Luke 2:1-2 - Quirinius and the birth of Christ.

Dating the birth of Christ is not as straightforward as one would expect. Although our date is calculated relative to the birth of Christ (A.D., Anno Domino, Latin - "the year of our Lord" ), an error was made in calculating the current date when western society began using the Gregorian dating scheme instead of the Roman Julain dating scheme. Therefore, Christ was most probably born around 7-6 B.C. (Before Christ ?!?). However, this presents a few historical problems. Luke 2:1-2 indicates that Jesus was born during the first census called by Caesar while Quirinius was governor of Syria. The problems here are: (1) Jesus was born before Herod the Great died - i.e. before 4 B.C. (2) Quirinius was not governor of Syria until 6 A.D. (3) The governor of Syria in 8-6 B.C. is known to be C. Sentius Saturninus. So is Luke actually wrong? Unlikely. There is some good evidence that Quirinius was in fact governor of Syria on 2 separate occasions. The second occasion was the documented one in 6. A.D. and the first occasion was sometime between 12 and 6 B.C. when he was commissioned by the Roman Senate to quell a revolt in south east Turkey, which was then part of Syria. Because of this, he was given an extraordinary position of co-governor with C. Sentius Saturninus. A damaged inscription has also been found, describing an unnamed Roman citizen who was legate/governor on 2 separate occasions and, at least the second time, was governor of Syria. There is also good documentary evidence that Roman censuses were taken every 14 years. Jewish historian, Josephus, records that a census was taken in 6 A.D., so going back 14 years would also give us a date of around 8-7 B.C. Therefore, it appears that Luke did indeed "carefully investigated everything" (Luke 1:3).


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