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Quirinius (was: Re: The census of Quirinius: Carlson's rendering of Lk. 2.2)

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  • Ken Olson
    On September 12, R. S. Brenchley wrote: [quoting David Hindley] I am not so sure I want to postulate a hypothetical first governorship of Syria by Quirinius
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12 7:52 PM
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      On September 12, R. S. Brenchley wrote:

      [quoting David Hindley]>>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).<<

      >>I'm sure that you're right about Piso, and the inscription is of course
      partial, with the name missing. I'm no Latin expert, and perhaps
      someone can
      confirm this, but I believe that '...legatus pr pr divi Augusti
      iterum Syriam et
      Phoenicen optinuit' actually refers to his 'serving again as a legate
      of the
      divine Augustus', ie he had served as a legate elsewhere in the past.
      I'm not
      sure whether or not this would fit Piso.<<

      The case for the Tiburtinus inscription referring to Piso is laid out in
      Barbara Levick, Roman Colonies in Southern Asia Minor (1967) p. 209. She
      refers to Dio 54.34.5 as establishing that Piso was legatus Augusti pro
      praetore of Galatia-Pamphylia. I've been able to check only an English
      translation of Dio, which has "governor." I doubt the Greek would have the
      proper Latin title either, but it seems reasonable to think Levick is right
      that that's the correct title for governors of the province.

      >>There is a further problem in that the campaign against the
      Homonadenses
      was carried out by P Quintillius (or Quinctillius) Varus, who was
      governor
      immediately after Herod the Great's death, and was responsible for
      suppressing
      a Jewish uprising at that time. Luke's 'Quirinius', on the other hand,
      appears to be P Sulpicius Quirinius, the legate who is recorded by
      Josephus as
      having carried out a census at the time of the establishment of the
      Province of
      Judea, after the exile of Archelaus in 6 AD.<<

      This seems a little odd. Tacitus tells us that Quirinius led the war
      against the Homonadenses (Annals 3.48). The question is when he did it and
      what office he held. In the early twentieth century, it was often argued on
      the basis of the Tiburtinus inscription and the fact that Syria was a
      consular province and had legions attached to it. So some hypothesized that
      Quirinius must have been co-governor of Syria with Varus. However, many
      contested the theory that the anonymous inscription referred to Quirinius
      and in 1933-34 Ronald Syme argued that Quirinius was probably governor of
      Galatia-Pamphylia when he led the fight against the Homonadenses. Syme
      showed that the distinction between consular and praetorian provinces and
      appointments was often not observed in Augustus' time and that the legions,
      too, were not static ["Galatia and Pamphylia Under Augustus: the
      Governorships of Piso, Quirinius and Silvanus," Klio 27 (1934) 122-148;
      "Some Notes on the Legions Under Augustus," JRS 23 (1933) 14-33.] Further,
      he argued that the Homonadenses were in the province of Galatia and the war
      aginst them was probably the responsibility of the governor of that
      province. Syme's position is defended at length by Levick and accepted by
      the Vermes-Millar edition of Schurer's History of the Jewish People and
      Raymond Brown in Birth of the Messiah.

      Best,

      Ken

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