Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Prophets of the Hill Country

I have been thinking again about ρεινς , a Lucan hapax. In particular I thought that perhaps “hill country” was a signal for us to examine the prophets associated with the hill country such as Jeremiah, Amos and Micah.

Jeremiah was born in Anathoth, a small levitical town less than three miles N of Jerusalem, but situated in the hill country of Benjamin. Micah was from a town called Moresheth in the hill country of Judah, twenty-two miles SW of Jerusalem. Before Amos began prophesying, he had been one of the shepherds of Tekoa, a town in the hill country of Judah, about five miles SE of Bethlehem and ten miles S of Jerusalem.

A number of reasons can be advanced in support of this proposal. Both Micah and Jesus made predictions about Jerusalem and wept for Jerusalem. Amos, Jeremiah and Micah employed covenant lawsuits. Paul’s account of his commissioning is modeled on “a mosaic of citations” from the prophets about their respective callings including Jeremiah. This proposal, like my earlier proposal that Luke is alluding to Hebron, needs further work. Zechariah as the last “righteous” priest of a levitical place of refuge in Hebron setting free its refugees on the death of the high priest and Jesus as the new High Priest is still a good idea.

While thinking about the prophets, I decided to review the Book of Zechariah and “behold” the Greek word for hill country – Luke uses ρεινς and Zechariah uses ρεινat the beginning of a prominent and promising passage. The Greek word appears in numerous Biblical passages but not in Jeremiah, Amos or Micah and in most, perhaps every, instance except one military activity is being described. However in Zachariah 7:7 ρειν appears in a passage that introduces, not military activity, nor a messianic prophecy but nonetheless coincidently contains a descriptive passage that reminds me of the message of the gospel. It is a very subtle allusion.

At the end of the day, I must conclude it is very possible that Luke intended multiple allusions or none at all with his use of ρεινς , a Lucan hapax.

A work in progress

Copyrighted 2009


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