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
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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