Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why two different words for Jerusalem II?

My earlier article did not answer the question why Luke uses four instances of the Greek word Ἱεροσόλυμα, a form which Rodney Decker says represents the “Hellenized” form of Jerusalem. Likewise, my earlier article did not discuss the occurrence of this form in the Acts of the Apostles. My research has not provided a convincing answer.

I write today to suggest that Luke used the Book of Tobit, the Greek II version, as a source for his usage of the two forms of Jerusalem. I have earlier noted that “Long prayers appear in Ezra-Nehemiah, the books of Daniel, Judith, and Tobit, as well as pseudepigraphical works like Jubilees and Pseudo-Philo.” I have also noted that in the Septuagint, the form of righteousness that will provide a ransom for sins is almsgiving, the financial outpouring of compassion on the poor. The same association of a form of righteousness with almsgiving also appears in the Greek translation of Proverbs 15:27a and 20:28. Tobit and Sirach also make this association. The Greek translation of Daniel, Proverbs, Tobit and Sirach explicitly claim that almsgiving has the power to purge sin, to atone for and redeem iniquities. Thus it seems natural to investigate the Book of Tobit a source of the two forms of Jerusalem in one book.

In the first chapter of the Book of Tobit, Ἱεροσόλυμα alternates with Ἱερούσαλημ. Tobit seems to use the two words to contrast place where the rulers and priests function with the place where the people live.

For instance we read “But I alone went often to Jerusalem Ιεροσόλυμα at the feasts” in Tobit 1:6 while in verse 7 we read “The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem ῾Ιερουσαλήμ.”

In Tobit 14:4, we read “and Jerusalem ῾Ιεροσόλυμα shall be desolate, and the house of God in it shall be burned, and shall be desolate for a time.”

I suspect the Book of Tobit may explain one of the four usage of Ἱεροσόλυμα in the Gospel of Luke but I am still thinking.

This is a work in progress.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Why two different Greek words for Jerusalem?

Luke uses two different Greek words for Jerusalem. Luke uses the Greek word Ἰερουσαλήμ for Jerusalem 26 times while using the Greek word Ἱεροσόλυμα only 4 times. Matthew also uses two different Greek words for Jerusalem. Matthew uses the Greek word Ἱεροσόλυμα for Jerusalem 9 times while using the Greek word Ἰερουσαλήμ only once in Matt. 23:37. Mark likewise uses the Greek word Ἱεροσόλυμα for Jerusalem 9 times while using the Greek word Ἰερουσαλήμ only once in Mark 11:1.

The BDAG Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature has three comments relevant to this discussion: “No certain conclusions can be drawn concerning the use of two forms of the name”; “Just 9 times is the form found in Mt (the sole exception 23:37 is fr. a quot.),....”; and Ἰερουσαλήμ “(predom. in the LXX; . . . .)”

Ἰερουσαλήμ is the “transliterated Hebrew” form of Jerusalem, according to Rodney Decker, while Ἱεροσόλυμα represents the “Hellenized” form of Jerusalem. Luke, like the LXX, uses the
the “transliterated Hebrew” form of Jerusalem. Ἰερουσαλήμ, “transliterated Hebrew” form of Jerusalem, appears 38 times throughout Acts while Ἱεροσόλυμα, the “Hellenized” form of Jerusalem, appears 19 times throughout Acts.

On one occasion, both Matthew and Mark, in their treatment of the extended passion narrative, use the same Greek word for Jerusalem which Luke predominantly uses.

Luke uses the word Jerusalem 30 times in his gospel, 3 times more than either Matthew or Mark uses this word. This is understandable. A third striking theme of the book of Isaiah is the motif of the city. According to Motyer, “Four Isaianic strands are woven together in the use of the city motif in which Jerusalem, Zion, mount/mountain and city are broadly interchangeable terms: divine judgment, preservation and restoration, the security of Zion (14:32; 28:16) and the centrality of the city in the divine thought and plan (footnotes omitted)” [Motyer, 17-18].

For Luke, Jerusalem is and remains throughout Luke-Acts the center of the action. Jesus tells his disciples to remain in Jerusalem. The spread of the gospel is directed from Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit. When there is a dispute, the church in Antioch sends a delegation to Jerusalem for a resolution of the problem and decision as to the proper course of action. Throughout Luke-Acts, Jerusalem is the focal point and centrality of location to which Jesus and Paul return. Matthew and Mark have not adopted the motif of the city. Their Jesus instructs his disciples to wait for him in Galilee. The animal sacrificial system having been condemned by them and the city and temple having been destroyed by the Romans, Jerusalem was no longer significant for them.

This is a work in progress.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Book of Zechariah and the Passion Narratives

It is difficult to do research to write a short piece because that research invariably provide new leads and ideas for yet other short pieces making for was intended to be an easy assignments harder to complete. The research on priority has uncovered considerable material that has not previously been considered in this context. For this reason, my recent article, Matthew misread the Book of Zechariah, was a difficult article to write. I finally decided to prepare a separate article on the contributions and the significance of the Book of Zechariah on the Passion Narratives of the four gospels.

We begin with the most famous passage from Zechariah 9:9 which Matthew and John quote and to which Mark and Luke allude. The fact that Jesus chose to ride into Jerusalem on a colt was probably understood as a fulfillment of Zechariah even in the absence of a quotation.

The next quotation appears in Matthew when he tells us that “they weighed out for him thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. 16:15). In Zechariah 11:12, the prophet tells us that when he asked to be paid for the services he had rendered as “shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter”, his employers “weighed out” as his wages “thirty shekels of silver.” Matthew is the only one to specify the sum of money which Judas was promised by the chief priests for his undertaking to betray Jesus to them.

After a busy week “teaching in the Temple to all the people” Jesus and his disciples celebrate the Passover meal. At the conclusion of the Passover meal, Matthew and Mark both include the following but not Luke:

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” Matthew and Mark both quote the Zechariah 13:7 MT.

The last of the direct quotations appears in John’s passion narrative. Just before sundown on Good Friday, the soldiers broke the legs of the two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus, before removing their bodies but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. John quotes scripture: “Not a bone of him shall be broken”. Another passage says, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (John 19: 33-37). The quotation from Exodus 12:46 designate Jesus out as the true Passover Lamb. The latter comes from Zechariah 12:10, where, after the defeat of the nations who take part in the end-time siege of Jerusalem, Yahweh says:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.

“These direct quotations distributed among three of the Evangelists” demonstrate Zechariah 9-14 was one of the “primary sources of testimonies” used by the early followers of Jesus. More importantly for our purposes, they demonstrate some of the additions made to the Lucan passion narrative by Matthew, Mark and John.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Matthew misread the Book of Zechariah

Just prior to the entry into Jerusalem, Jesus instructs his disciples to find him transportation. In Matthew 21:5, one of the 14 fulfillment citations, we read: All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” Matthew was the only gospel writer to include Zechariah’s prophecy. Thus it is clear that the writer intentionally changed what the Lucan Jesus said from “Blessed is the king that cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” to “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

In Zech. 9:9, the Prophet Zechariah used Hebrew poetic parallelism (the balancing of thought in successive lines of poetry). The terms male donkey, colt, and foal all designate the same animal—the young donkey upon which the messiah would ride into Jerusalem. The failure to recognize synonymous parallelism creates a translation problem. In talking about two donkeys, Matthew clearly did not understand the Hebrew poetic parallelism of his source.

Later, in Matt. 23:35, Matthew made a mistake in his identification of Zechariah as the son of Barachias rather than the son of Jehoiada [2Ch 24:20-22]. The only known Zachariah, son of Barachias, was killed by the Zealots in 67 C.E. [see Jos. Bellum 4:334-344 Zacharias, the son of Baruch (Baruch is equivalent to Barachias)]. The Gospel of the Hebrews reads 'son of Jehoiada.' After this misidentification, Matthew has Jesus discussing the destruction of the Temple that occurred in 70 C.E. These two mistakes suggest the person who wrote these verses was not Matthew, the disciple of Jesus and that this person wrote some time after 67 C.E.

This proposal, that the Greek Gospel of Matthew was written some time after 67 C.E., recognizes the possibility that Matthew with its unique fulfillment citations responded to the needs of its community estranged by the introduction of the Birkath ha-Minim around 85 C.E. The only significant parallel to Matthew’s explicit formula citations in Jewish and Christian literature of this time period occurs on 6 occasions in the Gospel of John.

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Monday, October 03, 2011

Undesigned coincidences inspired by the Holy Spirit

An undesigned coincidence occurs when one account of an event leaves out a bit of information that does not affect the overall picture, but a different account indirectly supplies the missing detail, usually answering some natural question raised by the first.

Blunt supplied this definition in his book, Undesigned Coincidence, and provided examples which he argued demonstrated the veracity of the various books of the Bible. According to Blunt, this verse in Luke 9:36 “And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen” prompts the question “Why did they keep silent?” Blunt further suggests that Mark in 9:9 answered the question “Jesus told them to tell no one.”

Do Blunt’s examples of undesigned coincidence provide a working list of one way indicators? It is certainly something worth investigating further.

I understand the purpose of Undesigned Coincidence to be establishing the veracity of the Bible; I do not understand it to providing one way indicators. Nonetheless, Blunt’s undesigned coincidences may be valuable leads for my one way indicator research.

The definition provided by Blunt seems to suggest that one writer intentionally sought to answer a question prompted by an earlier writer. Yet in reading Undesigned Coincidence, Blunt acknowledged that the second writer may not have known he was answering a question. Hence my title: Undesigned coincidences inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Certainly Josephus did not intend to answer questions suggested by Matthew in 2:22 or Luke in 3:14 or 3:2. But there is no question that Josephus is in fact responding to the effectiveness of the NT as a tool in the recruiting of new members of the Way from the ranks and files of Judaism. However the evidence of dependence suggested by Blunt needs to be supplemented by internal evidence from Josephus.

In four examples supplied by Blunt, Mark and Luke seem to be responding to Matthew yet in one example Matthew is responding to Mark and in two other examples Matthew and Luke seem to be responding to John. In three examples Luke (2) and Matthew (1) seem to be responding to John. These comments indicate that Blunt’s examples need to be supplemented by other evidence.
Blunt’s examples, although inconclusive as to one way indicators may be evidence that one or more gospels were rewritten or revised after initially circulating within the communities of the followers of Jesus. It is such possibilities that make the Synoptic Problem appear to be intractable.

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