I will first attest that I am not an expert in the field in which I am posting, and I am relying heavily on sources of men who are considered experts in their field. Being thus, I can only attest to the information I have gathered by reading their books and/or articles on the subject at hand. I’m not sure where you personally stand as far as expertise, but I will assume your credentials and sources impeccable for the sake of the discussion. Ultimately, my goal here is to submit evidence from Luke’s side of the issue, and subsequently show that there is varied scholarship on the subject, otherwise the thread itself would run the risk of being decidedly one-sided on the issue. At any rate, I would respond to your posting.
Looking at your initial comments on Quirinius and his procurator title, you bring up the valid point that as Martyr identifies Quirinius as procurator, he also refers to the taxation, which Martin makes argument didn’t actually occur during his identified oath of loyalty. So who’s right? Based on the fact that Martyr is probably using Luke for the premise of his statement (unless some registries existed in his time that we simply don’t have access to today), both scholars could technically be correct if we understand Luke’s approach to the registration (3/2 BC) and subsequent taxation (AD 6) as associated events
. This opinion can be reviewed here:http://books.google.com/books?id=DTErAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA631&lpg=PA631&dq=#v=onepage&q&f=false
Luke mentions the second census in Acts 5:37, and correctly places it as correlating with the revolt led by Judas of Galilee (Josephus mentions this in Book 18, chapter 1 of Antiquities). However, though Luke had an obvious working knowledge of the latter event, we see no distinction in the writings between that and the former. Therefore, it could be understood that in as much as the registration was, by first regard, a call to an oath of loyalty, so too could the subsequent, and even greater, purpose be taxation of subjects, which came to fruition in (AD 6).
We see further example of this connection between oath-taking and census in Orosius:
“[Augustus] ordered that a census be taken of each province everywhere and that all men be enrolled
. ... This is the earliest and most famous public acknowledgment which marked Caesar as the first of all men and the Romans as lords of the world, a published list of all men entered individually.... This first and greatest census
was taken, since in this one name of Caesar all the peoples of the great nations took oath
, and at the same time, through the participation in the census, were made apart of one society.” (Orosius, VI.22 and VII.2.)
This “enrollment”, or as Luke puts it, “registration” is placed in conjunction with the “oath of loyalty” taken 3/2 BC.
So why would Luke mention Quirinius? Possibly because he was charged with administering and overseeing the registration of allegiance in that region of the world. Why is this information important? For the explicit reason that, according to Martin “most Roman census declarations required an oath of allegiance to the emperor.” Therefore, to a Roman citizen reading Luke’s gospel (Luke wrote his gospel for a Roman audience), to simply say that Caesar Augustus issued a degree that all the world be registered might be a vague statement, but pinpointing Quirinius as administrator would point them to the exact registration Luke was referring to, namely, the “oath of loyalty.” This is simply how I understand the issue, you are welcome to disagree.
Moving on to Herod’s death, I recognize that based on the Beyer article, I could have phrased my response better, again being that the evidence Beyer has amassed concerning Herod’s death in relation to his son Philip. I have never seen the information you mentioned from Codex Ambrosianae or the Codex Vaticanus Graecus (can you send me a link with your source?), but if you are correct, then it would seem that either Beyer is wrong, or that there is an issue with the manuscripts not agreeing, the latter case putting a bleak light on the trustworthy nature of the manuscripts.
However, even if Beyer is wrong, there is still strong evidence for Herod’s death occurring in 1 BC. See Andrew Steinmann on the issue:http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/not/2009/00000051/00000001/art00001
(click to view the PDF)
Furthermore, Martin makes further arguments concerning the problems with dating Herod’s death at 4 BC, with the best, in my opinion, being the problem of the eclipse mentioned by Josephus occurring in 4 BC. I find his argumentation well reasoned and highly plausible. (http://www.askelm.com/star/star012.htm
Furthermore, Beyer also gives reasoning for the claims that the eclipse Josephus refers to was probably not the 4 BC eclipse. He states that the eclipse in 4 BC was a comparatively weak eclipse of very weak magnitude, and without modern optics, not to be considered a memorable event. Though Josephus may have used this eclipse as his reference, it would seem that the higher likelihood would be the 1 BC eclipse, which was a total eclipse, apparently lasting over 200 minutes (this is rare and something to take note of).
Ultimately, I find both Martin and Beyer’s hypothesis on the eclipse well reasoned and sound.
Lastly, to comment on the fact that some of the sources I have procured not agreeing, I think it’s appropriate to point out that, with your specific example, Ramsey did not have proper access to the breadth of new archeological records and advanced astronomical data we now possess. This is just a simple fact of archeology and advancement in technology. It shouldn’t surprise you in as much as it does not surprise me. The point is this: what new information and evidence has been presented should always be taken into account, but the old should not be neglected simply because it’s old, but simply corrected and/or built upon to obtain a better working knowledge of the truth of the situation. Ultimately, as we review the matter, the best possible option would be to invent a time machine to got back in time to get hard facts (if this ever happens, I will get us two of the first tickets, and we’ll go back to January of 1 BC to see what really transpired), but being that this is not possible, I am content to say that we must take what we are given, and use what reasoning and rationale we possess to arrive at well-reasoned positions on the matter. That is how I view the situation.