Did Joseph & Mary Have to Go to Bethlehem?

[The nineteenth century theologian Emil] Schürer argues that Roman censuses did not require travel for registration purposes, pointing out that Rome would have considered such activities ‘troublesome’ and ‘inconvenient’, as well as outside the normal structure of a Roman census.¹

There is evidence, however, that Rome did adapt its governance to local customs of vassal states, to include allowing the continuation of former regime administrative practices.² These adaptive practices extended to census activities, as we have come to know from papyri discovered (c. 1905) documenting an Egyptian provincial census conducted in 104 CE that required travel to familial homes.³ Scholars cite this as favorable for Luke, removing the logistical impracticability posed by Schürer.⁴

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Author: Chris Matthiesen

Keywords: Census, Bethlehem, Roman census, Quirinian census, Lukan census, Cyrenius, proconsul of Syria, proconsul, Quirinius, Varus, taxing, tax, Roman tax, Roman taxes

Bible reference(s): Luke 2:1-5

Source: “A Survey of Schürer’s Challenges to the Lukan Census – 3,” Berea Portal.

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