Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Luke and “Q”

Initially, I should state that Q was a document created to provide a foundation for the two-document hypothesis. I think we will see little green men before we ever find Q, a mythical document no one ever knew “existed” prior to 1860. I write, not to discuss the merits of Q but, to remind you that B.H. Streeter favored proto-Luke and that Wellhausen concluded that Luke had preserved the better text of Q. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that the earlier versions of Q contained only the sayings of Jesus while the later versions combined the sayings with the passion narrative. Scholars who set forth the text of Q have apparently accepted Wellhausen’s view, since the reconstructed Q is practically a mirror image of the Gospel of Luke. It is also important to remember that the debate in the 1860’s was initially about the historical basis for traditional Christology. The existence of Q was then cited in the argument that challenged the historical basis for traditional Christology. It seem to me, following Occam’s Razor, that the whole idea of Q should be abandoned and the priority of Luke should be considered rather the alternative explanations positing hypothetical documents.

All of this is really an extended introduction to a point I made earlier that the analysis of priority should begin with the passion narrative. Luke clearly has the earlier, more accurate account of the passion narrative. The discussion on Luke is usually sidetracked by the claim that Luke revealed his knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem. C.H. Dodd and J.A.T. Robinson have adequately addressed this argument.

Briefly, “This generation” refers to those who heard and saw Jesus as witnesses and who are now (the first generation) listening and/or reading Luke. All of the explicit references to the destruction of the city are to be found in the special material of the Gospel of Luke. Those most interested in the fate of Jerusalem were not Gentiles but were Jewish residents of the city. If Luke wrote to the Gentiles post 70 C.E., the most impressive statement he could make would be: “Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem and this prophecy was fulfilled.” If Luke were writing after 70 C.E., he, being a stickler for details, would have noted the separate fates of the city and temple. Although Luke on numerous occasions emphasized the fulfillment of prophecy, nowhere does he indicate that the prophecy regarding the fate of the city has been fulfilled. As Robinson noted, this would be the most impressive statement any NT writer could make. None did. The Temple is still standing when Luke addressed Theophilus. The Temple prophecy of Mark 13:2; Matt 24:2 and Luke 21:6 resembles and echoes the prophecies of Micah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel that God's imminent judgment on Israel would involve the overthrow of the Temple.

But I suppose the most important thing I can say is, have a Happy New Year.

As a postscript, Santa in his year end report notes that no one included "Q" on his/her Christmas wish list!

Copyrighted 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

Response to Carrier and Mason

Richard Carrier in his article, , (2000), summarizes Steve Mason and concludes, in agreement with Mason, that Luke is dependent on Josephus.

I would like to respond by addressing just two paragraph of Carrier’s summary:

“Steve Mason has reviewed the arguments and in summarizing the evidence concludes that, besides generic parallels of genre and form and the use of identical historical events, which are inconclusive as proofs, the "coindidence...of aim, themes, and vocabulary...seems to suggest that Luke-Acts is building its case on the foundation of Josephus' defense of Judaism," and therefore that Luke is consciously and significantly drawing on Josephus to supplement his use of Mark and Q and to create the appearance of a real history, a notable deviation from all the other Gospels which have none of the features of a historical work.”

“Both L and J appear in two parts: J begins with the "most important" event in history (the Jewish War) and follows by looking into previous Jewish history to explain the war's significance (with the JA); L begins with his own 'most important' event (the appearance of God on Earth and his act of salvation for all mankind), and follows by looking into subsequent Christian history to explain Christ's significance (with Acts) [2].

Footnote 2 states: “A direct inversion of detail can be evidence of borrowing, in a manner called "emulation" or "transvaluation," where the borrower deliberately inverts the order or message of the story or idea that he has borrowed. This is especially the case when the inversion or change so befits the author's message that his reason for inversion is overwhelming. In this case, Christianity by definition aimed at becoming a forward-looking break with the past, the end of the Old Covenant and beginning of the New. Thus, Luke's inversion of the Josephan order makes perfect sense and is therefore plausibly inspired by Josephus--it becomes a counter-Josephus, overtly defying his message and replacing it with a new one.” Emphasis added.

There is only one problem with this explanation!

Josephus is in fact responding to the NT and in particular to Luke-Acts. However, the evidence that supports this bold statement is totally unexpected. Josephus rewrote the story of Lot for no apparent reason. Josephus has also rewritten the story of the flood to eliminate all references to the covenant with God as he did with the covenant of circumcision. In my article I provided many instances of rewriting by Josephus and demonstrated that the purpose of this rewriting was an attempt by Josephus to answer the “New Covenant” of the NT. If there is no old covenant, as evidenced by the rewritten sacred scriptures, there can be no new covenant. Luke cannot build on the foundation of Josephus’ defense of Judaism when the writings of Josephus have rewritten sacred scriptures to omit the very basis of the foundation of Judaism, its covenants with God.

I provided a more detailed statement of the of Josephus in my Rewriting Sacred History, March 27, 2005.

Copyrighted 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In Retrospect: Shepherds, Sheep and Rodents

The lowly shepherds were the first to greet the Christ child in the manger. Rodents were also present. They are common in barns and farm settings attracted by the food made available for the livestock. We know all about the shepherds or do we? The Lucan shepherds, of course, remind us that David was also a shepherd. Was there something special about these shepherds and the flock of sheep they were tending near Bethlehem? My friend, Tom thinks that this flock was attached or some how connected to the Temple.

The adorable little rodents played no role in the manger scene nor for that matter are they mentioned in any Biblical passage. However the flea is mentioned. The rodents do have their own history. Rodents have lived with plague for millions of years. It remains endemic in wild rodents worldwide and continues to be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea. Stark notes that there were at least two great plagues in the first three centuries. I am currently reading The Great Influenza of 1918 and How Germs Travel.

Yearend is often a time of reflection and Jim West has invited us to . Adorable little rodents have new meaning for me this year that did not exist last year. I have also thought about blogging and what if anything I have accomplished blogging this past year but not for the purpose of writing any New Year’s resolutions. I wrote nearly 300 short articles, close to 6 articles a week and nearly all of them on topic and, in my humble opinion, more than one good article every month. As my wife has commented, a number of my articles have had a very long gestation period.

The ones I enjoyed writing and rereading the most in no particular order:

Rewriting Sacred Scriptures, March 27th wherein I demonstrate the of Josephus on Luke;
Idle Tale, March 8th;
The Purpose of Acts, December 31st;
Luke and the Census, January 11th;
Transference and the Day of Atonement, April 30th;
Luke Remembered the Poor, May 19th;
The Reaction to Papal Infallibility, May 10th;
No Room at the Inn, July 13th;
Luke has No Theology of the Cross, August 28th;
Thinking Outside the Box, September 10th;
Origin of the Christian Doctrine of Atonement, September 2nd;
Paul’s Collection for the Poor, February 28th and
Lucan Priority, November 29th.

As you might suspect I did place one of my favorites first.

My favorite:
A Photo my friend sent me, December 23rd. Thank you.

I started to prepare a list of memorable articles on other blogs but having no criteria of selection I decided to mention only one, Michael Turton’s Chiastic Structure of the Gospel of , actually a series of articles.

Maybe, I will have my own carnival, wherein I note good biblical blog articles, but unfortunately this would distract me from my objective of writing good articles dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Of course, you the reader could nominate your own favorite!

Copyrighted 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fields of Coal

In last Saturday’s newspaper, there was a story about how some people might be wishing for coal in their stocking.

While in college I worked for the highway department for a man named Pinky who during the Depression had worked for the state highway department delivering coal. It seemed that the man they called the Senator, even though he had resigned his office upon being indicted, for being the leader of the largest bootlegging operation in the United States, had designed an elaborate welfare scheme. The bootlegging trial lasted six months. The Senator was convicted but before he could be sentenced, the President granted a general amnesty.

The owners of the coalmines needed the political support of the Senator. So he asked them for a favor. He asked that every truck he arranged to arrive at their coalmines be loaded with coal at no charge. The Senator then arranged for state highway department trucks driven by state highway employees to pick up the coal and deliver the coal to designated isolated fields in our county and deposited. During the winter, people who needed coal would be told where they could go to pick up coal to heat their homes. I was told by Pinky this scheme continued throughout the Depression up to the beginning of World War II.

When I read Luke’s Parable of the Unjust Steward, I think about the Senator. Nixon visited him during his first Presidential campaign. It was the only stop he made in our county. The Senator died in 1965.

Copyrighted 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Luke 2:10-11

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

Yesterday in my blog, Hardness of Heart, I quoted Ezekiel 36:26. Last October 19th, In Service of the heart, I discussed the view of Jeremiah and Ezekiel with respect to repentance and the need of the people of change. Jeremiah tells the people to “apply circumcision to your hearts” while Ezekiel announces "a new heart."

Paul also addressed this passage from Ezekiel. Paul suggested that only when gentiles turn to God would the terrible hardness of heart be taken away. When the gentiles are gathered in, Israel would lose its heart of stone and the kingdom would come.The verse is so important, I am going to repeat it: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

We live in a day when we need to say Happy Holidays so as to be politically correct but I would rather be theologically correct. Happy Holidays is an acknowledgment that we live in a pluralistic society. Merry Christmas is a profession of one’s belief, and a statement that some believers need to make as a member of a religion that believes in the zealous preaching and advocacy of the gospel. I wish you a Merry Christmas and so that you can enjoy a Happy New Year, I pray that you are given a new heart.

And I do plan to close shop for a few days.

Copyrighted 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hardness of Heart

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.

Continuing my comments on the priority of Luke, I noticed that in Luke 24:45-47 Jesus appears to the ten disciples, and John adds the story the Doubting Thomas story to explains why only ten. Verse 45 states: "Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. . . ."

It looks like Mark, like John, felt a need to expand what Luke had written. Mark take this phrase to explain that the disciples did not understand because "their hearts were harden" and provides examples. Mark uses the Greek words 'porosis' and 'poroo' to criticize the disciples and also the Pharisees but not the scribes or Sadducees. Neither Matthew nor Luke employed these words. Mark equated the hardness of heart of the Pharisees with the disciples making the criticism devastating. This concept is unique to Mark. When one recognizes that in Matthew, Jesus stated, "on this rock I will build my church" the criticism by Mark becomes even more stinging in its effectiveness. Mark is challenging the authority of Matthew (because of Peter) and Luke (because of the Jerusalem community). Both Luke and Mark use the phrase "they did not understand" [agnoeo] but only Mark goes out of his way to explain why they did not understand.

Would someone reading Mark understand 'porosis' or 'poroo' as a comment on Peter and what Jesus said: "on this rock I will build my church"?

Copyrighted 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Smell Fest

In Genesis, KJV, we read: "And the LORD smelled a sweet savour."

What created this smell is an interesting question because the expression appears 44 times in the KJV.

In the first century, large crowds of people attended the great festivals in Jerusalem. The smell of slaughtered livestock, blood running in the gutters, dead dogs, and human waste must have been horrendous. But my sister the Wise Librarian tells me that that garlic and cinnamon can kill the odor.

My question to you is this, what created the “sweet savour” and what killed the odor of a large number of lambs being slaughtered at Passover? Were garlic and cinnamon being used in this manner in Jerusalem at Passover?

What did they use before cinnamon became available?

Copyrighted 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Lucan Priority Demonstrated

The following demonstration is based on a message posted on Synoptic-L in 2002 by John Lupia. I have only posted a portion of the message.

“Arguments for Lukan priority have different foundations. I have developed arguments based on the text as follows: (1) Jesus does not carry the cross (Lk 23:26); (2) Jesus is never flogged (Lk 22:63); (3) Jesus is not crowned with thorns, but instead becomes the target of amusement in a child's game (which Mt 26:67-8; Mk 14:65 retain). If the proper order is Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, then these anomalies cannot be simply dismissed nor satisfactorily approached by merely attributing them to his editorial style, or that he was attempting to play down the horrors of the passion because they were turning people off by upsetting to the sensitive and squeamish. If Luke were first then Mark, Matthew, John would have edited their material as they did, not the other way round. These Passion Narrative (PN) details are essential to the soteriological acts of the Messiah.”

As I stated yesterday, Martin Kahler's classic description of the gospels as “passion narratives with extended introductions” says it all. Thus if it can be demonstrated that “the correct sequence of events” of the passion is reported by Luke and that Matthew and Mark have corrupted the details, then a credible argument has been shown in support of the priority of Luke.

Our understanding of the Easter event is based for the most part on a composite reading of the gospel accounts. Although I have been studying the Gospel of Luke since high school, not until I read this posting by John Lupia did I realize how in-grained my composite understanding of the passion narrative had become.

Copyrighted 2005

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Friends of the Crucified One

There are significant differences between what Luke reports in his account during the Passion from what Matthew and Mark report. A cursory examination of the four gospels reveals that they are all written around the cross. The four books contain a disproportionate amount of material about the death and resurrection. Everything in each of the four gospels leads up to this momentous event. Depending upon which account you review, one-sixth to one-third of the gospel is devoted to events associated with the passion and everything else is in some way introductory to the passion of Jesus. Martin Kahler's classic description of the gospels as “passion narratives with extended introductions” says it all. Thus if it can be demonstrated that “the correct sequence of events” of the passion is reported by Luke and that Matthew and Mark have corrupted the details, then a credible argument has been shown in support of the priority of Luke.

Three times Luke mentions the multitude of Jewish people present at the crucifixion who are sympathetic to Jesus. These references are missing from Matthew and Mark. Matthew and Mark also omit the weeping over Jerusalem pericope consistent with their omission of the theme present in Luke that Jerusalem is the focal point and centrality of location to which Jesus returns. That Jesus would weep for his people is consistent with what one would expect a Jewish prophet to do. Matthew and Mark have not adopted the Isaianic motif of the city.

Luke also records: “And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.” The word “saw” is also used in connection with the Roman centurion who praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” It is not credible that the centurion would say, “Surely this man was the son of God” as reported in Mark.

Mark has introduced into his account a hostile, mocking crowd of non-Christian Jews who are enemies of Jesus. Justin Martyr quoted three times (Dialogue 76:4; 120:5-6 and 140-4) the passage in Matthew 8:11-12 as scriptural proof of the displacement of guilty Israel by the Christian church.

As I have noted “The Lucan Parable of the Wicked Tenants” is not directed against the people. 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 and the people are the recipient of God's promised deliverance, is not writing about the rejection of God's people. In Luke, the chief priests “feared the people” but in Matthew and Mark “they feared the crowd/multitude” with Matthew adding “because they regarded him as a prophet.” That God's people in Luke became “crowd/multitude” in Matthew and Mark is a nuance indicative of their hostile treatment of the Jewish people. The Lucan Jesus has neither rejected the Jewish people nor implied that the Gentiles have replaced them.

Thus Luke’s treatment of the people of Israel at the crucifixion is consistent with his treatment of the people in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants.

Copyrighted 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Blind’s Man Bluff

How does a cruel child’s game performed at the house of Joseph Caiaphas, the High Priest, demonstrate the priority of the Gospel of Luke?

“The men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’” When you compare these verses with the parallel verses in Matthew 26:67-68 and Mark 14:65, one can see that only Luke has preserved all of the elements of the game. Matthew does not say that Jesus was then blindfolded. Mark has the guards only saying “Prophesy.” In Mark, the guards do not say, “Who is it that struck you?”

As I had noted in an article published several years ago, there was no night session in the home of the High Priest.

As David Flusser has stated in his chapter entitled, “Who Is It That Struck You,” The correct sequence of events, from Jesus’ arrest to the point at which he was turned over to the Romans was given by Luke.”

As John Lupia has stated: “The corruption of the details involving the game show fatigue on the part of Mt & Mk.”

Yesterday was the last day of exams at Penn State. My son borrowed for me from the Patee Library David Flusser’s book, Jesus, 2nd ed. (Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1998): 187-94). This is the only copy of the edition of this book in a public or academic library that I have been able to locate in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Thank you Eric.

Copyrighted 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Rare Word Allusion

An allusion is only a mention of a word or phrase without indicating the source. As noted, Biblical writers did not have quotation marks available to them. What did Biblical writers do to solve this dilemma? “It is written” is a formula used by the Biblical authors to introduce a quotation. It is rare that the phrase is followed by the location of the quotation. Luke on one occasion in Luke 3:4 adds “in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet” and once in Acts 1:20 adds “in the book of Psalms.”

The question is thus posed, is there such a category as the rare word allusion? I mentioned that Luke used “kept-back” in Acts 5:1-11 that many scholars have asserted recalls the story of Achan in the Book of Joshua 7:1. Dennis Hou mentioned another example on . He stated: “Habakkuk ii, 16 uses a rare word found elsewhere only in Leviticus xix, 23, indicating the need for something beyond circumcision--a metonymy for the constitution of Israel--to deal with the problem of sin.”

I should note that in this instance the Revised Standard Version shows more modesty than the King James Version. The rare Hebrew word is translated by KJV as “let thy foreskin be uncovered” in Habakkuk and “count as uncircumcised” in Leviticus.

Is Luke making the same allusion in Acts 7:51 translated, from a not so rare Greek word? Luke states: "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.” My notes on Jubilees include this possibility as a source: “I shall circumcise the foreskin of their heart . . . .”

For an allusion, rare or common word or phrase, to be successful, the imagery evoked thereby needs to be powerful and known both by the author and the reader. Luke, by combining the concept of “stiff-necked people” and uncircumcised” into his phrase "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears” may have also alluded to Deuteronomy 10:16 and has provided powerful imagery that would not catch the attention of a Gentile but would grab the attention of Theophilus, the High Priest.

I will be looking for more rare word allusions as I attempt to understand allusions, echoes and formula quotations that are not exact quotations.

Comments as always are welcome.

Copyrighted 2005

Gospel of Luke

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Luke in the Arts

At Evangelical Text Criticism, there has been some discussion about left-handed scribes with this link as proof thereof. But as Peter Head noted, Luke is righted-hand in this Illumination.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Allusion and the Use of Psalm 16 in Acts 2

There is no question that Luke's use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28 follows the LXX exactly. There are changes that the LXX has made to the MT, the significance of which is beyond the scope of my brief comments. I mention these facts because the question of allusion is made complicated particularly when it is not clear whether the author intends the MT or the LXX. In this instance, consistent with Luke’s usage the allusion is to the LXX. Furthermore, there is no question that Luke intends an allusion to Psalm 16:8-11 because he has employed an exact quotation. We must remember that NT authors neither had nor used quotation marks.

Thus my first question is how many exact words are necessary to establish the existence of an allusion. I already know that some will say, “Your answer may vary according to the circumstances.” Shakespeare’s use of the word “prodigal” a number of times in the Merchant of Venice has not been accepted as an allusion to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Yet yesterday, I noted a number of scholars have said Luke’s use of the word “kept back” was an allusion to the story of Achan in the Book of Joshua.

I am not aware of any single principle that has been found to adequately describe the different ways New Testament authors have handled the Old Testament Scriptures. But I am looking.

Copyrighted 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Community Property

In the early scenes in Jerusalem, Luke tells us of the most unusual actions of the followers of Jesus who sold their property and gave the proceeds thereof to the community, not ten percent but all of the proceeds. Within the community, they fulfill the biblical ideal for Israel, as described in Deut 15:4, by their common life. C.S.C. Williams in his Commentary on Acts published in 1957 described this event as “extreme communism.” Yesterday, I noted that Luke is not reluctant to attribute to God the infliction of suffering or chastisement citing, inter alia, Acts 5:1-11.

Ananias and his wife, Sapphira sold a property and kept back a part of the price. After separate confrontations with Peter, Ananias and Sapphira died. They suffered the extreme sanction because they participated in the community and apparently made the representations that they would sell their property and give all of the proceeds to the community. We can only assume that the participation of Ananias and Sapphira in the community included some kind of vow of poverty whereby the member transfers all of their assets to the community. Thus in holding back part of the proceeds, they violated this vow of poverty.

Is there any other way to understand what happened to Ananias and Sapphira?

A number of commentators, including C.S.C. Williams, have noted this verb, “kept back” means “embezzled” and this same verb is used in the Septuagint in the story of Achan who “kept back” that which he looted in the aftermath of a battle in Joshua 7:1. Achan violated the Lord’s command not keep back any of the plunder. I understand the story of Achan. I do not understand the story of Ananias and Sapphira because it is not clear to me that they violated the Lord’s command unless they made some kind of vow.

I find it hard to believe that Gentiles understood “kept back” as an allusion to the story of Achan and his violation of the Lord’s command.

Copyrighted 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sickness and Health

The God of Israel, in his covenants with his people, promised good health and longevity to those who followed his commandments and illness and death to those who did not. In Deuteronomy 28:15 we read: "But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” According to Deuteronomy 28, illness is not caused for any arbitrary reason. In Psalm 38, the petitioner describes his condition as one caused by the anger of the God of Israel. Luke is not reluctant to attribute to God the infliction of suffering or chastisement (Lk. 1:20; Acts 5:1-11; 9:1-18; 12:19-23; 13:6-12).

The God of Israel is also a healer. In Jeremiah 17:14, the RSV translates: “Heal me, Oh Yahweh, and I shall be healed. Later Jeremiah emphasizes in 30:17, “I shall restore your health and I shall heal your wounds.” “Indeed, I shall bring restoration and healing.” Jer. 33:6.

Is there any indication that the Temple had a role in the health care system? In Kings 8, we read: “. . . whatever plague, whatever sickness there is; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by any man or by all thy people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house; then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and render to each whose heart thou knowest, according to all his ways (for thou, thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men); . . .”

It was certainly customary or obligatory for a patient to present himself to a priest at the Temple after an illness. Lev. 13-14; 2 Kings 20; Isa. 38:9. Ezekiel attributes a possible therapeutic function to the future temple and garden. Luke tells us in Luke 5:13-14: “And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one; but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people."

A more detailed study will have to wait for further research by me. What I am interested in is whether or not Luke, who is clearly a member of the "Deuteronomistic School", makes explicit use of any of the OT passages cited.

Copyrighted 2005

What color is your integrity today?

In news today, there are reports that more people are using the Internet to look up the meaning of words and the number one word for which this check is being made is “integrity.”

A number of years ago, certainly more than ten, I had to be in two separate court hearings in two different courthouses on the same day at the same time. I asked my law partner to cover one of the two hearings for me. He appeared in the court on my behalf and one of the attorneys present made a motion for the judge to recuse himself because another attorney appearing in the same case before this judge was the personal attorney of the judge. Needless to say the judge was offended. He said, “My integrity is inviolate.”

Later, after my partner recounted to me the events that transpired in chambers, my partner said to me, “I did not know that integrity came in colors.”

For years after this event, people who knew my partner were asking, no one in particular, in the courthouse and elsewhere, “what color is your integrity today?”

Joel Friedman and I practiced law together for twenty-five years. Joel died March 7, 2004. We have collected a group of his sayings and we called them “Joelisms”.

copyrighted 2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Degrees of separation

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called Chains first proposed the theory in 1929.

Yesterday my sister, the Wise Librarian, her husband and my wife attended the Santa Lucia service in NYC. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations and his wife Nane Annan, his wife were also in attendance. Nane Annan is the niece of Raoul Wallenberg, an honorary citizen of the United States, by Act of Congress. Wallenberg is credited with saving thousands of Jews in Hungary during World War II as secretary at the Swedish legation in Budapest.

My father was a student of Rheinhold Niebuhr, professor at Union Theological Seminary in NYC, as was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Professor Niebuhr visited my parents at their apartment shortly after I was born.

The fate of Raoul Wallenberg is unknown. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and more than 7,000 other members of the Lutheran clergy died at the hands of the Nazi.

We enjoyed the Santa Lucia service and recognized many of the carols sung in Swedish. My sister speaks Swedish, as did my parents. We also enjoyed a late lunch at a Swedish restaurant. We did not discuss degrees of separation.

Copyrighted 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Angel Gabriel

During Advent, we read that the angel Gabriel was sent to visit Mary in a city of Galilee named Nazareth. Earlier, Gabriel appeared at the altar of incense while Zechariah was serving at this altar probably at the time of the evening sacrifice. Since Gabriel only appear four times in Holy Scripture and Luke is the NT writer to mention Gabriel, is Luke not only telling us what happened to Zechariah and Mary but also is he alluding to Gabriel’s appearance in Daniel 8:16 and 9:21?

In Daniel 8, Gabriel explains the vision of the horned ram as portending the destruction of the Persian Empire. In chapter 9, Gabriel, at the time of the evening sacrifice, appeared to Daniel, answering his prayer announcing that the House of God would be rebuilt and communicated to him the prophecy of the "seventy weeks" of years. Is Luke, in announcing of the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus, also alluding to the fact that this time period of the "seventy weeks" of years is now about to be completed?

“But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah’” and thus provided this recipient of a heavenly vision with reassurance such as we find in Daniel 10:12,19. This is further evidence that Luke intends to direct our attention to the Book of Daniel. What is the alluded message that Luke wants us to understand?

Although I ask these questions, I do want to remind you that you that last July I noted:

Prayer is certainly a significant theme in the Lucan writings. The Gospel opens with God’s people at prayer and closes with the believers joyfully blessing God in the Temple. I have been thinking about both the unique terminology used by Luke and the unique context in which this terminology is used. Two passages at the beginning of the Gospel may link the OT idea of prayer to the proper understanding of Jesus’ ministry of prayer although I need to consider more thoroughly the significance of the OT connection and whether or not this needs to be included in the discussion. It seems to me that the direction in Acts 6:4 that the Twelve are to engage in “prayer and ministry of the word” represents the proper implementation of the teachings of the gospel.

Since Luke begins the letter telling us that the story begins with Zechariah in prayer and purposeful contemplation, we should in this advent season prepare and be prepared for a life of prayer and purposeful contemplation if we accept the message of Luke as the gospel.

Tomorrow my wife and I travel to NYC in what has been a biannual pilgrimage of sorts celebrating Santa Lucia Day at a Swedish Lutheran Church near Central Park with the obligatory meal at a Swedish restaurant. My sister the Wise Librarian is in charge.
Copyrighted 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Baptized for the dead

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 1 Cor. 15:29 RSV

Later this month will be the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons. In 1840 Joseph Smith declared that those who had died before hearing the LDS gospel could have vicarious baptisms performed on their behalf. Today the Mormons still celebrate a ceremony wherein members stand in for deceased friends and relatives as a proxy for them that they may be baptized.
Interestingly, as important as baptism for the dead is for Mormons, there is no basis for it within the Book of Mormon. The Mormons cite as their authority for this practice the verse from First Corinthians and the practice of infant baptism where the parents answer for their baby. If parents can answer for the baby, why can’t proxies answer for the deceased?

Baptism for the dead was practiced among the German sectarians in Ephrata Pennsylvania and surrounding communities for about 100 years into the 1840’s. Although Joseph Smith lived in Pennsylvania as a young married man, no one has argued, let alone demonstrated, that the Mormon practice is based upon the Ephrata practice.

However, this verse about the baptism of the dead is part of series of arguments addressed to those “some among you” who are denying the resurrection. It appears that these “some among you” although they deny the resurrection practice the ritual of baptizing the dead. To these, Pauls says: “If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?” Thus Paul’s rhetorical question is the only way to understand the context of Paul’s argument in support of the resurrection.

Additionally, Luke would not support such a baptism. Luke believed “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ezek. 18:20, RSV). To him, Jesus plainly taught that “there is a great chasm has been fixed” between the two states, so that “none may cross from there to us” (Lk. 16:26).

Copyrighted 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Crimes of Pontius Pilate

Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate by the Jewish authorities without any trial proceedings ending in a verdict. Furthermore nowhere in the gospel accounts or for that matter in any source is there any report of a verdict issued by Pontius Pilate.

Philo of Alexandria, in Legatio ad Gaium, tells us that King Agrippa wrote to the Emperor Caligula telling him that Pilate was “by nature inflexible, selfwilled and hard.” The crimes of his administration were listed as: “bribery, tyranny, pillage, violence, calumny, constant execution without passing of verdict, and endless insufferable cruelty.”

Copyrighted 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pandemic Bird Flu and other health problems

I have been distracted thinking about pandemic bird flu. I have also been wondering about the public health risk of dumping untreated sewage into lakes, rivers and streams and whether this minor problem will compound the problems of pandemic bird flu. Finally, and this is the reason why my distraction has become your reading material, how did residents of the first century handle these problems? I have made another interesting reading list for myself and at the top of the list is: The City in Roman Palestine by Daniel Sperber. This book actually includes a chapter “Water supply, sewage, and drainage.” I will also be looking at Illness and health care in the ancient Near East: the role of the temple in Greece, Mesopotamia, and Israel by Hector Avalos.

I would welcome any suggestions for further reading.

As I was writing this piece, my friend sent me the following comment:

“Avian Flu presently is mutating into something, since the something is not yet identifiable thus no vaccine can be created. In 1918 the mutation of Avian Flu killed 100 million people within a period of 24 weeks, 80,000 in Philadelphia area. Analysis of corpses done recently confirms that it was Avian Flu. The water supply certainly is a major concern. Raw sewerage must not be allowed!”

I am adding The Great Influenza-The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry to my reading list.

Copyrighted 2005

Monday, December 05, 2005

The mini-maxi debate

and have been blogging about the accuracy of the Biblical evidence of the historical existence of Israel in the time of King David. Although Jim West is a minimalist and discounts all kinds of historical evidence, he is quick to tell us that his blog is worth $ 77,341.98 and that that some of the numbers on the “How Much is My Blog Worth”, but not the value assigned to his blog, make “makes no sense at all to me.” Now I am first to admit that none of the numbers will make any cents and that these numbers are not even evidence of comparative value. I present Jim’s own blog as Exhibit “A” containing substantial evidence that Jim is “a closet maxi” and one willing to submit weak evidence of the existence of value but not willing to accept any evidence at all of historical existence. However, in spite of these very ssubstantial wweaknesses, he does have a vvery ggood bblog. And Jim, I will sell you my blog for only 58712 cents!

Exhibit “A”
Biblical Theology
A weblog about Biblical Studies, Theology, and current events, by Jim West, ThD, a fahrender Scholastiker who dashes through life in the greatest haste.

December 2, 2005
Blogworth Checkup

I've checked again and here are the values of the blogs I read according to "How Much is My Blog Worth?"

Biblical Theology - $77,341.98 (Zwingli Bowl)
Richard Anderson- $58,712.16 (Tongue in Cheek Bowl)
Rob Bradshaw - $11,290.80
Better Bibles - $92,020.02 (BCS Bowl)
Alan Bandy - $19,758.90
Tyler Willians - $0.00 (which makes no sense at all to me)
Joe Cathey- $0.00 (again, makes no sense) (NRA Bowl)
James Crossley - $11,855.34
James Spinti- $0.00 (but his is quite new and will clearly rise)
Deinde- $0.00 (another one which makes no sense)
Michael Bird- $24,275.22
Ben Meyers - $63,793.02
Chris Heard - $14,678.04
Stephen Carlson - $34,436.94 (Synoptic Bowl)
Mark Goodacre - $57,583.08 (Cricket Bowl)
Brandon Wason- $25,968.84
Michael Pahl - $23,710.68
Loren Rosson- $0.00 (still makes no sense) (Tolkien Bowl)
Prophet Talk - $2,822.70
Claude Marliottini - $7,339.02
Scholar in Training- $3,387.24
The Magdalene Review- $2,258.16
Biblioblogs- $0.00 (which really makes no sense)Bible Dudes- $3,387.24
Paleojudaica- $71,132.04 (Orange Bowl)
Ralph the Sacred River- $42,905.04
Ken Ristau - $14,113.50
SansBlogue- $24,839.76

copyrighted 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Philo On Repentance

I have been remised in not discussing the views of Philo on repentance, a word that he used extensively in his writings. According to Jon Bailey, “Greek authors did not speak favorably of repentance.” Thus, according to Bailey, “Philo stands alone as an author of Greek philosophy endorsing metanoia as a virtue for his readers.”

Philo speaks about repentance in a manner acceptable to an educated audience, whether it is made up of Gentiles, Proselytes, or Jews. “It seems more likely that” On Repentance “is addressed to a mixed audience of Proselytes and ethnic Jews, encouraging Proselytes to recognize the importance of their own conversion, and urging ethnic Jews to fully accept Proselytes who have turned to God in repentance and who are more godly than ethnic Jews who have abandoned the Law.”

As you may suspect by my brief comments, I am wondering if the students of Luke-Acts should be paying closer attention to Philo, since in his writings, metanoia is closely associated with the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism. I am also wondering what is the significance of the writings of Philo to Luke-Acts.

I also need to think about whether or not the comments of Philo on repentance are evidence of organized proselytizing activity by Jewish missionaries. I do not recall either McKnight or Feldman discussing this text.

In second-Temple Judaism, there are some cases in which a person is refused the possibility of repentance. According to Philo, blasphemy against God, which includes asserting that God is responsible for evil and not human beings, is one sin for which there is no possibility of repentance. Philo also suggests that sometimes God does not allow a person to repent of his sins. For instance, Philo seems to believe that one can become so deeply involved with idolatry that repentance is no longer a possibility. Thus, by first reviewing Philo, we may better understand some of the harsh passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Shepherd of Hermas.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Return of Proto-Luke

It was not too long ago that Stephen Carlson “Scholarly support for proto-Luke has always been tepid with the notable exception of Vincent Taylor and virtually neglected today.” I did not make a note of the date of this earth-shattering news but did note that Thomas Brodie probably was a proto-Luke adherent. On Saturday, September 04, 2004, Mark Goodacre reported some of the BNTC 2004 with comments on a paper delivered by Bart Ehrman the day before. “Although he balked somewhat at the term "proto-Luke", no doubt because of the baggage it carries with it, his argument was that the Birth Narratives were added after the first edition of Luke in a bid to bring it more clearly into conformity with emerging proto-orthodox views.” Goodacre concluded his remarks by stating: “But it was the kind of the paper that got the imagination going, lucidly presented, and with the kind of liveliness that ensures you hear every word.”

Then in November 2004, Sheffield Phoenix Press announced the publication of The Birthing of the New Testament: The Intertextual Development of the New Testament Writings. The publication burb includes an invitation “to entertain the following thesis: Everything hinges on Proto-Luke, a history of Jesus using the Elijah–Elisha narrative as its model, which survives in 10 chapters of Luke and 15 of Acts. Mark then uses Proto-Luke, transposing its Acts material back into the life of Jesus. Matthew deuteronomizes Mark, John improves on the discourses of Matthew. Luke-Acts spells out the story at length. Add the Pauline corpus, the descendant of Deuteronomy via the Matthean logia, and the NT is virtually complete.”

If it "walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck", then it is a theory of Lucan Priority.

Copyrighted 2005

Friday, December 02, 2005

Repentance and Forgiveness in Judaism

I have been discussing repentance this past year in various contexts without providing a good explanation of the meaning of repentance in Judaism. Yesterday Jenee Woodward
mentioned this by David R. Blumenthal in .

copyrighted 2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea

He is the only individual mentioned by name in the Nicene Creed. Evidence for this man, who presided over the trial of Jesus, was discovered in Caesarea Maritama in 1961 by an Italian archaeologist named Antonio Frova. The , written in Latin, contained the phrase, "Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius." This temple was dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius who reigned from 14–37 C.E. This stone slab documents that Pilate was the Roman official governing Judea, and even uses his more complete name of Pontius Pilate, as found in Luke 3:1. Coins have also been found dating from Pilate's rule as prefect.

Luke used the appropriate title "Praefectus" ("hHGEMONEUONTOS") as either an equestrian prefect or a senatorial legate who was a Roman Consul and/or Praetor that was used up to 41 CE. Matthew used the term, “hHGEMWN” "manager" or "procurator" not the older title "hHGEMONEUONTOS" or Praefectus (pre-Claudian) that is
used exclusively by Luke. Lawrence Keppie, Understanding Roman Inscriptions, discussed the evolutionary development of these offices from the Roman Republican period through the reign of Claudius. Thus Matthew is guilty of an anachronism based on his later, Claudian usage.

Copyrighted 2005