Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Paul’s collection for the Poor

It is sometimes asserted, that Luke's failure to mention in Acts, Paul's collection for the Poor is an indication Luke is not an eyewitness. The evidence has not been properly analysed. Paul develops the collection idea depicted in Acts 11:29-30 into a theology of the collection which he uses to mold his group of house churches into a cohesive ecclesia. This theology is necessary to counter-act the temple tax notion advocated by Jerusalem. Although Paul initially fails in his efforts to organize a collection, Philippi comes through for Paul as a result of which Paul in his praises of the Macedonian churches is very effusive in his praise of the messenger. He elevates the messenger, bringing the collection to him, into a preacher known throughout the world. Propaganda is successful only if there is more than a grain of truth to it. Luke, the messenger, is in fact the author of the most successful gospel the world has known. No commentary has recognized this possibility. Luke was too modest to identify himself with the second collection and Paul said nothing about the first collection in his letters since it was not his idea.

Paul does come to Jerusalem with a sum of money sufficient to pay for four men to undergo a Nazirite vow with him. It may be that Luke does mention the second collection but we do not recognize it. This sum of money used to pay the cost of undertaking a Nazirite vow for Paul and four other Nazirites may represent the collection. It is considered to be a pious act to pay for the expenses of a Nazirite, which included offering the obligatory animal sacrifices at the conclusion thereof, who is not rich enough. In Sifre Zuta, a midrashic commentary on Numbers, one of the schools even rejects the Nazirite vow because of the costs. Luke is not embarrassed by this event and considers it to be a proper use of the collection further confirming his Jewishness. This event also demonstrates that Paul remains Temple-oriented and thus Jerusalem-oriented.

copyrighted 2005


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