What is the evidence that Quirinius was governor of Syria at the time Jesus was born? How does this relate to the question of Jesus' divinity?
I am a student at Florida Christian College writing a paper on Chapter 3 of Richard Dawkins Book "The God Delusion." In his book he makes a claim that there is no historical evidence for the divinity of Christ. I was wondering, as I read from your article, that Quirinius had two different office terms. One from 2 to 6 BC as governor, the other after 6 AD as an imperial legate. I was wondering if you had the sources for this statement. It would help me out a lot. I would cite you, but your degree is in chemical physics, it wouldn’t go over well as an authority on the historicity of Luke. Thanks in advance.
In my opinion, Richard Dawkins is a very poor source on the divinity of Jesus, given that his world view is completely inimical to religion and he uses an assumption of naturalism which precludes the divinity of Jesus before he even begins the investigation.
Question: What does the time of the governorship have to do with whether or not Jesus was divine? This is just a smoke screen.
Anyway, please forgive my ranting about Dawkins. Here is the information you asked for:
This comes from Wikipedia (for which your professor may not be impressed), but it includes references. My comments are below.
In 12 BC he was named consul, a sign that he enjoyed the favour of Augustus. Some years later, he led a campaign against the Homonadenses, a tribe based in the mountainous region of Galatia and Cilicia, around 5 – 3 BC, probably as legate of Galatia. He won by reducing their strongholds and starving out the defenders. For this victory, he was awarded a triumph.
- ^ Erich S. Gruen, ‘The Expansion of the Empire under Augustus’ in The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume X: The Augustan Empire, 43 BC – AD 69, (Cambridge University Press, 1996) pages 153-154; see also Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution, (Oxford University Press, 1939, reissued 2002), page 399. Justin K. Hardin, Galatians and the Imperial Cult, (Mohr Siebeck, 2008) page 56, suggests that it is uncertain whether Quirinius actually served as legate; he may have served only as a military general.
- ^ Justin K. Hardin, Galatians and the Imperial Cult, (Mohr Siebeck, 2008) page 56.
The evidence is that Quirinius was a legate with wide military powers in eastern Asia Minor in the crucial year 5 BC. Quite likely he had military rule over the province of Syria, which was the neighboring province. I cannot prove that his powers included Syria, but we know that he was ruling in the area and, as they say, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. By the way, if I said in the article you quoted that he was governor in 5 BC and legate after 6 AD, that was an error. The reverse is the correct description. I will need to make an adjustment to the article. However, I looked and could not find this mistake at my web site.