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The Syrian records and the current accepted chronology of Jesus’ life simply prevent this conclusion. Smith, “Of Jesus and Quirinius,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62 [April 2000]: 278–93; Robert Harry Smith, “Caesar’s Decree (Luke 2:1–2): Puzzle or Key? Alf Christophersen et al., Journal for the Study of the New Testament: Supplement Series, no. For a number of reasons, not least those mentioned below, it seems best to treat Luke as innocent until demonstrably proven guilty.
However, Quirinius’s personal chronology is not fully known, particularly around the years of Jesus’ birth. 217 [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002], pp.
In short, it is most likely under this otherwise unattested office that Quirinius officiated over what Luke describes.
First, it is generally acknowledged that were Quirinius to have previously served as governor of Syria, this service could not have taken place during the time Luke describes (i.e., during Herod’s lifetime and the time of Jesus’ birth). On this second point, Sherwin-White counters by providing other inscriptional evidence indicating that , pp. Because of this, many scholars suggest that were Quirinius to have served as governor during this time, it would have been in Galatia (Brown, , p. It is here often noted that censuses were giant undertakings, surely taking several years to complete (e.g., a 40-year-long census in Gaul; see Maier, “The Date of the Nativity,” p. A variant of this protracted census view is that offered by Stauffer who suggests that in 7 B. Galilean liability, even were Joseph to have owned land in Bethlehem (Judea), still seems more likely were all of Palestine still under Herod the Great’s rule (cf.
Here, however, it should be said that for either of these to work Luke’s record must be read somewhat less than obviously.
To say more would go beyond the present evidence; to say otherwise, would, as we saw, strain the syntax. Howard Marshall is probably right when he suggests that Luke’s full vindication lies buried somewhere, waiting to be unearthed. Vardaman, in fact, calls “[t]he knotty question of Quirinius…the major historical problem of the New Testament.” , updated ed., Anchor Bible Reference Library [New York: Doubleday, 1993], pp. However, this is (1) an argument from silence and (2) built on a debatable presupposition. Hoehner, among others, challenges this, suggesting that it was not only a census that caused such a stir, but it was also the combination of several other factors, factors not present at the time of Luke’s census, not least Judea’s loss of client status ( 51 (2009): 1–29. What is more, not a few of these solutions assume that what needs solving is (1) how Luke could have made the mistake it is presumed he has made and/or (2) how the statement, though a historical inaccuracy, fits Luke’s narrative purpose (see, e.g., T. Wiseman, “There Went Out a Decree from Caesar Augustus….” , ed.
should forestall the rather premature conclusions noted initially. That is, Schürer assumes that were Rome to have taken a census at the time Luke describes the results would have been identical to those occurring after the census of A. Were Steinmann correct and were Herod to have died in 1 B.