Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Penitential Prayer

Luke is the gospel of prayer. This statement is often made. Luke does mention on a number of occasions that Jesus and his disciples observed the customary times of prayer. The fact that there are specific times for prayers indicates there may have been a movement toward institutionalization. The ninth hour, mentioned by Luke, may have been an established or prescribed time. The prayers in Daniel 9, Nehemiah 9, Baruch 1:15-3:8 and 4Q504 are connected to specific prayer times, either festivals or daily times of prayer.

In his dedication speech for the newly finished Temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon announces that this Temple, this central place of the presence of God, is to serve primarily as a place of prayer. In Isaiah 56:7, we read: “for my house shall be called a house of prayer.”

It seems to me that it would be helpful to discuss the biblical development of penitential prayer with the hope I can better understand the origin of Luke’s theology of prayer. I do so recognizing that it is a difficult and formidable undertaking.

Copyrighted 2006

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sailing with Peter and Paul

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. 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.

Simon, the tanner, had apparently become a believer and a part of the ekklesia in Joppa. Student exchange programs are promoted because they assist the participants in learning about cultural diversity and play a role in reducing one’s prejudices. Thus we can understand that while Simon Peter is lodging with Simon the tanner, he is gradually having his prejudices loosened.

Then one day Simon Peter is up on the rooftop praying and waiting for lunch. He falls into a trance and has this vision of a large sailing sheet being lowered from heaven, full of animals, which were unclean in Jewish tradition. In verses 13-15, Simon Peter hears the command: “‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’”

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. This vision was not so compelling that Peter, who had “never eaten anything that is profane or unclean,” was able to eat with Gentiles in Antioch without objection.

Apparently Saul, the tentmaker, had such scruples about the composition of the new group forming around the followers of Jesus that he sought letters from the High Priest so that he could seize them wherever they were and bring them back for a good stoning. Were these new members of the Way not Jewish enough for Saul? Both Peter and Saul had to make a social adjustment. Both Peter and Saul were assisted in making this social adjustment by a vision. What exactly were their scruples?

A little clarity about their moral uncertainties would be helpful. In the Epistle to Barnabus, we read “But when he chose his own apostles who were destined to preach his gospel – men who were sinful beyond measures so that he might prove that he came not to call righteous but sinners – it was then that he revealed himself as God’s Son.”

It is unlikely that Peter the Galilean fisherman was such a strict observant of the food laws that he was able to say that he had never eaten anything unclean. The sail cloth vision does not have any connection or relevance to the story of Cornelius. Furthermore the account is silent with respect to Cornelius not being circumcised.

It is much more likely that Paul could and did make the statement at one time that he had never eaten anything unclean. If Paul had experienced the sail cloth vision as proposed by Bligh, we could then better understand his claim that the gospel for the Gentiles was revealed to him as he asserted in Galatians 1:12.

Although I am convinced there is something odd about the sail cloth vision of Peter, I am not convinced my preliminary thoughts provide a solution. This remains a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2006

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Ascension of the Messiah

How does Luke understand the ascension? There is no question that the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus was the most fundamental affirmation of the early apostolic preaching. But what is the significance of the more detailed description of the visible ascension forty days after the resurrection? Are the resurrection and the ascension to be lumped together?

The journey to Jerusalem begins in these words: “When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” The approaching event being described is the “assumption” not the “ascension.” Luke also tells us that Jesus “went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.” Luke included a series of miracles which the commentators, beginning with Brodie, have recognized as a narrative imitating parallel miracles of Elijah and Elisha.

“Now when the LORD was about to take Eli'jah up to heaven” Elijah requested Elisha to remain sitting while he goes to Gilgal. It is the same request that Jesus made to his disciples to remain seated in the city “until you are clothed with power from on high." Elisha asked Elijah for two parts of his spirits. Immediately, Elijah is taken up into heaven. Shortly thereafter, it is said of Elisha that “the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” The terminology employed by Luke is exactly the same as in the story of the assumption of Elijah. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is given to the ekklesia just as it was transferred to Elisha.

Luke has presented Jesus as a prophet like Elijah.

Although the source model has been identified, all of the questions have not been answered.

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The devil is in the details

Now that Judas has been rehabilitated, what is the role of Satan? In the Gospels of Luke and John, Satan enters Judas. In Luke, Judas, after Satan enters him, becomes a leader of "this wicked generation" "leading the arresting party" and "serving as a guide to those who arrested Jesus."

The last mention of Satan or the devil in Matthew and Mark is sometime prior to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It seems that Satan has left the scene, that his role in Matthew and Mark is incomplete, almost as if he was written out of the gospel and left hanging!

It is the kind of mistake a copyist might make. Rewrite the Lucan passion account leaving Satan out, forgetting that he was present in the wilderness tempting Jesus and at Caesarea Philippi tempting Simon Peter.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Under the power of the devil

It seems strange that one of the readings of Easter proclaims “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all those who were under the power of the devil because God was with him.” This is in fact part of Peter’s message to Cornelius and his household but was read today in our Church on Easter Sunday.

At the funeral, the eulogy summarizes the good deeds of the departed one. On Easter we proclaim the resurrection. Why would we hear about the good deeds as if it were a funeral service? This summary statement of the earthly ministry of Jesus provides a clue to the role of Satan in Luke-Acts. The struggle that is depicted is about authority. The authority of Jesus does not triumph. The authority of Satan is stifled and restricted. The power of Satan is not defeated for all times. For Luke, Satan is still a force in the world.

Copyrighted 2006

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why did Matthew and Mark remove Satan?

Today the answer is clear! Luke told Theophilus that Jesus died on a Roman cross in a crucifixion carried out by Roman solders at the decision of the Roman Governor. Luke also makes clear that the “chief priests and rulers delivered him to be condemned to death and crucified him.” Luke sometimes indicates that Pilate and Herod had a prominent role and sometimes presents the 'Men of Israel' having a great responsibility. In any event Luke has spread the blame. Peter tells the Sanhedrin that they acted in ignorance. On the cross, Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of his enemies as did Stephen. More significantly Luke state that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” and that Men united against him, “to do whatever thy hand and plan had predestined to take place.” According to Luke, those involved in the crucifixion were agents of God. Thus Acts can also be considered irenical in the same sense as Luke. Furthermore Acts is not polemical; it is critical of the high priests but Luke does not personally attack Theophilus. Thus reconciliation and forgiveness is an important theme presented by Luke as part of his irenical presentation to Theophilus.

Mantel has shown that Jesus was not guilty under Jewish law of any offense. Perhaps the early church in their polemics questioned the validity of the Sanhedrin proceedings and the Matthew and Mark modifications were made to support those allegations. Matthew and Mark, by including a night time hearing, attempt to show that a 'kangaroo' hearing was conducted by the High Priest in violation of the Rule of Mishnah that all trials had to be conducted during day light hours. Luke's account of the trial of Jesus when compared with Matthew and Mark is favorable. Matthew and Mark are clearly anti-Judaic representing later traditions and post-schism rewriting. This can not be said of Luke-Acts. Luke is not anti-Semitic. Luke, who is clearly knowledgeable about what Ezekiel taught, having alluded to him many times, was aware that there was no concept of collective responsibility. Matthew and Mark have created such a concept.

More importantly, Matthew and Mark removed Satan from the picture. In Luke, Satan enters Judas and then Judas meets with the chief priest and agreed to betray Jesus. Satan is the chief instigator in Luke but has no role in Matthew and Mark. Since Matthew and Mark are creating Jewish collective responsibility, there is no place for Satan in their rewriting.

Copyrighted 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Ruin of Satan

In reading the Passion as recorded in the synoptic gospels, One can not help but notice that Satan has disappeared from Matthew and Mark. Luke tells us: “Then Satan entered into Judas” (who is being rehabilitated this week), and then Judas met with the chief priests and agreed to betray Jesus.

Satan is also mentioned in the Lucan scene where Peter’s denial is predicted. The last mention of Satan in Matthew and Mark is the Confession at Caesarea Philippi. Not only is Satan missing in the Lucan version, so is the name of the location of the place where Peter makes his confession.

What is the role of Satan in Luke and why is Satan more prominent in Luke than Matthew and Mark?

The Lucan Paul explained that it was his mission to persuade Gentiles to "to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

Although Paul acknowledged the power and presence of Satan in Romans 16:20, 1 Cor 5:5, 7:5; 2 Cor 11, 11:14 and 12:7, and Luke has an extensive and thematic treatment of Satan in his writings, Matthew and Mark in their rewriting of the Passion story, wrote Satan out of the script. I wonder why!

Neyrey states: “The conflict between Satan and Jesus, the apostles and the Church is of major importance for Christians, for it stresses the cosmic significance and radical importance of Jesus’ work.” Jesus proclaimed the ruin of Satan in these words unique to Luke: “I saw Satan fall like lightening.”

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006

And they built a gymnasium

In 1 Maccabees, we read about some Jews who built a gymnasium in Jerusalem and "made themselves uncircumcised." Thus it is evident that there were many Jewish men in the Hellenistic period who were uncircumcised, never having been circumcised, or underwent a surgical procedure to reverse the sign of their circumcision. Therefore we must assume that there was a wide variety of Jewish views on circumcision in the First Century. The evidence for uncircumcised yet practicing Jews is indirect but unequivocal.

The Jewish followers of Jesus attracted to their movements many Jews who had ceased to practice Judaism, some because they had been excluded by Jewish society and other because their occupation or their conduct had made them pariahs. The movement probably also attracted Jews who shared the Greek and Roman abhorrence of circumcision.

The Circumcision Party objected to the inclusions of these Jewish males as full members of Jewish society quoting Genesis: "Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised on the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." Perhaps these certain Jews viewed the actions of Paul as threatening cultural survival.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Circumcision Party

There is a renewed interest in the Antioch incident. Michael Bird and James Crossley have both made comments but I am having blogger problems.

Perhaps we ought to consider whether or not the expression, “those of the circumcision” defines the Objectants as Jews in a dispute with Gentiles or as “the circumcision party,” a subset of Jews, in a dispute with other Jews about boundaries and entry requirements.

The other question we need to ask is how we define “meals.” The followers of Jesus understood “meals” as more than eating the right kind of food properly prepared. “Meals” for the followers of Jesus in the early years was all about fellowship, breaking bread, prayers and instructions. These meals are about group solidarity.

Copyrighted 2006

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Rewriting the Transfiguration

It has been suggested that the four pericopes identified by Throckmorton as Sections 122-125 beginning with “The Confession at Caesarea Philippi” and ending with “The Coming of Elijah” should be considered together to properly understand the rewriting that has been made. We will review each section beginning with Luke and then proceed to show how the rewriting was conducted by Mark and Matthew.

Luke does not identify the place where the Confession of Peter was made. Matthew and Mark both indicate that this event occurred at Caesarea Philippi. Conzelmann theorized that Luke withheld the name of the location because he did not want to place the ministry of Jesus in Gentile territory. It is more likely that the use of this geographical name would be an anachronism in that the place did not acquire this name until after occurrence of the event. When Josephus mentions in War and Antiquities the construction of a new city by Philip at Paneas, Josephus names the place as Caesaria. The first mention of Caesarea Philippi in Josephus is when Herod Agrippa II is the ruler of the region. Thus Luke did not use the name of Caesarea Philippi to be historically accurate.

All of the synoptic writers include the next pericope about “The Conditions of Discipleship. All three include “For those who want to save their life will lose it and those who will lose their life for my sake will save it” with Matthew replacing “save” with “find”. Mark adds after “for my sake” “and for the sake of the gospel.” The word 'euaggelion' does not appear in the body of the text of Luke and John. The word 'gospel' [euaggelion] appears 77 times throughout the New Testament in places such as 2 Cor. 8:18 and most of the Pauline epistles and also including Gospel of Matthew and Gospel of Mark. 2 Cor. 8:18 is evidence that Paul knows about the gospel. Eusebius states: "It is actually suggested that Paul was in the habit of referring to Luke's gospel whenever he said, as if writing of some Gospel of his own: ‘According to my gospel.’ Rom. ii 16; xvi 25; 2 Tim. ii 8." That the word euaggelion does not appear in the body of the text of Luke and John is evidence of their early publication and the fact that euaggelion did not become associated with the writings we now know of as the gospels until sometime after the publication of the first two books. Thus the use of the word “gospel” in Matthew and Mark is an example of "something out of place in time."

The last pericope in this group is “The Coming of Elijah” which Luke does not include. Both Matthew and Mark include in this passage an instruction of Jesus given to the disciples as they were coming down the mountain to tell no one about what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. This last section has been recognized by scholars as clearly redactional since the theme of the so-called “messianic secret” is so prominent in Mark.

In the Caesarea Philippi periscope, both Matthew and Mark add that Peter rebuked Jesus for the first prediction of the passion and Jesus addressing Peter said, “Get behind me, Satan.” Only Matthew included “And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'"

There are also significance differences between how Luke reported and how Matthew and Mark reported the Transfiguration. The Lucan version is included in this post with italics for the location of the significant differences.

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his clothes became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli'jah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah"--not knowing what he said. As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”

Only Luke include that Moses and Eli'jah, appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Neither Matthew nor Mark reported what was said by Jesus, Moses and Elijah or that Moses and Elijah also appeared in glory. Further, Matthew and Mark replaced “my Chosen” with my Beloved.” Luke's verse in the original Greek reads: "This is my Son, the Elect One (from the Greek ho eklelegmenos, lit., "the elect one"): hear him." The "Elect One" is a most significant term (found fourteen times) in the Book of Enoch. The Book of Enoch contains numerous descriptions of the Elect One who should "sit upon the throne of glory" and the Elect One who should "dwell in the midst of them." Finally, Matthew and Mark replaced “Now about eight days after these sayings” with “Six days later.”

The Transfiguration supports the claim, in Mark and even more pronounced in Matthew, that Jesus is greater than Moses. Matthew presents Jesus as greater than all his predecessors including Moses. Jesus is greater than the Temple (12:6); greater than Jonah (12:41); and greater than Solomon (12:42). In Luke, Jesus is a prophet like Moses who does not walk on water. Luke, ever the diplomat, was very careful not to describe Jesus as a prophet greater than Moses. Such a notion would have been very offensive to the High Priest. In describing the Transfiguration, only Luke indicates that Jesus and Moses and Elijah appeared together in glory.

As noted by Jacob Jervell, for Luke, the law is not altered and is permanently valid. The Lucan Jesus does not abrogate the dietary purity law. Furthermore, the High Priest would have considered such conduct as violating the mosaic laws binding on all Jews. For Luke, God's laws continue in effect for Jews even when they become followers of the Christ. Luke's position accurately reflects the views of the Jewish Christians and the Jerusalem church in its earliest years and is clearly pre-Pauline. It is a position that the High Priest would have found commendable. After all, “Moses was the first and greatest prophet: all that was communicated to the prophets, who followed him, he had already received. No prophet could contradict him or change or add to what he had proclaimed” (citations omitted). For Luke, Jesus is a prophet like Moses.

It was earlier noted that Matthew rewrote the Caesarea Philippi section to make Peter the rock on which the ekklesia is built and providing that Peter now has the keys to the kingdom with the authority to bind and loosen. This writing was necessitated by the destruction of the temple and the Jerusalem community. As part of this rewriting, Matthew rehabilitates Simon and renames him Peter.

It is significance that the authority to bind and loosen is granted in the Caesarea Philippi setting where according to the Book of Enoch the Fall of the Watchers is closely associated with this region. Azazel and the Watchers are bound and imprisoned into a deep pit located in this region. In War, Josephus describes the chasm at the foot of the mountain: “At this spot a mountain rears its summit to an immense aloft; at the base of the cliff is an opening into an overgrown cavern; within this plunging down to an immeasurable depth, is a yawning chasm, enclosing a volume of still water, the bottom of which no sounding-line has been found long enough to reach. Outside and from beneath the cavern well up the springs from which, as some think, the Jordan takes its rise.”

In Matthew, “his face shone like the sun” echoing the conclusion to the Parable of the Weeds, unique to Matthew, where Jesus says “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, only Matthew has the part about the wedding guest who had no wedding garment. Matthew used the rewriting to emphasize the role of the disciples and discipleship by telling his community that the followers of Jesus are like the sons of God and those who are not will share the fate of the wedding guest who had no wedding garments. Thus Matthew ties together Caesarea Philippi and the Transfiguration with a frightening warning.

Mark rewrote Luke because the disciples did not get it. Mark rewrites by deleting “the departure he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.” He did so diplomatically because he could not criticize Luke. Mark also 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. Mk. 6:45 to 8:26; this entire section has a common theme of sharing food and breaking bread as does Acts 10:1 to 11:18. 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.

The Lucan Jesus prepares his disciples, Peter, John and James, for the events that are about to transpire concerning his “departure” and linking Luke’s understanding of the event to prayer and the passion. This proper understanding is confirmed by the fact that the voice from heaven echoes the voice of the baptism that was also preceded by Jesus in prayer and was an allusion to Jesus’ suffering and death. Only Luke mentions the events in the context of prayer.

Luke also demonstrates that the prayer of Jesus at Simon Peter’s Confession had been effective since the secret of the messianic person had been revealed to Peter. Luke also includes a saying about the imminent coming of the kingdom of God. Thus the section begins with prayer and ends with the announcement of the coming kingdom. This is the second instance, the first being the baptism of Jesus, where Luke has linked Jesus’ prayer with the kingdom of God.

The experience of a "pivotal mandatory epiphany" by Balaam (Num 22:31-35), Joshua (Josh 5:13-15), and Heliodorus (2 Macc. 3:22-34) provides the principal model for characterizing the transfiguration as an extraordinary "epiphany" of heavenly beings on earth (Jesus, Moses, and Elijah) culminating in a divine "mandatory" announcement to Peter, James, and John: "Listen to him!"

This posting is longer than initially planned and not yet complete as I intend to discuss the significance of “six days later,” the booths of Sukkoth and the location of Caesarea Philippi as being near Mount Hermon. There are also some minor differences among the synoptics that may be significant.

Copyrighted 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Common or unclean

I suspect that verse 28 is the key to understanding Luke’s use of “common or unclean.”

In Acts 10:28, Peter said to Cornelius and friends, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

Earlier, Peter said I have never eaten anything common or unclean. Something that comes into contact with something unclean, by association, becomes unclean. My guess is that the word “common” is making reference to this rule of unclean by association. Peter has a problem with the word “never” but he is illustrating the rule in that he sees all these animals associating together in his vision and now he says he can not eat any of them apparently because the good “clean” animals have associated with the unclean.

Yet prior to the vision, Peter has been associating and residing for a long time with Simon the tanner who is a member of an occupation Judaism considered unclean. Lev. 11:39-40 pronounces unclean anyone who touches the carcass of even a clean animal. A Jewish tanner would always be unclean. If Peter has resided with Simon the tanner for a long time, Peter by his behavior has displayed, experienced and practiced what I call theology in transition. Peter needed to realize that the rules no longer apply to contact with Gentiles.

Verse 28 is about associating with Gentiles yet the vision is about unclean food. Thus verse 28 becomes a “sentence sermon” for the message that the passage is trying to convey.

Although Paul proclaimed himself to be a strict Pharisee, he was nonetheless a tentmaker by trade and a person who daily touched the carcass. Consequently Paul was also a candidate for a conversion experience just as was Peter. Theology does change to meet social needs.

Copyrighted 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hosea and Luke

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. This is a key kergmatic phrase not because it is persuasive but because it proclaims the resurrection. What biblical passage lay behind the words of the credal formula quoted by Paul, “He was raised to life on the third day, according to the scriptures”? Naturally, I have wondered if there is any passage in the OT where resurrection language is linked with “the third day” that could have been a source or inspiration for Luke. In Hosea 6:2 we read:

“after two days he will revive us,
on the third day he will restore us,
that in his presence we may live.”

Hosea as a source for Luke makes more sense than the Jonah passage of being in the whale for three days and three nights although both Hosea and Jonah are cited in support of the Jewish belief that the third day was regarded as the day of salvation.

Copyrighted 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Significance of Miletus

Paul delivers his farewell speech to the elders of the Ephesian church. This form of speech is well established in the Gentile and Jewish literature. The numerous parallels in this address to the Pauline letters have been well documented.

As Paul prepared to depart from Ephesus for his voyage to Jerusalem he warned the flock about the dangers they would face. His departing speech included words which make a compelling statement about Luke’s familiarity about Paul’s teachings.

Yet there may be an even stronger example.

John Bligh has suggested that Paul saw himself as Joseph and further that Luke saw a resemblance between Paul and Joseph “because Acts 20:37 sounds like a deliberate reminiscence of Genesis 50:1.”

Compare these two verses:

“Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.”

“All wept much, and falling upon Paul’s neck, they kissed him.”

Why would the above be evidence of familiarity?

In Genesis 50:18-19, after the death of Israel, his sons the patriarchs came to Joseph “and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we your servants.’” But Joseph said to them, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God?” The Septuagint reads, “for I am of God,” that is to say, I am a servant of God. Philo explained, “He declared that he had not received his commission at the hands of men but had been appointed by God.” This is a remarkable parallel to Gal. 1:1!

Bligh in a footnote then tells how Joseph accused his brothers of spying on him. Likewise, Paul in Gal. 2:4 accused Jerusalem of spying on him.

Both Paul and Luke considered Paul to be a new Joseph. After all did not Paul bring famine relief to the brothers in Jerusalem just as Joseph provided famine relief to his brothers who came to Egypt for help?

In claiming for Paul, with an allusion to Genesis 50, a resemblance with Joseph, one of the patriarchs, Luke was implicitly confirming that Paul was one of the Apostles.

Copyrighted 2006

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Lack of Understanding of Theophilus

My exposition of the Gospel of Luke would focus on the lack of understanding as the theme presented by Luke in his writing to most excellent Theophilus who must have expressed his lack of understanding to someone to have been the lucky recipient of this masterpiece. Who might have suggested that this work be addressed to Theophilus to help him understand? I suggest it was none other than Johanna. As previously noted the name of Johanna occupies the position of prominence in a chiasmus that introduces the Emmaus periscope where two disciples come to fully understand the gospel message because Jesus had “opened their minds to understand the scriptures.”

The Gospel begins with Zechariah, the priest, in the Temple and chapter two ends with Jesus in the Temple. Zechariah is so incredulous that he is sanctioned by the Angel Gabriel but nine months later he delivers in 1:67-80 what we now call the “Benedictus.”

Mary believes the message of the Angel Gabriel but twelve years later, when she and her husband find Jesus in the Temple, “they did not understand” nor did the disciples understand. The two Temple stories of Zechariah the priest and the boy Jesus stand by themselves yet frame the four pairs of stories in between about lack of understanding.

Yet throughout the complex narrative Luke provides clues so that Theophilus might understand. This lack of understanding appears throughout the gospel [2:50; 8:10; 18:34 and 24:45; Acts 7:25; 28:26-27], and is an important theme in the presentation to Theophilus. These passages are directed to most excellent Theophilus.

Johanna is introduced together with two other women who had been healed and are now traveling with Jesus. Johanna, who I believe must be someone important to Theophilus, if her name occupies the position of prominence, is in fact introduced by two stories which are a pair but have not been recognized as such because they are not next to each other. Theophilus must want to know what kind of person has healed Johanna. In the one story, the unknown women enters the house of Simon the Pharisee and Simon wonders to himself is Jesus aware what kind of woman is pouring oil on his feet. Simon’s question is not answered. But in the second part of the story, which appears after the first mention of Johanna, the woman who has been bleeding for twelve years touches the fringe of his garment, and Jesus says, “Some one touched me for I perceive that the power has gone from me.” This story answer the question Simon asked himself. Yes, Simon, Jesus did know who had entered the room to pour oil on his feet. These two stories envelope the very brief mention of Johanna and answer the question for Theophilus, what kind of person is Jesus. The stories in this envelope include, inter alia, the storm stilled, demons cast out, and Jairus’ daughter raised.

Breck can say that the key to understanding is chiasmus but it is still necessary to properly determine the beginning and ending point of each individual chiastic structure. One problem, is that diagramming has been “confined” by the chapters and verses artificially imposed. Most diagrammers have implicitly accepted the chapter and verse outlook created in the 12th century as the beginning point of their organization of Lucan material. In looking at one possible structure, described above, I realized that it probably begins at Lk. 7:36 in Simon’s house and ends at 8:48 but this leaves hanging the ending of the story about Jairus and his twelve year old daughter! There must be a term for this dramatic “hanging” effect created by Luke with his “unbalanced” literary structure!! For the lack of a better term, this appears to be an interlocking structured literary form in that the two halves of the story of daughter of Jairus are interlocking with the story of the woman who bleed for twelve years. However, I am unaware that any scholar has suggested that Luke has employed interlocking literary structures although Bligh has diagrammed interlocking literary structures for Galatians.

My exposition of the gospel is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2006