Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Luke 2:40-52 and I Samuel 2:26-3:19

Lee Dahn in his blog on March 30, 2005 with this title,, states: “A second reason Theophilus would have found this story significant is its strong parallel to that of I Samuel 2-3.”

I reviewed Luke 2:40-52 in Plummer’s Commentary on Luke and note his only comment on I Samuel is with respect to Lk. 2:52. He states: “The verse is very similar to 1 Sam. Ii 26, of which it is perhaps a quotation.” Plummer does not comment on the significance of this observation.

Bovon’s comments are more extensive. With verse to Luke 2:42 he states: “In both Greek and Jewish biography, there is the topos of the gifted hero, who at twelve years demonstrates his superior intelligence: Cyrus, Cambyses, Alexander, and Epicures-or Solomon, Samuel and Daniel (citing De Jonge, “Sonship,” 322-23). According to Josephus (citing Ant. 5.10.4 § 348), Samuel began to prophesy as a twelve-year old. Thus Luke intends to describe Jesus’ superiority by having him follow in the footstep of great heroes.”[i] Commenting on verse 46, Bovan states, inter alia: “The teachers’ acceptance of him in this manner testifies to Jesus’ wisdom, though this wisdom expresses itself in listening and questioning.”[ii]

Bovan’s detailed discussion of verse 49 includes these comments. “The biblical accounts of Samuel (1 Sam [LXX 1 Kgdms] 2:18-26) and of Daniel have left their mark. The footnote states in part, According to ancient witnesses, Daniel was twelve years old when he sat down with the elders and began to rule (citations omitted). .... Finally, many LXX mss. mention that Solomon was twelve when he ascended to the throne (1 Kgs [3 Kgdms] 2:12).”

Coleridge, The Birth of the Lukan Nartrative, Narrative as Christology in Luke 1-2, does not cite or mention 1 Samuel in discussing Luke 2:40-52.[iii]

I also checked Darrell Bock’s Commentary on Luke. With respect to 2:40 he states in part: “The language has both OT (Judg. 13:24; 1 Sam. 2:21, 26) and NT parallels (Acts 6:8; 7:10: Bovan 1989: 150 n. 79).”[iv] Bock’s only other comment is with respect to 2:52 where he states: “The wording is like 1 Sam. 2:21, 26.”[v]

It appears that Roger Aus’ book, Samuel, Saul, and Jesus: three early Palestinian Jewish Christian Gospel Haggadoth, published by Scholars Press, (1994), includes the only extended comparative analysis of Luke 2:40-52 and I Samuel 2:26-3:19.

Plummer, Bovan, Coleridge, Bock and Aus have not recognized the possible significance of Luke’s implicit comparison of Jesus to Samuel. Luke tells us that Jesus is a prophet like Moses. Both Jeremiah and Josephus consider Samuel to be one of the greatest prophets. Luke does not explicitly state that Jesus is a prophet like Samuel.[vi] Yet Bovan concludes: “Luke intends to describe Jesus’ superiority by having him follow in the footstep of great heroes.” Bovan does not state: “Luke intends to describe Jesus’ superiority by having him follow in the footstep of Moses and Samuel.”

Why then, if we accept Lee Dahn’s original and insightful observation, is Luke being subtle in comparing Jesus to Samuel, one of the greatest prophets, who resided in the temple at Shiloh from the age of two and according to 1 Samuel 2:35 is the fulfillment of God’s promise to “raise up for myself a faithful high priest”?

[i] Evangelium nach Lukas: 1. [English] Luke 1: a commentary on the Gospel of Luke 1:1-9:50 by François Bovon; tr. by Christine M. Thomas; ed. by Helmut Koester, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002), 111.
[ii] Bovan, 112.
[iii] Coleridge, 183-213.
[iv] Bock, 254.
[v] Bock, 274.
[vi] Moses appears 80 times in NT, (6 in Luke); Samuel three times in NT, twice in Acts and once in Hebrew.

Copyrighted 2005


Post a Comment

<< Home