Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Church in Turmoil

Although we may not recognize it, the Church has been in turmoil for over 2000 years.

It seems that every generation has to deal with the Church in turmoil and the faithful dissenters who emerge to voice their opinion or more often to vote with their feet. Some churches handle dissent better than others. We all recognize dissent and do not need any help defining turmoil although we might not agree that the church is in turmoil because of the expressed sins of its members. My problem with this definition is that we are all sinners and therefore by definition the church is always in turmoil.

The more difficult question is posed by the faithful dissenters. Robert McClory wrote about 17 faithful Catholic dissenters and now Roger Launius has published his book about 18 Mormon dissenters. We should expect the next book to be about 19 Episcopalian dissenters.

What constitute a faithful dissenter? More importantly, what is an eucharistic community?

Were the followers of Jesus faithful dissenters? Are faithful dissenters followers of Jesus?

Too many questions!

Copyrighted 2009 All rights reserved

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who Mentioned Chappaquiddick First?

My parents were in Sweden visiting relatives when one of the visitors invited to meet the Americans said in Swedish, ask the the Americans about Chappaquiddick. My father responded in perfect Swedish that the visitor should be more concerned by the King of Sweden who had recently been stopped by the police for a DUI. My parents told me there was absolute silence in the room because it was considered bad manners to attempt to place the King in a bad light.

When I visited my relatives in New England one year after Chappaquiddick they took me to that place on a thirty foot sailboat to test the currents.

It is unfortunate that Chappaquiddick is mentioned; but that is human nature. The obituary always includes that event that is for most people the memorable event they wished had been forgotten. Senator Edward Kennedy should be remembered for his legacy and accomplishments without the footnote. We should all hope that the supreme judge does not remember our Chappaquiddicks.

Copyrighted 2009 All rights reserved

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Does theology change to meet social need?

On September 15, 1851, George Fox wrote a letter to “My Friend” wherein he stated in part:

“Instead of taking my writings for a guide, they should be considered as helps marks for encouragement, and never for a moment as laws to govern others. No written code, however, it may be adapted, will be wholly suited to the time and circumstances for which it was designed, will be wholly suited as an ultimate christian standard--his must be a life ever on the watch, ready to examine whatever draws his attention, and if selfishness is sufficiently subdued, and prepossessions banished from the mind, then with an honest purpose of heart, independent of books or men, a judgment will be formed that will elevate and prepare the mind for advancement while in the body, and will necessarily introduce to a happy eternity.”

This letter has been cited as an example of “Quaker Theology in Transition.” The Church of the Latter Day Saints and the Society of Friends are the only religious groups in Christianity that recognize that theology does change. Since this letter is a response to the actions of the ELCA in voting to allow congregations to extend a pastoral call to a gay or lesbian member of the clergy, I suppose I am allowed to ask the question, do Lutherans recognize that theology does change to meet social need?

copyrighted 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rank Speculation and Circularity

I suppose that I should place the title in quotation marks.

I am very much interested in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. I suspect that you are also.

There are several undisputed facts. With one exception the high priests named in the New Testament are members of the Family of Ananus. Bauckham said: “It is noteworthy that in every known case action against the Jerusalem church or its leaders was taken when the reigning high priest was one of those who belonged to the powerful Sadducean family of Annas (Ananus).”

Ananus served as High Priest from 6 to 15 CE and five of his sons and one famous son-in-law, beginning with Eleazar served over the next fifty years: Eleazar, 16-17 CE, Ant. 18:34; Caiaphas, 18-37 CE, 18:35, 95; Jonathan, 3 or 5 months in 37 CE, Ant. 18:195, 123; Theophilus, 37-41 CE, Ant. 18:123; Matthias, Ant. 19:316, 342; and Ananus, short time in 62 CE, Ant. 20:223. A grandson served as the next to the last High Priest: Matthias, son of Theophilus, 65-67, Ant. 20:223.

Nelson had stated that “Precisely because priests were seen as custodians of the faith, the issue of unfaithful and disobedient priests became a recurring literary theme: . . . .” Nelson was discussing the prophetic literature of the Old Testament.

In the parable, the rich man “was clothed in purple and linen.” William Barclay said: “That is the description of the robes of the High Priests, . . . .” Although Barclay provides no citations, Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews states: “and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing.” These citations are ultimately based upon Exodus 28 where we find the instructions given to Aaron for making the high priest's garments; "blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen" (Exodus 28:5-8,15,31,39). I concede purple was also the clothing of royalty.

Nickelsburg and Grensted have noted the parallelism between Luke 16 and 1 Enoch while others have noted the parallels with the deuteronomic injunctions against oppressive treatment of the poor in Israel. Not unlike Jesus' warning, 1 Enoch 103:5-8 delivers a stinging indictment of Sadducees with 'ill-gotten wealth' who live extravagantly only to descend to Sheol. These observations not only confirm the very Jewish nature of the parable but also confirm that the parable is directed against the Sadducees.

Andre Lacocque initially proposed that “the vision in Chapter 7 has the Temple as its framework” and that the “one like a son of man” refers to the eschatological high priest. Fletcher-Louis further develops the idea by first demonstrating that “Daniel 7 is ultimately Temple centred” and that the missing link to the understanding of Daniel 7 is the fact that “one like a son of man” and Enoch are both priests citing Suter, Nickelsburg, Kvanvig and Hemmelfarb.

Luke’s use of the term “the Righteous One” in Acts 3:13-15; 7:51-53 and 22:14-15 is probably based upon 1 Enoch 38 since in all of these passages “the Righteous One” is the eschatological agent of God. Richard Hays states: “The term appears in these passages in direct association with apocalyptic motifs of resurrection and judgment and it also highlights the awful injustice of Jesus’ death.

In the story about the Transfiguration, Matthew and Mark have replaced “my Chosen” with “my Beloved.” Luke's verse in the original Greek reads: "This is my Son, the Elect One (from the Greek ho eklelegmenos, lit., "the elect one"): hear him." The "Elect One" is a most significant term (found fourteen times) in the Book of Enoch. The Book of Enoch contains numerous descriptions of the Elect One who should "sit upon the throne of glory" and the Elect One who should "dwell in the midst of them."

With this background with its Enochic connection, it is my contention that the reading audience of the first century, without specifying the first audience, would have recognized that one or more of the Lucan parables are about priests and that this parable has a High Priest as one of its characters. Furthermore the reading audience would have recognized that the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus has a message about resurrection and judgment.

Is it rank speculation and circularity to identify the person in the parable wearing purple as a High Priest and member of the Family of Ananus? The identification of Caiaphas as the High Priest is a common type of biblical exegesis which I understand to be is arriving at “a reasonable and coherent sense of the meaning and message of a biblical passage.”

I happen to think that the person dressed in purple is Eleazar, son of Ananus, not Caiaphas. I suppose if two or more persons could be identified as the man in purple, this may be proof of rank speculation.

Copyrighted 2008, 2009. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


We went for a walk in the park. Because we had inadvertently crossed the state line, we had to pay $6.00 to enter the park as a non-resident. It reminds me of the Marcan U-turn and the Conzelmann zigzag described in the gospel accounts. Perhaps Jesus and his disciples were avoiding the toll collectors.

We will return to the state park because unlike many public places, this park is so private that you can walk a considerable distance without seeing anyone. It reminds me of sections of the Appalachian Trial, I mean Trail. I suspect you know where my mind is!

Copyrighted 2009