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Taxation And Cesuses Of Augustus Caesar


Heimdall
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As usual, if you study and research, you find all kinds of things under your nose; things that have been debated pro and con, with no true answer forthcoming and then the epiphany, the moment of revelation. I had this just yesterday. When trying to reconcile the 10-12 year contradiction between Matthew and Luke, concerning when Jesus was born (Matthew – during the reign of Herod, Luke when Cyrenius was governor of Syria); Christians often try to “prove” that Cyrenius (more properly P. Sulpicius Quirinius) served more than one term as governor and that he conducted a census during that first term of office. In order to understand the importance of the taxation mentioned in Luke, you have to understand the way the Roman world worked.

 

With the Romans, Censuses were conducted for purposes of taxation and In his account of the major events of his life, Augustus wrote that he conducted official censuses in 28 BCE, 8 BCE, 6 CE and 14 CE. Dio Cassius the Roman historian wrote that in 6 CE Caesar Augustus set up a fund to benefit the Roman military and had kings and certain communities contribute to it. He also made a sizable contribution and promised to do so each year. When this did not provide sufficient funds to keep the military going, he issued a worldwide decree that there would be a 5% inheritance tax on estates/inheritances, something beyond normal taxation. Such taxation would require a census to register transferable assets, such as land, and to record genealogies to establish “very near relatives” (Roman History LV 25:5-6).

 

Josephus noted the effects of this decree in Judea: “Now Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to be a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus' money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it." (Antiquities. XVIII 1:1). He further reported "a certain Galilean, whose name was Judas, prevailed with his countrymen to revolt; and said they were cowards if they would endure to pay a tax to the Romans, and would, after God, submit to mortal men as their lords." (Wars II 8:1). In Antiquities XX 5:2, he wrote of "Judas who caused the people to revolt, when Cyrenius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews." As Josephus noted, Caesar’s 5% tax was to be on estates/inheritances of all but the poor and near relatives, not on the people.

 

The census attached to this taxation was also noted by Luke: "Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him, he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered." (Acts 5:37) This shows that Luke was speaking of the same census/taxation as Josephus, the 6 CE census/taxation conducted under Cyrenius (P. Sulpicius Quirinius).

 

A listing of the Governors of Syria from 10 BCE to 7 CE are as follows:

BCE 10-9 M. Titius

BCE 9-6 Gaius Sentius Saturninus

BCE 6-3 P. Quinctilius Varus

BCE 3-1 L. Calpurnius Piso

BCE 1-4 CE Gaius Julius Caesar

4-6 CE L. Volusius Saturninus

6-7 CE P. Sulpicius Quirinius

 

Now my question to Christians is, “Having been shown how the 6 CE census recorded by Josephus in his two major works (Antiquities and Wars) is indeed the one mentioned by Luke in his gospel (nailed firmly by Acts 5:37); how can you explain the 10-12 year discrepancy between Luke and Matthew and for you fundies, how can you defend the inerrancy of the bible? - Heimdall :yellow:

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Heimdall - brilliant post and great research. I am bookmarking this one.

 

how can you explain the 10-12 year discrepancy between Luke and Matthew and for you fundies, how can you defend the inerrancy of the bible?

Tsk, you should no by now, where there is a FUNDY WILL, there is a WAY, but yeah, waiting for their answer (not holding my breath.)

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Now my question to Christians is, “Having been shown how the 6 CE census recorded by Josephus in his two major works (Antiquities and Wars) is indeed the one mentioned by Luke in his gospel (nailed firmly by Acts 5:37); how can you explain the 10-12 year discrepancy between Luke and Matthew and for you fundies, how can you defend the inerrancy of the bible? - Heimdall :yellow:

 

:)Heimdall, I know you are much more informed than I of such details... however, I am having a problem understanding the scriptural conflict here. Acts 5 seems to be after the death of Jesus, and of the time these disciples were inexplicably freed from prison, and found again to be preaching illegally these teachings of Christ. When brought before the governing powers, a doctor of law spoke a bit in their behalf saying this KJV version:

 

5:36

For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

5:37

After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

 

Could you explain how this only specific verse you presented conflicts with anything? He is not citing any specific date of this census occurrence, nor what relation it has on the story other than an example of what could happen to them if they choose to sley these disciples. :thanks:

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Yes, they are speaking at a time after the crucifixion of Jesus, but they are speaking of times before the crucifixion. That a messianic claimant named Theudas had attracted a following, who were slain or scattered and that Judas the Galilean in protesting the taxing (this is shown by Josephus to be it taxation of 6 CE under Quirinius/Cyrenius) had also attracted a following and perished, as did his followers. Since Augustus Caesar, Dio Cassius and Josephus have shown that there was no way that Cyrenius had ever conducted another taxation/census other than that of 6 CE (28 BCE and 8 BCE being much too early and 14 CE much too late to meet the criteria of the gospels) and since there was only one recorded Judas the Galilean, The 6 CE taxation under Cyrenius was the “birth” taxation reported in Luke. This means that Matthew was in error, if in fact Luke had it right. However since Jesus would only have been 20 years old when John started his ministry and only 28 when Pontius Pilate returned to Rome, Luke can’t be correct. On the other hand, if Matthew is correct, then Jesus would have been 35-36 years old when he started his ministry and 37 – 39 years old when he died, which does not fit the criteria of the gospels either. Most Christians do not realize how critical this contradiction between Matthew and Luke are. If they are mistaken on something so simple as the birth date of Jesus, can we really trust anything that they tell us? Even if the other two gospels do agree with some of what they report, can we trust the gospels to actually be the “Word of God”? If this were a question raised about a competing religion, I can pretty well guarantee that most Christians would vote against trusting the scripture in question, yet can’t see the double standard they are creating. Go Figger - Heimdall :yellow:

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That a messianic claimant named Theudas had attracted a following, who were slain or scattered and that Judas the Galilean in protesting the taxing (this is shown by Josephus to be it taxation of 6 CE under Quirinius/Cyrenius) had also attracted a following and perished, as did his followers. Since Augustus Caesar, Dio Cassius and Josephus have shown that there was no way that Cyrenius had ever conducted another taxation/census other than that of 6 CE (28 BCE and 8 BCE being much too early and 14 CE much too late to meet the criteria of the gospels)

 

:)Heimdall, since participating on this site, I've come to believe there is a lot of myth superimposed on perhaps true occurrences. Sheesh... just look at St. Nicholas to Santa Claus! I think Jesus was probably a real man, yet blown out of proportion. So, since I know you like to debate... and just for me to play the devil's advocate...

 

If we are to take the word of Josephus for the time of the taxation, it is also Josephus' word that records that Jesus was indeed a remarkable living person, who was crucified... although, in Josephus' opinion, not the Christ, nor someone overly special. Sure, there is a lot of controversy over this... as there always seems to be concerning Jesus... but the recent consensus of scholars seem to believe that there was a man named Jesus that existed according to Josephus. Although, there is some skepticism by some still persisting to many of these claims about Jesus. IMO, if someone insists that some of these papers are fraudulently presented, then it seems ALL these papers can be discounted. That would be cherry picking, wouldn't it? So far, IMO, these accounts of Josephus were right because of outside sources validating it. You can see more info at this site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

 

Also, it seems rather weird that even the Buddhist documents seems to account for Jesus' presence with them in India (book: Lost Years of Jesus). Gosh, the Islamic people even claim that he and his mother died amongst them in Kashmir! More info found here: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/134...us_in_india.htm

 

Considering all those cultures were predominantly highly illiterate, no mass printing, life expectancy for a writing to sustain thousands of years is limited, and resources for writing utensils were not just found in the local 7-11... this is not bad for just a common guy on these streets. :shrug:

 

Another interesting site, that suggests that Jesus was born in 7 BCE, convincing work by Jack Kilmon is found here:

http://www.hebroots.org/hebrootsarchive/9807/980722_j.html

 

However, his work seems to make these deductions for this date much on the same way you presented your material here. It does go on to consider many more details though.

 

Most Christians do not realize how critical this contradiction between Matthew and Luke are.

 

Now, what is the contradiction between Matthew and Luke? And just because there are a few discrepancies in the Bible, doesn't mean the whole thing is wrong. History today is not recorded entirely accurate either, and there is spin from our perspective in our history books as well. I'm sure it was done even moreso then! I'm just trying to figure out what did happen... and I'm sure no one will know that, we can just come as close as we can in our speculations.

 

Heimdall, it wouldn't be any fun if everyone just agreed with you without asking any questions, would it? :wicked:

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Josephus didn't write the Testimonium Flavianum. There's no way.

 

Origen was very familiar with Josephus' writings. He would have given his right arm to have been able to quote this passage. Just as surely as he cut off his own nards for the gospel (true)

 

Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue With Trypho (a defense of christianity) would have loved to quote this passage to prove Jesus. Josephus' antiquities existed at that time, but this passage didn't. Polycarp never read it either.

 

Early table of contents of Josephus' works do not have this passage listed.

 

We all know that the first mention of it is in the fourth century with Eusebius. Did you know that almost another one hundred years passed before anyone else mentions it?

 

Put on your thinking caps. This does not add up to authentic.

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But Amanda, respectfully, Josephus didn't know Jesus personally and I thought the consensus among scholars was that Josephus's writings were tampered with.

 

:)SAA, but Josephus wasn't there for the taxation he was referring to either. As far as Josephus's writings, I just read what the online encyclopedia said their consensus was as of 2003, I believe that's the date. I provided some of my resources. I'm just trying to figure it out from an objective place. Jesus may be a myth... I don't KNOW... I'm just stating what my opinion is at this time. :shrug:

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Origen was very familiar with Josephus' writings. He would have given his right arm to have been able to quote this passage. Just as surely as he cut off his own nards for the gospel (true)

 

:) Hey Mythra, take a 'chill pill' and calm down. (sorry, I couldn't resist stealing one of your lines.) ;)

 

Now, according to the online encyclopedia I referenced above:

 

Origen also states that Josephus was "not believing in Jesus as the Christ"

 

Jesus may be a myth, IDK, and whatever I say will not change it. I just happen to believe he existed and myths have been superimposed on him. How much and to what degree, again IDK.

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Gosh, the Islamic people even claim that he and his mother died amongst them in Kashmir!

Err, I would have to agree with christians here, but why should we believe a report that was done like 6 centuary after the event.

 

And I told you before that it is impossible for Jesus to learn from the Hindu sages. The time spent traveling back and forth would alone have taken him like 10 years in those time. Plus you are forgeting the actual time in learning a new language and studying the hindu scriptures(which are like freaking long)

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The birth date of Jesus is unknown, as is his death. Christians still try to claim that Quirinius was a two time governor of Syria. They simply hope that their listeners are ignorant. As for Josephus, he was born in 34 CE, after Jesus' supposed death. The Jewish histories were written in 93 CE. Even if authentic, the Testimonium Flavianum still cannot be considered a contemporary account. There is simply no proof that Jesus ever existed.

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... but the recent consensus of scholars seem to believe that there was a man named Jesus that existed according to Josephus.

Actually it is about a 60-40 split with the 60 leaning to partial or total interpolation. This is what I published here before on the Testamonium:

http://ex-christian.net/blog/heimdall/inde...p?showentry=235

You need to remember, Josephus had no particular axe to grind when he reported the census. He was merely reporting Jewish history, both ancient and recent, to a Roman audience. An audience that really had no concept of Jewish history or culture. Some may have know of Quirinius (he was a rather remarkable man), but it is very doubtful that many Romans had any idea who Jesus the “Christ” (much less what a Christ was) was. The Christian interpolator did have a particular axe to grind. Because of the lack of contemporary mention of his “savior”, he felt that if he could put words into one of the most honored Jewish historians of the period around the time of Jesus, that would be sufficient to “prove” his existence, a problem that faced early Christian apologists. Justus of Tiberia, a Jewish historian writing at the time of Jesus, makes no mention of Jesus; a fact that puzzled many of the early church fathers, to the point that they commented on it. Likewise Philo of Alexandria, another Jewish philosopher/historian writing at that period, makes no mention of Jesus or the religion supposedly based on him, even though Philo’s hobby was studying the various sects of Judaism (which is what the nescient Christianity would have been at that time). The probability of there being a historical Jesus shrinks more each day, just as does the religion based on the belief that he was God Incarnate.

 

Also, it seems rather weird that even the Buddhist documents seems to account for Jesus' presence with them in India

I got excited when I first heard this, but closer examination and research showed that this was primarily a hoax. The points made by SkepticOfBible on this matter are valid points and to be taken seriously. I mean he would have had to study both the Hindu Vedas, Upanishdad, Puranas, Nyaya, Vaiseshika and the Buddhist Dhammapada, Heart Sutra, Mahayan Parabales, the 7 Books of Mahayana (the Mahayana scriptures), the Metta Sutta and the Pali Canon. That is a sizable bunch and I only (barely) got through the 7 Books of Mahayana!

 

Considering all those cultures were predominantly highly illiterate

Not true, several Romans reported the fact that all Jewish males were literate! - Heimdall :yellow:

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Also, it seems rather weird that even the Buddhist documents seems to account for Jesus' presence with them in India

I got excited when I first heard this, but closer examination and research showed that this was primarily a hoax. The points made by SkepticOfBible on this matter are valid points and to be taken seriously. I mean he would have had to study both the Hindu Vedas, Upanishdad, Puranas, Nyaya, Vaiseshika and the Buddhist Dhammapada, Heart Sutra, Mahayan Parabales, the 7 Books of Mahayana (the Mahayana scriptures), the Metta Sutta and the Pali Canon. That is a sizable bunch and I only (barely) got through the 7 Books of Mahayana!

 

 

Not only that, Amanda is forgeting the Caste System. Only Brahmins had access to the knowledge of the hindu scriptures. You would have bet 2000 years ago, the Brahmins would definately not have taught any person outside their caste, let alone outside their community.

 

This is one of the reason why India got fucked when the Muslims came to india. They just killed off all the brain of the society.

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Now, what is the contradiction between Matthew and Luke? And just because there are a few discrepancies in the Bible, doesn't mean the whole thing is wrong.

 

Amanda: what Heimdall and others here do is point out things that tend to remove the Bible from it's throne. This is ineffective with you, since you aren't a person who believes that the bible is entirely "God-breathed", and without error.

 

The unresolvable birth discrepancies, the Matthew revisions and corrections to Mark, the radical departure in John's gospel from the overall tone in the synoptics - and a myriad of other things -

lead to an inevitable conclusion.

 

The bible was not written by the Creator of the Universe. It's a book. Just like a million other books.

 

Perhaps not significant for you, but a HUGE issue to an ex-fundy. (trust me)

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Not only that, Amanda is forgeting the Caste System. Only Brahmins had access to the knowledge of the hindu scriptures. You would have bet 2000 years ago, the Brahmins would definately not have taught any person outside their caste, let alone outside their community.

 

This is one of the reason why India got fucked when the Muslims came to india. They just killed off all the brain of the society.

:)Hi Skeptic of Bible! It was a long time ago that I read The Lost Years of Jesus, but I thought Jesus was to have spent time with just the Tibbetan Buddhist. I'm not sure of the diversities in these Buddhist teachings, however.... why would Jesus have had to learn it all just because he was there for awhile? The inability to be able to learn everything doesn't seem to prove he was never there! People go today and don't learn any of it! Additionally, there are a lot of people that see an immense influence of Buddhism in these teachings attributed to Jesus... I, for one, do.

 

:)Mythra, I just now saw your post. I have seen the Bible mostly as a metaphor, although I did think that some of those events really happened. Your input of prior myths, and it's initiation of me to seek out other resources has changed my mind considerably. Thanks! However, I am inclined to think that perhaps Jesus did exist, and was just treated like St. Nicholas to Santa Claus. It seems that as accounts evolve, they seem to take on a life of their own. Maybe the original real story has endearing merit. However, as in the very real person of St. Nicholas... to now believe that he's a guy that flies around the world with 8 reindeer, gives presents to every kid on one night a year, is asking a bit too much. :HaHa:

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Hard to explain Jesus' beginnings in our earliest written records if this is the case. The first writings don't place him on earth as a human. Read Romans or Corinthians or Galatians with a different perspective. Try and find a man named Jesus in those writings. You'll find a heavenly christ, a Son of God revealed from Heaven. You'll find the mystery of the gospel personally revealed to Paul. But you won't find a man named Jesus who recently walked and taught on earth. You have to wait decades longer for him to show up.

 

Tough to resolve, if Jesus had just recently been here walking amongst many of the very same people that Paul was speaking to.

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