Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

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.

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Blogger Wieland Willker said...

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.
I don't understand this sentence. Probably because I am not native English. What do you mean? Rank speculation?

12:59 PM

Blogger Richard Anderson said...

Wieland Willker, greetings:

Lazarus is the abbreviated form of the name, “Eleazar” which in Hebrew means “God helps.” Eleazar is the name of the brother of the Theophilus, the High Priest to whom Luke addressed his gospel. Eleazar had previously served as High Priest.

Rank in this context mean pure, absolute, complete.

7:15 PM

Blogger Wieland Willker said...

Ah, thanks!

Do you want to postulate that originally the name of the rich man was Lazarus?

In some mss a name is given for the rich man, Nineues or Finaeus.
In the LXX Aaron's son Eleazar has a son named Phinehas. The name appears 34 times in the LXX. It is possible that the names have been associated:
Eleazar = Lazarus;
Phinehas = Nineues?
This has originally been suggested by Harnack (compare Zahn).

1:35 AM


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