Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Obsession with abomination

In Ezra as a Source for Luke, I noted, inter alia, “In Lk 16:15, Luke is using the same Greek word Ezra used in describing the intermarriage, “abomination.” In Ezra 9:1 we read, inter alia, “The people of Israel and their priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites.” In using the word, abominations, Ezra was asserting that intermarriage was absolutely the worst thing that the people could do. Luke has equated intermarriage with unspecified certain conduct of the Pharisees using the same Greek word, βδλυγμα. This word is usually used to denote detestation amounting to idolatry and nothing has indicated that idolatry is in issue in the Gospel of Luke but Acts does have a minor idolatry theme. However, Ezra uses this word in conjunction with intermarriage. This would not be significant but for the last verse in the four verse response to the Pharisees.

The divorce verse now has new significant. I ask again, what is it?

The Lucan Jesus has implicitly criticized the Ezran concept of exclusiveness instituted by a mass divorce and by a direction to live apart within the land. This is also an implied criticism of the Pharisees, the “separated ones.”

"That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Position, wealth, education, popularity, religiosity, the esteem of men -- these are abomination in the sight of God. However this list is not conclusive as can be seen from reviewing the various passages: Lev 18:18-30; Lev 20; Deut 24:1-4; 25:13-16; Proverbs 3:31-32; 6:16-9; 11:1; 17:15; 20:10; 24:9 and 28:9.”

In my study of Luke 3:8, I recognized that Luke may be alluding to Ezekiel 33:24, where the prophet contends with the self-confidence of those Israelites who dwelt among the ruins of the land by citing their pride in being heirs of Abraham. Ezekiel then asks a series of rhetorical questions. One such question is whether when they commit abominations such as adultery becoming impure thereby, do they presume to inherit the land? Consequently, I am convinced that Luke has equated the Ezran intermarriages and the adultery of Ezekiel’s day with the Pharisees of Luke’s day by using the word βδλυγμα to link the them together, much like preachers used to cite the multiple marriages of the Hollywood stars as equivalent to adultery. I suspect only Ezra, Ezekiel and Malachi use this word βδλυγμα in this manner. All the other writers are talking about idolatry.

Lee Dahn speculated that the abominations may relate to the widows. With this thought in mind, I read the 44th chapter of Ezekiel where the various priestly regulations are set forth. Ezekiel tells the priest they may not marry Israelite widows or divorcees but may marry Israelite virgins. The priests shall instruct the people regarding the differences between the sacred and the profane and the pure and impure. The priests are not to receive a landed inheritance. Ezekiel 44:22 permits the priests to marry widows of priests. Ezekiel is a restatement of the priestly regulations of Lev 21:7. It contains no provision about priests marrying the widows of priests.

I am therefore wondering since Ezra, Ezekiel and Malachi all use abomination in the same sense, that is, not in a cultic sense as in idolatry, if the Lucan Jesus is criticizing this aspect of Ezekiel so that in the controversy sayings of chapter 16 he is criticizing both Ezra and Ezekiel.

Copyrighted 2007


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