Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

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


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