Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In order, Luke 1:3

I write this post to ask a question.
Moulton (2517) states I am using:
kathexes is confined to the NT in Lk 1:3, where Blass (Philology of the Gospels, 18 f.) understands it as “referring to the uninterrupted series of a complex narrative.”

I agree that the writings of Saint Luke constitute “A complex narrative.” This is my question.

Since Luke can be shown to have created “a complex narrative” with his numerous chiastic structures, could Luke have intended in using the Greek word, kathexes, to inform most excellent Theophilus that he was in fact using chiastic structures? Did any Greek writer use the Greek word, kathexes, in any way related to chiasmus?

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

John Bligh on Galatians

In 1969, Bligh published his commentary on Galatians wherein he reiterated his proposal set forth originally in Galatians in Greek that the entire Epistle to the Galatians could be diagrammed as “a carefully constructed symmetrical structure. This publication, together with Goulder’s 1963 article on “The Chiastic Structure of the Lucan Journey,” began a new interest in chiasmus. In his Foreword, Bligh issues this caveat: “However, too much importance should not be attached to this question; structural analysis is only an aid to the discovery of the right question and possible answers.”

The structural pattern of the Epistle, as diagrammed by Bligh, is as follow:

A Prologue, 1:1-1:12.

B Autographical Section, 1:13-2:10.

C Justification by faith, 2:11-3:4.

D Arguments from Scripture, 3:5-3:29.

E Central Chiasm, 4:1-4:10.

D’ Arguments from Scripture, 4:11-4:31.

C’ Justification by faith, 5:1-5:10.

B’ Moral Section, 5:11-6:11.

A’ Epilogue, 6:12-6:18.

Bligh notes, inter alia, that this chiastic structure, with B and B’, Paul intends to demonstrate that before his conversion he walked according to the flesh and since his conversion he has walked according to the spirit. Therefore Bligh notes that the purpose of the Autographical Section is not to assert “that Paul did not receive the gospel from the other apostles, but rather to show that throughout his Christian life he has been obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Reading Luke Chiastically

In the past thirty years, a number of scholars have shown that chiasmus is a structural tool of biblical rhetoric. Scholars readily acknowledge their prevalence even though they often find it hard to determine the shape of particular chiasmus. The documentation has not been persuasive because neither a good definition has been established nor a set of rules developed that can be uniformly applied. Consequently, chiastic structures that were apparent to ancient listeners are difficult for modern interpreters to define exactly even in the same pericopes. Furthermore, Ian Thomson has questioned whether chiastic structures can be shown to exist in macro settings which he defines as more than 15 verses. Thomson, Porter and Reed have asserted "to date a convincing set of criteria for how to identify chiasm has not been developed." In all this confusion, one fact stands out. As noted by Stock, ancient writings "did not make use of paragraphs, punctuation, capitalization and other synthetic devices to communicate the conclusion of one idea and the commencement of the next." Furthermore, chapters and verses did not appear in the New Testament until Stephen Langton added them in 1226 C.E. Thus Stock concludes that the chiasmus was "a seriously needed element of internal organization."

A chiasmus or inverted parallelism is a criss-cross pattern in which words, phrases, or whole paragraphs are introduced in the order A-B, or A-B-C, etc. and then resumed in the reversed order B-A, or C-B-A, etc. The word 'chiasmus' is derived from the name of the Greek letter chi depicted by the letter “x” used to designate the pivotal central component.

Although the origin of the chiasmus is not known, such literary structures have been found in Ugaritic poetry composed more than two thousand years before the Common Era. Charles H. Talbert is undoubtedly correct in his contention that books in the ancient Middle East were frequently written according to the laws of chiastic parallelism, and in his subsequent judgment that " . . . the very law of duality (i.e., parallelism) by which one part is made to correspond to another by either analogous or contrasting seems deeply rooted in Near Eastern mentality." Nils Lund stated: "Whatever the origin and spread of this form may be, one thing is certain: it has shaped to a very great extent the writings of the Old Testament, and it has passed over to the Greek New Testament as a sacred heritage of early Jewish Christianity."

Therefore it is not surprising that scholars would want to understand the nature of Hebrew literary compositions and the structural patterns that were employed in each literary unit. The methodology whereby the search for "specific organizational laws of biblical texts" is conducted is known as rhetorical analysis. It is distinguished from rhetorical criticism which examines the categories of classical rhetoric of the Greco-Roman world. According to Meynet, "Rhetorical analysis pretends that these compositions do not obey the rules of Greco-Roman rhetoric, but the specific laws of Hebraic rhetoric, of which the authors of the New Testament are the direct inheritors."

Breck who has asserted that chiasmus is the key to biblical interpretation states:

Chiasmus is a rhetorical form developed on the basis of parallelism. But it takes parallelism an important step further by creating a movement that is in essence concentric. Although any passage reads in linear fashion, from beginning to end, it can also incorporate another movement: from the exterior to the interior, from the extremities toward the center. In this way, meaning is developed from the beginning and end of the passage toward the middle. Accordingly, the ultimate meaning of a chiastically structured passage is expressed not at the end, in what we understand to be the "conclusion." The real meaning or essential message of the text is to be found rather at its center.

Angelico DiMarco has catalogued a long list of canonical and apocryphal texts. I plan to discuss some of the chiastic passages appearing in the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles and explain not only the exegetical significance of chiasmus but also some of the rules that have been developed.

Copyrighted 2006

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Baptism on Account of the Dead

Last December 8, 2005, I discussed briefly the verse in I Cor. 15:29 that is now the partial title and subject matter of a new book by Michael F. Hull. Hull asserts in his book that I Cor. 15 is a chiastic structure with the disputed passage in the position of prominence although he does not use this terminology. Since I had previously posted on the concept of the position of prominence, I was interested in how this argument was presented in his book using chiastic principles. Hull presents this chiastic structure.

A the presentation of Christ's bodily resurrection on the authority of witnesses (15:1-11)
B an explanation that Christ's resurrection enures Christian's resurrection (15:12-28)
X behavior in accord with the resurrection (15:29-34)
B' an explanation of how the resurrection is feasible (15:35-49)
A' the presentation of bodily resurrection on the authority of "mystery" (15:50-58).

This book was reviewed by David E. Garland, who while finding the book has presented a cogent argument, concludes that the center portion of the chiastic structure should be diagrammed as follow:

A the consequences if the resurrection of the dead is not true (15:12-19)
X the consequences since the resurrection is true (15:20-28)
A' the consequences if the resurrection is not true (15:29-34).

Garland thus concludes this "noble attempt to make sense of 1 Cor. 15:29" fails to demonstrate that the disputed verse is at the center of chapter 15.

Copyrighted 2006

Acts 26: 16-18

Naturally, when I am looking for something else, I find something that I had been looking for several weeks ago but now, of course, I am not really sure why I was looking for that thing!

Paul is commissioned to preach the resurrection. Paul’s account of his commissioning is modeled on “a mosaic of citations” from the prophets about their respective callings.

Acts 26:16 “Stand on your feet”
Ezekiel 2:1 “Stand on your feet”

Acts 26:17 “delivering you from the people and the nations”
Jer. 1:8 “be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you”

Acts 26:17b “from the nations to whom I send you”
Jer. 1:7 “to whomever I send you, you shall go”

Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light”
Isa. 42:6-7 “a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind”

Although different conclusions could be drawn about the purpose of Paul’s use of these citations in his defense speech made to King Agrippa, it is certain that it was deliberately phrased this way so that the first recipient would recognize that a prophetic commissioning is being described. This requires that most excellent Theophilus be familiar with the prophetic commissioning of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah. The Biblically attuned defense attorneys would say that the Lucan Paul in his trial defense speech has shown proof delivered by a person who has been commissioned like the prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah that the resurrection is a long standing tradition in Jewish religion. The implied message is that one ought to listen closely to a person who has received a prophetic commission.

I now remember that I was looking for a good Jeremiah allusion in Luke or Acts for my “Jeremiah is a bullfrog” post.

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

On the Third Anniversary

The newspapers are reporting that at least 2,315 American military personnel have lost their lives in Iraq in the past three years and we have spent over 250 billion dollars on the unauthorized police action in Iraq. I live 18 miles southwest of center city Philadelphia. After a heavy rain, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the City of Philadelphia releases untreated sewerage in the Delaware River, which flow south towards my community. This is a federal crime, but our crime-fighters are not concerned. We are told that untreated sewerage is dumped into the river because we do no have the financial resources to fix the problem. I wonder why!

On the Sunday after 9-11, I had the opportunity to share these words at my church.

Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand. --Mark Twain

This is what bothers me:

We are a community of love whose existence is mandated by God and whose founder has taught us in no unmistakeable terms that not only should we love our neighbors but also our enemies.

This is my prayer: Lord, Teach me how to love my enemies. I pray that our response to this catastrophe not cause more terror.

There has been lots of talk that Muslim fundamentalists have proclaimed a jihad against Satan based on the teachings of the Koran and they have identified Satan with the United States of America. I want to state that if you want to look for the concept of a holy war, do not look in the Koran because you will not find it; but instead look to the Bible. Several of the books of the NT are definitely belligerent: the Book of Revelation, 2 Thessalonians and the 13th chapter of Romans. In Matthew, Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”

One author whose name I can not pronounce has called 1st Century Palestine “a seething cauldron.”

There were numerous uprisings that culminated in the war with Rome that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Temple.

This same author says that Luke used his sources in such a way to portray Jesus as a model for nonviolence. She says that Luke changed the sword passage in Matthew to read as follow: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth. No, I tell you but rather division.

Now, some of my thoughts:

The four gospels tell us that Jesus is captured by the soldiers as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of the followers drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. This image has been used to demonstrate that Jesus and his followers were zealots, religious fanatics planning to resort to arms to overthrow the government. Only the Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus healed the servant of the High Priest. The Lucan Jesus was not only nonviolent, he undid the acts of violence.

I believe Luke told us what really happened and Luke in telling the story was engaged in irenical theology, that he presented his gospel to reconcile differences developing between the followers of Jesus and Judaism. I further believe that the other gospels were written to emphasize the separation between Judaism and Christianity.

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.

In the OT there are numerous examples of holy war against heathens, so much so that I contend that if you want to understand anti-semeticism and its origin, you have to look at how the OT depicts God’s wrath against the neighbors of the Jews.

One particular telling story of religious fanaticism is the story of Phineas the High Priest. Phineas with his sword killed a couple engaged in sex because one of them was not Jewish. The Maccabees and the religious zealots of the first century looked for a Messiah to be a kind of combined Phineas the High Priest, David the warrior king and Elijah the prophet.

A Lutheran minister in NYC told this story last night (September 15, 2001):

“There's been talk of the city returning to normal. I'm not sure I know quite what "normal" is for New York. But we are definitely not returning to normal. Too much has gone down, literally and figuratively.

But there is a definite sense of people seeking more and more to return to the usual, the ordinary. This is a partly a response to the terrorism. Partly a need for the comfort of the familiar, which we can cling to in the face of tremendous upset. And partly the simple need to get on with life. We still need to walk the dog and get groceries and do the laundry.

One fellow student told how she was on the subway, and for the first time since Tuesday, it was crowded, and there was a little jostling and attitude. She was just married this summer, and her husband was on the streets near the Trade Center on Tuesday. She thought, "What a luxury it is to be impatient, to be able to rush home to your loved one."

Tonight, after I led a worship service at noon, and class from 2-6, Lisa and I went to a candlelight gathering at the Firefighter's Memorial, which happens to be nearby. Afterwards we walked over to Broadway, looking to grab dinner.

Two blocks later we spied the Afghan Kebab House. Its name caught my eye, and I noticed they were open, but the dining room was empty. Other restaurants were packed. An American flag hung in the window, and smaller flags decorated the dining room.

We had a lovely dinner and, as you might guess, excellent service. We also had a conversation with the proprietor. In true New York fashion, it is run by Pakistanis, New Yorkers since the early 80s, and the kitchen is staffed by Mexican and Central Americans.

Due to the restaurant's name, they are currently doing almost no dining room business. His brother's restaurant in midtown is doing almost no business at all, and has been getting hate calls as well. But they decided that they must stay open. Not only to try and earn a living, but to close would seem as if they'd done something wrong. "We love this country, our life is here." It might not need saying, but it had better be said anyway, that he was just as upset at the recent terrorist attacks as any other New Yorker. "My mother was crying all day," he told us.

We talked about some of his experiences of the past days, which involved the same kind of heartsickness and confusion seen all over this city and nation. Yesterday, he got home late, 1 am, and his wife had no milk in the house. "OK, I'll go to Waldbaum's" (supermarket), he said. On the way, he saw a band of 20-30 boys, high school age and up, carrying American flags and cheering, chanting, "patriotic" sentiments. He detoured so he wouldn't have to cross their path. "Why take a chance? Why tempt them?" he asked. It's the same reason he has an "OPEN" sign in the door, but hasn't turned the lights on for his "AFGHAN KEBAB HOUSE" sign. I wonder how long will he feel he must stay in the shadows?

A little historical note: 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.

Please consider patronizing "Arab" and Muslim businesses. You'll be supporting your neighbors in a difficult time - and you'll get great service.”

I don’t think I can top the story told by Rev. Paul Bellan-Boyer.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Radical Theology

The visiting clergy today was the former vicar at our church. His sermon was based upon the assigned readings for this third Sunday in Lent from Exodus 20:1 and John 20:3 with its focus on how the first century Temple establishment had created a market place in its midst that was a false idol. This nicely tied together the OT reading on the Ten Commandments and NT reading. Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and chased out the merchants selling animals ritually fit for sacrifice. He then asked the congregation what the three qualities of God are. Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient.

The Visitor then described our market place economy and how we have assigned to it qualities making it all knowing, the market knows the correct price; all powerful and present everywhere, so much so that we allow the market place economy to make all kinds of decisions for us.

When I talked to my friend privately after the service, and told him that he had preached radical theology in red country, he replied, “what about our Lord’s teachings was not radical”?

This was not your typical Lutheran Law and Gospel sermon.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Walk the line

The movie presented the decision making process to perform a concert at the Folsom prison in stark terms. The business people behind Johnny Cash said that the performance would be an affront to his Bible belt audience. Johnny’s reply was to the effect that the criticism from fans would not be very Christian. Cash did perform at Folsom prison on January 13, 1968 and the album that was created became his greatest hit.

But then Johnny Cash knew his audience better than his business managers. "I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." I would like to think he knew and understood his Bible better.

Copyrighted 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Last Miracle

My last post discussed the healing of the blind man, which Arthur A. Just, Jr., identified by him as the last miracle performed by the Lucan Jesus. However, I write today to state my disagreement with this statement and ask why is it that that miraculous restoration of the ear of the servant of the High Priest cut off by the sword of one the Apostles is assigned to obscurity. This miracle does not fit the theme of The Ongoing Feast.

All the Gospels record the action of Peter in striking the servant of the High Priest and cutting off his right ear with the sword, but only Luke states that the Jesus restored the cut off ear by a miracle. Nothing was needed to stop the hemorrhage, nor a bandage to keep the ear in place, to give the severed ear a chance to heal itself in place. It was an instantaneous cure. I call it His last miracle.

Lucan writings emphasize the power of God and in that limited sense, Luke is in agreement with Paul's assessment of the power of the cross.[i] Luke uses this terminology more often than any other New Testament writer. He does so to demonstrate the truthfulness of the information Theophilus, the High Priest, has heard about God's recent intervention in human history. God's power is evident in the miracles performed by his representatives and is a validation of their role.[ii] The last miracle performed by Jesus was most impressive and about which the High Priest was informed. All of the gospels tell the story of the arrest of Jesus. Only Luke tells about the miracle of the restoration of the ear. Such an outrageous claim could not be made to the High Priest unless it was true. Matthew, Mark and John writing later eliminate all friendly overtures and emphasize hostility to the Jews because Matthew, Mark and John are reacting to their perception of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews.

This miraculous restoration of the ear played the same role as the raising of Lazarus does in the Gospel of John. It was a display of the power of God as a prelude to the resurrection. Paul, like Luke and John, regarded Christ's resurrection as the preeminent display of God's power. But Luke attributes no saving efficacy to the cross. For Luke, by the power of God, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. This divine activity is a consistent Lucan emphasis. Luke stresses God's plan and movement of divine history more than Matthew and Mark. This theme is developed cautiously given the beliefs of the High Priest and the “marginal status of immortality and resurrection” in the belief structure of first century Judaism.

[i]. 1 Cor. 1:18; Rom. 8:11. However, it should be noted that the early Christian kerygma of 1 Cor. 15:4 is based upon the Lucan focus on the third day which is unique to Luke among the Synoptic resurrection portrayals.

[ii]. Acts 14:3; 14:8-11.

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Healing of the blind

As Jesus approached Jericho on the way to Jerusalem, a blind man asked him to have mercy on him. The blind man, in response to the inquiry made by Jesus, said, “Let me receive my sight.” Jesus said, “Receive your sight.”

With respect to this miracle, Arthur A. Just, Jr. can assert: “The final miracle of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel frames the thaumaturgical phase of Jesus’ ministry from 4:16 to 19:28. The footnote states: “This is also the last miracle for Matthew and Mark prior to Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. However, both Matthew and Mark have the miracle of the withered fig tree during Jesus’ Jerusalem ministry, something which “Luke replaces with the parable of the fig tree in 21:29-33.”

In discussing this miracle, Just connected it to the sermon in Nazareth where the passage read by Jesus includes these words: “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind.” Just also connected this healing to the Emmaus event. He further indicated that the restoration of physical blindness coincides with the spiritual salvation as proclaimed in the phrase, “the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Emmaus is a conversion experience where in the breaking of the bread the two disciples experienced a restoration of sight. “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.”

This conversion experience is not unlike the experience of Saul who was blinded on the road to Damascus carrying letters from the High Priest. When Ananias laid his hands on Saul as commanded by the Lord Jesus, Saul regained his sight and obtained a new understanding of sacred scripture. The two disciples likewise obtained a new understanding of sacred scripture and were able to recognize that their host was Jesus.

Jesus restored sight to the blind man near Jericho as he approached Jerusalem, the two disciples departing Jerusalem and man who left Jerusalem with letters from the High Priest. In each instance, the restoration also brought forth proclamations. Each of these individuals was blind. Each of these men received restoration of sight. In each instance, there was a “recovering of sight to the blind.”

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Verse 12

This verse has been enigma for me for a long time. “But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stopping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.” This verse in Luke 24 is missing from the Western textual tradition but is found in the best and oldest manuscripts of other text types. Plummer stated that “The whole of this verse is of unknown and doubtful authority.”

Initially it was not a problem since verse 12 was not included in the RSV, the translation of choice. Now the NRSV has included verse 12 and apparently the reason it has been included is the discovery of P-75. Since the existence of manuscripts such as P-75 has never been questioned, it does seem strange to me that the discovery of another Bodmer papyrus should have any effect on textual theory.

Why would someone add verse 12? Bart Ehrman in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 212-217, demonstrated that the addition of this verse was a response to the Docetic Christology dispute that asserted that Christ only appeared to be human and to suffer. The addition of verse 12 proved that all of the gospels recorded a physical resurrection.

The strongest reason that verse 12 is a late insertion is the effect of its inclusion on a clear literary structure created by the author. Luke has created a complex chiastic structure where a simple chiasmus, Luke 24:8-11, is used to introduce the more famous Emmaus pericope, long recognized as a chiasmus. Verse 12 destroys this literary device.

Copyrighted 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006


Blogger would not let my edit my post on James, the unidentified disciple. So I am creating a new post:

For a more detailed analysis, see Who was Cleophas' companion by Sylvie Chabert d'Hyères

Is James the unknown disciple who was confronted by Jesus?

Mark Goodacre recently posted his paper, When Prophecy Became Passion: The Death of Jesus and the Birth of the Gospels, which prompted to review Part One on the Earliest Christian Tradition. Goodacre includes as part of this earliest Christian tradition 1 Cor 15. Goodacre writes: “So Paul has the opportunity to expand on traditions about the resurrection and in 1 Cor. 15, he provides a short Easter narrative, recounting, in sequence, an appearance to Peter, then the twelve, then James the Lord’s brother, then all the apostles, then five hundred people and finally “as to one untimely born” to Paul himself.”

Initially, I note that the recounting in sequence the post resurrection appearances can not be found in this order in any single gospel account. It is clearly a composite statement based on the earliest Christian tradition. But it does lend credence to the idea that Luke is the earliest gospel. However, as you may know, I personally think that Luke is the unknown disciple.

Nonetheless, I have been thinking about that theory that James is the person traveling with Cleopas on the road to Emmaus when they are confronted by Jesus. The two men do not recognize Jesus and they together with the other relatives considered Jesus to be crazy. Jesus said his brothers and sisters were those close to the kingdom but not those who rejected him. The relatives rejected Jesus yet are identified as being part of the community of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem before Pentecost. Something had to happen for family members to be able to become leaders of the community in Jerusalem. Since Jesus stressed the importance of meals, then the Emmaus pericope could represent a reconciliation meal with family members made possible because they now understood why Jesus had to suffer before he entered into his glory.

What is the source of Paul’s idea that Jesus made an appearance to James? If the Emmaus pericope is the source, then this is consistent with the theory that the Gospel of Luke predates Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It is consistent with the tradition reported by Eusebius that when Paul said “according to my gospel” he was in fact referring to the Gospel of Luke. It is also consistent with the tradition reported by Jerome that Luke is the unknown person being praised by Paul in 2 Cor 8:18.

For more detailed analysis, see Who was Cleophas' companion by Sylvie Chabert d'Hyères

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Relatives of Jesus

The NT writings are generally hostile to the relatives of Jesus. Even Luke, as noted by Conzelmann has passages hostile to the relatives. Commenting on Luke 8:19-21, Conzelmann states: “The very position of the scene indicates that the relatives are excluded from playing any essential part in the life of Jesus and therefore the life of the Church.” Yet, we know from the Acts of the Apostles and Eusebius that the early leaders of the church, even post 70, were in facts relatives of Jesus. Conzelmann does not explain how this happened.

Arthur A. Just, Jr., in one of his writings seems to suggest, that the relatives were rehabilitated and, without my reviewing the evidence in detail, that the named disciple and perhaps also the unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus were relatives of Jesus. These two individuals return to Jerusalem and instruct the community into the meaning of what Jesus preached and why Jesus had to suffer before he entered into glory. This may explain why relatives of Jesus are part of the Jerusalem community prior to Pentecost.

Notwithstanding, it is my humble opinion, as previously stated, that the unknown disciple is Luke.

Copyrighted 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Positions of prominence

My review of chiastic structures suggest that each chiastic structure has its “position of prominence” or part that is to be emphasized.

Luke 24:8-11 forms a chiasmus that when read in conjunction with Luke 24:13-35, another chiasmus, makes Johanna a witness to the resurrection with Johanna at the vertex of the first stanza and together with the woman are treated prominently in the second stanza of the two part chiasmus. This is additional evidence that Johanna is someone important to Theophilus if an otherwise unknown person is the vertex of a chiasmus.

The proposed chiastic structure has not been previously recognized by scholars because two of the criteria set forth by Blomberg would be violated. The proposed chiasmus must solve a literary problem and the center of the chiasmus must be worthy of that position.

Johanna as a witness to the resurrection is worthy of that position. Danker noted that "Luke rugged syntax in v. 9 troubled copyists . . . ." Paul also employed a chiasmus in Colossian 4:7-9 to emphasize the importance of Tychicus whom he sends as a minister and servant.

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Precision time markers

In my post, “On the third day,” I noted that, according to Arthur A. Just, Jr., Luke used precision time markers to announce the beginning of the three day period with the Day of Preparation and ending at Emmaus. This use of precision time markers is consistent with way Luke has presented in his writings the historical data imparted to him.

“And he said to them, ‘O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

A year ago, I wrote that Emmaus should be considered a conversion experience. In the same post, I reported the observation of Gary Goldberg that there is “the use of the first person plural in identifying our leaders, the principal men among us.” I also noted the observation of Margaret Barker that “There is nothing in the MT of the prophets which describes a suffering Messiah who sees the glory of God . . .”

The Lucan Jesus instructed the two disciples. Luke says: “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

The two disciples were able to accurately present all the evidence needed to believe in the resurrection. However, as indicated by Heil, they were not able to believe “because they have not believed the prophets who predicted.” The two disciples did not understand the divine necessity of the suffering and death before entering into glory.

Koet has demonstrated that the Luke employed three technical terms used in the interpretation of Jewish Scriptures. This concept, with these words, 24:15, reasoned; 24:32, he opened; and 24:27, he expounded provide the background for understanding this passage. “Jesus confronts the disciples with the interpreting actualization of Torah which is given in and by the life (Luke 24:27): “he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures (= tradition) the things concerning himself (= actualization).” Koet ends his incisive discussion with these words: “From that moment on they are able to pass on the interpretation (actuality and tradition).”

The inclusion of these technical terms used in the interpretation of Jewish Scriptures is further evidence that both the author and first recipient of the writings of Luke were Jewish men proficient in the interpretation of Jewish Scriptures. It may also be evidence, when considered in conjunction with the use of precision time markers, the use of the first person plural and a description of “a suffering Messiah who sees the glory of God,” that the author was an eyewitness participant and the unknown disciple who was confronted by the Master who instructed him so that he would able to pass on the interpretation. Based on his understanding, derived from his personal embarrassing confrontation, Luke is able to accuracy present to Theophilus as a minister of the word what he has seen and heard.

There is yet another important clue. Cadbury's lexicographical study of Luke 1:1-4 showed that parakoloutheo in verse 3 cannot refer to historical research but must mean either "to keep informed about current events" or "to participate" in them. Therefore, the lexicographical study of the prologue supports the conclusions of this book that Luke was an eyewitness.

Furthermore the resurrection appearance was probably already generally known to Theophilus and perhaps no further identification was necessary. The two brief mentions of Johanna with the second mention of her name, appearing within a chiastic structure at the center and climax thereof, alerts Theophilsu that someone he knows is a witness to the resurrection. It is rare for the name of a person to occupy the prominent position of a chiastic structure. In this instance, the Johanna chiastic structure introduces the Emmaus resurrection appearance which is also a chiasmus.

In the final analysis the two witness rule utilized by Luke is the missing linking evidence. If Theophilus does not know Luke, then the recounting of the Emmaus resurrection appearance can not be considered persuasive evidence. The failure to follow the two witness rule in this dramatic instance would in deed be a strange way for a Jewish writer to conclude his first book.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, March 05, 2006

On the third day

This is a key kergmatic phrase not because it is persuasive but because it proclaims the resurrection. Matthew tells us: “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. The theologians have been attempting to persuade us, that the Matthean Jonah phrase is a prophecy that has been fulfilled. As I noted earlier, Matthew did not understand the original meaning of the enigmatic Sign of Jonah. Luke did but Luke did not understand it the way we do. Both readings are valid but only one reading provides data for historical inquiry.

Arthur A. Just, Jr. has argued persuasively that Luke by his time markers (Luke 22:1; 7; 14; 16; 53b) is measuring the three day period from the Day of Preparation to the day of the meal with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Thus according to Just, using the precise time markers noted, Day One is the Day of Preparation that begins at sundown on Thursday, Day Two is the Sabbath that begins at sundown on Friday and Day Three begins at sundown on Saturday. Thus Jesus did rise on the third day.

As determined by Just, Luke has framed this three day period with two meals. In Luke 22:6 the Lucan Jesus says: “I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” As indicated by Just, this is a reference “forward to his next meal, still a meal of unleaven bread, the meal at Emmaus, for the kingdom has come.” Thus the Lucan Jesus has announced to the two disciples the arrival of the kingdom in the breaking of the bread that is the celebration of the eschatological meal. On the third day, the kingdom of God is established when Jesus changes his role in the middle of the meal. As stated by Just, “this indicates that in a sense the kingdom is a present reality, in the person of Jesus.”

Copyrighted 2006

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Other Gospels

I am aware that there are other gospels but I have not read any of them. These writings are interesting for what they reveal about us and our society. I am referring particularly to two books: The Gospel according to Peanuts (2000) by Robert L. Short which was originally published in 1965 based on the cartoon scrip and The Gospel according to the Simpsons: the spiritual life of the world's most animated family (2001) by Mark I. Pinsky based on the television program. Both of these books provide a good picture of our religious thinking and behavior. I suppose I should also mention Jesus in America: personal savior, cultural hero, national obsession (2004) by Richard Wightman Fox.

My eclectic reading list is already too long but I do plan to read the Simpson book.

Copyrighted 2006

Friday, March 03, 2006

Fruits Theology Allusion

Last February 1st, I posted “The Fruits Theology of Matthew” wherein I suggested that Matthew 21:43 was an allusion to Amos 8:1. In discussing my theory with an unnamed prominent NT scholar, I was told that the use of the word “fruit” was not enough to alert the reader that the author intended to allude to Amos 8:1.

Matthew 21:42 states: “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it." I said, inter alia, “In Hebrew, 'fruit' is transliterated as kais and pronounced the same as kes which means 'destruction.'”

I blog today to strengthen my argument with something I recall reading in a Swedish classic now available in English. Gerhardsson stated that each OT pericope was memorialized using a key-word system. This means that a passage like the Amos fruit-destruction pericope would have a word assigned to it that when used would enable a person to recall the pericope. “The pericope Ex. 3:1ff is - for instance – called the ‘thorn-bush’ (cf. Luke 20:37).”

I have been attempting to formulate a simple criteria for identifying what is an allusion, not recognizing that many so-called allusions are invoked, as did Luke when he said “in the passage about the bush.”

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why was Jesus crucified?

Bart Simpson made the news again. It seems that more people can name the members of his family than can identify the five freedoms contained in the First Amendment!!

So I thought I would ask this question: Why was Jesus crucified? with this twist!

Which scholar provided this answer? ". . . Jesus got himself crucified by the way he ate."

The Guest becomes the Host

Hospitality is an important virtue with strong biblical connection. When people meet and dine, particularly when family members meet and dine together they share. They share the news of the day, the trials and victories and receive tips and ideas for handling the trials of the days to come. The families that eat together stay together. In these words, there is a quiet recognition that the sharing of information, particularly instructional information, is an important aspect of the meal.

In the Book of Proverbs we read about a feast set by Wisdom herself where she invites very unlikely guests to the table. Witherington has announced his new commentary on the Gospel of Matthew viewed against the background of the Wisdom literature. It should be a good read.

This announcement has caused me to think about the wisdom literature in Luke. In one passage appearing only in Luke we read, “Therefore also said the Wisdom of God, I will send prophets. . . .” But I am ahead of myself as I merely intended to announce that I will begin a series on Lucan table fellowship about which I have strong feelings.

Belief does influence perception. Furthermore knowing who Theophilus is, does change the way we view the meal Jesus begins as a guest and ends as a host. Jesus changes his role in the middle of the meal. It changes our view of Emmaus and the theology of the skimpy meal and of the full meal.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Word of the Lord

Helmut Koester mentions six instances in which Paul refers to the teachings of the historical Jesus. In 1 Thess. 4:15, Paul invokes the "word of the Lord" to address the issue of what happens to those in the community who have died prior to Jesus' return. In 1 Corinthians, Paul claims that Jesus argues against divorce (1 Cor. 7:10-11), no dominical command (1 Cor. 7:25), those who proclaim the gospel should be paid by the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14), the command concerning prophets (1 Cor. 14:37), and the Eucharist (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

My interest is in the phrase “word of the Lord” which Paul specifically invokes in 1 Thess. 4:15. This phrase appears once in the Gospel of Luke, eight times in Acts, and once each in First and Second Thessalonians, I Peters and no where else in the New Testament. Two of these passages from Luke-Acts [Luke 22:61 and Acts 11:16] involve Simon Peter whom Paul met with James for a brief fifteen day period. Paul denies that any of his teachings are from other men in authority. I mention this because arguable this expression, “word of the Lord,” Paul derived from Peter. As I noted earlier, Paul used the phrase “according to my gospel” to refer to the Gospel of Luke. Perhaps we should accept Paul at his word and attribute that what Paul learned came to him from the writings of Luke.

In addition to what I have listed above we have this example from 1 Thess. 1:8 where Paul says about the ministry of Luke: “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedo'nia and Acha'ia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.”

These comments, when considered together my post, “According to my gospel” require us to consider whether or not Paul was familiar with the writings of Luke.

Copyrighted 2006