Stephen’ Fry’s “Quite Interesting” was far from that on Saturday 12th November when Mr. Fry launched an assault on the teaching of the Bible. Stephen Fry, a well-known and outspoken atheist simply couldn’t help himself spread his bad news, that there is no God.
In jocular manner he stated that there never was a worldwide census as mentioned in Luke 2 and that there was simply no truth in the fact that people had to return to their birthplace under Roman census. Mr. Fry said that Luke’s record was a fabricated idea to make it look that this was a fulfillment of the Old Testament Scripture.
As the merriment of bashing the Bible continued Jesus birth was referred to as something like getting Santa to Lapland.
One would expect a Cambridge graduate and someone of Mr. Fry’s ability to have studied a little deeper before he made such remarks.
For anyone caught off guard by Mr. Fry’s remarks here is something to chew over. Mr. Fry’s remarks are old hat. As far back as 1890 in Schurer’s History of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus, the worldwide census and the return to a home place was questioned. But these objections are so easily answered.
Firstly with regard to Mr. Fry’s remarks that there never was an empire wide census. His statement is simply not true. Augustus was known in history as a very methodical man. It is widely recognized today that Augustus instituted three censuses in this period. (Tacitus Annals 1.11; Dio Cassius 53.30.2). Also other census taking cycles are now known to have been in place from this time. (Buried History 9:113-132). When Luke writes all the world he is not speaking of all the world as we know it but the Roman world and especially the area in an around Palestine. And again it is recognized that regular census taking took place in Syria, Gaul and Spain.
Secondly with regard Mr. Fry’s comment – even if there was a census which there wasn’t they were not allowed to go to home towns. Again – Mr. Fry is obviously not a scholar. The Romans allowed the Jews to keep all sorts of customs even tax exemption every seventh year (Antiquities 14.10.20). And allowing the Jews to go home for census was no big deal and something that they were willing to do to keep the peace.
I can’t help but feel sorry for Mr. Fry. How foolish he looks to be making comments before the nation that are based on outdated and well answered 100 year information.
I am looking forward to the episode when Mr Fry and his friends do the Koran bashing bit.