Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Shepherd of Hermas

This book is important to our understanding of a number of theological concepts about church and community in early Christianity. Of particular interest are the comments made about the author. Pernveden notes: “In general it is fair to say that Hermas seldom follows up an idea in a purely systematic way. This is partly due to the literary nature of the text, and partly also perhaps to the fact that theological systematization had hardly begun at that time. The absence of logic and consistency in Hermas’ writing has often been equated with a supposed inability to carry an idea to its logical conclusion or with his lack of necessary schooling and learning.” Opitz called Hermas “a muddle-headed theologian.” However these conclusions probably need to be reconsidered in light of the numerous findings characteristic of the original oral performance of this work.

The book includes a parable of the vineyard. This parable has been considered a vital passage of the Christology of the Shepherd of Hermas. A summary of the parable will illustrate many of the comments made about this book and this author. In this parable, the master goes abroad having left his vineyard in the hands of a chosen servant who is instructed that he need only install fences in the vineyard while the master is away. However, this servant goes to considerable trouble to improve the vineyard. When the master returns and sees the work performed by the servant, he is greatly pleased. The master calls his son and his counselors and tells them that he promised the servant his freedom if he installed the fences. The master tells his son and his counselors that he, now in addition, wished to make his servant joint heir with his son since he had taken such good care of the vineyard. A few days later the master gave a feast and sends the servant many dishes from the table. The servant takes the food and shares it with his fellow servants. The fellow servants beg the master to grant even greater favors to the servant. The son and counselors now readily approve the master’s decision to make the servant a joint heir.

After the person heard all of the parables, the parable of the vineyard being the last one, he requested an explanation of the parables. He was told that he needed to obey all of the Lord’s commandments. When he then asked for an explanation of the parable of the vineyard and of the identities of the master and the slave, the fences and the weed and the son and the counselors, the listener was told he was extremely arrogant in asking all these questions. Thereafter the explanation was provided wherein the field was identified with world, the master as the creator, the son as the Holy Spirit and the slave as the son of God. The explanation certainly reveals confusion and a lack of consistency in the interpretation of the parable.

It would be kinder to say that the Shepherd of Hermas is another amateur who did not understand the significance of the death of Jesus. I suspect that this lack of understanding was fairly common in early Christianity. Yet the parable of the vineyard, without its explanation, presenting the slave as a powerful role model, had to have been a strong message to the community about the need to share possessions and the reward for sharing.

Most scholars focus on the expressed concern over post baptismal sin. However, it may be that the frequent references to wealth and property and their misuse by members may be a reference to the sin that caused the concern and the need to place social control on the church community. Hermas expected the wealthier members of the church to care for the poorer members through the contributions of alms.

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Father of Stylometry

“Frederick Mosteller, who founded Harvard University's statistics department and used mathematical theories to explain everyday concerns, from health care to the World Series, died July 23 at Powhatan Nursing Home in Falls Church, Va. He had sepsis. He was 89.

In 1962, Mosteller found himself in the news when one of his studies addressed the foundations of U.S. history. Mosteller and a colleague from the University of Chicago, David Wallace, proposed a solution to a lingering mystery of political science: Who had written 12 of the 85 Federalist papers? Those essays appeared in New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788, most under the pen name Publius, to urge the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Although James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay were known to be "Publius," it was unclear which of the three had written a dozen of the pieces. Madison and Hamilton were assumed by many to be the authors; Jay, who became the first chief justice of the United States, had never been a likely candidate.

Mosteller and Wallace spent three years on the project, applying Bayes' theorem, a method of interpreting probability of one event based on previous experience of other connected events. They had at their disposal a high-speed IBM computer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which they fed the known Federalist writings of Madison and Hamilton. Among other things, they looked at sentence length (34.59 vs. 34.55 words, respectively, for Madison and Hamilton) and the frequency of such telltale words as "upon" and "whilst" in Madison and Hamilton's prose. But in the end, they used such noncontextual words as "by" and "from" to show that Madison had written the 12 disputed essays. Their analysis, published in their 1964 book "Inference and Disputed Authorship," spurred consensus among historians over their findings and was an early and persuasive demonstration of what has come to be called ‘stylometry.’”

This article was copied from the lengthy Washington Post obituary. My only contribution to this article is the title.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Problem of Genesis

Since the time of Aristotle, scientists have declared that the universe has always existed. The first book of the Bible denies this statement. Genesis says that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth.” According to Genesis, there was a beginning prior to which there was nothing.

Einstein, using the laws of general relativity he developed, created a series of equations describing the condition of universe as dynamic and expanding. Astronomical redshift observations have confirmed that the universe is still expanding. Einstein, nonetheless, refused for many years to recognize that this meant that the universe did not always exist.

Einstein and the scientific community now agree that the Bible is accurate in reporting that there was a beginning. This was something the amateurs already knew.

Copyrighted 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Woe is me

What did Albert Einstein say upon hearing the news of the Hiroshima bombing?

What will we say about our role in the Middle East?

Woe or alas is an exclamation of pain and piety for the misfortune that awaits someone in a certain condition. According to Danker, the woe is expressed to warn of danger and the nearness of judgment.

Copyrighted 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Blessed are the peacemakers

Bloggers can be peacemakers. Therefore I join Jim West in proclaiming, let there be peace.

In Matthew after the ear is cut off by the unnamed person Jesus says: Put away your sword for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. In Mark, Jesus reminds his captors that they did not need weapons and that they could have apprehended any day of the week as he taught in the Temple. Likewise, in Luke. In John, we are told it was Simon Peter who cut off the right ear. Jesus said in John, “Put your sword into its shealth; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?” Only in the Gospel of Luke does Jesus teach us by his example. Jesus restores the ear and heals the servant of the high priest.

The problem of war and ethnic hate is illustrated by this example form American history. In 1916, the U.S. had a thriving German ethnic culture. In many neighborhoods German was an American tongue. In 1917, after the U.S. entry into WWI, German shops were destroyed, despite the American flags they hung in their windows. German-Americans were beaten and killed in mob violence. Sauerkraut became "Liberty Cabbage," the German language a mark of shame. By the end of the war, German-American culture effectively disappeared from the American mainstream. Yet as a pseudo-underground, the German-American Bund became a fertile breeding ground for the support of fascism.

"Those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it." I pray that our generation will at least make different mistakes.

I am concern not only will that our role as peacemaker, in making expedited delivery of munitions to Israel and Saudi Arabia will lead to a new level of violence in the Middle East, but also it lead to more violence in the United States. Our society and our government make money by supplying munitions of all sizes and shapes purely for entertainment purposes only. Why do you think we are experiencing new level gun violence in our cities? Next week Hezbollah will launch missiles from another site in another country and our government will provide more munitions leading to another level of violence made possible by our role as the world’s largest supplier of munitions.

Actions have consequences. We should pray that our actions be peaceful in the extreme even if it means that our economy might suffer. However, Jane Jacobs demonstrated that the manufacture of weapons is destructive in its economic effects. Therefore we should be supplying peacemakers that are not munitions and are not destructive in its economic effects.

Let there be peace. Our government should be creating a new Peace Corps for the Middle East including Iraq and Afghanistan. What a novel idea!

P.S. The Peace Corps has been in existence for forty five years. It has no presence in the Middle East (except Jordan), Iraq or Afganhanistan.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Changing Paradigm

My son is reading the Science of God and I suspect that to continue last night’s conversation with him I will shortly also be reading this book.

It starts with an interesting story about Albert Michelson and Albert Einstein. In 1896, Albert Michelson gave a speech at the dedication of a science building in Chicago. He declared: “The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered.”

Ten years later, Albert Einstein published his first paper. His work relied upon research performed by Albert Michelson.

“Changing one’s paradigm is not easy.”

Copyrighted 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Historical Theology

The Apostolic Fathers failed “to grasp the significance of the death of Christ.” In fact, none of the Apostolic Fathers cited Matt. 20:28; 26:28 or Mark 10:45.

I plan to read Neve, A History of Christian Thought but since this book was in my father’s library, I may in fact be rereading it. There is a bookmark at page 38 with my notes on how the influence of the Shepherd of Hermas led to a preaching of moralism in the Post-Apostolic Age. I had previously noted that repentance was an important concept in the penitential systems of the early and medieval church but did not discuss its possible connection with the Shepherd of Hermas.

Neve asks: “how are we to explain this preaching of moralism in the Post-Apostolic age, so shortly after the Gospel note of Paul has been heard.” Jewish and/or heathen influence?

"If you are able to do what is good, do not delay, for alms have power to release from death." (Polycarp). "Work with thy hands for the ransom of their sins." Barnabas, XIX, 10.

"If ye turn to the Lord with your heart and work righteousness the remaining days of your life, and serve Him strictly according to His will, He will heal your former sins." Hermas, Mandata, XII,6,2.

"Almsgiving is therefore excellent as a repentance for sins; fasting is better than prayer; but almsgiving is better than either, -- for almsgiving becomes lightening of the burden of sins." Homily of Clement, XVI, 4.

Jewish and/or heathen influence: excess of good works!!

Didache: "If you wear the entire yoke of Christ, you will be perfect; if not, then do what you can." VI, 2.

Hermas says: "If you can do more than what God commands, you will earn more glory for yourself and you will have more honor before God." Similitudo, V, 3, 3.

Therefore, the question needs to be asked if the reason for the lack of understanding of the Apostolic Fathers is that their understanding was based on the writings of Luke and/or their copy of Matthew and Mark did not include the ransom saying or Matthew’s connection of Jesus’s covenant blood with the remission of sins. A third possibility could be that Matthew and Mark did include these concepts but were published late enough that they had no influence on the writings of the Apostolic Fathers generally defined as 90-140 CE.

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fourteen years ago

Those who heard the gospel reading last Sunday recognize that the first verse of the reading includes this phrase. The reading includes the statement that appears to suggest that Paul is speaking about a person, not himself, who was caught up to the third heaven. Paul emphatically states that he will not boast about himself. Yet the commentators appear to agree that Paul was in fact describing his personal experience.

Since this is Opposite Blog Week, I can ask, Why is it we assume that Paul was speaking about himself?

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Flirting with the Gentiles

As the mouthpiece for the Gentiles, I do want to report that Luke did flirt with the Gentiles. He no doubt was influenced by Amos, Isaiah and Jonah to engage in such conduct to make the Jews jealous. I find that his patron actually used the words “Gentile” and “Gentiles” at least eighteen times in the last eighteen months. This is significant since there are numerous other words such as worm and gourd that were used less frequently by his patron. However in his defense I need to report that he had visa problems.

In 1972, Jacob Jervell asserted that the Jewish segment of early Christianity late in the first century was a significant minority. Since 1972, a number of scholars have challenged the essentially Gentile composition of the Lucan audience by noting the Judaic roots of Christianity as emphasized by Luke. Fletcher-Louis writes “there is a growing consensus, spearheaded by the work of Jacob Jervell, that accepts essential interaction with Jewish concerns and a Jewish readership.” In my opinion, first published in 1997, the audience of Luke-Acts was predominantly of Jewish background as was the target group of Stark's missionaries. In agreement with Jervell, I have also stated there can be no Gentile mission without a mission to Israel at the same time. There is no final rejection by the Jews recorded at the end of Acts.

On May 17, 2005, I noted that Ulrich Luz has revised his position and now agrees that Matthew 10:23 does not imply that the mission to the Jews has ended. Before Luz had indicated that the Matthean Jesus with the Great Commission had initiated a mission directed exclusively to the Gentiles and that Israel had lost its chances. Luz has now indicated that the above statement does not accurately state his previous position and that his fourth German volume has clarified his position.

If Ulrich Luz can change his mind, then I, as a one day advocate for the devil, contra Jervell, can argue that there is merit to the position that Theophilus is a Gentile consistent with the “Gentile” composition of the audience of Luke-Acts. There are two passages that can be cited in support of this radical statement.

Peter, lodging in Joppa with a tanner, experienced a vision while praying on the roof of the house with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. Jonah had sailed from Joppa. Tanners dealt with the hides of slain animals. The fact that Peter lodged with a tanner would have been significant to both the Gentile and Jewish Christians, for Judaism considered the tanning occupation unclean.

Peter had a vision of many unclean animals being declared clean. Theology changes to meet social need. This change prepared the way for the acceptance of Paul by the Jerusalem community. No one objected to the fact that Paul was a tentmaker. No one had even objected that Peter was lodging with a tanner. Peter had a vision, as a result of which Peter concludes that certain Gentiles may become members of the Way. However, the fact that Jewish exegesis and a Jonah Joppa allusion has been employed to support this argument is a point that would be lost on the Gentile beneficiaries.

The second passage is also overlooked by the strictly Gentile audience proponents. 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. 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.

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 contained in the Amos Septuagint quotation.

Today, any way, the evidence is clear that Luke did more than flirt. He may have even married a Gentile!

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Devil has Rules

Did I mention, the devil has rules?

Rick Brannan, who proposed Opposite Blogging for Monday, July 10, 2006, suggested that biblical bloggers “play devil's advocate, arguing opposite what they normally would.” He has also established for this exercise!

Copyrighted 2006


Advocates for Devil, working hard on the Sabbath, will prepare, and present their best opposition briefs. Luke’s patron will present Flirting with the Gentiles. Stay tuned for the Italian game later today best seen on Chianti color TV with antipasta and creme brulèe on the side.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Blogging with the devil

Luke was not a theologian as is commonly supposed. He was obviously a mathematician. Prior to the Reformation, all theologians were well trained in legalisms. Lawyers are not good at math as any insurance adjustor will tell you. Offers to settle have to be readily divisible by three to be intelligible to an attorney.

Consequently, if Luke had good math skills he was not a theologian. Using the recently developed tools of stylometry, we have determined that there are exactly 1,886 lines of Greek in the Gospel manuscript. This is significant because there is the equivalent of 1,884 lines of Greek in the Acts manuscript. Luke was a good line counter and obviously a mathematician.

Next week I will be flirting with the Gentiles.

Copyrighted 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Luke, the Theologian

I had planned to include the following in my Response to Dr. Jim West:

Having said all of the above, I may be an amateur but it is important to state the obvious. “There is no theology of the resurrection without a theology of the cross.”

But I recognized that such a statement would suggest that Luke was not a theologian. Luke believed that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God. As I wrote in Something Happened:

This viewpoint concerning the power of God is consistent with Deuteronomy 6:22 wherein it states "the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes." More importantly, in the Greek language, the word used for "miracle" was dy'na·mis—a word basically meaning "power." Luke is the only NT writer to acknowledge that the miracles performed by Jesus were a manifestation of “the mighty power of God.”

Consequently I have to assume that Francois Bovan was thinking about Christian theology when he said: “There is no theology of the resurrection without a theology of the cross.” If this statement is true with respect Christian theology, then the question left unanswered is this, Can there be a Christian theology of the resurrection without a theology of the cross?

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Response to Dr. Jim West


posted July 1st at:

begs to differ with me. He says in his off the cuff remarks that Richard implies that the Biblical authors were Dilettantes or Amateurs. Since Jim wants to talk about the collective group of Biblical authors, let’s discuss one of them, Paul. In Romans, Paul begins: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” This statement is a claim of institutional authority, something which I said Luke lacked.” Paul claims to be an apostle, a claim which he asserted in most of his letters. Luke does not make any claim of institutional authority nor does he claim that his writing is a gospel or that his writing was peer-reviewed. Jim apparently agrees with my statements.

If I understand Jim’s argument correctly, Luke was not an amateur because he was a theologian of the first order and this must mean he was professionally trained. You see, Jim refuses to recognize the possibility that an amateur could be a theologian. As Jim said in a comment to my post, “Luke, whoever that was, was clearly no amateur. His theology, as pointed out by Conzelmann, is profound.”

Let’s discuss Luke’s profound theology. Conzelmann also recognized that Luke has no theology of the cross. As Ehrman recognized this was unacceptable to second and third century professional scribes who added verses to make Luke theologically acceptable to the professionals.

Mark was right; the disciples did not get it!!! They continued to worship in the temple every day presumably offering their sacrifices. And because, Luke had no theology of the cross, he must not have gotten it! Matthew and Mark corrected the situation by adding the necessary material and including the condemnation of the animal sacrificial system missing in Luke.

Why did Matthew and Mark need to correct Luke? Why did Matthew and Mark add to their accounts senseless killings and miracles, walking on water, cursing a fig tree and pulling a coin out of the mouth of a fish? Why is it that 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? Why did second and third centuries scribes need to add verses to Luke to make his writing professionally acceptable?

No wonder Luke is an embarrassment to the professionals but not to amateurs like me. However this embarrassment is the circumstantial evidence of motive that explains why Matthew and Mark corrected Luke and why the second/third century professional scribes added the verses identified by Ehrman.

It is called theology in transition. Theology does change to meet new social conditions.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Something Happened

Jesus criticized those who would not believe unless they have seen signs and wonders. At the beginning of his ministry, the Jesus said he was unable to perform any miracles in Nazareth because the people of the community did not believe; they did not have the requisite faith. After Jesus' transfiguration, the boy possessed by a demon, and who foamed at the mouth, gnashed his teeth, and became rigid, is brought to Jesus. The disciples were unable to heal the boy. Jesus condemns the people as unbelieving, but when the father of the boy questions if Jesus can heal the boy, Jesus says everything is possible for those that believe. When the father says he believes, Jesus healed the boy.

Jesus did perform many miracles healing those who believed in Him. Although the ministry of the word was very important, there is no question that people flocked to see Jesus hoping to see a miracle. But these miracles were not performed for entertainment.

Luke recognized that recounting miracles was not enough. Luke, as well as John, laid great theological significance on bearing witness. According to Trites, “For both writers the significance of witness lies in its ability to induce faith.” Luke emphasized the importance of eyewitness testimony in Lk. 11:48; 24:48; Acts 1:8, 22; 2:32 and the role of “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” in providing assurances with respect to the things you have been informed. Luke is providing the “truth.”

These miracles were intrinsic to Jesus' claim that he was the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah. Moses had performed miraculous signs. Consequently, the Messiah would also have been expected to produce some sign of divine agency. Luke records in Acts 2:22 that Jesus was "attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst." This viewpoint concerning the power of God is consistent with Deuteronomy 6:22 wherein it states "the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes." More importantly, in the Greek language, the word used for "miracle" was dy'na·mis—a word basically meaning "power." Luke is the only NT writer to acknowledge that the miracles performed by Jesus were a manifestation of “the mighty power of God.” Paul, likewise acknowledged in Romans, that “by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyr'icum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”

This type behavior, of the people flocking to see Jesus hoping to see a miracle, may have raised a special concern in the Matthean and Marcan communities, so much so, that their Jesus issued a warning against false prophets who might by signs and wonders lead astray the elect. In Acts of the Apostles, Luke described numerous false prophets such as Simon Magnus, Bar Jesus and the Seven Sons of Sceva. As noted by Josephus, in the Fifties CE up to the end of the Jewish War, there were many false prophets. Generally predictive prophecy fulfilled is noted. In Matthew and Mark the telltale phrase, “Let the reader understand”, is one such example. For instance, in Acts 11:28 we read: "And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius."

Just as 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, Matthew and Mark added the warning about false prophets based on the several false prophets depicted in Acts. Matthew and Mark added the warning of false prophets by their Jesus because they did not understand that it is only by the power of God that an individual, whether it is Moses, Jesus or Paul, was able to perform signs and wonders.

Frederick Houk Borsch in discussing the wedding parable in Many Things in Parables said: “This apparently motiveless killing is one of the signs that a historical allegorical interest has superseded a concern with realism in the narrative.” In point of fact, Luke is alone in having only the son slain. There is a pattern of slaying of prophets in both the Matthean and Marcan versions of the parable which Luke lacks. Likewise, there are no senseless killings in the Lucan version of the Parable of the Wedding Guests.

In like manner, the multiplication of miracles is a sign that realism in the narrative has been superseded. In Matthew, we read of the healing of large numbers of crippled, blind and mute; the payment of temple tax with a shekel taken from a fish's mouth; and in agreement with Mark, Jesus walking on water, the cursing of a fig tree and the feeding of the 4000.

As Gamaliel wisely noted with respect to the Apostles, but it would also be true of others: “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail.” God's power is evident in the miracles performed by his representatives and is a validation of their role. Consequently, Luke understood there was no need to warn of false prophets.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Independence Day

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, Conzelmann and those who agree with them 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 valve 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 ekklesia, 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.

"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 would have noted the separate fates of the city and Temple. Although Luke on numerous occasions emphasized the fulfillment of prophecy, no where does he indicate that the prophecy regarding the fate of the city has been fulfilled. Luke, as did all the gospel writers, employed 'narrative asides' as a literary device whereby the reader would be provided additional information. For instance, in Acts 11:28 we read: "And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius." None of the Lucan narrative asides mention that the Temple has since been destroyed.

The Temple is still standing when Luke addressed Theophilus. The Temple prophecy of Mark 13:2; Matthew 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. Ezekiel was both prophet and priest. He combined the prophet's spiritual ideals and the priest's insistence on rites and ceremonies. His ceremonial patterns correspond strikingly with materials of "P" in Exodus 25-40 and the demands of the Holiness Code in Leviticus 17-26. The blueprint for restoration of the sacrificial system with Zadokite priesthood and Levites as minor clergy was carefully detailed in chapters 40-48. Since Ezekiel has been called the "father of Judaism" his presentation can be said to accurately reflect the beliefs of the people and their aspirations regarding the restoration of the Temple and cultic practices. Since Ezekiel (40-48) provided for the restoration of the Temple and its cultus, after its destruction in 586 B.C.E., the prophecy about God's imminent judgment issued prior thereto by Ezekiel et al. and the one uttered by Jesus are not indictments of the sacrificial system.

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. But I am only an amateur plumber.

[this being the holiday weekend, I have posted one of my favorites, slightly revised]

Copyrighted 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

False Messiahs will arise

Both Matthew and Mark include the verse: “False messiahs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect” with minor variance. Luke does not include this verse. The emergence of false prophets appear to reflect the circumstances from the mid-fifties CE to the end of the Jewish War as described by Josephus. The “signs and wonders” of the false prophets resembles the “signs of deliverance” of a false prophet mentioned by Josephus. Luke does not include the phrase, “signs and wonders” in his gospel but does use the phrase to describe the work of the Apostles (Acts 2:14-21, 43; 3:1-11, 16; 4:8-12, 30; 5:12, 15-16; 9:31-43).

Why does Luke not include the phrases, “false prophets will arise” and “signs and wonders”?

Copyrighted 2006