The Importance of Dating Tiberius Rightly
Abstract: The overall impact of the 15th year of Tiberius directly relates to the dates for Messiah’s birth and ministry, and death and resurrection. By it the Scripture affords us the chronological tool to discern false teachers and true, and the ability to expose many attempted explanations of prophecy, and above all to confirm the consistent truth of Scripture for ourselves in detail, so that we may not err concerning the times and seasons of Messiah Yeshua, and the Scriptural celebrations of His redemptive activity in history. The 15th year of Tiberius dates from 17-18 September, AD 28 to 17 September AD 29. It serves as a Key anchor point for Yeshua’s birth in the fall of 2 BC, on Tishri 1, his four year ministry, and his death and resurrection in AD 34, happening on the fourth and seventh days of the week.
The chronological notation in Luke 3:1, and 3:23 is the pivotal datum in dating, the birth of Messiah, the beginning of his ministry, and his death and resurrection. From it we can count years back to his birth, and years of his ministry forward to his death and resurrection. This matters because the teaching of many, and the teaching followed by many contradicts the chronological facts. The teachers then are deceivers, and the followers are the deceived. The original texts of Scripture include sufficient chronological facts to attest to the truth along with well established external facts. Ignoring these facts leads one into the observance of false traditions and holidays made up by teachers on the basis of false chronology. A single misplaced benchmark in chronology leads to a host of misleading conclusions. It is all the more amazing that Luke 3:1 and 3:23 is misplaced as a chronological benchmark, when there is no reason for making a mistake. Yet the mistake is made, and a host of supporting evils and falsehoods are brought into defend it.
The 15th year of Tiberius was never misplaced by anyone honest with history as handed down in primary sources. It was misplaced by deceivers who disagreed with the original sources and the deceived, who do not know that the result is a set of God dishonoring traditions. And they need to be exposed lest more be deceived. The loss of apologetic value in knowing the exact historical truth is enormous when the facts are ignored. Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and godless men seek to tear the Scripture into little bits and toss it in the fireplace, along with religious zealots who think they honor the Almighty with their alternative celebrations. Book burning and burning at the stake used to be the way this crowd dealt with things it disagreed with. But it is not the way they operate these days. They have found obfuscation more effective. The result of writing liberal commentaries on the bible full of godless assumptions and speculation is essentially the same when the libraries of the world are filled with them. The truth can only be found with spiritual discernment and the scissors of logic willing to cut out 99% of the so called truth produced by liberal humanist “bible scholars.” The very first thing that people seeking the real truth fail to do when they dig into a library of biblical resources is to fail to find out the belief of the authors, and consider what those beliefs might motivate them to say or not to say. One will find a surprising number of them to be atheists, agnostics, or humanists who know the language of religion, but their hearts are evil.
The attitudes of modern Christians border on agnosticism or atheism. They have lost the childlike skills necessary to discover the truth, the ability to take primary sources seriously, and to discount secondary sources contradicting the primary, and the ability to believe Scripture over tradition. There are many who say it is so confusing that no one can figure it out. Therefore, when someone figures it out, they believe they know it cannot be figured out, and so they become the skeptic. There are those who simply do not care, and and just wish to follow tradition because it feels good. But the Scripture says that true worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth. There are those who believe they have been told the truth by their teacher or the leader they have emotionally invested themselves with. Therefore, nothing else can be true, and their teacher cannot be dead wrong on anything.
These days there are so many competing “truths.” Don’t be fooled by this. It is only evidence of the total war being waged on a spiritual level by evil against the remaining good. The competition has to be weeded out by discerning which sources are older, more primary, and less motivated to be compromised. The average person, sadly, treats all truth claims as on an equal footing. They are not. The sources and chains of reasoning behind most claims are as stable as an upside down pyramid build up on one false assumption. The deceived find themselves looking at massive bottom of that upside down pyramid, and never think to look for the actual foundation! In many areas, the devastation is great. Finding and reconstructing the truth is like picking through a bombed out city to find little bits of evidence and then putting the pieces together.
First, lets look at Luke 3:1-2 and give a summary of the dating.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
The lead chronological fact here is the 15th year of Tiberius, and that this is when John the Baptist came preaching. Tiberius’ predecessor, Caesar Augustus, died on 19 August, AD 14, at the age of 75. Legal Power was not immediately conferred on Tiberius, and believe me, at this time the Romans were always concerned to keep everything in public as legal as possible. The Senate met on 17-18 September, AD 14 to officially confer on Tiberius the titles of the chief executive of the Empire, after he half heartedly tried to refuse the honors.
In the chart I have provided from the Scroll Book (see just above), we have AD years on the left, and on the far right Tiberius’ reign. Connect the line capping the top of the first year of Tiberius to a point about 3/4 of the way through AD 14. This represents 17 September. In the smaller shot at the right, I have charted out the result to AD 28/29. The 15th year of Tiberius begins in the fall of AD 28 and ends in the fall of AD 29. We can draw an immediate conclusion here. The year of the crucifixion could not have been AD 30. This is because we must allow more than one or two years for the ministry of John and Yeshua.
So now, let us review the parties having fallen under and incorrect explanation of Luke 3:1, and who argue that the crucifixion in an incorrect year contradicting Luke 3:1.
Proposed Date of Crucifixion Supporters
Friday April 22, AD 29* Ancient (but ignorant) theory
Friday April 7, AD 30 Catholics and large number of Protestants
Wednesday April 5, AD 30‡ Teaching of Many Rogue Ministries
Friday April 27, AD 31*† Seventh Day Adventist “official date”
Wednesday, April 25† Date held by other Seventh Day Adventists and Third Parties
Friday April 18, AD 32* Sir Robert Anderson
Friday April 3, AD 33 Evangelicals and Fundamentalists
Wednesday April 1 AD 33‡ Myself 24 years ago before I knew better
Wednesday March 24, AD 34 The correct day -- The only date compliant with Daniel 9
*Dates proved impossible by astronomical calculation.
†Dates proved impossible by incorrect calculation of Adar II.
‡Dates proved wrong by incorrect calculation of new moon.
We see that getting the Luke 3:1 date correct clears the field of AD 29, 30, 31. Messiah cannot have a zero length for his ministry. This outs AD 29. Nor can it be one year, since this contradicts John who puts at least three Passovers into Yeshua’s ministry. This outs AD 30, even by smashing in destroying other details to smash John’s three passovers into as tiny a space as possible. One Messianic ministry even went so far as to say John had a textual mistake in it (it wasn’t so) in order to rid themselves of too many pesky Passovers. Luke 13:6-9 is a parable, but it corresponds to the years of ministry. The fig tree is Israel, and three seasons are mentioned, and then leaving it alone for a 4th season. Smashing this down into as short a space as possible (and wrecking a good deal in the process) outs AD 31, even when counting part years, and smashing endpoints, and sweeping everything else under the rug. It cannot be done without contradiction. But do not be deceived! Most of the time it IS done WITH contradictions. That is because most of those doing the teaching are teaching error, and learned the error from more ancient teachers that did not care about the truth. They only cared about making it seem like they followed the truth, but the real truth they threw away.
So a lot depends on Luke really meaning the 15th year of Tiberius. In order to escape from their contradictions, those holding AD 29, 30, 31 views have moved the 15th year of Tiberius backwards by claiming there was a 2 year coregency between Augustus and Tiberius. A coregency is when an old king is still alive and reigning, but he appoints his son to reign with him. Sometimes the son’s years are counted as overlapping with the reign of the old king. In the image from the scroll book at the left, I show a coregency between the outgoing old king Jehoshaphat (years 21-25 in purple) and the young king Jehoram of Judah (years 1-4 in yellow). Then I show another coregency between Jehoram and Ahaziah. Ahaziah reigns for 1 year in the 7th and 8th years of Jehoram. These coregencies are well documented by other chronological statements such as this,
Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then the king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king. (KJV, 2Kings 8:16) The key phrase indicating a coregency is emphasized.
By making the claim of a coregency, a timeline that is otherwise too long for someone’s theory can be compacted down into a shorter version. Making claims of a coregency without proof that one existed creates havoc and mayhem in the timeline. Edwin Thiele became the coregency king when he tore down the chronology of Israel by over 50 years (The Mysterious Numbers of The Hebrew Kings) to agree with what secular humanist archaeologists claimed was the history of Assyria. The only mysterious thing about his book is that he did not tell the reader he had no other evidence than the secular humanist say so, and that to believe them, he had to contradict at least three Scriptures, and invent coregencies with no biblical proof they existed. And this evil has spread far and wide. His 931 BC date for the division of the kingdom of Judah and Israel is now the standard in bible commentaries and study bibles. Yep, the chief choir conductor committed adultery with the atheists. The sad thing is that the man had to be a Seventh Day Adventist. He should have known better. Sabbath observance is supposed to encourage one to take the Scripture more literally. It is supposed to discourage misreading it. Apparently that is not always the case.
Those wanting a coregency between Augustus and Tiberius, like Thiele did, are speculating on one, with no evidence at all. The Roman Historians never compute a coregency, nor do they ever count years from when the supposed coregency is supposed to have begun, around AD 12. At the right, I provide an example where there really was a coregency between Jehoash and his father, but it is evident from the evidence that his years of coregency were not counted. Hence the chart leaves the years unnumbered. Jehoash’s name is put in sideways next to years 16 and 17 of his father. But his years are not counted until his father dies. Thus year 1 follows the 17th year of his father. So even if there was a coregency between Augustus and Tiberius (and there wasn’t), it is clear that no years were ever counted from AD 12 or thereabouts.
How does the Roman Historian Suetonius count? He states Tiberius died,
in the seventy-eighth year of his age and the twenty-third of his reign, on the seventeenth day before the Kalends of April, in the consulship of Gnaeus Acerronius Proculus and Gaius Pontius Nigrinus. (12 Caesars / Tiberius#5) The consular calendar date corresponds with March 16th, AD 37. The Romans dated years using the Consul lists. And these consuls go with AD 37. They kept up these lists for almost 1000 years, and they are well connected to the AD system introduced later. Suetonius states that Tiberius died in the 23rd year of his reign. Accordingly we can count backward to when? To AD 14. And NOT AD 12. The Roman historians do not debate the accuracy of the consuls for the times we are concerned with.
AD 37 - 23 = AD 14.
The reason that Luke is willing to give us a date in terms of Tiberius reign, is because he knows it is accurate, and that his contemporary readers are not going to debate about when it is. The reason that God permits Luke to use the Roman dating, is because He knows the date is accurate, and that all the contemporary Roman Historians will know when the date is, and will confirm it when anyone reads them. The reason that God has not sent a prophet to correct Luke’s dating is that, 1. the evidence of when it was is still there, 2. those who contradict the evidence are liars, 3. He expects us to see through the liars, and rely on the primary sources. Now, I kid you not. I read one person trying to prove that Tiberius died in 23 AD. (The real date is AD 37). He quoted many Roman historians, and went through many calculations, and astronomical calculations too. And his way of handling everything is all a lying heap of rubbish. And the person claimed to be religious. And the person even seemed to be “Messianic.” Yet just one look at his page, and I could see quotes out of context, and intellectual dishonesty all over it. One thing this person did not do, is organize the proof, which I will now do. Suetonius named the consuls of AD 37: Gnaeus Acerronius Proculus and Gaius Pontius Nigrinus. Here is part of the list covering Tiberius reign:
|A.D.||First Consul||Second Consul||Reign of Tiberius|
|14||Sex. Pompeius||Sex. Appuleius||18th Sept, yr 1 began|
|15||Drusus Iulius Caesar (January-December)||C. Norbanus Flaccus (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 2 began|
|M. Iunius Silanus (July–December)|
|16||Sisenna Statilius Taurus||L. Scribonius Libo||18th Sept, yr 3 began|
|P. Pomponius Graecinus||C. Vibius Rufus|
|17||L. Pomponius Flaccus||C. Caelius Rufus||18th Sept, yr 4 began|
|C. Vibius Marsus||L. Voluseius Proculus|
|18||Ti. Caesar Augustus III (January )||Germanicus Iulius Caesar II (January-April)||18th Sept, yr 5 began|
|L. Seius Tubero (February-July)||Livineius Regulus (May–July)|
|C. Rubellius Blandus (August-December)||M. Vipstanus Gallus (August-December)|
|19||M. Iunius Silanus Torquatus (January-December)||L. Norbanus Balbus (January-April)||18th Sept, yr 6 began|
|P. Petronius (May-December)|
|20||M. Valerius Messala Barbatus Messalinus||M. Aurelius Cotta Maximus Messalinus||18th Sept, yr 7 began|
|21||Ti. Caesar Augustus IV||Drusus Iulius Caesar II||18th Sept, yr 8 began|
|Mam. Aemilius Scaurus||Cn. Tremelius|
|22||D. Haterius Agrippa||C. Sulpicius Galba||18th Sept, yr 9 began|
|23||C. Asinius Pollio||C. Antistius Vetus||18th Sept, yr 10 began|
|C. Stertinius Maximus|
|24||Ser. Cornelius Cethegus (January-June)||L. Visellius Varro (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 11 began|
|C. Calpurnius Aviola (July-December)||P. Cornelius Lentulus Scipio (July-December)|
|25||Cossus Cornelius Lentulus (January-August)||M. Asinius Agrippa (January-December)||18th Sept, yr 12 began|
|C. Petronius (September-December)|
|26||Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus||C. Calvisius Sabinus||18th Sept, yr 13 began|
|L. Iunius Silanus||C. Vellaeus Tutor|
|27||L. Calpurnius Piso||M. Licinius Crassus Frugi||18th Sept, yr 14 began|
|P. Cornelius Lentulus||C. Sallustius Crispus Passienus I|
|28||Ap. Iunius Silanus||P. Silius Nerva||18th Sept, yr 15 began|
|L. Antistius Vetus||Q. Iunius Blaesus|
|29||C. Fufius Geminus (January-June)||L. Rubellius Geminus (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 16 began|
|A. Plautius (July-December)||L. Nonius Asprenas (July-December)|
|30||M. Vinicius (January-June)||L. Cassius Longinus (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 17 began|
|L. Naevius Surdinus (July-December)||C. Cassius Longinus (July-December)|
|31||Ti. Caesar Augustus V (January-May 9)||L. Aelius Seianus (January-May 9)||18th Sept, yr 18 began|
|Faustus Cornelius Sulla (May 10-September )||Sex. Tedius (or Teidius) Valerius Catullus (May 10-June)|
|L. Fulcinius Trio (July-December)|
|P. Memmius Regulus (October-December)|
|32||Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus (January-December)||L. Arruntius Camillus Scribonianus (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 19 began|
|A. Vitellius (July-December)|
|33||L. Livius Ocella Ser. Sulpicius Galba (January-June)||L. Cornelius Sulla Felix (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 20 began|
|L. Salvius Otho (July-December)||C. Octavius Laenas (July-December)|
|34||Paullus Fabius Persicus (January-June)||L. Vitellius (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 21 began|
|Q. Marcius Barea Soranus (July-December)||T. Rustius Nummius Gallus (July-December)|
|35||C. Cestius Gallus (January-June)||M. Servilius Nonianus (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 22 began|
|D. Valerius Asiaticus (July-December)||A. Gabinius Secundus (July-December)|
|36||Sex. Papinius Allenius (January-June)||Q. Plautius (January-June)||18th Sept, yr 23 began|
|C. Vettius Rufus (July-December)||M. Porcius Cato (July-December)|
|37||Cn. Acerronius Proculus (January-June)||C. Petronius Pontius Nigrinus (January-June)||Tiberius died 16th of Mar.|
|C. Caesar Augustus Germanicus (July-August)||Ti. Claudius Nero Germanicus (July-August)|
The consuls named by the Roman Historian Suetonius are highlighted in bold font above. They correspond to the year Jan. 1, AD 37 to Dec. 31. Suetonius has dated the year of Tiberius’ death using the standard Roman method. The lists begin in 509 BC and end in AD 541 when the practice of choosing a consul for each year was abolished. See consular lists. That is over 1000 years of record keeping by the Romans.
The Jewish Historian Josephus counts the years of Tiberius at 22 years, 5 months, 3 days, or in another place at 22 years, 6 months, and 3 days. The longer calculation brings us within a few days of 17 Sept, AD 14, since it is known when Tiberius died (March 16, AD 37).
I here quote from Thomas Lewin, who ably demonstrates that the evidence from the Roman historians does not support the coregency theory. I have corrected in brackets dates where Lewin is incorrect, since he himself was still laboring under the notion that Messiah’s ministry began in AD 29 and ended in AD 33. The correct years are AD 30-34. But Thomas Lewin was an honest and able scholar, unlike the person I mentioned above. His mistakes amount to only 1 year! And it is not truly his fault, but the fault of his teachers and traditions that he did not suspect.
One would suppose that here no door was open to controversy, and yet some chronologers, labouring under the impression that the mission of John in AD 28-29 [29-30] cannot be reconciled with the statement of Luke, that Jesus, when he began, was of about thirty years, have endeavoured to evade the express testimony of Luke as to the fifteenth year of Tiberius, but surmising that the reign of Tiberius was computed by him not in the ordinary mode from 19th Aug. AD 14, the death of Augustus [or 17-18 Sept, when the Senate appointed Tiberius], but from some point in time two years earlier, in AD 12; and they rely upon certain passages in Tacitus, Suetonius, and Vell. Paterculus, but which when taken together, shown only that in AD 12 large powers were conferred on Tiberius, but not that he was then emperor jointly with Augustus, or that his reign was ever supposed to commence from that period. Other Chronologers, as Burton, admit that the fifteenth year of Tiberius must begin in AD 14, but then they maintain that instead of being computed from 19th Aug. of that year, it must be referred back to 1st January of the same year; for as the Romans reckoned their year from one first of January to another, the whole year within these limits was, according to Burton and his followers, considered as the fifteenth year of Tiberius.
These hypotheses are open to one overwhelming objection, viz. that the reign of Tiberius, as beginning from 19th Aug. AD 14, was as well-known a date in the time of Luke as the reign of Queen Victoria in our own day, and that no single case has evern been or can be produced in which the years of Tiberius were reckoned in any other manner.
Emphasis mine. Note that Victora was contemporary with Lewin.
Lewin then demolishes the coregency theory by quoting from the reckonings of the Roman and Jewish historians, to show that its promoters lack credibility and should not be believed.
Tacitus opens the fourth book of his Annals with these words, ‘C. Asinius and C. Antistius being consuls, it was the ninth year of Tiberius;’ that is, he makes the 1st of Jan. AD 23 (the year of consulship) coincide with the ninth year of Tiberius, which could only be the case on the assumption that the ninth year commenced on 19th Aug. AD 22, and ended, not as contended by Burton and others, on 31st Dec. AD 22, but on 19th Aug. AD 23. [This may be verified in the consular list I cited above.] So Pliny the Elder refers the same consulship to the same year of Tiberius: ‘In the ninth year of the reign of Tiberius, in the consulship of C. Asinius Pollio and C. Antistius Vetus:’ that is, the consulship of Asinius Pollio and Antistius Vetus, reckoned from 1st Jan. AD 23, fell in the ninth year of Tiberius up to 19th Aug. AD 23, when the tenth year would commence. Dion Cassius again reckons in the same way, for in sepaking of the year AD 24 he mentiones, that in the course of it (viz. on 19th Aug.) ‘ten years of the reign of Tiberius expired;’ [This may be verified in the list above.] and again, he places the consulship of Lucius Vitellius and Fabius Persicus on 1st Jan. AD 34, in the twentieth year of Tiberius. So Philo computes the reign of Tiberius in round numbers at twenty-three years; and Tiberius died in AD 37, Philo, of course, dated the commencement of the reign from 19th Aug. AD 14. [I omit Josephus here, since I’ve already cited him above.]
The attack on the 15th year of Tiberius also comes from claims of coin evidence that are supposed to confirm a coregency. Lewin cites these claims, and shows the claims faulty, or possibly fraudulent. Then he explains the coin evidence that actually does nail down the dates.
There are two coins of Antioch, however, which have been thought to countenance the notion that Tiberius began to reign in AD 12. One of them has the head of Tiberius, with the inscription Καισαρ Σεβαστος, ΓΜ, i.e. in the 43rd year of the Actian era, commencing from 2nd Sept., BC 31, and therefore struck AD 12-13, and the other has the head of Tiberius, with the inscription Καισαρ Σεβαστος, ΔΜ, i.e. in the 44th year of the Actian era, and therefore struck in AD 13-14; and as the head of Tiberius is found on these coins with the title of Augustus, it has hence been argued that he was emperor as early as AD 12.
The Actian era was established from when Caesar defeated Mark Antony at Actium, on Sept. 2, 31 BC. Coins were struck counting years from the victory date. But they only started minting them about 10 years after the victory. Before that they were counting another Era called the Caesarian Era! Lewin continues:
The genuineness of these coins has been questioned by Eckhel, iii. 277. But even admitting them to be free from suspicion, they prove only that Tiberius had then been honoured with the title of Augustus, not that he had then begun to reign as emperor. Besides, there are other undoubted coins of Antioch which show conclusively that the Antiochians (and Luke himself was a native, or at least an inhabitant, of that city) dated the reign of Tiberius not from AD 12, but [as the undisputed coins show] from the death of Augustus in AD 14. Thus we have one coin of Antioch with the head of Tiberius and the letter Α, i.e. in the first year of his reign, and coupled with the Actian year ΕΜ, or 45, and therefore equivalent to AD 14-15.
Year 45 of the Actian Era synchronizes with year 1 of Tiberius, i.e. AD 14-15. Match 45 in the grey column with 1 in the purple column with 14/15 in the first column. Lewin continues:
Again, there are other coins with the head of Tiberius, and the letter Γ, i.e. that is, in the third year of his reign, and coupled with the Actian year ΖΜ, or 47, and therefore equivalent to AD 16-17.
In the time of Luke, then, the reign of Tiberius was a well-known date, as beginning for 19th Aug. AD 14; and the evangelist.
Thomas Lewin, Fasti Sacri or A Key to the Chronology of the New Testament, chapter vi.
See chart above.
Thomas Lewin has disproved the notion that the 15th year of Tiberius can be pushed back to January AD 28. He has also disproved the coregency theory. There are no coins dated according to those theories, and there are coins dated from AD 14, when Tiberius began to reign. There are no Roman historians citing dates, years, or consuls agreeing with the ad hoc coregency theory. Lewin did not metion that even the alleged coin evidence of a title of Augustus for Tiberius does not date counting his reign at all. The dates are Actian Era dates.
The actual dates are 100% in favor of starting with the fall of AD 14. The only contrary evidence is the claims of chronologists who lived centuries after, and who have preconceived beliefs on what history is supposed to prove based on traditions they have accepted.
Conclusion: The true dates of Tiberius reign are
Aug/Sept AD 14 to Aug/Sept AD 37. And the 15th year of it was
fall AD 28 to fall AD 29.
Yohanan the Immerser Begins his Ministry
Abstract: It is shown how the beginning of John’s ministry relates to the 15th year of Tiberius. It is shown that John, as a priest, was ordained at the age of 30 in the spring. These dates support counting bacward to a 2 BC date for the birth of John in the spring, and a 2 BC date for the birth of Yeshua. They also support going forward from the Passover of AD 30 as the first Passover of Yeshua’s ministry to AD 34 when he died and was raised again.
It has been established independently based on Rev. 12:1-2 and other passages, and Priestly courses, that Yeshua was born in the fall on Tishri 1. This means that Yohanan had to have been born in the spring time. Luke 1:80 states,
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public instalment to Yisra’ēl. The word I have translated as instalment is ἀναδείξεως. Let’s go through all of the Lexicons and see what this word means: 1. LSJ: a proclamation of an election, an appointment, (from Pass) a manifestation, N.T. [biased], 2. Friberg; showing forth [biased], 3. Thayer: inaugurating [The other senses are biased.] 4. BDAG: commissioning, installation. 5. BDAG, 3rd. edition: commissioning, installation (t.t. in ref. to a public recognition of an appointed official...) and BDAG suggests the translation,
until the day when he was commissioned before Israel as a forerunner of Messiah. The emphasised words here are an attempt by the Lexicon to give an ad hoc explanation what the commissioning means. The word is nearly a hapax word in the NT. It only occurs twice, yet in other literature it means an appointment. In Sirach 43:6,
He made the moon also to serve in her season for a appointment (ἀνάδειξιν) of times, and a sign of the world.
The reason that some of the Lexicons water down the definition for the NT, is that the translators did not understand the word in Luke 1:80, because they did not care what it meant for Yohanan to be a priest, and the son of a priest. The flagging of the incorrect definition in LSJ, with the notation: NT. (where it occurs but once as a noun and once as a verb) for the manifestation definition and noting that it is nearly hapax in that place, should make us very suspicious of the unique meaning given to it there out of line with other Greek. A fuller search of LSJ reveals:
A.showing forth: esp. public proclamation or appointment to an office, “ἡ τῶν ὑπάτων ἀ.” Plu.Mar.8; “τῶν συναρχόντων ἡ ἀναγόρευσις καὶ ἀ.” CG12: abs., “ἡ ἀ.” the election, Cat.Mi. 44, 46. 2. ἡ ἀ τοῦ διαδήματος ceremony of coronation, Plb.15.25.11 (pl.); dedication of temple, Str.8.6.23. 3. declaration, “χρόνων” LXXSi.43.6. II. (from Pass.) manifestation, of Osiris, D.S. 1.85, but rather from Act. in “ἡ ἀ. αὐτοῦ πρὸς τὸν Ἰσραήλ” Ev.Luc.1.80.
The word occurs in the verb form in Acts 1:24,
Thou A̕dōnai, knowing every heart, commission whom you have chosen from one of these two. The age of ordination for priests in Israel was 30 years. It does not matter whether Yohanan failed his ordination exam or not, or whether he even applied to enter the priesthood. The phrase,
until the day of his commissioning can only mean his 30th birthday, or the the time immediately following his 30th birthday when his division, the division of Abijah was due for service. Now we must take this piece of evidence together with Luke 3:23, where it says,
And when He (Yĕshūa̒) began His ministry, Yĕshūa̒ Himself was about thirty years of age (ὡσεὶ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα). Friberg gives the correct sense of the word ὡσεὶ: nearly, and also Thayer: about, nearly. Nearly explains which side of thirty the text is talking about. He was almost 30. There are many secular humanist scholars that suppose about 30 means within a decade of 30! Really, they are supposing that Luke was a fool after interviewing his mother to be so foolish as to write with that supposed meaning. Luke is clearly leaving us a carefully thought out framework of Chronology by which to figure when everything happened, while at the same time ensconcing the chronological data into a literary work on the ministry of Messiah.
Therefore, we can reason, since Yeshua was born on Tishri 1, then Yohanan must have turned 30 fairly close to Iyyar 1, since their births were spaced five months apart. Also to be noted is that Luke 1:80 implies that Yohanan went straight-away into his prophetic preaching ministry when he reached the age of 30. This conclusion is really hard to avoid when since he immersed Yeshua after he started his ministry, and Yeshua was nearly thirty. And Yohanan cannot have been more than five months older. The importance of the 15th year of Tiberius now comes back into the picture. This year was from the fall of AD 28 to the fall of AD 29. Since Yohanan only reaches the age of ordination in the spring, then it must be the spring of AD 29 when he began his ministry. If he had begun in Tishri AD 28, then this implies he would have to be at least 30.5 years old. In such a case Yeshua would already be 30, and not nearly 30. It is to be noted that Tishri 1 in AD 28 fell on Sept 8/9, before the inception of the 15th year of Tiberius on Sept. 18. In that case Messiah would certainly be more than 30 and not nearly 30. The conclusion, then, is that Yohanan began his ministry in AD 29, in the spring, at about the half way point of the 15th year of Tiberius, and that he immersed Yeshua near the end of the 15th year, some days or weeks before Tishri 1, AD 29.
Conclusion: John began his ministry in the spring of AD 29. Yeshua was immersed by Yohanan a bit before Tishri 1 AD 29 (which began the fall). The first Passover in John, therefore, is the Passover of AD 30. This will correctly lead us to the year of Messiah’s death and resurrection. Thomas Lewin, Sir Isaac Newton, Scaliger, and others have already worked out for us that His ministry lasted 4 years, and spanned five Passovers. Newton and others correctly picked AD 34 for the year. Lewin picked AD 33, but began back one year in AD 29, so he put the same ministry length. These careful researches were brought into ill repute by Catholics and Protestants pushing the Friday-Sunday theory of the Passion, when astronomical calculations began to become accurate enough to show that a Friday day would not show up in AD 34. Instead of correcting themselves in the direction of Matthew 12:40, and paying attention to the literal meaning of the Greek texts, they ran the other way, and erected a new chronological framework to shore up their traditions.
I mentioned above that John would be ordained at his 30th birthday, or perhaps at the time when his division went up for service. I have written elsewhere that the ideal date of John’s birth is 1 Iyyar. Let us review that calculation now (cf. The Inception of the Priestly Divisions). The division of Abijah served in
3 BC from July 6 to July 13. The first full day of service was July 7. The Julian date was
1720515. The formula for determining from the Julian date which division was on duty for a week is:
[(JD + 1)/7 + 3] MOD 24 + 1. So
[(1720515 + 1)/7 + 3] MOD 24 + 1 = 8. The 8th division was on duty on the first day of the week. The formula for the weekday is:
(JD + 1) MOD 7 + 1.
(1720515 + 1) MOD 7 + 1 = 1. The conception of John was on the following first day of the week, which was also the new moon day of month V. The Julian date for this is
1720522 (July 14, 3 BC). The average, or ideal time for gestation from conception to birth is
266 days (not 280 as many suppose, which is from the L.M.P.). Adding
266 to the Julian date:
1720788. Going forward to that date is
April 6, 2 BC, which is the same as the new moon day of Iyyar (month II), exactly 5 months before the birth of Messiah. John turned 30 years old on the ideal date of Iyyar I. A premature birth is not possible according to Luke, since he stated that Elizabeth’s days were full. We may suppose that the ordination of a new priest would not take place before the 30th birthday, or not sooner than the priest would be 30 by the time the seven days of the ordination service were completed. We may also suppose that ordination would not take place until the division that the candidate belonged to would be on duty, or in the week before the canditate would be on duty at the earliest, so that the new priest could go immediately from his ordination to a duty cycle of service. A priest might be ordained such that he would be ready for service on the 30th birthday. Exactly, how this was done, I admit, is a matter of speculation, though Jewish resources may give us some historical hints at more exact timing. It suffices to say, that nothing I have said here appears unreasonable to me.
Now then, the 30th birthday of John ideally fell on 1 Iyyar, AD 29. If the division of Abijah was due to serve before this date, then the ordination of John would be delayed until just before the next service of Abijah. So we must inquire into when the division of Abijah served in AD 29. The first day of Iyyar (month II) in AD 29 fell on May 4, a Wednesday. The Julian date is:
1731774. The formula for converting the Julian date (not on a Sunday) to the division number on duty for the week is:
DIVISION = [INT[(JD + 1)/7] + 3] MOD 24 + 1.
DIVISION = [INT[(1731774 + 1)/7] + 3] MOD 24 + 1 = 8. The 8th division was on duty. If the 30th birthday of John had fallen after the division service dates, then his ordination would have been delayed 24 weeks, or until
JD = 1731939 (October 16, AD 29 | Tishri 19). And this date lies outside the 15th year of Tiberius. I think it very reasonable that John showed up for his ordination and public installment into the priesthood during the week of his 30th birthday, which the same week that his division served.
Accuracy of the Consular Lists
Abstract: There are those who doubt the accuracy of the Roman Consular Lists. Dio Cassius records that Emperor Claudius predicted and explained a partial eclipse in Rome before it occurred so that the people would not be upset and consider it a bad omen for the Emperor. Dio says the eclipse occured on the Emperor’s Birthday, August 1st, AD 45. The AD 45 date is determined by the two Consuls that Dio Cassius mentions in book 60.25.1. The August 1st date corresponds to that given by the Roman Historian Suetonius quoted below, i.e. the Calends of August (1 August 10 BC) for the birth of Claudius. According to calculation, the eclipse actually did happen upon 1 August, AD 45 in the year corresponding to the Consuls mentioned by Dio Cassius. This is a very precise and stunning confirmation of the accuracy of the Consular list.
This Claudius was borne at Lyons, in the yeare when Julius Antonius and Fabius Africanus were Consuls, upon the Calends of August.
Quoted from Suetonius, History of Twelve Caesars, Volume 2, AUC 744, page 56, translated by Philemon Holland, anno 1606, volume 11, published 1899, Library of the University of California). See the two consuls in the list below for 10 BC.
|BC||First Consul||Second Consul|
|11||Q. Aelius Tubero||Paullus Fabius Maximus|
|10||Africanus Fabius Maximus||Iullus Antonius|
|9||Nero Claudius Drusus||T. Quinctius Crispinus Sulpicianus|
|8||C. Marcius Censorinus||C. Asinius Gallus|
|[Intervening consuls left out. See Wikipedia Consular List]|
|AD||First Consul||Second Consul|
|44||C. Sallustius Crispus Passienus II (January-February)||T. Statilius Taurus (January-June)|
|P. Calvisius Sabinus Pomponius Secundus (March-June)|
|45||M. Vinicius II (January-February)||Titus Statilius Taurus Corvinus (January-June)|
|Ti. Plautius Silvanus Aelianus (March-?)|
|M. Antonius Rufus (?-December)||M. Pompeius Silvanus Staberius Flavinus (?-December)|
|46||D. Valerius Asiaticus II (January-February)||M. Iunius Silanus (January-December)|
And now Dio Cassius account:
25 1 The next year Marcus Vinicius and Statilius Corvinus became consuls, the former for a second time.
26 1 Since there was to be an eclipse of the sun on his birthday, he feared that there might be some disturbance in consequence, inasmuch as some other portents had already occurred; he therefore issued a proclamation in which he stated not only the fact that there was to be an eclipse, and when, and for how long, but also the reasons for which this was bound to happen. 2 These reasons I will now give. The moon, which revolves in its orbit (or so it is believed), either directly below it or perhaps with Mercury and Venus intervening, has a longitudinal motion, just as the sun has, and a vertical motion, as the other perhaps likewise has, but it has also a latitudinal motion such as the sun never shows under any conditions. 3 When, therefore, the moon gets in a direct line with the sun over our heads and passes under its blazing orb, it obscures the rays from that body that extend toward the earth. To some of the earth's inhabitants this obscuration lasts for a longer and to others for a shorter time, whereas to still others it does not occur for even the briefest moment. 4 For since the sun always has a light of its own, it is never deprived of it, and consequently to all those between whom and the sun the moon does not pass, so as to throw a shadow over it, it always appears entire. This, then, is what happens to the sun, and it was made public by Claudius at that time. 5 But now that I have once touched upon this subject, it will not be out of place to give the explanation of a lunar eclipse also. Whenever, then, the moon gets directly opposite the sun (for it is eclipsed only at full moon, just as the sun is eclipsed at the time of new moon) and runs into the cone-shaped shadow of the earth, a thing that happens whenever it passes through the mean point in its latitudinal motion, it is then deprived of the sun’s light and appears by itself as it really is. Such is the explanation of these phenomena.
The consuls in in Dio Cassius are those for AD 45. The eclipse was on August 1st, AD 45, and was seen as partial in Rome. Although reports of it would have come via the Roman Post from south Egypt.
A Cross Examination of Ernest Martin
Abstract: Ernest Martin was a champion of a 3 BC birth date on Sept. 11, and an AD 30 crucifixion on a Friday. In the world of chronology, I call him the good cop and the bad cop. He started out good with the birth book, succeeded (with an error of 1 year), and then went bad on his next book, Secrets of Golgotha, while of course putting a lot of interesting truths together with the bad stuff. His subsequent books after that only became worse and worse. In relation to the 15th year of Tiberius, and the age of Messiah at the start of his ministry, a 3 BC birth, and an AD 30 crucifixion year simply does not work. The two dates are incompatible. Nor does his explanation of priestly courses work. And that will be demonstrated in this critique.
Just to be sure where Martin’s loyalties lie, let us introduce him with a quote revealing his position:
The year AD 30 for the crucifixion is also attested by the fact that only in that year (or in AD 33) could Jesus’ death have occurred on a Friday (and for AD 30, it is astronomically possible for it to be on a Thursday). Friday is the most likely day if the third day (mentioned by the disciples on the road to Emmaus) was reckoned inclusively or a Thursday if it were figured exclusively (Luke 24:13-31). The supposition that Jesus died on a Wednesday, however, as some few have suggested, is not possible in the light of New Testament historical and astronomical indications.
Ernest Martin, Secrets of Golgotha, 2nd ed., pg. 430
It is not my task at this point to formally disprove everything Martin said here, but only those points relating to the 15th year of Tiberius. Therefore, I will make a few passing remarks. Firstly, the statement about the possibility of a Thursday date being astronomically possible in AD 30 is extremely unlikely. Secondly, The men on the road to Emmaus reckoned inclusively in any case, a fact that disproves the Friday-Sunday theory,
Indeed, besides all this, a third day passed today, from when these things happened. (Luke 24:21) I explain this in this paper. On a Friday to Sunday theory, no one is going to complain that the third day is passed by! They are going to wait until three days has passed before complaining. The Friday theory is thereby refuted by the internal and external evidence bearing of Luke 24:21. Therefore, the scribes changed the text to “this third day passes today” and made complete internal nonsense out of the remark. If it is “this third day” then the third day is not passed, but is only going to pass. At which point Yeshua could have simply said, “Why are you leaving before the deadline, O ye of little faith!” Martin’s bravado of dogmatism, as we will see, goes down on this point, and on many other points in the expose below.
Luke does not inform us whether Jesus was “about 30” near the beginning, the middle or near the end of Tiberius 15.
The Star of Bethlehem, chapter 5
As I have pointed out, Luke does inform us by indicating the ordination date of Yohanan in Luke 1:80. Knowing that his birthday was in the spring means that we have to be at least half way through the 15th year of Tiberius (fall AD 28 to fall AD 29) before he can be ordained and begin his ministry.
Further, we are not told whether it was the Roman method of reckoning Tiberius’ 15th year, or that which people in Judaea and Syria were accustomed to, which antedated the reign of kings and emperors to Tishri One of the previous year.
The Star of Bethlehem, chapter 5
The overall biblical chronology proves that reign years of kings are counted from Tishri 1. We can prove this in the case of Solomon, and in the case of Josiah, and it can also be shown in the case of Nehemiah that a Tishri 1 year was used to compute the 20th year of Artaxerxes. There are three proofs of this in the Scripture texts for the kingdom of Judea, and one of the proofs is after the end of the exile. The only place where this was not true was with non-Jews, namely the northern kingdom of Yisrael, the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians. It so happens that the inception point of the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar was nearly exactly the same the Jewish Tishri 1 new year. In AD 14, when Tiberius became Emperor, Tishri 1 was on Sept 15, and the Senate voted the powers of the chief executive to Tiberius on Sept 17-18. There was no question of an accession year in the Jewish mode of reckoning, because Augustus had died before Tishri 1. Or to put it another way, there was no question of when it would be. It would be before Tishri 1, AD 14, between Augustus’ death and Tishri 1, about 3 weeks. Accession years only occurred when an incoming king, usually the son of the old king, shared the last year of the old king. Thomas Lewin has disproved the notion of putting Tiberius first year back to Jan. 1 AD 14 from Roman sources. The Jews would not conceive of doing this since Tishri 1 was gone by when the Senate appointed Tiberius. Nor is there any reason for turning all of AD 14 to AD 15 into an accession year 11 lunar months and about 27 days long. The Jews were not devoid of common sense. Their Tishri years for Tiberius would run strictly parallel to the Roman anniversary years.
Martin’s theory that the Jews could have antedated the 1st year of Tiberius to the previous Tishri 1 is also without merit. First the Roman historians contradict this, and thus this would put the Jewish reckoning one year out of synchronization with the Roman. Such a move would certainly not make for good relations with the Romans, and it would be about as far from the truth as any choice of a regnal reckoning could be. Second, such a move would de-legitimize the Roman Senate in the governance of the Empire, because they only appointed Tiberius after Tishri 1. So if there was any antedating to be done, it would only be from Sept. 18 back to Sept. 14/15, a matter of only 4 days! It is also quite well known that Tiberius said he did not want the job of chief executive. For the Jews to go back a whole year to Tishri 1, AD 13 to date the 1st year would not only be unprecedented, it would 1. slight Augustus, 2. over recognize Tiberius, and 3. be about as far from the truth of when his first year was as can be. Finally, Martin needs the slop factor to to construct a less than parsimonious chronology. The gymnastics are quite unnecessary, and there is no reason that common sense cannot prevail. The Jewish Tishri year simply ran parallel to the Roman annual year fairly close.
In spite of this, it will not be difficult to determine that Luke was using the ordinary method of dating Tiberius’ 15th year as was common among easterners in the Empire. […] Thus, the whole first year was from Tishri One in C.E. 13 to Tishri One in C.E. 14. Consequently, Tiberius’ 15th year would have been from Tishri One in C.E. 27 to Tishri One in C.E. 28.
The Star of Bethlehem, chapter 5. Emphasis mine.
Martin has passed away, so he cannot respond to me. However, the remarks only serve to damage his credibility. Antedating the first year of Tiberius to a Tishri year before the Roman Senate actually appointed him Emperor is anything but ordinary or common among easterners. It is totally without precedent. Even in the case of Artaxerxes I succeeding Xerxes, Xerxes had died in month V , and therefore Tishri 1 of the following VIIth month marked the beginning of year 1 on the Jewish reckoning. The Persians delayed the 1st year till the following Nisan 1. But never does a year start before the previous ruler dies as an ordinary method, unless there is some compelling legal reason as in the case of Herod Antipas, which was exceptional. As Lewin proved, even the Romans did not antedate the year to Jan. 1 AD 14. Also problematic is that new Roman coins would be circulating around Judea stamped with a year number one lower than a Judean unofficial reckoning, and that these coins would also bear the year of the Actian Era. This is anything but ordinary or common sense. And never in any other section of biblical chronology is such a reckless example of antedating found. Martin’s position can be appreciated, however, in view of the fact that he needs to smash the chronology together to make his AD 30 target date for the crucifixion.
If Jesus was about 30 years old near the commencement of the emperor’s 15th year (as reckoned by people in the east), then His birth was in 3 B.C.E.
The Star of Bethlehem, chapter 5. Emphasis mine.
Martin has just placed the inception of the 15th year of Tiberius at AD 27, on Tishri 1. Now he claims that putting the 30th year of age of Messiah near this point evidence for 3 BC. Well it can only be near it if it is nearer to nothing else. And as Martin agrees that the birth date is on Tishri 1, he is implying that Tishri 1, AD 27 was his 30th birthday. But he seems to want to avoid saying this so directly. I think I know the reason why. He needs to fit the whole ministry between Tishri 27 and Nisan 30. Let us now reckon backwards. The age is for Tishri 1 each year.
AD: 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15
AGE: 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18
AD BC BC BC BC
AD: 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 01 02 03 04
AGE: 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 00
Confirm the calculation this way:
27-30: subtract 30: -3:0. /-3/ astronomical (or number line) stands for 4 BC. Martin’s statements imply that his birth was in 4 BC. If on the other hand, Martin reckoned his assumptions correctly, then he would have to assign Tishri 1, AD 28 to the 30th birth day, the end of his assumed 15th year. In that case, he would have trouble fitting Messiah’s ministry into the Passover of AD 29 and AD 30, and have the crucifixion in AD 30. John’s three passovers would kill his theory. He has space for only two. It is a foregone conclusion that Martin’s assumptions are self contradictory.
It is well known that the Roman Senate voted Caesar Augutus Pater Patriae “Father of the Country” on 5 February 2 BC. Let us see what Martin says about the Census of Quirinius.
This registration took place in 3 B.C.E. Lewin points out that Augustus was already being called the Pater Patriae on one or two inscriptions by 3 B.C.E (Fasti Sacri 135). In late 3 B.C.E. he was offered the title by a deputation of people who met him at Antium 5 though he refused it until the Senate bestowed it upon him on February 5, 2 B.C.E. (the Day of Concord). This is good evidence that “all the Roman people” must have started to give him this most prestigious title sometime in 3 B.C.E.
by 3 B.C.E. is misleading. Lewin simply quotes the inscriptions in Latin, and their sources in 3 BC with no remarks of his own. I located the inscriptions in Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, edited by Hermann Dessau, with commentary that was lacking in Lewin’s citations, and an additional inscription. Catalogue number 96:
imp. Caesari Augusto divi f. | pontufici max., trib. potest. XIIX1, | cos. XI, patri patriae2, d. d. Footnote #2 goes as follows,
Patris patriae appellationem admisit Augustus a senatu populoque Romano ita appellatus in tertio decimo consulatu, id est a. 752 (mon. Anc. 6,24; Dio 55,10), d. 5 Febr. (fast. Praen., cf. C. I. p. 386), attamen etiam antea saepe eum ita vocatum esse ait Dio (l.c.) et confirmant tituli. Footnote #1 states that XIIX could mean 748/9 AUC corresponding to 5 or 6 BC. Footnote #2 translates,
Father of the Country, appellation admitted Augustus by the Senate of the Roman people; so called in the thirteenth consulship, that is 752 AUC [2 BC], 5 February. However, even before this, so called, are often said to be, and confirmed titles. The note is best explained by the citation of Dio Cassius. So lets go to book 55,10 and see what he says,
He also was given the strict right to the title of ‘Father’; for hitherto he had merely been addressed by that title without the formality of a decree. This then explains the inscriptions. Someone had inscribed the title before it was officially given to him.
#100 reads, “Pater patriae | Imp. Caesar divi f. | Augustus pontifex | maxumus, cos. XII, | cos. designatus XIII, | imp. XIIII, tribunic. | [p]otestat. XX[I]1” The relevant part of the footnote says, “Pater patriae postea adiectum, cum Augustus hanc appellationem reciperet a. 752 (cf. ad N. 96). Father of the country later added, when Augustus received this appellation AUC 752 [2 BC].
#101, “imp. Caesari | Aug. | parenti patriae.” Note: “Patriae parens cum dicitur Augustus, non pater videtur titulus scriptus ante annum 752 quo patris patriae appellationem sollemnem recepit.” Country Father when said Augustus not the father; apparently title written before the year 752 [2 BC] wherein the father of the country appellation was solemnly received.
The statement by Dio Cassius explains the seemingly anachronistic use of the title. Also Martin’s admission of an incident where Caesar refused the title suggests strongly that nothing was imposed on the people by way of required formality until the decree of the Senate on 5 Feb. 2 BC. Martin’s conclusion that all the people gave him the title before the decree is overstated.
More than that, a Paphlagonian inscription shows that an oath of obedience was required of all Roman citizens and non-citizens in exactly the same year, in 3 B.C.E.
Firstly, oaths were being administered all the time somewhere in the Roman Empire. So any supporting evidence of this oath for the Luke decree depends entirely on the words, “all Roman citizens and non-citizens”. This is not exactly what the decree says. Martin says ‘all’. The word ‘all’ is not in the relevant sentence:
In the time of emperor Caesar Augustus, son of a god, during the twelfth consulship, in the third year, on the day before the Nones of March, in Gangris in . . . oath that was completed by the inhabitants of Paphlagonia and the . . . R[omans] . . . engaged in business (pragmateuomenoi) alongside them.
ἀπὸ Αὐτοκράτορος Καίσ[αρος] | θεοῦ υἱοῦ Σεβαστοῦ ὑπατεύ[σαντος τὸ] | δωδέκατον ἔτους τρίτου, π[ροτέραι] | νωνῶν Μαρτίων ἐν Γάνγροις ἐν [κ]ά[στροις(?), ὅρ]||κος ὁ τελεσθ[εὶς ὑ]πὸ τῶ[ν] κατοικ[ούντων Πα]|φλαγονία[ν καὶ τῶν πραγ]ματευομ[ένων πα]|ρ’ αὐτοῖς Ῥ[ωμαίων] (Neapolis (Galatia, Asia Minor). IGR III 137 = Franz Cumont, “Inscription grecque de Vézir-Keupru dans l’ancienne Paphlagonie (Asie Mineure),” Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 44 (1900) 687–691 = OGIS 532 = PHI 265936 = ID# 13519; 3 BCE). Notice that it does not say all Romans. A good deal of the inscription is reconstructed from guesswork. Note the [ ] sections in the Greek text, which is not reflected in the provided English translation. I have tagged the word “Romans” to show that even that word is interpreted from just one intact letter. It is probably correct, but what is for sure is that the word ALL does not appear in this description. And it appears that the oath was limited to certain Romans, perhaps such as were citizens, but kin to the inhabitants of Paphlagonia. Oaths were often required to assure the security of an area, and the assistance of the oath takers in case of conflict. It is pure speculation to suppose this has anything to do with the enrollment of Quirinius. And, it in fact doesn’t because the chronology works out for 2 BC.
Moses of Khorene, the early Armenian historian, quoted sources which related that the census mentioned by Luke was also administered by Roman agents in Armenia (a neighbor country to Paphlagonia) in 3 B.C.E. and the wording of Moses of Khorene about the event was very similar to that of the Paphlagonian inscription. Orosius in the 5th century also said that in 3 B.C.E. an oath/census was commanded of all nations at the time Augustus was honored as “the first of all men” ― an appropriate description of the title Pater Patriae. Remarkably, Orosius said this was the Empire-wide census mentioned by Luke in his Gospel.
This the case of a source centuries dislocated from Luke. Movses Khorenatsi (ca. 410-490s AD) is way too far removed to be considered a primary source. Khorenatsi may have calculated his date and then associated the decree just as Martin did. Oriosius need not be believed either. He is way too far dislocated from the scene, and may have calculated the date as the Eastern Church Fathers who argue for Jan 6. 2 BC by miscalculating the priestly courses. Scholars are constantly making the wrong associations. The only evidence that counts is hard primary evidence.
It may well be that the Pater Patriae vote has little to do with the inventory of the provinces. It may even be the case that the inventory started before the Pater Patriae decree on 5 Feb. 2 BC. We simply do not know. The key point is when Quirinius was Governor of Syria. And one thing is clear. And Martin has to agree with this logically because he correctly has the death of Herod in 1 BC. Before the summer of 2 BC, the governor of Syria was Sentius Saturnius, and not Quirinius. Luke would not have upstaged Saturninus. And Josephus still has Saturninus on the job after Antipater was sent to Rome, which took place not in 3 BC, or in the winter of 2 BC, but in the spring of 2 BC. There is only a small window in the summer of 2 BC to put Quirinius between Saturninus and Varus. That Josephus did not mention Quirinius is Josephus’ mistake. But between those two is where Quirinius goes. The inscription of Aemilius Secundus and the Titulus Tiburtinus both indicate that Quirinius was a full governor of Syria, and not some kind of deputy. He cannot be a deputy, because it ended up on Secundus’ epitaph, and his own epitaph.
The priestly courses began their administrations on the Sabbath near the first of Nisan.
Martin’s system works, but it is an ad hoc system. Martin plots his priestly courses from Nisan, and also skips a week at the three pilgrim festivals. Such a method ensures that in some years only divisions 1-24, and then 1-23 will get to serve, leaving out the second service of division 24. And in other years, some divisions will serve three times, and then get to serve again only a few weeks later when the courses restart in Nisan. Starting the courses in Nisan is also complicated by the fact that Adar II may only be determined on the 13th new moon. So then who would serve the previous week? Skipping weeks when feasts fall in the middle of weeks is very disorderly, and voids a simple system of counting 1-24. Martin’s proposed system of divisions contradicts Deut. 18:6-8 which states that all priests are to have an equal share in the proceeds of the offerings. Only a system of continuous rotations can meet this Scriptural criteria. It also contradicts key passages in Chronicles showing that the divisions began in the second week of Tishri when the First Temple was dedicated. See my article, The Inception of the Priestly Divisions. Martin’s system contradicts the note in Seder Olam that the Second Temple was destroyed on 9 Av, on a Sunday, when the first division was scheduled to serve. Martin’s system also contradicts the Qumran text 4Q320 and other documents from the Dead Sea Scrolls. 4Q320 starts in Nisan with division #22, and not division 1. All of this evidence against Martin’s ad hoc system agrees with a continuous rotation of divisions, as explained in the above article.
According to the continuous rotation system, Martin’s 3 BC birth date is unworkable. That is why he needs the ad hoc Nisan theory. The 8th division served from Aug 4, 4 BC to Aug 11, 4BC. This can be checked using the formula for the Second Temple:
[(JD+1)/7] + 3 MOD 24 + 1. The Julian date for August 5 is
[(1720179+1)/7] + 3 MOD 24 + 1 = 8. Zechariah would have come off of his service that year on Aug 12 (19 Av, JD 1720186). The shortest time possible from the conception of John to the birth of Messiah is 5 months and 266 days (above article), or 413 days. 266 days is 9 months (266/29.5 = 9 months). So the shortest time from the conception of John to the birth of Messiah is 14 months.
Simply count off 14 months to see if Martin can hit the target date. It would be easier to add 413 days to the Julian date Zechariah came off his service. Result:
1720599 = Sept. 29, 3 BC. Martin’s date of Sept 11, 3 BC is 18 days premature. The Scripture, however, forbids a premature birth. Luke states the days of Miryam were fulfilled (Luke 2:6).
A Cross Examination of Kenneth Doig
This is based on chapter 12 of Doig’s NT chronology, THE FIFTEENTH YEAR OF TIBERIUS.
Tiberius Caesar succeeded to ruler of the empire after the death of Caesar Augustus on August 19, 14 CE.
But this was only the de facto position. He only accepted de iure the Senate’s offer of the position of head of state on Sept. 17, AD 14, and so only legally became Emperor after his appointment. This is important point because Tishri 1, AD 14 occurred on September 15 or possibly even September 16. The new moon might not have been seen on the evening of Sept 14th, but it would have certainly been seen on Sept. 15th. So the new moon day may have been either 15 September or 16 September. Tiberius’ reign, therefore, almost exactly matches the Judean Tishri epoch, and would make counting his years in Judea easy. Since the legal appointment of Tiberius clearly comes after Tishri 1, and the death of Augustus was before it, there is no question of an uncounted accession year, and no possibility of back dating the beginning of the reign to Jan. 1, AD 14.
These two exact numbers have led commentators to a broad range of possible times for the beginning of John's ministry. The deviation has been caused by a lack of exact knowledge of the calendar system Luke was using. Luke’s calendar and his reckoning of the reigns of kings is the controlling factor, not how Tiberius or the Romans reckoned his reign.
The deviation is not caused in the first place by a lack of knowledge, but by a rejection of the results obtained from the only information that exists. And this information contradicts the chronological paradigm evolved by the Roman Church to defend the Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection. Chronology done from that point of view is an exercise in deception, and a hiding of the reasons for the wide differences in teaching about when Tiberius’ reign began. The real reason is the rejection of the Law and the Prophets, and the ignorance that results from not listening to God. We see this at once in Doig’s next remark:
As with his other timed references, Luke, a Greek, was using the Syro-Macedonian calendar familiar to Theophilus, the Greek recipient of his letters in Antioch. This calendar system led to the dating of the Annunciation in the “sixth month” on March 25, coinciding with the appearance of the first nova, or Star of the Magi.
The Syro-Macedonian calendar was used by the Syrian Greeks. It counts the first month starting in the fall of the year. As a proselyte Jew, Luke could not write Scripture and teach this calendar, because Yahweh Almighty commanded that the first month be the month of Passover (Exodus 12:1-3), and this occurs in the spring. The Greek calendar was luni-solar, but it timed its first month after the fall equinox. It might be o.k. to use a pagan calendar for double dating so long as it is stated which calendar is being used, but only in that case. If it is not specified in Scripture, then it must be assumed that the ordinary Scriptural calendar is being used. Josephus uses Syrio-Macedonian month names, but he is careful to tell us that Xanthicus correlates with the first month of the Biblical Year. The Macedonian calendar was based on the sighted new moon, but their month numbering was off, and so also the beginning of its year.
The Jews, of course, counted years for kings from Tishri 1. Invariably, however, the first month of the Greeks was after Tishri 1. While it is true that the Syrian calendar was used widely, so also was the Roman calendar by the Romans, and the Scriptural calendar by the Jews. The Scriptural calendar was viewed by the Jews as the only truly correct calendar. And that is our view here. So it does not matter how popular a pagan calendar is in the surrounding culture. It is the point of view of the Biblical writer that counts, and not the competition.
Doig’s ad hoc error takes him in this direction,
Tiberius became Caesar on August 19, 14, and in that year Dios 1 fell on October 15. Thus, his first regnal year according to the Syro-Macedonian calendar would be from Dios 1, or October 25, 13 until October 14, 14. Luke would have measured the fifteen years from that year one by non-accession, or inclusive, reckoning. Thus, the “fifteenth year” fell from October 20, 27 to October 9, 28. According to Luke’s Syro-Macedonian reckoning John the Baptist began his ministry between these two dates. This falls in line with the arrival of Pontius Pilate by the autumn of 27. The earliest first Passover of Jesus’ ministry would have been in 28.
By forcing the start of Tiberius’ reign before the Greek new year, Doig manages to eke out a very short first year lasting only about 1½ months. Even this is questionable. For it could have been computed according to accession year rules, whereby the old year is accounted to Augustus, and the Greek year beginning after Dios 1 is accounted as Tiberius’ first. This in fact would be more normal. By accession rules, the first year would be October 15, AD 14 to October 3, AD 15. I have correlated the Greek new year to month VIII of the Scripture. Finegan states,
The beginning point was presumably at the new moon after the autumnal equinox, hence about the end of September. (§116) Some versions of the Greek calendar followed the month ordering of the Babylonians. There was even an Egyptian version of it. While this is all very interesting, the vagaries of the Greek calendar need not be sorted out.
By shifting Tiberius’ first year one year earlier, or out of phase with his actual rule, and then by compacting down John’s ministry, he manages to come up with AD 28 as the first Passover of John, and clearly his intent is to have only three Passovers and a two year ministry for Jesus and end up in AD 30 for the crucifixion, wherein lies his target Friday date for the crucifixion!
Since Doig’s chronology puts the birth of Jesus on 25 December, 5 BC, the date is 24 Tebeth. He states it as 25 Kislev implying he intercalated that year late. This makes the anniversary date, 25 Kislev, December 13 in AD 27. This means his Jan. 6, AD 28 date for the baptism is in the 31st year. He states,
This date is supported by an understanding of Luke’s usage of Jesus being “about thirty years” old at that time, and the thirty years are exact by the Jewish or Syro-Macedonian calendars. No Mr. Doig, it is not exact. Even if Doig were to correct his intercalation mistake (by putting the birth on 24 Tebeth, he would be at the end of the 30th year, and Luke could not have stated he was “almost thirty.” He would have had to say “almost thirty-one.” I think the reason he likes the intercalation mistake is the equivalence of 25 December with 25 Kislev. However, even that match is not exact.