Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Living Oracles

“This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living oracles to give to us.”

The living oracles in Acts refer specifically to the Ten Commandments, more broadly to the Torah, which were to be given to us. But as noted in the blog on the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Samaritans have their own version of the Ten Commandments and consequently their own view of “living oracles.”

Judaism had developed its own tradition of oracles. The Hebrew word for oracle is debir which by tradition has been translated as referring to the inner room of the temple which only the High Priest can enter. Debir first appears in I Kings 6:5, where the author describes Solomon's Temple: “Solomon also built a structure against the wall of the house, running round the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary; and he made side chambers all around.” Verse 16 makes clear what this oracle in fact is: “He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the rafters, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary [oracle—debir], as the most holy place.” In this verse, “Holy of Holies” parallels debir, or "oracle," explaining what the oracle is. The oracle of God which speaks here is none other than the Most Holy Place.

The Samaritans did not recognize the Temple in Jerusalem as the house of God and thus did believe any living oracles could have been uttered therein. Thus Stephen has limited the definition of living oracles to the wilderness experience.

The origin of the word debir is also interesting. Debir was an oracle town and one of the eleven cities to the west of Hebron in the highlands of Judah. Caleb conquered the town and the region.

Temple worship attempted to replicate the theophany experience when God appeared and spoke to his people in the recitation of the Ten Commandments. The Temple included visual representations of manifestation of the glory of God. Gigantic olive-wood sculptures plated with gold stood in the debir or holy place. Keruvim were woven into the veil of the holy place and carved into the decorative woodwork of the temple.

The inner room of the temple which only the High Priest can enter is holy ground. The notion that certain areas are inherently holy is a pagan concept. No doubt the Samaritans found all of this to be objectable idolatry. The critical “host of heaven” remark made by Stephen earlier in his presentation included all of the decorative artwork of the Temple created to replicate the wilderness experience.

Copyrighted 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Samaritan Pentateuch

The Samaritan Pentateuch was known to some of the Church Fathers such as Eusebius (265-340) and Jerome (340-420) but until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls its antiquity had been in question. The most important variants are the ones which reveal the fundamental points at issue between the Samaritans and Jews. The Samaritans emphasized the importance of Shechem and Mount Gerizim and declared that God had chosen them to be the center of the nation. Thus, where Moses in Deuteronomy 12:5 and other places, speaks of “the place which the Lord your God shall choose” (later identified as Jerusalem), the Samaritan edition translates it "the place which the Lord your God has chosen" - meaning Mount Gerizim, which has already been specified in Deuteronomy 27:4-8 where Moses commands that the stones bearing the words of the Law and an altar of unknown stones are to be set up on Mount Ebal, the Samaritan text has Gerizim for Ebal.

Exodus lies at the center of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thus the most important difference occurs in Chapter 20, which contains the extraordinary 10th Commandment, reads as follow (translation of the SP provided by Moses Gaster, 1923):

“And it shall come to pass when the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land of the Canaanites whither thou goest to take possession of it, thou shalt erect unto thee large stones, and thou shalt cover them with lime, and thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this Law, and it shall come to pass when ye cross the Jordan, ye shall erect these stones which I command thee upon Mount Gerizim, and thou shalt build there an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones, and thou shalt not lift upon them iron, of perfect stones shalt thou build thine altar, and thou shalt bring upon it burnt offerings to the Lord thy God, and thou shalt sacrifice peace offerings, and thou shalt eat there and rejoice before the Lord thy God. That mountain is on the other side of the Jordan at the end of the road towards the going down of the sun in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah facing Gilgal close by Elon Moreh facing Shechem.”

Exodus 20 of the SP at three points includes material not found in the MT. At the first point, Exodus 20:17 includes Ex 13:11a; Deut 27:2b-3a; 27:4-7; and Deut 11:30. The second one in Deut 20:19 include Deut 5:24-27. The third point at Exodus 20:22a include 5:28b-29; 18:18-22 and 5:30-31. The third instance with the same order of verses can be found in several different fragments from Qumran. The Qumran material clarified the eschatological function of the prophet like Moses.

In verse 37, Stephen appears to quote Deuteronomy 18:15 by including a saying about God raising up a prophet like Moses. Those scholars who are attentive to the Samaritan nuances recognize that Luke had essentially been following Genesis and Exodus. Thus they recognize that Deuteronomy 18:15 is out of place and furthermore that Exodus 20 of the SP, which would not be out of place, includes this same prediction about God raising up a prophet like Moses. Exodus 20 SP, included what is called the Samaritan tenth commandment, established Mount Gerizim as the sacred place that God has chosen. Stephen must have been following the Samaritan Pentateuch.

Scharlemann noted: “That is to say, Stephen quotes the passage as it is found in Exodus 20:21b of the Samaritan Pentateuch, at a point immediately after the account of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. . . . There can be little doubt, therefore, that Stephen is here echoing a Samaritan context dealing with the revelation on Mount Sinai. We must add here the notice that certain fragments of a Samaritan recension were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. They contain the same kind of transposition as we have noted, including the expansion at Exodus 20:21.”

The Samaritan community understood this saying about God raising up a prophet like Moses in a messianic sense. Judaism did not. The Samaritans believed that Moses will return and lead the wilderness generation into the Promised Land into a new age of righteousness. Perhaps they interpreted the Malachi tradition to mean that when Elijah returns, Moses will return with him. The Transfiguration experience partially vindicates the Samaritan understanding of the role of Moses. Stephen’s use of the Righteous One as a term for Jesus may imply that Stephen understood Jesus to be a combination Moses-Joshua-Messiah.

Witherington rejects the argument because “the speech does not contain any real elements of what could be called distinctive Samaritan belief.” Since the familiar themes traceable to Jewish Christianity include the eschatological Mosaic prophet and the Righteous One, it is important to understand the significance of Stephen quoting Exodus 20 of the SP.

This is a work in progress.

Religion and Technology Center has made available on its web site the Samaritan Pentateuch edited by von Gall:

Click on List of Titles to see other documents.

Copyrighted 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Jewish Reformation

When reformers introduce new ideas, they are often met with resistance. Stephen went after the Lost Sheep, the people who had strayed from Judaism. These people were the Samaritans and the Jews who had adopted Greek ways.

What was the reaction of the Temple establishment? Usually we are told that Stephen became the first martyr and no further analysis is made of the ideas that Stephen may have introduced and the reactions to them. There is no reported reaction to the mission to the Samaritans. It seems that was there was no problem with the Samaritans.

There is some evidence of the existence of substantial Samaritan population in first century Jerusalem. According to Moses Gaster in his discussion of the Samaritan Tenth Commandment, “It may be that for this reason the reading of the Ten Commandments as part of the liturgy in Jerusalem was dropped after a time; the reason given was ‘because of the Minim.’ (See Talmud B. Berakhot f. 11 a.) These were probably the Samaritans, and the leaders in Jerusalem obviously intended to avoid drawing attention to the fundamental difference between the two sects.”

There was in fact a problem and reaction to the second part of Stephen’s outreach program. Even the Samaritans objected to the outreach program to the Jews who had adopted Greek ways.

The Reformation split the Roman Church; it also resulted in the first definitive published statement on Catholic identity when the Council of Trent commissioned the Roman Catechism. Leo XIII declared in 1879 that Aquinas gave the definitive statement of Catholic doctrine but this, of course, was long after the Reformation.

In 37 CE, when Stephen was stoned, there was no definitive statement on Jewish identity. However late in the first century there developed a consensus in Judaism inter alia, rejecting the Septuagint. This probably resulted in the preservation of the Hebrew language at least for religious use and a clear distinction between the Jewish and Christian communities. This was a clear rejection of Jews who had adopted Greek ways.

Copyrighted 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Great Lamentation in Maccabees

As noted earlier this month, Luke used the Greek word for lamentation which is a hapax in Acts. I did not at the time recognize that this Greek phrase κοπετν μέγαν for “great lamentation” also appears in 1 Maccabees 2:70; 4:39; 9:20 and 13:26. The death of Mattathias is described in these words: “And he died in the hundred forty and sixth year, and his sons buried him in the sepulchres of his fathers at Modin, and all Israel made great lamentation for him.” The third and fourth citations describe the death and burial at Modin of Judas and Jonathan respectively. 1 Macc 4:39 describes how the men mourned with great lamentation when “they saw the sanctuary [at Mount Zion] desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned.”

Luke intends to direct our attention to the conflict and opposition between Hellenism and Judaism that arose in the time of the Maccabees and more particularly to his identification of the Hellenists (perhaps more accurately Hellenizers) of Acts 6 with the Hellenizers of 1 Maccabees. According to historian Elias Bickerman, the Hellenizers of 1 Maccabees wanted to preserve aspects of Judaism that fit with Greek ideals, like a universal God, but to remove those parts of Jewish practice that separated Jews from others: dietary laws, Sabbath observance, circumcision.

“In those days there emerged in Israel lawless men who persuaded many, saying, ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the nations that are around us; for since we separated ourselves from them, many evils have come upon us’” (I Maccabees 1:11). Interestingly, there is no mention of the Hellenizers' names in First Maccabees. In 1 Maccabees, the Hellenizers are described as “godless,” “lawless,” "lawbreakers,” and “men who hate their own nation.” The Hellenizers are criticized in 1 and 2 Maccabees but not by this name; Jubilees, 1 Enoch, Daniel and Sirach are also highly critical. I suspect that none of these texts actually use a Greek word which can be translated as Hellenizers.

We started this blog commenting that Luke in the Greek phrase translated as “great lamentation” was alluding to the Maccabees. Recall that Acts 8:2 states: “Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him.” Perhaps Luke is asking us to recognize that in the Maccabean period, thousands of devout men were called upon to die or lose their traditional way of life. Stephen was stoned because he defended his understanding of the traditional way of life as part of his faith.

Rajak wrote: “the unreconciled members of the Jewish establishment who held out against the Maccabees in Jerusalem’s Akra fortress are described in the Maccabean literature not only as impious and lawless, but specifically as ‘hellenisers.’” I have been unable to locate this word in Maccabees. I did find a verse in 2 Macc 4:13 which the NETS translates as “There was such an extreme of hellenization and increase in the adoption of allophylism [alien ways] because of the surpassing wickedness of Jason, who was impious and no high priest.” It may be that Luke was thinking of this verse.

The Hellenizers in Maccabees and in the first century include many priests and high ranking members of the temple establishment. Just as the author of 1 Maccabees refrains from accusing the leading Hellenizers of idolatry (Goldstein), so does Luke. This is surprising in light of the strong anti-idol polemic that appears throughout Acts of the Apostles. It may however explain why many priests joined the movement. They were more conservative than the ranking members of the temple establishment.

I suspect, although I am not certain, that these clues suggest the existence of Bakhtin hidden polemics. Stephen’s last sermon is really a dialogue with more than one group. Stephen successfully challenged the Hellenizers and they complained to the temple establishment. Both the Hellenizers and the temple establishment were happy to eliminate Stephen. Saul originally challenged the Hellenizers, but he liked the temple establishment also opposed Stephen, because Stephen wanted to include within Judaism those members on the fringe. Stephen and the Samaritans were both adamantly opposed to the Hellenizers because the Hellenizers wanted to remove those parts of Jewish practice that separated Jews from others: dietary laws, Sabbath observance, and circumcision. It was an unusual dialogue!

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Philip and the eunuch

Simon Magus is also contrasted with the eunuch Philip met on the road to Gaza. This unknown African official was a devout person who had made a lengthy journey to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. The African official was reading the Book of Isaiah when Philip met him. He was a faithful believer. Simon Magus was not a faithful believer. He was a fast buck artist.

The Ethiopian official asked the question: “‘See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?’ And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’” (Acts 8:36-37).

My question is more fundamental, was the Ethiopian official a eunuch? I ask because eunuch was not permitted to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. One possible answer is provided below:

Eunuchs in the Temple?

Copyrighted 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Simon Magus and the Samaritans

There is something interesting about the fact that the first missionary effort undertaken after Stephen’s Speech is the one recorded involving the preaching of Philip in Samaria. Stephen in his Speech had responded to allegations against him involving his ministry of meals on wheels. This ministry served two separate communities residing in Jerusalem, neither of which communities were accepted by Judaism. The seeds of these advances had been planted earlier by the Lucan Jesus and the ministry of the seventy. These two groups were the Samaritans and the Jews who had adopted Greeks ways.

The pericope is introduced in these words: “But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.” Luke used the Greek word θνος which has been translated as nation. Luke thus distinguishes the Samaritans from the Judeans for whom he typically used the Greek word λας which has been translated as people.

Simon is contrasted with Philip. Simon claimed to be “somebody great” and a divine figure. It is this false claim to deity that let us know that the periscope is part of the anti-idol polemic introduced by the “host of heaven” remark in Stephen’s Sermon. Simon Magus is a temporary obstacle to the mission. No one can resist the power of the Word.

When Simon attempted to purchase divine power by offering money to the apostles, he is described as being in the “gall of bitterness and chains of wickedness.” The expression “gall of bitterness” alluding to Deuteronomy 29 contain a warning for those who practice idolatry. This same warning also applies to those who worship the “host of heaven.”

The Samaritans shared a common heritage with Judaism as descendants of Abraham and adherents of Torah. However, they were regarded as idolatrous by the Jews. The mission of evangelism to the Samaritans was successful.

Simon Magus was a person who astounded the people with his magic. Simon Magus the magician, the pretender to miraculous powers, bewitched the people of Samaria by his sorceries. Philip had an encounter with Simon Magnus in which he demonstrated the power of the Word and preached “the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”

The mission of Philip is a vindication of Stephen and his ministry but it has not been recognized as such. The mission is not about an encounter with the people on the fringes of Judaism. It is about the anti-idol polemic. It is a demonstration that the followers of Jesus are even stricter adherents of Torah than the Judeans. This is the part of the message that Theophilus the High Priest wanted to hear. More importantly, the encounter with the Samaritans is the implementation of the words of Stephen announcing in effect that the Word knows no boundaries.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Words of Amos

Kevin Snapp left two comments at Waiting on tables, part 4, regarding “extra-Pentateuchal quotations in the mouth of a Samaritan.” Snapp states quoting S. Lowy that “No Samaritan would or could say” something quoted from outside the Torah. Initially I am appreciative that Kevin Snapp provided his comments and two additional books to read.

My very good Jewish friend and law partner for twenty five years regularly quoted scripture and was not averse to quoting the New Testament. Being able to quote your opponents’ scripture is a good rhetorical technique to employ. It provides the basis for a devastating attack. An appeal to authority is more effective if the assertion of authority is to one accepted by your opponent because you do not have to establish the source as authoritative. Scripture is accepted as authoritative because it is the word of God.

Acts 7:43 quotes Amos 5:26 LXX “you brought along the tent of Moloch” which suggests that during the wilderness years the Israelites worshiped Moloch (Saturn) and continued to do so until the time of the Prophet Amos and beyond. Since Molock is a member of the “host of heaven”, verse 43 explains the reference to the “host of heaven” in the preceding verse. The worship of the “host of heaven” which included the sun, moon, stars and planets, was one of the earliest forms of idolatrous veneration (Deut. 4:19, 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16, 21:3, 5; 23:4; Jer. 8:2, 19:13; Zeph. 1:5). The Book of Deuteronomy twice specially distinguishes the host of heaven as objects which the Israelites should not worship. Jeremiah and Zephaniah both record that the cult of the host of heaven had spread from the courts of the Temple to the house-tops in Jerusalem. Luke is the only NT writer to mention the host of heaven.

Quoting Amos 5:25-27, Stephen records God rhetorically asking if Israel had really been offering their sacrifices to Him. Clearly Israel had not. On this basis, Stephen could in effect say, “Don't accuse me of blaspheming the law; check your own history.” He could imply this only because he was not a Judean! At the end of the Amos passage, Stephen changed the quote from “Damascus” to “Babylon” to broaden the focus of divine judgment to include the exile of Judah. In the NT, Babylon is a code word for Rome. This unexpected reminder of Judah’s disastrous history must have jolted his audience. As Marshall noted “Idolatry found its due reward in exile to a land of false gods.”

Both Judaism and Samaritanism accepted absolute monotheism and the related concern for the avoidance of images. According to Goggins, “The Samaritans were even stricter than the Jews in this matter and regarded the Jerusalem cult with suspicion on these grounds.” I suspect that the quotation in Stephen’s Sermon from the Prophet Amos was in fact an attack on the emperor worship and iconography in the Jerusalem Temple of the Late Second Temple period. Joseph Gutmann demonstrated that the Judaism of the Hellenistic Roman period was not as aniconic as claimed.

Although a more detailed study is warranted, it is for our purpose sufficient to note that the war with Rome began in 66 CE when the captain of the temple, Eleazar, son of Ananias, persuaded the temple priests to terminate the twice daily sacrifice for the Roman emperor. This daily offering for the emperor had begun when Judea became a Roman province in 6 CE during the reign of Augustus. The twice daily offerings, described in Num. 28:1-8, are mandated to be provided by the people to be consumed by YHWH.

Since Roman cultic practice made the emperor a god, admitted to the Pantheon and thus became a member of the host of heaven, this twice daily offering was a form of idolatrous veneration. The misuse of the Temple is considered an act of idolatry. The Samaritans probably found this divine emperor worship objectionable as well other cultic practices as did the temple priests when Eleazar persuaded them to act. The Prophet Ezekiel accused Israel of bringing idols of other nations into the Temple. Stephen may have done the same when he quoted “the host of heaven” phrase from the Prophet Amos.

Stephen has directed his anti-idol polemics not only against the ancestors of the Judeans but also against all those who worship idols. Those people who worship idols, whether in the Temple or on the housetops, oppose the followers of Jesus. This proposal would be mere speculation but for the fact Luke in Acts 12:20-23 has criticized the ruler cult and its false claim of deity with his description of the death of Herod Agrippa.

What “seems unthinkable” is often the most effective rhetorical tool. I call it “thinking outside the box.”

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Angel of the Lord

There is no mention of the Angel of the Lord in the Gospels or the Epistles, and only one historical reference in the Acts (7:38). Later in his sermon, Stephen accused his audience in these words: “you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it” (7:53). With this accusation, Stephen attacks the third prong of the theology of Second Temple Judaism.

Just prior to the sermon, Stephen is appointed to be one of the administrators for the community welfare system for widows. Thus we should understand that the audience is being accused of not following the law with respect to the law of Deuteronomy requiring the people of God to be charitable to the poor, stranger, the fatherless and the widow in their midst.

Perhaps the most significance clue as to the meaning of verse 53 was provided when the members of the Sanhedrin saw that Stephen’s “face was like the face of an angel” Acts 6:15. Is the message of the sermon that we should be angelic in our application of the law?

In any event, the sermon is an attack on the legalistic interpretation of the law that allowed the temple establishment to ignore the poor, maimed, lame, blind, Samaritans and women.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Geography of salvation

The theology of Second Temple Judaism was based on the land, the law and the temple. Pauline theology destroyed the tripod. Luke reveals his awareness of Pauline theology with Stephen's sermon.

The first point is developed by Stephen by reminding his audience that God personally related to Abraham “while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.” (Acts 7:2). God directed Abraham to “Depart from your land and from your kindred” (7:3). Thus, Abraham was a foreigner in the Promised Land. But Stephen reminds the audience that even after the birth of Isaac, Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own” for 400 years (7:6).

The mention of circumcision served two purposes: 1) the covenant was being practiced before any land was owned by Abraham; 2) Stephen upholds the covenant of circumcision and recognizes its validity outside the land. Many Jewish speaking Greeks denied the validity of circumcision. Thus Stephen challenged the Hellenists even while undermining the tripod.

Stephen then skips to Joseph who was sold into slavery “in Egypt” (7:9). Joseph and Jacob both died in Egypt but their bodies were brought back to Palestine. According to Stephen, it was in the city of Shechem that they were buried. This makes perfect sense because the Samaritans assert that they are the descendants of Joseph. This burial site venerated by Jews and Samaritans and considered to be sacred space is located in the territory of the Samaritans.

The next mention of sacred space is when Moses fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner (7:29) where he saw the burning bush. God said to him somewhere near Sinai not Zion, “Take off you sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground” (7:33). Stephen reminds his audience and us that the location for the wonders of the work is in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert (7:36).

The story of the golden calf is probably another mention of sacred space because Stephen connects the making of idol with construction of a temple. The idolatry in both instances being the belief that God resides in sacred space created by man. Luke has Stephen bring out Aaron's responsibility for making the idol with the story of the calf demonstrating that high priests from the beginning have been 'wicked tenants.' The Samaritans had also asserted that not only was the temple in the wrong place but the temple in Jerusalem was made with human hands.

Stephen in asserting that the great events that he had recited occurred in sacred space outside the Promised Land and that the events that occurred in the Promised Land did not necessarily occur in sacred space. Ironically, the sermon about the inclusion of foreigners used a Samaritan argument about sacred space and place and cost its preacher his life provided the inspiration and source for the theology that replaced the land, law and temple.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Great lamentation

In Acts 8:2, we read: “Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him.” Initially we note that the Greek word εὐλαβεῖς for devout and the Greek word κοπετὸ for lamentation are both Lucan hapax appearing only in Acts. It may be that verses 2:5 which states “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven” and 8:2 form an inclusio with “devout men” as the bookends. These Jews had respect for Stephen and his views and saw him as a noble and righteous man, a man like Simeon.

This Greek word εὐλαβεῖς for devout appear in the Septuagint in two places of interest. In Lev. 15:31, the LXX states: “You shall make the sons of Israel be reverent εὐλαβεῖς because of their uncleanness.” Secondly in Micah 7:2, the LXX reading says: “For the reverent εὐλαβής one are destroyed and there does not exist one keeping straight among men.” Luke suggests that Stephen was such a devout man that devout men buried and made lamentation over him. Yet other men considered Stephen to be so unclean that they stoned him.

The Greek phrase κοπετὸν μέγαν only appears in Acts 8:2 and Genesis LXX 50:10 which is part of the narrative of Joseph burying his father in the land of Canaan beyond the Jordan at the cave that Abraham had purchased as a burial site.

Today Hebron is known as the city of the Patriarchs because it is believed to be the location of cave site purchased by Abraham. This double hapax is an allusion to Genesis 50:10 but does it relates back? When Paul made his speech at Miletus, there is an allusion to Genesis 50. Thus Luke introduced Paul as the new Joseph but the significance of this allusion is not disclosed until Paul makes a speech at Miletus. In fact, this double hapax does also relate back and alerts the audience that a place location shift had occurred in Stephen’s Sermon, suggesting that this is a type of hidden polemics.

There are four separate mentions in Genesis of the purchase of this burial site that Abraham had purchased (Genesis 23; 25:9-10; 49:29-32; 50:13). Joseph made his brothers promise that he will be buried at this site where Jacob his father had been buried. However, when the people of the Exodus transported his casket to its final resting place, the bones of Joseph were buried at Shechem in the burial site that Jacob had purchased (Joshua 24:32). Stephen in his last sermon stated: “and Jacob went down into Egypt. And he died, himself and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.”

Luke, in alluding to Genesis 50:10 in Acts 8:2, with his use of the Greek phrase κοπετὸν μέγαν is telling us he is aware of the two burial site traditions and that Stephen had used a burial tradition offensive to the temple establishment. At the same time Luke is disclosing that Stephen has employed hidden polemics in his speech in his use of the place name, Shechem, associated with the Samaritans.

Copyrighted 2007