by Ibn Anwar
Christian missionaries tend to make headlines and a big fuss whenever archeoligical finds appear to correspond with the Bible. They will say,”This is proof our Bible is authentic!”. Christian author Patrick Zukeran in his article “Archeology and the Old Testament” on Probe Ministries states,”Christianity is a historical faith based on actual events recorded in the Bible. Archaeology has therefore played a key role in biblical studies and Christian apologetics in several ways.” Archeology and historicity apparently is a huge thing in Christian thought. Let’s have a brief glance at the historical certainty and accuracy of the Bible shall we?
When was Jesus born according to the Bible?
According to Luke 1:5 tallied with verse 26, Jesus was born in the time of King Herod of Judea.
According to Luke 2:1 Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar.
According to Luke 2:2 Jesus was born during Quiriunius’ governorship in Syria.
Luke 2:1 and 2:2 overlap with each other i.e. the decree given by Caesar was when Quiriunus was governer of Syria.
What does REAL History say?
1. King Herod or Hordos in Greek lived from 73 BCE(Before Common Era) to 4 BC in Jericho. Which means he died 4 years before Jesus was born.
2. Quirinius only became governer close to 10 years after the death of Herod which was around 6 CE(Common Era) as observed by James Douglas Grant Dunn in “Jesus Remembered” (Eerdmans, 2003) on p. 344 , Erich S. Gruen in “The expansion of the empire under Augustus”, in The Cambridge ancient history Volume 10 p. 157 , Geza Vermes in “The Nativity” (Penguin 2006) on p.96 and Anthony Harvey in “A Companion to the New Testament” (Cambridge University Press 2004) on p. 221
This is what Prof. Raymond E. Brown says,
“In the case of Luke’s census by Caesar Augustus of the whole world when Quirinius was governor of Syria(2:1-2), a census that presumably was made when Herod the Great was King of Judea(1:5), we have a similar problem. In the same Birth of the Messiah, I examined all the historical records about the governorship of Quirinius in Syria and census by Augustus. There never was a single census that covered the whole world under Augustus, and the census (of Judea, not involving Nazareth!) that took place under Quirinius occured about ten years after the death of Herod the Great, and presumably, therefore, after the birth of Jesus. One is hard-pressed, then, to think that either evangelist is accurate on public events. Probably postfactum(after the resurrection) the birth of Jesus was associated with loose memories of phenomena that occured in a period of ten years before or after his birth.” (Raymond E. Brown, Response to 101 Questions on the Bible, p. 79)