A Survey of Schürer’s Challenges to the Lukan Census – 4

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series A Survey of Schürer’s Challenges to the Lukan Census

3.  A Roman Census in Judea?

Schürer notes that a Roman census with the purpose of imposing a Roman tax would not have occurred in Judaea. For Schürer, the sovereignty extended to client kings precluded direct Roman intervention over administrative matters.12 However, a number of scholars question Schürer, pointing out that evidence from Josephus strongly suggests Augustus exercised considerable control over Judaea, displaying a personal interest in Herod’s affairs and interceding when he was displeased, or concerned, about Herod’s actions.3 For Rome, client kingdoms were clearly meant to temporarily serve as such. Primarily occupying Rome’s borders in order to buffer against frontier lawlessness, once sufficiently ‘Romanized’ these client kingdoms were to be annexed into the Empire.4

While scholars are still undecided over Schürer’s third challenge, conservative scholarship finds it difficult to dismiss that Rome exercised a much more restricted governance of its client kingdoms than Schürer allows.

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  1. Schürer, ‘History’, p. 122. []
  2. The Roman historian Dio Cassius wrote that ‘Augustus administered the subject territory {the province of Syria -author} according to the customs of the Romans, but permitted the allied nations to be governed in their own traditional manner…’, ‘Roman History’, Vol. 6, Book 54, 9, 1. []
  3. Schürer himself provides a good synopsis of this view, which has changed little in the last century, ‘History’, pp. 122-7. []
  4. Pearson, ‘The Lucan Censuses, Revisited’, CBQ 61, pp. 262-282, 267, f15; cf. Salmon, ‘A History of the Roman World from 30 B.C. to A.D. 138’, pp. 104-5 (2004). []

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