My concerns were once political in their nature. My quest for truth, attempting to find an understanding of the world and peace within the realms of Classical Liberalism ultimately has led me to reject such a path, and instead, search for righteousness.

My collegiate work has been in classical history, which has grounded me in an understanding that each person defines a version of the world by their own metaphysical understanding. Secular Humanism operates within the same realm as Christianity and they despise us for it.

I am a pilgrim for Christ in this world. I have been examining many contemporary documents of this modern world with great concern for the moral souls of those who reside in it. I ask all pilgrims for Christ to aid the call and stand up to the post-modern world that seeks to replace moral behavior for sins of the flesh.

It will not be easy, as Liberalism in the West has become its true religion, we will be called bigots-their word for heretics; nonetheless, we are heretics to their religion.

Be not afraid.

– Philip Augustine

May 2nd, 2016

Dear Charity of Christ,

I have built some great friendships among the Catholic blogging community, and after some consideration have decided to create a forum to share Catholic ideas and faith amongst ourselves. The forum will be a place where both Traditional Catholics and those who profess adherence to Vatican II will participate with the content of the blog. I ask that we all do our best to promote conversation amongst ourselves and support for our Catholic culture.



  1. Phadde2/Philip, it seems your comment to me is hung up in the moderation cue over at AATW – probably because of the length. Interesting thoughts and I hope you draw a good following here. You might want to become an author of some posts at AATW and then mirror them here as well. I’m sure Chalcedon would appreciate more substantial input from those of us who contribute there. Good to hear from you.


    1. Thank you for your kind words. It would certainly be a honor to write to AATW’s audience. I hope I get a good following as well; however, I think wisdom tells me that all I need is to reach one person. How profound was it for me to sit and speak to that Orthodox Christian, Peter, in that unusual place.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed. Rarely did I lose a job since becoming Catholic before I would find a job and find those who were anxious to hear about the faith: and a few of them converting. We just don’t know why things happen as they do . . . but we need only believe we are needed most where we have been put.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lord Jesus, bless the mother of Phillip Augustine. These diseases that harm another’s life were never a part of your will which is why you came and died and rose again for us and with us so that the world may be restored to your former glory. Give Phillip Augustine’s mother strength as she goes through this difficult battle with cancer as you gave Mother strength to battle it and as you gave my twin, my best friend from high school, Teresa, strength to battle this disease. This I offer you with the prayers of your Mother the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, the Blessed St Michael the Archangel, Blessed St John the Baptist, and all the saints in Heaven. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I see we probably have little in common intellectually or spiritually Mr. Augustine, though as humans we have much. I suspect we could have a lot in common regarding Christian apologetics, theology, and earliest church origins and history. Nevertheless, in the spirit of tolerance, understanding, and basic universal kindness, I will hereafter withhold my comments and simply browse, read, scan sometimes, and consider from afar.

    Well wishes for you in your endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the interest. This blog is my personal blog, which as gotten less attention as of late. However, the blog where I have done most of my posting is here: https://jessicahof.wordpress.com/

      It’s of many different Christian schools of thought; however, for the most part still orthodox Christianity. It’s going fairly strong for 5+ years, you may find it more intriguing.


    2. I do have one question.

      Have you ever read or know about a book called The Grammar of Assent by John Henry Newman? Basically the premise of the book is that most of what we know about anything in the world is nothing more than a leap of faith that even the most skeptical of skeptic displays more faith than they realize. The famous example that Newman gives is folks knowing that England is an Island, which, of course, unless one takes a boat and sails around the England, they assent to the fact that it is indeed an island. I still think even in our day and age of satellite imagery, his point of believing the map maker still holds true to satellite imagery. The other famous example is knowing who our Mother is because we have to believe that she our mother through her testimony, and unless we’re DNA analysts, we’d even have to believe them after the DNA tests.

      Anyway, you probably get the jest of his point. I’m familiar with some of your skeptical commenters on your blog, but from your comments, I take you as someone with intergrity, and would like to know your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hah! It is interestingly ironic that you bring that up Philip, if I may call you that. In order to open the discussion about knowledge and ignorance, I sometimes/often ask a person… “How do you know your exact birth time, birth date, and birth year?

        Much/most of what we “know” and don’t know (obviously) is relative to our parents, family, community, and personal experience. It certainly doesn’t have near as much to do with (weight) what we collect from others… or for that matter, what we collect from authors, teachers, or ancient scribes. 😉

        As a Marco Polo personality reincarnated (so to speak), I am quite fond of exposure to diversity of all sorts mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It is quite foolish to think one is perfectly (righteously?) born in the perfect place, in the perfect time, to teach forms of monistic truths without every experiencing the entire globe. The empirical evidence, from the subatomic to the macro-systemic, simply does not support such a paradigm.

        Thank you kindly Philip for reading some of my blog. I will continue with yours as well… from afar. 🙂


      2. Hello again Philip.

        I wanted to leave this invite for you and hope you will allow it and kindly keep it posted. Some bloggers won’t/haven’t for reasons known and unknown. I also hope for the sake of civil, informative, alternate (much more comprehensive) history that incorporates all extant sources of the 1st – 4th century CE Levant and Fertile Crescent — more critically the Hellenistic Roman Empire — including Independent or Non-Christian sources that reveal an entirely DIFFERENT narrative of “Christianity” or Christology, instead of just Judeo-Christian or Hellenist-Christian sourced tunnel-vison. Also included are Secular viewpoints about Theism/Monism, and a plethora of philosophical, ontological, etymological, agnotological, and epistemological arguments against Theism/Monism. I scrutinize and examine Christianity’s binary-forms of supernatural Revelation: General and Special.

        Where can this equitable, expansive work be found? A long, long Page on my blog under “My Library” called Why Christianity Will Always Fail. I warmly invite anyone, absolutely anyone to go read it (a few times!) in its entirety, including the many many support-links embedded for further, expanded, more secular-humanist knowledge and/or less common ignorance.

        Nonetheless, I respected your etiquette and viewpoint. Perhpas you’ll have adequate time to look over it. Thank you Philip.


      3. I briefly took a look, the material is expansive, so I would imagine and would tell anyone to look at any objection to Christianity on a case by case basis. I’m sure Professor Taboo will admit these objections have counter points, as I’ve recognize a several of the assertions.

        The one thing, I’ll note that I saw confirmation bias was mentioned, perhaps, we’re all for the most part stuck in our positions on these matters.

        But It’s good to hear from you again, my friend. I hope you are doing well.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you for taking a quick look Philip. It is indeed “expansive,” as it should be covering some 1.5 plus millenia or 13-centuries of history in that part of the ancient world. There is no escaping it if one genuinely desires to be equitable about the subject. But I knew it would be way too much for most — call it laziness, call it the path of least resistance, or just following the crowd until it no longer benefits the individual or community. These affects are quite human indeed. They are also responsible for human’s shortening forethought/foresight and what makes the annoying frustrating cliché “History always repeats itself” so very unnecessarily true. (sigh)

        Yes, there are familiar refutes (they still stand?) and there are newer ones too that I KNOW most all faith-followers and apologists alike are not familiar with. And I am aware that most all world religions, especially the (arrogant?) Abrahamic religions, have an answer for everything imaginable whether true, truthy, faithy, or false. And will in the future too! There’s ALWAYS an escape plan and secret hatch. Hahahaha. This I know — I use to be one of them. (wink)

        Confirmation bias is also interrelated to Mob-Herd Mentality and the Placebo-effect as well. That should be kept in mind. Over the last 60,000 to 100,000 years or more humans have been EXTREMELY gullible. Today, it manifests its embarrassing head in other forms.

        Thanks again Philip. I am well. I hope you are too Sir!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’d like to take a more extensive look, it will have to over some time and as I said case by case. Do I agree that there’s arrogance within the Abrahamic religions? Of course, it’s a fairly common trait amongst humans. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily articulate that idea of an escape plan, it’s natural for challenges to be met with a response. However, as you mention epistemology, I’m influenced by the Catholic intellect John Henry Newman in this regard from his work titled “An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.” The basis of the entire work is that most of what we come to know in our entirety is based on leaps of faith.

        Now, I do compare that with a bit of Hume’s rejection of Descarte’s idea that man is entirely rational in their decision. For example, I have no issue with your views and you posting them here to the degree that I believe ultimately humanity as a whole decides based more on emotion rather than logic. Of course, these thoughts necessitate a reflection on why I have my faith in God. The philosophy of Thomas Aquinas’ cosmology naturally appeal to my sensibilities; furthermore, Thomas articulates that discussions on the matter of theology between theist and non-theist must come to an understanding of theism itself. If there is no agreement then there is little else to be discussed about Jesus Christ, Trinity, and other Christian truth claims.

        Once there is this element established, one can discuss the truth claims of Christianity. For example, you posit many similarities that I would assert are false equivalence: eg. The “resurrection” of Horus narrative isn’t really a resurrection. Now, I’ve discussed with some other blogging non-theist the historical truths of the old testament but Christianity’s central truth is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So long as one feels confident on this point, the historical points are moot to their hears and perhaps due to their emotion assent to the truth.

        You state: Paul had an entirely different vision of salvation and resurrection greatly diverging from his abandoned Jewish heritage and that of the Jerusalem Church’s theology. It was also more suitable and attractive to Gentile Romans and how they understood gods.”

        Have you by chance heard of NT Wright’s new book on Paul? NT Wright makes the argument that Paul had no conversion in the traditional sense on the road of Damascus in the traditional sense but rather had to assent to the Messianic Jesus as a fulfillment of the Old Covenant. Wright argues that Paul message is one that can only be fulfilled in the story of the people of Israel.

        You also state: If Jesus of Nazareth had arrived (his 1st coming) in the 18th, 19th or 20th century when precision recording of major world events were eons more advanced than 1st century CE witnessing, reporting and recording, would the facts and details of his extraordinary incomparable acts, teaching, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection been more convincing, more believable than 40-80 years after the events?”

        Now, honestly, and my degree is in history, so studying the textual account of Acts and that it does not end with the death of Paul around 64 A.D. I am of the opinion that the Gospel of Luke and Act are written before this period. I believe that either Mark or Matthew, I’m still debating priority within myself, is written at the latest in 50 A.D. It’s true most secular scholars use the later dates because of the destruction of the temple but even if one doesn’t believe in prophecy or the Gospels, I would ask, “Would have taken a genius to figure out that eventually, the Romans were going to destroy the temple?”

        In other posts on this blog, I’ve asserted that synoptic gospels do, in fact, assert Christ’s divinity. In the Christmas posts, I discuss the census for property found in Egypt in the Roman Empire that requires those to travel.

        The problem with reading and responding is that I simply do not have enough time. Professor Taboo post appears well researched but I am not under the impression that I’ll change his mind, as I have assented that he’s come to his conclusion based on Hume’s emotional response.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Philip, I must thank you for your respectful verbage and how you construct your counter-points. Applause for you Sir. 🙂

        Indeed, “time” is a furocious predator sometimes with an insatiable appetite, eh? LOL None of us can ever know or study all possible relevant and plausibly relevant (in investigation) factors on a person/event so very long ago. It takes, at least in MY case years, many years. Then couple that with too many moral and familial daily obligations often make the task impossible to be an expert in multiple fields. This constraint applies to all, theists, secularists, Christians, and non-Christians alike. I’ve blogged about Agnotology and how pervious it truly is regarding Knowledge.

        Specifically, you address ONE contention on my page…

        I discuss the census for property found in Egypt in the Roman Empire that requires those to travel.

        Would you please share with me that source? I’m very curious to read it and study it closely. And it would be fantastic if there were MORE around the Roman Empire that copy it. Thank you Philip.


      7. Assuming this census becomes valid and agreed upon by ancient/antiquity scholars, did a Kata Oikian census extend anywhere beyond Egypt? Has there been any corroborating papyrus (like a papyrus Lond. 904, 20f.) to at least HINT that this was possibly done in other remote Roman provinces? Because otherwise this sort of census is highly irregular (to say the least) in Roman governing of the time. Thanks Philip.


      8. To be entirely honest, I believe this particular census from the minimal research I’ve done is the only known one. Otherwise, I would believe the sources would have provided other examples. But I see no point to not plainly state the obvious in that regard. I might be wrong, but if they had it, I’m sure I’d come across it.

        I do have a question for you if you could help? Is there a resource with ancient documents online to review know documents? When it comes to well known literary works, like Caesar’s Gaelic War, from my classical studies, I know there a few surviving manuscripts. Is there a vast collection of administrative records from the Roman Empire that one could peruse through?

        For example, if I do a simple search, I find: http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=1884

        The source talks about one of “late” Roman documents as one of the handful of administrative documents to survive to the present. I would surmise that most “tax” documents did not survive so I would surmise that it would be unfair to some degree to argue a census in regards to the Egyptian document would be “rare” simple because we’ll never have access to the vast majority of any administrative records.

        But again, maybe there is more information somewhere.


      9. Do you have access to Journal Research databases? As Alumni, I still can use my schools access to such journal sites. So, I did a bit of research at my university’s database page and came across this article on Roman Census Papyri: entitled:

        New light on Roman census papyri through semi-automated record linkage by:

        Saskia Hina, Dalia A. Condeb,c, and Adam Lenartc,d
        aFamily and Population Studies Group (FaPOS), Department of Sociology, KU Leuven; bDepartment of Biology, University of Southern Denmark; cMax-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging, University of Southern Denmark; dDepartment of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark

        2016, VOL. 49, NO. 1, 50–65

        In the article:

        “Many details regarding the execution of these censuses remain obscure, including whether and to what extent temporal variation in the aims of these censuses affected recording procedures and the nature of transmitted cen- sus figures”

        “For the Imperial period, the dry conditions in the Egyptian desert have preserved a number of census dec- larations that pertain to the first to third centuries CE and have been unearthed at various locations during archaeological excavations”

        Naturally, this would indicate why there are few Roman census/tax records and what records we do have exist from Egypt, which is why the Bacchias census in 119 A.D. and the one mentioned earlier discovered in Roman Census Edict 104 A.D. are rare.

        The authors continue, “What is clear, how-ever, is that the earliest documents within this body of Roman Egyptian census data date back to the period of the reign of the first Roman Emperor Augustus. That there was some degree of interference by the authorities in Rome with the process of census taking in the provinces is suggested among others by the Edict of the Fasti Ostiensis. This edict was issued by Augustus; the copy through which we know it was found in current Libya, and it describes how (in Cyrene) he had counted all people he had wanted to count .”

        A brief overview, but the type of Census Luke talks about, seems to have evidence that this type of census did exist. Now, I would imagine with minimalist school of thought that you seem to hold, even if historians say that Roman documents are few( and here is the key to your asking beyond Egypt) not likely to be found outside of Egypt, that unless a papyrus/document is found that dates to around Herod the Great and mentioned Bethlehem, this material will not suffice. I think it should because as scholars indicate outside of Egypt would be rare, I suppose though this is part of confirmation bias, I see this and say good enough here is evidence and another looks at it says, “not good enough.” Convenient for us both, I suppose.

        However, the scholars here indicate that censuses during Emperor Augustus though are, in fact, not rare.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Hello Philip.

        HAH! I see you’ve been doing some work here on the subject of Roman censuses. I appreciate that! This is good stuff. Three things I want to quickly mention seeing that I’m on a quick break at the moment — my “time” at the moment is limited until the weekend. Sorry.

        1. I would very much like to carry this discussion over to my Page please. I don’t want to take up so much of your About page comment section. I can copy/past my 2nd comment here over to my Page AFTER you post your 1st reply — “I briefly took a look, the material is expansive…” over there on my Page. Then so on and so on until we have this entire discussion over there.

        2. Though I am happy to dig into this ONE subject (or tree in a vast forest) of Roman censuses concerning Luke, we should keep in mind the many, MANY other problems and failures I address in the rest of my Page. Just a friendly reminder. 🙂

        3. Lastly, we also should keep in mind that this discussion/debate is about the TYPE or make-up of Roman censuses — their 3-pronged purpose, why they implemented them, etc. — and whether they were done (across the entire Empire, not just Egypt or Palestine) at the man’s/father’s birth-place or at his place/town of occupation, the latter being much MUCH more reasonable, feasible, and consistent with Rome’s 3-pronged purpose of censuses. The specific DATES of these censuses are what is critical to know or understand, not necessarily whether censuses were done in outer-provinces and if so, how frequently. Though important icing-on-the-cake to also know/understand, that is secondary to whether Quirinius’ census was done in c. 4 BCE and what specific type of 3-pronged data was being collected.

        Real quickly, since my time at the moment is limited, here is an excellent resource from Stanford University on the purposes of Roman censuses beginning in the Republic as opposed to the Imperial Age:


        I think you’ll find #8 “Serve, pay, and vote: the aims of registration,” 8a, 8b (Fiscal aims), 8c, #9 “The practice of census taking,” and #11e “Citizens outside Italy: registration and emigration.” I think the entire journal article is worth reading closely, several times!

        Regarding your last two comments, I’ll likely have to get to them over the weekend. My apologies Philip for my schedule Sir.


      11. I would prefer the discussion to remain in the about section with your posted link on my page. As you hoped perhaps with intentions of persuasion for my audience to read, I think it only fair that if I allow your link, our conversation should continue here with your first initiation. Naturally, I imagine several other voices chiming in on your page, I cannot respond to them all. So, I prefer this civil conversation one on one.

        I will certainly concede that your link has several objections: However, you’ve presented an entire body of work over some time and thought. You posted it here. I would think it unfair for me to respond to a shotgun approach of conversation. So, we’ve brought up this one single issue to discuss, an issue that interests me, it’s posted on your link. So, I think it fair to discuss this one particular subject.

        One thing to note with looking over this particular article that you’ve provided from Princeton is that it appears to be distinct to Romans in Italy or at least the goal of the particular piece. As the article, which is dated 2016, I posted states that most data on tax census would be unknown; however, searching your article, it appears the scholars have the same issue in regards to the Italian peninsula. You could certainly argue that a date is more important in regards to a census, I would say only in the particular of the type of government that was in place at the time. I would certainly argue that the Roman government, under an emperor, in 104 A.D. would more similar to Augustus than the early Republican governments leading up to Caesar. Again, much of this is conjecture, as there are few actual documents, as stated by the scholars in each particular article.

        So, as I searched for Egypt in the particular article, I found some important information. I think, Egypt being a province it is likely that government censuses operated similar in outlier provinces rather than in Italy. The Princeton article you cited:

        “In Roman Egypt this was not the case. Whereas metropoleis had permanent offices open for census registration, declarations from small communities are dated within a brief period, suggesting instead that the censors went to the village and called everyone to appear, or perhaps went knocking on people’s doors – we can only speculate here. Bagnall and Frier (1994, 17-8).”

        In fact, even the Princeton article admits that there is little known of how census’ were conducted in Italy by what documents are known to scholars at this time (p.22):

        “Extrapolation from Egypt to Italy may obviously prove to be a dangerous expedition into marshy fields. The numbering and gluing together of the household declarations is suggestive of the method the censors employed to organize their administration in Roman Egypt, but does not necessarily tell us anything about Roman Italy.”

        It appears that we actually know about census recording is mostly concluded from the Egyptian documents and attempted to piece together with small bits of information about the Italian peninsula.

        I’ll have to take a look at the article a few times like you suggested. 11e Did appeal to some of the issues discussed with the census, but as admitted the Roman institution did have the capability, “All in all, it seems difficult to hold that Rome was a society that was simply too underdeveloped to be capable of organizing such procedures”

        It’s also important to frame into what the Gospel of Luke is actually telling us about the Census, which Classical scholars indicate due to Greek language being lost in translation is probably more likely to be like what is represented in your particular article of “small” census in regional provinces over time and as illustrated in the article that I posted.

        The Nativity Census: What Does Luke Actually Say?
        Author(s): John Thorley
        Source: Greece & Rome, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Apr., 1979), pp. 81-84
        Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association

        Now it is true that we have no record of any census decreed Augustus across the Roman world (nrdaav riv oiKovp7nV, all civilized, or settled world) at this time, nor for that matter other time, though there was in fact a census of Roman citizens 8 B.c. But is this in any case what Luke is actually saying? says diroypdoeaOat (present infinitive), not diroypda4aoOat (aorist82 THE NATIVITY CENSUS: WHAT DOES LUKE ACTUALLY SAY? infinitive). Referring later to the journey of Mary and Bethlehem (2.4-5) ‘to be registered’, Luke does use infinitive to describe the one event for which they went hem. Why, then, the present infinitive for Augustus’ ever the reason, it was not an accidental or loose usage. in fact a tendency in Koine Greek to use the aorist infinitive subjunctive or imperative) rather than the present, even sense strictly demanded the present according to classical when the present was used its repetitive, continuing, function was always strongly felt. Presumably the ‘general’ tion of the New English Bible is an attempt to indicate the present infinitive, but in fact this translation gives distributive force which in effect simply reinforces the ‘throughout the Roman world’, whereas the Greek usage tially temporal in aspect. What Luke is surely saying is tus decreed that registration for census purposes, practised some centuries in Italy and more recently employed in provinces, should be extended until it embraced all parts Roman world, presumably including client kingdoms Judae>

        The Greek text doesn’t properly copy over from the article, so I’d suggest looking it up with the information cited.


      12. Regarding the move of our discussion/debate on Luke’s Roman census account over to my Page in order to not clutter-up your About page here, that’s fine. I honestly offered that move because I hadn’t seen any discussion of it real recently on your blog, granted it was a very QUICK browse on my part. Furthermore, of all the invites I’ve given to Christian WordPress blogs (Fundy outspoken ones in particular) which I’m familiar with, you’ve been the only one civil and interested enough to engage me about my Page “Why Christianity Will Always Fail.” I appreciate that Philip.

        Should we move this discussion then over to your Census blog-post? Would you want to make a comment-link on that post of our current discussion here?

        Regarding more specifics of Roman Republic and Imperial censuses, I think we’ve gotten a bit off track here (on a tree or two despite the forest) about the prevelance of censuses — Italian peninsula or provincial isn’t of critical importance — because as I think we both know from our own quality (extensive?) study of Roman life, politics, economics, demography, etc, from the Republic Era up thru the Imperial Age, scholars know Rome conducted censuses on fairly regular cycles definitely starting in 32/33 CE up into the early 4th-century CE if my memory serves correctly. And the Quirinius census was in 6 CE after King Herod’s death, but Jesus’ approx. birth is 4 BCE. This is why Luke’s account is very problematic at best, and flat wrong/mistaken at worst.

        Nevertheless, there is an even bigger problem with Luke’s account. Making Roman citizens and non-citizens in the Provinces to go long, long distances back to their ancestral homes is honestly, ludicrous for a few reasons. One is a chaotic distrubance of the Empire’s economy, out of the some 35-40 reliable census records survived NONE of them ever cover the entire Roman world just various Governors or when the Emperor asks a specific Governor to do one, another is imperfect and/or partially unknown or completely unknown geneologies of Romans and non-citizens, still another is that simply determining “tax tributes” is much easier done by the person’s current place of occupation (while still declaring properties elsewhere to the Magistrate), and because my own time is limited I’ll just quote Dr. Bart Ehrman on this problem of historicity and gospel veracity; he has some very good reasons too:

        There are enormous historical problems here. […]

        For one thing, there is a major problem with this “first registration” under Caesar Augustus. We have no record of any such thing (first or second), even though we have good documentation about the major events during Augustus’s reign. And this would have been a major event indeed. Luke indicates “all the world” had to register. Well, that can’t be right: he must mean “all the Roman Empire.” But even that defies belief, and not just because it is never mentioned in any historical source. (Point worth making: this is not said to be a local registration, but one for the “entire world”) Are we supposed to imagine that everyone in the Roman empire had to register in the town of their ancestors, the way Joseph did? Joseph’s ancestor David came from Bethlehem, so that’s where he registers. But wait a second. Why does he go to the town where David came from? Why not from the town that David’s great-great-great grandfather came from? Why is he stopping with David? Something odd is going on here.

        It’s important to note that the text does not say that Joseph himself was originally from Bethlehem. He registers there because he is from the Davidic line, and David was born there. But how many thousands and thousands of people in Joseph’s time could in one way or another trace their line back to David? Moreover, how would anyone really know? Contrary to what is often said and thought, there simply were not reliable genealogies back then.

        But there’s yet a bigger problem. David lived a thousand years earlier than Joseph. Are we to imagine that everyone in the Roman empire is returning to the home of their ancestors from a thousand years earlier to register for this census? And there’s no record of the massive migrations involved in any historical source? They just forgot to mention that part? Even more, how is it even possible? Imagine that to avoid the current fiscal cliff, the Congress works out a deal that we all need to register for a new tax, and the requirement is that we register where our ancestors from a thousand years ago came from. Where will *you* go?

        There are more problems with this account. The most famous is the fact that this could not have been, contrary to what the text says, when Quirinius was the governor of Syria, if it was also “in the days of King Herod of Judea” (1:5). We know from inscriptions and the Jewish historian Josephus that Quirinius did not become governor until ten years after Herod died.

        Ehrman continues this scrutiny in a following post/article:

        Yesterday I discussed Matthew’s account of how it is that Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem, if in fact he “came” from Nazareth. For Matthew it is because Joseph and Mary were originally from Bethlehem. That was their home town. And the place of Jesus’ birth. Two or more years after his birth, they relocated to Nazareth in Galilee, over a hundred
        miles to the north, to get away from the rulers of Judea who were thought to be out to kill the child. (That in itself, I hardly need to say, seems completely implausible, that a local king is eager to kill a peasant child out of fear that he will wrest the kingdom away from him…)

        Luke has a completely different account of how it happened. In Luke, Bethlehem is decidedly not Joseph and Mary’s home town. The whole point of the story is that it is not. They are from Nazareth. But then how does Jesus come to be born somewhere else? In the most famous passage of the birth narratives, we are told that it is because of a “decree” that went out from the ruler of the Roman Empire, Caesar Augustus. “All the world” had to be “enrolled” – that is, there was a world-wide census. We are told that this was the “first enrollment” made when Quirinius was the governor of Syria.

        Since Joseph is “of the house and lineage of David,” and since David (his ancestor from about 1000 years earlier) had been born in Bethlehem, Joseph had to register for the census in Bethlehem. In other words, everyone in the Roman empire is returning to the home of their ancestors (from a 1000 years earlier??? Really? “the entire world?” And everyone in the Roman empire is doing this? How are we to imagine the massive shifts of population for this census? And no other source even bothers to mention it???) (But pursue the questions further: why does Joseph have to register in the town of his ancestor [David] from 1000 years before? Why not an ancestor from 1200 years earlier? or 700 years earlier? or 100 years earlier? Does this even make sense? Why David in particular?).

        In any event, since Joseph has to register in Bethlehem, and since Mary is his betrothed, they make a trip to Bethlehem. And it just so happens that this is when Mary goes into labor. So she gives birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. Since there is no room for them in the inn, they lay the child in a cattle manger, and the shepherds come to worship him.

        Eight days later they have him circumcised. And then, since they are right next door anyway, 32 days after birth they go to the Temple in Jerusalem and perform the offering for Mary’s ritual cleansing “according to what is said in the Law of Moses” (referring to Leviticus 12), and then, “when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.”

        So even though Jesus was raised in Nazareth (starting when he was just under two months old), he was born in Bethlehem.

        But what about the wise men from Matthew who come to find them in a house in Bethlehem, over a year later? Moreover, if Luke is right that they return to Nazareth a month after Jesus’ birth, how can Matthew be right that they fled to Egypt (they’re obviously doing this on foot, so it would, well, take a while), and that they don’t return until much later after
        Herod dies. In Matthew they want to return from Egypt to their hometown Bethlehem, but can’t because of Archelaus. But here in Luke their home town isn’t Bethlehem at all, but Nazareth.

        There are other irreconcilable problems with Luke’s account. How could this have been the first enrollment when Quirinius was the governor of Syria? Quirinius was not the Syrian governor when Herod was the Judean king. Not even close. Quirinius did not become the governor unto 6 CE. But Herod died in 4 BCE.

        So what’s going on here? What’s going on is that both Matthew and Luke want Jesus to be born in Bethlehem even though they both know that he came from Nazareth. Both accounts are filled with implausibilities on their own score (a star leading “wise men” to the east – they wouldn’t be very wise if they thought that a star could lead them in a straight line anywhere — and stopping over a house; a census of the entire Roman world that could not have happened); and they contradict each other up and down the map.

        My view is that neither story is historical, but that both have an ultimate objective to explain how Jesus could be the messiah if he was from Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. So they (or their sources) came up with stories to get him born in Bethlehem. These stories are meant to show that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5:2, and Matthew himself indicates in
        clear terms, by quoting the very prophecy.

        And so what conclusion can we draw? To me it seems all fairly straight forward. Jesus was not really born in Bethlehem. — from The Bart Ehrman Blog at https://ehrmanblog.org/

        But again Philip, these highly plausible (truer, correct) deciphered explanations from broader historical context, compared to the errors of Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ birth and Gospel authors later finagling them to Micah 5:2, are only the tip of the ice-berg as far as the rest of the New Testament’s and Old Testament’s serious problems, as I address exhaustively on my Page — which as it turns out is NOT exhaustive compared to the work of many other non-Christian secular scholars such as Ehrman and Robert Eisenman to name two. Sorry for this long, long info-comment.

        Let me know what your thoughts are about moving this discussion over to your blog-post instead of here. Thanks. Hopefully I’ll have adequate time to compile those libraries of extant Roman records, literature, and related evidence/topics. I know off the top of my head there is the Harvard University Press – Loeb Classical Library; look particularly at the “Timeline of Authors” for a general idea of their author’s texts.

        Enjoy your weekend!


      13. I was thinking about making a new post with all of our comments so far put together. I can put it on this blog or the other blog that I write on that has Christians from different traditions ranging from Evangelical, Vatican II Catholic–which I would say is me, Traditional Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, etc. Some are university professors If you want to engage them in discussion? When viewing your page and looking at the comment section, there were only comments from atheist high-fiving each other, so with respect to our civil conversation you can understand why I do not prefer the “lion’s den.”

        First off, although I converse with Evangelical Christians, I’m not one. I’m Roman Catholic, I would imagine you’ve figured it out, so my views on scripture can be very different, as Evangelicals and Catholics believe different things.

        An example being that I believe the Bible is a library written by different authors during a long period of time in different genres. So, for example, in your post, you mention numbers of people and things: I think numbers are not literal in some book of the Bible, especially the older books. And sometimes, I think that those numbers are used in the New Testament typologically. The number 12 symbolizes Holiness, The number 40 symbolizes a trial, I do not think the world was created in 6 days—Neither did St. Augustine as early as 4th century btw, etc. In fact, the father of the Big Bang theory is a Catholic Priest, Fr. Georges Lemeitre.

        In regards to the census, you say:

        “Nevertheless, there is an even bigger problem with Luke’s account. Making Roman citizens and non-citizens in the Provinces to go long, long distances back to their ancestral homes is honestly, ludicrous for a few reasons. One is a chaotic distrubance of the Empire’s economy, out of the some 35-40 reliable census records survived NONE of them ever cover the entire Roman world “

        I believe I’ve addressed many of your points in my previous comment by the Roman 104 A.D. Egyptian Roman Census which illustrates folks being called back for property, by referencing the article that you provided that did claim the empire was capable of census projects, it also discusses in Egypt that people were allowed extensions.

        Furthermore, as I provided, Classical Scholars, do not believe Luke is claiming a one census in the entire Roman world in the original Greek. And perhaps the census in 8 B.C. could be the one. The translation is lost when it carries over into English by the scholarly article I quoted above.

        Ehrman is the definition of a dude with an ax to grind, but nonetheless, I think his comment: “even though we have good documentation about the major events during Augustus’s reign,“ is addressed by the few scholarly articles as wrong because we’d have differ on what “major events” were as Ehrman is attempting to use it as a one size fits all. All three of the scholarly articles presented, would more or less say that censuses may of took a period of time, when they came to outer provinces were rushed, gave extensions to the people there (maybe to travel?). The scholars also claim that there not much we can know from the limited census data and that what we physically have we piece together in conjecture. In my original post, I believe I address some of the reasons why Joseph would have traveled to Bethlehem that Erhman brings up.

        Also, remember, I’m Catholic, so Church tradition carries as much weight as the scripture. I’d imagine that Evangelicals get caught in scriptural “got you” moments because well, I do it to them too. I mention what my faith teaches, so you can have the proper tools in conversation with me:

        107 The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”72

        108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living”.73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.”7

        110 In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.”76

        111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.”

        So, naturally, you may ask, is there shifting goal posts? Well, honestly, in some aspects of the Old Testament, perhaps, it depends as the Catholic Church holds to the historicism of authors and their genres. So, why do I have a keen interest in the Census?

        Well, the Catechism teaches:

        126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:

        1. The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four Gospels, “whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up.”99

        All of the context of the scripture is connected to the journey towards “eternal salvation.”


      14. I’m taking a quick break from my weekend-long World Cup watching party/parties with my futebolling/soccer buddies in order to somewhat (barely?) keep up with your responses Philip! Hahahaha! Bear with me please.

        Regarding where to move this it is of course up to you and however you see fit to present it — maybe just somewhere in there referring back to this original location? Also, as you’d probably appreciate as well, my time WILL be limited getting into any such expansive critical discussion (of 1,500+ years of history!) with several/many on your blog-post when I have obligations over on my blogs. I guess we are both in similar boats, huh?

        When viewing your page and looking at the comment section, there were only comments from atheist high-fiving each other, so with respect to our civil conversation you can understand why I do not prefer the “lion’s den.”

        First off, although I converse with Evangelical Christians, I’m not one. I’m Roman Catholic, I would imagine you’ve figured it out, so my views on scripture can be very different, as Evangelicals and Catholics believe different things.

        You are right Philip, or partially right depending on one’s viewpoint. It seems neither one of us have any interest whatsoever in engaging bloggers or critics with very poor etiquette and seem to be unfamiliar with common respect/decency. I have dealt with way too many hardcore, Fundy-Evangy (radicals) blogger-types — as well as in person here in Texas — and sadly way too often it turns into a hyped-testosterone chest-puffing peacock show than a productive dialogue and exchange of information, evidence, reasoning, etc. “Lion’s Den” is exactly what/who I thought of. I am a big supporter of non-sensorship (free expression), BUT that liberty must come with individual responsibility for respect and decency too! Due to a number of Fundy-Evangy bullying types, in order to protect the integrity of my blog and posts I’ve had to ban some of those types after repeated warnings — they simply had no intention of exhibiting decency to anyone. Thus, I completely understand what you are talking about.

        Regarding you starting the new post and others jumping in on your blog, that’s fine. Critical-analysis should happen all the time, with all parties, all topics, so that knowledge relative to ignorance is always moving forward! That said, I must remind your audience/followers of my own personal schedule(s) and limited time. There’s nothing wrong with this topic (covering 1.5 – 2 millenia of history) taking up a lot of time, and much of it conjecture at best, but also because it IS such a massive, convoluted topic. To do it proper justice it honestly takes YEARS (for me some 23-25 years!) of neutral impartial (as possible) examination by a person, which is why we often rely on experts, MANY experts!

        In closing (for now), I ask for everyone’s patience and prefer to handle discussions over on MY own Page. This one here on your blog Philip will by default have to be a secondary/lower priority. Apologies. I just don’t want to give any false expectations Sir.

        Okay, back to the World Cup… the most Beautiful Game in the entire world! (wink & grin)


      15. I’m a “guest author” on that particular blog. So, I don’t know if there is administrative filter. It looks like what you’re writing is clean in language, so I can’t explain it. It’s possible some other contributor could be “cleaning up” I was always under the impression that they welcomed free conversation, so long as it’s polite. I see in the moderation that some of Scottie’s replies to me have been put there. I guess, I will take this into account with any further of my posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, good luck on your new endeavor Phillip.

    I am struck by your use of the phrase “those who profess adherence to Vatican II” however. I don’t know what that means since Vatican II is non-doctrinal and there is nothing to adhere to by Divine Faith. We may have to follow the lead of the Magesterium out of obedience to faith but beyond that we do not have to accept that the changes were good or that they are downright antithetical to the Faith.

    Simply speaking, Vatican II was a break in practices which brought out a lived experience of Catholic Divine Truths which were quite far removed from our “Communio” of believers before that Council. However, the history of the past 50 years is self-evident and we can easily see that things have gone badly and that our new practices have reduced the faith of Catholics around the world or even led people to exit the faith not to mention the confusion wrought to our beliefs of things once held as Divinely held Truths.

    In other words, I do not ‘adhere’ to anything from Vatican II . . . not the ambiguous documents written by small committees chaired by once condemned churchmen and theologians . . . nor the Novus Ordo Mass written by a man who circumvented the Vatican offices meant to regulate the liturgy and the faith and who went behind their backs to Pope Paul VI because he knew that he could get him to sign documents without even reading them. It was a scandal from start to finish. And Annibale Bugnini was a suspected Mason and boasted that his aim was to create a Mass that no protestant could object to. And when he was confronted about the many parts of the Mass that were recited by the people, he was asked: “is it then, now impossible for us priests to say Mass without a congregation?” His response was, “I never thought of that.”

    All of this just to let you know how a simple phrase like “those who profess adherence to Vatican II” can set off a lot of neurons in the brains of those who have watched the steady corrosion of the faith since the Council closed and since the New Mass was delivered to us as the normative Mass.


    1. The Ordinary Form is the mass and liturgy of Justin Martyr. I tire of these conspiracy theories. Furthermore, I tire of intrigue in the Vatican in which myself as a layman can do nothing. I pray which is the most powerful tool at any disposal.

      However, Vatican II did good. I’ll stand by that statement. First off, the mass is not a product of the actual council. The mass being said in vernacular is a good. Latin was the vernacular in Rome, which is the only reason it’s in the Extraordinary form. As I’ve went over, the liturgy for the first three centuries was largely Greek, the irony is that those on the side of tradition should propose the Liturgy of John Chrysostom.

      My thoughts have been stirred when at my Parish a woman who is a traditionalist dressed down an altar server when the priest flicked water in her face during the mass. I get respectfulness, but the Pope is right in regards to rigidness. The Lord says let the children come to me and this woman flew into a blind rage because of the priests actions… how heroic!

      The vernacular is a good.
      Communion in both forms is a good
      Chewing communion as the Greek says “gnaw” is a good.
      The end of making the confessional a torture chamber is a good.

      There are pastoral goods in Vatican II.

      Are there abuses? Yes. You know that I’m troubled but the Church is in need of reform but not in the manner of a restoration.


  5. Then Pope Benedict XVI is a conspiracy theorist who claimed that for the first time a Liturgy was manufactured by man rather than being an embellishment or reform of the Liturgy of the ages. Or is it only that I asked you to listen to the remembrances of Arbp. Lefebve that you conflate his memory (from one who was there and went through it) with a “lie”. He may have been criticized for a number of things but lying wasn’t one of them. I like to hear eye witness accounts of what really went on. Is it a conspiracy theory that those who were condemned by previous popes ended up not only at the Council but as the chairmen of many of the committees that produced the documents? Then I am a conspiracy theorist . . . because not all conspiracies are fake. This world has seen thousands of conspiracies throughout our long history and some which have worked incredible injustices. Is it wrong to point out also that the Novus Ordo has morphed from its own rubrics . . . or more likely from the lack of more precise rubrics. It has allowed for reception in the hand, standing, and nobody with a paten to catch crumbs from the Host and no option to receive on one’s knees unless you are rather athletic and can balance yourself well. It has also turned the priest around to turn his back on Jesus in the altar and is no longer seen as our intercessor, as another Christ. His just good ol’ Fr. Bob who is just like us and wants gather around the table. How about Eucharistic ministers? Was the consecratinon of the priest’s hands at ordination just a meaningless rite that now has no usefulness or purpose? We are all the same now and we can all walk about in the Sanctuary and touch the consecrated hosts and the consecrated chalice and hosts. It is all an abomination. And now we have our Pope doing this with women priests from the Lutheran sects. This is really turning out well.

    As to Greek or Latin I would have no preference as long as it is a dead language and we could rid of the present “inclusive” translations that we have today not to mention our dynamic, ever-changing meanings accordding to our living languages. Secondly, how do you pray with a Spanish, a Chinese, an Indian together and still have the same experience? You do it by saying a Mass that is the same everywhere in the world for that particular day and said in the same language . . . which we should learn by reading our missal translations in our own vernacular language.

    And when was a Confessional a torture chamber I ask. Did you ever witness such or is this just a snappy Francis quip that sounds good and makes us think that he is fixing something that was broken?

    That you met an unhinged person who is a so-called Traditionalist is no great wonder. How many thousands of stories I could give you of the Novus Ordo nuts in my own parish. That is not a norm to judge a Liturgy on. It is by the liturgy itself, what one is concentrated on in the liturgy (the liturgical experience) and the solemnity and reverence that this Rite displayed. If it did not turn one’s mind from the temporal world but to the eternal Lord in heaven then it failed . . . no matter what liturgy it was.

    How do you reform a liturgy that was a creation? You can reform the traditional Mass as it has been reformed from the beginning of Christendom and that is the Mass that was effectively abrogated even though it never was legally abrogated. Reform is not the word that should be used unless the Traditional Mass is reformed; otherwise it should be abandoned and the old Mass restored.

    Just wait until the USCCB sticks their hands into our liturgy thanks to the decentralizing efforts of the Pope. You will see a Church become more confused that it already is.


    1. Our gaze, as lay members, needs to stay focus on Christ. Our faith needs to be Christocentric, there’s nothing materially that we can do to influence these changes.

      The Liturgy is important because Prayer is important, but at the same time, I have trust in the Spirit to guide our lives.

      One of the great focuses of Vatican II is on the Word of God, “Dei Verbum.” I’ve been to several Latin Masses, the truth of the matter is that the Word has little focus; furthermore, if it’s not the custom to read the Word in the vernacular, there’s nothing to be gained by the faithful. Again, looking back at what occurred in the early church, as explained by Justin Martyr, our current mass fits his model closer to the extraordinary form.

      ” The sacred synod also earnestly and especially urges all the Christian faithful, especially Religious, to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the “excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:8). “For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” DV. 25


      1. Without a grounding in the teachings of the Church the reading of the word of God is not always understood as the Church understands it; and we are a Church with little doctrinal understanding among the laity. That said, those in the past read their bibles when they could afford one and the priests and monastics always prayed the Office and practiced things such as lectio devina. I have read few saints who were not thoroughly saturated in the Scriptures. But the Mass is still primarily the Sacrifice of Sacrifices and that focus has been lost and almost supplanted by the readings and the sermons. Providing that the sermons are good (which is a pretty big stretch) then a proper understanding in the Catholic sense might be of great use. Mostly, the moral teachings are avoided due to our oversexed societies and libertine tendancies. So if the idea is good; the putting of this into practice has been rather poor. The secular humanists have almost taken over every sermon in the parish Church, the Vatican and the USCCB. So I don’t see that we opened up some great new find by the readings (especially using the New American Bible with its inclusive language) if the people are not reminded of the duty to hold to all the teachings of the faith, to go to confession and to try to live without committing these same sins over and over again. At least that part was done in the past and people worked hard on their own sanctification.


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