A quotation…

The most divine [one] … we should consider equal to the Beginning of all things … for when everything was falling [into disorder] and tending towards dissolution, he restored it once more and gave to the whole world a new aspect; [He is] the common good fortune of all … the beginning of life and vitality … all the cities unanimously adopt [his birthday] as the new beginning of the year … the Providence which has regulated our whole existence … has brought our life to the climax of perfection in giving to us [him], whom it filled with virtue for the welfare of men, and who, being sent to us and our descendants as a saviour, has put an end to war and has set all things in order and, having become manifest, [he] has fulfilled all the hopes of earlier times … the birthday of [this divine one] has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel concerning him.

First surprise, the date: 9BC…

Second surprise, the subject: Caesar Augustus…

(Source: the inscription of the decree of the Provincial Assembly of Asia, OGIS 2, 458, quoted in Horsley, The Liberation of Christmas, p. 27.)


  1. Sean
    Oct 7, 2011

    The inscription is from Priene and it is the go-to evidence for the NT-as- counter-imperial scholars such as Horsley, Wright and others. There is a good discussion of the relation between the inscription and Mark’s incipit in Craig Evan’s article:

    It’s nice when you guys stumble across stuff that we have been discussing for years 😉

  2. Terry
    Oct 7, 2011


    Oh, it’s about Augustus, you say…

  3. Jess McC
    Oct 20, 2011

    Hi Steve. Came across your blog and wanted to say hello – after all, it’s been about 20 years! It’s Jess McClellan here – Morphet as was. Lost contact with Baptists a bit as married a C of E vicar and have gone over to the other side! Via Oak Hill and Sevenoaks, we are at St John’s, Bromley. So lovely to see Cambridge people posting, none of whom I’m in touch with but so great that they are going on in Christ.
    Much love to you and Heather.

    • Steve H
      Oct 21, 2011

      Jess – so good to hear from you!
      I was down at Oak Hill on Monday – I’m external examiner for them, although Mon. was a conference.
      I still tell the story about you and me coming out of the National Gallery as the police horses charged at the poll tax protesters in Trafalgar Square.
      Heather says hi.

      Email – if you ever want it – sh80@st-andrews.ac.uk


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