To quote Harold Hoehner;
"The critics say that Luke's dating of the birth of Chtist with the census
of Judea, which Josephus places after the deposition of Archelaus in A.D. 6
is a clear historical blunder. But certainly Luke was conscious of
chronology in his works. This is seen for example, in Luke 3:1 and 3:23.
Luke was not ignorant of the census mentioned by Josephus which was
conducted by Quirinius in A.D. 6-7 since he mentions it in Acts 5:37. He
knew that Jesus was not born that late, for he states in Luke 1:5 that the
births of John the Baptist and Jesus took place in the days of Herod. This
certainly agrees with Matthew's chronology (Matt. 2:1). Also, Luke is
consistent with himself in stating that Jesus was about thirty years of age
whe He began His ministry (Luke 3:23) which was shortly preceded by John
the Baptist's that began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius (Luke 3:1-2)"
(Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, pp.18-19). In other words,
let's give Luke some credit for intelligence, at least. Would a person so
aware of history knowingly place such a contradiction (as is supposed) into
his writings? Would any of us do that? Not likely.
Nonetheless, the problem with Quirinius remains. Hoehner recounts 3 other
solutions that have been advanced to deal with this problem before offering
what he calls a "better solution."
"In John 15:18 the prwtos used adverbially is equivalent to pro, that is
'It [the world] hated me before it hated you.' 'If this is conceded, there
is no need to infer a compendious comparison, and prwth governs the
participial phrase. The Greek means "This census took place before
Quirinius was governor of Syria". Luke is not distinguishing an earlier
census from one during the governorship of Quirinius, but is merely stating
that the census at the time of the nativity took place some time before
Quirinius held office.' This gives good sense to the passage. ...Quirinius
was governor of Syria in A.D. 6-7 and possibly also, as Sherwin-White has
argued in 3-2 B.C. If this has reference to his governorship in A.D. 6-7
then this census is befoer the governorship when he had conducted the
well-known census mentioned in Josephus and Luke. On the other hand, this
also fits nicely if he were governor in 3-2 B.C.; for Luke is then stating
that just before Quirinius was governor in Syria in 3-2 B.C. there was a
census in Herod's domains."
My point is that the assumption of an error on Luke's part is unwarranted,
especially in light of the numerous possibilities for an explanation of
Sorry for such a long post. Merry and blessed Christmas to all.
Southway Community Church,