Joseph and Mary at the Census

This excellent frescoe is another in my collection from the Chora Church in Istanbul. According to the Gospels (Luke 2: 1-3), a census was held and each man was required to present himself in his own city. Joseph according to tradition was a Bethlehemite and travelled thence with Mary. Luke has it that this was in the rule of Augustus Cæsar and that Herod the Great yet ruled (until 4 CE?). Luke further claims that at the time Quirinius (or Cyrenius) was governor in Syria. Reliable scholarship shows that Quirinius was never Governor during this period (Jesus - A.N.Wilson). Modern liberal Christian theologians are beginning to question seriously, and more importantly, publicly, the historicity of the Gospels as they appear to be. The learned view that appears to be crystallizing is one that they were constructed or reconstructed by later editors for purely theological motives. A careful study of the four synoptic Gospels shows a multitude of conflicting and contradicting "facts". This in no way can detract from the impact or moral message that the teachings of Jesus has justly had on the world and humanity.

The location of this fresco inside the church can be found on the plan of the church here at No. 3.
In spite of reliable historical evidence to the contrary, the seated figure is nevertheless identified as being that of Quirinius.

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