Quote Originally Posted by Faber View Post
Unless it's the translations of Luke 2:2 that are wrong.

The Greek says, "αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου." (This [was] the first census taken [while] Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

Unfortunately, every translation takes πρώτη as an adjective, translating it "first", which makes a lot of sense, being in the feminine gender, same as ἀπογραφὴ (census). But the result is a blatant discrepancy of ten years in the historical account, as you notice.

Josephus even tells us how turbulent those ten years were:

Luke starts out in 1:3, "....having investigated everything carefully from the beginning", then makes a preposterous mistake in skipping over the ten years that Archelaus mismanaged Judea and got booted out by the Roman Emperor Augustus, who turned Judea into a Roman province subject to Syria and appointed Cyrenius governor of Syria? Absurd!!!

But suppose we took πρώτη to be a preposition instead of an adverb. Then what do we have? "This [was] the census taken BEFORE Quirinius was governor of Syria." Granted, we are more accustomed to the preposition being spelled πρώτον.

But this not only make grammatical sense, but it also makes absolute historical sense. The AD 6 census under Quirinius was so notorious that Luke wanted to distinguish it from the census which took place when Jesus was born. But instead, a misunderstanding of Luke’s statement had the opposite effect.

So what was Luke’s big blunder? A blatant contradiction in history, wherein a learned scholar places the birth of Jesus in the time of Herod in one chapter, and during the Roman control of Judea under Quirinius, governor of Syria, at least ten years later, in the next chapter? Or was it simply using an adjective where rules of grammar say he should have used a conjunction? Or maybe for some reason he modified the spelling of that conjunction? Maybe he didn't know how to spell πρίν, or didn't want to.

Besides, the census under Quirinius was for a taxation. Augustus Caesar didn't exert the authority to impose a tax on client kingdoms.
The problem of the historical reliability of Luke’s statements concerning the census of Quirinius has been discussed on numerous occasions. Luke’s historical accuracy in connection with his statement on the census under Quirinius cannot be defended on the basis of the available evidence.

Josephus documents Herod’s reign in meticulous detail [Jewish Antiquities, Books 14-17] and is remarkably well informed on Herod’s final years. Yet he makes absolutely no reference to any census conducted during the lifetime of this ruler. Moreover, the assessment carried out, by Quirinius, after the deposition of Archelaus, in 6 CE, is described by Josephus as something totally new and absolutely unprecedented among the Jewish people. He would hardly have made such an observation had a previous Roman census, which would have been deeply offensive to Jewish sensibilities, already taken place.

Like Matthew, Luke supposes that Jesus was born during the lifetime of Herod. He therefore places the Census mentioned by him during Herod's reign. He also says expressly that it was held: ήγεμονευοντος της Συριας Κυρηνιου which can only mean - 'while Quirinius had supreme command over Syria', i.e. when he was Governor of Syria.

With regard to the translation of the Greek adjective πρωτος the word is only sometimes found as a comparative with the genitive case, meaning before, or sooner than. [Latin = priusquam]. However, in this specific textual instance both απογραφη and πρωτη (noun & adjective) are in the nominative case. Hence it is obvious that Πρωτη in Luke 2.2 can be translated only in the usual sense. It means 'first'. If the author had actually intended to convey the definite sense of, “before,” he would have employed the rather more direct Greek term, προτερος.

Your comments are therefore nothing more than pure speculation and suggest an attempt to manipulate and misconstrue the text in order to make it conform with preconceived beliefs. It would appear, contrary to your conjectures, that the author of Luke had a definite apologetic purpose in mind when he connected the birth of Jesus with the Roman census.

See, H.R. Moehring: “The Census in Luke as an Apologetic Device” pp. 144 - 160 in Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature: Essays in Honour of A.P. Wikgren, Edited by D.E Aune.Brill, Leiden 1972 for a full discussion of the issue.