Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

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


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