted on the Internet Infidels
      site.>>

      Indeed.

      >>I did open the link to Stephen's site that you provided, and noted he
      explained that, "... though Joseph's travel to Bethlehem was
      occasioned by Augustus's decree (i.e. the registration of 8 BC), the
      most important registration from Augustus's policies was the one that
      took place when Quirinius was governor (and that led to the revolts
      in Galilee). Thus Luke is distinguishing the registration that Joseph
      obeyed from that most prominent one in AD 6, not confusing it."<<

      My point was that there is nothing in the language that *need* be taken as
      distiguishing the census of Quirinius from the census Joseph took part in.
      I think that is true even if we were to adopt Stephen's translation of 2.2.
      The fact that Luke uses AUTH (this, this one) and keeps the noun in the
      nominative in 2.2 suggest he is not drawing a distinction between that verse
      and what he has said before. I think Stephen's interpretation would require
      that what Quirinius did and what Joseph responded to are not different
      registrations, but different parts of the same registration instituted by
      Augustus.

      >>Stephen's text historcical reasoning for treating Lk 2:2 as
      parenthetical is also credible, and probably correct:

      "The reason this parenthetical would have been important is the view
      that Josephus published in his books on the Jewish War in 75 or so
      and in his Jewish Antiquities around 93, identifying the AD 6 census
      as a major cause of the Jewish War sixty years later. Since I date
      the composition of Luke to be quite a few years after 70, it is only
      natural that Luke would want to mention it, even if it was not the
      census Josephus Joseph was responding to."<<

      Again, I am not arguing that it is impossible that 2.2 should be read as a
      digression. I don't think it has to be and there are some good reasons to
      think it is not (see below).

      >>My problem with Stephen's solution is not so much that it avoids
      crediting Luke with the apparent error of equating the registration
      of Qurinius with that which preceeded Jesus birth. The equation of
      the two events (census of 6 CE being the cause of Joseph's trek to
      Bethlehem) poses its own problems if one assumes that the author of
      Luke is the same as that of Acts, considering the apparent
      familiarity the author of Acts had with recent historical events,
      people and geography, making it a significant blunder on the author's
      part.<<

      I am willing to grant that Luke has a decent grasp of chronology, though not
      an inerrant one (e.g., Theudas). In this case, I think the problem might be
      editorial rather than "historical". Luke is consciously setting Jesus birth
      in the context of Roman history, but has overlooked that he already dated
      John's conception to the reign of Herod. Unlike you, I think Luke knew and
      used Matthew's gospel. I think he has both consciously changed Matthew's
      setting for Jesus' birth and allowed a bit of Matthew' story to creep in.

      >>However, I am not sure that making Joseph respond to a supposed
      original decree of Augustus issued around 8 BCE (as distinct from the
      most famous one that took place in Judea in 6 CE) really solves the
      problem. This may be what John Poirier was suggesting when
      recommending Fabian Udoh's laters work, as Udoh calls into serious
      question any assumption that Herod would have been subject to such a
      decree (if the decree is really historical).<<

      Yes. This is one of my reasons for thinking 2.2 is not a digression. As
      far as we can tell from other sources, Quirinius' census is the first time a
      Roman census decreed by Augustus would have been carried out in Judea. I
      haven't gotten hold of Udoh's book yet. Hopefully tomorrow.

      Best,

      Ken

      Kenneth A. Olson
      MA, History, University of Maryland
      PhD Student, Religion, Duke University

      >>Udoh agrees with Schurer that even if Herod's kingdom was required to
      pay tribute to Rome (something he allows, with qualifications as to
      period of reign and amounts involved, whether it was really "tribute"
      or rather periodic exactions of money or services, and the manner by
      which Herod extracted the necessary funds from his subjects), "the
      payment of a lump sum as tribute is quite different from an exaction
      by the Romans of direct taxes from individual citizens of the
      country" (citing Schurer, revised edition, vol i, p. 416, n. 85).

      It would seem that the latter condition would have had to be the case
      for Joseph to have felt obligated to respond to a Roman decree
      and "register" in Judea, and even then the issues of the kind of tax
      (es) he would be registering for and the historical evidence for the
      manner by which these kinds of tax registrations would have actually
      been conducted are kind of side-stepped.

      Personally, I would take Luke 2:2 as an attempt by the author of Luke
      to explain unspecified rumors that Joseph claimed Davidic descent by
      laying claim to land associated with the family of David (which may
      have had political ramifications for early Christians in the late 1st
      century), by treating it as (or something like) Joseph's fulfillment
      of a Roman tax obligation. It takes the edge off a rumor or tradition
      that would have reflected unfavorably on circumstances of Christian
      origins.

      Unfortunately, not enough is known about land tenancy in Judea to
      support such an idea beyond question, although there is more
      information available than most people are aware. The political
      constitution of the Jewish state, its relationship to Herod's kingdom
      (which are not necessariuly identical), and how posession of land was
      traditionally managed in either case, really should be examined much
      more closely than it usually is.<<
    • Jack Kilmon
      ... From: Ken Olson To: Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 4:19 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re: The census
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 3 9:43 PM
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Ken Olson" <kenolson101@...>
        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 4:19 PM
        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re: The census of Quirinius: Carlson's rendering of Lk.
        2.2


        > On 3 September, David Hindley wrote:
        >
        >>>Can I ask where you intend to go with the answer? Doe you have a
        > hypothesis in development that this solution might support or shoot
        > down?>>
        >
        > No, new hypothesis from me. I just don't think the RSV is so bad here.
        > Sorry, I haven't gotten around to responding to Stephen's last post yet.
        >
        >>>While I have seen Stephen's solution on his site before, I've not
        > allowed myself to be drawn into the debate, as it tends to devolve
        > into tit for tat bickering, as you noted on the Internet Infidels
        > site.>>
        >
        > Indeed.
        >
        >>>I did open the link to Stephen's site that you provided, and noted he
        > explained that, "... though Joseph's travel to Bethlehem was
        > occasioned by Augustus's decree (i.e. the registration of 8 BC), the
        > most important registration from Augustus's policies was the one that
        > took place when Quirinius was governor (and that led to the revolts
        > in Galilee). Thus Luke is distinguishing the registration that Joseph
        > obeyed from that most prominent one in AD 6, not confusing it."<<
        >
        > My point was that there is nothing in the language that *need* be taken as
        > distiguishing the census of Quirinius from the census Joseph took part in.
        > I think that is true even if we were to adopt Stephen's translation of
        > 2.2.
        > The fact that Luke uses AUTH (this, this one) and keeps the noun in the
        > nominative in 2.2 suggest he is not drawing a distinction between that
        > verse
        > and what he has said before. I think Stephen's interpretation would
        > require
        > that what Quirinius did and what Joseph responded to are not different
        > registrations, but different parts of the same registration instituted by
        > Augustus.


        The registration and census of 6 CE is too late to be connected with the
        birth of Jesus. Additionally, the registration of 6 CE did not include the
        Galilee. This has long been a stumbling block in the determination of the
        date of Jesus' birth and many scholars merely assumed that Luke had made a
        mistake. In 1912, however, the discovery by W. M. Ramsey of a fragmentary
        inscription at Antioch of Pisidia arguably established Quirinius was in
        Syria on a previous occasion. (1) His role was more military to lead a
        campaign against the Homanadenses, a tribe in the Taurus Mountains. This is
        confirmed by Tacitus. This means that Quirinius would have established a
        seat of government in Syria, including Palestine, from the years 10 to 7
        BCE. In this position he would have been responsible for the census
        mentioned by Luke. This census of 7 BCE would therefore have been the
        "first" census taken when Cyrenius was governor (Luke 2:2) and the
        historically documented census of 6/7 CE was really the second. There is
        further evidence of this first census of 7 BCE in the writings of Tertullian
        who records the census "taken in Judea by Sentius Saturninus." (2) C.
        Sentius Saturninus was Legate of Syria from 9 to 6 BCE. Another inscription,
        the Lapis Tiburtinus, was found in 1764 near Tivoli (Tibur). Composed after
        14 CE, the inscription names an unknown personage who was legate of Syria
        twice. The man is described as having been victorious in war. There is
        considerable dissension among scholars as to whether the unnamed person is
        Quirinius. I think it is more likely that it does indeed refer to the famous
        consul and soldier.

        Scholars have debated about the historicity of this first census
        since there is no record of it in the Roman archives. Their chief argument
        is that Augustus would not have imposed a census for the purpose of taxation
        in the kingdom of a client king like Herod. Herod had his own tax collectors
        and paid tribute to Rome from the proceeds. They further pose that the
        census in 6 CE was imposed because Herod's nutty son Archelaus had been
        deposed and Judea was placed under direct Roman rule. These are good
        arguments.

        Some scholars argue that the early census was invented to support a
        mythological birth in Bethlehem in support of Messianic prophecy. As for the
        early census, I am inclined to believe Luke and Tertullian (even though
        Tertullian isn't one of my favorite characters). I can think of a number of
        reasons based on the history of the time. Lack of records is not evidence
        for or against an historical event. Records are lost and destroyed,
        particularly those that are two millennia old. Rome burned in 64 CE and
        there have been numerous conflagrations and sackings of the city over the
        centuries. Could Augustus had deviated from convention and imposed a census
        in Syria/Palestine in 6 B.C.E? Of course he could. He was the Emperor. Herod
        the Great was ill and, by all accounts of the time, nuttier than a
        fruitcake. He who had once been an able and effective administrator and
        builder, was now paranoid and vicious. He had murdered most of his family,
        including his sons and the wife he loved most. The joke in the Roman court
        by Caesar himself was that one was safer being Herod's pig than Herod's son.
        Josephus records in Antiquities of the Jews, XVI, ix 3 that Augustus was
        furious with Herod in 8 BCE and threatened to treat him no longer as a
        friend (Client), but as a subject (subject to taxes). This is the
        registration of Luke, IMO.

        I think it likely that Augustus, scandalized by Herod's outrageous
        reputation and increasing madness, began the movement toward making Judea a
        prefecture in 8 BCE and part of that preparation was a registration. Caesar
        could have delayed actual imposition of direct rule in deference to Herod's
        ill health and the hope that his successor would not be as loony toony. When
        Herod died and Archelaus turned out to be crazier than his father, Augustus
        threw in the towel (or Toga) and made Palestine a prefecture. He sent
        Quirinius as Legatus (a second time) and Coponius as the first prefect. The
        census of 6 CE therefore becomes the first census under direct Roman rule
        and fell in schedule with the Roman census on a 14 year rotation. The census
        of Jesus' birth, perhaps only a registration, became lost in the archives.
        In this scenario, it would make sense to send Quirinius back as Legatus
        since he presided under the previous registration. Quirinius was no minor
        functionary. He was a Roman senator of the Equestrian order and had been
        consul since 12 BCE. He had won an insignia of triumph for the Homanadensian
        war and had accompanied Caesar to Armenia in 3 CE. He died in 21 CE.(3)
        Service in Palestine was not considered "prime duty" by Roman functionaries
        but the governorship of Syria was one of the most important positions in the
        Empire. The post was always given to the most respected and capable of
        Imperial functionaries chosen from the elite of Roman aristocracy. The
        Syrian Legatus was the commander-in chief of the entire Roman East and
        responsible for the Parthian border. I believe this Roman soldier, senator
        and administrator, who had already served Caesar well, returned to Syria as
        a personal favor for his emperor/friend.


        [1] Emil Shurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ.
        1896., Revised and edited by Geza Vermes, 1979
        [2] Tertullian, Against Marcion, iv, 19

        Jack Kilmon
        San Antonio, TX
      • David C. Hindley
        ...
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 6 8:40 AM
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          --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@...> wrote:

          <<In 1912, however, the discovery by W. M. Ramsey of a fragmentary
          inscription at Antioch of Pisidia arguably established Quirinius was
          in Syria on a previous occasion. (1) His role was more military to
          lead a campaign against the Homanadenses, a tribe in the Taurus
          Mountains. This is confirmed by Tacitus. This means that Quirinius
          would have established a seat of government in Syria, including
          Palestine, from the years 10 to 7 BCE. In this position he would have
          been responsible for the census mentioned by Luke. This census of 7
          BCE would therefore have been the "first" census taken when Cyrenius
          was governor (Luke 2:2) and the historically documented census of 6/7
          CE was really the second. There is further evidence of this first
          census of 7 BCE in the writings of Tertullian who records the
          census "taken in Judea by Sentius Saturninus." (2) C. Sentius
          Saturninus was Legate of Syria from 9 to 6 BCE. Another inscription,
          the Lapis Tiburtinus, was found in 1764 near Tivoli (Tibur). Composed
          after 14 CE, the inscription names an unknown personage who was
          legate of Syria twice. The man is described as having been victorious
          in war. There is considerable dissension among scholars as to whether
          the unnamed person is Quirinius. I think it is more likely that it
          does indeed refer to the famous consul and soldier.>>

          I am not so sure I want to postulate a hypothetical "first"
          governorship of Syria by Quirinius when there is a very real L.
          Calpurnius Piso who better fits the wording of the inscription in
          question (ILS 918).

          <<... Josephus records in Antiquities of the Jews, XVI, ix 3 that
          Augustus was furious with Herod in 8 BCE and threatened to treat him
          no longer as a friend (Client), but as a subject (subject to taxes).
          This is the registration of Luke, IMO.>>

          Just keep in mind that he is said to have "threatened" to, not to
          actually have, demote Herod. Besides, there is no histocical evidence
          that any such "registration" (whatever meaning one attaches to the
          original word involved) ever took place.

          Those 14 year cycles, you certainly know, do not always start in
          synch with one another, but were probably running independently of
          one another, each one starting at whatever date the region was
          annexed as a province. Egypt, where most of our data for 14 year
          cycles is found, technically wasn't even a province, but the
          emperor's personal property.

          In any event, fourteen years was the age males in most taxed regions
          were eligible for poll tax, making it a convenient administrative
          period to confirm that each new crop of taxpayers has been properly
          recorded by the local authorities as they came of age after the
          original registration.

          That being said, I seem to also remember reading (in Schurer?) that
          there is evidence that other periods were used in other places of the
          world.

          Dave Hindley
          Cleveland, OH
          USA
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