August 27, 2010

Quirinius is Irrelevant

Luke is either wrong OR misunderstood, but History doesn't care which it is.  Either way, P. Sulpicius Quirinius was never the Governor of Syria before Herod the Great died.  In other words, defending Luke 2:2 has nothing to do with reconstructing the Historical Nativity.  The Lukan Census (2:3-5) almost certainly belongs to the Governorship of Saturninus (9-6 BC).  That is, of course, assuming it actually happened.

Today, however, that's not my point.  This is.

Brian LePort recently blogged on Quirinius (here and here) and Stephen Carlson left a link to his own study (Dec.2004) of  the verse in question (Luke 2:2).  I'm not the master grammarian around here, but what Stephen suggested looks very unique, and very good.  I'm not sure how I missed or overlooked it before now, but interested parties should definitely pay Stephen's work very careful attention.

Whether Stephen is right or wrong, however, I want to emphasize again that our view of the Christmas Story does not rest on explaining that difficult verse.  Attempting to explain Luke 2:2 is simply a worthwhile challenge unto itself.  Personally, I live in hope that separating these two points will help us out in both departments.  But I have been accused of optimism before.

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