Thank you all for the wonderful feedback about my Heart of the Matter article. I appreciate your kind words very, very much.
Yet, I left people hanging.
So here I will quickly, and not very formally, address the issues raised in my Bible class all those years ago. I went looking for my notes so I could provide references and double check my information, but I couldn't find them. They are buried somewhere that isn't with the rest of my college Bible notes. Sorry--this is going to be from memory (and if my prof. reads this, he'll be able to see how effective his class was in promoting long-term retention. Please don't change my grade <smile>).
1. No record of the census despite historical record of other censuses at this time.
It is likely that there were many censuses taken on a regular basis. The fact that we do not have record of every single one of them is to be expected. And, if we assume the Bible to be historically accurate (which we can with good reason*), then we really do have historical record of the census.
2. Quirinius is called a "governor" but we know he was not at this time.
An equally legitimate rendering/translation of the original word could be "leader". And while Quirinius was not a governor yet, he was involved in local leadership. ...I'm pretty sure there was another point to this, but it has slipped my mind. (I wish I had found my notes.)
3. The Romans did not require people to register in their home town, but Joseph takes Mary to Bethlehem.
The Romans didn't care where people registered, just that they did. However, lineage is very important to the Jews, so they would voluntarily travel to their home towns to keep the records straight.
So, there you have it. The answers to those three problems.
But this does beg the question: Where do we go if don't know the answer to a question?
Know of any great Bible reference material? I currently use the IVP Bible Background Commentary and Strong's. What else is good out there? I'm always looking for more great resources.
Thanks again for reading and commenting on my article!
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father
*Luke has shown himself to be an excellent historian in many other passages (the Bible has also shown itself to be historically reliable), thus the logic is that if he has shown himself accurate time and time again, he is likely to be right here as well.