Bible Timeline: The Census When Jesus Was Born

Was there a census at the time of Christ’s birth?
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Yes, there is a reference to a census at about the time of Christ’s birth that we show as 4BC on our Bible Timeline based on Ussher’s Chronology.  Justin Martyr and Tertullian say that this census can be verified in the archives in Rome. Even though these archives no longer exist, the fact that these contemporaries appealed to them suggests that they did exist at the time. In the l00’s AD, these men and others had access to this information, and their writings could easily have been refuted if it were not so.  ( )In addition, there is actual mention of Jesus Christ from contemporary historians:  The Roman historian Tacitus writing between 115-117 A.D. had this to say:
“They got their name from Christ, who was executed by sentence of the procurator Pilate
“They got their name from Christ, who was executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius the reign of Tiberius. That checked the pernicious superstition for a short time, but it broke out afresh-not only in Judea, where the plague first arose. But in Rome itself, where all the horrible and shameful things in the world collect and find a home.” From his Annals, xv. 44.
Here is a pagan historian, hostile to Christianity, who had access to records about what happened to Jesus Christ. The mention of Jesus can also be found in Jewish Rabbinical writings from what is known as the Tannaitic period, between 70-200 A.D. In Sanhedrin 43a it says:
“Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the Herald had cried, ‘He is being led out for stoning, because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy. Whoever has anything to say in his defence, let him come and declare it.’ As nothing was brought forward in his defence, he was hanged on Passover Eve.”That there is any mention of Jesus at all is unusual.  As far as the Roman world was concerned, Jesus was a nobody who lived in an insignificant province, sentenced to death by a minor procurator.

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2 comments… add one

  • Yes these census had been made after the death of Herod, when dispute came up about splitting his former kingdom between his heirs and Rome. Also there was a census made by Rome in the Eastern provinces, where it was calculated that the Jews represented about 25% of the population of the empire there. The census in Judea was started in 6 CE, when Judea became a Roman province as well. These censuses were motivated by Rome greed to tax their new “subjects”. So the census in Judea caused a first step towards the great revolt, and the creation of rebellious factions such as the Zealots. If interested, see more details at

  • What is meant when they speak of the Rapture,?What happens at that time?

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