Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch's 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

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Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch's 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:38 am

I'm drawing a long bow here, but here goes.

In Luke 2, Quirinius is said to be Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, legate Roman governor of Syria 6 AD to 12 AD.

Luke 2 (NRSV)

.
1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration, and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child ...

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
.

Aspects of Luke 2:1-3/4 and 2:8-10 seem to align with aspects of Plutarch's Life of Romulus (other aspects of which also seem, in turn, to also have parallels with other aspects of the Gospel narratives eg. references to a spear being used in accounts of what essentially was/were epilogues to the crucifixion).

Life of Romulus (chapter 27 & 28 [1]-[2] are included for context)-


27 [4] ... Romulus disappeared suddenly, and no portion of his body or fragment of his clothing remained to be seen ... some conjectured that the senators, convened in the temple of Vulcan, fell upon him and slew him ... [6] Others think...that he was holding an assembly of the people outside the city near the so-called Goat’s Marsh, when suddenly strange and unaccountable disorders with incredible changes filled the air; the light of the sun failed, and night came down upon them, not with peace and quiet, but with awful peals of thunder and furious blasts driving rain from every quarter, [7] during which the multitude dispersed and fled, but the nobles gathered closely together; and when the storm had ceased, and the sun shone out, and the multitude, now gathered together again in the same place as before, anxiously sought for their king, the nobles would not suffer them to inquire into his disappearance nor busy themselves about it, but exhorted them all to honour and revere Romulus, since he had been caught up into heaven, and was to be a benevolent god for them instead of a good king. [8] The multitude, accordingly, believing this and rejoicing in it, went away to worship him with good hopes of his favour; but there were some, it is said, who tested the matter in a bitter and hostile spirit, and confounded the patricians with the accusation of imposing a silly tale upon the people, and of being themselves the murderers of the king.

[28] [1] At this pass, then, it is said that one of the patricians, a man of noblest birth, and of the most reputable character, a trusted and intimate friend also of Romulus himself, and one of the colonists from Alba, Julius Proculus by name, went into the forum and solemnly swore by the most sacred emblems before all the people that, as he was travelling on the road, he had seen Romulus coming to meet him, fair and stately to the eye as never before, and arrayed in bright and shining armour.

[2] He himself, then, affrighted at the sight, had said: ‘O King, what possessed thee, or what purpose hadst thou, that thou hast left us patricians a prey to unjust and wicked accusations, and the whole city sorrowing without end at the loss of its father?’

Whereupon Romulus had replied: ‘It was the pleasure of the gods, 0 Proculus, from whom I came, that I should be with mankind only a short time, and that after founding a city destined to be the greatest on earth for empire and glory, I should dwell again in heaven. So farewell, and tell the Romans that if they practise self-restraint, and add to it valour, they will reach the utmost heights of human power. And I will be your propitious deity, Quirinus.’

[3] These things seemed to the Romans worthy of belief, from the character of the man who related them, and from the oath which he had taken; moreover, some influence from heaven also, akin to inspiration, laid hold upon their emotions, for no man contradicted Proculus, but all put aside suspicion and calumny and prayed to Quirinus, and honoured him as a god ...

[29] [1] To the surname of Quirinus bestowed on Romulus, some give the meaning of Mars, others that of Citizen because the citizens were called Quirites; but others say that the ancients called the spear-head (or the whole spear) ‘quiris’, and gave the epithet Quiritis to the Juno whose statue leans upon a spear, and the name Mars to a spear consecrated in the Regia, and a spear as a prize to those who performed great exploits in war; and that Romulus was therefore called Quirinus as a martial, or spear-wielding, god.

[2] However that may be, a temple in his honour is built on the hill called Quirinalis after him, and the day on which he vanished is called People’s Flight [shades of the Ascension of Christ(?)] ...
.

Could the Quirinius of Luke 2:2 be a composite of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius and Quirinus and Romulus Quirinus? - with Quirinius used to anchor the story to the first few yrs of the 1st century AD?
Last edited by MrMacSon on Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:03 am

Cyrenius in Josephus Antiquities 18.1.1 is apparently Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, -

1. Now Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to [be(?)] a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-pesuaded (sic) by Joazar's words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it.

Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, (1) of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, (2) a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same; so men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people, (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left, and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also coming upon us, reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities; nay, the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemies' fire.

Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made, as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which these men occasioned by their thus conspiring together; for Judas and Sadduc, who excited a fourth philosophic sect among us, and had a great many followers therein, filled our civil government with tumults at present, and laid the foundations of our future miseries, by this system of philosophy, which we were before unacquainted withal, concerning which I will discourse a little, and this the rather because the infection which spread thence among the younger sort, who were zealous for it, brought the public to destruction.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-18.html

Could Jesus have been introduced as a counterpoint to Judas the Gaulonite and the alleged consequences of his actions?

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Re: Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:18 am

fwiw, Tacitus Annals 3.48, -

[the emperor Tiberius] requested the Senate to let the death of Sulpicius Quirinus be celebrated with a public funeral. With the old patrician family of the Sulpicii this Quirinus, who was born in the town of Lanuvium, was quite unconnected. An indefatigable soldier, he had by his zealous services won the consulship under the Divine Augustus, and subsequently the honours of a triumph for having stormed some fortresses of the Homonadenses in Cilicia. He was also appointed adviser to Caius Cæsar in the government of Armenia, and had likewise paid court to Tiberius, who was then at Rhodes. The emperor now made all this known to the Senate, and extolled the good offices of Quirinus to himself, while he censured Marcus Lollius, whom he charged with encouraging Caius Cæsar in his perverse and quarrelsome behaviour. But people generally had no pleasure in the memory of Quirinus, because of the perils he had brought, as I have related, on Lepida, and the meanness and dangerous power of his last years.


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Re: Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:50 am

Note also the similarity of Cyrenius with the Cyrenaic.

QRN is the semitic root for strength. Just as Simon of Cyrene introduces new strength (he alone is able to bear the cross, evidently because Jesus can't carry it, because Jesus is pure spirit or because Simon has to be the crucified person in the place of Jesus), so the fact that Jesus enters under Cyrenius (the Roman) means that Jesus introduces new divine strength in the History itself. Or something of similar.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:53 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:50 am
Note also the similarity of Cyrenius with the Cyrenaic.

QRN is the semitic root for strength. Just as Simon of Cyrene introduces new strength (he alone is able to bear the cross, evidently because Jesus can't carry it, because Jesus is pure spirit or because Simon has to be the crucified person in the place of Jesus), so the fact that Jesus enters under Cyrenius (the Roman) means that Jesus introduces new divine strength in the History itself. Or something of similar.
Note that if Simon of Cyrene is fullness as opposed to emptiness, strength as opposed to weakness, matter as opposed to spirit, reality as opposed to not-reality, then whereas the docetic/separationist proto-Mark introduces Simon to deny that a pure spirit underwent the crucifixion (but an earthly man called Simon in the his place), the anti-docetic Luke introduced the Cyrenius (as opposed to the Cyrenaic) to say that the fulness, the strength, the matter, the reality, entered with Jesus being Jesus the real thing, the earthly man. Appeared under Cyrenius not coincidentially.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:09 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:50 am
Note also the similarity of Cyrenius with the Cyrenaic.
I wondered about that.

Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:50 am
QRN is the semitic root for strength. Just as Simon of Cyrene introduces new strength (he alone is able to bear the cross, evidently because Jesus can't carry it; because Jesus is pure spirit or because Simon has to be the crucified person in the place of Jesus), so the fact that Jesus enters under Cyrenius (the Roman) means that Jesus introduces new divine strength in the History itself. Or something of similar.
fwiw, Tacitus Annals 3.48, -

... An indefatigable soldier, he [Quirinius] had by his zealous services won the consulship under the Divine Augustus, and subsequently the honours of a triumph for having stormed some fortresses of the Homonadenses in Cilicia.* He was also appointed adviser to Caius Cæsar in the government of Armenia, and had likewise paid court to Tiberius, who was then at Rhodes. The emperor now made all this known to the Senate, and extolled the good offices of Quirinus to himself ...

* a key city in Cilicia was of course Tarsus, a 'jewel' at the time; where Cleopatra and Mark Antony met, according to Plutarch.

Julius Caesar had been so impressed by Tarsus that he made it tax-exempt and lavished further favors on the city; in gratitude, Tarsus renamed itself Juliopolis. Caesar also rewarded the Jews of the region (and, by extension, all Jews who would eventually live under Roman rule) freedom to practice their religion in thanks for their support during his struggles with Pompey. His decree, most likely from 47 BCE, was upheld by Augustus Caesar (r. 27 BCE-14 CE) and the emperors who succeeded him.

One of its leading disciples, the philosopher Athenodorus Cananites, was the tutor of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, a fact which secured continuous imperial patronage for the city.

And of course it is said to have been where Saul/St Paul came from.

The Jewish rituals and the concept of a single, all-powerful God were attractive to a number of Greeks living in Cilicia who appear in records as “reverent ones” – people who observed certain Jewish rituals and honored the Jewish God but remained Gentiles. Scholar F. E. Peters notes how clubs of “Sabbatists” formed in Cilicia who celebrated the Jewish sabbath and kept other rituals but retained their Gentile identity. This movement would prove especially important in the early years of Christianity when Saint Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) initiated his evangelical missions in the region and found a receptive audience. Christianity offered precisely what the Sabbatists were interested in: Jewish theology and ritual without adherence to Mosaic Law. Christianity, naturally, found a home more easily in Cilicia than in other provinces. https://www.ancient.eu/Cilicia/


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Re: Luke 2:1-2, the census of Quirinus, and Plutarch 'Life of Romulus' 28-29

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:45 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:53 am
Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:50 am

Note also the similarity of Cyrenius with the Cyrenaic.

QRN is the semitic root for strength. Just as Simon of Cyrene introduces new strength (he alone is able to bear the cross, evidently because Jesus can't carry it, because Jesus is pure spirit or because Simon has to be the crucified person in the place of Jesus), so the fact that Jesus enters under Cyrenius (the Roman) means that Jesus introduces new divine strength in the History itself. Or something of similar.
Note that if Simon of Cyrene is fullness as opposed to emptiness, strength as opposed to weakness, matter as opposed to spirit, reality as opposed to not-reality, then whereas the docetic/separationist proto-Mark introduces Simon to deny that a pure spirit underwent the crucifixion (but an earthly man called Simon in the his place), the anti-docetic Luke introduced the Cyrenius (as opposed to the Cyrenaic) to say that the fulness, the strength, the matter, the reality, entered with Jesus being Jesus the real thing, the earthly man. Appeared under Cyrenius not coincidentially.
Simon was a very common name in those days, but fwiw, for posterity, Josephus' Antiquities 18, chapter 1, where many other persons common to the biblical stories feature, -

2. As Coponius, who we told you was sent along with Cyrenius, was exercising his office of procurator, and governing Judea, the following accidents happened. As the Jews were celebrating the feast of unleavened bread, which we call the Passover, it was customary for the priests to open the temple gates just after midnight. When therefore those gates were first opened, some of the Samaritans came privately into Jerusalem, and threw about dead men’s bodies in the cloisters. On which account the Jews afterward excluded them out of the temple; which they had not used to do at such festivals: and on other accounts also they watched the temple more carefully than they had formerly done. A little after which accident Coponius returned to Rome, and Marcus Ambivius came to be his successor in that government. Under whom Salome, the sister of King Herod, died; and left to Julia [Cesar’s wife] Jamnia, all its toparchy, and Phasaelis, in the plain, and Archelais: where is a great plantation of palm trees: and their fruit is excellent in its kind. After him came Annius Rufus. [A.D. 14.] Under whom died Cesar, the second Emperor of the Romans: the duration of whose reign was fifty seven years, besides six months, and two days: (of which time Antonius ruled together with him fourteen years:) but the duration of his life was seventy seven years. Upon whose death Tiberius Nero, his wife Julia’s son, succeeded. [A.D. 15.] He was now the third Emperor: and he sent Valerius Gratus to be procurator of Judea, and to succeed Annius Rufus. This man deprived Ananus of the High Priesthood; and appointed Ismael, the son of Phabi, to be High Priest. [A.D. 24.] He also deprived him in a little time, and ordained Eleazar, the son of Ananus, who had been High Priest before, to be High Priest. [A.D. 25.] Which office when he had held for a year, Gratus deprived him of it, and gave the High Priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus [A.D. 26]. And when he had possessed that dignity no longer than a year, Joseph Caiaphas was made his successor. When Gratus had done these things, he went back to Rome; after he had tarried in Judea eleven years: when Pontius Pilate came as his successor. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-18.html


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