Cyrenius in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

(See CENSUS.) Publius Sulpicius Quirinus (not Quirinius). Consul 12 B.C., made governor of Syria after Archelaus' banishment, A.D. 6 (Josephus, Ant. 17:13, section 5). He was directed to make a census or "enrollment" of property (Luke 2:2, apografee) in Syria and Judaea. Varus was governor up to the end of 4 B.C. Volusius Saturninus was governor (we know from an Antioch coin) A.D. 4 or 5. In the interval between Varus' governorship ending 4 B.C. and Volus. Saturninus' government A.D. 4 falls the census (Luke 2:2). Quirinus, as having been consul 12 B.C., must have had a proconsular province subsequently. A. W. Zumpt shows by an exhaustive reasoning that Cilicia was the only province that could have been his, and that Syria was at this time attached to Cilicia. Quirinus was rector or adviser to Caius Caesar when holding Armenia (Tacitus, Ann. 3:48). This cannot have been during Quirinus' governorship of Syria in 6 B.C., for Caius Caesar died A.D. 4, and the nearness of Syria to Armenia was probably a reason for choosing Qurinus, Syria's governor, to be the young prince's adviser. He must then have had a first governorship, 4 B.C. to 1 B.C., when he was succeeded by M. Lollius. Probably in Luke 2:2 the "first" implies that "the first enrollment" or registration of persons and families was in Quirinus' first government; intimating indirectly that there was a second enrollment which carried into effect the taxation ultimately contemplated by the previous enrollment. The second enrollment we know from Josephus (Ant. 18:1) was to ascertain the resources. Cyrenius is called therefore an "appraiser" of these. Tacitus (Annals 3:48) records that the emperor Tiberius asked for Qairinus the honor of a public funeral from the senate. He represents him as unpopular because of his meanness and undue power in old age. It was during his first governorship of Cilicia and Syria that he conquered the Homonadenses of Cilicia, and obtained the insignia of a triumph. A breviarium of the empire was ordered by Augustus (Tacitus, Annals 1:11), giving a return of its population and resources. The enrollment in Luke 2:1-2 perhaps was connected with this, "all the world" meaning the whole Roman empire.

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