Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Days of their purification

Bock states that “The better-attested text reads the plural (auton, their), which relates the purification to both Mary and Joseph, . . .” At the end of this paragraph, Bock asks the question: “How could the purification be associated with both, when only the woman needs the purification?”

Exegetically the plural pronoun “their” creates a problem.The law for purification after childbirth only applies to the woman. Therefore some manuscripts change “their” to “her.” However, as noted by Bock, some scholars believe that if Joseph participated in the delivery of the child, he is also unclean for forty days.

Part of Luke's message is that new rules of purity are concerned more about one's relationship to God and less concerned by rules such as the 40 day period observed following birth. My proposal, set forth in the preceding article, resolves a translation problem in Luke 2:22. Scholars did not appreciate why Luke wrote “their purification” but if you recognize the possibility that Yom Kippur is in view, then “their purification” refers both to the purification of Yom Kippur and the purification rules observed following birth and correctly includes both Mary and Joseph.

Thus Luke is exegetically correct but on Yom Kippur he reaffirms the angelic proclamation of the birth of “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” by having Simeon inform the parents “mine eyes have seen thy salvation” and Anna “spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” This reaffirmation is appropriately announced on Yom Kippur.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2008


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