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Luke says that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem because of a census called by the Roman governor Quirinius. But there is no other record of a census in Judea at that time, and Quirinius was not appointed governor until 6 AD, years after Jesus was born.
There is a huge amount that we do not know about the ancient world. Historians say that we have less than one percent of the things that were written at the time. So 99 percent of the evidence has gone missing.
Luke specifically mentions that this was the first census. Maybe he knew that there was a later census – perhaps the better known one in 6 A.D. So it is possible that Luke is talking about an earlier census, at the time of Jesus's birth, but the evidence for it has been lost.
We just do not know the answer about Luke's census. But as we have seen earlier, Luke is a careful historian. Where we can check his account against other sources, it checks out. So does it not make sense to give him the benefit of the doubt here where we can not check?
Unwrapped video #18