EWTN Catholic Q&A
Where did Luke get his information?
Question from Curious George on 11-01-2012:

The US Catholic Conference of Bishops Revised New American Bible, (2011), quotes Luke 2 thus:

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus* that the whole world should be enrolled.”

However, in the foot note to this verse, the NAB acknowledges that:

“Although universal registrations of Roman citizens are attested in 28 B.C., 8 B.C., and A.D. 14 and enrollments in individual provinces of those who are not Roman citizens are also attested, such a universal census of the Roman world under Caesar Augustus is unknown outside the New Testament.”

Where did Luke get his information? Was he in error?

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 11-06-2012:

There are no errors anywhere in the whole of the Bible, as the Bible is the Word of God, who does not act against the truth. The census mentioned in the Gospel of Saint Luke has been studied and discussed for centuries. Bottom line is we are not sure what census Saint Luke makes reference to, whether it was by Caesar or more local. As to sources, Saint Luke was a close companion to Saint Paul and no doubt had access to other Apostles, eye-witnesses and even the Blessed Mother.

God bless,

Father Echert