I think you do yourself a disservice by the username you've chosen, but it is your choice and one ape has made another think long and hard. Steel sharpens steel, or so the saying goes, and being challenged was, well, a challenge, and forced a bit of head scratching for me, and when you have as little hair as I do, that’s a problem. Let’s say I have a reverse Mohawk.
Or I’m bald: take your pick.
Pilate was a Prefect, not a Procurator.
Tacitus, when speaking of the cruel punishments inflicted by Nero upon the Christians, tells us that Christ, from whom the name "Christian" was derived, was put to death when Tiberius was emperor by the procurator Pontius Pilate (Annals xv.44). Apart from this reference and what is told us in the New Testament, all our knowledge of him is derived from two Jewish writers, Josephus the historian and Philo of Alexandria.
Lysanias of Abilene died in 36 BCE
Scholars at one time were sceptical of Luke being accurate in referring to Lysanius being the tetrarch of Abilene around A. D. 27 when John the Baptist began his ministry. They could only find one Lysanius in Roman records and he was the ruler of Chalcia fifty years before the one Luke mentions.
However, the credibility of Luke’s gospel record continues to be reinforced by archaeological discoveries. An inscription was found on a temple from the time of Tiberius (the Roman Emperor from 14-37 AD), which named Lysanias as the Tetrarch of Abila near Damascus, just as Luke has written.
The temple inscription reads:
" For the salvation of the August lords and of all their household, Nymphaeus, freedman of Eagle Lysanias tetrarch established this street and other things."
The reference to August lords is a joint title given only to the emperor Tiberius (son of Augustus) and his mother Livia (widow of Augustus). This reference establishes the date of the inscription to between A.D. 14 and 29. The year 14 was the year of Tiberius' accession and the year 29 was the year of Livia's death.
Therefore the 15th year of Tiberius is the year 29 A.D., and it lies within the reign of the August lords. This evidence supports Luke's reference that Lysanias was a tetrarch around the time of John the Baptist (29 A.D.).
Josephus Also Mentions This in Wars of the Jews "He added to it the kingdom of Lysanias, and that province of Abilene" Josephus Wars of the Jews Book 2:12:8
Caiaphas was the only high priest at this time. Annas had been deposed years before.
There was no tradition of dual high priests in any case. Annas and Caiaphas were never "co-" high priests.
The Bible states that at the time of the trial of Jesus, there were two high priests, Annas and Caiaphas. Luke 3:1-3 says the following: "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."
All the men mentioned in the previous Bible passage including the high priests Annas and Caiaphas are mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus in his work entitled Jewish Antiquities. He states in the following passages: Annas, the son of Seth was installed as high priest by Quirinius. During this time, Herod Antipas and Philip were administering their tetrarchies . . . The third Caesar was Tiberius who appointed Valerius Gratus to succeed Rufus as procurator over the Jews. Gratus removed Annas from the high priesthood and then appointed Joseph Caiaphas to the office. Gratus retired to Rome after being in Judea for eleven years. He was succeeded by Pontius Pilate." . . . "Herod Agrippa became king and the Emperor Claudius added Judea and Samaria to his rule as well as all lands formerly ruled by Herod the Great, as well as Abilene, which had been governed by Lysanias."
Luke's description of the census of Quirinius, aside from contradicting Matthew as to dating, is also flawed or at least highly implausible in its assertion that people were required to return to their ancestral homes to register. No such condition existed and it would have been a logistical nightmare.
The Gospel of Luke describes the census (or enrolment) which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem at the time of Christ's Birth. Luke states that this census occurred when Quirinius was was governor of Syria. This implies that Quirinius had authority over both Syria and Judea, at least for the purpose of the census. Luke calls this census the first under Quirinius. The second census under Quirinius was described in detail by Josephus (Ant. 18:1ff). In the early years of the first century A.D., Quirinius again had authority over Syria and Judea for the purpose of a census. A Galilean named Judas started a rebellion against this taxation. This rebellion is mentioned in Acts of the Apostles: “After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census….” (Acts 5:37).
Luke calls Quirinius "governor of Syria." Quirinius did have the title of governor of Syria at the time of the second census. But, at this earlier date, Quirinius most likely had only the role of one who governs, rather than the actual title. Similarly, Luke calls Pontius Pilate "governor of Judea" (Lk 3:1), even though Pilate had the title of procurator. Luke uses the word "governor" to mean "one who governs."
The usual date for the second census under Quirinius is A.D. 6. As a result of earlier dates for the deaths of Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, as well as for the death of Herod the great, the revised date for that census is A.D. 2. If this was the date of the second census under Quirinius, when was the first census? According to Dr. E. Jerry Vardaman, the census under Caesar Augustus was taken every 17 years in the provinces (the occupied territories, including Israel). He places the first census under Quirinius in 12 B.C., 17 years before the second census of A.D. 6 (Chronos, Kairos, Christos, p. 305).
Each census was for the purpose of taxation. The census/taxation took two years to complete. From late spring of one year, through all of the next year, until spring of the third calendar year (Nikos Kokkinos, Chronos, Kairos, Christos, p. 140-141). So, in this revised chronology, the census of 16 B.C. actually began in late spring and continued until the spring of 14 B.C.
Dr. E Jerry Vardeman also offers archaeological evidence in support of the conclusion that the 12 B.C. census was the census of Luke 2:2. A census is mentioned on an ancient tombstone called “Lapis Venetus” (stone of Venice). The tombstone was for a Roman officer who, under orders from Quirinius, made a census of Apamea, a city in Syria. Vardaman uses microletters on the tombstone to date the tombstone itself to 10 B.C. Microletters on the tombstone also state that the census of Apamea took place in the year that Quirinius was a Roman consul:
This text reads as: “year one of the consulship of P.S. Quirini.”
The letter ‘L’ is the abbreviation for ‘year,’ the letter ‘A’ stands for the number one. Letters were used in ancient Greek and Latin to stand for numbers. In the Greek number system, the first letter represented the number 1, the second letter represented 2, etc. The abbreviation “CONS” stands for “consul” or “consulship.” And “P.S.QVIRINI” is the Quirinius mentioned in Luke 2:2. He is also mentioned by Josephus and by Dio, both of whom state that Quirinius was a Roman consul. The usual year given for the consulship of P.S. Quirinius is 12 B.C. Based on this and other considerations, Vardaman dates this census to 12/11 B.C. Vardaman’s discovery of this microletter inscription on the Lapis Venetus provides important archaeological evidence concerning the year of the Birth of Christ. This inscription places the census at the time of Christ’s birth beginning in the first year of the consulship of Quirinius. (See Dr. Vardaman's Lecture 1for detailed information about the Lapis Venetus, the microletters, and the census.)
Given the above information, and the revised dates for the events in Roman history, revised chronology places the first census under Quirinius in 16/15 B.C.
People at that time in history, as is much the same today, preferred to pay their taxes later, rather than sooner. Also, communication was difficult and slow in that time period, so that, after a census/taxation decree was issued by the government in Rome, it took many months for word of this to spread among the people, and then longer for the people to make the trip to the place of their birth.
The Gospel of Luke indicates that the city of Bethlehem was crowded at the time of Christ's Birth, since there was no room for the Holy Family at the inn, and the only place left for the Christ-Child was in a manger (Luke 2:7). It is more likely that Bethlehem would be so crowded in the second year of the taxation (the “collecting year”), when people are up against a deadline for paying their taxes. In this line of reasoning then, 15 B.C. is preferred over 16 B.C. as the year of Christ’s Birth.
Also, Quirinius' census only applied to Judea, not Galilee, so Joseph (if he was a resident of Nazareth as Luke says) would not have been bound by it.
In Luke 2.1-5 we read that Caesar Augustus decreed that the Roman Empire should be taxed and that everyone had to return to his own city to pay taxes. So Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem and there Jesus was born.
Several questions have been raised in the context of this taxation [1. See Bruce, Christian Origins, p. 192, for example]. Even if such a taxation actually did occur, would every person have to return to his home? Was Quirinius really the governor of Syria at this time (as in v.2)? Archaeology has had a bearing on the answers to these questions.
It has been established that the taking of a census was quite common at about the time of Christ. An ancient Latin inscription called the Titulus Venetus indicates that a census took place in Syria and Judea about AD 5-6 and that this was typical of those held throughout the Roman Empire from the time of Augustus (23 BC-AD 14) until at least the third century AD. Indications are that this census took place every fourteen years. Other such evidence indicates that these procedures were widespread [2. Ibid., pp. 193-194]. Concerning persons returning to their home city for the taxation-census, an Egyptian papyrus dating from AD 104 reports just such a practice. This rule was enforced, as well [3. Ibid. p. 194].
The question concerning Quirinius also involves the date of the census described in Luke 2. It is known that Quirinius was made governor of Syria by Augustus in AD 6. Archaeologist Sir William Ramsay discovered several inscriptions that indicated that Quirinius was governor of Syria on two occasions, the first time several years prior to this date [4. Robert Boyd, Tells, Tombs, and Treasure (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 175]. Within the cycle of taxation-censuses mentioned above, an earlier taxation would be dated from 10-4 BC [5. Cf. Bruce, Christian Origins, pp. 193-194 with Boyd, Tells, p. 175. Bruce prefers the date 10-9 BC for the empire-wide census, with that which took place in Judea occurring a few years later. Boyd places the date of the earlier census 16-15 BC, which coincides closely with the accepted dates for Jesus' birth]. Another possibility is Bruce's suggestion that the Greek in Luke 2.2 is equally translatable as "This enrolments (census) was before that made when Quirinius was governor of Syria" [6. Bruce, Christian Origins, p. 192]. This would mean that Luke was dating the taxation-census before Quirinius took over the governorship of Syria. Either possibility answers the question raised above [7. While ruling out the two-date approach to the governorship of Quirinius, Sherwin-White basically vindicates Luke's account, while still finding more problems than does Bruce (pp. 162-171)].
Therefore, while some questions have been raised concerning the events recorded in Luke 2.1-5, archaeology has provided some unexpected and supportive answers. Additionally, while supplying the background behind these events, archaeology also assists us in establishing several facts. (1) A taxation-census was a fairly common procedure in the Roman Empire and it did occur in Judea, in particular. (2) Persons were required to return to their home city in order to fulfil the requirements of the process. (3) These procedures were apparently employed during the reign of Augustus (37 BC-AD 14), placing it well within the general time frame of Jesus' birth. (4) The date of the specific taxation recounted by Luke could very possibly have been 16-15 BC, which would also be of service in attempting to find a more exact date for Jesus' birth.
It did take a bit of searching, but it was well worthwhile, as it has given me more knowledge than I previously possessed, and hopefully answered your questions satisfactorily.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.