Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Luke and the Holiness Code

Luke has an interest in showing that Jesus and the Jerusalem community are following the teachings and traditions of the Priestly Narrative as interpreted by Ezekiel, Sirach, et al. The priestly writers were interested in temple rituals, the ordering of the priesthood, the sacred holidays, the rite of circumcision, and worship at the Jerusalem Temple.

The Priestly Narrative includes a section added to it known as the Holiness Code. Eichrodt documented the innovative nature of the Holiness Code but it was Ringgren who first observed that the Holiness Code had moral content. Drawing on Eichrodt and Ringgren, Knohl asserted that “Isaiah is the only prophet who unequivocally expresses the moral dimension of holiness.”

Under the title, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God, am Holy” (Lev. 19:2), the Holiness Code includes the injunctions on Sabbath observance and the sacrifice of the whole offerings along with the command to take care of the poor and the prohibition against robbery, fraud and showing partiality in justice. (Lev. 19:2-15).

The Prophet Isaiah tells us the Lord God “cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.” The Lord God does not desire the offerings of Israel and their Sabbaths but the correction of injustice and oppression and upholding the cause of the orphan and the widow (Isa. 1:11-17).

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, “prophesied saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel . . . that we should be saved from our enemies . . . that we might serve Him in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.” The Lucan Jesus demonstrated what it means to “serve Him in holiness and righteousness”, inter alia, by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, Jesus tells the lawyer and the audience who is their neighbor thereby explaining the moral content of Leviticus 19:33-34 which is part of the Holiness Code. The Lucan Jesus adopted the Holiness Code and unequivocally expressed the moral dimension of holiness. He taught that we should be merciful as God is merciful.

One further indication that the Luke has an interest in the Holiness Code is shown by the theme of the return of the remnant of Israel to God which common to Isaiah and the Holiness Code (Isa. 10:20; Lev. 26:39-45) and also to Luke-Acts (Litwak, Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts (2005).

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2009


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