Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Happy is the man who waits

There are a number of Biblical passages expressing the expectations of the divine kingdom. Amos 5:8 declares the hope for divine salvation, a theme we also find in the Lucan “hope of Israel.” The prophets Micah (7:4, 7) and Isaiah (18:17; 30:18) confirm that the longing for the “day of the Lord” was a well known tradition in the prophets.

“If it delays, wait for it, for when it comes will be no time to linger.” What we read in Habakkuk was a well established concept. Joseph of Arimathea “lived in expectation of the kingdom” as did Simon waiting for the consolation of Israel and the redemption of Israel. Thus it is not surprising that the idea appears in the Parable of the Unjust Judge.

The prophecies became prayers. At Qumran, they prayed: “Great is your hope, O Zion . . . those who desire the day of your salvation will rejoice in your plentiful glory . . . how they waited for your salvation . . . Your hope will never die, O Zion and your aspiration will never be forgotten.”

The title of this post expresses the idea succinctly. However one would not expect to find this thought in the Book of Daniel. The failure of prophecy gave rise to apocalyptic literature but in the new genre the people continued to long as they waited for the day of the Lord. That Luke contains the same idea does not prove late dating. On the contrary it is probative of early dating.

Jesus and Paul did not renounce the hope that apocalypticism offered the people and they in fact used apocalyptic language but sparingly. Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke sparing no words in their imagery announcing the birth-pangs of the close of the age.

Copyrighted 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007


55. Luke correctly identifies Pilate as ἡγεμονεύω while Matthew uses a term that is an anachronism.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

No removal of imminent eschatology

The title is suggested by a of James Crossley containing this phrase. Richard Hays has noted citing August Strobel that Hab 2:4 was a key verse, both within Judaism and within early Christianity, to understanding the problem of the delay in appearance of God's eschalogical justice. This was a problem faced when prophecy failed. The solution was a new genre we call apocalyptical literature. In my last post on “the righteous man” it was suggested that Luke used Habakkuk as a source citing Hays.

Those who assert that the Gospel of Matthew has a strong theme that the end is near rely upon three passages, two of which Matthew copied from Luke: Matthew 10:23; 16:28 (Lk 9:27/Mk 9:1) and 24:34 (Lk 21:32/Mk 13:30). In addition, Matthew uses the phrase translated in the RSV as “the close of the age” five times: Matthew 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; and 28:20. Neither Luke nor Mark employs this phrase.

The first passage, Matthew 10:23: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes” is a rewrite of Luke 21:12 (But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake) and 17 (And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory) combining them in one verse. Both Matthew and Mark replaced “This will be a time for you to bear testimony” contained in Luke 21:13. Mark states: “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” while Matthew states “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.” Both Matthew and Mark have modified Luke, which said “This will give you an opportunity to testify” because many of the eyewitnesses have died.

The Jewish polemics against the earliest Christians included the allegation that Jesus threatened to destroy the Temple. Stephen's last sermon may have been a commentary on this allegation of the Jewish community. Nationalistic sentiments were on the rise in Jerusalem. This time period was also particularly tense due to the belief that the Emperor Caligula (37-41 C.E.) would soon be sending his army to enforce his demand that Judaism be abolished and in its place install a statue of himself for worship on the Temple Mount. The tumult caused by the preaching of Stephen and his subsequent death was the first open hostility of the Jewish authorities to the followers of Jesus. In any event after Stephen's death, there was a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem. This persecution, which probably created apocalyptic tensions in the community of the followers of Jesus, prompted Luke to appeal to Theophilus.

The delay in appearance of God's eschalogical justice was not a new problem. Luke addressed this problem in his unique Parable of the Unjust Judge by including these two verses: “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" The designation of Jesus as “the righteous man” is the clue that Luke has used the concept contained in Habakkuk in a manner with consistent with the interpretation contained in 1 QpHab and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Bovon has indicated that the Lucan interpretation should be "Certainly God will vindicate his elect but for the time being he will be slow."

Luke has a strong eschatological interest. He saw that “The kingdom of God has come near to you” and is “among you.” Yet Luke recognized that no man, not even a prophet, can predict the time when the people will see the coming of the son of man in a cloud with power and great glory.

Copyrighted 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Righteous One

Richard Hays joined a group of scholars who have recognized that “the Righteous One” is the eschatological agent of God citing such passages as 1 Enoch 38; Acts 3:13-15; 7:51-53 and 22:14-15. The designation in Acts appears only in speeches delivered to Jewish audiences in Jerusalem. Hays states: “The term appears in these passages in direct association with apocalyptic motifs of resurrection and judgment and it also highlights the awful injustice of Jesus’ death. The use of the epithet in the speeches suggests allusions to Hab. 2:3-4 and to Isa. 53, as well as points of contacts with circles of theological ideas found in 1 Enoch on the one hand and in Galatians on the other.” Hays later notes “the explicit redemptive aspects of the Righteous One’s suffering is a theme that does not appear in the Act passages, . . . .”

Hays, later in his essay, discussed the use of Habakkuk summarizing some of his conclusions in these words as follow: “Thus, the interpretation of Hab. 2:3-4 bears a striking formal similarity to the interpretation given at Qumran, as attested by 1QpHab. Because the Qumran interpreter is working from a Hebrew text rather than from LXX, there is no trace of a messianic reading even in 2:3, which is understood as a comment on the delay of “the appointed time”; nonetheless, both Hebrews and 1QpHab understand the passage fundamentally as an exhortation to keep the faith during trials that accompany the delay of the end.”

I suggest that Luke understood the passage from Habakkuk in the same way as both Hebrews and 1QpHab. His use of “the Righteous One” combined with what so many have suggested is a presentation of the delay of the parousia is thus explained by his usage of Habakkuk in his usual step progression method where the word dikaiou is first applied to righteous individuals such as Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth and Simeon and then applied by the centurion to Jesus on the cross. In his second letter written in the early sixties, Luke continues in the next step of the progression to designate Jesus as “the Righteous One” and the eschatological agent of God.

The Qumran community experienced heightened apocalyptic excitement at the time of the writing of 4QMMT but was not sustained as evidenced by the later writing of 1QpHab 7.5-14. Perhaps this example can serve as an analogy to explain the situation during the time of the writing of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

Both Matthew and Mark include “all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.” The calamities existing at the close of the present age and the beginning of the new age are said to present the birth-pangs of the new age. Luke does not include the birth-pangs because he is writing early and has not experienced the banditry, false messiahs and the abomination of desolation.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

In those days

“In those days” (eg. Jer 3:16; 5:18; Zec 8:6) or “in that time” (eg. Isa 20:2; Jer 3:17; 4:11) is a formula for an eschatological term and in later prophetic traditions became a characteristic of eschatological style. The expression “on that day” also appears as a technical eschatological term in a number of other OT passages (cf., e.g., Isa 2:11, 17, 20; 3:7, 18; Amos 8:3, 9; Hos 2:18, 21).

Judaism, as reflected in the Book of Jubilees and a number of other early Jewish writings, anticipated a period of deep trouble before the arrival of the kingdom of God. This feature appears in Isaiah 26:17, Jeremiah 22:23; Daniel 12:1; Hosea 13:13 and Micah 4:9. These troubles later became known as the “woes of the Messiah.” The calamities attendant upon the close of the present age and the beginning of the new age are identified as “the birth-pangs” of the new age. Matthew and Mark both include

“this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.”

The woes, in accord with Jewish teaching, are:

1) wars, earthquakes and famines, “the beginning of travail”;

2) the great tribulation;

3) commotions among the heavenly bodies.

Matthew and Mark have added to Luke “the abomination that causes desolation”; “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, the elect” and the word “tribulation.”

Luke uses the phrase “in those days” uniquely with respect to Jesus being in the wilderness for forty days and his account of the Transfiguration. He also tells us: “The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”

In Acts 14:22, Luke wrote “that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” He also used the phrase, “In those days Peter stood up among the brethren” and “in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” The phrase is also included in Stephen’s last sermon, “And they made a calf in those days” and in the story of Tabitha, “In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.”

Luke includes the thought of eschatological judgment in his account of John the Baptist with his “axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” and with his reference to the process of winnowing and burning the chaff with unquenchable fire. The Lucan Jesus warns: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and you be like men awaiting their master.” There is clearly an eschatological reference in the table discourse of chapter 14 with these words: “Blessed is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God.” In agreement with Bo Reicke, “The meal serves only as a starting point for eschatological reflection.”

Luke has a strong eschatological interest. He saw that “The kingdom of God has come near to you” and is “among you.”

Copyrighted 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Oral Tradition that did not exist

Papias is quoted by Eusebius as stating there was a uniform preference for oral traditions. This remark has been interpreted as reflecting a lack of interest in preserving written tradition in written form. Furthermore, this lack of interest has been explained by the intense apocalyptic tension of the times.

Those who assert early dating need to explain why they believe Papias has been misinterpreted. Since there is no evidence of intense apocalyptic tension during the time of Papias, this explanation cannot be the alleged preference for oral tradition. Nor can this explanation explain why Paul was able to write to the Thessalonians who were experiencing such intense apocalyptic tension that many of been stopped working.

These three verses written by Paul in two separate letters illustrate the side by side nature of oral and written traditions. "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2), and he commands the Thessalonians, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15). He even order, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us" (2 Thess. 3:6).

Paul writes to Timothy: “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). The so-called oral tradition did not exist separate and apart from the written words nor did it predate the written word. This oral tradition is merely a statement that the gospel was preached and taught by selected individuals who had been trained for this purpose. Paul selected Timothy to be one of these people.

The Hebrew word for "minister of the word" is "huzzan" which is the name of the synagogue official in charge of the scroll. Bailey claims that Luke's use of this word in this context means that these persons in charge of passing the controlled oral traditions are eyewitnesses who have the tremendous responsibility to ensure that the word is accurately transmitted. This appears to be an important part of Luke's message. These persons were pre-selected by Jesus and trained by Jesus for this special role and include not only the twelve disciples but also the 120. Paul likewise selected individuals that he trained for this special role. Luke may have been one of the individuals trained for this role.

There is no evidence whatever that any believer ever held that the preaching should stop. Neither apocalyptic tension nor oral traditions prevented either Paul from writing his letters to the congregations or Luke to Most Excellent Theophilus.

Copyrighted 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

25 additional reasons why Luke is early

51. The Lucan version of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants represents the original teaching of Jesus, a parable in which Jesus does not condemn the Temple and the animal sacrificial system nor does God reject his people.

52. The apocalypticism apparent in Matthew and Mark is an event subsequent to publication of Luke and is a product of the emergence of false prophets reflecting the circumstances from the mid-fifties CE to the end of the Jewish War as described by Josephus.

53. Luke wrote at a time when there was a significant Jewish opposition to the Mission to the Gentiles. This is evident from an exegetical examination of several key passages: Lk. 4:16-30; Acts 13:42-52 and Acts 28:16-31. In these passages, Luke has employed hermeneutic techniques to present his Isaianic theme. What is remarkable is that these same passages are cited in support of the proposition that Luke wrote about the rejection of the Jews. The Sermon preached in Nazareth has an aspect to it that has not received proper attention. Jesus mentions Elijah, a religious zealot for maintenance and restoration of God’s covenant with Israel. In all three passages, Jesus in Luke and Paul in Acts are presented as instructing the audience in the interpretation of scripture and, unlike similar examples in Matthew and Mark where Jesus instructs, we know the scriptural basis of the instruction provided.

54. The direction in Acts 6:4 that the Twelve are to engage in “prayer and ministry of the word” represents the proper implementation of the teachings of the gospel.

55. Luke correctly identifies Pilate as ἡγεμονεύω while Matthew uses a term that is an anachronism.

56. Luke does not use the term “rabbi” as does Matthew.

57. Luke does not use the phrase “in the days of Abiathar the high priest” as does Mark in 2:26.

58. Luke is the only New Testament writer to mention the angel Gabriel. Luke is not only telling us what happened to Zechariah and Mary but is also alluding to Gabriel’s appearance in Daniel 8:16 and 9:21.

59. Mark expanded Luke 24:45-47 to explain that the disciples did not understand because "their hearts were harden" and provides examples. Mark uses the Greek words 'porosis' and 'poroo' to criticize the disciples and also the Pharisees but not the scribes or Sadducees. Neither Matthew nor Luke employed these words. Mark equated the hardness of heart of the Pharisees with the disciples making the criticism devastating. This concept is unique to Mark. When one recognizes that in Matthew, Jesus stated, "on this rock I will build my church" the criticism by Mark becomes even more stinging in its effectiveness. Mark is challenging the authority of Matthew (because of Peter) and Luke (because of the Jerusalem community). Both Luke and Mark use the phrase "they did not understand" [agnoeo] but only Mark goes out of his way to explain why they did not understand.

60. Ezekiel reminds us that the term “shepherd” is intended as another image for king in the ancient Near East. The shepherd image for David derives from a common metaphor for rulers in the ancient Near East. It suggested the care, concern, and protection that a shepherd was to provide his flock of people. When the kings of Israel prove to be bad shepherds, Ezekiel declares that the Lord will assume the role of shepherd. The image of a people, harassed and helpless without a shepherd, present in Matthew 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mark 6:34 and 14:27 is absent from Luke. Instead, Luke tells us, “in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."

61. Luke has accepted, adopted, acknowledged and/or created individual responsibility and individual eschatology.

62. Matthew and Mark have re-introduced collective responsibility which the Prophet Ezekiel (18:5-9) had abandoned to support their condemnation of the Jewish People for failing and/or refusing to accept Jesus as Messiah.

63. James Dunn has indicated that the passage in Acts 15:16-18 quoted 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. These verses were also cited by the Qumran community.

64. 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.

65. Only Mark includes in his gospel Mk 11:16: “and he would not allow any one to carry any vessels through the temple.” This is an allusion to the event of 66 CE that triggered the revolt. Florus ordered his men to enter the Temple at Jerusalem to remove silver coins to satisfy the tribute obligation owing Rome. The Roman garrison is overrun by rebels who take control of the city and the temple. The daily sacrifices to the Roman Emperor are terminated. This event and the numerous signs and portents recorded by Josephus as occurring at this time elevated apocalyptic tensions. Mark is telling Rome that Jesus will stop the Romans from removing vessels from the Temple.

66. Steven Notley commenting on Mk 6:45, where Jesus directs his disciples to go to "the other side" to Bethsaida, notes "they 'crossed over' and arrived at the same side from which they departed—the plain of Genessaret on the NW corner of the lake." Notley states that this “topographical observation supports the view that the Markan Montage is an 'editorial intrusion' by Mark and not an omission by Luke.” Notley concludes that Mark portrays Jesus and the disciples doing a U-turn in the middle of the lake.

67. Luke uses the three night time periods that reflect traditional Jewish usage while Mark employs four, a redaction consistent with Roman customs.

68. 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.

69. Mark states: “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” while Matthew states “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.” Both Matthew and Mark have modified Luke, which said “This will give you an opportunity to testify” because many of the eyewitnesses have died.

70. Mark, reading and observing how Matthew and Luke had treated the Jonah material differently, omitted the explicit references to Jonah. Mark, instead, describes Jesus as angry as his way of alluding to Jonah the angry prophet. Mark alludes to the angry prophet Jonah because he does not understand the enigmatic Sign of Jonah proclaimed by Jesus.

71. Jonah is also about unexpected reversals. In 2 Kings 14:25-27, God permits the expansion of the borders of Israel “according to the word that his servant Jonah uttered” despite the nation’s persistent sinfulness. In Jonah 3:10, God reverses the evil that Jonah pronounced against Ninevah. The Sign of Jonah is about repentance and eschatological reversals. Luke understood. Matthew and Mark did not understand.

72. Willi Marxsen stated that Mark, the great theologian of the cross, rearranged everything in terms of the redemptive suffering and death of Jesus, the son of God. Conzelmann demonstrated that Luke had no theology of the cross. He further noted that Mark’s gospel was merely a commentary on the kergma of Acts 2:22-24, which existed prior to the Gospel of Mark and provided Mark with his initial outline. Just as Marxsen’s work (1959) was a response to Conzelmann’s The Theology of St. Luke (1953), the Gospel of Mark was a response to the writings of Luke.

73. The names, Johanna and Theophilus, only appears in the Gospel of Luke. The unmistakable role of the placement of the name of Johanna in the vertex of the chiastic structure is to draw attention to the one eyewitness to the resurrection known personally to the first reader, most excellent Theophilus. This demonstrates that Luke has employed chiastic structures as one of his rhetorical tools in “the presentation of verifiable facts.”

74. In the story of John the Baptist, Mark combined Matthew and Luke. Mark states: “John whom I beheaded, he has risen.” Lindsey states: “In other words, Mark combines the story of Luke’s confused Herod with a story of a Herod who is certain! Of course, you will need to read the Matthew’s straightforward story about the tetrarch Herod in which Herod showed absolute certainty in his decision that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead and compare it with Luke’s account that ends with Herod ‘wanted to see Jesus.’”

75. An anachronism is "something out of place in time." Turton's second criterion is "No anachronisms are historical." Luke has no anachronisms.

Copyrighted 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Resistance to change

People do not like to change their routine. It seems that they have to be forced to change. Old Blogger is now history as many of you now realize. The sociological question is whether or not there is evidence of that resistance in the NT writings and whether or not that evidence has any significance beyond proof that there is resistance.

For instance there was active resistance to the introduction of writing. Of course, the only reason we know about the resistance is because the dispute was recorded. Plato noted that the discovery of writing threatened a time-honored reliance on memory. What record will be created of the resistance to New Blogger?

Copyrighted 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Catching them

In the Gospel of Luke, we read “And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.’” Luke has included the call in the miraculous catch of fish.

The key word is “catching.” Luke has alluded to these verses in Jeremiah: “For I will bring them back to their own land which I gave to their fathers. Behold, I am sending for many fishers and they shall catch them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.” In Luke, while Jesus is catching disciples the temple establishment is trying to catch him. In Luke 11:53-54 we read “As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard, and to provoke him to speak of many things, lying in wait for him, to catch at something he might say.” The Jeremiah allusion is complete.

Copyrighted 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lucan Eschatology

Judaism viewed the Lord as the judge of the inner hearts. The Lord is a righteous judge who will judge all the peoples of the earth and Israel itself. Moses had taught that the Lord had promised He would punish “the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me.”

The Prophet Ezekiel changed the basis of punishment for sin from collective to individual. The sentence sermon of Jeremiah that, “I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings” is now seen as the beginning of a change in thinking. Ezekiel sets forth the fundamental principle in these words: “According to their way I will do to them, and according to their own judgments I will judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.” The importance of individual responsibility is reaffirmed in the 33rd chapter of Ezekiel. The Lord judges not only peoples and nations but individuals, each according to his or her character. He judges both the righteous and the wicked, condemning the unfaithful and rewarding the poor and the humble.

Luke definitely has utilized the Book of Ezekiel. As noted in Band of strong men, there are at least three possible allusions in the Gospel of Luke to the 8th chapter of Ezekiel: the Parable of the unjust judge; “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me”; and the abomination saying of the 16th chapter of Luke.

Ezekiel 34 reminds us that the term “shepherd” is intended as another image for king in the ancient Near East. The shepherd image for David derives from a common metaphor for rulers in the ancient Near East. It suggested the care, concern, and protection that a shepherd was to provide his flock of people. When the kings of Israel prove to be bad shepherds, Ezekiel declares that the Lord will assume the role of shepherd. Luke tells us, “in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."

The words of Ezekiel were also spoken against Judah: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” The people who heard the Parable of the Wicked Tenants would be quite familiar with the idea of comparing the people to “vines” and “vineyards.”

More importantly Bock and those who interpret the Lucan version of the Parable to include the Jewish people in the condemnation ignore not only the explicit language that the chief priests knew that the parable had been told “against them” but more importantly “they feared the people.” However the Matthean version of the parable supports such an interpretation since Matthew has included “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits thereof,” which Luke lacks.

This Lucan interpretation, that the Wicked Tenants does not include the people, is strengthened by the unique point about judgment made by Luke in 20:18 which is consistent with Luke's views of individual responsibility. “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” Luke has based this verse on the “stone of stumbling” passage of Isa. 8:14 as a comment on the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. Combining two separate “stone” passages to provide a new understanding of the Song of the Vineyard is the type of midrash one would expect of a first century Jewish teacher.

The stone of stumbling passage is also quoted by Paul who has combined it with the stone passage of Isa. 28:16 which concludes with a positive note: “and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Thus Paul re-affirms that the decision to believe is an individual one as are the consequences.

The Lucan Parable of the Wicked Tenants is not directed against the people. It is, like the original Song of the Vineyard, directed against those who have accumulated excessive wealth at the expense of the peasants. These individuals are identified by Luke as the chief priests and scribes, the religious aristocracy of the Temple. Matthew and Mark have re-introduced collective responsibility which the Prophet Ezekiel (18:5-9) had abandoned. Matthew and Mark's belief in collective responsibility is consistent with their belief that the Gentiles replaced the Jews.

Luke has several sayings that support the interpretation of individual eschatology based upon the teaching of the Prophet Ezekiel. “For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” This saying may be Luke’s interpretation of Ezekiel’s fundamental principle. “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper." The third saying is perhaps the strongest example. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The apocalyptic Jewish thought of the second century B.C.E. to the first century C.E. is a product of great historical turmoil of this period. Our most important text for the question of judgment is the Book of Daniel (Dan 7-12). All the apocalyptic writers were in agreement that at the resurrection both the just and the unjust would be judged. Apocalyptic thought flourished because it was a message of hope for the poor and the oppressed.

Matthew and Mark writing later than Luke introduced a number of passages consistent with the rising tensions of apocalyticism. The image of a people, harassed and helpless without a shepherd, present in Matthew 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mark 6:34 and 14:27 is absent from Luke. Consistent with this theme, both Matthew and Mark include “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” Matthew and Mark also added the verse “False messiahs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” Joel Marcus uses this verse as one argument for dating the publication of the Gospel of Mark near the end of the Jewish War. 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. Matthew and Mark have heightened imminent eschatology.

For Luke, the Shepherd is always present. On the third day, the kingdom of God is established when the Lucan Jesus changes his role in the middle of the meal. “This indicates that in a sense the kingdom is a present reality, in the person of Jesus.”

Luke shows a special interest in the fate of the individual even as he provides us with the traditional passages about individual and collective eschatology. This is evidence of a theology influenced by the Prophet Ezekiel that is in transition.

Since this is a work in progress, I will return to this subject.

Copyrighted 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

25 more reasons why Luke is early

26. Theophilus is not addressed as “most excellent” at the beginning of Acts and therefore was probably now the former High Priest at the time Acts was written.

27. There is no mention of the death of James.

28. Stephen's sermon, Paul's "white-wash wall" retort and the parables of the Wicked Tenants and the Rich Man and Lazarus, are all directed to the High Priest.

29. The Lucan Jesus does not rebuke the Sadducees. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus does rebuke the Sadducees.

30. Only in Luke does Jesus heal the servant of the High Priest.

31. Luke has adopted the rules of evidence of Jewish law.

32. Marshall has stated “Luke shows a particular interest in Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Peraea from 4 B.C. until his disposition by Caligula in A.D. 39. Luke 3:19; 8:3; 9:7,9; 13:31; 23:7-15; Acts 4:27; 13:1.” The Theophilus proposal explains this interest. Luke wrote his Gospel during the reign of Herod Antipas.

33. Luke uses a Semitic structure known as apodotic kai which is common in Hebrew, but in not Greek, suggesting that the passages where the Semitic structure exist are passages written in Hebrew and later translated for inclusion in the writings of Luke.

34. Matthew copied from Acts 28:26-27 what he includes in 13:14-15 as a quotation from Isaiah. Gundry asserts that the quotation is in “exact agreement with Acts [28:26-27], even in the omission of the same word, shows that the quotation has been interpolated from Acts.”

35. The Lucan Jesus, according to the Messianic Apocalypse, is the eschatological messiah and prophet because only the Lucan Jesus fulfills the prophecy contained in 4Q521.

36. Matthew and Mark include the cursing of the fig tree, a scene so uncharacteristic of Jesus.

37. The killing of the servants bringing the invitations to the wedding banquet in Matthew is senseless. According to Borsch, “This apparently motiveless killing is one of the signs that a historical allegorical interest has superseded a concern with realism in the narrative.”

38. Luke-Acts has adopted the Isaianic themes of the rejection of the Holy One, the Messianic hope, the motif of the city and the concept of witnesses. Matthew and Mark have not adopted these themes.

39. Of all the New Testament authors, Luke is the one most influenced by the Deuteronomistic style and is the only one to supplement his writing with a historiography.

40. Luke accurately describes as a lake what Matthew and Mark identified as the Sea of Galiliee.

41. 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” and then Judas met with the chief priests and agreed to betray Jesus. Satan is the chief instigator in Luke but has no role in Matthew and Mark. 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. For Luke, Satan is still a force in the world. The victory motif was held in high esteem in the early church.

42. There is no destruction of the Temple charge in the Gospel of Luke.

43. 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. The Lucan Jesus tells the people the signs so that they will know when to leave the city. If Luke wrote to the Gentiles post 70 CE, 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 CE, he would have noted the separate fates of the city and Temple. Although Luke on numerous occasions emphasized the fulfillment of prophecy, nowhere in Luke or Acts does he indicate that the prophecy regarding the fate of the city and Temple has been fulfilled.

44. Only Luke uses the expression “the finger of God” which was very appropriate because it also answered the charge of Deut. 13:1-5 by stating that his exorcisms were performed by none other than the God of the Exodus. This established him as the true prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22), mighty in word and deed (Lk. 24:19; Acts 7:22).

45. Luke used "interpretative alterations or expansions within Old Testament quotations, which is a form of implicit midrash found in Jewish texts" with Acts 4:11 being one such example.

46. The High Priests identified in Luke-Acts, with one exception, are all members of one high priestly family.

47. Luke does not mention the alliance between the Pharisees and the Herodians which is an anachronism appearing in Matthew and Mark.

48. There was no night session in the home of the High Priest. As David Flusser has stated in his chapter entitled, “Who Is It That Struck You,” the correct sequence of events, from Jesus’ arrest to the point at which he was turned over to the Romans was given by Luke.” John Lupia has stated: “The corruption of the details involving the game shows fatigue on the part of Mt & Mk.”

49. Luke’s concept of almsgiving based on stewardship was unique and radical. We find more references to alms and almsgiving in his writings than anywhere else in the New Testament. Luke not only preached a radical concept of almsgiving, when he had the opportunity, he implemented it. What we see in the Macedonian example is the radical concept Luke advocated in his writings. Luke is the brother of high reputation, well known and respected in all the communities for his commitment to the principle of the gospel. He had been appointed because he had gained the esteem of the congregations during the six or seven years he had served them as a minister of the word. The message he preached we know as the Gospel of Luke.

50. Luke is an eyewitness and a minister of the word.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hidden from my eyes

Someone emailed me [Monday 2-5-07] to repeat a comment made to him to tell me:

“The term ‘excellent’ is also used in the Bible in reference to Felix and Festus, who were Roman governors (Acts 23:26- 26:25) but notice in Acts 1:3 Luke is no longer addressing Theophilus as ‘most excellent’ but as ‘O Theophilus’-- which indicates that Theophilus probably was no longer in office by the time that Luke was writing, or had completed writing Acts- so who knows for sure-- but the Theophilus proposal article is interesting to say the least.”

Copyrighted 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

25 reasons why Luke is early

01. Luke wrote his first letter to Most Excellent Theophilus, the Jewish High Priest.

02. The first audience of the Gospel of Luke was Jewish.

03. The author of the Gospel of Luke was Jewish.

04. Matthew and Mark rewrote the Lucan Passion Narrative.

05. Luke does not condemn the animal sacrificial system.

06. 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.

07. Matthew also rewrote Luke adding 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.

08. 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 not 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.”

09. Josephus is dependent on Luke.

10. The Lucan Jesus does not walk on water.

11. Luke does not use the phrase the “abomination of desolation.”

12. Luke does not use the phrase “Let the reader understand.”

13. Matthew and Mark rewrote the Parable of the Wicked Tenants to add exaggerated killings and replacement theology.

14. Mark rewrote Luke because the disciples did not get it. The disciples did not understand that there was no need to be in the Temple daily making sacrifices! 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.

15. Matthew and Mark followed the Roman custom of dividing the night into four watches. Luke retained the three watch system of dividing the night.

16. Luke is the only gospel writer to mention the circumcision of the Messiah and the covenant of circumcision and is the only gospel writer to mention circumcision because Matthew and Mark wrote after the battle over circumcision had been fought and it was no longer an issue.

17. 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.

18. Luke [Lk 9:18-22] omits the name of the place where Jesus asks his disciples: "Who do the people say I am?" while Matthew [16:13-23] and Mark [8:27-33] identify the name of the place as Caesarea Philippi. 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. The failure of Luke to mention Caesarea Philippi is evidence in support of the priority of Luke because Caesarea Philippi did not receive its name until some time after Jesus' famous visit to that community and thus is evidence of anachronism by Matthew and Mark.

19. 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. Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke.

20. Luke has a strong emphasis on 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. 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.

21. Luke presents Jesus as a prophet like Moses while Matthew and Mark present Jesus as a prophet greater than Moses.

22. 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.

23. 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. Nahum Sarna provided a number of examples in the Hebrew text such Genesis 9:18, 22 and 13:10 where the phrase “This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah” appears to be an added insertion. Sarna states that these examples of “introducing a parenthetic note not immediately germane” are part of a literary technique of the author. These literary features are retained by the Septuagint.

24. Luke in his entry into Jerusalem pericope in 19:38 states: “Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Psalm 118 was “A thanksgiving liturgy accompanying a victory procession of the king and the people into the temple precincts.” Therefore one can conclude that not only did Luke read Psalm 118, but he also understood its significance. Matthew and Mark did not. Matthew and Mark in rewriting Luke missed the nuance. It is possible that Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke to be politically acceptable.

25. Luke did not include the verse “False messiahs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect” which appears in Matthew and Mark with minor variation. Joel Marcus uses this verse as one argument for dating the publication of the Gospel of Mark near the end of the Jewish War. 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.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Band of strong men

My thinking about abominations has led me to the 8th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel containing the vision of abominations in Jerusalem. In verse 14, when Ezekiel was brought to the north gate of the Temple, “there sat women weeping for Tammuz,” the Babylonian vegetation deity. In verse 15, we read, “you will see still greater abominations than these.” Since this statement in verse 15 was uttered twice before, the abominations are presented in ascending severity. The 17th verse tells us “they fill the land with violence” which in subsequent verses is explained as violence and the perversion of justice. According to Nahum Sarna, Ezekiel is describing as a greater abomination a “band of toughs” or “strong men” hired by the rich to forcibly dispossess the poor.

There are at least four possible allusions in the Gospel of Luke to the 8th chapter of Ezekiel: the Parable of the unjust judge; “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me”; the strong man and the controversy sayings of the 16th chapter of Luke.

Michael Fishbane has said that within Israel as a reading community “all significant speech is Scriptural or Scripturally-oriented speech.” I plan to do some more thinking about how the observations of Fishbane and Sarna might help me understand the nature of the abominations being criticized by the Lucan Jesus.

Copyrighted 2007