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Old 10-16-2001, 02:43 PM   #21
Nomad
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Quote:
Originally posted by Richard Carrier:

{Snip polemic}

He also makes no effort at any scholarship. For instance, he allows himself to be deceived by a faulty translation in regard to Joash:
Now, the above is simply laughable. On one side we have Richard's opinions, something he considers the equivalent of indisputable facts, and on the other, I have offered actual quotations and citations, one of which he does not even get right (since he fails to address the more important ones, like the arguments of Sherwin-White, we cannot even go there unfortunately).

In any event, lets look at Richard's newest error:

Quote:
2 Kings 12:4, King James Translation:
Here is as good a place as any to begin. I did not use a fautly translation, I used the New International Version Bible, a well respected translation, and far more current than the King James, or the Vulgate. I will offer one additional translation, then go into the remaining evidence.

Quote:
(Snip}

The context is clear: he describes three kinds of cash sent to the temple. The money paid by those who pass by, the money men paid that is fixed for them individually, and the money people just give out of charity. There is no reference here to a census.
Let's see what another translation says:

2 Kings 2:4
RSV:
Jeho'ash said to the priests, "All the money of the holy things which is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed--the money from the assessment of persons--and the money which a man's heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD,


Since an "assessment of persons" is another way of saying "census", there is clearly no problem here.

Quote:
{Snip red herring translations}

No mention of a census.
Of course, what Richard is failing to note here, is that he believes that the Bible was largely written during the period of the kings, and later (c. 900-400BC). In fact, he believes that much of it was written in the exile and post exile periods of 587BC and later. Since there is considerable scholarly support for such views, then I will not debate them here. What I will point out, however, is that IF they were written after the kingdom was established, then rules for how to conduct a census would have been recorded because they had meaning in the time that they were being written.

Thus, we find:

Exodus 30:12 "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 1:49 "You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites.


It makes no sense to list the rules for taking a census in the years AFTER the kingdom was established, if they did not apply during the time of the kingdom.

Really, what we have here, once again, is Richard trying to make a big argument from silence, but, of course, this is merely another fallacy (see Hasty Generalization. The Jews were not opposed to having a census taken per se, in fact, the Bible only gives us one instance where such a thing was prohibitted, and then, for very specific reasons.

The simple fact was that the Israelites were, like other ancient kingdoms, interested in counting how many people lived within their kingdom. This was certainly a reasonable thing to do, and was done on a number of occasions, both before David, and after. Given that the Jews saw the rules for how to conduct such things as coming directly from God, we can hardly expect them to resent, or reject such a practice in toto. Instead, we can, and do find that they do not want a census that will lead to their conscription (as in the case of David's census), or for taxation by a foriegn power like Rome (as in the case of the census of 6AD).

Quite simply, scholarship on ancient Israel sees no evidence for such a broad prohibition against ALL census' of the Jews for all time. If Richard wishes to assert such a thing, he must offer more than one specific such prohibition, and then arguments from silence. The simple fact of the matter is that when we see numerous examples of numbers of people being given in the Bible, scholars very logically think that these numbers came from census'.

For example:

"The list in Ezra 2 (compare Neh. 7) puts the number (of returning Jews) at 50,000. This could be an expanded census list from the time of Nehemiah several generations later, for Nehmiah 7:5 specifically states that Nehemiah published the list.
(B. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament, [Prentice-Hall Inc.: Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1998], pg. 460).


And what does Nehemiah say?

Nehemiah 7:5 So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:

And verses 5 to 72 give the breakdown of this census.

As I said previously, Richard's assertion that the Jews NEVER took a census after King David, and actually forbade such a thing is simply absurd. As it is not even necessary to make his over all argument on the dating of Jesus' birth, I fail to see why he brought it up at all. Given his obvious error in his belief, he need only retract it.

Quote:
In fact, since most Jews were in a diaspora in the Second Temple period, a census was impossible, since all Jews were obliged to pay the shekel lest they sin, and a census of Judaea would not help at all in enforcing that law.
Since I have not made the argument that the census was as Luke describes, nor that it was intended to help the Temple collect its taxes, this is merely a red herring. I prefer that Richard stick with the arguments I have actually made, rather than ones he can dream up.

Quote:
It thus became like any other commandment: if no one witnessed you breaking a rule and you did not confess it, you got away with it. But ever since the episode in Davidís reign, a census of Jews was regarded a sin
And as I have shown above, with my examples from Joash and now Nehemiah, Richard's belief is clearly in error.

Try not to put so much faith in selected silences Richard. They will tend to get you into trouble.

In any event, Richard is free to actually defend his views, offer evidence (or not), and debate whomever he wishes. To merely stop by and engage in ad hominem attacks on me is hardly debate however.

If, on the other hand, he wishes to actually defend his own arguments with supports, he can begin with what he said about Sherwin-White's views on the age of John the Baptist at the time Jesus was born.

Nomad

[ October 16, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 10-16-2001, 03:15 PM   #22
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Nomad, is your obtuseness here inadvertent or calculated?

Richard is saying that you have no proof that Augustus' census of 8 BCE extended to 4 BCE. You claim that this puts Richard at odds with Scullard et al. but the quote you adduced simply says that Augustus held a census in 8 BCE. Of course Richard knows that there was a census in 8 BCE - he says as much in his article and he cites the Res Gestae inscription, etc. What Richard is challenging, and what you have not established at all, is your wild claim that the census extended to 4 BCE.

Could we clear up this one issue for starters?

Incidentally, I would tend to agree that a census is implied by 2 Kings 12:5 (RSV 12:4). kesef nafshot erko (= "money of the accounting of souls") is very likely referring to a census. And you are quite right to adduce Ezra-Nehemiah as well (Neh 7 in particular). The assumption of a prohibition to take an Israelite census strikes me as the weakest point of what is overall a very strong and coherent argument by Richard.

[ October 16, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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Old 10-16-2001, 04:25 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Apikorus:

Richard is saying that you have no proof that Augustus' census of 8 BCE extended to 4 BCE.
First point here, but the census of 8 does not have to extend to 4BC, except that Richard claims that it must do so. I linked the dating of this particular census, to the one conducted by King Herod in 7BC, arguing the Luke may have confused it with the one of 6AD. At worst, this would be an honest mistake, and of no real consequence in the overall question of the dating of Jesus' birth.

Second, we know from Roman records that their census' did not take place in a single year, but over the course of several years. As I have shown that a number of scholars accept that this is the case, I do not see any claim that the census took 4 or more years as being all that radical or "wild".

Quote:
You claim that this puts Richard at odds with Scullard et al. but the quote you adduced simply says that Augustus held a census in 8 BCE.
My quotation from Bell shows that the census took place from 8-4BC, and the one from Cary and Scullard says that it started in 8BC. Since it is well known that the Roman census' took longer than a single year, it is hardly speculative to link the two together.

My conclusion, in agreement with Bell, was that Luke had confused the Roman census of 6AD and Herod's of 7BC, largely because the two events produced effectively the same results.

Thus, I have offered the opinions of actual scholars of ancient Roman history, and I accept them as evidence, since they are speaking within their specific area of expertise. Further, I have offered evidence that Herod conducted a census of his own to coincide with this wider Roman census (7BC).

From Richard I have gotten ad hominem, and red herrings. He has also stuck by his absurd notion that the Jews were fundamentally opposed to ALL census of all kinds. I have shown this is simply not true.

Finally, I have not defended Luke as being right in his portrayal of the census. What I have challenged is Richard's opinion that Luke indisputably dates Jesus' birth to 6AD. I have offered several reasons to reject Richard's view, and he has elected not to reply to my charges. So be it. But the real problem, all along, has been that Richard overstates his case, and should be far more cautious in his conclusions.

Quite frankly, given the paucity of evidence supporting his beliefs, and his willingness to quote sources that do not, in fact, support his claims, I wonder why anyone should accept his claims at all.

Nomad
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Old 10-16-2001, 05:48 PM   #24
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Evidence of a Herodian "census" is abjectly weak. One must read into the account in Antiquities 17 some sort of registration, of which there is no evidence at all. The oath of allegiance might just as well have been sworn collectively at local gatherings. Josephus mentions no Herodian census per se.

Bell seems to be Nomad's only source which suggests that the census might have taken four years. Bell himself seems to be a rather minor scholar compared with the likes of Scullard. The relevant passages in From the Gracchi to Nero say nothing about the census extending to 4 BCE. In fact, Scullard proffers that Augustus' census of 8 BCE was conducted in part to levy troops for a German campaign which he conducted in that very year. Does Scullard say elsewhere that the census of 8 BCE was still being conducted four years later?

Clearly Brown himself regards Luke 1 and Luke 2 as irreconcilable (hence Luke 2 and Matthew are similarly irreconcilable). (See the appendix VII entitled "The Census of Quirinius" in Brown's The Birth of the Messiah, which is adduced by both Richard and Nomad.)

A separate issue on which I'd be interested in some comments: If we do accept, as seems rather likely, that the census referred to by Luke was that conducted by Quirinius in 6 CE, why would Galilee have been included? At the time Galilee was a client kingdom under Antipas and it would remain so until 39 CE. The notion that a family would travel from Nazareth in the Galilee to Bethlehem in Judaea to enroll in the census strains credulity.

Overall I found Richard's essay to be richly informative (NPI). As I said earlier I think his assumption that Israelites would not, for religious reasons, abide any census is a weak point, but it does not seriously detract from his overall argument. I did find his conclusion, where he claims in bold type "proof of the fallibility of the Bible", to be somewhat bizarre. Such a crude and unnuanced statement seems very much out of place following his otherwise highly scholarly essay, and I suspect it serves only as a sop to knee-jerk Bible bashers who have little interest in history in the first place. Such a heavy-handed gotcha! calls to question an author's motivation and objectivity; the essay would have been stronger had this been left unsaid. As for his claims that his conclusions are "indisputable", the use of the term is perhaps a bit hyperbolic, but hardly is grounds for excoriation. Even first magnitude scholars are known to overstate their case from time to time. The value of Richard's essay lies in its thorough assessment of many lines of argument, from historical, philological, and archaeological perspectives.

[ October 17, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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