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The supposed contridiction between Matthew and Luke about Jesus' birth

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  • Please Help The supposed contridiction between Matthew and Luke about Jesus' birth

    Ok, this one has stumped many people, including me. I was posed a question by an atheist about the "supposed" contridiction between Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:1-2 involving the birth of Jesus. I will put the verses here so they can be easily found:

    Matthew 2
    1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
    Luke 2
    1 In 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.)
    Ok, here is the "contridiciton". The King Herod that is mentioned in Matthew is the King Herod the Great that was king from 73 BC-4BC. This is proven at the end of Matthew 2 in verse 22 when it says that Herod the Great's son was the ruler then. If Herod the Great died in 4 BC, that would put Jesus' birth between 6 and 4 BC. Ok......

    In Luke, he says that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken and that it was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Well, Quirinius was Governer of Syria
    between 6 and 12 AD.

    Do you see the contridiction yet? There is a significant gap between 4 BC and 6 AD. I have gone through numerous papers, essays and forums to find facts about every part of the story of Jesus birth and I still can't figure this out.

    Does anyone have an answer to this? Please help me!!!!!
    sigpic

  • #2
    I am no Greek scholar but I hope this will help. If you read both of those chapters in context then you find in Luke it is talking about the birth of Jesus and no mention is made of the wise men. When Jesus is born in the Luke account He is laid in a manger - Luke 2:7. The word for 'manger here is: G5336 φάτνη phatnē fat'-nay From πατέομαι pateomai (to eat); a crib (for fodder): - manger, stall. This indicates that they weren't in a house but a barn for animals.

    In Matthew when it talks of the wise men when they came to Jesus it says they came to a house - Matthew 2:11. The word for house here is: 3614 oikia oy-kee'-ah from 3624; properly, residence (abstractly), but usually (concretely) an abode (literally or figuratively); by implication, a family (especially domestics):--home, house(-hold). This word comes from: 3624 oikos oy'-kos of uncertain affinity; a dwelling (more or less extensive, literal or figurative); by implication, a family (more or less related, literally or figuratively):--home, house(-hold), temple. The meanings here seem to indicate a proper home not a barn where animals dwelt. This would indicate that it was some time after the birth of Jesus that the wise men showed up.

    This would also explain why Herod killed all the males babies two years old and under - Matthew 2:16. If Jesus had only just been born Herod would only have needed to kill the new born male babies. Herod had carefully enquired of the wisemen so Herod would have known when the star first appeared.

    Comment


    • #3
      This link might be helpful to you. It discusses the supposed contradiction.

      http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/quirinius.htm

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Fighting Instinct View Post
        Ok, this one has stumped many people, including me. I was posed a question by an atheist about the "supposed" contridiction between Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:1-2 involving the birth of Jesus. I will put the verses here so they can be easily found:





        Ok, here is the "contridiciton". The King Herod that is mentioned in Matthew is the King Herod the Great that was king from 73 BC-4BC. This is proven at the end of Matthew 2 in verse 22 when it says that Herod the Great's son was the ruler then. If Herod the Great died in 4 BC, that would put Jesus' birth between 6 and 4 BC. Ok......

        In Luke, he says that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken and that it was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Well, Quirinius was Governer of Syria
        between 6 and 12 AD.

        Do you see the contridiction yet? There is a significant gap between 4 BC and 6 AD. I have gone through numerous papers, essays and forums to find facts about every part of the story of Jesus birth and I still can't figure this out.

        Does anyone have an answer to this? Please help me!!!!!
        It is my understanding we do not have the original manuscripts for any book of the Bible so there is no way of being absolutely certain who originally wrote what.

        The two other posters have provided a possible explanation which can neither be proven nor disproven.

        An alternative explanation (also which can neither be proven nor disproven) is that Matthew and Luke were written independently of each other. Both authors used information they considered reliable and accurate. Because both were writing independently of each other they had no way of knowing of the other version. So, when the Bible was cannonized about 400 years after the fact there was no way to know with certainty which account was accurate or no one considered there might be a discrepancy. Regardless, both accounts were included.

        Bottom line is that whatever explanation you decide upon, it is a matter of faith which can neither be proven nor disproven.

        Sincerely,

        OldChurchGuy

        Comment


        • #5
          I'll add this: it's also like the story of the atheist in the college classroom trying to convince everyone there was no God. One student stood, holding an apple, and asked the atheist to take notice. The student bit into the apple and told the atheist that it was a delicious apple. "What do you think?" the student asked the atheist, who responded that surely he could not know the answer to that since he had not tasted the apple for himself. In the same way, the student told the atheist that since he had never tasted the kindness of the LORD, he couldn't possibly say that He was not real. "I know He's real," said the student, "for I have tasted!"

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Fighting Instinct View Post
            Ok, this one has stumped many people, including me. I was posed a question by an atheist about the "supposed" contridiction between Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:1-2 involving the birth of Jesus. I will put the verses here so they can be easily found:





            Ok, here is the "contridiciton". The King Herod that is mentioned in Matthew is the King Herod the Great that was king from 73 BC-4BC. This is proven at the end of Matthew 2 in verse 22 when it says that Herod the Great's son was the ruler then. If Herod the Great died in 4 BC, that would put Jesus' birth between 6 and 4 BC. Ok......

            In Luke, he says that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken and that it was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Well, Quirinius was Governer of Syria
            between 6 and 12 AD.

            Do you see the contridiction yet? There is a significant gap between 4 BC and 6 AD. I have gone through numerous papers, essays and forums to find facts about every part of the story of Jesus birth and I still can't figure this out.

            Does anyone have an answer to this? Please help me!!!!!

            Check out the follow link to search the truth...

            "But when the time had fully come, God sent His only begotten Son..."Gal.4: 4

            Why do the Ethiopian and the European (Gregorian) calendar differ?

            http://www.selamforethiopia.com/ethioC.htm

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Fighting Instinct View Post
              Ok, here is the "contridiciton". The King Herod that is mentioned in Matthew is the King Herod the Great that was king from 73 BC-4BC. This is proven at the end of Matthew 2 in verse 22 when it says that Herod the Great's son was the ruler then. If Herod the Great died in 4 BC, that would put Jesus' birth between 6 and 4 BC. Ok......

              In Luke, he says that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken and that it was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Well, Quirinius was Governer of Syria
              between 6 and 12 AD.

              Do you see the contridiction yet? There is a significant gap between 4 BC and 6 AD. I have gone through numerous papers, essays and forums to find facts about every part of the story of Jesus birth and I still can't figure this out.

              Does anyone have an answer to this? Please help me!!!!!
              Well census' can take awhile. Its possible Ceasar issued the decree way back when, but the census was actually taking place in Judea still when Quirinius became governor.....
              1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fighting Instinct View Post
                Ok, this one has stumped many people, including me. I was posed a question by an atheist about the "supposed" contridiction between Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:1-2 involving the birth of Jesus. I will put the verses here so they can be easily found:





                Ok, here is the "contridiciton". The King Herod that is mentioned in Matthew is the King Herod the Great that was king from 73 BC-4BC. This is proven at the end of Matthew 2 in verse 22 when it says that Herod the Great's son was the ruler then. If Herod the Great died in 4 BC, that would put Jesus' birth between 6 and 4 BC. Ok......

                In Luke, he says that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken and that it was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Well, Quirinius was Governer of Syria
                between 6 and 12 AD.

                Do you see the contridiction yet? There is a significant gap between 4 BC and 6 AD. I have gone through numerous papers, essays and forums to find facts about every part of the story of Jesus birth and I still can't figure this out.

                Does anyone have an answer to this? Please help me!!!!!
                The magi came "after the birth" of Jesus Christ. How long after? The bible doesn't tell us. Herod had all children murdered from 2years and under. If the Magi had come while Jesus Christ was still in a manger then Herod would have only needed to have infants murdered from 1 - 5 days or so. The magi would have seen his star in the east (that star being the planet Juniper). It would have taken them some time to prepare to travel from Persia. Their need was not to see an infant child but to see the one born King of the Judeans. When they get to Bethlehem "Mat 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child" This word for "young child" is different than the one used of an infant. The Chicago Planetarium had a show a few years ago that explains the star and the different costellations that the Magi would have been watching for and from their expertience of the stars they place the birth of Jesus Christ in September of 3AD. The Magi arriving some time around 4 - 5 AD or about 18 months later.
                That still leaves the problem of Quirinius. Is it possible that Caesar had the census put into place before Quirinius was Governer of Syria took office? The census would have taken some time to aquire the information and then to tally the information.
                Last edited by rkgipson; Dec 16th 2008, 02:58 PM. Reason: spelling

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by OldChurchGuy View Post
                  It is my understanding we do not have the original manuscripts for any book of the Bible so there is no way of being absolutely certain who originally wrote what.

                  The two other posters have provided a possible explanation which can neither be proven nor disproven.

                  An alternative explanation (also which can neither be proven nor disproven) is that Matthew and Luke were written independently of each other. Both authors used information they considered reliable and accurate. Because both were writing independently of each other they had no way of knowing of the other version. So, when the Bible was cannonized about 400 years after the fact there was no way to know with certainty which account was accurate or no one considered there might be a discrepancy. Regardless, both accounts were included.

                  Bottom line is that whatever explanation you decide upon, it is a matter of faith which can neither be proven nor disproven.

                  Sincerely,

                  OldChurchGuy
                  To add to this both Luke and Matthew were written well after the life and times of Jesus. It is said the first Gospel was written in about 40 or 50 AD. Because of the far time from the even these birth issues could be there but not solid.

                  Or it could be the other way around, history is also told by artifacts, inscriptions, and stories written by the accounts of those around or through the generations. For instance we know the battle of Thermepoly occured, but according to Herodotus the Persians had millions, historians are deciphering that there were many but more like tens to 100 thousands, however historians cannot get the exact amount. Even if they found Herod's body, and carbon dated it it would only yield about how old it was not giving any determination of when he died. So it is only approximate. Not to mention there is a difference between BC and BCE.

                  The only reason I put this comparison, is that it is hard to believe that the Bible is wrong when the words were inspired through these men from God. However our knowledge of history is almost just as shakey as our knowledge of the bible.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nyoka View Post
                    I am no Greek scholar but I hope this will help. If you read both of those chapters in context then you find in Luke it is talking about the birth of Jesus and no mention is made of the wise men. When Jesus is born in the Luke account He is laid in a manger - Luke 2:7. The word for 'manger here is: G5336 φάτνη phatnē fat'-nay From πατέομαι pateomai (to eat); a crib (for fodder): - manger, stall. This indicates that they weren't in a house but a barn for animals.

                    In Matthew when it talks of the wise men when they came to Jesus it says they came to a house - Matthew 2:11. The word for house here is: 3614 oikia oy-kee'-ah from 3624; properly, residence (abstractly), but usually (concretely) an abode (literally or figuratively); by implication, a family (especially domestics):--home, house(-hold). This word comes from: 3624 oikos oy'-kos of uncertain affinity; a dwelling (more or less extensive, literal or figurative); by implication, a family (more or less related, literally or figuratively):--home, house(-hold), temple. The meanings here seem to indicate a proper home not a barn where animals dwelt. This would indicate that it was some time after the birth of Jesus that the wise men showed up.

                    This would also explain why Herod killed all the males babies two years old and under - Matthew 2:16. If Jesus had only just been born Herod would only have needed to kill the new born male babies. Herod had carefully enquired of the wisemen so Herod would have known when the star first appeared.
                    I think you are on to it here. The "wise men" did not show up at the manger, it was a "house," and it wasn't a "baby" they found but a child. This is why I believe children two and under were killed...he was older when they finally got there.

                    Another point to consider is while the scripture is inspired, it is accounts, in this case, from two different people. Just as two spirit filled Christians can give an account of the same thing and differ in details without lying, so too can Matthew and Luke.

                    Peace.
                    Ken

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The following is taken from Paul L. Maier's book "In the Fullness of Time"

                      But when was he (Quirinius) governor of Syria? Not until 6-7A.D., according to ancient records, which is eleven years too late for the Nativity census, and Luke has been faulted for inaccuracy here. Elsewhere, however, Luke is extremely careful in naming Greek and Roman officials, and since a similar provincial census is Gaul required forty years to complete, Luke may have been referring to a preliminary enrollment in Herod's Judea, during which census data was collected and then used later for the actual assessment of taxes under Quirinius in 6 A.D. Some scholars therefore suggest an alternate reading of Luke's text: "This census was first really carried out when Quirinius was governor of Syria," i.e., a decade later. The Greek syntax here can also be translated: "This enrollment was before that made when Quirinius was governor of Syria."

                      Norman Geisler suggests the following 3 possibilities as solutions to the issue:

                      1. When it came time to begin the cenus, in about 8 or 7 B.C., Augustus entrusted Quirinius with the delicate problem in the volatile area of Palestine, effectively superseding the authority and governorship of Varus by appointing Quirinius to a place of special authority in this matter.

                      2. It has also been proposed that Quirinius was governor of 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 Quirinius as having served as governor of Syria on two occasions.

                      3. Geisler echoes the translation possibility discussed by Maier above, but says this option, while possible, is unlikely.
                      The Matthew Never Knew
                      The Knew Kingdom

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