Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Age of Theophilus and date of publication of Luke

Jens Bjernemose has left a new comment on your post "The Significance of Mocking": 

How early do you date Luke, if you think he can address the grandfather of someone healed in the 30'es? Even at the very best that would put Theophilus close to 100. 

Age of Theophilus and Date of Publication of the Gospel of Luke

There are several undisputed facts. With one exception, the high priests named in the New Testament are members of the Family of Annas. 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).”

Annas 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; Caiaphas, 18-37 CE; Jonathan, 3 or 5 months in 37 CE; Theophilus, 37-41 CE; Matthias, Ant. 19:316, 342; and Ananus, short time in 62 CE, Ant. 20:223. A grandson of Annas served as the next to the last High Priest: Matthias, son of Theophilus, 65-67, Ant. 20:223. 

Josephus records the death of Jonathan by Sicarii (AJ 20:162–66)and notes just prior to the incident when James was killed during the time when Ananus, son of Ananus, was High Priest that Annas, the H.P. was a remarkable man having five sons who served as High Priest, AJ 20.197. Thus Annas the father of Theophilus was alive in 62 C.E. and Theophilus was still alive when his son served as High Priest in 65-67. Josephus provides the details of the family of Annas but did not normally report the death of a high priest unless he died in office. Josephus mentions the tomb of Annas (Bellum 5.506) suggesting Ananus died shortly before the beginning of the war with Rome.

Wealthy people lived longer in the first century than the average peasants as illustrated by the family of Annas. The marriages in the family of Herod were arranged for political convenience and this was also true for the high priestly families. Herod the Great, who is the daughter of a Nabatean princess, arranged the marriage of Herod Antipas to Phasaelis, a Nabathean princess, daughter of Aretas IV. [Herod arranged marriages, see AJ. 17.14-18] Annas or Caiaphas probably arranged the marriage of Joanna to Chuza, steward of Herod Antipas. This places a member of the most important high priestly family in the court of Herod Antipas. Since Chuza is a documented Nabatean name, Chuza was probably the person in the Nabatean court responsible for the personal safety and well being of the Nabatean princess and the princess, or more likely her father, arranged for Chuza to be the chief steward of her husband’s estate as part of the marriage arrangement. Chuza and the Princess returned home to Nabatea when the Princess discovered she was about to be divorced [26 C.E.). Herod Antipas divorced his wife and married one of his relatives. John the Baptist lost his head for criticizing the remarriage [AJ. 18.109-124; see also Lk. 3:19-20; 9:7] but the year of the death of John is unknown. Josephus reports that the King Aretas IV (reigned 9 BCE to 40 CE) of Nabatea successfully waged war (date not clear from Josephus) against Herod Antipas. AJ 18.116-119. Aretas probably waited for an opportune time to attack Antipas. The followers of John claimed the war was retribution against Herod Antipas for killing John the Baptist.

Against his complicated background, Joanna becomes a follower of Jesus. As part of the arranged marriage a ketubbah had been provided for double the normal value ensuring only a well to do person would marry the daughter of a high priestly family. The ketubbah was the personal property of Johanna and provided insurance in event of divorce or death.

The marriage of Joanna was probably arranged when she was 12 years old or even earlier. The marriages of the sons of the high priest were probably arranged before they were 14 years of age. By the time Theophilus is 28 years old, he is a grandfather. If Joanna is 18 when she becomes a follower of Jesus, Theophilus would be 46 and about 53 years old when he becomes High Priest. 

What we know today as the Gospel of Luke was addressed to most excellent Theophilus when he was High Priest; when Acts is published in the early sixties, Theophilus is addressed without the title, most excellent, indicating he is no longer high priest.

These estimates of age are based upon information about Jewish marriages practices contained in the writings of Tal Ilan. All ages of Johanna and Theophilus are estimates, in this proposal designed solely to demonstrate the plausibility of Johanna being the granddaughter of Theophilus

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Friday, March 01, 2013

The Significance of Mocking

In an earlier article entitled “Others mocking said,” I suggested that Luke was mocking Theophilus because he still did not believe in the resurrection, the power of God and the saving acts that occurred among us. Thus the author is engaged in a dialogue with his First Reader.

Luke begins his masterpiece with these words addressed t most excellent Theophilus, the High Priest:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us,
just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.” RSV

This first verse lets Theophilus know that this narrative which he is about to read describes the savings acts “which have been accomplished among us.” It is unmistakably clear that the phrase “among us” means the author and the recipient are both eyewitnesses to some of these events. This is not to say that Theophilus and Luke witnessed each and every act described but that they both have personal knowledge of these events. As noted in Lk. 1:4, Theophilus had previously been informed of many of these events, probably by Joanna. As detailed in my eBook, available from Amazon, Theophilus is the grandfather of Joanna who is mentioned in two places in the Gospel of Luke. In the first instance, Joanna is healed by Jesus, an event which she no doubt informed her grandfather. In the second instance, Johanna is an eyewitness to the resurrection and one of the woman labeled by the disciples as presenting an “idle tale.” You may recall that Jesus also healed the servant of the High Priest when one of his disciples cut off this person’s right ear. Theophilus, as the son of the High Priest Ananus and the brother-in-law of Caiaphas, the reigning High Priest, was certainly informed of this miraculous event. Thus Theophilus had first hand information about three miracles. 

His father was the High Priest when Jesus appeared in the Temple at age twelve and amazed his audience with “his understanding and his answers.” Just his father as High Priest heard about this event, Theophilus heard about the event of Pentecost which occurred in the temple courtyard and may have been one of the “men of Judea” who “mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’”

In “Others mockingly said,” it was also noted that this verse which includes “they are filled with new wine” is an allusion to the inclusio in 3 Maccabees 5:1-10 where the king made the elephants drunk by feeding them wine so that they would stampede and kill the Judeans who are his prisoners. Although 3 Maccabees is probably a satire, it is unmistakably clear that message is that God saved them. Thus the allusion to the drinking elephants is quite effective.

Thus it is clear that Luke is mocking Theophilus who has more first hand knowledge than any of us, yet he still does not believe in the saving power of God. The significance of the mocking is clear that both Luke and Theophilus are contemporaries of Jesus and the eyewitnesses.

Luke is in dialogue with his Reader, Most Excellent Theophilus, the High Priest.  

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