Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

People of God

I am reading The covenant in Judaism and Paul: a study of ritual boundaries as identity markers by Ellen Juhl Christiansen.[i] Since I have tunnel vision, I am interested in whether the concepts expressed in this book could be applied to the writings of Luke. The introductory discussion of covenant included these sentences of particular interest to me. “If covenantal identity is seen against the background of other expressions of a collective self-understanding in the Old Testament, there are several important terms that also reflect covenantal belonging. Since they play a role in both intertestamental literature and the New Testament, I shall mention them as possible alternative or replacement categories. Thus the Hebrew word for “people” (of God) is an inclusive term, used of Israel as a totality with the underlying assumption that belonging to the people of Israel is through birth (footnote omitted).”[ii] Christiansen also mentions two other terms: “elect” and “assembly” but my interest is in the first term. This Hebrew term is translated over 1500 times in the Septuagint as laos. This Greek word appears numerous times in the New Testament as follow: Matthew, 13 times; Mark, 3; Luke, 37; John, 3; Acts, 47 and in the remainder of the New Testament, 29 times. I had previously written the following sentence that was included in one of my published articles. “Someone who writes a book tying his history to the whole course of the salvation history of God's people wherein laos is used thirty-seven times [in Luke] and the people are the recipient of God's promised deliverance,[iii] is not writing about the rejection of God's people.” I think I am going to enjoy this book by Ellen Juhl Christiansen.

[i] Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1995.
[ii] Christiansen, 5-6.
[iii] Lk. 1:17, 21; 2:10, 31, 32.

copyrighted 2005


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