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joint influence of Antony and Octavius ; and the reconciliation
of these two men took place on the death of Fulvia, in the year
714. Again, the death of Antigonus and the siege of Jerusalem,
which form the basis of calculation for the thirty-four years, co-
incide (Joseph. Ant. xiv. 16, § 4) with the consulship of M. Vip-
sanius Agrippa and L. Caninius Gallus, that is, with the year of
Rome 717 ; and occurred in the month Sivan (= June or July).
From these facts we are justified in placing the death of lie rod
in A.u.c. 750. Those who place it one year later overlook the
mode in which Josephus reckons Jewish reigns. Wieseler shows
by several passages that he reckons the year from the month
Nisan to Nisan, and that he counts the fragment of a year at
either extreme as one complete year. In this mode, thirfcy-four
years, from June or July, 717, would apply to any date between
the first of Nisan, 750, and the first of Nisan, 751. And thirty-
seven years from 714 would apply likewise to any date within the
same termini. Wieseler finds facts confirmatory of this in the
dates of the reigns of Herod Antipas and Archelaus (see his
Chronologische iSynqpse, p. 55). Between these two dates
Josephus furnishes means for a more exact determination. Just
after Herod's death the Passover occurred (Nisan 15th), and upon
Eerod's death Archelaus caused a seven-days' mourning to be
kept for him (Ant. xvii. 9, § 3, xvii. S, § 4); so that it would
appear that Herod died somewhat more than seven days before
the Passover in 750, and therefore in the first few days of the
month Nisan, 750." — Smith's Dictionary (Ilurd & Hough-
ton's edition), p. 1381).

It has also been noticed that Josephus mentions (Ant. xvii. 6,
4 fin.) an eclipse of the moon not long before the death of He-


rod, which by calculation can have been only that which occurred
on the night between March 12 and March 13, a.u.c. 750. Now,
as Jesus was born before the death of Herod, it follows that the
Dionysian era, which corresponds to a.u.c. 754, is at least four
years too late.

But the question arises, How long before Herod's death did the
Nativity occur ? We can approximate this only by allowing suffi-
cient space for all the events which are recorded,
calculator namely, the journey of the Wise Men and the
sojourn of Joseph and Mary in Egypt. An as-
tronomical calculation by Kepler found a conjunction of Jupiter
and Saturn, in the sign of the Pisces, a.u.o. 747, which is before
the vulgar era 6, the date I assigned to the Birth. But Kepler
found the same conjunction again in the spring of the next year,
with the planet Mars added, and from this would place the Birth
in 74S. But Ideler, on the same kind of calculation, places it in
747. Although these calculations favor the date which, for other
reasons, I believe to be correct, I place no great reliance upon
them, because we have no certainty that the star mentioned in
Matthew has the same time as the celestial phenomenon found by
astronomical calculations. The coincidence, however, must be
acknowledged as very interesting.

In Matthew ii. 16, it is said that Herod, when he saw that the
Wise Men had mocked him, was very angry, and sent and slew all

Killing of the the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all
children in Beth- the coasts thereof, from two years old and under,
lehem. « according to the time wmich he had diligently

inquired of the Wise Men." How long before Herod's death was
this ? We have no means of knowing. But it was some time.
And that time must be added to the two years which he had
learned by diligent inquiry of the Wise Men had elapsed before
this slaughter and the time they had seen the star. Then, the
Nativity occurred more than two years before another period,
which period was some time before the spring or summer of
a.u.c 750. If these two undetermined periods amount to one
year, then the Nativity is placed somewhere in the summer of
a.u.c. 747, the time reached by the date assigned in this work.
But this is presented as only an approximation.

Luke (ii. 1-7) says : k ' It came to pass in those days that there
we 1 1 out a decree from Csesar Augustus that all the world should


be taxed ; and this taxing was first made when Cyrenius [Quirinus]
was governor [that is, proconsul or lord-lieuten- _. „ .
ant] of Syria ; and all went to be taxed, every
one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Gali-
lee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of
David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house
and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife,
being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were
there, the clays were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her first-born son." . . .

This is admitted to be one of the most perplexing passages in
the Evangelists. Dean Alford thinks it unmanageable. Neander

thinks it may be inexact. The destructive critics ^
, , , r . .... . , , Difficult pas-

have made the most or it as affecting the author- s a

ity of the Evangelists. It does not seem to
help us in settling the date of the Nativity, but as it will
help us to something much more important than the mere
date, we must consider its difficulties, which are simply chrono-

1. It is said that there is no record in any other history of a
census of the whole Roman empire under Augustus. It has
been argued in reply that the Legis Actiones objections:—
and their abrogation were quite as important in No other history
respect to the early Roman history as the Census of this consus -
of the Empire was to the latter, and as Livy, Dionysius, and
Polybius make no record of the former, we are not to be sur-
prised that later historians do not mention the latter. Our knowl-
edge of the former is derived from a law-book, namely, "The
Institutes of Gains:" if any perfect copy of a similar law book,
covering the times of the alleged census, made no mention of it,
then the argument from Bilence (argumentum de tadturnitate)
might have some force.* It is to be remembered that Suetonius
and Tacitus arc very brief, and that in the history by Dio Cassiua
there is a gap of ten years, Erom a.u.c. 747 to 757, the very
period I ? i which Luke says the census was begun. The argument
from silence would prove that no important events occurred in

* Kuschke in Wicsolcr, p. 78. The

3 b : "If Suetonius in

liis life [of Augustus] does not mention

a .11 bis

life of Hadrian devote a single syllable
to the edictwm perpetuum, which, in
later times, has chiefly adorned th«
name of thai omperor."


the long reign of Augustus, except those which the fragmentary
history of the times has preserved.

But it is known that the subtle Augustus was centralizing the
empire, and that about five years before the birth of Jesus all
the procurators of the empire were brought over to his control.
(Dion. Cass., liii. 32.) From several sources we learn that esti-
mates of the empire were being made about this time, enrolments
which required many years for their completion.

And unless some proof can be produced to show that no such
census was actually had, it is to be borne always in mind that,
apart from all notion of inspiration, as m,ere human authority
Luke is, to say the least, as good as Tacitus, Philo, Josejphus, or
any other ancient historian whose works have been preserved.

2. It is said that if such a census had been ordered it would
not have included Judea, which was not yet a Roman province.

It would not I n re ptyj reference is made to a passage in Taci-
have included Ju- tus. Augustus directed, as we learn, a " brevia-
dea - rium totius imperii " to be made, in which, accord

ing to Tacitus, " Opes pnblicoe continebantur : quantum civium
sociorumque in armis, quot classes, regna, provincial, tributa aut
vectigalia et necessitates ac largitiones." (Tacit. Aim., i. 11.)

If the " sociorum," "regna," and "provincise" did not in
elude such a principality as Herod's, it would be difficult to learn
to what these words are to be applied. Moreover, the connection
of Judea with the province of Syria, first established by Pompey,
was never considered as dissolved by Herod's elevation to the

3. It is objected that the Roman mode of taking the census

was according to actual residence. But, even if that was so, and

even if the census of Augustus did not neces-
!Not the Roman ° i tt -i i •

mo de sanly embrace Judea, we know that Herod at this

time had state reasons for desiring to propitiate

the emperor, and might on that account have ordered a census ;

which, as lie did it as of his ov\ii motion, he might prefer to take

in the Jewish way, that is, in the place whence the family sprung,

rather than in the Roman manner, that is, in the place of actual

residence. Or even if Herod had simply proclaimed a census, it

is quite easy to see that the Jews would prefer to go to the place

of nativity, as that had been their custom.

4. Again, it is objected that the state of Mary's health would


have precluded such a journey. It is answered, that if the enrol
ment was made by tribes, a Jew of the house and M » a health,
lineage of David would make great exertions and
sacrifices to present himself in his proper place and secure the
recognition of his position. This motive would operate equally
upon Joseph and Mary, as both were of the family of David.
Quiet women have enormous reservoirs of determination. "When
one of them sets her heart on any course it is only an insur-
mountable obstacle that can divert her.

5. Another objection is that Luke seems to say that this census
did not take place until at least ten years later. (Luke ii. 2.)
This brings us to the real difficulty in the passage. It is an ob-
jection urged by Dr. Strauss, but not by him fairly put. (Leben
Jesu, i. iv. 32.) Let us examine this.

Luke makes two statements : (1.) That Augustus decreed a
taxing. (2.) That this taxing was made when Cyrenius was gov-
ernor of Syria. Let the distinction between the

statements be noticed. The first has been estab-

ments seem con-

lished above, as I thiAk, conclusively. The his- tradictory.
torian Luke asserts it, aud there is nothing in
history, so far as we now know, to cast the slightest discredit on
it. The difficulty is to reconcile the second statement of Luke
with his first, or to clear away somehow the difficulties of the
passage. Cyrenius was governor twelve years after the date of
the Nativity assigned above, and this passage seems to make the
birth of Jesus to have occurred during his governorship.

The following explanations are tendered :

(a.) Herod undertook the census after the Jewish form, accord-
ing to the imperial decree, but died before it was finished. The
Evangelist knew that as soon as a census was

. • i t • i i • How explained.

mentioned persons conversant with Jewish history
would think at once of the census which was had about twelve
years later, after the banishment of Archelaus, which was notori-
ously a Roman census, and caused an insurrection (Josephns, Ant.
xviii. 1, § 1), and therefore he added the Becond verse, which is
equivalent to this : " No census was a dually completed then : and I
knew that the first Roman census was had after the banishment
of Archelaus; but the decree went out much earlier, namely, in
the time of Herod." This is the explanation of Dr. Thomson,
Archbishop of York.


(b.) Cyrenius, it is said, may have been twice governor. Prof,
A. AV. Zumpt, of Berlin, has published a work entitled Com-
mentatio de Syria Iiomanorum provincia a Ccesare Augusto ad
T. Vespasianum, in which, by a long course of argument, he
shows that it is probable Cyrenius was twice governor ; but then
he makes his first term of office too late by several years to agree
with our date of the Nativity. Lardner (i. 329) suggests, which
is perhaps better, that he was a commissioner extraordinary sent
from Home for the special purpose of superintending this census;
and we learn from Tacitus that he had a special fitness for this
kind of work, and was at this time absent in the East.

(c.) Relief is songht on the side of philology. The passage in

the Original (Luke ii. 2) is, avrrj airoypa^y] lyivero 77730)777 T/ye/AoveiWros

Tr]? Supia; Ku/377iw. * The word lyivero may be translated " was
completed," as much as if Luke had said, " It was begun as an
enrolment just before the birth of Jesus, and completed years
after, under Cyrenius." Or, 7rpwT?7 maybe translated "before,"
and then the passage would mean, "this enrolment took place
before (that better known enrolment, when) Quirinus was gover-
nor of Syria." (See Alford's Greek Testament, in loco.) For
similar examples in Greek literature De Pressense refers to Tho-
luck (Glaubwurdigkeity p. 181), and confines himself to citing a
specimen of the same construction in (John i. 15) the words of
John the Baptist, ?t>o to? jxov 77V, "he was before me." If this be
received it ends all difficulties.

Let it be remembered that this is not a proved inaccuracy in
Luke, it is only a difficulty, an obscurity. No man has shown

that Augustus Cresar could not have ordered this
. census, nor that Cyrenius absolutely could not. have

been governor when it was in process of execution.
We know that he was governor years after the Nativity, and
with that gubernatorial term we have been striving to reconcile
Luke's statements. The whole difficulty arises from our igno-
rance, not from Luke's proved inaccuracy. All honest historical
inquirers should admit that Luke, who lived near the time of
what he narrates, is at least quite as competent a historian as the
modern Dr. Strauss, or the modern M. Penan.

* In this text I have followed the I hyefioviiovTos^ but immediately precede!
Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest authority, it.
in which Trpwri? is not separated from '



This passage has almost no importance in respect to the date
of the Nativity, and therefore I did not discuss it in that connec-
tion. It is important as giving us a historical reason for the
birth in the city of Bethlehem, of the child whose parents were
inhabitants of Nazareth. To a Jewish reader this is vital, as
those whom he treats as prophets had plainly pointed to Bethle-
hem as the piaee of the birth of the Great Deliverer.

Jesus, then, was bom in Bethlehem, about the beginning of
August, b.c. G, a.u.c. 747.

M'.'iKI I II.



Bethlehem, the name signifying " House of Bread," is one of
the oldest towns in Palestine, having been in existence before
Jacob's return to his native land. It is still ex-
isting. As to its location there have never been
donbts. It is identical with the present Beit-
Lahm, " House of Flesh," of the Arabs. It is six
miles, and two hours' travel, south from Jerusalem,
east of the main road to Hebron (Robinson's Researches in
Palestine, vol. ii., p. 159.)

Matt. i. ; Luke
ii. Beth lehein,
the birthplace of


The original name of the town was Epiirath, or Epiiratail
In Micah v. 2, it is called Betiileuem-Ephratah. Its first



fame came to it from its being the birthplace of David, who,
however, did nothing to advance it, even after his elevation to
the throne. His ancestor Boaz had possessions here, and in some
of the meadows in sight of the town Ruth gleaned. But it never
rose to the dignity of a capital. The birth of Jesus has made it
to be known to the whole world. Since that event tradition has
never lost sight of Bethlehem. Justin Martyr visited it in the
second century ; Origen in the third ; afterwards Eusebius, Jerome,
the Bordeaux Pilgrim, and thousands of others. The Emperor
Hadrian planted a grove of Adonis on the spot, to desecrate it.
This grove kept up the identification. It remained from 135
to 315 a.d. About a.d. 330, Constantine or the Empress Helena
erected a church which remains to this day. In the twelfth cen-
tury it was elevated into an episcopal see. There is shown a cave
in which Jesus is said to have been born ; but the precise spot can-
not now be known, and it seems absurd to suppose that cattle
were kept twenty feet under ground. But we know the town."

* The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem be-
ing coincident with the prophecies of the
birthplace of the Messiah, the destruc-
tive critics attack it as being a false
Btatemeut ; but it is observable that no
one has proved its incorrectness, nor
even presented anything worth calling
an argument. For instance, Dr. Strauss
(Book i. 31) says: "But the opposite
hypothesis as to the original dwelling-
place of his parents, from which these
Evangelists start in the accounts they
give, shows that they arc not following
any historical authority, but simply a
dogmatic conclusion, drawn from the
passage in tint prophet Micah, v. 1." Can
such modes mislead thinking men? A
historian says that two people, husband
and tvife, live in New York, but finding
it important to go to London in person
on or before a given day, to attend to mat-
ters of great importance, the wife is
theie delivered of a son, the distinguished
subject of the historian's biography, and
who afterwards spends a great part of
his life in New York. Some subsequent
critic says: "Nay, but he was born in
New York, for does not the historian

' start' with that as ' the original dwell-
ing-place of his parents ? ' " Such a
critic would equal Dr. Strauss. But then
Dr. Strauss proceeds on the theory that
he was a native of Nazareth. Why not
say he was born at Damascus ? On what
authority do these writers assume that
he was born in Nazareth ? On the au-
thority of the Evangelists. Dr. Strauss
makes fifteen references to the four
Evangelists, which, if the reader will
consult, will be found to contaiu no state-
ment whatever as to his birthplace, but
simply speak of Jesus as a Xa/.arene or a
Galilean. Two (Matt. xxvi. (Ill, 71 are
the accusations made against Peter by
women, that he was an associate of " .1. -
sus of Galilee," or " Jesus of Nazareth. "
A third is the speech of the uncl< an
spirit (Mark i 24), '-What have we to do
with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?"
A fourth is Marie's account of what Mat-
ivea in chapter \\\ i. A fifth is
I, ill e wiii. :17, where the blind man in-
quires the meaning of the noise, ami the
multitude tell him that "JesuaoJ Naza-
reth passes by." This is the amount of
Dr. Strauss' s argument.



It lies on the eastern and northeastern brow of a ridge, run
ning east and west, from the top of which there is an exten-

The utter want of fairness is seen in
three ways : 1. In the case supposed
above, of an American born of American
parents in London, his subsequently re-
turning and being called ' ' Mr. Blank, of
New York," or " Mr. Blank, the Ameri-
can," would certainly not prove that he
was born in New York, and most certainly
not prove that he was not born in Lon-
don. 2. Take his reference to Luke. To
prove that Jesus was born in Nazareth he
produces the reply of a miscellaneous
crowd to a beggar. They called him a
" Nazarene." But if that passage in
Luke be good authority we must take the
whole, what the beggar said as well as
what the multitude said. The beggar
cried out, "Jesus, son of David, have
mercy on me." Then Jesus was gener-
ally reputed to be the son of David. But
this Dr. Strauss denies, and because he
is following ' ' simply a dogmatic conclu-
sion drawn from " his theory of myths,
he is anxious to show that Jesus was not
born in Bethlehem, the city of David,
and was not the son of David at all, and
was not believed to be the son of David.
(Leben Jesu, chap, ii.) But his own au-
thority confutes him. 3. He cites Luke
xxiv. 19 to prove that Jesus was born in
Nazareth. Does Luke, in that passage
or any where else, say so ? Not at all.
But this same Luke, Dr. Strauss's wit-
ness, does say, distinctly, ii. G, 7, that
Jesus was bom in Bet/den em.

In all this there is nothing supernatu-
ral, so that Dr. Strauss might not answer
that we had gone out of the region of
realities. It is purely a matter of fact.
If Dr. Strauss denied the whole, and
Baid, " No man knows where Jesus was
born," it would be another thing. But
he affirms that he was born in Nazareth.
It was no more miraculous to be born in
Bethlehem than in Nazareth. But it
does connect Jesus with the house of

David, and does connect him with what
the Jews regarded as a prophecy, and so
obstinate is Dr. Strauss in his adherence
to his naturalistic theory, that no fair
reader of his book can fail to see that
there never was a theologic zealot more
bent to his creed than Dr. Strauss to his
dogma. But historians must avoid all

M. Renan (chap. ii. ) says distinctly,
" Jesus was born at Nazareth." Why
not say that he was born at Capernaum ?
What is his authority ? He has none but
Matthew, Mark, and John ! He cites
Matthew (xiii. 54, et seq.). The reader
will see upon inspection that there is not
the slightest allusion whatever to the
birthplace of Jesus, or of any other per-
son, in any portion of this chapter. It
simply speaks of the return of Jesus to
his own country, but does not say where
that country is ; and if it be assumed to
be Nazareth, that would not prove that
he was born there, as thousands of men
who were born in Europe speak of Amer
ica as their country, since it has been
their place of residence for many years.
The fact that in manhood Jesus should
speak of Nazareth as his country, and
others should so speak of him, has no
bearing on the question of the place of
his nativity. But how does M. Renan
know that this is a fact ? On the au-
thority of Matthew. Then Matthew is
his witness, and he says explicitly that
Jesus was bom in Betldehem (ii. 1).

Again, M. Renan cites Mark, and refers
to vi. 1, where it is written : " And he
went out from thence and came into his
own country. ' ' No mention is made of
any town in the whole passage. And
this is cited to prove that Jesus was born
in Nazareth ! !

M. Renan's last authority is John i.
45, 46, where it is said that Philip found
Nathanael and said : ' ' We have found



Bive view toward the east and south, in the direction of Jericho,
the Dead Sea, and the mountains of Moab. In the time of the
captivity there was an inn, or caravanserai, close to Bethlehem,
which appears to have been a point of departure for Egypt.
(-Jeremiah xli. 17.) Perhaps this was the very inn where Jesus
was born. The prophet Micah (v. 2) had said of this city of
David : " Thou Bethlehem-Ephratah ! though thou be little
among: the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall he come unto
me to be the Ruler of Israel ; whose goings forth have been from
old, from the days of eternity ! "

It is said that the inn or caravanserai in Bethlehem was so
crowded that Joseph and Mary were obliged to find lodging in
the stable. There Jesus was born, the first child of Mary.*

It would seem that his birth occurred in the nisdit. There

him of whom Moses in the law, and the
prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth,
the son of Joseph. ' ' Would any man in
a court of law bring such testimony for-
ward to establish the birthplace of an
individual ? It might prove that Jesus
resided at Nazareth when he was about
thirty years of age, but it has no bearing
whatever upon the question of the place
of his nativity. A man having resided
in New York a few years, called to make
affidavit, might describe himself gener-
ally as "of New York," unless the doc-
uments were known by him to be about
to be used on the question of the place
of his nativity or citizenship. The fact
that John says that Philip spoke of Jesus
at thirty as being ' ' of Nazareth, " is
nothing to the point ; but two historians,
one having had personal intercourse for
years with the subject of his biography,
Bay distinctly that he was bom in Beth-
It In m, and that settles the question until
better evidence can be produced showing
that he was born elsewhere.

Of a piece with this is M. Renan's
utatement in Life of Jesus, chap. xv. :
" The family of David had become, it
Would seem, long since extinct," w Inn
M. Ilenan, as one of bis notes shows,

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