James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


A New Theory To Explain The Seeming Conjecture in Luke's Account of Mary & Joseph Going To Bethlehem For The Census


> Excerpt from the Wikpedia entry for the Census of Quirinius:

The Census of Quirinius was the enrollment of the Roman provinces of Syria and Judaea for tax purposes taken in 6/7 A.D. The Census was taken during the reign of Augustus (27 BCE – 14 A.D.), when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria, after the banishment of Herod Archelaus from the Tetrarchy of Judea and the imposition of direct Roman rule. One account of the birth of Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, references this census.

The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that in the year 6–7 A.D., after the exile of Herod Archelaus (one of the sons and successors of Herod the Great), Quirinius (in Greek, Κυρήνιος, sometimes transliterated Cyrenius), a Roman senator, became governor (Legatus) of Syria, while an equestrian assistant named Coponius was assigned as the first governor (Prefect) of the newly created Iudaea Province. These governors were assigned to conduct a tax census for the Emperor in Syria and Iudaea.

Now Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to be a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money.

Josephus links the census to an uprising led by Judas of Galilee. The most likely cause was the association between censuses and taxation, although there may have been religious objections stemming from a biblical account of Satan inciting King David to take a census.

Although Josephus implies the uprising had little immediate success, he regarded their actions as the beginning of a Zealot movement that encouraged armed resistance to the Roman empire, culminating eventually in the First Jewish-Roman War.

The leaders of the uprising claimed that the census and taxation associated with it were tantamount to slavery. It is unclear as to whether this was based on the fact that for the first time in many years they were to pay taxes to a foreign power, or simply that they feared the tax burden would be too high, although there has been debate about whether this was higher under the Romans than it had been under Herod.

However, it was not unusual for the Roman census process to provoke resistance; a provincial census in the year 10 A.D. caused an uprising in Pannonia, and the revolt of Arminius may have been caused by Varus’ decision to start taxing the region in 9 A.D., even though the area had been under Roman rule since 12 B.C.

The earliest such census was taken in Gaul in 27 B.C.; during the reign of Augustus, the imposition of the census provoked disturbances and resistance. In 36 B.C., the tribe of the Clitae, subjects of Archelaus of Cappadocia, objected to attempts by him to impose a Roman-type census on them for the purpose of paying tribute, and the ensuing revolt had to be put down by a force sent by the governor of Syria.

From regular censuses carried out in Egypt, something is known of how Roman provincial (as opposed to earlier, Empire-wide censuses of Roman citizens) censuses were carried out: the head of each household, usually the eldest male, had to provide details of his property and who lived on it, including family members, employees, lodgers and slaves. The name, age and relationship to the head of the household was provided.

The first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke say the birth of Jesus took place at the time of the census: In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2:1–7)

The passage describes how Jesus' parents, Joseph and Mary, travel from their home in Nazareth, in Galilee, to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born; this explains how Jesus, a Galilean, could have been born in Bethlehem in Judea, the city of King David.

This passage has long been considered problematic by Biblical scholars, since it places the birth of Jesus around the time of the census in 6/7 A.D., whereas both this Gospel and the Gospel of Matthew, which makes no mention of the census, indicate a birth in the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 B.C., at least ten years earlier. In addition, no historical sources mention a census of the Roman world which would cover the entire population. Those of Augustus covered Roman citizens only, and it was not the practice in Roman censuses to require people to return to their ancestral homes.

James Dunn wrote: "The idea of a census requiring individuals to move to the native town of long dead ancestors is hard to credit". E. P. Sanders points out that it would have been the practice for the census-takers, not the taxed, to travel, and that Joseph, a resident in Galilee, would not have been covered by a census in Judaea.

Traditionally, biblical scholars tried to suggest ways of reconciling the two accounts, many of which involved assumptions such as that Josephus was wrong, or the text had been corrupted. Their various suggestions are:
The census was actually conducted by one of the governors of Herod's time, such as Gaius Sentius Saturninus or Publius Quinctilius Varus.

There were two different events, either a decree followed by a census ten years later, or a census followed by an imposition of tax ten years later.

The words of Luke could be interpreted to mean that the census had been carried out before Quirinius was governor.

Quirinius had carried out two censuses, and for the earlier census he was either governor or in a subordinate role.

In 1886, the theologian Emil Schürer, in his study, "Geschichte des judischen Volks im Zeitalter Jesu Christi" (A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ), closely criticised the traditional view. He noted five points which showed, he argued, that the Luke account could not be historically accurate:

1. Nothing is known in history of a general census by Augustus.

2. In a Roman census, Joseph would not have had to travel to Bethlehem, and Mary would not have had to travel at all.

3. No Roman census would have been made in Judea during the reign of Herod.

4. Josephus records no such census and it would have been a notable innovation.

5. Quirinius was not governor of Syria until long after the reign of Herod.

The suggested alternative translations have been described as "implausible" and "almost impossible".

Most modern scholars explain the disparity as an error on the part of the author of the Gospel, concluding that he was more concerned with creating a symbolic narrative than a historical account, and was either unaware of, or indifferent to, the chronological difficulty. In "The Birth of the Messiah" (1977), a detailed study of the infancy narratives of Jesus, the American scholar Raymond E. Brown concluded that "this information is dubious on almost every score, despite the elaborate attempts by scholars to defend Lucan accuracy."

W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders ascribe this to simple error: "On many points, especially about Jesus’ early life, the evangelists were ignorant … they simply did not know, and, guided by rumor, hope or supposition, did the best they could". Fergus Millar suggests that Luke's narrative was a construct designed to connect Jesus with the house of David.

______________________________________________



My Theory: Since the northern region of Israel around the Sea of Gallilee was already a hot bed for rebel activity against the Roman Empire, Mary and Joseph probably deliberated about the prospects of trying to rear their son -- the future Son of God -- in such a politically-unstable region that was already drawing the ire and attention of the Roman Empire upon it because of the anti-imperial rebel activity. They probably concluded that it was wiser to rear their son out of sight and mind of both the Roman Empire and its client ruler, Herod.

Moreover, they knew with the upcoming census, unless they moved, their domicile would be listed as Nazareth. They must have suspected that their son who would grow up to be the Son of God would most likely voice opposition to the Roman Empire as well. They clearly did not want their son to be listed as a resident of a village, town, or city in the Galilee region.

Since Augustus Caesar already considered himself to be a god in his own right, they probably comprehended how the very notion of their son claiming to be the son of God might one day be perceived as problematic in terms of drawing undue attention of the Roman Empire. However, they must have concluded that it was best to rear their son in a quieter region where their son's future notariety as the Son of God would be less controversial and not perceived as an outright threat. Therefore, they must have figured a town like Bethlehem in quieter southern Judea would be more desirable all away around.

So, Joseph and Mary departed for Bethlehem with the full intent of making a complete break from northern Israel altogether and relocating to Bethlehem, especially to get there in time to have their domicile listed by the census as Bethlehem. If memory serves, Joseph apparently did have relatives there -- it was his hometown after all -- and who knows, one of his relatives might well have owned an inn there. However, some, if not many, of the homes of the Bethlehem area were built as multi-level dwellings with the bottom-most level reserved as a stable for some farm animals. Having to sleep on the bottom level of a dwelling occupied by the farm animals might well have been an inconvenience; however, it was probably not unheard of.

In either case, their relocation plans were ultimately foiled by the timing of Christ's birth as well as the more unforseen consequences following it, namely those posed by the Roman client ruler, Herod. It's altogether possible that events caught up with them so that they never registered with the census at all. So, when they much later returned from Egypt to Israel, Mary and Joseph moved back to their home region again. Apparently, they felt much safer there after all, especially after the events (including the slaughter of the babies of Bethlehem two years of age and younger) that transpired that had necessitated their flight to Egypt in the first place. The irony would not have been lost on them that they'd wound right back where they'd started from and would have to stay there indefinitely, well out of the zone of influence of Herod and his successors.

So, in my opinion, the notion that people in Israel had to journey back to their home towns in order to be counted in the Roman census is a misguided notion altogether. It seems far more likely that Mary and Joseph had felt the necessity to move to Bethlehem in southern Judea for the best long-term prospects of their son growing up in an environment where he, the future son of God, would be less likely to draw undue ire or attention of the Roman Empire. Moreover, since Joseph had relatives there, it would have been easier for him to have found work there anyway.



4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've got no skin in the fight. I've always considered most of the bible allegorical and admitted that men have heavily tampered with it. Still, that was an interesting and informative read shreve, thanks.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jorge Montero
United States
St Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
badge
I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag. With Latin written on it that says "It's hard to give a shit these days"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
God took Mary as the one that would give birth to Jesus because Joseph always wanted to live in a place with a lower tax rate, and God hates people that want to pay less taxes.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Cates
United States
Visalia
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wikipedia wrote:
The words of Luke could be interpreted to mean that the census had been carried out before Quirinius was governor.

"Protos" in Greek means "before" so this was a census before the famous one made by Quirinius.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dr Who
msg tools
mb
you are treating this myth like is actually happened

LOL!!!!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


DrWhoWho wrote:
you are treating this myth like is actually happened.

LOL!!!!

There are a number of things that were once considered to be merely myth or legend that actually did happen and have since been confirmed to have happened as well.

What's more, since Bethlehem was Joseph's hometown anyway, it didn't require any leap of illogic to get them there. *However,*, it's more than apparent that Joseph and Mary's actual reasons for leaving from Nazareth to go to Bethlehem are obscured. However, given the raging controversies of their times in terms of opposition to the Roman Empire, it's understandable why they may have considered northern Israel around the Sea of Galilee not the ideal place to discreetly rear a child destined to be the Messiah, especially since that region was a hot bed for rebel activity against the Roman Empire.

There's even a Bethlehem in northern Israel that the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church recognizes as the real Bethlehem which they believe to have been Mary & Joseph's destination. But that Bethlehem in northern Israel is not far enough removed from the zone of rebel activity.

There are some theologians who opine that Mary was more learned and already knew that she needed to go to Bethlehem for the birth of her child; however, she may have argued other contemporary compelling reasons to justify their moving there rather than citing that prophetic scripture from the Old Testament which designated Bethlehem as the site of the birth of a future Messiah.




 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dr Who
msg tools
mb
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:

however, she may have argued other contemporary compelling reasons to justify their moving there rather than citing that prophetic scripture from the Old Testament which designated Bethlehem as the site of the birth of a future Messiah.


so we are taking a 70+ year old account regarding a census, that magically fulfilled prophesies already found in the bible...god truly is amazing
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
DrWhoWho wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:

however, she may have argued other contemporary compelling reasons to justify their moving there rather than citing that prophetic scripture from the Old Testament which designated Bethlehem as the site of the birth of a future Messiah.


so we are taking a 70+ year old account regarding a census, that magically fulfilled prophesies already found in the bible...god truly is amazing

The Book of Luke is some 1,900 years old.

I don't know where or how you inferred that the mention of the Census in the Book of Luke is just 70-something years old.





 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dr Who
msg tools
mb
my bad, we are talking about an account that was written 70+ years after it supposedly happened

that's how god works, idiotically
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Born To Lose, Live To Win
United States
South Euclid
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DrWhoWho's supernatural religion is based on things like this:



He can't explain it with fancy facts and book learnin', it just is, man.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
lotus dweller
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
flag msg tools
Avatar
TheChin! wrote:
DrWhoWho's supernatural religion is based on things like this:



He can't explain it with fancy facts and book learnin', it just is, man.

Do these people dance and allow for polyamory and do they have a congregation near me?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.