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

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Cessation of Prophecy

The followers of Jesus found meaning in the events of the life of Jesus by looking to scripture. For instance, in Today’s Reading for the Third Sunday in Lent, “Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?’”[i] This provided context and meaning for understanding the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness.

“‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see you are a prophet.’”[ii]

As I listened to the Gospel reading this morning, I wondered if there was a disconnect. Malachi was regarded as the last really canonical prophet. While doubtless there was not a total lack of prophetically endowed seers and speakers of God, nevertheless the general conviction prevailed that there was a cessation of prophecy.

Afterall, we read in 1 Maccabees:

And they laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, till there should come a prophet, and give answer concerning them. (1 Maccabees 4:46)

And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day, that there was no prophet seen in Israel. (1 Maccabees 9:27)

And that the Jews, and their priests, had consented that he should be their prince, and high priest for ever, till there should arise a faithful prophet. (1 Maccabees 14:41).

So the thought occurred to me during the gospel reading that Josephus affirms the prevailing belief in the cessation of prophecy in War[iii] because he is attempting to discredit all who claimed to be prophets including by implication the one whose followers said was “a prophet like Moses” and/or “a prophet greater than Moses”. Josephus has lumped together all those so-called prophets with the bandits and troublemakers. His essential thesis (War 1.9-12) is that only only a few trouble makers among the Jews--power-hungry tyrants and marauders who drove the people to rebel against their will, caused the revolt. Josephus revised his view somewhat in Antiquities. In making these statements, I recognize the existence of a heated debate among Feldman[iv], Gray[v] and Mason[vi] as to the meaning of being a prophet in the works of Josephus and whether or not Josephus claimed to be a prophet based in part upon their lexical study. It is my understanding that this quote from Josephus figures prominently in the debate: "From Artexerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets." (Flavius Josephus, Against Apion 1:8).

I am wondering if Josephus in any of his discussions of prophecy mentioned Deuteronomy 18:21-22 which includes the only biblical test of a prophet. If the prophet is in error, then the Scripture instructs us to conclude the prophecy is not from God. The penalty for prophesying falsely was death (18:20). Deuteronomy 13:2 warn us that false prophets sometimes prophesied accurately. Even if what a "prophet" says comes true, the prophet is not necessarily genuine. Jeremiah 5:30-31 provides an accurate commentary on the charismatic movement's prophetic practices, "An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priest rule on their own authority; and my people love it so!"
I will be checking Josephus to see if he (or for that matter Feldman, Gray or Mason) discussed Deut. 13:2 or Jer. 5:30-31.

I was naturally disappointed that Gray’s book was not available at my library but I added it to my reading list.

[i] Exodus 17:2.
[ii] John 4:19. Also included in Today’s Reading for the Third Sunday in Lent.
[iii] Yet I recognize that Josephus in revising 1 Maccabees 12:1 felt the need to insert God’s providence in Antiquities 13:163 but I did not see any rewrite of the above quotes.
[iv] Louis Feldman, "Prophets and Prophecy in Josephus," JTS 41 (1990) 386-422.
[v] Rebecca Gray, Prophetic Figures in Late Second Temple Jewish Palestine: The Evidence from Josephus, (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).
[vi] I have not located Steve Mason’s review of Gray’s book.

copyrighted 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Josephus’ Use of Sources

One of my many projects is to review, study and understand Josephus’ use of sources and chronology. I have discussed his use of 1 Maccabees and Pentateuchal material. Today, I want to mention his use of the phrase "as we have related elsewhere" (kathôs kai en allois dedêlôkamen) at end of these sections: Ant. 13.61; 108 and 119.[i] As I noted yesterday, Josephus used 1 Maccabees as a historical source in Ant. 12-13, paraphrasing 1 Macc 1:11-13:42.

The sentences including the phrases are set forth for further analysis:

Section 61: “But at length he received so many wounds, that he was not able to bear up any longer, but fell. And this is the end that Demetrius came to, when he had reigned eleven years, as we have elsewhere related.”

Section 108: “Alexander had also formerly been on very ill terms with the people of Antioch, for they had suffered very much by his means; yet did Ammonius at length undergo the punishment his insolent crimes had deserved, for he was killed in an opprobrious manner, like a woman, while he endeavored to conceal himself in a feminine habit, as we have elsewhere related.”

Section 119: “Now Alexander, who was called Balas, reigned over Asia five years, as we have elsewhere related.”

This material does not elsewhere in Antiquities nor does the phrase appear in 1 Maccabees as near as I can tell.

In reviewing material I posted earlier, I noticed not only that Josephus in Antiquities used new material not included in War but also this material appeared in Acts of the Apostles: Theudas (Ant. 20:97-98)[Acts 5:36].

This indicates that perhaps Josephus utilized another source and was sloppy in the organization of his material not remembering what material he had used and where he had used it. As to the Theudas material, Josephus saw this material in a new source after the publication of War and included it in Antiquities.

[i] Josephus also uses the phrase or a variation of it in two other places: 13.1.1: By what means the nation of the Jews recovered their freedom when they had been brought into slavery by the Macedonians, and what struggles, and how great battles, Judas, the general of their army, ran through, till he was slain as he was fighting for them, hath been related in the foregoing book; 13.2.1: He was withal slothful and negligent about the public affairs, whereby the hatred of his subjects was the more kindled against him, as we have elsewhere already related. 13.4.1: Demetrius being thus slain in battle, as we have above related, .... Actually, Josephus said in Section 61 that Demetrius fell in battle and now he makes clear that Demetrius was slain in battle.

copyrighted 2005

Friday, February 25, 2005

Rewriting Sacred History II

In an earlier blog, I discussed Josephus and his rewriting of Pentateuchal material. Josephus also rewrote 1 Maccabees “for the most part as a mere paraphrase of that work.”[i] Josephus used 1 Maccabees as a historical source in Ant. 12-13, paraphrasing 1 Macc 1:11-13:42. It is undisputed that both Josephus and the author of 1 Maccabees were pro-Hasmoneans[ii] and pro-Roman.[iii]

Why then did Josephus alter facts presented in 1 Maccabees?

According to Jonathan Goldstein, “Three factors will account for all Josephus’ departures from I 1:20-64: his belief in the veracity of Daniel 7-12, his belief in the value and efficacy of martrydom, and his intention to write his work in good Greek rhetorical style.”[iv] Goldstein also states that although Josephus follow I Macc. 7-16 very closely but departs from the author’s chronology. Furthermore Josephus was unaware that the author of 1 Macc. utilized sources that used two different forms of the Seleucid.[v] “Repeatedly Josephus gives figures for tenures of the high priesthood and for periods when that office was vacant.”[vi] Goldstein demonstrates numerous changes by Josephus designed to eliminate or conceal the gap. “Josephus seems to have believed that the compilers of the [high priestly] list denied the legitimacy of the appointment of the first Hasmonean high priest.”[vii]

[i] Goldstein, 1 Maccabees, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, (Garden City, 1976), 558.
[ii] As to 1 Maccabees: See Collins, First Maccabees, 149; Goldstein, 1 Maccabees, 64ff; and George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jr. “1 and 2 Maccabees—Same Story, Different Meaning,” CTM 42 (1971): 517.
[iii] As to 1 Maccabees: As indicated by favorable comments about the Romans (see chap 8; 12:1-4; 14:24, 40).
[iv] Goldstein, 560.
[v] Goldstein, 569.
[vi] Goldstein, 570.
[vii] Goldstein, 572.

copyrighted 2005

Thursday, February 24, 2005

MEMRA Commentary to the New Testament

This is a Parallel index currently in development.

This is what Luke and Acts look like:

Luke 1:5 = Josephus, Antiquities, 17.7.1; War, 1.31.8Luke 2:1 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.1.1 Luke 2:42 = Josephus, Life of Josephus 1.2Luke 3:1 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.2; War 2.6.3 Luke 3:3 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.5.2-3
Luke 8:17 = Mishnah, Avot 2:4.IVLuke 9:51 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.6.1; War 2.12.3-4
Luke 13:1 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.3.2; War 2.9.4
Luke 20:19-26 = Josephus, War 2.8.1; Antiquities 18.1.1
Luke 20:25 = Mishnah, Avot 3:7
Luke 20:27 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.4; War 2.8.14
Luke 21:2-4 = Josephus, Antiquities 6.7.4
Luke 23:18 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.4; War 2.8.14
Luke 24:19-27 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.3.3

Acts 2:45 = Josephus, War 2.7.4; Antiquities 18.2.5
Acts 5:17 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.4; War 2.8.14
Acts 5:33-39 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.1; Ant. 20.5.2
Acts 5:34 = Mishnah, Gittin 4:2-3, Orlah 2:12, Yevamot 16:7; Middot 5:4F
Acts 11:27-28 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.2.5, Ant. 20.5.2
Acts 12:20 = Josephus, Antiquities 19.8.2
Acts 15:1-20 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.2.3-4
Acts 18:1-2 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.3.5
Acts 21:26 = Josephus, War 5.5.2; Ant. 15.11.5; War 6.2.4
Acts 21:37-38 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.5; War 2.13.5
Acts 22:3 = Mishnah, Gittin 4:2-3, Orlah 2:12, Yevamot 16:7
Acts 23:2 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.2
Acts 23:8 = Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.4; War 2.8.14 Acts 24:1 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.2 Acts 24:24 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.7.1
Acts 24:27-25:2 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.9-10
Acts 25:13 = Mishnah, Sotah, 7:8Acts 25:13 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.7.3
Acts 26:4-5 = Josephus, Life of Josephus 12
Acts 26:27-28 = Josephus, Antiquities 20.7.3

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


The following articles appearing in Biblica discussing aspects of Luke-Acts are posted on the Internet. Enjoy.

J.J. Kilgallen, The importance of the redactor in Lk 18,9-14

J.J. Kilgallen, Jesus’ First Trial, Messiah and God (Lk 22,66-71)

J.J. Kilgallen, The Apostles Whom He Chose because of the Holy Spirit’ A Suggestion Regarding Acts 1,2

J.J. Kilgallen, The Obligation to Heal (Luke 13,10-17),

J.J. Kilgallen, ‘With many other words’ (Acts 2,40):Theological Assumptions in Peter’s Pentecost Speech

J.J. Kilgallen, Hostility to Paul in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13,45) — Why?

R.F. O’Toole, How Does Luke Portray Jesus as Servant of YHWH

Floyd Parker, The Terms “Angel” and “Spirit” in Acts 23,8

D.W. Rooke, Jesus as Royal Priest: Reflections on the Interpretation of the Melchizedek in Heb 7

Domimic Redman, The Crucifixion as Chaoskampf: A New Reading of the Passion Narrative in the Synoptic Gospels

Steven James Schweitzer, The High Priest In Chronicles: An Anomaly in a Detailed Description of the Temple Cult

Rick Strelan, Who was Bar Jesus (Acts 13,6-12)?

John Topel, What Kind of Sign Are Vultures? Luke 17,37b

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rewriting Sacred History

On Superbowl Sunday, I mentioned that I am organizing a synoptic approach to Antiquities 18-20. I see the synopsis as a valuable tool that will let me see similarities and differences in parallel texts that otherwise are hard to observe. While this project is in progress, I will present my thoughts on Josephus, his methodology and the problem that he is attempting to address and solve.

Initially it should be noted that in the first four books of Antiquities, Josephus has rearranged Pentateuchal material.[i] Feldman and others have discussed the rewriting of the stories of Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel with significant modifications. Led by Feldman, other scholars have covered the many issues raised by this rearrangement. Not only has Josephus rearranged and modified, he has changed the emphasis from purity and holiness considerations to the social benefits of the constitution for the Jewish state based on the legal sections of the Torah. Josephus asserted that the Mosaic laws were good and reasonable and that God would provide for those who obey these divine laws.[ii]

Josephus does discuss the cultic laws in detail providing ample clarification for his audience. However in the new scheme of things the emphasis is no longer on the cultic laws.

It is almost as if Josephus has reorganized the structure of the laws in recognition that the cultic laws, which must constitute the bulk of the Mosaic laws, are no longer important in the post-Temple period. Yet nowhere does Josephus tell us the reasons for his substantial reorganization in this manner of the laws that Moses[iii] “learnt from the mouth of God and transmitted in writing to the Hebrews.”[iv]

[i] Feldman, Louis H. "Rearrangement of Pentateuchal Material in Josephus' Antiquities, Books 1-4" available on the internet.
[ii] I plan to read Louis H. Feldman, Josephus's Interpretation of the Bible, (1999).
[iii] Feldman notes that Josephus has omitted any mention of the speech impediment of Moses and the incident of the golden calf and its consequences.
[iv] Ant. 3.286.

copyrighted 2005

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The High Priest as a Divine Mediator

Andre Lacocque proposed that “the vision in Chapter 7 has the Temple as its framework” and that the “one like a son of man” refers to the eschatological high priest.[i] Fletcher-Louis further develops the idea by first demonstrating that “Daniel 7 is ultimately Temple centred.”[ii] Fletcher-Louis then argues that since 1 Enoch 14 is pre-Maccabean, citing numerous authorities, Dan 7:9-14 is dependent on it. In next part of the argument, Flectcher-Louis assert in effect that the missing link to the understanding of Daniel 7 is the fact that “one like a son of man” and Enoch are both priests citing Suter, Nickelsburg, Kvanvig and Hemmelfarb.[iii]

Fletcher-Louis then introduces the argument of Tigchelaar that 1 Enoch 12-16 is directed at the Samaritans.[iv] Since 1 Enoch 12-16 was directed at the Samaritans as satire, it is a mainstream Jerusalem Temple text.[v] Next Fletcher-Louis develops the theme that “the parallel to Enoch 14 suggests Daniel 7 has a Day of Atonement focus.” After some discussion about the dispute between the Sadducees and the Pharisees, with Flectcher-Louis accepting the position of the Sadducees, Flectcher-Louis states: “We are thus led to the conclusion that Dan 7:9-14 describes the eschatological Day of Atonement (perhaps a jubilee) when the true high priest will come to the Ancient of Days surrounded by clouds of incense.”[vi] “The charge of blasphemy in response to Jesus’ claim to be the Son of Man now begins to make sense.”[vii]

This paper was first presented at SBL in 1997 and later posted on the Internet. In 1997, my first article appeared in Evangelical Quarterly wherein I proposed that Luke addressed his gospel to most excellent Theophilus the High Priest.[viii]

Fletcher-Louis demonstrates that the high priest could have been considered as a divine mediator in the first century. Thus, we have Luke addressing his gospel to Theophilus, the High Priest, wherein Jesus, accused of blasphemy, appears before the High Priest who considered himself the eschatological high priest surrounded on the Day of Atonement by clouds of incense. Luke does not include the phrase added by Matthew and Mark: “You will see the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”

If Crispin Fletcher-Louis is correct, then his analysis of 1 Enoch 14 has finally explained the meaning of "son of man" when used in connection with "clouds of heaven."

Setting aside the question of whether or not the statement, “You will see the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” was made, Luke does not include it as part of his irenical presentation. Luke elsewhere is clear Jesus is “a prophet like Moses” not greater than Moses as in Matthew and Mark. Thus in omitting these phrases offensive to Theophilus, Luke is consistent in his irenical presentation. Luke does not consider Jesus to be the eschatological high priest. The colloquy of Lucan Jesus with the High Priest is as follow: "If you are the Christ, tell us." But he said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God."[ix]

Nonetheless, Luke’s presentation is the first class use of irony as a tool of rhetoric because Jesus by the power of God is raised from the dead and does appear at the right hand of the power of God. To the extent, Matthew and Mark present Jesus as the eschatological high priest, this is a later theological development.

Today it is even more ironical that the bones of Caiaphas the High Priest were found in an elaborate ossuary while the tomb of Jesus was empty.

[i] The Book of Daniel, (London, 1979), 124-125.
[ii] The High Priest as Divine Mediator in the Hebrew Bible: Dan 7:13 as a Test Case, SBL 1997 Seminar Papers, 161-193. Available on the Internet at and
[iii] Id. 177.
[iv] Id. 178.
[v] Id. 179.
[vi] Id. 186.
[vii] Id. 192.
[viii] Theophilus: A Proposal, Evangelical Quarterly, 69:3, (1997), 195-215. I. Howard Marshall, Editor.
[ix] Luke 22:67-69.

copyrighted 2005

The 1599 Geneva Bible

The 1599 Geneva Bible with original footnotes has been made available on the Internet. What is interesting to me is that someone in 1599 recognized that “Luke wrote his Gospel before Matthew and Mark.”

According to the History of the Geneva Bible set forth on the website, “King James did not encourage a translation of the Bible in order to enlighten the common people. His sole intent was to deny them the marginal notes of the Geneva Bible. The marginal notes of the Geneva version were what made it so popular with the common people.”

copyrighted 2005

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Bibliography for my Blog

One in a series on Lucan resources

Michael Turton asks: “Which books would recommend for the connection between Enoch and the NT?”

I would recommend two books by Margaret Barker as an introduction to the subject.

In her first book, The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity, Barker discusses what was the background for the origins of Christianity and her methodology:

“We have to find something appropriate for a group of Galileans, relevant to their needs and aspirations, but sufficiently coherent (and even recognizable) to draw the hostility of Jerusalem Judaism, as a threat to the Law. . . . Our task is to reconstruct a background quite independent of New Testament considerations, appropriate to the world of Jesus' first followers, and known to exist as a single set of ideas which threatened the Law. . . . In order to reconstruct such a background, it is necessary to dig deep, and to work back through the writings of several centuries. I shall begin with the pseudepigraphon known as 1 Enoch (Ethiopic Enoch), and shall then devote the rest of this book to establishing the antecedents of this work, which is known to have been used by the earliest Christians. . . . This mythology underlies the creation theology of Romans 8, the exorcisms and miracles of the Gospels, the heavenly archetypes of Hebrews, and the first Temple imagery of the Fourth Gospel. It is the imagery of Revelation, Jude and the Petrine Epistles, and the song of its angels became the Sanctus of the eucharistic liturgy. Little of this is derived directly from Enoch; the process rather has been one of following the Enochic stream to its source, and seeing what other waters have owed from it.”

The Lost Prophet: The Book of Enoch and its Influence on Christianity (SPCK/Abingdon Press 1988). The following is from her book:
'When fragments of the Book of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was realized that this was a very ancient text. Although it was known and used by the first Christians, it was not written by them but was a part of their Jewish heritage. Exactly when and where the book (or rather 'books', because it is a collection of texts) originated is still debated, but there is the distinct possibility that it is as old as some of the Old Testament . . . The greatest importance of Enoch is that it was not only a pre-Christian book, but also a post-Christian book, a text from their Jewish background kept and used by the earliest churches. When we use Enoch as a 'context' for the New Testament, many early Christian ideas come into a much clearer focus, and many of the gaps in the New Testament can be bridged.'
The introductory material to Enoch: a commentary on the book of 1 Enoch, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, Vol. 1, 2001) by George W.E. Nickelsburg probably contains the best and most recent detailed analysis of Enoch and the New Testament. The influence of Enoch on the New Testament is probably most pervasive in the son of man christologies derived in part from the theme of the chosen one/elect one[i] which appears in the Book of Parables included in Volume II. Volume II should be available soon. See the review of Volume I at:

1 Enoch 1Currents in Theology and Mission, April, 2004 by Ralph W. Klein

You can read the Book of Enoch, R.H. Charles, 1912 edition, online at:

The following internet sites have valuable information on Enoch:

The Enoch Literature

Welcome to the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Web Page

The Book in Enoch Quoted in the NT

An Introduction to the Qumran Enoch Fragments

The following are two very good articles:
Enoch as a Divine Mediator

Melchizedek as a Divine Mediator

In my various blogs on Enoch, I cited additional material most of which was not included in this blog.

[i] Note Luke 9:35 “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" and Luke 23:35 “And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!"

copyrighted 2005

Two New Research tools

My sister, the wise librarian, sent me this.

I copied this information from the site:

Welcome to Findory!

Just click on the articles that interest you. No signup required.
The more you click, the more personalized your Findory homepage will be.
Enjoy a great Personalized newspaper!

Findory News: Personalized News

Findory News is a newspaper built just for you. Other web news sites show the same news to everyone, but not everyone is the same. Findory News shows you articles that you want to see. It adapts to your reading habits and emphasizes news articles from around the world that are most likely to be interesting to you. Following the world events? Findory News will show you more articles about world events, even focusing on the particular parts of the world you seem to be interested in. Following the presidential elections? Findory News will favor articles on the presidential campaigns, even emphasizing the campaigns you've been reading about. By paying attention to the news you've read recently, finds the news articles you don't want to miss.

I also want to mention
New Testament Hyper-Concordance by Sean Boisen

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Provenance of Enoch

According to the Internet, there is abundant proof that Jesus approved of the Book of Enoch based on the simple fact that over a hundred phrases in the New Testament could be citing or alluding to the Book of Enoch.

I mentioned the possible contacts of Enoch with the Gospel of Luke in an earlier blog. Today I want to briefly address the provenance of the Book of Enoch.

James C. Vanderkam states: “1 Enoch, preserved in a full, 108-chapter form in Ethiopic, consists of five parts and one appended chapter. It originated in Aramaic (perhaps Hebrew for chaps. 37-71), was translated into Greek, and from Greek into Ethiopic." Vanderkam further states: “Chaps. 72-82 The Astronomical Book, like the Book of Watchers, may date from the third century BCE; the oldest copy of it seems to have been made not long after 200 BCE. Sizable portions of the text are preserved on four copies, written in Aramaic, from Qumran cave 4. The Aramaic original appears to have been much different and much longer than the Ethiopic text, adding far more astronomical details."

Norman Golb concludes “The Aramaic Book of Enoch...very considerably influenced the idiom of the New Testament and patristic literature, more so in fact than any other writing of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha."

Jesus, the Galilean, utilized many key concepts that could be related to terms and ideas in the Book of Enoch. However, it would be sheer speculation to conclude that Jesus had studied the book and adopted its descriptions of the coming kingdom and its theme of inevitable judgment upon "the wicked" - the term most often used in the Old Testament to describe the Watchers.

It is not my purpose to prove the connection but merely to comment that Enoch and Luke may have originated in the same region. Marshall has stated “Luke shows a particular interest in Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Peraea from 4 B.C. until his disposition by Caligula in A.D. 39. Luke 3:19; 8:3; 9:7,9; 13:31; 23:7-15; Acts 4:27; 13:1.”
[ii] I cited this quotation in my first published article to suggest that Luke wrote his Gospel during the reign of Herod Antipas. It may be that the Gospel originated in this region.

The Book of Enoch describes the activities of Enoch and the Watchers taking place in Upper Galilee. Nickelsburg
[iii] has suggested that “the precise and correct location of Dan and Abel-Main indicates first hand familiarity with the area at some point in the chain of tradition” and “1 Enoch 13:7-9 makes a pair of precise and accurate references to several known geographical locations in Upper Galilee (the waters of Dan, Abel-Main, Lebanon and Senir)” and further that the data is “best explained by the hypothesis that these chapters [6-16] constitute a tradition of northern Galilee provenance that in turn reflects visionary activity in the area of Dan and Hermon.”

Saul’s confrontation with the risen Christ occurred on the Road to Damascus that runs along the southeast side of Mount Hermon. Johannes Munck has noted the parallels between the accounts of the commissioning of Paul in Acts
[iv] with 1 Enoch 14. As noted by Nickelsburg, Munck did not mention the proximity of the event to Mount Hermon.

The matrix of the Luke-Acts must include the Palestinian Jewish writings such as Books of Enoch and Jubilees.

[i] Norman Golb, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?, (1995), 366.
[ii] I.H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, (Grand Rapids, 1978), 133-134.
[iii] 1 Enoch: a commentary on the book of 1 Enoch, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, Vol. 1, 2001), 231, 239. Nickelsburg includes one map in Volume I of his Commentary and a series of photographs, the map and photographs are of the Upper Galilee region.
[iv] Luke describes the conversion three times in Acts (Acts 9:1-19, 22:3-16 and 26:4-18), and Paul alludes to it in his letters to the churches in Galatia and Corinth (Galatians 1:16-21; 2 Corinthians 11:22-23).

copyrighted 2005

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Enoch Calendar and Biblical Chronology

One in a series on Biblical Chronology.

The Enoch Calendar also has 364 days. Thus it appears to have the same problem as the calendar espoused by the Book of Jubilees. It therefore would fall out of alignment with the seasons of the year.

However, a close reading of the book of Enoch reveals that an angel did tell Enoch to insert extra weeks.

13 The moon brings on all the years exactly, that their stations may come neither too forwards nor too backwards a single day; but that the years may be changed with correct precision in three hundred and sixty-four days. In three years the days are one thousand and ninety-two; in five years they are one thousand eight hundred and twenty; and in eight years two thousand nine hundred and twelve days.
14 To the moon alone belong in three years one thousand and sixty-two days; in five years it has fifty days less than the sun, for an addition being made to the one thousand and sixty-two days, in five years there are one thousand seven hundred and seventy days; and the days of the moon in eight years are two thousand eight hundred and thirty-two days.
15 For its days in eight years are less than those of the sun by eighty days, which eighty days are its diminution in eight years.
16 The year then becomes truly complete according to the station of the moon, and the station of the sun; which rise in the different gates; which rise and set in them for thirty days.

It is clear that the Book of Enoch acknowledges that over time its calendar will have in three years thirty days less than the solar year; in five years fifty days less than the solar year; and in eight years eighty days less than the solar year. These verses not only acknowledge the need for correction but also authorize it.

The angel authorizes Enoch to change the calendar. The question is when the change is to be made. The first part of verse 13 must contain the answer: “The moon brings on all the years exactly, that their stations may come neither too forwards nor too backwards a single day; but that the years may be changed with correct precision in three hundred and sixty-four days.”

The annotations to the R.H. Charles translation contains these comments: “In this [eight-year] cycle an intercalary month of 30 days was inserted in the third, fifth and eighth year of the cycle in order to reconcile the lunar and solar years, which were reckoned respectively at 354 and 365.25 days.”

The new Hermeneia Commentary, containing the Book of the Luminaries with chapters 72-82, should be released soon. I will blog again on this topic after I have had the opportunity to review the new Hermeneia Commentary and also The Books of Enoch: Aramaic fragments of Qumrân Cave 4 edited by J. T. Milik; with the collaboration of Matthew Black.

[i] 1 Enoch 73:13-16; translated from Ethiopic by Richard Laurence, London, 1883. In the 2004 translation by Nickelsburg and VanderKam, these verses appear in 1 Enoch 74:12-17; in the 1912 R.H. Charles translation these verses appear in 1 Enoch 73:12-17. It should be noted that Charles translation starts: “And the sun and the stars bring in all the years exactly.”
[ii] Charles, 160.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Book of Jubilees and Biblical Chronology

One in a series on Biblical Chronology.

The institution of the jubilee year and its economic regulations, detailed in Leviticus 25, has been a subject of debate as to when this special year should be celebrated. It may never been put into practice in the history of Israel. Luke presents Jesus enunciating a programmatic vision of the work he has begun to fulfill based on the jubilee imagery of Isaiah 61. Was the first year of his ministry a jubilee year?

Leviticus 25:10 clearly state: “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you.”

But when the entire section is read, there is ambiguity:
Lev 25:3
Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruits;
Lev 25:4
but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.

Lev 25:8
"And you shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years.
Lev 25:9
Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land.
Lev 25:10
And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family.

It is unclear whether the first year of the next jubilee cycle starts after the 50th year, or whether it overlaps the 50th year. The Book of Jubilees demonstrates that a jubilee period is 49 years, and not 50 years and thus the Book of Jubilee remove the ambiguity present in the Bible.
Jubilees 4:29 And at the close of the nineteenth jubilee, in the seventh week in the sixth year thereof, Adam died, and all his sons buried him in the land of his creation, and he was the first to be buried in the earth. And he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; for one thousand years are as one day in the testimony of the heavens and therefore was it written concerning the tree of knowledge: 'On the day that ye eat thereof ye shall die.'
The sixth year of the seventh week of the nineteenth jubilee is the 930th year. Since 18(49)+6(7)+6=930, the jubilee period must be 49 years. The age given for Adam at his death agrees with the Bible.[i]

The calculation for the age of Sarah as set forth in Jubilees 19:7 agree with Genesis 23:1-2 [and as to Adam Jubilees 4:29 agrees with Genesis 5:5] only if the jubilee period is forty-nine years.

However, the Book of Jubilees introduces another variable into Biblical Chronology when it asserts that the year is exactly 364 days. Jubilees 6:23-38 states:
"And command thou the children of Israel that they observe the years according to this reckoning -- three hundred and sixty-four days, and (these) will constitute a complete year, and they will not disturb its time from its days and from its feasts; for everything will fall out in them according to their testimony, and they will not leave out any day nor disturb any feasts. But if they do neglect and do not observe them according to His commandments, then they will disturb all their seasons, and the years will be dislodged from this (order), and they will neglect their ordinances. And all the children of Israel will forget, and will not find the path of the years, and will forget the new moons, and seasons, and sabbaths, and they will go wrong as to all the order of the years. "

It appears that based upon some fragments of this book found at Qumran, the Book of Jubilees was being used by some of the Jewish sects at the time of Jesus. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, and Edward Cook, estimates about 40% of the non-Biblical text found at Qumran deal with the calendar.[ii]

A calendar based on 364 days is 52 weeks of 7 days and 13 months of 28 days. Thus the Book of Jubilees is based on a lunar calendar. Using the moon to determine Qumran calendar dates in the Dead Sea Scrolls may assist in determining the question when priestly temple courses served. However, a calendar year of 364 days is 1.24 days less than a true solar year of 365.24 days. Everyone recognizes that a system of adding extra days to align the Jubilee calendar with the solar year was necessary. Unfortunately, no method of doing so has been mentioned in any of the Dead Sea Scroll documents discovered to date.

The Book of Jubilees has made the mystery of Biblical Chronology a little bit more interesting.

[i] Genesis 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
[ii] The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation (New York: Harper-Collins), 13.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Luke and the Book of Enoch

Unlike the Book of Jubilees, scholars have long acknowledged that Luke may have been influenced by ideas contained in the Book of Enoch and made allusions thereto. Enoch is also an important example of Palestinian Jewish writing. There are at least five reasons why those interested in Luke-Acts need to be familiar with the Book of Enoch.

At the beginning of the Gospel, the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah. I Enoch 20:2-8 names Gabriel as one of the seven archangels and one of the four closest to the throne of God (I Enoch 10:9; 40:3,9; cf. Lk. 1:19). Gabriel delivers special revelations from God to individuals (Lk. 1:8-20; 26-38).

The Gospel of Luke contains the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth in Lk. 3:23-35 in seventy-seven generations. The author of the Book of Watchers states the Day of Judgment would take place seventy generations after Enoch. Since Enoch is the seventh generation and Luke has placed Jesus in the seventy-seventh generation, has Luke in agreement with Enoch suggested that the end of history would be in the seventy-seven generation? Luke presents Jesus as the Messiah and that the last judgment is very, very near.

Enoch 93:7 states “Those, too, who acquire gold and silver, shall justly and suddenly perish. Woe to you who are rich, for in your riches have you trusted; but from your riches you shall be removed.” Luke 6:24 states “Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.”

The Transfiguration of our Lord in Luke 9:35 states “"And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son: hear him." This is now acknowleged to be a mistranslation possibly designed to harmonize Luke with Matthew and Mark. Luke in the original Greek reads: "This is my Son, the Elect One (from the Greek ho eklelegmenos, literally "the elect one"): hear him." The "Elect One" is a most significant term (found fourteen times) in the Book of Enoch. Neither Bock[i] nor Plummer discuss the Enoch connection.

Scholars have long recognized that there is a parallel between the last chapters of Enoch and the Gospel of Luke. Nickelsburg[ii] and Grensted[iii] have noted the parallelism between Luke 16 and 1 Enoch while others[iv] have noted the parallels with the deuteronomic injunctions against oppressive treatment of the poor in Israel.[v] Not unlike Jesus' warning, 1 Enoch 103:5-8 delivers a stinging indictment of Sadducees with 'ill-gotten wealth' who live extravagantly only to descend to Sheol. These observations only confirm the very Jewish nature of the parable.

Finally, the Return of the Seventy periscope is an another possible reason in that the fall from heaven is a regular theme in the Enochic literature.[vi]

[i] Bock, Darrell, Luke, Vol. 1: 1:1- 9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Moises Silva, (Grand Rapids, Vol. 3a 1994), 873-875.
[ii] Nickelsburg, G.W.E., “Riches, the Rich and God’s Judgment in 1 Enoch 92-105 according to Gospel of Luke,” NTS 25 (1978-79), 324-44.
[iii] 'Enoch in Luke 16:19-31,' Expository Times 26:333-34.
[iv] Cave, 'Lazarus and the Lukan Deuteronomy,' NTS 15:319-25.
[v] Deut. 14:28-15:11; 24:10-22. See also Isa. 58:6-7.
[vi] Luke 10:17-20; 1 Enoch 55:4; Jub. 23:29.

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Sunday, February 13, 2005


I try to write everyday. Needing inspiration, not always provided by my coffee, I turn to the Quote of the Day. Today’s Quote by Robert Heinlein, is not particularly inspiring for a writer: “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” However, Today’s Gospel reading does do the trick. The devil quotes scripture. In fact, during the first century, the debates were about scripture including the meaning thereof. That the New Testament contains a number of scriptural references to circumcision is an indication that the subject of circumcision was still hotly contested at the time of the publication of each of the passages in question.[i]

Luke 1:59-60 Circumcision of John the Baptist.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zecheriah, but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."

Luke 2:21-39. Circumcision of Jesus.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

John 7:21-24 Jesus teaches at the feast.
Jesus said to them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment."

Christiansen has something to say which provides some possible insight into the circumcision passages we read in the Acts of the Apostles, although admittedly she is discussing the Book of Jubilees. Christiansen states: “For a symbol to qualify as sign of belonging, visibility is vital, because a clear and visible sign of belonging, taking the form of an act of confession, or a rite of affirmation of belonging, is the obvious way to express what status one has within a group or society. In the context of Jubilees this visibility can be found particularly in circumcision, and to a certain degree in the celebration of festivals, either weekly Sabbath, or the yearly seasonal feasts.”[ii] Luke notes that Paul “was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.”[iii] Luke also reports that Paul shortly after his arrival in Jerusalem made what Christiansen would call “a rite of affirmation of belonging”.

Acts 21:17-25 Paul's Arrival at Jerusalem
When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to their customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses so they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

The Galatians agitators also quoted scripture but we do not have the full report of the debate and thus need to reconstruct the theological argument advanced by them. Undoubtedly they relied heavily upon the Book of Jubilees. According to Jub. 15, circumcision is the eternal covenant showing the circumcised belong to the Lord.[iv] The Galatians agitators must have relied upon Genesis 17:9-14, Jub. 15:25-34 and the Maccabean tradition. If circumcision was an identity marker of the covenant people that the people must maintain so as to avoid being uprooted from the land,[v] why then was James able to put forth a compromise solution that was acceptable. Paul’s mission to the Gentiles was conducted outside of the Land of Israel. The significance of this fact has not been appreciated. Covenant identity, election and associated laws and ordinances do not apply outside Israel.[vi]

The fact that the debates occurred inside and outside Israel is perhaps indicative that the boundary markers had not been firmly set. Nonetheless, the geographical separation between Paul’s mission and the Land of Israel soon led to a divisive separation of mission and people. We just do not know when.

[i] Also, Romans 2:25-28; 3:28-31; 4:9-12; Galatians 2:1-5; 5:1-12; 6:12-15; I Corinthians 7:17-20; Ephesians 2:11-13; Phillipians 3:1-11; Titus 1:10-16.
[ii] Christiansen, 97.
[iii] Acts 20:16.
[iv] Jub. 15:26.
[v] Jub. 15:28.
[vi] Christiansen, 92.

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Luke and the Book of Jubilees

I am not aware that anyone has ever suggested that Luke in any way utilized the Book of Jubilees either by citation or allusion or that the Book of Jubilees served as a model for him or source of ideas and material.[i] The Book of Jubilees, as confirmed by Christiansen, is an important example of Palestinian Jewish writing. Most discussions acknowledge that the dating of it is uncertain but certainly in any event prior to Luke.[ii] Christiansen includes a chapter entitled “Covenant Consciousness in the Book of Jubilees” in her book that I am reading. There are at least four reasons why I will soon be reading the Book of Jubilees.

Christiansen notes that the Book of Jubilees introduces the angel of presence as the writer of the tablets received by Moses on Sinai.[iii] Stephen’s last sermon includes the idea that the laws were promulgated through angels.[iv] Secondly, “... Israel’s identity depends on Jerusalem as its geographical centre of holiness.”[v] The third reason is Jubilees has elevated the importance of the rite of circumcision from a sign of obedience “by adding eternal validity in making it a law written on heavenly tablets (Jub 15:25-34).”[vi] Finally, “It is noteworthy that Jubilees lacks criticism of contemporary religious structures. The established cult is accepted; the present temple is a valid means for atonement and moreover serves as an important centre for holiness and for social and religious identity. Because Jerusalem is a centre of shared identity, it unites the nation and helps to maintain the social structure, and as such it is not questioned.”[vii]

For Luke, Jerusalem is and remains throughout Luke-Acts the center of the action. Jesus tells his disciples to remain in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit directs the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem. When there is a dispute the church in Antioch sends a delegation to Jerusalem for a resolution of the problem and decision as to the proper course of action. Throughout Luke-Acts, Jerusalem is the focal point and centrality of location to which Jesus and Paul return.

Luke is the only New Testament writer to tell us about the circumcision of the Messiah and the only New Testament writer to defend the covenant of circumcision.

In Matthew, Chapter 22, Jesus answers a question about the greatest commandment.[viii] Although the commentators uniformly conclude that Jesus with his answer has done away with the need for sacrifices, the addition Mark makes to this pericope is more pointed: "This is much more important than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."[ix] For the Lucan Jesus, it is not a question of the priority of love over law but of the priority of love within the law. Love is not the only commandment. As noted by Jacob Jervell, Luke can have no summary of the Law in one commandment because for Luke, the law is not altered and is permanently valid.[x] God's laws continue in effect for Jews even when they become followers of the Christ. Luke's position accurately reflects the views of the Jewish Christians and the Jerusalem church in its earliest years and is clearly pre-Pauline. It is a position that the High Priest would have found commendable. After all, “Moses was the first and greatest prophet: all that was communicated to the prophets, who followed him, he had already received. No prophet could contradict him or change or add to what he had proclaimed” (citations omitted).[xi]

I have set forth four ideas found in the Book of Jubilees with parallels to Luke-Acts in EN 4 and the three preceding paragraphs. These four ideas are missing from Matthew and Mark. Matthew and Mark have not adopted the motif of the city. Their Jesus instructs his disciples to wait for him in Galilee. The animal sacrificial system having them condemned by them and the city and temple having been destroyed by the Romans, Jerusalem was no longer significant for them.

In the past I have cited Motyer who stated: “Four Isaianic strands are woven together in the use of the city motif in which Jerusalem, Zion, mount/mountain and city are broadly interchangeable terms: divine judgment, preservation and restoration, the security of Zion (14:32; 28:16) and the centrality of the city in the divine thought and plan (footnotes omitted).”[xii] I now recognize that I need to consider whether or not Jubilees modifies Isaiah and if so, whether or not Luke follows Isaiah or Jubilees or both.

I suspect that some of the unresolved questions concerning Stephen’s last Sermon may be answered by a close study of the Book of Jubilees. I will also be reviewing Jacob Jervell’s book, Luke and the People of God.

[i] James Akin, Deuterocanonial References in the New Testament
[ii] My gut tells me that the Book of Jubilees should not be dated earlier than Demetrios.
[iii] Christiansen, 75; Jub. 1:5.
[iv] Acts 7:35.
[v] Christiansen, 81.
[vi] Christiansen, 97.
[vii] Christiansen, 101.
[viii] Matt. 22:36-40.
[ix] Mark 12:33.
[x] Jervell, Luke and the People of God: A New Look at Luke-Acts, (Minneapolis 1972), 145.
[xi] W.D. Davies, Jewish and Pauline Studies, (Philadelphia, 1984), 7.
[xii] Motyer, J. Alec, The Prophecy of Isaiah, An Introduction & Commentary, (Downers Grove, 1993), 17-18.

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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.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Jewish Historian Demetrios

One in a series on biblical chronology.

There is little information available on this Jewish historian
[i], who during the reign of Ptolemy (IV 291-205) created for the first time a narrative of the Bible in, for his time, an accurate chronological framework. “The establishment of a system of biblical reckoning was the essential achievement of Demetrios.”[ii] Josephus and the Christian writers knew Berosus, the Babylonian[iii] and Demetrios through the excerpts of their works published by the Greek compiler, Alexander surnamed Polyhistor, after 80 BCE. Our knowledge of the writings of Demetrios is based on these excerpts.

Demetrios used the accession of Ptolemy IV in 221 as his beginning point. Demetrios was the first to determine the date of captivity of Jerusalem, which he calculated to be 338 years three months prior to the reign of Ptolemy IV. Demetrios, his contemporaries and successors, struggled with the question of the length of the Exile. The calculations ultimately put forth were based on what was believed to be the first year of the reign of Cyrus. Josephus includes two different Jewish calculations of the end of the Exile.

Bickerman summarizes as follow: “In the absence of eras and fixed years, the complexity of synchronistic equations made errors unavoidable.”

[i] This blog is a summary of an article with the same title by Bickerman appearing in his three-volume collection, Studies in Jewish and Christian History,(Leiden: 1976-86).
[ii] Bickerman, Volume II at 353.
[iii] Berosus (also spelled Berossus) was a 3rd century BCE Chaldean priest who wrote three books in Greek about the creation and the early history of the world as part of his history of Babylon.
[iv] Ant XI, 1.1; Ant. XX, 10.1. Bickerman states the years as 586 and 576 respectively.
[v] Bickerman, Volume II at 358.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Temple Veil

The early followers of Jesus understood the significance of the fact that the veil of the Temple was torn in two even though each of the synoptic gospel writers provided this detail without any explanation.[i] Each gospel writer also used the same Greek word for veil: katapetasma . The gospel writers linked the death of Jesus to the tearing of the temple veil. Mark has changed the Lucan narrative of the rendering of the temple veil in part by changing its position in the narrative so that the torn veil also signifies the end of the temple. F.J. Matera states that Luke “wishes to avoid the impression that the death of Jesus is the end of the Temple and the cult.”[ii]

There has been a question as to which veil the synoptic writers intended.[iii] Josephus[iv], Philo and the Septuagint use the same Greek word to identify the outer veil: katapetasma which is the same Greek word utilized by Matthew, Mark and Luke. However Josephus also uses this same word in discussing the second veil without providing any description thereof except to say it covers the entrance to the “inaccessible and inviolable, and not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies.” Certainly as between the two veils it must have been the outer veil because only someone such as the centurion could have seen the outer veil.

[i] Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.
[ii] 'Death of Jesus According to Luke: A Question of Sources," CBQ 47 (3, 1985), 475.
[iii] Hebrew 9:3 indicates that there are two veils in the Temple but the same Greek word is used for both veils.
[iv] War 5, Sections 212-214.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

If Jewish hands defile the Temple, God will destroy the Temple

One in a series about the relationship between Luke and Josephus.

On January 31, 2005 I wrote: “In another instance in War, Josephus does say that if Jewish hands defile the Temple, God will destroy the Temple.” Today I wonder if this prophecy is somehow related to the warning inscriptions in Greek and Latin prominently posted in the Temple.[i] Two of these tablets in Greek have been found. They read as follows: “No alien may enter within the balustrade around the sanctuary and the enclosure. Whoever is caught, on himself shall be put the blame for the death which will ensue.”

According to Josephus, the whole nation would suffer for the sin of trespassing upon sacred ground, if the culprit was not “destroyed”.[ii] Numbers 1:51 prescribe that the common man who comes near the Tabernacle should be put to death.[iii]

There are two passages in Acts that may be relevant to the understanding of the inscription. Paul was assaulted and beaten by the crowd for the alleged violation of the law against bringing pagans into the Temple but he was rescued by Roman soldiers and presented to the Roman tribunal for decision.[iv] At Ephesus, Paul’s friends were seized by a heathen crowd and brought into a popular assembly in the theatre as guilty of sacrilege against Artemis, the goddess of Ephesus.[v]

The idea of the fear of pollution is one that is present in the writings of Josephus and Luke.

[i] Jos. Ant. XV, 417; War V. 193; VI, 124.
[ii] Cf. War I, 229, 354; IV, 201, 205, 215, 218; Ant. III, 318: XIV, 285.
[iii] See also Num. 3:38; Lev. 15:31; Num 19:13 and 20.
[iv] Acts 21.
[v] Acts 19.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Superbowl Sunday

Today is Superbowl Sunday. It has special meaning for those of us living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. It has been 24 years since a major professional league team from Philadelphia has won a championship. This weekend the clergy agonized on the appropriate sermon reference to the event of the day. The program was in green and the clergy wore the appropriate green vestment for this special Sunday and the closing hymn was “On eagle’s wings” sung to the tune of fly eagles fly. And if you followed the angst of Eagles fans, you know that after the last championship game twenty four years ago, the ban on buildings in the vicinity of city hall, not to be higher than the statute of that great patriot, William Penn, was violated. This is the unofficial explanation for the curse. Two weeks ago a falcon was seen perched on city hall just prior to the conference championship game. This was viewed as a bad omen with front-page newspaper coverage including a photograph of the falcon. Fortunately the Eagles won two weeks ago and now have the opportunity to win it all. People have rented large screen television for sidewalk and block parties being held throughout the city. Tomorrow like last Friday has been acknowledged as an official day of rest. Anyway that what is happening in Philadelphia.

I have been thinking about a number of subjects that I will discuss briefly. I am creating a synoptic approach to Antiquities 18-20. Already I am realizing how dependent Josephus was on War 2 Sections 117-283. For instance, Josephus repeats the material he provided in War on the establishement of the city of Caesarea by Philip near Paneas. No mention is made in War 2 or Antiquities 18 that Philip named this city Caesarea Philippi after himself and to distinquish it from other Caesarea. Caesarea Philippi is the spot that Matthew and Mark say is where Jesus asked his disciples “who do the people say am I?” The first mention by Josephus of Caesarea Philippi in Antiquities 20 when Josephus is discussing Herod Antipas II. Caesarea Philippi is conspicuously missing from the Gospel of Luke.

There are two theories why Luke omits mention of Caesarea Philippi. Hans Conzelmann proposed that Luke as part of his theology presents Jesus and his ministry as taking place only in Jewish areas and thus Luke omits all mention of non-Jewish territories and communities including Caesarea Philippi. The second theory advanced by John Lupia states: Although Luke mentions Caesarea 15 times in Acts he has no mention of Caesarea-Philippi (Mt 16:13, Mk 8:27) since it was not given that eponym until sometime after the death of Philip the Tetrarch in c. 34/36 CE.

Since I still trying to figure the reason for the Philadelphia curse, I have been unable to focus on blogging. Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

copyrighted 2005

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Emmaus as a Conversion experience

In my February 1st blog, I briefly discussed the article by Gary J. Goldberg, "The Coincidences of the Emmaus Narrative of Luke and the Testimonium of Josephus", The Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 13 (1995), 57-77. Today we will consider two interesting aspects of the Emmaus pericope: 1) Emmaus as a conversion experience and 2) the use of the first person plural by the author of the Gospel.

Luke tells an embarrassing story. The Emmaus episode is embarrassing in that it is an episode about the flight of two followers from Jerusalem. These two men became so overcome by panic and fear of what would happen to them now that the Master had suffered the ignominious death of a criminal that they fled the city. They literally ran away from Jerusalem but on the road to Emmaus they had their confrontation with Jesus.

There is a second embarrassing aspect to the Emmaus pericope that the two men did not recognize their fellow traveler. The embarrassment is, not only that they did not recognize Jesus, but also that their Master revealed their ignorance to them after He, and not the temple guards, literally apprehended them as they were in flight from Jerusalem. Their embarrassment certainly consisted of confusion and discomposure of mind and their movement was hindered.

Brown indicates that one of the purposes of the Lucan Easter narrative is “to restore to the unity of the apostolic community two disciples whose hope had been dashed by the events of the passion; . . .”[i] Brown compares these two individuals to the lost sheep recovered Lk. 15:4-6. Conversion is an invitation to transformation, in our individual lives, in our communities, in our world. Because change is often uncomfortable, these two men resisted. The challenge was issued: “oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” Perhaps it makes more sense to consider this as a conversion experience.

Margaret Barker has noted that “There is nothing in the MT of the prophets which describes a suffering Messiah who sees the glory of God, so the story in Luke presupposes the Qumran version of Isaiah.”[ii] Did Luke makes this up? No. Barker earlier states that “The Qumran Isaiah describes an anointed one who has been transfigured, suffers, and then sees the light, presumably of the Glory of God.”[iii] Did Luke have access to the Qumran scroll? I doubt it. Luke’s inclusion of this enigmatic quote may be based on his eyewitness Emmaus experience.

Alan Segal in discussing the “glory of that light” stated in part: “Luke did not fabricate a relationship between Paul and Ezekiel; he is not alone in seeing identification between Christ and the Glory of the Lord.”[iv] Since Segal is discussing Paul’s conversion experience as described by Luke, one can just as easily say using the same material, Luke is using the step progression method to prepare his introduction to the conversion of Saul. According to Segal, “Abraham Malherbe has pointed out the wit, irony and sarcasm of the passage [in Acts 26:24-29] depends on understanding differing communities’ definitions of conversion.”[v] Because we have not understood these differences, we have not considered the possibility that the Emmaus is a conversion account.

Returning to Goldberg’s article, I would direct your attention to the discussion about the leaders. “The leaders are further specified -- they are "ours," in both texts, at precisely the same location. The reader is again reminded that the exact Greek word order of both texts is being followed. The match of such small words at key points can be more spectacular than lengthier expositions.” As Goldberg notes there “is a very unusual grammatical match with the use of the first person plural in identifying the our leaders, the principal men among us.”

In the next paragraph Goldberg states: “Stranger still, Luke also does not employ the first person when he identifies accusers of Jesus within the speeches of Acts.” Goldberg concludes the discussion of “the unusual grammatical match” with this question: "If the first person is unusual in both Luke and Josephus, why would both suddenly use them at the same time in harmonious passages?”
It is Goldberg’s conclusion that this is evidence that both Josephus and Luke used the same source.”[vi]

I suggest the following alternate possibility:
1) the Emmaus pericope was a conversion experience for two individuals who were reluctant halfhearted followers of Jesus who fled Jerusalem for fear they too would be crucified;
2) that the pericope is the personal account of the author who was so Jewish he still considered them to be "our" leaders;
3) the author of Luke-Acts is a very careful author and not likely to make a grammatical error because he merely copied something;
4) Luke included his personal account. Luke at the time of the encounter still considered the temple establishment people to be “our” leaders but after this experience he says “they” crucified him. As a result of this experience he had a complete transformation: “our leaders” becomes “they” crucified him; and
5) since Luke also used “I-we” in Acts, we should not be surprised by the use of the personal pronoun in this Emmaus story as the conscious act of the author to include himself in the story.

Each of these blogging points needs to be further developed.

[i] Brown, Apostasy and Perseverance in the Theology of Luke, Rome (1969), 74.
[ii] Barker, Margaret, The Great High Priest, (London New York, 2003), 303-304.
[iii] Barker, 303.
[iv] Segal, Paul the Convert, (Yale Univ. Press, 1990), 11.
[v] Segal, 17.
[vi] For additional information about Goldberg’s argument see

copyrighted 2005

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Was the author of Luke-Acts Jewish?

Hengel states “of all the non-Jewish writers of antiquity, Luke has by far the best knowledge of Judaism, its liturgy in the Temple and the synagogues, its customs and its parties, and on the whole reports them in an accurate and indeed positive ways.”[i] Therefore one can ask, if the author of Luke-Acts was so accurate, was it because he was Jewish?

Denova stated that the role of Paul in Acts “is to complete the ingathering of the exiles of the Diaspora and to bring hope of salvation to god-fearing Gentiles.”
[ii] Paul therefore travels to the synagogues of the Diaspora. The Apostolic Council “dictates that salvation for Gentiles is found in God’s promises to Israel.”[iii] Luke “accomplishes this by not offering a Law-free mission to the Gentiles by by offering Gentiles specific ties that bind them to the Law.”[iv] “Outside the context of synagogues, there is no direct mission to Gentiles in Acts that results in the establishment of a Gentile Christian community.”[v] This is true because the message of Paul “only has meaning within the context of Judaism.”[vi] Denova concludes her book with these words: “Luke-Acts, we may conclude on the basis of a narrative-critical reading, was written by a Jew to persuade other Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah of Scripture and that the words of the prophets concerning ‘restoration’ have been ‘fulfilled.’”[vii]

[i] Hengel, Martin, Zur urchristlichen Geschichtsschreibung,(ET Acts and the history of earliest Christianity, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), 64f.
[ii] Denova, Rebecca I., The Things Accomplished Among Us: Prophetic Tradition in the Structural Pattern of Luke-Acts, (Sheffield, 1997), 198.
[iii] Denova, 199.
[iv] Denova, 199.
[v] Denova, 199.
[vi] Denova, 199.
[vii] Denova, 230-231.

copyrighted 2005