Here's a contradiction from the gospels you can try to explain. Matthew has Jesus born during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BCE. Luke has Jesus born during the year of the Census under Quirinius. We know that Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria in 6 CE and Josephus confirms that this is when the census was taken. Which gospel writer got it correct?
I sent him the following link: Is Luke Wrong About the Time of Jesus' Birth? - Come Reason Ministries
As you might imagine Evil Don does not agree with the answer. Amazingly instead of just saying he disagreed and that I'm stupid for accepting the answer given, he actually gave five reasons for not believing this answer. Let's go through his reasoning.
Marcus, you aren't dealing with this honestly. If you had taken a few minutes to think critically about that article you posted to, you would see what is wrong with it. But you didn't. You found someone who confirmed what you wanted to believe and assumed it must be correct.
The first problem: the apologist at that site takes liberties with the wording of the verse. A better translation is this: "In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria." The problem is clear now isn't it?
Let's look at the verses Luke 2:1-2 from many different translations:
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) (NIV)
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) (KJV)
1Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria (NASB)
1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. (NKJV)
Do I see a discrepancy here? Nope Not really. Maybe Evil Don would like to clarify. The only difference between the KJV and the newer translations is that the KJV says Cyrenius was governor of Syria and the newer versions say Quirinius was governor of Syria..Cyrenius was his Greek name. Quirinius was his Latin name. I have found another great source that bears quoting:
History records that Varus was governor of Syria from about 7 B.C. to about 4 B.C. and was not a trustworthy leader. However, Cyrenius was a notable military leader. During the census of 8-7 B.C., Augustus entrusted Cyrenius with Palestine, effectively superseding the authority and governorship of Varus by appointing Cyrenius to a place of special authority. Cyrenius administered in Syria on two separate occasions, once while prosecuting the military action against the Homonadensians between 12 and 2 B.C., and later beginning about A.D. 6. A Latin inscription discovered in 1764 has been interpreted to refer to Cyrenius as having served as governor of Syria on two occasions.
History records that Cyrenius was on assignment in Syria during this time and was one of the few trusted leaders. It is probable that Varus was on his way out while Cyrenius was taking charge of matters during Luke's narration.
The second problem: The multiple censuses of Augustus were for Roman citizens. Judea was not even a Roman province under Herod. It was a client kingdom. There is historical evidence of any kind indicating that Rome ever conducted a census of Judea prior to 6 CE.
There is also no historical evidence that there were no censuses prior to 6 BC. You can't assume that there was nothing just because we have no documentation. And even if you want to argue that there was only one census the facts given in the link above more than covers the problem.
Third problem: Josephus makes it very clear when the census was taken, why, and by whom. He wrote "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's money." He records no other census of Judea (as does no one else).
Cyrenius and Quirinius were the same person. Josephus is not contradicting Luke nor Matthew.
Fourth problem: The apologist gives no evidence of any other censuses in Judea. He merely asserts that previous censuses of other areas are evidence that censuses were taken in Judea as well. What he fails to emphasize is that the other censuses are recorded history, whereas the supposed Judean censuses are not.
Um...still arguing from absence. You can't honestly draw such a conclusion when you don't have enough information. The thing is that there is evidence from around 3 BC that do mention a Census in Judea. Check the same link from above.
Armenian historian Moses of Khorene (Armenian History 2:26) says that in 3 B. C. Roman authorities came to Armenia to set up images of Caesar Augustus in the temples of the area. These same sources state that it was the registration mentioned in Luke which brought them there. The purpose of this registration was to record an official declaration of allegiance from all of his subjects to present to Caesar Augustus in celebration of his Silver Jubilee.
Fifth problem: This one is especially important, so pay close attention. There is absolutely no justification anywhere in Luke for supposing that the census is any other than the one he is clearly referring to. Do you understand that? The census Luke describes matches the one (and only) census we know about in Judea. The only justification (and this is typical of Bible harmonizers) for supposing an earlier census is the Christian dogma that the gospels can't possibly contradict each other. There is no other way to justify the idea that Luke was not referring to the 6 CE census, which he clearly was.
Of course I understand Don's argument. The problem is he's wrong. I just provided justification for understanding that there was more than one census. Something else that I think Evil Don has not thought about is that such a census would take more than one year to complete. I mean even with all the technology today, we can't complete a national census in one year and America is a lot smaller than the Roman Empire was at that time. Some people answer this question by pointing out that any census happening in 6 AD was started much earlier...like maybe 8-6 BC!
Sorry....well....let me be honest I'm not sorry. It's fun to watch people twisting in the wind when they look for a reason to reject scripture. It's fun because you see the Bible validating itself as true...even if that means everyone else is wrong. The Bible is not inerrant because of Christian dogma. It's inerrant because it's true.