Thursday, June 12, 2014

On the Accuracy of Luke's Census

A well known apparent error in the Bible that skeptics have often pointed out is the issue of the historicity of Luke's record of a census while Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-2).

The following are some links to resources that will help Christians deal with the problem.

Some Triablogue links:

Luke's Census by Jason Engwer (all six parts)

Is Luke's Census Historical? by Jason Engwer

Resources On Luke's Census by Jason Engwer

Richard Bauckham On The Historicity Of Luke's Census And Luke 2:22-24 by Jason Engwer

Luke's Census Didn't Involve Ancestry by Jason Engwer

Jared Compton On Luke's Census by Jason Engwer

Out of our census by Jason Engwer

Paul Tobin Vs. Richard Carrier On Luke's Census by Jason Engwer

Recent Apologetics on the Nativity

The liberal tug-of-war by Steve Hays

Quirinius and the gunfight at O.K. Corral by Steve Hays

The hidden contradictions of Ehrman by Steve Hays

The lowdown on the census of Quirinius

Understanding And Arguing For Luke's Census Account

There are more resources at Triablogue, but the above are a sample.

Recommendations on doing a website search.

Other links:

Once More: Quirinius's Census by Jared M. Compton

On Quirinius' Census by Darrell Bock

Josephus Misdated the Census of Quirinius by John H. Rhoads

Luke, Quirinius, and the Census by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Luke 2:2 and the Census by Stephen C. Carlson

A “most prominent” census: Carlson vs. Carrier

Luke, Quirinius, and the Census

Unbelievable? Is Luke’s Description of Quirinius Historically Inaccurate?

Controversial researcher Ernest L. Martin addressed the census in his book The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World.
Here's a link to Chapter 12

While I'm no longer a Roman Catholic, Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis wrote:

"Thanks to the work of Hugues de Nanteuil, we have found that the modern critics are wrong. Little known (or advertised by modern scholars) is that Josephus had two different dates for the death of Herod, and the interpretation of the source containing 4 B.C. is highly debatable. In Herod’s [sic] other work, he says Herod died in 7 or 8 BC."

If it's true that Josephus had two different dates for the death of Herod, then it would be a matter of fact that Josephus got it wrong at least once. Which also means Josephus could have gotten it wrong twice. Conversely, this also means that Luke could have gotten it right. In which case, skeptics put too much weight on this apparent Biblical error whenever they argue against Biblical Inerrancy. Unfortunately, Sungenis didn't give any more information in his reference to the work of Hugues de Nanteuil.

Michael Heiser lists some recent scholarly reasons why Herod may have died 1 BCE in an article here:

Heiser's two main sources in defense of a 1 BCE death of Herod are:
1. Herodian Chronology by Ormond Edwards,
from the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, volume 114, 1982 - Issue 1

2. When Did Herod the Great Reign? by Andrew E. Steinmann,
from Novum Testamentum 51 (2009) 1-29

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