Presentation of Verifiable Facts
Michael Coogan, The History of the Biblical World in Recent Scholarship, “addressing the recent scholarly debate on the historical value of the Bible, challenges the biblical minimalists, scholars who reject the Bible as a viable source of history. Demonstrating how archaeological evidence can inform the biblical text, Coogan maintains that the Bible, in conjunction with archaeological evidence, should still be considered part of history, and that despite the ideological slant of the biblical authors, the Bible does contain verifiable historical data.” According to Clare K. Rothschild “what distinguishes these works as history is an abiding focus on the presentation of verifiable facts.”[i] The unmistakable role of the placement of the name of Johanna in the vertex of the chiastic structure is to draw attention to the one eyewitness to the resurrection known personally to the first reader, most excellent Theophilus. This demonstrates that Luke has employed chiastic structures as one of his rhetorical tools in “the presentation of verifiable facts.”
According to Dillon, “Lk accentuates what is more important matter for him: these are the women who ‘have come up from Galilee’ with Jesus, hence they are members of that stable gallery of ‘witnesses’ who provide a crucial continuity-factor in the whole story of Luke-Acts.”[ii] Rothschild notes, “The apostles refuse to believe the testimony, not because the testimony is from women, but as in the Rhoda pericope, because it is hearsay in need of eyewitness corroboration.”[iii] Dillon states: “verification of the women’s story by prominent disciples”[iv] is an important Lucan addition. However, neither Dillon nor Rothschild discussed the existence of a chiastic structure in Lk. 24: 8-11 with the name of Johanna in the vertex.
What connects these stray thoughts together? Unbeknownst to Coogan, Rothschild and Dillon, there is archeological evidence in the form of an ossuary confirming the historical existence of Theophilus the High Priest and Johanna, his granddaughter.[v]
[i] Luke-Acts and the Rhetoric of History, (Tubingen, 2004), 98.
[ii] Dillon, Richard J., From eye-witnesses to ministers of the Word: tradition and composition in Luke 24, (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978), 8-9.
[iii] Rothschild, Clare K., Luke-Acts and the rhetoric of history: an investigation of early Christian historiography, (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 252.
[iv] Dillon, 5.
[v] D. Barag and D. Flusser, The Ossuary of Yehohanah Granddaughter of the High Priest Theophilus, Israel Exploration Journal, 36 (1986), 39-44.