Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Others mocking, said

I write to suggest that in verses 2:13 and 17:32 of Acts, Luke is mocking Theophilus because he still does not believe. Typically verse 13 is analyzed with reference to the sweet wine and whether the people were drunk from drinking sweet wine [γλεῦκος] not usually available at this time of the year. The focus is misplaced. This short verse contains two Lucan hapax legomena both of which allude to the same Greek words in Maccabees. The first hapax is μεμεστωμένοι translated in Acts 2:13 “They are filled.” This hapax alludes to the lemma μεμεστωμένος in 3 Macc 5:1 and the lemma μεμεστωμένους in 3 Macc 5:10. The two Greek lemma, μεμεστωμένοι and μεμεστωμένους, create an inclusio directing our attention to the enclosed narrative where we read that the king made his elephants drunk so that they could massacre the Judeans. The Greek word in Maccabees is a hapax in the LXX. The remainder of the chapter tells how God saved the Judeans.

The second hapax διαχλευάζω is a compound Greek word δια + χλευάζω translated in Acts 2:13 as “mocking.” This hapax could allude to the Greek word χλευάσασα in 2 Macc 7:27 where the mother mocks the tyrant who is torturing her son. This allusion lets us know that Luke believes Stephen was stoned because he defended his understanding of the ancestral way of life as part of his faith.

This hapax could allude to another lemma χλευάζεις in 4 Macc 5:22. In verse 22 we read “You scoff at our philosophy as though living by it were irrational, . . . ” In this verse the word “scoff” is the translation for χλευάζω. 

In Acts 17:32 we read “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this’” where Luke used the Greek word χλευάζω instead of διαχλευάζω suggesting he is now alluding to 4 Macc 5:22 which may have not been previously available to him. Luke in numerous instances in his first letter to Theophilus used the Greek word ἐμπαίζω for mock. Howver in Acts he used διαχλευάζω, an absolute hapax, but switching to χλευάζω, a hapax in the NT, later in his narrative. Thus the Greek hapax now alludes to this verse:  “You scoff at our philosophy as though living by it were irrational, . . .” 

There are two clues that Luke intends the First Reader to understand this as an allusion to 4 Macc 5:22. In Act 17:18, we read: Some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers met him. And some said, “What would this babbler say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”--because he preached Jesus and the resurrection. Thus 14 verses prior to verse 32, Luke uses the Greek word φιλόσοφος for philosophers which is a hapax in Luke and appears three times in 4 Macc. 5:7; 7:7, 21 as φιλοσοφεῖν. Verse 21 is one verse before the verse that is the target verse. The second clue is use of the NT Greek hapax λῆρος translated as “idle tale” in Lk. 24:11 which alludes to the LXX hapax λῆρον in 4 Macc 5:11.

We can make this inference because χλευάζω and its lemma only appear three times in the Septuagint and Luke has used rare word allusions as markers directing the attention of Theophilus to 4 Macc 5:7-22.

Luke is mocking Theophilus because he still does not believe in the power of God and the saving acts that occurred among us.

Copyrighted © 2012

Footnote: γλεῦκος is a hapax in Acts 2:13 and in LXX Job 32:19.
Footnote: 3 Maccabees uses the Greek word οἴνῳ for wine in 3 Macc 5:2 and οἴνου in 3 Macc 5:10, 45.
Footnote: Theophilus, as High Priest from 37 to 41 C.E., is aware that Acts of the Apostles is proceeding chronologically and that Luke will soon be discussing the stoning of Stephen, an event he witnessed.
Footnote: χλευαζεις is a rare word in the LXX appearing twice in Maccabees and once in Wisdom.


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