Originally posted by Proper Knob
A question for our Christian posters. I'm interested to read how Christians on this board reconcile the contradiction regarding the birth of Jesus in the Bible. By that i mean this -
The Gospel of Matthew places the story of Jesus birth within the lifetime of Herod the Great, the 'massacre of the innocents' for instance. Herod died in 4BC, so Jesus, ut in 6AD, ten years after the death of Herod the Great. There's the contradiction.
The Romans governed the Orient by a generalissimo and provincial governers. The first
generalissimo or vice-emperor was Cn. Pompeius Magnus, the second was Mark Antony, the
third was Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and the fourth was P.Sulpicius Quirinius. Quirinius
became consul on January 1, 12 B.C. and was released from his duties as consul on August
1, 12 B.C. Agrippa died on March 12, 12 B.C. There seems to be no record of anyone
appointed as generalissimo to replace Agrippa immediately after his death. But it is
apparent that Quirinius was in charge of all campaigns and other affairs in the East
during the following years, so it seems logical to conclude that he replaced Agrippa
as vice-emperor of the Orient. It appears that in Syria he governed alone as did
Agrippa before him, and sometimes with the aid of an imperial provincial governor.
From 10-9 B.C., it is know to be M. Titius; from 9-6 B.C., it was G. Sentius Saturnius,
and from 6-3 B.C., it was P. Quintilius Varus. Varus may have been governor a little
longer; but according to Josephus, Varus was still in office after a passover that the
translator William Whiston dates as 3 B.C. in his footnotes. According to Josephus,
Herod died after an eclipse of the moon that occurred the night after a fast of the
Jews. Whiston says this eclipse has been calculated by the rules of astronomy to have
happened on March 13th in the year of the Julian period 4710, which is believed to be
4 B.C. The fast mentioned is probably Purim which would have been just before that
time in 4 B.C.
It is not likely that Quirinius would have conducted a census in Judea before 6 B.C.
because he was very busy conducting the Homanadensian War up to that time. It was in
6 B.C. that the net of Roman roads were laid out in Galatia. So this appears to be the
earliest date that Quirinius would be free to enforce a census upon Judea. As you say
there is only one census known to be conducted in Judea when Quirinius was governor and
that could not possibly be the one Luke is referring to when he says the first census.
Augustus is known to have taken a census of Roman citizens at least three times, in 28
and 8 B.C. and 14 A.D. There is also evidence that censuses were taken at regular
intervals during his reign in the provinces of Egypt and Sicily, important because of
their wealthy estates and supply of grain. In the provinces, the main goals of a census
of non-citizens were taxation and military service. The earliest such provincial census
was taken in Gaul in 27 B.C.
So I can only speculate that after Augustus ordered the census in 8 B.C. of Roman
citizens, that non-citizens were also ordered to be counted in other areas, such as
Judea. Quirinius got around to it about 6 B.C. which would be before King Herod died.
This was probably his first census referred to by Luke. I have found no information
that would account for them to be required to go to their place of birth other than
what is written in the Holy Bible. However, I have no reason not to believe it since
all details of any of the censuses taken are not known.
Below is another idea in an attempt to explain it, which I found on the web.
You might want to google it and maybe you will find someone that can give you an answer.
I found the following statement in the wiki article "Census of Quirinius"
It may have been in response to this problem that Tertullian, writing around 200, stated that the census had been taken by Gaius Sentius Saturninus (legate of Syria, 9 - 6 BC) rather than Quirinius.
I had mentioned him earlier as an imperial provincial governor under Quirinius.