From: Michael Hardy
To: Dick Holm
Date: Jan 20 1996 10:04:00 pm
Subject: census
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-=> Quoting Dick Holm to Dan Ceppa <=-

DH> develop? BTW, there WAS a Roman census, but it didn't occur until
DH> about 6 A.D., when Jesus was probably 10 years old.

DC> Yet, the Romans would not have required the travel to the place
DC> of birth of those being recorded for the census.  The whole
DC> idea of that is simply ludicrous.  But, as above, it's necessary
DC> to get the Nazarean into having a birth in Bethlehem.

DH> Yup. Interesting how mythologies develop. More interesting is why.
DH> Most interesting is when the fundies don't recognize that it is
DH> mythology.

What's interesting to me is "ministers" who find every element of
Christian history and theology to be a myth -- unless you're not a
Christian minister, which is possible.

In fact, the Romans *did* require people to travel to their birthplace
in order to register for a census.  A census edict from Egypt, from 104
a.d., shows that they did just that. It begins: "Gaius Vibius Maximus,
prefect of Egypt, says: The house-to-house census having started, it is
essential that all persons who for any reason whatsoever are absent
from their homes be summoned to return to their own hearths, in order
that they perform the customary business of registration." ("A History
of Rome Through the Fifth Century, ed. A.H.M. Jones, c. 1970, Harper
and Row.)

The date is also less problematic than you imagine. Augustus conducted
several censuses during his reign, one of which began in 8
b.c. Given the amount of territory the Empire occupied, and the speed
of travel and communication, it isn't farfetched to suggest that what
started in 8 b.c. would not affect distant Palestine until two to four
years later, which coincides with Herod's reign and a birth of Jesus
somewhere from 6 to 4 BC, and wouldn' be completed until Quirinius was
governor. A similar census in Gaul took forty years to complete. One
in Palestine could easily have taken more than the fifteen years
between 8 B.C. and 6 A.D.

There is also a case to be made that the Greek word "protos" means
"before," rather than "first" in the verse regarding Quirinius. That is
one of its common meanings, and translating it "first" is largely a
judgment call for translators to make.

And think about this, Dick -- the gospels of Matthew and Luke were
widely circulated among Jews and Gentiles alike. If the practice were
really unheard of, why would anyone believe the gospels?

... First a Swede, reincarnated as a Norweigian: Yep, I'm Bjorn again.

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