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Governor of Syria a second term which began in 6 A.D. As St. Luke does not distinguish one or other of these two periods of rule by Quirinius over Syria, we may take him as referring only generally to the whole period of about 20 years during which Quirinius was coming and going on government duties in and around Syria. In fact as St. Luke's Greek does not use the noun 'governor' but the participle 'governing', his words seem best translated as ‘This was a census when Quirinius was governing Syria.’ 6

St. Luke (3:1) tells us that St. John the Baptist began to preach ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.’ Now the ‘first year’ of the Emperor Tiberius began with the death of his predecessor, the Emperor Augustus, on 19 August, 14 A.D. In the Eastern calendar his ‘second year’ began on about 1 October, 14 A.D. Tiberius’ ‘fifteenth year’ (in the Eastern calendar) was therefore c. 1 October 27 to c. 1 October 28. St. Luke’s use of the Eastern (rather than the Roman) calendar reflects the fact that he was writing his Gospel at Antioch in 44 rather than later at Rome in the early 60’s. (See chapter 3, note to paragraph 10.) Under Jewish Rabbinical law, no man was permitted to teach or preach until he had completed thirty years of age. (The Rabbis applied to themselves the minimum age limit of thirty years set (in Numbers 4:3) for those Levites who were to be eligible to serve at the altar.) Our Lord therefore had to wait until after his thirtieth birthday before He was of eligible age and acceptable as a preacher in Israel. St. Luke (3:23) tells us that ‘When He began to teach Jesus was about thirty years old.’ On 25 December 27 A.D. He completed His thirty-first year. On 6 January 28, He was baptised by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River. In the first centuries the Eastern churches had celebrated the Nativity, the visit of the Magi, His Baptism and His first miracle (at Cana) all on 6 January in a feast to celebrate the ‘divine manifestation’, the Epiphany. Of these only His Baptism was a public event before many witnesses. It seems then we should accept the 6 January as the date of the actual occurrence of His Baptism in the Jordan. 7

After His forty days fast in the wilderness, He dramatically began His public life just before the Passover of 28 with His first Cleansing of the Temple. This is confirmed by the fact that St. John tells us that the Jews said to Him at the time: ‘It is forty-six years that the Temple has been rebuilt’ (2:20). According to Josephus (Antiquities, 15.11.1) King Herod began rebuilding the Temple in the winter of his eighteenth year, i.e. 20/19 B.C. The 46th year after 20 BC was 28 AD (1 BC was followed by 1 AD. There was no year 0!) ‘I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I am constrained until it be accomplished!’ Our Lord wasted no time. He began His public life as soon as He was clearly of eligible age. His public life was extremely brief – spanning hardly more than the two years which elapsed between the three Passovers of 28, 29 and 30 AD. From astronomical data and official records we know that the Passover fell on 18 April in 29 and 8 April in 30. At the Passover of 29 Jesus prefigured the Eucharist when He fed the 5,000 by the Sea of Gallilee. At last, on Holy Thursday night 6 April 30 He instituted the Priesthood and Eucharist of His

How the Apostles Wrote the New Testament  
How the Apostles Wrote the New Testament  

This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...

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