The birth of Jesus.
Matthew 1.18-25; Luke 2.1-7.
Current mode: View.
Notes and quotes.
Martyr, Apology 1.33.5:
And the angel of God who was sent to the same virgin
at that season evangelized, saying: Behold, you shall be with child from the
holy spirit and shall bear a son, and he will be called the son of the highest,
and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins,
as those who have made memoirs of all things about our savior Jesus Christ
taught, in whom we put faith, since also through Isaiah, whom we have mentioned
before, the prophetic spirit said that he should be born as we noted
And there is a certain village in the country of the
Jews, at a distance of thirty-five stades from Jerusalem, in which was born
Jesus Christ, as you can learn from the census lists made in the time of
Cyrenius, who was your first governor in Judea.
Against Marcion 4.7.7a:
Et tamen quomodo in synagogam potuit
admitti tam repentinus, tam ignotus, cuius nemo adhuc certus de tribu,
de populo, de domo, de censu denique Augusti, quem testem fidelissimum
dominicae nativitatis Romana archiva custodiunt?
And again how could he have been admitted into
the synagogue, appearing so suddenly, so unknown, of whom no one
till then was certain of his tribe, of his people, of his house,
or even of census of Augustus, which the Roman archives keep
in custody as a most faithful witness to the dominical
From Tertullian, Against Marcion
Sed et census constat actos sub
Augusto nunc in Iudaea per Sentium Saturninum, apud quos
genus eius inquirere potuissent.
But it is established also that censuses
had now been enacted under Augustus in Judea through Sentius
Saturninus, about which they could have inquired of his
§ Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
14.3613, or Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 918,
restoration based on Mommsen:
[Publius Sulpicius Publii filius Quirinius, consul.
Praetor proconsul Cretam et Cyrenas provinciam optinuit.
Legatus pro praetore divi Augusti Syriam et Phoenicen optinens
bellum gessit cum gente Homonadensium quae interfecerat Amyntam
r]egem, qua redacta in pot[estam imperatoris Caesaris]
Augusti populique Romani, senatu[s dis immortalibus]
supplicationes binas ob res prosp[ere ab eo gestas et]
ipsi ornamenta triumph[alia decrevit]
pro consul Asiam provinciam op[tinuit. legatus pro praetore]
divi Augusti [i]terum Syriam et Ph[oenicen optinuit.]
Publius Sulpicius son of Publius Quirinius, consul. ....
[As] praetor proconsul [he] obtained the province of Crete and Cyrene. ....
[As] legate propraetor of the divine Augustus obtaining Syria and Phoenicia,
he waged war with the people of the Homonadenses who had killed Amyntas
the king, which, having been restored to the power of the emperor Caesar
Augustus and of the Roman people, the senate decreed to the immortal gods
double supplications for the affairs prosperously completed by him and
to him himself the triumphal ornaments.
[As] proconsul [he] obtained the province of Asia. [As] legate
propraetor of the divine Augustus again he obtained
Syria and Phoenicia.
§ The historical problems associated with
the census that Luke uses to get Mary and Joseph from Nazareth
to Bethlehem in Luke 2.1-5 are numerous and notorious. S. C. Carlson
has attempted to unravel one of the problems in a weblog post of his
of 2004. I myself am as yet undecided whether he has succeeded or
§ Census edict for Roman Egypt, year 104, discovered circa 1905,
London papyrus 104 in the British Museum (text and translation adapted from
that of K. C. Hanson):
Gaius Vibius Maximus, prefect of Egypt, says:
The census by household having begun, it is essential
that all those who are away from their nomes* be summoned to return to their
own hearths so that they may perform the customary business of registration
and apply themselves to the cultivation which concerns them. Knowing, however,
that some of the people from the countryside are required by our city, I
desire all those who think they have a satisfactory reason for remaining here
to register themselves before....
* Egyptian administrative units.
Festus, the cavalry prefect, whom I have appointed for
this purpose, from whom those who have shown their presence to be necessary
shall receive signed permits in accordance with this edict up to the thirtieth
of the present month E....
§ The following table comparing and contrasting
the Lucan and Matthean birth narratives as a whole is adapted from
one assembled by the FRDB (formerly IIDB) poster known
||Annunciation of birth.
||Jesus (1.21) or Immanuel (1.23).
||Joseph marries Mary (1.24).
||Mary visits Elizabeth (1.56).
||Circumstances of birth.
||Before death of Herod (4 BCE; 2.16).
||During Quirinian census (6 CE; 2.2).
||Bethlehem (manger; 2.7).
||By magi (2.11).
||By shepherds (2.16).
||Aftermath of birth.
||Flight to Egypt (2.13).
||Move to Nazareth (2.22-23).
||Return to Nazareth (2.39).
* The circumcision is described as taking place
after 8 days, as stipulated in Genesis 17.12; Leviticus 12.3. The period of
purification before the presentation in the temple is presumably the span of
33 days mandated in Leviticus 12.4, 6-8.
Refer also to the Wikipedia discussion page on the nativity.