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Holman Bible Dictionary
Luke's reference to Quirinius as governor during the nativity has caused some scholars to question Lucan historical accuracy. It is established that Quirinius was legate in Syria from A.D. 6-9, but this date is far too late for Jesus' birth, which occurred prior to the death of Herod the Great who died in 4 B.C. Luke's historical reference seems in direct conflict with non-biblical sources establishing that either Saturninus (9-7 B.C.) or Varus (6-4 B.C.) was legate of Syria during Christ's birth.
The discovery of an ancient inscription has shown that a legate fitting the description of Quirinius served two different times in Syria. Apparently the nativity occurred during Quirinius' first tenure in Syria as legate with primary responsibilities for military affairs, while Varus was the legate handling civil matters. Quirinius served a second term in A.D. 6-9.
This solution affirms Lukan accuracy without overlooking other known historical sources.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Cyrenius'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/c/cyrenius.html. 1991.