Sunday, July 02, 2006

Where does Cyrenius fit into your harmonization of the Matthew & Luke nativity stories? #4


----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2006 7:25 PM
Subject: Cyrenius

>Dear Mr Jones,
>Where does he [Cyrenius] fit into your harmonization of the Matthew & Luke nativity stories?

[Continued from part #3]

Finally, to now answer the original question, "Where does he [Cyrenius] fit into your harmonization of the Matthew & Luke nativity stories?"

The only points that I can see where there could have been a problem in relation to "Cyrenius" (i.e. Quirinius) is to do with Jesus being born in the reign of "King Herod", i.e. Herod the Great (73-4BC), i.e. before Herod died in 4BC:

"Herod ... known as Herod the Great born 73 BC died March/April, 4 BC, Jericho, Judaea Roman-appointed king of Judaea (37–4 BC). A practicing Jew, he was of Arab origin. He was critical to imperial control of Judaea, despite his earlier support of Mark Antony, and the Roman emperor increased his territory. Judaea prospered under his early reign, during which he increased trade and built fortresses, aqueducts, and theatres, but he could not give full rein to his desire to build and thrive because he feared the Pharisees, Judaism's controlling faction, who viewed him as a foreigner. He lost favour through increasing cruelty, manifest in the murder of his wife, her sons, and other relatives. His grip on his kingdom weakened as he became increasingly mentally unstable and physically debilitated. He killed his eldest son, and he slew the infants of Bethlehem (see Jesus). He died shortly after a bungled suicide attempt. " ("Herod," Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Online)

That is, in points 1, 2 and 28 of my "A Harmony of the Nativity Accounts in the Gospels of Matthew & Luke":

"1. Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary (Lk 2:5), went from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Lk 2:4), his ancestral town (Lk 2:3-4), in order to register for a Roman census (Lk 2:1-3). ...

2. A son, later named Jesus (Lk 2:21; Mt 1:25), was born to Mary in Bethlehem (Lk 2:4-7; Mt 2:1), in a stable: "she... placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Lk 2:7). ...

"28. After Joseph and family had been living in Egypt for only short time, Herod having died (in 4BC), an angel again appeared in a dream to Joseph (Mt 2:19), telling him to "take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead." (Mt 2:20). ..."

But as I said in part #1, "... he [Cyrenius] fits in just fine!" That is because (as I said in part #3) Jesus was born between 7 and 4 BC:

"The data summarized in the preceding paragraphs (¶¶463-467) are capable of being incorporated in three different chronological schemes of the life of Jesus (Tables 142-144). Of the three the first makes it possible to take Lk 3:23 in the most exact sense of the words `about thirty' (¶419) , and to take Jn 2:20 in what may be the most natural sense of these words as counting forty-six years from the time when Herod began the rebuilding of the Temple in 19/18 B.C. (¶434). The second scheme fits the Synoptic requirement of one year and some months for the duration of the ministry (¶¶437-438) , but is insufficient for the requirements of the Fourth Gospel which, unless its materials are critically rearranged (¶440) , supposes a longer ministry (¶441) . The third scheme, again, allows for the longer ministry but makes it necessary to take `about thirty' (Lk 3:23) with considerable latitude (¶425), and to take Jn 2:20 as counting forty-six years after the priests completed the temple edifice proper (¶435), an interpretation which is possible but perhaps not quite as natural as that which counts from Herod's inauguration of the entire project in the nineteenth year of his reign (¶434) . All together it appears that some preference may be given to the first chronological scheme of the life of Jesus. If the birth of Jesus should be placed earlier, say in 7/6 B.C. (¶¶388, 389), rather than in 5/4 B.C. (¶463), the foregoing schemes (Tables 142, 143, 144) could still hold as far as the public ministry is concerned, only the phrase "about thirty" would have to be taken with more latitude (¶427) " (Finegan, J., "Handbook of Biblical Chronology," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1964, p.468)

with 5-4 BC being considered the most likely by chronologists Finegan (Ibid., p.248) and Hoehner:

"Conclusion. Having considered some of these chronological notes, it seems the evidence would lead one to conclude that Christ's birth occurred sometime in late 5 B.C. or early 4 B.C. ... Finegan (p. 248) comes to the same date though he uses some different data." (Hoehner, H.W., "Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ," [1975], Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1981, Fifth Printing, p.25. Emphasis original)

which I agree with.

As already posted in part #1, #2 and #3 there were two censuses, which Luke in fact indicates (Luke 2:2 & Acts 5:37) the first between 7-4 BC and the second between 6-7 AD, and Cyrenius (i.e. Quirinius) apparently oversaw both.

In concluding, I point out that if Luke was a fraud or myth-maker, there was no reason for him to mention all this checkable detail, unless it was true! If Luke was a fraud, he could just have said that Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy in Micah 5:2:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. "

that the Messiah was to be born there, as Matthew in fact does in in his account (Mat 2:1-6):

"1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, `Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.' 3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ [Messiah] was to be born. 5'In Bethlehem in Judea,' they replied, `for this is what the prophet has written: 6' 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'[Micah 5:2]"

As I pointed out in my Harmony: "This harmony of the nativity accounts in the gospels of Matthew and Luke has that `truth is stranger than fiction' complex quality of real life that would be unlikely to have been concocted" and "far from being a problem, the two nativity accounts of Matthew 2 and Luke 2 present a composite picture that has a `three-dimensional' quality of real, historical truth"!

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book

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