Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Then the High Priest tore his robes

It is very interesting that Matthew and Mark both have this phrase “Then the High Priest tore his robes” but Luke and John do not. Instead in John 19:23, we read “But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom.” Luke is silent both as to the High Priest tearing his robes and Jesus having a seamless tunic.

R.E. Brown citing Philo[i] noted that the High Priest does not rend his robes because his seamless garments are a reminder of nature’s unbroken harmony and oneness. Josephus describes the floor length tunic of the High Priest as “not composed of two pieces to be stitched at the shoulders and sides: it is one long woven cloth.”[ii]

It looks like Matthew and Mark added the detail about the High Priest tearing his robes and that John added the detail about the seamless robe. Adding details for dramatic effects is a sign of the rewriting of the sources. Luke is not only providing the most accurate account but also he has delayed his ironic announcement until the end of Stephen’s last sermon.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2008

[i] Philo, De profugis 108-112

[ii] Josephus, Ant. 3.161


Blogger Frank McCoy said...

The Matthean and Markan accounts portray the High Priest as being a hypocrite because, at the same time that he accuses Jesus of breaking the Law by uttering a blasphemy, he breaks the Law himself by doing something he is forbidden to do, i.e., rending his garments. See LXX Lev. 21:10, "And the priest that is chief among his brethren, the oil having been poured upon the head of the Christou (Christ/Messiah), and he having been consecrated to put on the garments, shall not take the mitre off his head, *and shall not rend his garments*;..."

10:29 PM


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