Hugh Fogelman


Luke was the ONLY Gospel writer who explained why Joseph and a pregnant Mary and went to Bethlehem―to be taxed by Caesar Augustus.

Matthew, the only other Gospel writer who wrote about Jesus’ birth did not write about the taxing decree commonly referred to “The Roman Census.”  Paul too, never wrote about any taxing or census. But Luke told the story of Rome ordering every person residing in the entire Roman world who was not in “his own city” to leave his place of residence to go to his ancestral town/“own city.”

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. (Luke 2:1-3 King James Version)

Luke explained that is why Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem. Sounds like a simple story. But after reading the particulars, does this story sound logical to you?

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. (Luke 2:4-5 KJV)

A couple of questions come to mind. Was this Joseph the son of Heil, or the son of Jacob, as Matthew claims? Was Bethlehem also the ancestral town of Heil and Jacob? If not, then most likely Joseph was not born in Bethlehem. Also, there is no record that Bethlehem was Mary’s ancestral town.

A loving husband does not take his very pregnant wife—“being great with child” (Luke 2:5)―on a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem; 69 miles as "the-crow-flies."  Can you imagine how terrible a journey like this would have been to Mary? She, already being uncomfortable, would have spent long hours and days riding on a donkey; spending nights without shelter against the extreme desert climate (the exact time of the year is not known). Joseph knew that Mary was about to deliver (within a month), so logically, he could have delayed his journey until after her pregnancy ended. What was the rush for Joseph to put his loving wife in peril? He could have waited! Ah, but when you think you realize that this New Testament story is like all the rest―Herod’s slaughter etc.,― simply fiction, then you can begin to see it how ridiculous it really is.

Were Joseph and Mary even married at all? Not according to what Luke said: “… Mary his espoused wife…” (Luke 2:5 KJV). In Jewish tradition, being betrothed means living apart for one year; then marriage. It is forbidden for a betrothed couple to even live under the same roof.  And if they pretended they were married, did they go the whole nine yards; ceremony, rings, etc? Matthew says that they were married, but did not have sexual intercourse for nine months.1 Is all this logical? NO!

Christian apologists often claim that Joseph and Mary merely pretended to be married, living under one roof lying to their neighbors just to save Mary from being punished by the Jewish courts. It becomes comical to watch Christianity continue to “invent” justifications/excuses for its scriptures.  On top of it all, these very same Christian theologians, not knowing Jewish law, also claim that a betrothed woman, representing herself to be a virgin would be sentenced to death if found out that she was not married. This in incorrect, wrong, in error!

A woman who has relations while betrothed is under threat of the death penalty. She is not punished for merely failing to be a virgin. A bethrothed woman would be warned by witnesses against having relations. If she then willingly and wittingly did so anyway, and these witnesses personally observed the bethrothed couple in such contact (they need not see the actual act; they need see only that one is lying on top of the other) THEN she (and he as well) is sentenced to death by the court. Virginity is essentially irrelevant to the conviction. Virginity is simply the husband’s first sign that something is wrong. So if, on a wedding night, the husband discovers that his wife is not a virgin, he can demand a divorce, but the lack of virginity alone is not proof of adultery. She might have had relations before she even met her husband, and before they got betrothed.

Nowhere in the New Testament does it tell that there was a legal marriage ceremony between Joseph and Mary. Only that they were living together and he took her as his wife.  The writers/editors of the New Testament were trying to imitate the Hebrew Bible. In the that terminology “taking a wife” means getting married with a religious ― and thus legal in Judaism ― ceremony. But nowhere in the New Testament does it mention them getting married. Maybe, that part of the story was not important enough to mention. Maybe the New Testament authors were too busy inventing other stories and history; who knows why “marriage” was never mentioned..

On to the taxing and census itself; Rome would never have conducted a taxing/census in the manner described by Luke, nor did it ever do this. It makes absolutely no sense for Rome to demand that people leave their towns (places of residence) to travel to another town to be registered, only to turn around and go back from where they came. This also presumes that the people all knew their ancestral origins.  How could this be when, over the years, so many conquered people had to flee their ancestral towns and so many towns were destroyed. If it was necessary to travel to one’s ancestral town, the male representing the head of the household would have been sufficient. There would be no reason to require a wife to accompany her husband, especially one in the last month of pregnancy. On the other hand, if it was mandatory that every being over a certain age had to find their ancestral town, it would also have caused the disruption of normal family life in the many cases where husbands and wives had to set off in opposite directions in order for each to return to their “own city.” Then what about the children―especially if they were born in different towns than either parent?  Can you imagine weeks, months away from your business and home? Did everyone have the money to purchase lodging and meals for this trip or did they have enough time to save up for it? These are just a few questions that come to mind, but are left unanswered.

A Roman decree of this size would have created a chaotic situation. People would have had to travel throughout the length of the entire Roman Empire to get to their ancestral homes.  From the very tip to the lowest point of the Empire thousands of people would have to find their ancestral towns. AND how would Rome have known if a person was from any particular ancestral town? They would have not! Again, one can clearly see that this New Testament story is purely fiction.

Rome would have accomplished the same task by having these people register in the towns in which they actually resided. Especially in the eastern provinces of which Judea was a part, such a census would present a serious military danger, for the Parthians, then Rome’s strongest foe in the area, would have had an excellent opportunity to attack, not to mention the unrest of rebel activity in the area of Galilee. Roman troops on the march would find it extremely difficult to compete with the tremendous mass of civilians on their way to or from registration. It is ridiculous to even imagine that Rome was so incompetent as to throw the entire Empire into such a chaotic state and endangering the security of its Roman citizens against rebel attacks

People, THINK! Can you even imagine how the very old or sick or handicapped people could possibly have made such a difficult trip through the desert, traveling over extremely poor roads on foot or riding an animal? Then once registered, they had to return. There were no available road-side services, 7-11s or shelter for travelers. Assuming the New Testament account by Luke was truthful, it would be impossible that an event of this magnitude would go unnoticed by everyone else living in the world when these events were unfolding! Yet no contemporary historian or writer mentions Luke's tall taxing or the turmoil it would have caused

This whole story is neither plausible nor supported by history― that the Romans conducted a census in the manner described by Luke―but then Luke had to come up with a reason why Mary had to go to Bethlehem to fulfill another misinterpreted prophecy. Micah 5:1-2 was saying, reflecting back to David, that the ruler over Israel will come from Bethlehem. Christians seem to forget that this prophecy was about King David who was actually born in Bethlehem. This prophecy was about David, not about a city. In other words, the Jewish concocted messiah could be born in any city ― what is important is that he must come from the royal line of David who was supposedly born in Bethlehem.

After all is said and done, this is just another fabricated story in the life of Jesus ― a fictitious man-god. It is just another attempt to try to make Jesus fit into the similarity fictitious Hebrew scriptures.  Don’t let your clergy and friends continue to shove these fictions down your throat as reality! You now know differently.

"When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion." -Robert Pirsig (1928-)



1.  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:18 KJV)



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