Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

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


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