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Old 09-16-2001, 07:58 PM   #1
Muad'Dib
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Post Many Roman censuses?

I was skimming over my roommate's copy of Greg Boyd's Letters to a Skeptic when I came upon the following:

Quote:
(I)t used to be held by some that Luke's account of the birth of Jesus was fabricated. He says that an empire-wide census was being taken during the reign of Caesar Augustus, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem where Joseph was to register, when Jesus was born. But we know from other ancient sources (e.g., Josephus) that Qurinius was governor beginning in A.D. 6, and there was no evidence for a census like this ever being taken. So, it was assumed, Luke must be in error. We now know, however, that censuses like the kind Luke mentioned were frequent, and Qurinius' reign in A.D. 6 was his second reign.
--Correspondence 13; emphasis mine.
I have never heard anything along these lines before, even from apologists, and to my great dismay Boyd does not include any kind of bibliography. Does anyone know something about these claims of Quirinius' multiple reigns and frequent censuses?
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Old 09-16-2001, 08:26 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by Muad'dib:
<STRONG>I was skimming over my roommate's copy of Greg Boyd's Letters to a Skeptic when I came upon the following:



I have never heard anything along these lines before, even from apologists, and to my great dismay Boyd does not include any kind of bibliography. Does anyone know something about these claims of Quirinius' multiple reigns and frequent censuses?</STRONG>

It was not a state wide census but a personal one in which Joseph went to give an account of himself. He was pregant with dispair -- as James Joyce would have it-- and therefore returned to the state of mind he was at birth . . . to give birth to the child that was to become the father of man, as William Woodsworth put it. Hence, the census imagery is appropriate.

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Old 09-16-2001, 11:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Muad'dib:
<STRONG>
I have never heard anything along these lines before, even from apologists, and to my great dismay Boyd does not include any kind of bibliography. Does anyone know something about these claims of Quirinius' multiple reigns and frequent censuses?</STRONG>
Richard Carrier knows as much as anyone. Read his The Date of the Nativity in Luke. He discusses all of the desparate attempts Christian apologists have made to get Matthew and Luke to agree, including alleged multiple censuses and multiple periods of governing.
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Old 09-17-2001, 10:40 AM   #4
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Thanks, Toto, I should have checked the library first before asking it here.
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Old 09-28-2001, 09:19 AM   #5
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Actually, we already new that Quiranis was the Official around that time, but the only evidence that we could find was that he did not hold his office during the birth of Jesus. This was a thorn for christians until they found a roman coin that had quiranis's face on it. It was from the time of Jesus's birth. And we don't believe in multiple quiranis's, we just think that he was in office twice.

This is all off of memory, so if you want more information and were to find the evidence let me know and I will try to find it for you. If you want to email me my address is jdchristy@anderson.edu. If you leave your email address then I can send you the info and sources.
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Old 09-28-2001, 10:39 AM   #6
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Originally posted by Deathscyth Hell:
<STRONG>Actually, we already new that Quiranis was the Official around that time, but the only evidence that we could find was that he did not hold his office during the birth of Jesus. This was a thorn for christians until they found a roman coin that had quiranis's face on it. It was from the time of Jesus's birth. And we don't believe in multiple quiranis's, we just think that he was in office twice.

This is all off of memory, so if you want more information and were to find the evidence let me know and I will try to find it for you. If you want to email me my address is jdchristy@anderson.edu. If you leave your email address then I can send you the info and sources.</STRONG>
If you want more information, just click on the link above. It thoroughly debunks the two reigns of Quirinus theory. If you find anything missing in the essay, the author has invited you to e-mail him.

Just what we need around here - a Christian who can't spell and won't even read what's offered.
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Old 09-28-2001, 12:06 PM   #7
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I read it. Ill go ahead and check anyway for other info, ask my prof.
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Old 09-28-2001, 10:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Toto:

Richard Carrier knows as much as anyone. Read his The Date of the Nativity in Luke. He discusses all of the desparate attempts Christian apologists have made to get Matthew and Luke to agree, including alleged multiple censuses and multiple periods of governing.
Hello Toto

Once again we can see that you are taking Carrier's line (or is that hook, line and sinker? ) and making broad statements that are easily proven to be false.

I am not interested in debunking yet another Carrier essay in one post, but let me be clear that he does not deal with all attempts to explain the census, nor does he even try. Instead, as is his custom, Carrier begins with an absurd statement, winds up with an equally absurd conclusion, and believes that his attack on several strawmen arguments proves his point.

Let's cover a couple of points very quickly from his essay:

It is indisputable that Luke dates the birth of Jesus to 6 A.D. It is also indisputable that Matthew dates the birth of Jesus to 6 B.C. (or some year before 4 B.C.).

Now, in order for something to be indisputable, it requires that all sane scholars who have studied this question agree. Since it requires only one proof that some do dispute that Luke places Jesus' birth at 6 AD then enough has been said. Carrier should be more careful in his ridiculously broad assertions.

For example, had Carrier merely continued to read Luke, he would have seen in Luke 3:1, 23 that Jesus was about 30 years of age in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius (c. 27-28AD). This places the dating of Jesus' birth at 3 BC or earlier.

Further, Carrier compounds his own error when he states:

The bottom line is that there is no evidence of a Herodian census, and no reason to believe there ever was one.

Again, this is simply false.

Josephus (Ant. 17.42) does mention that Herod required all his subjects to take an oath of allegiance to Augustus in 7B.C., something which client kings or provincial governors occasionally did to impress the emperor with their lyalty. Everyone had to appear before local magistrates, register, and take the oath. Herod's loyalty oath may well have been the "registration" to which Luke refers. We must remember that he begins his birth narrative with the phrase "in the days of Herod, king of Judea," so whatever registration Luke has in mind must have taken place before 4 B.C., when Herod died.
Augustus took several censuses, the last in 8-4 B.C. But that would not have covered Judea, a client kingdom and not part of the Roman Empire at that time. It is possible that Luke, writing seventy or more years later, could not distinguish between Augustus' and Herod''s "registrations," since they produced essentially the same results.
(Albert A. Bell, Exploring the New Testament World, [Thomas Nelson Inc.: Nashville, 1998], pg. 79).


In any event, the question is, is it indisputable that Luke placed Jesus' birth at 6 AD? The answer is no, it is not indisputable, and even the most basic of reading of scholars would show this. Most, if not all (excepting Carrier it would seem) think that Luke places it before (or around the time of) Herod's death. In other words, about 4BC. See for example, Raymond Brown and Albert Bell as just two examples. Carrier should be more careful in his choice of words, unless he wishes to present his own opinions as indisputable facts. He is allowed to do so, of course, but it will cause him to be taken far less seriously by his peers than might otherwise be the case. Some modesty may be in order.

Moving right along Carrier tells us:

Some are tempted to propose the notion that Luke made a mistake: that he really meant Publius Quinctilius Varus rather than Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. Of course, this entails that Luke is wrong, and thus admits that the text as we have it contradicts Matthew.

This is yet another fallacy, as Matthew makes no mention of Quirinius or Quinctilius, so it is not possible for this to be a contradiction. Luke may have gotten his facts wrong, but this particular fact does not conflict with anything found in Matthew. Further, since Quinctilius was governor at the time of King Herod, this kind of possible error would confirm that Luke is placing the dating of Jesus' birth at the time of Herod, the same as does Matthew. All of the other texts we have from Luke also place Jesus' birth at around the time of Herod, so it is hard to see how Carrier thinks that this is evidence of a contradiction.

Personally, as I have argued on the thread Looking at Luke and Josephus, I believe that Luke was using the cenus of 6AD as a device he felt was necessary to place Jesus' birth in Bethlehem instead of Jesus' falmily's native Nazareth (see Luke 1:26; 2:4). His interest in the dating of the census is secondary at best, and his opening reference to the reign of King Herod (Luke 1:5) and Jesus' 30th year (in Luke 3:1, 23) being in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius, should serve as our benchmarks for when Luke dates Jesus' birth.

I'm not even going to bother with Carrier's howler that "Luke never says when Mary conceives", and draws the conclusion that Mary wasn't even pregnant when she met Elizabeth. In fact, he thinks that "it would be most reasonable to assume that Luke has in mind that John was nearly twelve when Jesus was born"! On this basis, Carrier would have to argue that Mary stayed celebate within her marriage to Joseph for about 10-12 years (long enough for John the Baptist to have his bar mitzvah), THEN conceive, and bear a son. I am forced to wonder how deeply Richard had his tongue in his cheek when he wrote this, since I cannot believe that he was being serious.

Let's just say that Richard's reading of the conception of Jesus is idiosyncratic in the extreme. To be honest, he is the first person I have ever read that proposed that Jesus was born 12 years after John the Baptist, and based his argument on the Gospel of Luke. Sadly, Carrier offers nothing beyond his own conjecture for this bit, but I would love to know who he has been reading, or if this idea popped into his head on its own. The only reason I can see him bringing it up at all is that he must offer such a reading in order to make his ENTIRE thesis work at all. Of course, a wiser course of action would have been to simply admit that the theory is in error, and reject it.

So, once again we have an example of Carrier's agenda driven research, where his conclusions taint his presentation of the evidence, and he compounds his error with gross overstatements. This is why I think he and his research should be viewed with such caution, and readers should take care to look into the issues he raises on their own. In doing this, they will gain a better picture of what is most likely to be the truth, and they can avoid falling into the kinds of traps Carrier finds himself in so often.

Nomad

[ September 29, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 10-01-2001, 10:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:<STRONG>Now, in order for something to be indisputable, it requires that all sane scholars who have studied this question agree.</STRONG>
Why do Christians have so much trouble with basic English? That’s not a rhetorical question. It really, honestly, perplexes me--because it happens so often and is just strange. I can only recommend that you look up “indisputable” in a dictionary and compare it with the word “undisputed.” Your sentence above is only true if you substitute the latter for the former.

When someone says something is indisputable, they mean (or certainly ought to mean) that it cannot be reasonably disputed (i.e. by anyone conversant with all the facts who reasons non-fallaciously), not that no one disputes it. My sentence is not an assertion, but a thesis, something I expend over 20,000 words arguing for. Obviously I am not spending those tens of thousands of words arguing that “no one disputes” it--so I am left to wonder how you could possibly assume that was the paper’s argument?

<STRONG>For example, had Carrier merely continued to read Luke, he would have seen in Luke 3:1, 23 that Jesus was about 30 years of age in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius (c.
27-28AD). This places the dating of Jesus' birth at 3 BC or earlier.</STRONG>

And had you actually read my essay you would know I did notice these passages and discuss them at length. Luke does not in fact link those two events. Interpreters did. Read my argument before dismissing it.

<STRONG>Further, Carrier compounds his own error when he states: “The bottom line is that there is no evidence of a Herodian census, and no reason to believe there ever was one.” Again, this is simply false. Josephus (Ant. 17.42) does mention that Herod required all his subjects to take an oath of allegiance to Augustus in 7B.C., something which client kings or provincial governors occasionally did to impress the emperor with their lyalty.</STRONG>

Again, something I devote a whole subsection to. Read the essay for a change.

<STRONG>Everyone had to appear before local magistrates, register, and take the oath.</STRONG>

Where is your evidence that oath-takers had to “register”? All evidence shows, at best, that oath takers were given diplomas--no evidence shows any use of registers or records at all. I would very much like to see any evidence you have to the contrary. Since all subjects in Roman provinces swore allegiance to the empreror every year, it is inconceivable that they were registered doing so--if they were, why would a census ever have to be conducted? There is no reason to suppose Herod’s oath was administered any differently, particularly since counting Israel was a sin (I cite the passages in the essay), and making and keeping such records was incredibly expensive, something only the Roman bureaucratic machine would normally contemplate.

<STRONG>Herod's loyalty oath may well have been the "registration" to which Luke refers.</STRONG>

No, it could not have been. Neither the circumstances nor the vocabulary nor the context permit such. See my discussion of this argument in the essay.

<STRONG>We must remember that he begins his birth narrative with the phrase "in the days of Herod, king of Judea," so whatever registration Luke has in mind must have taken place before 4 B.C., when Herod died.</STRONG>

Not true. He starts the birth narrative of John, not Jesus, with that passage, and Herod the King of Judaea does not entail Herod the Great. See my footnote on this passage, and the related text in the body, where I discuss this subject in detail. Come to think of it, I absolutely insist from now on that you actually read my essays before criticising them. I should think it would be in your interests to do so--this can only be embarassing for you.

<STRONG>Augustus took several censuses, the last in 8-4 B.C.</STRONG>

Where do you get that “range” of dates? His last census was 14 AD anyway, not 8 BC, and these two years marked the completion, not beginning, of censuses, and (as Bell notes) of Roman citizens only. Provincial censuses were taken at other variant times for various provinces. I devote an entire section to this matter, too. Read it.

<STRONG>But that would not have covered Judea, a client kingdom and not part of the Roman Empire at that time. It is possible that Luke, writing seventy or more years later, could not distinguish between Augustus' and Herod''s "registrations," since they produced essentially the same results. (Albert A. Bell, Exploring the New Testament World, [Thomas Nelson Inc.: Nashville, 1998], pg. 79).</STRONG>

It is always strange to see people arguing that Luke is right because he screwed up. But never mind that: if we argue that Luke is all wrong about the Augustan connection, the actual event, and the reason to go to Bethlehem (not to mention the link to Quirinius), then we have just proven that Luke and Matthew can only be reconciled by dismissing Luke as errant. Obviously one can reconcile two documents by throwing one out. This would only confirm my conclusion: “this stands as proof of the fallibility of the Bible, as well as the falsehood of one of the two New Testament accounts of the Nativity.” Thanks!

Of course, I have far more confidence in Luke than you or Bell, apparently. I seriously doubt he could possibly have made such a stupid mistake--even if he was making the whole thing up. That would be like confusing the U.S. census of 1910 with a Harper’s reader poll in 1896. What a bonehead that would take! And we are supposed to have confidence in anything else such an incompetent historian wrote?

<STRONG>In any event, the question is, is it indisputable that Luke placed Jesus' birth at 6 AD? The answer is no, it is not indisputable, and even the most basic of reading of scholars would show this. Most, if not all (excepting Carrier it would seem) think that Luke places it before (or around the time of) Herod's death. In other words, about 4BC. See for example, Raymond Brown and Albert Bell as just two examples.</STRONG>

This is moot, of course, since on basic high school English anyone can tell my argument is not that this is “undisputed” only that it is “indisputable,” and on close examination of the facts. But I have Brown, and he says “When all is evaluated, the weight of the evidence is strongly against the possibility of reconciling the information in Luke 1 and Luke 2. There is no serious reason to believe that there was a Roman census of Palestine under Quirinius during the reign of Herod the Great.” But he also says before that, that one can reconcile these passages in the very ways I propose in my essay (cf. App. VII, text, w. n. 3), but he only rejects those because they contradict Matthew. But why should we care about that? If only one of them can be right, one must be wrong--so there is no reason why the two should not contradict each other in such a case. Brown’s reasoning is thus flawed (see below). He also thinks 3:23 is connected to 3:1, which has no basis but presumption, as I point out in my essay. But let’s not argue from authorities--we should know this is fallacious. I argue from the facts. Read them.

<STRONG>Carrier should be more careful in his choice of words, unless he wishes to present his own opinions as indisputable facts.</STRONG>

Can’t you tell the difference between an opinion and an argued position? I do not present an opinion as indisputable fact--I argue that something is an indisputable fact, and I argue at great length, with mountains of evidence, backed up with a great deal of research into the arguments of scores of scholars, citing nearly ninety articles or books altogether. Or did you miss all that? Since you seem ignorant of nearly every argument I make in that essay, I can only presume you did. But why don’t you work as hard as I do to get at the truth? That is the question that bugs me.

<STRONG>Carrier tells us: “Some are tempted to propose the notion that Luke made a mistake: that he really meant Publius Quinctilius Varus rather than Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. Of course, this entails that Luke is wrong, and thus admits that the text as we have it contradicts Matthew.” This is yet another fallacy, as Matthew makes no mention of Quirinius or Quinctilius, so it is not possible for this to be a contradiction.</STRONG>

Again, a complete failure to comprehend simple English. What is up with that? I shall ask you what “The text [of Luke] as we have it” says, and what that means in the context of that paragraph (i.e. the specific argument I am addressing). Then tell me if you want to revise your criticism. If you don’t get what I’m talking about, I feel sorry for you. But I can’t hold your hand here.

<STRONG>Luke may have gotten his facts wrong, but this particular fact does not conflict with anything found in Matthew.</STRONG>

It does in the context of an argument that denies Quirinius Governing Syria is the right man. Get it?

<STRONG>Further, since Quinctilius was governor at the time of King Herod</STRONG>

A conclusion implicitly denied by the argument I am addressing above. As to this, different argument, the rest of the essay is devoted to that.

<STRONG>this kind of possible error would confirm that Luke is placing the dating of Jesus' birth at the time of Herod, the same as does Matthew.</STRONG>

If you have evidence that Quirinius was governing Syria in the reign of Herod the Great, and that an Augustan-decreed census took place in Herod’s kingdom at the same time, then you are right. But there is no such evidence. Indeed, there isn’t any evidence that either fact was even possible. You have certainly presented exactly zero evidence for either fact. So what makes your conclusion correct over someone who presents mountains of evidence? Since when does zero beat a ton?

<STRONG>All of the other texts we have from Luke also place Jesus' birth at around the time of Herod, so it is hard to see how Carrier thinks that this is evidence of a contradiction.</STRONG>

It wouldn’t be hard if you had actually read the thousands of words in my essay that precede the sentence you are discussing. You guys are always harping on us about not reading the context of the Bible--why can’t you practice what you preach and read the context of my essay? Is that so much to ask?

<STRONG>Personally, as I have argued on the thread Looking at Luke and Josephus, I believe that Luke was using the cenus of 6AD as a device he felt was necessary to place Jesus' birth in Bethlehem instead of Jesus' falmily's native Nazareth (see Luke 1:26; 2:4).</STRONG>

I state exactly both points myself. In the very same essay.

<STRONG>His interest in the dating of the census is secondary at best, and his opening reference to the reign of King Herod (Luke 1:5) and Jesus' 30th year (in Luke 3:1, 23) being in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius, should serve as our benchmarks for when Luke dates Jesus' birth.</STRONG>

Not when neither fact is established. Luke does not give any indication of knowing when Jesus began his ministry (the use of “about” establishes that, as does the fact that he does not mention this until after the arrest of John, yet only gives a date for when John began his ministry, not for when he was arrested--the passage of time is unstated and could be of any duration. Likewise, there is no connection made by Luke between Herod and Jesus’ birth, and Luke does not specify which Herod he means. Thus, you must assume several facts for which there is no evidence in order to say what you just said. Isn’t that what you are accusing me of? Hmmmm.

<STRONG>I'm not even going to bother with Carrier's howler that "Luke never says when Mary conceives",</STRONG>

Why a howler? It is still a fact. Make of it what you will.

<STRONG>and draws the conclusion that Mary wasn't even pregnant when she met Elizabeth. In fact, he thinks that "it would be most reasonable to assume that Luke has in mind that John was nearly twelve when Jesus was born"!</STRONG>

What edition are you using? The current edition, as reported on What’s New of August 17, 2001, adds a footnote that gives my actual view now. As to whether Luke means the passage of twelve years, I ask everyone to read my whole case themselves. What you think is besides the point. But I now believe something else is even more probable.

<STRONG>On this basis, Carrier would have to argue that Mary stayed celebate within her marriage to Joseph for about 10-12 years (long enough for John the Baptist to have his bar mitzvah), THEN conceive, and bear a son.</STRONG>

There is nothing incredible about a long betrothal--anyone familiar with societies where marriages are arranged knows that well enough, especially when the would-be husband is not yet financially sound or the woman’s parents can’t yet come up with an adequate dowry, and as we have reason to presume Jesus’ family very poor, we can expect such complications. We are never told when or even if Mary and Joseph marry--they are still unmarried when Jesus is born (2:5)--so the fact that she was celibate would be a given, unless she was raped or fornicated contrary to Jewish law.

But I now think something else is even more probable, and the footnote says what that is.

<STRONG>To be honest, he is the first person I have ever read that proposed that Jesus was born 12 years after John the Baptist, and based his argument on the Gospel of Luke.</STRONG>

See Schwarz, “On Quirinius...” Revue de Qumran 13 (1998), pp. 635-46, for argument and bibliography; also, Brown acknowledges that Sherwin-White makes a similar argument (p. 548, i.e. App. VII, text, w. n. 3). The reason so few have proposed it is that so few are willing to admit one author is wrong. Instead, everyone almost to a man tries to reconcile Matthew and Luke, which means forcing Luke into a 4 BC date (since Matthew cannot be forced into a 6 AD date). That is a universally misguided approach, but not a surprising one. The only thing we can rightfully presume is that an author will strive to be consistent with himself, not that he will strive to be consistent with another author, especially one of whom he shows no awareness and who otherwise tells an entirely different story. Thus, if there is any way to read Luke as consistent with himself that is correct on the Greek and plausible in the context he describes, logic would lead us to read Luke in that way. To deny this and instead apply the same principle between Luke and something Luke did not even write is illigitimate procedure. Don’t you agree?

I really see no factual evidence presented by you that contradicts anything I say in my essay. All I see is expressions of incredulity and wanton gainsaying. You criticise me for making unsupported declarations, and yet between us, so far, only I have supported with facts anything I have said! It really boggles the mind.

[ October 01, 2001: Message edited by: Richard Carrier ]
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Old 10-02-2001, 09:53 PM   #10
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You know, this must be one of the most curious posts you have ever offered Richard. Is there a reason you do not bother to use actual dictionaries when making your bizarre arguments? No matter, I will do this for you and help clear things up.

Quote:
Originally posted by Richard Carrier:

Why do Christians have so much trouble with basic English?
Back to ad hominem again? Let me help you with this one first. I am a Christian. I am not a ChristianS. If you have a problem with MY English, then merely say so, but do not make the fallacy of trying to label all Christians with what you think is my mistake. Of course, I have not erred, more on that below, but I will assure you, I am not going to link atheists as a group to your sloppiness and confused argumentation in this and other matters.

Quote:
I can only recommend that you look up “indisputable” in a dictionary and compare it with the word “undisputed.” Your sentence above is only true if you substitute the latter for the former.
Let's do that. From Webster's.com:

Main Entry: in·dis·put·able
Function: adjective
: not disputable : UNQUESTIONABLE &lt;indisputable proof&gt;


How about the thesaurus then? From Webster's Thesaurus:

Entry Word: indisputable
Function: adjective
Text: 1
Synonyms POSITIVE 3, certain, incontestable, indubitable, irrefutable, sure, uncontestable, uncontrovertible, undeniable, unquestionable
Antonyms disputable
2
Synonyms REAL 3, actual, true, undeniable, unfabled, veridical


Any questions left Richard? I completely fail to see why you thought that this would strengthen your case. In any event, if you are going to recommend the use of a dictionary in the future, it is my own recommendation that you do that yourself, and offer your proof rather than resort to hopeless and pathetic insults.

Your assertion was, in your view, beyond questioning, true, undeniable, certain, irrefutable, ect ect ect. It really is tiring when I must explain what you mean by your own words. Please try to refrain from making this error again.

Quote:
When someone says something is indisputable, they mean (or certainly ought to mean) that it cannot be reasonably disputed (i.e. by anyone conversant with all the facts who reasons non-fallaciously), not that no one disputes it.
See my definition again Richard. It means that you are certainly right, and that no sane individual could question you about it. It is indisputable that gravity will make one fall down. Your beliefs in your own inerrancy is not something that is beyond question, even if your brain tells you otherwise. As I warned in my post, some modesty on your part, as well as some circumspection would be in order.

Quote:
My sentence is not an assertion, but a thesis, something I expend over 20,000 words arguing for.
Let me help you again. From Webster's.com:

Main Entry: the·sis
Function: noun
1a N/A
2 a : a position or proposition that a person (as a candidate for scholastic honors) advances and offers to maintain by argument b : a proposition to be proved or one advanced without proof : HYPOTHESIS
3 : the first and least adequate stage of dialectic
4 N/A


By its very definition, a thesis is something that is questioned and examined. I am surprised that you did not know this. An assertion, however, may or may not be open to question. Personally, I could not care less what you wish to assert, but once you place your assertions beyond the realm of examination and questioning, then you commit a very serious fallacy, and one that must, and should be challenged.

Quote:
Obviously I am not spending those tens of thousands of words arguing that “no one disputes” it--so I am left to wonder how you could possibly assume that was the paper’s argument?
An indisputable assertion is not an argument. And in questions of history it should not even be offered without overwhelming proof. The Holocaust happened as historical fact. This is both an assertion, and indisputably true. What you propose regarding Luke's dating of the birth of Jesus is not only disputable, but easily demonstrated to be disputed. Further, from the text of Luke itself, as I have shown, Luke does NOT date the birth of Jesus to 6AD, and you have failed utterly to address this fact.

Quote:
Nomad: For example, had Carrier merely continued to read Luke, he would have seen in Luke 3:1, 23 that Jesus was about 30 years of age in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius (c.27-28AD). This places the dating of Jesus' birth at 3 BC or earlier.

Carrier: And had you actually read my essay you would know I did notice these passages and discuss them at length. Luke does not in fact link those two events.
This is where things really break down for you. One need not do much math to work backwards from when Tiberius reigned in his 15th year, then determine when Luke dates the birth of Jesus. That you could not even point this out is a strange omission, except that it blows apart your entire thesis, as well as your assertion.

Quote:
Interpreters did. Read my argument before dismissing it.
I have read it, just as I have read your strange arguments and reasoning in your post. My recommendation is that you do better in the future, and I will not have to correct you on such basic subjects.

Quote:
Nomad: Further, Carrier compounds his own error when he states: “The bottom line is that there is no evidence of a Herodian census, and no reason to believe there ever was one.” Again, this is simply false. Josephus (Ant. 17.42) does mention that Herod required all his subjects to take an oath of allegiance to Augustus in 7B.C., something which client kings or provincial governors occasionally did to impress the emperor with their lyalty.

Carrier: Again, something I devote a whole subsection to. Read the essay for a change.
Again, I did. And you did not admit (and still do not admit) that the registration of Herod is viewed as a census, including by scholars. Had you admitted this much, then I would not have had a problem with your statements. Very often it is your omissions that are most telling when you present your arguments.

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Nomad: Everyone had to appear before local magistrates, register, and take the oath.

Carrier: Where is your evidence that oath-takers had to “register”? All evidence shows, at best, that oath takers were given diplomas--no evidence shows any use of registers or records at all.
I am going to assume that you did not read what Josephus told us about this event. He records that 6,000 men did not swear their oath of loyalty, and the way that this would be known is because they would have registered when giving their oath. If there were no records at all, then we would have no way of knowing who did, and who did not swear the oath. BTW, do not counter my arguments with additional assertions. If you think that people recorded an oath of loyalty every single year, then perhaps you can tell us why Josephus only mentions it once, and in this context.

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There is no reason to suppose Herod’s oath was administered any differently, particularly since counting Israel was a sin (I cite the passages in the essay),
This argument was so incredibly naive, I ignored it. I had no intention of refuting every single assertion made in the essay. My interest was in exposing the weakest arguments on this specific subject. However, now that you have raised this issue yet again, and shown that you do not understand the role of the census for Jews in Palestine:

Exodus 30:1 "When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.

Numbers 1:2 "Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.

Numbers 1:49 "You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites.

Numbers 4:2 "Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families.

2 Kings 12:4 Joash said to the priests, "Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD--the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple.

2 Chronicles 2:17 2 Solomon took a census of all the aliens who were in Israel, after the census his father David had taken; and they were found to be 153,600.


As we can see, there is not only NO prohibition against conducting a census, we see at times that God Himself commands them. That you should take one example of where God prohibited a census, and apply it to all Jews for all time is either hopelessly naive, or disingenuous. I will assume you made the argument in ignorance of what the OT said on the subject, so your mistake was one of naivete.

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Nomad: We must remember that he begins his birth narrative with the phrase "in the days of Herod, king of Judea," so whatever registration Luke has in mind must have taken place before 4 B.C., when Herod died.

Carrier: Not true. He starts the birth narrative of John, not Jesus, with that passage, and Herod the King of Judaea does not entail Herod the Great. See my footnote on this passage, and the related text in the body, where I discuss this subject in detail. Come to think of it, I absolutely insist from now on that you actually read my essays before criticising them.
See your problem Richard? You are so busy assuming that I have not read your arguments, that you do not bother to read what you actually wrote. I have. You argued that John was born 12 years before Jesus, and tell us that Luke places Jesus' birth at 6AD. This means that John was born about 6BC, the time of Herod the Great. Is obscurantism all that you have left now? I am left to wonder how or why you bothered to post your "rebuttal", as it is truly embarrassing for you to show how little you understand your own arguments.

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Nomad: Augustus took several censuses, the last in 8-4 B.C.

Carrier: Where do you get that “range” of dates? His last census was 14 AD anyway, not 8 BC, and these two years marked the completion, not beginning, of censuses, and (as Bell notes) of Roman citizens only. Provincial censuses were taken at other variant times for various provinces.
Augustus conducted a census from 8-4BC. This is a fact.

"In Rome the Ara Pacis was dedicated in 9 (BC), while in 8 Augustus received an extension of his procunsular imperium for ten years, and perhaps now the month Sextilis was officially named after him, August. He held his second census and in 7 organised Rome into the fourteen regiones.
(M. Cary, H.H. Scullard, A History of Rome Down to the Reign of Constantine, [The MacMillan Press Ltd.: London, 1979, pg. 346)


These are not disputed points Richard. I do not know why you are even arguing them. Here I would recommend that you simply research your subject more carefully.

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Nomad: But that would not have covered Judea, a client kingdom and not part of the Roman Empire at that time. It is possible that Luke, writing seventy or more years later, could not distinguish between Augustus' and Herod''s "registrations," since they produced essentially the same results. (Albert A. Bell, Exploring the New Testament World, [Thomas Nelson Inc.: Nashville, 1998], pg. 79).

Carrier: It is always strange to see people arguing that Luke is right because he screwed up. But never mind that: if we argue that Luke is all wrong about the Augustan connection, the actual event, and the reason to go to Bethlehem (not to mention the link to Quirinius), then we have just proven that Luke and Matthew can only be reconciled by dismissing Luke as errant.
Please try to be less one dimensional in your interpretations Richard. You are now arguing against strawmen. I have already explained why Luke used the census of 6AD, and I strongly suspect that you even know the more involved arguments on this specific point. Luke dates the birth of Jesus most firmly by telling us that He was about 30 years of age in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius. Based on this, he places the birth of Jesus c. 3-4BC, more or less the same time as does Matthew. I am only somewhat surprised that you would assume that Luke would have only one reason for citing the census of 6AD, but had you been more careful both in your research and your presentation, you would have shown that Luke had more than one reason to choose this particular event, and link it to the birth of Jesus. Dating that birth was certainly not foremost in his mind. Again, had you simply admitted this fact, then we would not be arguing about it now.

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...This would only confirm my conclusion: “this stands as proof of the fallibility of the Bible, as well as the falsehood of one of the two New Testament accounts of the Nativity.” Thanks!
Hmm... more strawmen? I have already said that Luke may well have been in error, but the more likely is that he had another purpose for using the census. Like I said, all you need do is actually address arguments being made.

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Of course, I have far more confidence in Luke than you or Bell, apparently. I seriously doubt he could possibly have made such a stupid mistake--even if he was making the whole thing up.
Umm... this does make me wonder if you are truly this ignorant of the arguments made on the census, or are you merely playing to the stands?

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And we are supposed to have confidence in anything else such an incompetent historian wrote?
I left this in to appreciate the irony.

Just be more careful when making arguments in the future Richard. If you do, you may make a true historian yet.

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Carrier: ...But I have Brown, and he says “When all is evaluated, the weight of the evidence is strongly against the possibility of reconciling the information in Luke 1 and Luke 2. There is no serious reason to believe that there was a Roman census of Palestine under Quirinius during the reign of Herod the Great.” But he also says before that, that one can reconcile these passages in the very ways I propose in my essay (cf. App. VII, text, w. n. 3), but he only rejects those because they contradict Matthew. But why should we care about that? If only one of them can be right, one must be wrong--so there is no reason why the two should not contradict each other in such a case. Brown’s reasoning is thus flawed (see below).
And I wanted to keep this in to show how you carefully dodged the argument being made. Brown reads Luke, and from it dates the birth of Jesus to the time of Herod (c. 4BC). THAT was my point, and you did not address it. Your idiosyncratic reading of Luke not with standing, most rational people who read Luke see the same thing. Thus, we CAN question your thesis, and show how your reasoning fails. So, far from being beyond dispute, your ideas are both disputed and refuted.

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He also thinks 3:23 is connected to 3:1, which has no basis but presumption, as I point out in my essay.
Yes, I read your assertion on this and I still do not think you were being serious. Do you have anyone that reads it as you do? Let's look at what you said below to see:

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But let’s not argue from authorities--we should know this is fallacious. I argue from the facts. Read them.
Obviously you do not know anyone that reads the passage this way. I will raise the bar. I believe that every scholar that reads Luke 1 connects the two passages. Now, is this a fallacious argument?

From Logical Fallacies:

Fallacy: Appeal to Authority

Also Known as: Fallacious Appeal to Authority, Misuse of Authority, Irrelevant Authority, Questionable Authority, Inappropriate Authority, Ad Verecundiam

An Appeal to Authority is a fallacy with the following form:

Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.
Person A makes claim C about subject S.
Therefore, C is true.
This fallacy is committed when the person in question is not a legitimate authority on the subject. More formally, if person A is not qualified to make reliable claims in subject S, then the argument will be fallacious.


It is a fact that Raymond Brown WAS an authority on the New Testament, as is Bell. Since you cannot offer an example of an actual authority that agrees with you, then my point is not even in dispute.

Continuing from the same source in order to make my point:

Since this sort of reasoning is fallacious only when the person is not a legitimate authority in a particular context, it is necessary to provide some acceptable standards of assessment. The following standards are widely accepted:

1. The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.
Claims made by a person who lacks the needed degree of expertise to make a reliable claim will, obviously, not be well supported. In contrast, claims made by a person with the needed degree of expertise will be supported by the person's reliability in the area.

2. The claim being made by the person is within her area(s) of expertise.

3. There is an adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question.


As I have said, Brown is an expert, his claim is within his area of expertise, and it is widely (if not universally) accepted by all other authorities in the field. Richard's assertion, on the other hand, comes from himself, he is not an authority, he is speaking outside of his area of expertise, and he has no support from other scholars. If anything, the fallacy is Richard's.

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Nomad: Carrier should be more careful in his choice of words, unless he wishes to present his own opinions as indisputable facts.

Carrier: Can’t you tell the difference between an opinion and an argued position? I do not present an opinion as indisputable fact--I argue that something is an indisputable fact, and I argue at great length, with mountains of evidence, backed up with a great deal of research into the arguments of scores of scholars, citing nearly ninety articles or books altogether.
And here is a good example of appealing to authority. Your citations do not all apply to the SPECIFIC arguments I focused upon, so trying to present the number NINETY articles and books is a fallacy in itself. This is a red herring, so stick with the argument. You argued in your essay that it is indisputable that Luke dates the birth of Jesus to 6AD. I disputed it, and did so with my own arguments, demonstrations from the text, and appeals to legitimate authorities. You have still not addressed my arguments, and have not even demonstrated that you understand the nature of what is actually indisputable. To correct that error, I have quoted from the dictionary, even as you offered your protest and FAILED to take even this basic step. The next time you want to tell me that I do not understand a word, offer a definition that proves I do not understand the word. Don't assert it, especially when I can show that I was actually correct. Further, do not link what you see as my errors to others, and make a fallacious link.

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Or did you miss all that? Since you seem ignorant of nearly every argument I make in that essay, I can only presume you did. But why don’t you work as hard as I do to get at the truth? That is the question that bugs me.
I don't care what bugs you Richard. I care about your one sided presentation of arguments, deliberate ignorance of arguments you should have known, and outright misstatements of fact. You made them in your essay and I pointed them out. You have made additional such errors in your post, and I have pointed these out as well. If and when you are more careful in the future, then we will have more productive exchanges. Until then, I will be required to continue to point out where you make such mistakes.

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{Snip non-argument on your part}

Nomad: Luke may have gotten his facts wrong, but this particular fact does not conflict with anything found in Matthew.

Carrier: It does in the context of an argument that denies Quirinius Governing Syria is the right man. Get it?
I think you simply missed this argument. YOU argued in your essay that if the name Quirinius was confused with that of Quintilius, then it conflicts with Matthew. Since Quintilius ruled at the time of Herod, then this is simply wrong. You yourself have made mistakes about names, and we cannot rule out the possibility that this is exactly what Luke did here. And if he did make such a mistake, then there is no conflict at all. I hope that you get my point now, as I do not wish to repeat it again.

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Nomad: this kind of possible error would confirm that Luke is placing the dating of Jesus' birth at the time of Herod, the same as does Matthew.

Carrier: If you have evidence that Quirinius was governing Syria in the reign of Herod the Great, and that an Augustan-decreed census took place in Herod’s kingdom at the same time, then you are right.
As you have completely misread my argument here, and gotten it exactly backwards, I will invite you to reread it and try again.


Quote:
Nomad: Personally, as I have argued on the thread Looking at Luke and Josephus, I believe that Luke was using the cenus of 6AD as a device he felt was necessary to place Jesus' birth in Bethlehem instead of Jesus' falmily's native Nazareth (see Luke 1:26; 2:4).

Carrier: I state exactly both points myself. In the very same essay.
And had you confined yourself to this statement, and NOT said that it was indisputable that Luke dates Jesus' birth to 6AD, we would not have had a problem.

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Nomad: His interest in the dating of the census is secondary at best, and his opening reference to the reign of King Herod (Luke 1:5) and Jesus' 30th year (in Luke 3:1, 23) being in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius, should serve as our benchmarks for when Luke dates Jesus' birth.

Carrier: Not when neither fact is established. Luke does not give any indication of knowing when Jesus began his ministry (the use of “about” establishes that, as does the fact that he does not mention this until after the arrest of John, yet only gives a date for when John began his ministry, not for when he was arrested--the passage of time is unstated and could be of any duration.
I'm back to thinking that you cannot be serious here Richard. Do you have ANY evidence that Luke was thinking in terms of years between Luke 3:1 and 3:23? Of course you do not, and your idiosyncratic reading is required to make your thesis work. So forgive us for not accepting it as proof of your claim.

Quote:
Likewise, there is no connection made by Luke between Herod and Jesus’ birth, and Luke does not specify which Herod he means.
As we have no reason from reading the text to think Luke meant any Herod other than Herod the Great, why would you argue otherwise? Is it because you need this special reading in order to make your thesis work? Theory driven presentation of evidence is not the way to prove that theory.

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Thus, you must assume several facts for which there is no evidence in order to say what you just said. Isn’t that what you are accusing me of? Hmmmm.
Yes I am, and the irony is quite rich.

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Nomad: and draws the conclusion that Mary wasn't even pregnant when she met Elizabeth. In fact, he thinks that "it would be most reasonable to assume that Luke has in mind that John was nearly twelve when Jesus was born"!

Carrier: What edition are you using? The current edition, as reported on What’s New of August 17, 2001, adds a footnote that gives my actual view now.
I used the same essay referrenced by Toto found here. Here is what you said:

Three months before John is born, Gabriel announces to Mary only that she will conceive (1:31, 36), not that she already has. In fact, Luke never says when Mary conceives. Instead, John appears to have already passed most of his childhood by the time Jesus is born (1:80), and given Jewish tradition to barmitzvah after the age of 12 (which would be John's "day of public appearance to Israel"; we see that day for Jesus in 2:42ff.) and other parallels between Jesus and John (cf. 1:80 and 2:40), it would be most reasonable to assume that Luke has in mind that John was nearly twelve when Jesus was born (since "in those days" from vv. 2:1 picks up the "day" of the previous vv. 1:80).[1.1.2]

Your note goes on to say:

[1.1.2] One might suppose that Luke 1:42, Elizabeth's greeting to Mary, implies that Mary is already pregnant, but it does not entail that. She may merely be anticipating the future, as is the case in Deuteronomy 28:4, where the same present participle construction is used in the Septuagint clearly in reference to future generations and not to present conceptions.

In other words, you have stuck with your original assertion that John the Baptist was 12 when Jesus was born. Have you since changed your mind? If not, then why did you bring this up?

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As to whether Luke means the passage of twelve years, I ask everyone to read my whole case themselves. What you think is besides the point. But I now believe something else is even more probable.
Why don't you simply post what you now think? Such vagueness on your part suggests you have backed away from your original point, but from my cited source, you say exactly what I claim you said. If you have changed your mind, then offer a source, or better yet, type it out! And if you have not changed your mind, then do not be evasive, and just admit that you think John was 12 when Jesus was born.

The fact that you go on to argree (in a note) that Luke may have been talking about a different Herod does not rescue you here. If you have changed your mind, amend your essay in the body where most people will read it. As Herod Archelaus is NOT presented as the probable Herod of Luke 1, then we have no reason to think you have changed your mind. Your concluding sentence in this part of your essay reinforces my point:

if we follow what I just argued to be Luke's meaning, it is notable that he places the birth of John in exactly the same year that Matthew seems to place the birth of Jesus (6 B.C.).

So, stop being evasive, and just say what you now believe. And if you wish to amend your essay, the do so. Right now you appear to be of two minds on the question. Have you made up your mind?

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Nomad: On this basis, Carrier would have to argue that Mary stayed celebate within her marriage to Joseph for about 10-12 years (long enough for John the Baptist to have his bar mitzvah), THEN conceive, and bear a son.

Carrier: There is nothing incredible about a long betrothal--anyone familiar with societies where marriages are arranged knows that well enough, especially when the would-be husband is not yet financially sound or the woman’s parents can’t yet come up with an adequate dowry, and as we have reason to presume Jesus’ family very poor, we can expect such complications. We are never told when or even if Mary and Joseph marry--they are still unmarried when Jesus is born (2:5)--so the fact that she was celibate would be a given, unless she was raped or fornicated contrary to Jewish law.
This is an interesting point, but not something you can demonstrate from a reading of the text. My original question stands Richard, have you read this idea anywhere, or is it uniquely your own? If the latter, then forgive us for not trusting you as an authority on the matter.

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But I now think something else is even more probable, and the footnote says what that is.
Yes, that Luke is talking about a different Herod than Herod the Great. Of course, you have yet to change your actual essay to reflect this change, and until you do, I see no reason to argue about it here. Needless to say, others have examined this question, and found the theory wanting. My point here is that you should not be evasive, and tell us to look up a footnote you will not reference yourself. For those reading this post, I offer it here. Now I ask if you will change your essay to reflect your true thoughts?

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Nomad: To be honest, he is the first person I have ever read that proposed that Jesus was born 12 years after John the Baptist, and based his argument on the Gospel of Luke.

Carrier: See Schwarz, “On Quirinius...” Revue de Qumran 13 (1998), pp. 635-46, for argument and bibliography; also, Brown acknowledges that Sherwin-White makes a similar argument (p. 548, i.e. App. VII, text, w. n. 3). The reason so few have proposed it is that so few are willing to admit one author is wrong. Instead, everyone almost to a man tries to reconcile Matthew and Luke, which means forcing Luke into a 4 BC date (since Matthew cannot be forced into a 6 AD date).
Your argument is simply not true Richard, and you should know this. Brown, for one, tells us that Luke CANNOT be reconciled with Matthew on this point, and I agree with him. Had you been more modest in your claims, then we would not be arguing about it, but you insisted on trying to make a much larger point than was possible based on the evidence alone.

Now, as you failed to actually show what Brown said in his note, I will do so here:

This is the thesis of Sherwin-White, Roman Society, 167, who thinks that Luke is correcting Matthew's tradition. Rather, the generally accepted independence of the two infancy narratives and the apparent lack of any Lucan knowledge of Matthew makes their mutual reference to Herod the Great persuasive in the dating of Jesus' birth.
(R. Brown, Birth of the Messiah, [Doubleday:New York, 1993], pg. 548, n. 2)


So, far from saying what you tell us, Brown is convinced that Luke and Matthew both refer to Herod the Great as being king at or about the time of Jesus' birth. More importantly, Sherwin-White does NOT argue that John the Baptist was 12 when Jesus was born! Based on the actual quote from Brown, Sherwin-White believed that John was one at the time of Jesus' birth (see below).

Now, as my question was directly asking you who has argued (besides you), based on Luke, that John was 12 when Jesus was born, what is your answer? You side stepped the question completely, as Sherwin-White did not argue this at all. Again from Brown:

One ingenius suggestion, however, is that Luke did not mean Herod the Great but Archelaus, who is occassionally called Herod(Note 2) and who ruled as king of Judea from 4BC to AD 6. One could theorize that the annunciation of JBapt's birth took place towqqard the end of Archelaus' reign (AD 5-6) and that Jesus was born after Archelaus had been deposed and the newly installed Quirinius began the census (AD 6-7).
(Ibid. pg. 548)


Why did you reference this as a reply to my question? Obviously it is not. I do not have the other reference you have offered. Perhaps it does say that Jesus was born when John the Baptist was 12. Does it? And if it doesn't will you simply admit as much and withdraw your claim? Further, in the future will you refrain from offering citations that do not say what you claim?

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That is a universally misguided approach, but not a surprising one.
As neither Brown nor I do this, this is another strawman. I would rather deal with the arguments being made, not ones you can dream up.

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The only thing we can rightfully presume is that an author will strive to be consistent with himself, not that he will strive to be consistent with another author, especially one of whom he shows no awareness and who otherwise tells an entirely different story. Thus, if there is any way to read Luke as consistent with himself that is correct on the Greek and plausible in the context he describes, logic would lead us to read Luke in that way. To deny this and instead apply the same principle between Luke and something Luke did not even write is illigitimate procedure. Don’t you agree?
Of course I agree, and based on Luke 3 we can see that Luke dates Jesus' birth to c. 4BC, just as does Matthew. My concern is that you have refused to let Luke be consistent with himself, and have tried to force a reading that would make him contradict himself. As this breaks your own rule (so well stated above), my recommendation is that you simply let Luke remain consistent with what he tells us, and date Jesus' birth to the time of Herod the Great.

Your arguments from outrage have been noted Richard. But if you wish to respond to my posts, then please reply to my own arguments. Further, do not make unreferenced assertions of what dictionaries and people believe, especially when they end up saying the exact opposite of what you yourself claim. If you simply address my points, clarify your own, and tone down your claims, making them far less sweeping, and more in keeping with possibilities supported by the available evidence, then you will offer better theories and opinions, and we will probably disagree far less than you might suspect.

In the meantime, I will continue to monitor your claims, and check them against the sources themselves.

Nomad

[ October 02, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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