Several days ago I blogged on the census and whether or not this was an issue during the ministry of Jesus as asserted by Nikos Kokkinos and Hugh Schonfield based on passages cited by them found in the Gospel of Luke. I stated, inter alia, “there is no evidence that the census was an issue during the ministry of Jesus.” Kokkinos, as well as Schonfield, and I have overlooked something.
A cursory review of the word “tribute” has interesting results, one that I can share with you because I can show you using Greek fonts the actual words used by the synoptic writers. Kokkinos and Schonfield both cited Lk. 20:22 and in particular the question, “Is it lawful to pay tribute to the Caesar?” This verse also appears in Matthew at 22:18 and Mark at 12:14. Only Luke includes after “lawful” the phrase “for us.”
Matthew and Mark use the Greek word khnson which is translated as tribute or taxes in most translations. However, Luke uses the Greek word foron which is also translated as tribute or taxes in most translations. foron appears in Lk 20:22; 23:2 and Rom. 13:6, 7 while khnson can be found in Matt. 17:25; 22:17; 22:19 and Mark 12:14. The more interesting observation is that khnson is a Latin loan word used for the Roman census system whereby individuals register and their property is evaluated so that a poll tax can be imposed for the benefit of the emperor. foron is an annual tax levied upon houses, land and persons. Luke has either looked to Neh. 5:4 (LXX) or 1 Macc. 8:4,7 although admittedly the word is also used by Herodotus, Plato, Strabo, Paul and Josephus.
The NT writers also use several other words that may be relevant to a thorough investigation of whether the census was an issue during the ministry of Jesus asserted by Kokkinos and Schonfield.
Luke does not use khnson as does Matthew and Mark. More research is necessary to determine the significance of this word usage.