Is the Bible just a bunch of fables? We hear so many people say that the Bible is a mere collection of myths and legends. They say that what’s written in the Scriptures is no more true than the stories about gods such as Jupiter, Venus, and Thor. Really?
Here’s specific example. When we read Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, we find this curious story about a taxation/census that was instituted during the time of Mary’s pregnancy. It’s only mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. The other Gospels say nothing about this census.
And for hundreds and hundreds of years, scholars and historians told us that there is nothing in secular history to back up this story. They said this census account was a hoax—no different than all the many, many internet hoaxes that are out there today. But is that true?
Welcome to Connecting History and the Bible. I’m Wes White of cgi.org. Let’s go to Chicago! (Whoosh)
I’m standing in front of the University of Chicago not far from White Sox Park.
Up until, 1940 if you were a Christian reading the NT--say around the year 500 AD or around the year 1000 AD or around the year 1500 AD-- you could only believe the story of Luke’s census based on your faith in the validity of the NT. There was no historical evidence to back it up. And this lack of historical evidence was a common argument against the fulfillment of the Bethlehem birth of Jesus as prophesied in the Old Testament book of Micah.
Because it was in 1940 that a professor by named Matthew Spinka published an astounding discovery. It was printed in the University of Chicago Press. Professor Spinka published his translation of the “Chronicle of John Malalas.” Malalas was a historian of the city of Antioch Greece during the years around 500 AD. And here’s what John Malalas wrote over 1500 years ago:
In the 39th year and 10 month of [Augustus’] reign he commanded the taking of a census of all his lands, including all that the Romans held… And all the earth under the Romans was registered by Eumenes and Attalus, the Roman senators.”
Using the October to October calendar Malalas used, that dates the issuance of this decree to somewhere around 5 B.C on the Roman calendar. And 5 BSis is right around the time of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem! No one believes that Jesus was born in the year 0. There’s no such thing as year 0.
Once this information was published in 1940 Christians no longer had to take the census story of Luke on faith. It is now established fact that the census happened. Today, even the agnostic and atheistic scholars and historians have to admit that Luke’s account of the census was correct. The Bible is true. And every day archeology uncovers evidence backing up what’s written in Scripture.
Watch this full length sermon to learn more.