Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dangerous Ideas in Biblical Studies

I have attempted to post my dangerous idea to Loren Rossen’s comment section at busybody without success. Failing in my efforts I will post it here.

Theology Is In Transition.

Copyrighted 2006

Gospel of Luke

Luke reads Psalm 118: Part II

In Psalm 118:22 we read: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.” The Septuagint and MT are in agreement. This verse is quoted from the Septuagint in Luke 20:17 as part of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants and Acts 4:11 as well as I Peter 2.7. It also appear in Matthew and Mark in their respective versions of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants.

Although the Parable of the Wicked Tenants appears in all the synoptic gospels in nearly identical language, there are changes that are not stylistic, indicating each author understood the parable differently. Scholars agree that the Parable of the Wicked Tenants is based on the Song of the Vineyard found in Isa. 5:1-7. However scholars disagree on whether the parable was spoken by the Historical Jesus. Prior discussions on the synoptic differences have focused on which of the gospel accounts is the earliest and whether or not this parable is an authentic Jesus' saying without considering the significance of the Lucan differences.

A common explanation of Luke's editorial policy is that Luke is making changes in the traditions transmitted to him because his Gentile audience can not understand the Hebraic, Semitic, Judaic nature of the original gospel. This explanation can not be the reason Luke omits the details of the hedge, winepress and watchtower because the Parable concludes with an allusion to Psalm 118:22 about “the stone which the builders rejected” that would be equally obtuse to a Gentile audience. None of the Gospels tell us Jesus is the stone which was rejected or that “builders” is a term for the religious aristocracy. Luke tells us in Acts 4:7-12 that Jesus is the stone which was rejected. It was a favorite quotation of the early church as a description of the death and resurrection of Jesus. By the time of Justin Martyr, “the stone” had become on of the names for Jesus. The identity of “builders” as “scribes” is also supported by rabbinic traditions. The Semitic character of the Parable is clearly established by this quotation and the wordplay it invites between the son = ha-ben and the stone = ha-'eben.

The allusion to Ps. 118:22 in the parable is Luke's third reference to Psalm 118. The first two citations to the Psalm are somewhat subtle. The first citation of this Psalm in Lk. 13:35 applied the cry of recognition to Jesus. This earlier 'cry of recognition' reference to Psalm 118 strengthens the conclusion that Jesus intends his wordplay to allude to the wordplay in the Song of the Vineyard wherein a cry for help is included. A second citation in Luke 19:38 made explicit reference to the king, and shows that the psalm is regal and messianic. The second citation thus ties in the messianic psalm with the stone established in Judaism as a messianic symbol (Isa. 28:16 and Dan. 2:44-45), and prepares the audience for the third remarkable citation to Psalm 118:22.

Luke by his triple allusion to Psalm 118 and the wordplay between 'son' and 'stone' intends a reversal of traditional Jewish thinking about the identity of the messiah. In this instance, Luke is announcing that a reversal is about to occur.

Repetition is used in this instance and with respect to “hanged on a tree” to make the point that the vindication of the stone by the power of God is the reversal of the action of a group identified as “the builders” who rejected it.

The publication of the Qumran fragment, 4Q500 which is based on Isa 5:1-7, suggests that the interpretation preserved in the Targum and also in 1 Enoch predates the New Testament. The text of this Qumran corpus reveals that the third line containing 'wine vat built among stones' is a clear allusion to Isa. 5:2 and that 'the gate of the holy height' in line 4 refers to the Temple.

The Isaiah Targum gives the Song of the Vineyard passage a narrower and distinctively cultic cast. It is exactly what we might expect of someone viewing the animal sacrificial system in the years following the destruction of the Temple and looking for scriptural comfort. Such a person might rewrite a biblical passage to support such new realities. An outsider to the temple establishment, such as the Qumran community, might also view the temple establishment as anti-cultic. In any event, Chilton, Baumgarten and Evans have demonstrated that the hedge, winepress and tower represent the sanctuary and altar of the Temple and the parable with such language included has an anti-Temple institutional orientation.

Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke to provide an anti-Temple institutional orientation to their gospels consistent with their condemnation of the animal sacrificial system. Luke does not condemn the Temple or the animal sacrificial system. The usage of the Septuagint together with the Semitic character of the Lucan Parable of the Wicked Tenants is strong evidence that The Lucan Parable was not written with a Gentile audience in view.

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

Luke reads Psalm 118

Luke cites Psalm 118 five times in Luke-Acts as follow:
118:26 in Lk. 13:35 and 19:38; 118:22 in Lk. 20:17 and Acts 4:11 and 118:25-26 in Lk. 12:13. Luke alludes to Psalm 118:2-4 with his usage of the term God-fearer. Psalm 110.1 is the only other Psalm with multiple citations to Luke-Acts. [20:42-43; 22:69; and 2:34-35].

Psalm 118 and Psalm 110 each deserve a separate article since the usage is significant. I am planning multiple articles on the Septuagint quotations in Luke-Acts.

Psalm 118 is the most-frequently quoted Psalm in the NT, specifically two passages. One passage is the words about the stone, rejected and then rehabilitated (vv.22-23). The other is the Hosanna chant of the Palm Sunday parade (25-26). Psalm 118 was Luther's favorite, especially: "I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord." According to Hebrew scholars, Psalm 118 was the song which Jesus and His disciples sang at the conclusion of the last Passover Supper.

Psalm 117 sets forth the evangelistic campaign which will be conducted by the saved remnant of Israel. This Psalm introduces Psalm 118:1-4 which gives the prediction of the evangelization of the entire nation of Israel with its proselytes.

Psalm 118:26(a) LXX states: “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord” which both Matthew [23:39], Mark [11:1-9] and Luke [13:35] copy exactly. However Matthew and Mark are using the Septuagint quotation for the entry into Jerusalem while Luke uses the quotation in a different context.

The New American Bible contains this footnote: “A thanksgiving liturgy accompanying a victory procession of the king and the people into the temple precincts.”

This footnote is significant in that Luke in his entry into Jerusalem pericope in 19:38 states: “Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Therefore one can conclude that not only did Luke read Psalm 118, but he also understood its significance. Matthew and Mark did not. Matthew and Mark in rewriting Luke missed the nuance. It is possible that Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke to be politically acceptable.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Many priests who were obedient to the faith

Initially I suspected that Luke was alluding to: “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests” which appears in Exodus 19:6. Although Luke cites Exodus numerous times, I can not say that my title from Acts 6:7 is allusion to Exodus 19:6.
I do wonder why Luke included this statement that many priests joined the movement just prior to Stephen’s sermon and stoning. Was the arrest of Stephen a reaction to the success of the followers of Jesus in converting priests to the movement?

Certainly there were many poor unemployed priests residing in Jerusalem who would welcome the opportunity to sit at the tables and eat with the widows. There were clearly more priests than were needed to staff the Temple. They drew lots for their assignments.

Luke mention the God-Fearers in Acts which we know were also mentioned in the Septuagint in (2 Chron 5:6; Psalms 115:9-11; 118:2-4; 135:19-20 and Mal. 3:16)(but not mentioned in the MT). We also know that Malachi is a reference to a group of people, clearly Jewish, who fear God who are described as pious, righteous and loyal to the true God. What is interesting is that Malachi is a book about Levite priests who are on the outside, not being sons of Zadok, who defend the abiding validity of God’s covenant with Levi. The dissident priests of Malachi are challenging the legitimacy of the temple establishment led by priests who are considered to be sons of Zadok. In the time of Luke, including the time from 35 B.C.E. to 66 C.E., four priestly families, who were not of Zadokite descent, dominated the office of the high priest.

All three synoptic gospels include: “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way before thee” which Mark attributes to Isaiah but only Luke has an allusion to a verse in the same chapter of Malachi. Luke read Malachi; Matthew and Mark did not. This is further evidence of Lucan priority.

Since Luke was writing to most excellent Theophilus, the High Priest, it may be that this is just a statement by Luke that the WAY has experienced success in converting priests. None of the commentaries that I have reviewed have shed any light on this obscure phase. I suggest that the Theophilus Proposal has solved another riddle.

Copyrighted 2006

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Problem of Allusions and Synoptic Solutions

If one is not careful, one will see allusions not intended by the author. How is one to decide what “allusion” is an intended allusion and what is a false allusion? Rather than attempt to provide a general rule, the problem will be discussed as it relates to the prophecy of Amos.

It is asserted that two reasons were provided by Stephen as to why the temple will be destroyed but are they were really arguments in support of the reason or are they statements about the false premise held by the temple establishments? According to Stephen other gods are worshipped. The cult critique, appearing in Amos 5:25-27, is adopted by quotation in Acts 7:42-43. Then in 7:48, Stephen asserts “the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands” which clearly is a reference to Amos 9:6 discussed two days ago.

Did Luke also intend an allusion to the prophecy of the destruction of the temple uttered by the Prophet Amos?

Matthew and Mark both contain verses supporting the idea that the body of the risen Christ could be described as a new temple, which will replace the old destroyed one after three days. Luke does not contain these verses. These verses are the basis for the assertion that Jesus said that the Temple will be destroyed.

The doctrine of the theology of the cross replaced both the High Priest and the Day of Atonement. This replacement is clearly evident in Matthew 26:61; 27:40 and Mark 14:58; 15:29. This replacement is necessitated by the belief structure that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.

Creed and those who agree with him note that Luke has no equivalent of the ransom saying or of Matthew's connection of Jesus's covenant blood with the remission of sins. Luke does not connect forgiveness of sins with the death of Jesus.

Esler states: “It is indeed, very difficult to imagine how a theory of atoning death of Jesus, already present in Paul and Mark and, indeed, in pre-Pauline and pre-Marcan traditions, could have arisen among Jews who preserved close links with the sacrificial cult.” As long as the Temple stood, the High Priest was in office, the Day of Atonement was being observed and Judaism recognized the followers of Jesus as Jews, including many priests who were obedient to the faith, there was no need or reason for Luke to proclaim a theology of the cross and in fact, Luke has no theology of the cross.

It is difficult to imagine how a theory of atoning death of Jesus could have arisen among Jews who preserved close links with the sacrificial cult because it would be an anachronism. It is likewise difficult to imagine, if such a theology existed, that it would have shown its influence on Didache and the early Church Fathers. The apostolic fathers believed that salvation was based on repentance and not solely on the ground of the death of Jesus on the cross. Robert Kraft has stated: “There is no indication in the Didache that an initial repentance connected with the idea of personal sinfulness for which Jesus' death atones was considered basic to the Christian life.”

Luke does not allude to or cite Zechariah 13:7 as do Matthew and Mark nor does Luke show awareness of the destruction of Jerusalem as do Matthew and Mark.

For all these reasons, it is unlikely that Luke intended to allude to the prophecy of Amos. It is more likely that Luke was criticizing the conduct of the high priests. They were wicked tenants. Luke has Stephen bring out Aaron's responsibility for making the idol with the story of the calf demonstrating that high priests from the beginning have been 'wicked tenants.'

Mark was right the disciples did not get it! The disciples did not understand that there was no need to be in the Temple daily making sacrifices.

Sometimes the hardest part of solving the problem is properly defining the problem. Did you ever have an old fashion toilet that flushed by itself even though no one had used it? We fixed the problem by replacing the innards.

Then my toilet was leaking at the base after the new toilet had been installed. We all thought the installer must have inadvertently broken the seal during the installation.

Meanwhile the hot water heater starts leaking. We called the plumber to have a new hot water heater installed but he, having installed the current hot water heater only eight years ago, insisted in looking at the hot water heater to determine if the problem could be fixed by replacing the leaky safety valve on the hot water heater. The plumber explained that the leak from the safety valve was probably caused by high water pressure.

The leak at the base of the toilet resolved itself when the plumber installed an expansion tank to relieve the high pressure in the system created by the addition of safety and shut off valves.

Mark rewrote Luke because the disciples did not get it. He did so diplomatically because he could not criticize Luke. Mark rewrote Luke to place in the mouth of the Marcan Jesus an incident occurring in Acts whereby it could be said that Jesus had declared all foods clean. Mark also added the theology of the cross.

Matthew also rewrote Luke adding a theology of the cross and the pericope making Peter not James the leader of the ekkesia, a word which is an anachronism in Matthew and had the disciples wait for Jesus in Galilee. Luke uses the Greek word ekklesia 23 times in Acts but not once in the Gospel. Matthew uses the word three times and is guilty of an anachronism.

Both Matthew and Mark had the women anoint the head of Jesus with oil, not his feet as in Luke, and introduced the idea that their writing was the proclamation of the gospel.
Both Matthew and Mark perhaps recognizing the harshness of the doctrine of repentance reduced its significance in their gospels.

Matthew rewrote the genealogy contained in Luke to make Jesus the son of David through the line of Solomon to support his claim that Jesus was the son of David, a descendant of David and Solomon, and like the Solomon of traditions, one blessed with the ability to heal. Matthew used the title “son of David” in six instances in passages that are healing stories. Of further interest Luke, but not Matthew, includes Noah in the genealogy of Jesus. Since Luke has emphasized Noah, the Noachic decree and the Day of Pentecost, he may have used the Book of Jubilees as a source.

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus is depicted as a prophet greater than Moses who walks on water. In Luke, Jesus is a prophet like Moses who does not walk on water.

Matthew and Mark, consistent with their thematic presentation, have condemned the animal sacrificial system and of the Temple. No such condemnation is found in Luke.

Luke is criticized, for recalling in his account of the sermon in Nazareth the healings in Capernaum, even though Luke has not previously mentioned any healings by Jesus. This is said to be evidence of his carelessly copying another gospel account. Eckhard Reinmuth has demonstrated, based on his detailed study of Liber biblicarum antiquitatum of Pseudo-Philo, that Luke, in recalling material not previously mentioned, is using an established Jewish literary technique.

For Luke, Jesus' mission of preaching the good news of the kingdom does not imply that Israel is supplanted. Consistently, the activity of preaching, healing and of calling disciples is set within the context of the Temple and synagogue. The Lucan Jesus accepts the form and fact of these institutions including the animal sacrificial system, Temple worship and the need for repentance.

The synoptic gospels all note that John Baptist came preaching calling to the crowd that they should repent for the kingdom of God is approaching. John baptized with water unto repentance. Although the word, “repent” makes a few more appearances in Matthew and Mark after the initial pericopes with John the Baptist, “repentance” disappears.

The New Testament does not explain what “repent” and “repentance” means suggesting that these passages were written for a Jewish audience. Since it is so much easier to seek forgiveness from God than from your neighbor, it is understandable that the requirements of repentance were relaxed for Gentiles by Matthew and Mark.

Luke stresses more than the others the need for repentance. All three Synoptics have this saying of Jesus: “I did not come to call righteous people but sinners”; only Luke adds “to repentance.” Luke will not let us escape the demand for repentance. Luke tells us that Jesus uses the repentance of Ninevah as a rebuke to the present unrepentant generation and that he even uses the failure of Tyre and Sidon for the same purpose. Jesus invited his audience to reflect on Pilate’s killing of the Galileans and on the death of those on whom the tower in Siloam fell. He said, “Unless you repent you will all perish likewise.”

When there is repentance, there is joy in heaven. The Lucan Jesus in successive parables repeats this statement. Repentance means an end to sinning. When this happens there is joy beyond this earth. Matthew has a parable about a shepherd looking for a lost sheep and his joy in finding it. In Luke’s version of the story, Jesus says “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Absolute eschatological reversal results from repentance.

True Repentance is hard to perform. Consequently, Matthew and Mark had to rewrite Luke to make it palatable by reducing its significance. Matthew and Mark also introduced the theology of the cross missing in Luke. These two changes have a negative correlation. Theology does change to meet social need.

Both Matthew and Mark misunderstood the Sign of Jonah and the finger of God.

Both Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke to correct “errors.”

When the problem is properly defined, the solution is readily apparent.

Copyrighted 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Road to the Gentiles

After announcing the Apostolic Decree, James provides the rationale by quoting Act 15:21.

"For from early generations Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read every sabbath in the synagogues."

Marion Soards declares with respect to verse 21 that “The final verse of the speech is an interpretive riddle.” The riddle is resolved. This decision announced by James is from a Jewish perspective and is designed at maintaining relationships. According to Talbert, “The Gentile Messianists are to behave this way not because the law says so but because it is the minimum that will allow Jews who observe the law to associate with Gentiles who do not.”

The common meals were very important to primitive Christianity. The Decree made it possible for Jews and Gentiles to meet at the common table in that two of the four rules announced by James were concerned with the preparation of food.

Verse 21 recognized that in the intertestamental period, the Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire and lived mostly in the cities. As people of trade and commerce, they were highly networked. Wherever the Jews settled, they established synagogues, which were open to Gentile inquirers and proselytes. According to Esther 8:17, many people of other nationalities became Jews.

The synagogues of the Diaspora used the Septuagint. The fact that the Hebrew Bible had been translated into Greek made the Septuagint an instrument for Jewish missionary efforts and the synagogues an attractive alterative for Greek speaking residents receptive to a message attacking idolatry, polytheistic worship and immoral practices.

The fact that the movement was successful is explained by one additional fact, which is confirmed by Luke and Lampe. The house churches established by the followers of Jesus were located near synagogues. Thus we read in Acts 14:1 that Paul and Barnabus went as usual into the Jewish synagogue where they spoke so effectively that “a number of both Jews and Greeks became believers.”

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Luke rewrites Amos

In the fifth vision of the Prophet Amos recorded in the ninth chapter, Amos claims to have seen God. Amos then contrasts what happens in the heavenly temple with the earthly temple. This is a picture of opposition between God and an earthly temple that can be eliminated by God. Luke does not explicitly allude to the beginning of Chapter 9 but his citation of verses 11 and 12 may constitute an allusion. The NT quotation contained in Acts 15:16-18 differs slightly from the Septuagint text to which it is compared.

“After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.”

In the very next verse, James announces the Apostolic Decree.

As noted by Marion Soards, divine action is being reported by James. James Dunn has indicated that this passage from Amos was “featured in Jewish speculation of the period about the restoration of Israel, of the David kingdom” and it would not be surprising that the Jerusalem community identified with the remnant of Amos 9:11. This passage provided comfort to both the remnant and to select Gentiles. These verses were also cited by the Qumran community.

The Jewish speculation was particularly strong in the period prior to 70 CE and is one of many reasons why I date the writings of Luke early and prior to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. It is noteworthy that Stephen’s sermon does not mention the abomination of desolation featured in Matthew and Mark.

The Amos quotation was slightly modified at the beginning changing “on that day” to “after these things” creating an ambiguity as to what happens just before “the dwelling of David” is restored. Does the reader know that in Amos, God will destroy the temple and afterward “the dwelling of David” will be rebuilt? Luke may be relying on the reader to recall and relate the accusation against Stephen to the verses quoted from Amos. Is Luke now applying the fifth vision of Amos against the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem? I noted at the beginning that Amos claims to have seen God. Just before Stephen was stoned, Acts records: “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’" Stephen saw the glory of God.

Is it the purpose of Luke to use the two verse Amos quotation to also allude to the events recorded at the beginning of chapter nine of Amos and to also suggest that Stephen has in fact issued the same prophecy as Amos?

Perhaps the most important part of the Amos quotation utilized by Luke is this: Whoever responds in belief to this mission will be included in the eschatological community consisting of Jews and gentiles. With this response to this mission, the gentiles become part of God’s people without being obliged to observe the Mosaic laws in full.

Most of the commentators focus on the Apostolic Decree announced by James paying little attention to what may be the more important message. I need to do more thinking about Amos, Stephen and Luke.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

As the Worm Turns

I am sure that one of my readers will provide me the source of this expression that is my title today. A lawyer friend has suggested that the origin dates to the story of the worm that ate the gourd that provided shade and comfort to Jonah, the angry prophet. What does the gourd represent?

The gourd represents the composite of bad concepts and ideas held by Jonah, the angry prophet. The authors of the Book of Jonah and the other so-called Minor Prophets did their rewritings of sacred scripture correcting “errors” and misconceptions.

Some of the errors corrected by the author of the book of Jonah have been previously noted. Josephus rewrote sacred scriptures to undermine the foundation of the writings of Luke. Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke-Acts correcting Luke’s errors.

Q is a hypothetical source in Greek which can be reconstructed from verbatim agreements between Matthew and Luke where there is parallel in Mark. However, even those scholars using a precise definition, disagree on the content of this document. Q was created to provide the hypothetical source independently utilized by Matthew and Luke. The time has come for the worm to eat this gourd.

Copyrighted 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Can of Worms

The Sign of Jonah is a can of worms in view of the complexity of problems it raises. The central problem is the lack of agreement between Matthew and Luke in their respective explanations of the meaning of the Sign of Jonah. Luke 11:30 reads: “For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.”

In its parallel passage (12:40), Matthew records: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew has utilized a quotation from Jonah 1:17 LXX.

There are many reasons why it can be asserted that the Sign of Jonah is a can of worms. For me, it illustrates the problems with the various solutions to the Synoptic Problem, none of which recognizes that neither Matthew nor Mark understood the original meaning of the enigmatic Sign of Jonah.

The two different explanations for the Sign of Jonah has presented a host of problems, including which of the two explanations is the original. Most scholars suggest that Matthew and Luke are talking riddles because the expression was enigmatic to both of them and omitted by Mark for the same reason. It was not a riddle to Luke as can be easily demonstrated.

The Jonah story is about the capability of God to complete his plan. Jonah and Jesus are both great preachers who are vindicated. The people of Ninevah repented; the people of Israel should follow their example. The Lucan Jesus is repeating this message and has emphasized it with his numerous references to repentance, more so than Matthew and Mark, so much so that Luke has been called the gospel of repentance.

The word of God delivered by a prophet caused the people of Ninevah to repent. Only Luke makes it clear that the word of God, proclaimed by Jesus, with its call of repentance with the response that the messaged elicited is the sign. A prophet had come preaching repentance just as Jesus had come preaching repentance to this generation. Both Jonah and Jesus have been vindicated.

However, the Sign of Jonah is not to be based on a reading restricted to the Book of Jonah. It has been noted that at least five of the Minor Prophets have adapted the attribute formulary of Exodus 34. Verses 6-7, which state: “The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation’” has been adapted by Hosea 14:3,5; Joel 2:13-14; Jonah 3:8-4:2; Micah 7:18-20; and Nah. 1:2-3a.

In Jonah, the people of Ninevah are so repentant that even the animals wore sackcloth. Should God spare the repentant people of Ninevah? The prophet Joel said that God who renounces evil reverses his decree for the sake of those who repent. The prophet Jonah said that God who renounces evil is not being true to his word. The author, of the Book of Jonah, suggests that God does as He pleases and we can not understand Him. Yet the reader of Jonah is faced with two absurdities. God must save the hated Ninevites because they repented. The second absurdity is that God must destroy the people of Israel because their demise has been prophesized and they have not repented.

Jonah is also about unexpected reversals. In 2 Kings 14:25-27, God permits the expansion of the borders of Israel “according to the word that his servant Jonah uttered” despite the nation’s persistent sinfulness. In Jonah 3:10, God reverses the evil that Jonah pronounced against Ninevah.

The Sign of Jonah is about repentance and eschatological reversals. Luke understood. Luke refers to the future reversal of social roles in the Magnificat at the beginning of his gospel. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is the final part of the unique Lucan triad, the parables having in common the theme of lost and found or recovered. For those who have studied the various implications, it is the story of the ultimate outcast, a person reduced in status to feeding pigs, expressed in the language of economics. Darrell Bock has said the message is that “absolute reversal results from repentance. . . .”

A number of writers have used the word 'irony' in describing the outcome of reversal depicted in the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus. Although the parable contrasts the destinies of the rich man and the poor man as part of an on-going theme of eschatological reversal announced in the Magnificat, the inquiry of the rich man while he is suffering in Hades introduces into the analysis the themes of repentance and also resurrection. This suggests that the fate of the rich man is not due to his wealth but due to his lack of repentance (failure/almsgiving) and his lack of belief in the resurrection. Although some have said verses 27-31 represent a later interpolation, the double parable structure is also utilized in the Prodigal Son (15:11-32), Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt 20:1-15) and the Great Supper (Matt 22:1-14). In double parables, the main point is always found in the second half of the double parable and such is the case here.

Luke by his triple allusion to Psalm 118 and the wordplay between 'son' and 'stone' intends a reversal of traditional Jewish thinking about the identity of the messiah. In this instance, Luke is announcing that a reversal is about to occur. Repetition is used in this instance and with respect to “hanged on a tree” to make the point that the vindication of the stone by the power of God is the reversal of the action of a group identified as “the builders” who rejected it.

Only Luke showed his appreciation that the Sign of Jonah is about repentance and also about eschatological reversals by introducing a pattern of reversal of fortunes, as proclaimed in the Magnificat, as a significant part of the structure of his first book.

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mark alludes to Jonah the prophet

Mark alludes to the angry prophet Jonah because he does not understand the enigmatic Sign of Jonah proclaimed by Jesus. One allusion was noted yesterday. The second allusion occurs not because Mark has been reading Jonah but because he is following Matthew and Luke.

Mark tells the story of Jesus calming the storm which he has obtained from Matthew and Luke. The similarities to the first chapter of Jonah should be noted. Both Jesus and Jonah are sleeping during a life threatening storm. Both awaken to cries of despair. Jesus personally controls the storm while Jonah’s shipmates pray to God to calm the storm. In Mark, the contrast of Jesus with Jonah is not noted nor appreciated even though Jesus performs an act that the OT and Jewish texts say is the sole prerogative of God.

Willi Marxsen stated that Mark, the great theologian of the cross, rearranged everything in terms of the redemptive suffering and death of Jesus, the son of God. Conzelmann demonstrated that Luke had no theology of the cross. He further noted that Mark’s gospel was merely a commentary on the kergma of Acts 2:22-24, which existed prior to the Gospel of Mark and provided Mark with his initial outline. Just as Marxsen’s work (1959) was a response to Conzelmann’s The Theology of St. Luke (1953), the Gospel of Mark was a response to the writings of Luke.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Prophet like Jonah

No one, to my knowledge has ever said Jesus was a prophet like Jonah. I suggest to you, that although the evidence is weak, it is a possibility that Mark, in several instances, is in fact alluding to Jonah, the angry prophet. Bart Ehrman has described the textual problems with Mark 1:41 where he believes that a scribe changed an angry Jesus to a compassionate Jesus. There are two other instances in 3:5 and 10:14 where Mark describes Jesus as angry.

There is also a hint of anger in Mark 8:11-13 where Mark has a report of a refusal of a sign that is closely related to the Sign of Jonah reports in Matthew and Luke. This may demonstrate Mark’s familiarity with the Sign of Jonah material in Matthew and Mark.

There are no parallels in Matthew or Luke. Ehrman asserts that Matthew and Luke have independently written “angry” out of their gospel. I suggest that Mark, reading and observing how Matthew and Luke had treated the Jonah material differently, omitted the explicit references to Jonah. Mark, instead, alluded to Jonah the angry prophet.

Copyrighted 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Jonah and the worm that ate the gourd

The anger and bitterness that Jonah expressed when the worm ate his gourd is a statement of the anger of Jonah with God who failed to destroy the people of Ninevah. This was in fact the third time that Jonah expressed his anger. He was mad that God sent him to warn the people of Ninevah. Then he was mad that God did not destroy the people of Ninevah. Finally he was mad and angry that the worm ate his gourd. Jonah was an angry prophet.

copyrighted 2006

Gospel of Luke

Friday, January 20, 2006

Eaten by worms and survived

So many bloggers are interviewing celebrities, that I decided to interview, Jim West, successor to Peter, and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Petros. “Is it true you founded your church on the rock?” “I didn't establish the church- its been here since 1896.” “Is the town really named Petros?” “yup.” I reported earlier that the Jim’s blog and mine had been eaten by worms. I can now report that we both survived. My son, the IT Major at Penn State, saved me but Jim West decided that the congregation comes first; that he needs to educate the hometown first. You can view the resurrected Jim at petros. It is still my first visit of the day and I am not even Baptist.

Yesterday at 9:11, Jim posted a good article on “Separation of Church and State: The Baptist Heritage.” It is an important First Amendment concept that we all need to recognize and accept.

I survived and I can report that “blogger” is now posting my articles as of the same date that I am posting them. However there are five or six articles posted as of January 8th, (I must been really busy that day), when in reality there were posted over several days. I am still thinking about Jonah and whether or not worms were a problem in his day! I received an email from someone who read my post on the “Pandemic Bird Flu and Other Health Problems” who suggested that we all need to be eating dirt. One approach to Jonah has to been to consider his book as satire. I do not know if I am ready for that. Eat and Google carefully.

I spoke too quickly. The dating problem still exists.

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Jonah in Luke

Someone writing a thesis on Jonah in Luke-Acts honors me by giving me a penny for my thoughts!

I have some thoughts which I will post to my blog when I reduce them to writing but initially I note the obvious. Jonah does not appear in the Gospel of Mark. I am not sure why. Second: there are at least two views of Jonah BCE and Jesus in citing Jonah in effect adopted one of the two views. The use of Jonah makes more sense in Luke than it does in Matthew. It may be that the message that Luke intends to deliver with his use of Jonah is different than Matthew even though the Jonah passages are practically identical. Further it may be that Mark did not understand why either Matthew or Luke utilized the sign of Jonah. Finally Josephus rewrote Jonah because he did not approve of the view adopted by the Lucan Jesus and desired to undermine the foundation upon which Luke relied.

This blog has previously shown how Josephus has rewritten Sacred Scripture altering the various texts relied upon by the followers of Jesus. The alteration of the covenant of circumcision undermines only the claim of Luke that Jesus is the circumcised messiah out of the house of David. The alteration of the land theology undermines only the covenant-rooted ingathering of the exiles proclaimed by Luke. As noted Josephus has altered texts relating to personalities that only appear in Luke-Acts. The alteration of the story of Lot is truly senseless. Only Luke among the gospel writers mentioned Lot and has Enochic references. Finally Josephus is responding to Luke-Acts because only the Lucan Paul successfully targeted Jews of the Diaspora promoting a covenant-rooted ingathering of exiles.

Josephus’ rewriting of Jonah is part of the same pattern.

I will post more thoughts on Jonah at a later date.

Posted January 19, 2006

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Anti-Idol Polemic

In the Book of Isaiah, the power of YHWH and his word is contrasted with the impotence of idols. Anti-idol polemic is apparent in several pericopes of the Acts of the Apostles, the most obvious being the Aeropagus speech of Acts 17 which we discussed last July 6th. In Isaiah 40-55, there are four anti-idol passages wherein the power of YHWH over the nations is the focus.

The following episodes, Philip's encounter with Simon Magus, the death of Herod, the confrontation with the magician, Paul and Barnabus in Lystra and Demetrious the silversmith, demonstrate that the anti-idol polemic was more than a rhetorical strategy. These powerful allusions to Isaiah can only mean that the polemic was presented as a continuation of the Isaianic tradition to place the followers of Jesus within the mainstream of Judaism.

copyrighted 2006 all rights reserved

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Enigma of the Roman Shield and of the desolating sacrilege

Luke does not include "But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be" phrase which is included by Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14.

The academic community for the most part considers "the desolating sacrilege" to be either a reference to the incident of the Roman shield and/or the attempt of the Emperor Caligula to place his statue in the Temple. If the statement is considered predictive prophecy, why would not Luke have included have included the statement? If the statement is not considered predictive prophecy, is the inclusion of the statement in Matthew and Mark evidence of an anachronism? This would depend on the dating of the incident of the Roman shield and may also depend on the dating of the crucifixion. It should be noted that both Matthew and Mark also include the equally enigmatic phrase "let the reader understand."

The traditional date of the crucifixion is considered to be 30 CE. In 33 CE games were held in Caesarea in honor of the semicentenary of Augustus' Saeculum. Thus, according to N. Kokkinos, the Roman shield may have made an appearance in Jerusalem prior to being removed to Caesarea.

Luke used “eaten by worms” expressed by the Greek word, “skolekobrotos,” to describe how Herod Agrippa died. 2 Maccabees 9 used a similar word to describe the end of Antiochus. This is the same Antiochus who in 1 Maccabees looted the Temple and directed that a pagan altar be established with an image of the Greek chief god Zeus atop the temple altar. 1 Maccabees tells us that they set up the desolating sacrilege upon the altar. Thus some scholars say that Matthew and Mark are describing an event that occurred when the Roman soldiers looted the Temple in 70 CE.

My question is this, if Luke was familiar with the story of Antiochus and used it or alluded to it in his narrative of the death of Herod, why did he not use the phrase, “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be?” There are a number of Lucan hapax with no other occurrence in the NT but appearing in 1 & 2 Maccabees. [I lost my excel list when my computer was eaten by worms.] I believe this is evidence that Luke was not only familiar with 1 & 2 Maccabees but that he used words found in these books.

If, however, the answer is, he heard the story of the death of Herod when he was in Caesarea while Paul was in custody, then does this mean, the Gospel of Luke had been written prior to Luke hearing the account of the death of Herod?

Posted January 18, 2006

Copyrighted 2006

Criterion of Anachronism

An anachronism is "something out of place in time."

Michael Turton's second criterion is: "No anachronisms are historical."

In his Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, Turton notes that Mark 10:2 states: "and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" which Turton correctly asserts is an anachronism since Jewish law in the first century did not permit women to obtain a divorce. Tal Ilan does mention instances where the man was forced to file a bill of divorce but her discussion merely confirm that the woman was not permitted on her own initiative to obtain a divorce. James Crossley commenting in response to me on busybody mentions the case of Salomone and Costobarus. Ilan says that Salomone as a Roman citizen was permitted to obtain a divorce from Costobarus under Roman law. About the same time as Salome was obtaining her divorce, Costobarus was executed by Herod for hiding dangerous opposition leaders.

The reviewer of Turton's indicates that Turton has created a criterion of anachronism.

I should note that neither Matthew nor Luke have committed this historical error.
Elsewhere Turton asserts that the mention of synagogues in the Second Temple period is also an anachronism. However Donald Binder's excellent website, provides strong evidence of the existence of synagogues prior to the destruction of the Temple.
I would like to invite you to submit examples of what you see as anachronisms in the New Testament and perhaps we can demonstrate the validity of Turton's criteria of anachronism.

this was posted 1-16-05

Copyrighted 2006

Was eaten by worms and died

The Greek word for "died" used by Luke was considered by Hobart as a medical term but the only usage supplied related to the death of Ananias, Sapphira and Herod.

The Greek word for "was eaten by worms" is used only by Luke among NT writers and may be a medical expression although I can not confirm this. My computer files may have been eaten by worms and so I have taken an interest in this medical phenomenon. I reinstalled Windows XP home edition with updates. I still need to install some other programs before I am fully recovered. I lost my email address book, my list of website favorites and other files. The damage is still being evaluated. Fortunately most of my files have been backed up.

In Death of Herod, I noted that the opposition was defeated by "being eaten by worms." Luke may have been influenced in his narration by the story of Antiochus Epiphanes in 2 Macc. 9:4-9. Antiochus was a persecutor of God's people who considered himself equal to God. The report of his death states: "the ungodly man's body swarmed with worms."

I know I have been influenced by this event. I still have an access problem with although I do not know if it is related. Perhaps you can help. I have posted several times since January 8th including this blog on Sunday January 15, 2006. But as you can see,, with one exception, has posted to my blog as of January 8th. I am reviewing my options. Has the worm eaten the file that provides the current blogspot date? Is my experience common to blogs? Or is my experience unique?

Was the death of Herod Agrippa unique or was it related to the cause of death experienced by his grandfather, Herod the Great, because his "kidney" condition was inherited?
Or did Herod Agrippa suffer from lead pipe poisoning? The symptoms include, inter alia, hyperirritability, aggressive behavior, decreased appetite and energy, poor sleeping, headaches, constipation, and abdominal cramping.

Is there a way to communicate with

this was posted 1-15-06

Copyrighted 2006

Death of Herod

The death of the man we know as Herod Agrippa is described by Luke in Acts 12:21-23:

"On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and made an oration to them. And the people shouted, "The voice of a god, and not of man!" Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God grew and multiplied."

And by Josephus in Ant. 19.344-345:

"On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theater early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, (though not for his good,) that he was a god; and they added, "Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature." Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner." [translation by Whiston].

Herod Agrippa was regarded by some as a divine being, maybe because he had reunited all Jewish territories under his rule.

Luke is probably more accurate in his presentation of the facts than Josephus, particularly in stating that Herod was eaten by worms and died. Secondly, Herod as a ruler would render his decisions from his throne, not at the theatre. Herod Antipas, uncle of Herod Agrippa, did travel about his territory bringing his throne with him so that he could hold court and render decisions from his throne wherever he may be. Furthermore the messenger in Judaism is an angel not an owl. The Romans regarded an owl (bubo) as an ill omen, unlike the Greeks. Owls were considered by Romans as funerary birds (funebres) who inhabit the night, the desert, and "inaccessible and awesome" places. "As a result of this," Pliny says (Natural History X. 34), "it is a direful omen whenever seen inside the city or at all in daytime." Natural History was probably one of the sources used by Josephus. Josephus has tailored his message to his audience.
Although Steve Mason gives Josephus the benefit of the doubt on historical matters, there are serious questions about his writings. According to Cohen, "When one compares the major writings of Josephus to each other there are contradictions in names, numbers and the order in which events are reported. When one compares Vita to War, there are differences in the order of six important episodes."

Luke ends his account by stating "But the word of God grew and multiplied" affirming that the power of the word of God in the face of opposition will prevail. This statement, which forms an inclusion, is based upon the beginning of the chapter where Luke tells us "About that time Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church."

According to Talbert, "God will not allow anyone, even the greatest ruler, to usurp His place." Although Talbert does not state so explicitly, the suggestion being made is that Herod by his behavior elicited the adoration as evidenced by his failure to condemn it. This pericope is a warning against self-deification and should be understood as part of the anti-idol polemic.

Copyrighted 2006

Simon Magus meets Philip

The meeting presents a contrast between the message of Philip and the claim of Simon Magus to be "someone great." Conzelman says Simon Magus claims to be the "most high God himself or the revelation of God, and thus the son." In the second half of the story, Simon seeks the power for himself and is said to be in "the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness."

The "gall of bitterness is an allusion to Deut. 29:16-18 and specifically to the expression "lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit" that is considered to be a warning against practicing idolatry. The second part, "the chains of wickedness" is more interesting because it is a reversal of Isa. 56:6 which is a call for the loosening of the chains. The ministry of Jesus releases the chains while Simon is being condemned to "the chains of wickedness." The contrast is striking.

According to Susan Garrett, The Demise of the Devil, Luke views false prophecy and magic as satanic, an interpretation she considers to be distinctive and I assume unique in this time period. My read is that Luke is alluding to Isaiah and using the anti-idol polemic as a continuation of the Isaianic tradition to place the followers of Jesus within the mainstream of Judaism.

Copyrighted 2006

How many words an allusion?

In the Gospel of Luke we read in Luke 7:15 “he delivered him to his mother.” These four words in Greek, as noted by Brodie, follow the 1 Kings 17:23 in the Septuagint exactly.
In fact, according to Brodie, all four pericopes in the 7th chapter of Luke are based on 1 Kings 17. Ulrich Luz states: “As a general rule, for readers to have recognized a biblical intertextual reference, I assume there must exist a specific correspondence, i.e. a correspondence particular to the texts in question only, between at least two words of the suggested parallels, as well a correspondence in basic meaning.” Brodie’s example meets the criteria set forth by Luz.

Thomas L. Brodie has a new book, The Birthing of the New Testament, the Intertextual Development of the New Testament Writings, (November 2004) which sells for $133 but you can read the basic premise of his theory in paperback in The Crucial Bridge: The Elijah–Elisha Narrative as an Interpretive Synthesis of Genesis–Kings and a Literary Model for the Gospels, (Liturgical Press, 2000) for eleven dollars.

Brodie is also an advocate of proto-Luke as a source.

Copyrighted 2006

The chosen

The last two chapters of Isaiah do not distinguish between Israel and the nations nor did Malachi as I noted in my last post. The distinction seems to be between the servants of YHWH and YHWH’s enemies who are also identified as brothers and sisters so the enemies are not the nations or gentiles. The enemies have not listened to the divine call and have not done evil in God’s sight. The servants of YHWH, according to Isaiah, will constitute the community of the end time.

Reiser, commenting on Isaiah’s use of the “chosen”, indicates that “the idea of election is transferred from Israel as a whole to one or several groups within the people. . . .” They are called the chosen for the first time in Isaiah 65:9, 15, 22. Reiser further states that the significance of this usage “can scarcely be overestimated.”

Isaiah concludes his book by stating the purpose of YHWH’s coming: "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.” The missionaries will bring the dispersed people back to Zion to participate in worship at the Temple. Some of the dispersed people will even participate as priests and Levites.

If the enemies are, as identified by Hanson, the Zadokite priestly circles, then certain allusions of the Lucan Jesus become especially pointed when spoken in the presence of the Temple establishment.

I would expand Reiser’s statement to say that the significance of the ending of Isaiah “can scarcely be overestimated.”

Copyrighted 2006

Computer Problems

I am experiencing access and computer problems with my home computer. Be patience with me.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Day of YHWH

In Malachi 3:2, it is described “as the day of HIS coming.” When the mission of the seventy return, they report, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" This report has no synoptic parallel. YHWH’s coming to judge is depicted as a theophany in which heaven and earth are shaken. The Lucan Jesus alludes to this eschatological day when he responds, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” To say this is a mere vision or remark or simple prophetic declaration is to miss the significance of what has happened. The work of the disciples is no small affair.

Jesus then tells them to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Clearly Luke alludes to Malachi 3:16-17. Malachi makes a distinction, not between Israel and the nations but, between the righteous and the unrighteous. Malachi 3:16 tell us there is a “book of remembrance.” This book to which the Lucan Jesus alludes records the names of the righteous and no distinction is made between Jews and gentiles but between the righteous and the unrighteous.

Birthdays are also a time of reflection and the older I get, the more I think about my name being written in heaven.

I plan to continue these remarks in a series on judgment, but not the monetary kind I obtain for my clients. However I suspect the image of judicial proceeding is not difficult to reconcile with that of the biblical judgment in that juridical language frequently appears in the sacred texts.

Copyrighted 2005

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Lion King Returns

Footsteps of the Nittany Lions have been seen all over Happy Valley. And the first time in ten years they have even been seen in Florida.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Sewer Blockade

All minimalists should read this about the Pool of Siloam and how it true dimensions have been discovered. “This is the first time we find seals that can be dated earlier, to the beginning of the Kingdom of Judah." The article mentions another find and states: “the regal capital of a pillar was discovered, dating from the ninth century BCE (the period of David and Solomon). This is further evidence of the historical existence of Israel during the time of King David. Now I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions but I promise to bring to your attention new evidence of historical existence as soon as it appears. Jim West did mention this article first. Thanks Jim.

The next sewer blockage may led to further revelations.

Someone I know is a museum curator. He also is an amateur archeologist and bottle collector. He tells me that the secret to finding good bottles and other interesting historical items is to determine where the outhouses were located in a particular city neighborhood and conduct the dig along this imaginary line so many feet from the rear of the residence. It helps to have a good city map for the time period in which you are conducting your dig.

And A happy New Year to you too!

I do not know what was about me in Dutch but I am mentioned.

Copyrighted 2005