BR (Spring 2005) has done it again. But you should be aware that the author, although thanking his friend for his insight, has not cited the article about the ossuary bearing the inscription, “Johanna, granddaughter of the High Priest Theophilus”, although his friend did cite this article in his book. I guess we can’t base any arguments on ossuaries this year. Neither Ben Witherington III in his article nor Richard J. Bauckham in his book, Gospel Women, was willing to discuss the possible relationship between Johanna and the recipient of the gospel or the possibility that Johanna was wealthy independent of Chuza. After all the two of them only appear in the Gospel of Luke.
Even apart from the ossuary, it is necessary to discuss the possible relationship between Johanna and Theophilus because Johanna occupies the center position of a chiasmus that serves to introduce a second chiasmus. This chiastic structure is extremely important because Johanna is a witness to the resurrection. Luke, with this two-part chiastic structure, has directed the attention of most excellent Theophilus to the most important part of the gospel.
With this background, one can now understand the significance of the chiastic structure of Luke 24:8-11 and 24: 13-35. The importance of Johanna is revealed through a literary device, the chiasmus. Lee Dahn[i]
not only noted that Luke 24:8-11 is a chiasmus but also that Johanna is the center and climax of the chiasmus. This point is highlighted by the chiastic pattern of the text itself. Recall that a chiasmus is a literary device that arranges words and ideas into two parallel and inverted passages, with an odd member placed at the vertex, where the two passages intersect (ABCB'A'). The odd, seemingly out of place word or phrase found at the vertex (X) helps the reader locate the passage's principal idea. Consider verses 8‑11 in this light:
A Then they remembered his words and returning from the tomb,
B they reported all this to the Eleven and all the others.
X Now it was Mary of Magdala and Johanna, and Mary the mother of James,
B' and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.
A' But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.[ii]
Johanna was previously identified in Lk 8:3 as the wife of Chuza, a steward of Herod's. Johanna is also the center of Lk. 8:3 and is provided "the most specific description, the content of which seems particularly important."[iii]
Earlier, it was stated that Luke has made Johanna one of his eyewitnesses to the resurrection. Professor Fred Long has pointed out the seeming odd or repetitive narrative material included by the author to create the chiasmus: "and the other women with them."[iv]
The significance of this proclamation is further heightened by the chiastic structure contained in Luke 24:13-35 that immediately follows this one.
A That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem (13), and talking with each other about all these things that had happened (14).
B While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them (15).
C But their eyes were kept from recognizing him (16).
D And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad (17).
E Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" (18-19a)
F And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. (19b-21)
G Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. (22a)
X They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. (22b-23)
G' Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." (24)
F' And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (25-26)
E' And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (27)
D' So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. (28-30)
C' And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. (31)
B' They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" (32)
A' And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. (33-35)
This second chiasmus detailing the experiences of the Two Men on the Road to Emmaus is like an example provided by Kenneth Bailey in that the women and in particular Johanna are at the climax of the chiasmus in the first stanza and featured prominently in G, X and G' of the second stanza.
Luke 24:8-11 forms a chiasmus that when read in conjunction with Luke 24:13-35, another chiasmus, makes Johanna a witness to the resurrection with Johanna at the vertex of the first stanza and together with the women are treated prominently in the second stanza of the two part chiasmus. This is additional evidence that Johanna is someone important to Theophilus if an otherwise unknown person is the vertex of a chiasmus.
So the question is, does most excellent Theophilus know who Johanna is? Is she someone important to him?[i]
Correspondence with the author.[ii]
Revised Standard Version.[iii]
Professor Fred Long, correspondence with the author, July 26, 2002.[iv]
Private correspondence with the author, July 26, 2002.