Easton's Bible Dictionary
The Grecized form of Quirinus. His full name was Publius
Sulpicius Quirinus. Recent historical investigation has proved that Quirinus was
governor of Cilicia, which was annexed to Syria at the time of our Lord's birth.
Cilicia, which he ruled, being a province of Syria, he is called the governor,
which he was de jure, of Syria. Some ten years afterwards he was appointed governor
of Syria for the second time. During his tenure of office, at the time of our
Lord's birth ( Luke
2:2 ), a "taxing" (RSV, "enrolment;" i.e., a registration) of the people was
"first made;" i.e., was made for the first time under his government. (See TAXING)
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(warrior) The Greek form of the Roman name of Quirinus.
The full name is Publius Sulpicius Quirinus. He was consul B.C. 12, and was made
governor of Syria after the banishment of Archelaus in A.D. 6. He probably was
twice governor of Syria; his first governorship extended from B.C. 4 (the year
of Christs birth) to B.C. 1. It was during this time that he was sent to make
the enrollment (census) which caused Joseph and Mary to visit Bethlehem. ( Luke
2:2 ) The second enrollment is mentioned in ( Acts
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
si-re'-ni-us (Kurenios, "of Cyrene").
See From QUIRINIUS.
See From CHRONOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, sec. I, 1, (2); LUKE, THE GOSPEL
OF, sec. 5.
(2) Census of Quirinius.
The census or enrollment, which, according to Luke 2:1 f, was the occasion of
the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, is connected
with a decree of Augustus embracing the Greek-Roman world. This decree must have
been carried out in Israel by Herod and probably in accordance with the Jewish
method--each going to his own city--rather than the Roman (Dig. 15, 4, 2; Zumpt,
Das Geburtsjahr Christi, 195; Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, III,
124 f; Schurer, Theol. Ztg, 1907, 683 f; and on the other hand, Ramsay, Expositor,
1908, I, 19, note). Certainly there is no intimation of an insurrection such as
characterized a later census (Acts 5:37; Ant, XVIII, i, 1; BJ, II, xvii, 7; compare
Tac. Ann. vi.41; Livy Epit. cxxxvi, cxxxvii; Dessau, Inscrip. lat. Sel. number
212, col. ii, 36) and this may have been due in no small measure to a difference
in method. Both Josephus and Luke mention the later census which was made by Quirinius
on the deposition of A rchelaus, together with the insurrection of Judas which
accompanied it. But while Josephus does not mention the Herodian census--although
there may be some intimation of it in Ant, XVI, ix, 3; XVII, ii, 4; compare Sanclemente,
De vulg. aerae emend., 438 f; Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Beth.1, 178 ff--Luke
carefully distinguishes the two, characterizing the census at the time of Jesus'
birth as "first," i.e. first in a series of enrollments connected either with
Quirinius or with the imperial policy inaugurated by the decree of Augustus. The
Greek-Roman writers of the time do not mention this decree and later writers (Cassiodor,
Isidor and Suidas) cannot be relied upon with certainty as independent witnesses
(Zumpt, Geburtsjahr, 148 ff). Yet the geographical work of Agrippa and the preparation
of a breviarium totius imperil by Augustus (Tac. Ann. i.11; Suet. Aug. 28 and
101; Dio Cassius liii.30; lvi.33; compare Mommsen, Staatsrecht, II, 1025, note
3), together with the interest of the emperor in the organization and finances
of the empire and the attention which he gave to the provinces (Marquardt, Rom.
Staatsverwaltung, II, 211 f; compare 217), are indirectly corroborative of Luke's
Augustus himself conducted a census in Italy in 726/28, 746/8, 767/14 (Mommsen,
Res Ges., 34 ff) and in Gaul in 727/27 (Dio Cassius liii.22, 5; Livy Epit. cxxxiv)
and had a census taken in other provinces (Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyc., under the
word "Census," 1918 f; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). For Egypt there is evidence
of a regular periodic census every 14 years extending back to 773/20 (Ramsay,
op. cit., 131 if; Grenfell and Hunt, Oxy. Papyri, II, 207 ff; Wilcken, Griech.
Ostraka, I, 444 ff) and it is not improbable that this procedure was introduced
by Augustus (Schurer, op. cit., I, 515). The inference from Egyptian to similar
conditions in other provinces must indeed be made cautiously (Wilcken, op. cit.,
449; Marquardt, op. cit., 441); yet in Syria the regular tributum capitis seems
to imply some such preliminary work (Dig, 1. 15, 3; Appian, Syriac., 50; Marquardt,
op. cit., II, 200, note 2; Pauly-Wissowa, op. cit., 1921; Ramsay, op. cit., 154).
The time of the decree is stated only in general terms by Luke, and it may have
been as early as 727/27 (Zumpt, op. cit., 159; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 212) or
later in 746-8 (Huschke, Census, 34; Ramsay, op. cit., 158 ff), its execution
in different provinces and subject kingdoms being carried out at different times.
Hence, Luke dates the census in the kingdom of Herod specifically by connecting
it with the administrative functions of Quirinius in Syria. But as P. Quintilius
Varus was the legate of Syria just before and after the death of Herod from 748/6-750/4
(Ant., XVII, v, 2; XVII, ix., 3; XVII, x, 1 and 9; XVII, xi, 1; Tac. Hist. v.9;
and coins in Eckhel, Doctr. num. vet., III, 275) and his predecessor Was C. Sentius
Saturninus from 745/9-748/6 (Ant; XVI, ix, 1; x, 8; xi, 3; XVII, i, 1; ii, 1;
iii, 2), there seems to be no place for Quirinius during the closing years of
Herod's reign. Tertullian indeed speaks of Saturninus as legate at the time of
Jesus' birth (Adv. Marc., iv.9). The interpretation of Luke's statement as indicating
a date for the census before Quirinius was legate (Wieseler, Chron. Syn., 116;
Lagrange, Revue Biblique, 1911, 80 ff) is inadmissible. It is possible that the
connection of the census with Quirinius may be due to his having brought to completion
what was begun by one of his predecessors; or Quirinius may have been commissioned
especially by the emperor as legatus ad census accipiendos to conduct a census
in Syria and this commission may have been connected temporally with his campaign
against the Homonadenses in Cilicia (Tac. Ann. iii.48; compare Noris, Cenotaph.
Pis., 320 ff; Sanclemente, op. cit., 426 passim; Ramsay, op. cit., 238). It has
also been suggested by Bour (L'Inscription de Quirinius, 48 ff) that Quirinius
may have been an imperial procurator specially charged with authority in the matter
of the Herodian census. The titulus Tiburtinus (CIL, XIV, 3613; Dessau, Inscr.
Latin Sel., 918)--if rightly assigned to him--and there seems to be no sufficient
reason for questioning the conclusiveness of Mommsen's defense of this attribution
(compare Liebenam, Verwaltungsgesch., 365)--proves that he was twice legate of
Syria, and the titulus Venetus (CIL, III, 6687; Dessau, op. cit., 2683) gives
evidence of a census conducted by him in Syria. His administration is dated by
Ramsay (op. cit., 243) in 747/7; by Mommsen in the end of 750/4 or the beginning
of 751/3 (op. cit., 172 ff). Zahn (Neue kirch. Zeitschr., 1893, IV, 633 ff), followed
by Spitta (Zeitschr. f. d. neutest. Wiss., 1906, VII, 293 ff), rejects the historicity
of the later census connected by Josephus with the deposition of Archelaus, basing
his view on internal grounds, and assigns the Lucan census to a time shortly after
the death of Herod. This view however is rendered improbable by the evidence upon
which the birth of Jesus is assigned to a time before the death of Herod (Mt 2:1
ff; Lk 1:5; 2:1 f); by the differentiation of the census in Lk 2:1 f and Acts
5:37; by the definite connection of the census in Josephus with Syria and the
territory of Archelaus (compare also the tit. Venet.); and by the general imperial
policy in the formation of a new province (Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). Moreover
there seems to be no adequate ground for identifying the Sabinus of Josephus with
Quirinius as urged by Weber, who regards the two accounts (Ant., XVII, viii, 1
ff and XVII, iv, 5; XVIII, i, 2; ii, 1 ff) as due to the separation by Josephus
of parallel accounts of the same events in his sources (Zeitschr. f. d. neutest.
Wiss., 1909, X, 307 ff)--the census of Sabinus-Quirinius being assigned to 4 BC,
just after the death of Herod the Great. The synchronism of the second census
of Quirinius with the periodic year of the Egyptian census is probably only a
coincidence, for it was occasioned by the deposition of Archelaus; but its extension
to Syria may be indicative of its connection with the imperial policy inaugurated
by Augustus (Tac. Ann. vi.41; Ramsay, op. cit., 161 f).
W. P. Armstrong
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, census (which caused Joseph and Mary to visit Bethlehem), consul, cyrenius, governor of cilicia (syria)