|Length:||21 lines of writing|
|Genre:||Official Census Edict|
|Place of Discovery:||Egypt
|Date of Discovery:||c. 1905
|Current Location:||British Museum, London|
|Inventory Number:||P.London 904
|Photo:||Deissman, Light, after 270
(from Hunt & Edgar 1934:108)
(This is readable as Greek
if "Symbol" font is installed)
by K. C. Hanson
(Adapted from Hunt & Edgar)
GaioV OuibioV MaximoV eparcoV Aiguptou legei thV kat oikian apografhV enestwshV anagkaion estin pasin toiV kaq hntina dhpote aitian apodhmousin apo twn nomwn prosaggellesqai epanelqein eiV ta eautwn efestia ina kai thn sunhqh oikonomian thV apografhV plhrwswsin kai th proshkoush autoiV gewrgiai proskarterhswsin eidwV mentoi oti eniwn twn apo thV cwraV h poliV hmwn ecei creian boulomai pantaV touV eulogon dokountaV ecein tou enqade epimenin aitian apografesqai para Boul . . . Fhstw eparcwi eilhV on epi toutw etaxa ou kai taV upografaV oi apodeixanteV anagkaian autwn thn parousian lhmyontai kata touto to paraggelma entoV thV triakadoV tou enestwtoV mhnoV E . . .
A few words have been reconstructed by the editors.
Gaius Vibius Maximus, the Prefect of Egypt, declares:
The "Prefect of Egypt" (Latin: Prefectus) was the Roman governor over all Egypt.
A "nome" was an Egyptian administrative district.
A "Cavalry Commander" (Latin: Prefectus Alae) was a commander of a Roman auxiliary cavalry unit.
1. What was the role and status of the "Prefectus of Egypt" within the Roman Empire? How does this compare to the "Prefectus Alae"? Where does each of these fit on the Roman cursus honorem?
2. What does this edict indicate about the relationship between the city and the countryside and the state's right to control who stays in the city?
3. What functions did a census serve in the ancient world? How do these functions relate to the primary tasks/concerns of aristocratic empires? (Read 2 Samuel 24:1-25; Luke 2:1-7; Acts 5:37)
4. What role does the Roman census play in the narrative about Jesus' birth in Luke's gospel? What historical problems have been raised about the dating of that census?
Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. 2nd ed. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1993.
Brunt, P. A. "The Revenues of Rome." Journal of Roman Studies 71 (1981) 161-72.
Deissmann, Adolf. Light from the Ancient East: The New Testament Illustrated by Recently Discovered Texts of the Graeco-Roman World, 270-71 + Fig. 51. Translated by L. R. M. Strachan. New York: Harper & Row, 1927. Reprinted by Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965.
Hunt, A. S., and C. C. Edgar. Select Papyri. Vol. 2: Non-Literary Papyri; Public Documents. Loeb Classical Library 282. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1934.
Rohrbaugh, Richard L. "The Pre-Industrial City in Luke-Acts: Urban Social Relations." In The Social World of Luke-Acts: Models for Interpretation. Edited by Jerome H. Neyrey, 125-49. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991.
Schmitz, Philip C. "Census: Roman Census." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 1.883-85. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Schürer, Emil. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ. Vol. 1.399-427. Edited by Geza Vermes et al. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973.