The New Testament
... of Paul were written before any other portion of the New Testament, for we have ... of
their author throws considerable light on the question of their chronology. ...
/.../killen/the ancient church/chapter i the new testament.htm
Chronology of the Apostolic Age.
... The chronology of the apostolic age is partly certain, at least within a few ... The
sources are the New Testament (especially the Acts and the Pauline Epistles ...
/.../history of the christian church volume i/section 23 chronology of the.htm
Chronology of the Life of Christ
... strength of the tradition that places the crucifixion in 29 has been admirably stated
by Mr. CH Turner in his article on the "Chronology of the New Testament". ...
/.../ramsay/was christ born in bethlehem/chapter 10 chronology of the.htm
... genuineness, integrity, date, chronology, and credibility; their relation to science,
to profane history, to each other, and to the New Testament"would far ...
//christianbookshelf.org/barrows/companion to the bible/prefatory remarks 2.htm
... of fact treatises that precede it in the New Testament. ... obligation to the critical
Greek Testament of Dean ... On the difficult question of the Chronology of the ...
/.../johnson/the new testament commentary vol iii john/preface.htm
Names and External Form of the Old Testament
... to the anointing of David is, according to the shorter chronology, 388 years ... the
continuous writing of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament, that the ...
/.../barrows/companion to the bible/chapter xiii names and external.htm
Supplement to Sermon iv.
... wrong names, and the like, form no part of the staple of the New Testament. ... not to
teach physical Science, nor to deal with facts in chronology and the like ...
/.../burgon/inspiration and interpretation/supplement to sermon iv.htm
The Christian View of the Old Testament
... Gains from excavations, 151 ff.; chronology, 152 f., 155; geography, 151 f.; history,
152. ... New Testament, superiority, 229 f., 254 f.; estimate of OT, 10 f. ...
/.../eiselen/the christian view of the old testament/index 2.htm
Sources and Literature on St. Paul and his Work.
... III. Chronological. Thomas Lewin: Fasti Sacri, a Key to the Chronology of the New
Testament. London, 1865. Chronological Tables from bc70 to ad70. ...
/.../history of the christian church volume i/section 29 sources and literature.htm
Index of Subjects.
... Chronology, of the Old Testament, 230; of the book of Judges, 247; of the books
of Kings, 255; of the book of Ezra ... See further under various New Testament books ...
//christianbookshelf.org/barrows/companion to the bible/index of subjects.htm
International Standard Bible EncyclopediaChronology of the New Testament
CHRONOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
I. CHRONOLOGY OF THE LIFE OF JESUS
1. Birth of Jesus
(1) Death of Herod
(2) Census of Quirinius
(3) Star of the Magi
(4) Course of Abijah
(5) Day and Month
2. Baptism of Jesus
3. First Passover
4. Death of John the Baptist
5. Length of Jesus' Ministry
6. Death of Jesus
7. Summary of Dates
II. CHRONOLOGY OF THE APOSTOLIC AGE
1. Paul's Conversion
2. Death of Herod Agrippa I
3. Famine under Claudius
4. Sergius Paulus
5. Edict of Claudius
8. Relative Chronology of Acts
9. Pauline Epistles
10. Release and Death of Paul
11. Death of Peter
12. Death of James the Just
13. The Synoptic Gospels, etc.
14. Death of John
15. Summary of Dates
The current Christian era is reckoned from the birth of Jesus and is based upon the calculations of Dionysius (6th century). Subsequent investigation has shown that the Dionysian date is at least four years too late. Several eras were in use in the time of Jesus; but of these only the Varronian will be used coordinately with the Dionysian in the discussion of the chronology of the life of Jesus, 753 A. U. C. being synchronous with 1 B.C. and 754 A. U. C. with 1 A.D.
I. Chronology of the Life of Jesus.
1. Birth of Jesus:
Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1) at the time of a census or enrollment made in the territory of Herod in accordance with a decree of Augustus when Quirinius (Revised Version; Cyrenius, the King James Version) was exercising authority in the Roman province of Syria (Luke 2:1 f). At the time of Jesus' birth a star led the Magi of the East to seek in Jerusalem the infant whom they subsequently found in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1). John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus (Luke 1:36) and he was born in the days of Herod (Luke 1:5; compare Luke 2:1) after his father, Zacharias, of the priestly course of Abijah, had been performing the functions of his office in the temple.
(1) Death of Herod.
The death of Herod the Great occurred in the spring of 750/4. (NOTE: The alternative numbers are B.C. or A.D., i.e., 750 A. U. C. = 4 B.C., etc.) He ruled from his appointment in Rome 714/40 (Ant., XIV, xiv, 4-5, in the consulship of Caius Domitius Calvinus and Caius Asinius Pollio) 37 years, and from his accession in Jerusalem after the capture of the city 717/37 (Ant.,. XIV, xvi, 1-3; BJ, I, xvii, 9; I, xviii, 1-3; Dio Cassius xlix0.22; compare Schurer, GJV3, I, 358, note 11) 34 years (Ant, XVII, xviii, 1; BJ, I, xxxiii, 7-8; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 415, note 167 where it is shown that Josephus reckons a year too much, probably counting from Nisan 1 and including partial years). Just before Herod's death there was an eclipse of the moon (Ant., XVII, vi, 4). According to astronomical calculations an eclipse was visible in Palestine on March 23 and September 15, 749/5, March 12, 750/4 and January 9, 753/1. Of these the most probable is that of March 12, 750/4. Soon after the eclipse Herod put to death his son Antipater and died five days later (Ant., XVII, vii; BJ, I, xxxiii, 7). Shortly after Herod's death the Passover was near at hand. (Ant., XVII, vi, 4 through ix, 3). In this year Passover (Nisan 15) fell on April 11; and as Archelaus had observed seven days of mourning for his father before this, Herod's death would fall between March 17 and April 4. But as the 37th (34th) year of his reign was probably reckoned from Nisan 1 or March 28, his death may be dated between March 28 and April 4, 750/4.
This date for Herod's death is confirmed by the evidence for the duration of the reigns of his three sons. Archelaus was deposed in 759/6 (Dio Cassius lv.27 in the consulship of Aemilius Lepidus and Lucius Arruntius) in the 10th year of his reign (Ant., XVII, xiii, 2; compare BJ, II, vii, 3 which gives the year as the 9th). Antipas was deposed most probably in the summer of 792/39 (Ant., XVIII, vii, 1-2; compare XVIII, vi, 11; XIX, viii, 2; BJ, II, ix, 6; Schurer, op. cit., I, 448, note 46 and 416, note 167). There are coins of Antipas from his 43rd year (Madden, Coins of the Jews, 121). The genuineness of a coin from the 44th year is questioned by Schurer but accepted by Madden. The coin from the 45th year is most probably spurious (Schurer, op. cit., I, 417, note 167). Philip died after reigning 37 years, in the 20th year of Tiberius-August 19, 786/33-787/34 (Ant., XVIII, iv, 6). There is also a coin of Philip from his 37th year (Madden, op. cit., 126). Thus Archelaus, Antipas and Philip began to reign in 750/4.
(2) Census of Quirinius.
The census or enrollment, which, according to Luke 2:1, was the occasion of the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, is connected with a decree of Augustus embracing the Greek-Roman world. This decree must have been carried out in Palestine by Herod and probably in accordance with the Jewish method-each going to his own city-rather than the Roman (Dig. 15, 4, 2; Zumpt, Das Geburtsjahr Christi, 195; Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, III, 124; Schurer, Theol. Ztg, 1907, 683; and on the other hand, Ramsay, Expositor, 1908, I, 19, note). Certainly there is no intimation of an insurrection such as characterized a later census (Acts 5:37; Ant, XVIII, i, 1; BJ, II, xvii, 7; compare Tac. Ann. vi0.41; Livy Epit. cxxxvi, cxxxvii; Dessau, Inscrip. lat. Sel. number 212, col. ii, 36) and this may have been due in no small measure to a difference in method. Both Josephus and Luke mention the later census which was made by Quirinius on the deposition of A rchelaus, together with the insurrection of Judas which accompanied it. But while Josephus does not mention the Herodian census-although there may be some intimation of it in Ant, XVI, ix, 3; XVII, ii, 4; compare Sanclemente, De vulg. aerae emend., 438; Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Beth.1, 178-Luke carefully distinguishes the two, characterizing the census at the time of Jesus' birth as "first," i.e. first in a series of enrollments connected either with Quirinius or with the imperial policy inaugurated by t he decree of Augustus. The Greek-Roman writers of the time do not mention this decree and later writers (Cassiodor, Isidor and Suidas) cannot be relied upon with certainty as independent witnesses (Zumpt, Geburtsjahr, 148). Yet the geographical work of Agrippa and the preparation of a breviarium totius imperil by Augustus (Tac. Ann. i0.11; Suet. Aug. 28 and 101; Dio Cassius liii0.3; lvi0.33; compare Mommsen, Staatsrecht, II, 1025, note 3), together with the interest of the emperor in the organization and finances of the empire and the attention which he gave to the provinces (Marquardt, Rom. Staatsverwaltung, II, 211; compare 217), are indirectly corroborative of Luke's statement. Augustus himself conducted a census in Italy in 726/28, 746/8, 767/14 (Mommsen, Res Ges., 34) and in Gaul in 727/27 (Dio Cassius liii.22, 5; Livy Epit. cxxxiv) and had a census taken in other provinces (Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyc., under the word "Census," 1918; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). For Egypt there is evidence of a regular p eriodic census every 14 years extending back to 773/20 (Ramsay, op. cit., 131 if; Grenfell and Hunt, Oxy. Papyri, II, 207; Wilcken, Griech. Ostraka, I, 444) and it is not improbable that this procedure was introduced by Augustus (Schurer, op. cit., I, 515). The inference from Egyptian to similar conditions in other provinces must indeed be made cautiously (Wilcken, op. cit., 449; Marquardt, op. cit., 441); yet in Syria the regular tributum capitis seems to imply some such preliminary work (Dig, 1. 15, 3; Appian, Syriac., 50; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 200, note 2; Pauly-Wissowa, op. cit., 1921; Ramsay, op. cit., 154). The time of the decree is stated only in general terms by Luke, and it may have been as early as 727/27 (Zumpt, op. cit., 159; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 212) or later in 746-8 (Huschke, Census, 34; Ramsay, op. cit., 158), its execution in different provinces and subject kingdoms being carried out at different times. Hence, Luke dates the census in the kingdom of Herod specifically by connecting it with the administrative functions of Quirinius in Syria. But as P. Quintilius Varus was the legate of Syria just before and after the death of Herod from 748/6-750/4 (Ant., XVII, v, 2; XVII, ix., 3; XVII, x, 1 and 9; XVII, xi, 1; Tac. Hist. v0.9; and coins in Eckhel, Doctr. num. vet., III, 275) and his predecessor Was C. Sentius Saturninus from 745/9-748/6 (Ant; XVI, ix, 1; x, 8; xi, 3; XVII, i, 1; ii, 1; iii, 2), there seems to be no place for Quirinius during the closing years of Herod's reign. Tertullian indeed speaks of Saturninus as legate at the time of Jesus' birth (Adv. Marc., iv.9). The interpretation of Luke's statement as indicating a date for the census before Quirinius was legate (Wieseler, Chron. Syn., 116; Lagrange, Revue Biblique, 1911, 80) is inadmissible. It is possible that the connection of the census with Quirinius may be due to his having brought to completion what was begun by one of his predecessors; or Quirinius may have been commissioned especially by the emperor as legatus ad census accipiendos to conduct a census in Syria and this commission may have been connected temporally with his campaign against the Homonadenses in Cilicia (Tac. Ann. iii0.48; compare Noris, Cenotaph. Pis., 320; Sanclemente, op. cit., 426 passim; Ramsay, op. cit., 238). It has also been suggested by Bour (L'Inscription de Quirinius, 48) that Quirinius may have been an imperial procurator specially charged with authority in the matter of the Herodian census. The titulus Tiburtinus (CIL, XIV, 3613; Dessau, Inscr. Latin Sel., 918)-if rightly assigned to him-and there seems to be no sufficient reason for questioning the conclusiveness of Mommsen's defense of this attribution (compare Liebenam, Verwaltungsgesch., 365)-proves that he was twice legate of Syria, and the titulus Venetus (CIL, III, 6687; Dessau, op. cit., 2683) gives evidence of a census conducted by him in Syria. His administration is dated by Ramsay (op. cit., 243) in 747/7; by Mommsen in the end of 750/4 or the beginning of 751/3 (op. cit., 172). Zahn (Neue kirch. Zeitschr., 1893, IV, 633), followed by Spitta (Zeitschr.ff. d. neutest. Wiss., 1906, VII, 293), rejects the historicity of the later census connected by Josephus with the deposition of Archelaus, basing his view on internal grounds, and assigns the Lucan census to a time shortly after the death of Herod. This view however is rendered improbable by the evidence upon which the birth of Jesus is assigned to a time before the death of Herod (Matthew 2:1 Luke 1:5; Luke 2:1 f); by the differentiation of the census in Luke 2:1 and Acts 5:37; by the definite connection of the census in Josephus with Syria and the territory of Archelaus (compare also the tit. Venet.); and by the general imperial policy in the formation of a new province (Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). Moreover there seems to be no adequate ground for identifying the Sabinus of Josephus with Quirinius as urged by Weber, who regards the two accounts (Ant., XVII, viii, 1 and XVII, iv, 5; XVIII, i, 2; ii, 1) as due to the separation by Josephus of parallel accounts of the same events in his sources (Zeitschr.ff. d. neutest. Wiss., 1909, X, 307)-the census of Sabinus-Quirinius being assigned to 4 B.C., just after the death of Herod the Great. The synchronism of the second census of Quirinius with the periodic year of the Egyptian census is probably only a coincidence, for it was occasioned by the deposition of Archelaus; but its extension to Syria may be indicative of its connection with the imperial policy inaugurated by Augustus (Tac. Ann. vi0.41; Ramsay, op. cit., 161).
(3) Star of the Magi.
The identification of the star of the Magi (Matthew 2:2; compare Matthew 2:7, 9, 16; Macrobius, Sat., II, 4; Sanclemente, op. cit., 456; Ramsay, op. cit., 215) and the determination of the time of its appearance cannot be made with certainty, although it has been associated with a conjunction in 747/7 and 748/6 of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign of Pisces-a constellation which was thought to stand in close relation with the Jewish nation (Ideler, Handbuch d. math. u. tech. Chron., II, 400). When the Magi came to Jerusalem, however, Herod was present in the city; and this must have been at least several months before his death, for during that time he was sick and absent from Jerusalem (Ant., XVII, vi, 1; BJ, I, xxxiii, 1).
(4) Course of Abijah.
The chronological calculations of the time of the service of the priestly course of Abijah in the temple, which are made by reckoning back from the time of the course of Jehoiarib which, according to Jewish tradition, was serving at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, are uncertain (Schurer, op. cit., II, 337, note 3; compare Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 836).
(5) Day and month.
The day and month of Jesus' birth are also uncertain. December 25 was celebrated by the church in the West as early as the 2nd century-if the date in Hippolytus on Dan., IV, 23, be genuine (compare Ehrhardt, Altchr. Lit., 1880-1900, 383); but January 6 was celebrated in the East as the anniversary both of the birth and of the baptism. The fact that shepherds were feeding their flocks at night when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8) makes it improbable that the season of the year was winter.
The birth of Jesus may therefore be assigned to the period 747/7 to 751/5, before the death of Herod, at the time of a census made by Herod in accordance with a decree of Augustus and when Quirinius was exercising extraordinary authority in Syria-Varus being the regular legate of the province, i.e. probably in 748/6.
2. Baptism of Jesus:
The Synoptic Gospels begin their description of the public ministry of Jesus with an account of the ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:1; Luke 3:1; compare of in John 1:19; John 4:24; Josephus, Ant, XVIII, iii, 3) and Luke definitely dates the baptism of Jesus by John in the 15th year of Tiberius. Luke also designates this event as the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and by stating Jesus' age approximately brings it into connection with the date of His birth. If Luke reckoned the reign of Tiberius fro m the death Augustus, August 19, 767/14, the 15th year would extend from August 19, 781/28 to August 18, 782/29; and if Jesus was about thirty years old at this time, His birth would fall 751/3 to 752/2-or sometime after the death of Herod, which is inconsistent with Luke's own and Matthew's representation. This indeed was one of the common modes of reckoning the imperial reigns. The mode of reckoning from the assumption of the tribunician power or from the designation as imperator is altogether unlikely in Luke's case and intrinsically improbable, since for Tiberius the one began in 748/6 and the other in 743/11 (Dio Cassius Iv0.9; liv0.33; Vell. ii0.99; Suet. Tib. ix.11). But if, as seems likely, the method of reckoning by imperial years rather than by the yearly consuls was not definitely fixed when Luke wrote, it is possible that he may have counted the years of Tiberius from his appointment in 764/11 or 765/12 to equal authority with Augustus in the provinces (Veil. ii 121; Suet. Tib. xx0.21; Tac. Ann. i.3). This method seems not to have been employed elsewhere (Lewin, op. cit., 1143; compare Ramsay, op. cit., 202). The coins of Antioch in which it is found are regarded as spurious (Eckhel, op. cit., III, 276), the genuine coins reckoning the reign of Tiberins from the death of Augustus (ibid., III, 278). If Luke reckoned the reign of Tiberins from 764/11 or 765/12, the 15th year would fall in 778/25 or 779/26, probably the latter, and Jesus' birth about thirty years earlier, i.e. about 748/6 or 749/5.
3. First Passover:
At the time of the first Passover in Jesus' ministry the Herodian temple had been building 46 years (John 2:20). Herod began the temple in the 18th year of his reign (Ant., XV, xi, 1, which probably corrects the statement in BJ, I, xxi, I that it was the 15th year; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 369, note 12). As Josephus reckons from the accession of Herod in 717/37, the 18th year would be 734/20 to 735/21 and 46 years later would be 780/27 to 781/28. The interval implied in John between this Passover and the beginning of Jesus' ministry agrees well with the Lucan dating of the baptism in 779/26.
4. Death of John the Baptist:
The imprisonment of John the Baptist, which preceded the beginning of Jesus' Galilean work, was continued for a time (Matthew 11:2-19 Luke 7:18-35) but was finally terminated by beheading at the order of Herod Antipas. Announcement of the death was made to Jesus while in the midst of His Galilean ministry (Matthew 14:3-12 Mark 6:14-29 Luke 9:7-9). Josephus reports that the defeat of Antipas by Aretas, in the summer of 789/36, was popularly regarded as a Divine punishment for the murder of John (Ant., XVIII, v, 2); But although Josephus mentions the divorce of Aretas daughter by Antipas as one of the causes of hostilities, no inference can be drawn from this or from the popular interpretation of Antipas' defeat, by which the int erval between John s death and this defeat can be fixed (Schurer, op. cit., I, 443).
5. Length of Jesus' Ministry:
The Synoptic Gospels mention the Passion Passover at which Jesus' ministry was terminated, but they contain no data by which the interval between the imprisonment of John the Baptist and this Passover can be fixed with certainty. Yet indications are not wanting that the interval consisted of at least two years. The Sabbath controversy broke out in Galilee when the grain was still standing in the fields (Matthew 12:1 Mark 2:23 Luke 6:1) and the condition of the grass when the Five Thousand were fed (Matthew 14:15 Mark 6:39 Luke 9:12) points to the springtime, the Passion Passover marking the return of still another springtime (compare also Luke 13:7 Matthew 23:37). But the Gospel of John mentions explicitly three Passovers (John 2:23; John 6:4; John 11:55) and probably implies a fourth (John 5:1), thus necessitating a ministry of at least two years and making probable a ministry of three years after the first Passover. The Passover of 6:4 cannot be eliminated on textual grounds, for the documentary evidence is conclusive in its favor and the argument against it based on the statements of certain patristic writers is unconvincing (compare Turner, HDB, I, 407; Zahn, Kom., IV, 708). The indications of time from John 6:4 John 11:55 -the Passion Passover-are definite and clear (John 7:2; John 10:22). But the interval between the first Passover (John 2:23) and the Galilean Passover (John 6:4) must have been one and may have been two years. The following considerations favor the latter view: Jesus was present in Jerusalem at a feast (John 5:1) which is not named but is called simply "a" or "the" feast of the Jews. The best authorities for the text are divided, some supporting the insertion, others the omission of the definite article before "feast." If the article formed part of the original text, the feast may have been either Tabernacles-from the Jewish point of view-or Passover-from the Christian point of view. If the article was wanting in the original text, the identification of the feast must be made on contextual and other grounds. But the note of time in John 4:35 indicates the lapse of about nine months since the Passover of John 2:23 and it is not likely that the Galilean ministry which preceded the feeding of the Five Thousand lasted only about three months. In fact this is rendered impossible by the condition of the grain in the fields at the time of the Sabbath controversy. The identification of the feast of John 5:1 with Purim, even if the article be not genuine, is extremely improbable; and if so, a Passover must have intervened between John 2:23 and John 6:4, making the ministry of Jesus extend over a period of three years and the months which preceded the Passover of John 2:23. While the identification cannot be made with certainty, if the feast was Passover the subject of the controversy with the Jews in Jerusalem as well as the season of the year would harmonize with the Synoptic account of the Sabbath controversy in Galilee which probably followed this Passover (compare the variant reading in Luke 6:1).
6. Death of Jesus:
Jesus was put to death in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:29; John 19:1; Acts 3:13; Acts 4:27; Acts 13:28 1 Timothy 6:13; Tac. Ann. xv.44), Caiaphas being the high priest (Matthew 26:3, 17 John 11:49; John 18:13) and Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea (Luke 23:7). Pilate was procurator from 779/26 to 789/36 (Ant., XVIII, iv, 3; v, 3; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 487, note 141); Caiaphas was high priest from 771/18 to 789/36 (Ant., XVIII, ii, 2; iv, 3; compare Schurer, op. cit., II, 271) and Antipas was tetrarch from 750/4 to 792/39. If the first Passover of Jesus' ministry was in 780/27, the fourth would fall in 783/30. The gospels name Friday as the day of the crucifixion (Matthew 27:62 Mark 15:42 Luke 23:54 John 19:14, 31, 42) and the Synoptic Gospels represent this Friday as Nisan 15-the day following (or according to Jewish reckoning from sunset to sunset, the same day as) the day on which the paschal supper was eaten (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7). But the Fourth Gospel is thought by many to represent the paschal meal as still uneaten when Jesus suffered (John 18:28; compare John 13:29); and it is held that the Synoptic Gospels also contain traces of this view (Matthew 26:5 Mark 14:2; Mark 15:21 Luke 23:26). Astronomical calculations show that Friday could have fallen on Nisan 14 or 15 in 783/30 according to different methods of reckoning (von Soden, EB, I, 806; compare Bacon, Journal of Biblical Literature, XXVIII, 2, 1910, 130; Fotheringham, Jour. of Theol. Studies, October, 1910, 120), but the empirical character of the Jewish calendar renders the result of such calculations uncertain (Schurer, op. cit., I, 749). In the year 783/30 Friday, Nican 15, would fall on April 7. There is an early patristic tradition which dates the death of Jesus in the year 782/29, in the consulship of the Gemini (Turner, HDB, I, 413), but its origin and trustworthy character are problematical.
7. Summary of Dates:
1. Birth of Jesus, 748/6.
2. Death of Herod the Great, 750/4.
3. Baptism of Jesus, 779/26.
4. First Passover of Jesus' ministry, 780/27.
5. Death of Jesus, 783/30.
Schurer, Geschichte des Judischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi, 3. und 4. Aufl., 1901-9, 3 volumes, English translation of the 2nd edition, in 5 volumes, 1885-94; Ideler, Handbuch der mathematischen und technischen Chronologie, 1825-26, 2 volumes; Wieseler, Chronologische Synopse der Evangelien, 1843, English translation; Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 1865; Turner, article "Chronology of the NT" in HDB, 1900, I. 403-25; von Soden, article "Chronology" in Cheyne and Black, EB, 1899, I, 799-819; Ramsay, Wa s Christ Born at Bethlehem? 1898; F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock, article "Dates" in Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels; Mommsen, Res Gestae Divi Augusti2.
II. Chronology of the Apostolic Age.
The chronology of the apostolic age must be based on the data in Acts and the epistolary literature of the New Testament which afford contacts with persons or events of the Greek-Roman world. From the fixed points thus secured a general outline of the relative chronology may be established with reasonable probability.
1. Paul's Conversion:
Paul was converted near Damascus (Acts 9:3; Acts 22:5; Acts 26:12; Galatians 1:17). After a brief stay in that city (Acts 9:19) he went to Arabia and then came again to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). When he left Damascus the second time, he returned to Jerusalem after an absence of three years (Galatians 1:18). The flight of Paul from Damascus (Acts 9:24) probably terminated his second visit to the city. At that time the ethnarch of Aretas, the king of the Nabateans, acting with the resident Jews (Acts 9:23), guarded t he city to seize him (2 Corinthians 11:32). Aretas IV succeeded Obodas about 9 B.C., and reigned until about 40 A.D. Damascus was taken by the Romans in 62 B.C. and probably continued under their control until the death of Tiberius (March 37 A.D.). Roman coins of Damascus exist from the time of Augustus, Tiberius and Nero, but there are no such coins from the time of Caligula and Claudius (Schurer, op. cit., I, 737; II, 153). Moreover the relations of Aretas to Augustus and Tiberius make it extremely improbable that he held Damascus during their reign as part of his kingdom or acquired it by conquest. The statement of Paul however seems to imply Nabatean control of the city, and this is best explained on the supposition that Damascus was given to Aretas by Caligula, the change in the imperial attitude being due perhaps to the influence primarily of Agrippa and possibly also of Vitellius (Steinmann, Aretas IV, 1909, 34). But if Paul's escape from Damascus was not earlier than 37 A.D., his conversion cannot be placed earlier than 34 or 35 A.D., and the journey to Jerusalem 14 years later (Galatians 2:1) not earlier than 50 or 51 A.D.
2. Death of Herod Agrippa I:
Herod Agrippa I died in Caesarea shortly after a Passover season (Acts 12:23; compare Acts 12:3, 19). Caligula had given him the tetrarchy of Philip and of Lysanias in 37 A.D.-the latter either at this time or later-with the title of king (Ant., XVIII, vi, 10; BJ, II, ix, 6) and this was increased in 40 A.D. by the tetrarchy of Antipas (Ant., XVIII, vii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 6). Claudius gave him also Judea and Samaria (Ant., XIX, v, 1; BJ, II, xi, 5) thus making his territory even more extensive than that of his grandfather, Herod the Great. Agrippa reigned over "all Judea" for three years under Claudius (Ant., XIX, viii, 2; BJ, II, xi, 6), his death falling in the spring of 44 A.D., in the 7th year of his reign. The games mentioned by Josephus in this connection are probably those that were celebrated in honor of the return of Claudius from Britain in 44 A.D. There are coins of Agrippa from his 6th year, but the attribution to him of coins from other years is questioned (Schurer, op. cit., 560, note 40; Madden, op. cit., 132).
3. Famine under Claudius:
The prophecy of a famine and its fulfillment under Claudius (Acts 11:28) are associated in Acts with the death of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 11:30; Acts 12:23). Famines in Rome during the reign of Claudius are mentioned by Suetonius (Claud. xviii), Dio Cassius (lx.11), Tacitus (Annals xii.43), and Orosius (vii.6). Josephus narrates in the time of Fadus the generosity of Helena during a famine in Palestine (Ant., XX, ii, 5), but subsequently dates the famine generally in the time of Fadus and Alexander. The famine in P alestine would fall therefore at some time between 44 and 48 (Schurer, op. cit., I, 567, note 8).
4. Sergius Paulus:
When Paul visited Cyprus with Barnabas the island was administered by Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7), a proprietor with the title proconsul (Marquardt, op. cit., I, 391). There is an inscription from Cyprus (Cagnat, Inscr. graec. ad res rom. pertin., III; 930) dating from the 1st century, and probably from the year 53 (Zahn, Neue kirch. Zeitschr., 1904, XV, 194) in which an incident in the career of a certain Apollonius is dated in the proconsulship of Paulus (epi Palilou (anth)upatou).
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