Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. :2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) :3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. :4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) :5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
The evidence shows that this is something that the Romans actually did.
The famous P. Lond. 904, discussed in F. Kenyon and H. Bell Greek Papyri in the British Museum 3 (1907), p. 125 (with plate 30), and in George Milligan Greek Papyri (1910) pp. 72-3. Rostovtzeff cites other evidence proving that there was an idea of a return to the idia, "place of origin," employed in some censuses conducted in the east, cf. Studien zur Geschichte des römischen Kolonates, pp. 305 ff. Also, cf. Rosen, op. cit., n. 10.2.
Copyright 2001 - Douglas Gilliland