EMPEROR AUGUSTUS (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

The name Augustus means sacred on kingly. History tells us that Caesar Augustus succeeded as the Emperor of Rome at the death of his uncle, Julius Caesar.

Bible scholar and author of Who’s Who the New Testament, Ronald Brownrigg has given a short biography of Caesar Augustus. “Gaius Octavius was born at Rome in 63 BC as the great-nephew of Julius Caesar. At the age of 20, on the assassination of Caesar, he learned that he had been adopted as Caesar’s hair. He conquered his rival, Anthony, at the battle of Actium in 31 BC and held supreme power in the Roman world for the next 45 years” (p. 15).

Luke tell us, “At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own town. Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judaea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David” (Lk 2, 1-4).

Here Luke has put the place Nazareth and the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem in a particular historical context by referring to the Emperor Augustus and the Governor of Syria, Quirinius. But bible scholars say that it was not the practice of the Roman emperors to order census of whole empire. But ordering census of Roman Provinces was rather common practice for the purpose of taxing people in a particular province. Such taxation was carried out by the authority of the province governors. So it was possible that the census, which Luke has referred to, must have been ordered by Herod the Great who died in 4 BC. So now bible scholars conclude that Jesus was born probably on 6 BC. Scholars agree that there was a mistake in calculating and preparing the calendar which Pope Gregory XIII introduced in 1582 AD. The calendar is known as Gregorian calendar.

The Romans had their own calendar and the Romans recorded their own history. Accordingly “Augustus” was the title given to Gains Octavius by the Roman senate. Augustus ruled the Roman empire for 45 years. His reign marked peace and progress in the Roman empire. At the death of Augustus in 14 AD his stepson Tiberius succeeded him.

Herod the Great who died in BC 4 built two cities in honour of Emperor Augustus: Caesarea was built on the Mediterranean cost and Samaria in the hill country. The Greek word ‘Sebastos’ means ‘Augustus’.

In the Bible the name Augustus appears only in Luke in the New Testament. (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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