“Jesus Christ our Promised Seed” Wierwille V. P. 1982, American Christian Press, pp. 200-204 (Chapter Sixteen, “The Birth of Jesus Christ”) says:
The expression “all the world” in Luke 2:1 is the figure of speech "synecdoche", in which “all the world” is put for a part of it and emphasizes here the immensity of the Roman Empire, area over which Caesar asserted authority [Footnote: The decree even affected areas beyond the provincial limits of the empire, showing that it was indeed a wide-ranging registration. According to Luke 2:4 the order was in effect even in Judea, which was not a province at this time but a client kingdom of Rome. Judea had its own king, Herod the Great]. The word “taxed” is from the Greek “apographo” meaning “to register.” Rather than a taxation, this decree was for an enrollment or registration.
Historically, there is evidence that a registration was conducted throughout the Roman Empire and its subject states in 3 B.C. Although registrations were usually conducted in the Roman Empire for tax purposes, this registration was for an official declaration of political allegiance to Caesar Augustus [Footnote: In an inscription dated at 3 B. C. from Asia Minor there is a reference to the conducting of an official declaration of allegiance to Caesar by all in that area. See Nepthali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold, eds. Roman Civilization, 2 vols. (NY: Harper Torchbooks), 2:34-35. According to native sources, in 3 B. C. Roman authorities came to Armenia to set up images of Caesar Augustus in the temples of the area. Moreover, these same sources state that it was the registration mentioned in Luke, which brought them there (Armenian historian Moses of Khorene, History of the Armenians, 2:26). Finally, in Josephus it is recorded that “all the people of the Jews gave assurance of their good-will to Caesar, and to the king’s government” (Antiquities 17.2.4) within two years before Herod’s death, Herod probably dying early in 1 B. C. See Martin, Birth of Christ Recalculated, pp. 89-105] The purpose of this mandated registration was to record an official declaration of allegiance from all of his subjects to present to Caesar Augustus in celebration of his Silver Jubilee (25th anniversary – 27 B. C. to 2 B. C.) of supreme power. Which coincided with the seven hundred fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Rome, and Caesar Augustus’ sixtieth birthday. The oath of allegiance was a part of the preparation for this festive time and set the stage for the 25 anniversary celebration in 2 B. C. In honor of the occasion, the Senate of Rome bestowed upon Caesar Augustus the supreme title of "Pater Patriae", “Father of the Country.”
A logical time of the year for such a registration to take place was September because the weather was mild for travel, the crops were harvested, and one Judean civil year was closing and another beginning [Footnote: William M. Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? (1898; reprinted., Minneapolis: James Family Publishing Co., 1978), pp. 192-193.]
(And this taxing [enrollment, registration] was first made when Cyrenius was governor [Greek: "hegemon", leader, chief, commander] of Syria.)
The second verse of Luke 2 has long been a target of skeptics who criticize Luke’s accuracy as a historian. Historically, the following outline of Quirinius’ (which is the preferred and more common spelling of “Cyrenius”. Cyrenius is Greek for the Latin Quirinius or Quirinus, his full name was Publius Sulpicius Quirinus) life is known: in 12 B.C. he was a consul in Rome; sometime between 12 B.C. and 1 A. D. he conducted the Homanadensian War in Asia Minor; in 2/3 A. D. he was an advisor to Gaius Caesar in Armenia; and in 6 A. D. he was sent by Caesar to be the governor of Syria [Footnote: Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, p. 235-236]. The 6 A. D. date for Quirinius’ governorship of Syria is historically very clear. He ruled both Syria and Judea after the year 6 A. D. when Archelaus was deposed as king of Judea. Both scripture and Josephus indicate this was well after Jesus’ birth and Herod’s death [Mt. 2:1,16,22; Josephus Antiquities 17.8.1-4, 17.13.1-5;18.1.1-6.] Yet Luke 2:2 seems to say that Quirinius governed Syria when Jesus was born. We must bear in mind that it is very probable that because this registration was a special part of the Silver Jubilee celebration, and for the express purpose of declaring Augustus "Pater Patriae", that Quirinius was appointed as a special legate to oversee this enrollment.
[Footnote: With this historical point understood, an apparent difficulty in the writing of a second-century church father, Tertullian, becomes clear. The difficulty is that Tertullian states Saturninus was the governor of Syria at this time, which is corroborated by secular sources. Tertullian points out, “But there is historical proof that at this very time a census had been taken in Judaea by Sentius Saturninus.” Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Ante-Nicene fathers, 10 vols. (reprinted.; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1978), “Tertullian Against Marcion,” 3:4.19. The Greek word "hegemon", sometimes translated in English as “governor,” is actually indefinite regarding the exact title of the office, so both Saturninus and Quirinius could loosely be referred to as "hegemon", leaders, chiefs, or commanders, and yet fulfill different functions. Tertullian, a lawyer of the second century, had no trouble reconciling the statement of Luke 2:2 that Quirinius was "hegemon" of Syria with Saturninus’ governorship of Syria, because he would have understood Quirinius’ position in Syria as a special assignment. Because of the special assignment of Quirinius, Luke refers to him as the "hegemon" during the registration. Schurer mentions other scholars who have accepted the position that Quirinius was a special legate to carry out this census. See Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, 2 vols. Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar, and Matthew Black, eds. (1885; rev. ed., Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973), 1:424; and Martin, Birth of Christ Recalculated, p. 119-120].
The reason for including verse 2 in the narrative in Luke now becomes apparent. This verse serves to help pinpoint the exact year of Christ’s birth; but more important, it precludes any possibility on the part of the reader to confuse this empire-wide Silver Jubilee registration of 3 B. C. with a later registration and taxing in 6/7 A. D. which is generally better known to historians, but was not empire-wide (recorded in Acts 5:37, written by the same inspired writer, Luke). Thus the word “first” has been a problem to historians [Schurer, History of the Jewish People, 1:421-422], but now it can be seen that it is essential in order to distinguish between the two registrations both under Quirinius’ supervision, differentiating the latter and better known registration of 6/7 A. D. from the one occurring when Jesus Christ was born in 3 B. C. Therefore Luke 2:2 would more clearly read: “This first registration took place when Quirinius was on special assignment in Syria”
In p. 28 we have the Footnote with 16 Early sources Dating Christ’s Birth at about 3 B. C.:
“No Christian church father dates the birth of Christ before 4 B.C., and only the first one dates it around before the Passover of April 4 B.C., to 3 B.C.”
Irenaeus (180 A. D.), Cassiodorus Senator (490-585 AD), Clement of Alexandria (194 AD), Tertullian (194 AD), Julius Africanus (170-240 AD), Hippolytus of Rome (170-236), Origen (185-253 AD), Eusebius of Caesarea (325 AD). To that names we can add: Orosius, Chrysostom, Jerome, The Paschal Chronicle, Hippolytus of Thebes, Photius (the Patriarch of Constantinople), Zonaras, and Bar Hebraeus (who cited Syrian, Armenian, and Greek sources), all of whom accepted a 3/2 B.C. date for Christ’s birth. See Martin, Birth of Christ Recalculated, p. 5; Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Princeton University Press, 1964), pp. 222-230.
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