Serious Problems With Luke’s Census

Jero Jones


Serious Problems With Luke’s Census

You could call this Part 2, as my last post was on the Canaanite Pagan city that Jesus supposedly was born in, and the supposed taxation of Joseph that brought him to his supposed ancestral family home.  Everything about it is fiction, so I took the time to take quotes from the work of the American scholar, F N Gier, who in his work quotes past scholar.  Who saw Luke 2:1-7 version of events so ludicrous that they put, pen to paper, to show their destain that evangelical scholars believed in such nonsensical twaddle, as fact.  That a census told people to go back to their ancestral home a thousand years or more and register for taxation, bringing with them all their possessions.  This would mean travelling across oceans, across large tracks of land for a one-day census to take place.  Most people today in a period of high technology would be hard-pressed to go back five or six generations, or know where their forebears were from.  

One has only to look at the migration to America, every country from Europe, Asia, and Africa is represented.  Then you have the mixed races, so how would they cope if Luke’s census was genuine (lucky it is a Christian fabrication)?  I am one of the lucky ones who can trace his ancestors back.  Yes, some of my ancestors went to America.  Today, there are probably 2 million Americans who can claim Welsh descent.  For instance, if your family name is Lloyd, Davies, Williams, Evens, Ellis, Jones, James, Jenkins, Owens, Vaughn, etc., or their variants spellings.  

To show hypothetical, how idiotic Luke’s census is: An American, by the name of Tex Jones, has been ordered to go to his ancestral home to pay his taxes.  But Tex’s grandfather was a Davies, but his grandfather’s great-grandfather was named Vaughn, and left the old country, in 1707, more than 300 years ago.  So, whose ancestral home is Tex to go to pay his taxes, as he has no idea what part of Wales his ancestors came from.  He has three lineages to trace, and three ancestral homes at least to find.  A clue: fact Jones was first recorded in 1536, at the family seat in Rhosllanerchrugog, Sir Ddinbych /Denbighshire, North Wales.  But, the fact is, the name Jones did not exist before that date!  These are some of the facts that Joseph would have gone through if the censure was true.  Enjoy!

  •  There is no record of Caesar Augustus’ decree that “all the world should be enrolled” (Lk. 2:1).
  • Roman documents show that taxation was done by the various governors at the provincial level. 
  • Property tax was collected on site by travelling assessors, thus making unnecessary Joseph’s journey away from what little property he must have owned.
  • It has long been known that Tertullian held that S. Sentius Saturninus, not Quirinius, was governor at the time of Jesus’ birth.  Saturninus ruled from 9-6 B.C.E., the period most likely to be Jesus’ birth time.  P. Quintilius Varus was governor during the next most likely period of 6-4 B.C.E.
  • Quirinius himself was very much occupied during this time, having been assigned to the campaign in Cilicia in Asia Minor from ca. 11-3 B.C.E.
  • Given the conflicting genealogies of Matthew and Luke (which cannot be gratuitously solved by giving one to Mary), the descent of Joseph from David is highly problematic.
  • The idea of Joseph owning property in Bethlehem stands in stark contrast to his destitute status and Jesus’ birth in a strange stable. (The property would at least had a few shacks on it.) Matthew does have Mary and Joseph living in a house in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11), and only after the flight to Egypt do they settle in Nazareth.
  • It would not have been necessary for Mary, nine-months pregnant, to make the arduous three-day journey.
  • Not all descendants of David would have owned property in Bethlehem, and yet Luke would still require them to return from distances far greater than from Galilee.
  • Even if there had been a Herodian census, Luke would still have been wrong about Augustus’ universal census and wrong about Quirinius administering it.
  • Imagine a system of taxation based on people returning to their ancestral homes, going back a thousand years in the case of Joseph.  By this time, the Jews were spread out all over the known world.  Can we seriously believe that the Romans would have required them to come back to Palestine, carrying everything they owned?  How would the tax officials have assessed their land?
  • In The Rise of Christianity, the former Bishop E. W. Barnes remarks:  “The Romans were a practical race, skilled in the art of government.  It is incredible that they should have taken a census according to such a fantastic system.  If any such census had been taken, the dislocation to which it would have led would have been world-wide.  Roman historians would not have failed to record it.”
  • “We will not unduly stress the peculiarity of the mode of census taking implied in our text, but it is to be noted that it is a very strange proceeding.  The moving about of men and families which this reckless decree must have caused throughout the whole of the Empire is almost beyond imagination, and one cannot help wondering what advantage there could be for the Roman state in this return, for a single day, of so many scattered individuals, not to the places of their birth, but to the original homes of their ancestors.  For it is to be remembered that those of royal descent were not the only ones affected by this fantastic ordinance, and many a poor man must have been hard put to it to discover the cradle of his race.  The suspicion, or rather, the conviction, is borne in upon us at first sight that the editor of Luke has simply been looking for some means of bringing Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, in order to have Jesus born there. [Charles Guignebert, Jesus (London: Kegan Paul, 1935), pp. 99, 101.]  

All the above arguments against Luke’s idiotic census, were taken from excerpted from God, Reason, and the Evangelicals. (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1987), pp. 145-49.  Copyright held by N. F. Gier, Professor Emeritus, University of Idaho.  Serious Problem with Luke’s Census.  What do you say?


R&I – FS

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