5

Caesar Augustus was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire. He succeeded the dictator Julius Caesar and was succeeded by Caesar Tiberius. Some claim Tiberius was co-regent with Augustus for a couple years prior to Augustus' death, but this is disputed. A co-regency is the situation where a monarchical position (such as king, queen, emperor or empress), normally held by only a single person, is held by two or more.

This is an important issue to historians, as it affects the dating of the life of Jesus. Had there been a co-regency, Jesus could have started His ministry as early as AD 26 or 27, allowing for AD 30 to be the date of Jesus' death. Had there been no co-regency, His ministry would have started at about AD 29, putting His death around AD 33.

An article from the creationist web site Answers In Genesis says (see Conclusion)

[S]ome have postulated a co-regency (joint rule) of Tiberius and Augustus during the last few years of Augustus’s reign. However, there is no reliable ancient historical evidence for such co-regency.

[emphasis mine]

Is there any historical evidence for Caesar Tiberius having a co-regency with his predecessor Caesar Augustus?

  • 1
    Interesting. I was not aware of this possibility and had previously privately rejected AD 30 as a date for the Crucifixion precisely because there didn't seem enough time for the ministry. – TheMathemagician Apr 21 '17 at 15:43
  • @TheMathemagician all that we need to know now is when Luke started counting: from the beginning of Tiberius' co-regency or from the beginning of his reign after Augustus' death. This is now key. I may ask that over at Hermeneutics StackExchange. – A Child of God Apr 21 '17 at 16:28
  • Why do you write: "Caesar Augustus was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire. He succeeded the dictator Caesar Julius (commonly referred to as Julius Caesar) and was succeeded by Caesar Tiberius." ? The eternal Dictator's full name was Gaius Julius Caesar, not Caesar Julius. The first emperor's name as emperor was Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus, not Caesar Augustus. The second emperor's name as emperor was Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus, not Caesar Tiberius. – M. A. Golding May 17 '18 at 19:10
6

The author of the Answers in Genesis article is likely incorrect.

Tiberius officially was solely Roman emperor in A.D. 14. However, to quote Garret G. Fagan, a history professor at Penn State:

From A.D. 4 to 14 Tiberius was clearly Augustus's successor. When he was adopted, he also received grants of proconsular power and tribunician power; and in A.D. 13 his proconsular power was made co-extensive with that of Augustus .[[11]] In effect, Tiberius was now co-princeps with Augustus so that when the latter finally died on 19 August A.D. 14, Tiberius's position was unassailable and the continuation of the Principate a foregone conclusion.

Source

Evidence for this appears to be the ancient Roman historian Suetonius. To quote wikipedia's article on Tiberius:

However, according to Suetonius, after a two-year stint in Germania, which lasted from 10−12 AD, "Tiberius' returned and celebrated the triumph which he had postponed, accompanied also by his generals, for whom he had obtained the triumphal regalia. And before turning to enter the Capitol, he dismounted from his chariot and fell at the knees of his father, who was presiding over the ceremonies.” "Since the consuls caused a law to be passed soon after this that he should govern the provinces jointly with Augustus and hold the census with him, he set out for Illyricum on the conclusion of the lustral ceremonies."

Thus according to Suetonius, these ceremonies and the declaration of his "co-princeps" took place in the year 12 AD, after Tiberius return from Germania.

A link to the relevant translation of Suetonius which supplies the quotes in the above.

Suetonius appears to be reliable, and the author from Answers in Genesis has provided no reason to doubt his account.

Note that Princeps civitatis ("First Citizen") is the official title of the Roman Emperor.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .