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

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hidden Polemics of Divorce

William James said “We carve out order by leaving the disorderly parts out.” This is certainly true of divorce. I have wondered if this also happened during the writing of some of our gospel accounts.

Some cynics have suggested that the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes asked difficult questions of Jesus hoping that He would like John the Baptist give a rash answer that would cost him his head. I have not engaged in this speculation. But I have felt that “hidden polemics” might help us understand the divorce dispute that is sandwiched between the stories of the dishonest steward and the rich man and Lazarus.

In the Lucan account, no one has asked a question about divorce. Why then does the Lucan Jesus include the following harsh words about divorce as part of his response to the Pharisees?

Lk 16:14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this (the Parable of the Unjust Steward), and they scoffed at him.

Lk 16:15 But he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

Lk 16:16 "The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently.

Lk 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void.

Lk 16:18 "Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

This controversy periscope is immediately followed by the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. I had previously proposed that the divorce saying is between two stories about the high priest. In fact the entire Gospel of Luke addresses sacerdotal concerns.

The Lucan Jesus is not commenting on the divorces of the members of Herod families. He is commenting on the prevalence of divorces among the people in his audience.

According to Yairah Amit, “A polemic is said to be hidden when its subject is not stated explicitly or when it is not stated in the usual or expected manner or wording.”

The divorce saying is an example of hidden polemics.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2008

Monday, May 04, 2009

Different Views of Luther’s Atonement Thinking

By way of introduction, Joseph Lortz has observed: “Martin Luther expressed very few views to which we do not find parallels in earlier theologians and reformers. None the less, Luther is something new – an original phenomenon of creative quality and power.”

Ian Siggins holds while motifs from all the historic atonement theories are present in Luther’s thought, there is no ‘nucleus’ in his atonement thought.

H.D. McDonald states the penal substitution is dominant while Gustaf Aulen states Christus Victor is dominant. Althaus sees a combination of the classical and Latin concepts but leans more to the later.

Consequently I suspect Tuomo Mannermaa is correct when he writes: “Luther unites, then the Latin and Classic theories of reconciliation. In his theology, Christ’s expiatory work as such is at the same time victory over the Powers.”

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2009