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The second paragraph of the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy expands Luke 2:2 by saying "in the 309th year of the Era of Alexander, Augustus put forth an edict." The Era of Alexander began in 336/335 B. C., exactly the time when provincial censuses begin (though not in all provinces: see How Often Was the Census Held? Luke could not have meant Jesus was born in 28 or 27 B. (for all the reasons given throughout this survey below, and because this early date doesn't work in Matthew's narrative, either).

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I think using a census in the story to explain both of Jesus' reputed ancestral homes (the village of Nazareth and the town the messiah had to come from, Bethlehem) is rather convenient and looks more clever than genuine.

And Luke's probable use of Josephus suggests a deliberate attempt to paint a veneer of genuine history around an otherwise questionable hagiography.

It is hard to imagine how he could otherwise have won such widespread and lasting repute (even Josephus sings his praises in Antiquities of the Jews 18.116-19).

And we are told Jesus began his own ministry only after John was arrested: Mark ; Matthew ; Luke (Luke -2 refers back in time, while John contradicts all the others by having Jesus start preaching before John is imprisoned).

You can dismiss the support request pop up for 4 weeks (28 days) if you want to be reminded again. This becomes an irreconcilable contradiction after an examination of all the relevant facts.

Or you can dismiss until our next donations drive (typically at the beginning of October). The following essay surveys all the evidence both to this effect and against all known attempts to reconcile these authors.

Finally, even if Luke were making this up, he would sooner make something up that sounded plausible: in other words, such procedures were probably followed in at least one census within the author's memory, and we have no way to disprove the use of such a practice in previous provincial assessments.[1.4] Nevertheless, it's possible Luke deliberately added both of these features to the story for apologetic reasons (see [1.1.5]).

The above two defenses of Luke do not mean that Luke is correct.

Each will be addressed here in a separate box, which can be skipped if desired since they aren't essential to the issue of when Jesus was born. Such an interpretation does not solve the many problems created by Luke 2:2 anyway--for it essentially trades a contradiction between Luke and Matthew for a contradiction within Luke.

Luke gives us another precise date when he sets the beginning of John's ministry to 28 A. (3.1), and this has caused some confusion, though for no good reason. It is more likely that Luke had in mind the passing of some years between the two inaugurations, than that he got major public facts wrong.

It is my intention to make this essay absolutely comprehensive. It is often claimed that Luke has John the Baptist and Jesus born around the same time, but, first, this is not necessarily true and, second, this still would not entail a corroboration of Matthew.

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