Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Jesus as the eschatological priest

There are a number of enigmatic passages that can be better understood once we recognize that both Jesus and Theophilus areLabels priests. Since 1997, there has been a paradigm shift in Lucan studies in that academic scholarship has begun to recognize that both Luke and Theophilus are Jewish, and not Gentiles, and that most excellent Theophilus served as High Priest from 37 to 41 C.E. Secondly, beginning in 2004, scholars have acknowledged that perhaps Jesus in his sermon in Nazareth was telling us he is a special kind of priest.

Isaiah 61 speaks, in the first person, of an “anointed” figure whose activities seem to suggest that he is an eschatological prophet. Scripture has identified only two prophets as having been anointed: Elijah and Elisha, both mentioned by Jesus in his sermon in Nazareth. The anointing of Elijah and Elisha indicates they were both high priests. This identification of the anointed one of Isaiah 61 with a priest is supported by the mention of the priesthood in Isaiah 61:6 in these words: “But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord . . . .” The priestly nature of the anointed figure in Isaiah 61, the quotation from Isaiah 61:1-2 and the reference to Elijah and Elisha in the sermon is evidence that hidden polemics has been employed to advocate that Jesus is a special kind of priest. Fifty verses later, in Lk 5:24, Jesus, speaking as the son of man, claimed he had the power to forgive sins, and parenthetically,
consequently rendered the sacrificial system obsolete.

The poor, blind, captives and the oppressed are all named when the Lucan Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” A number of the scholars who have examined this passage have noted that the captives and the oppressed are never mentioned again. These scholars failed to recognize the creativity of Luke.

Luke begins his gospel by having a priest from the hill country offer sacrifice in the Temple. The wife of this hill country priest is one “of the daughters of Aaron.” Zachariah and Elizabeth are both described as “righteous before God.” Thus the Greek word, δίκαιος, is first applied to righteous individuals such as Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth and Simeon then applied by the centurion to Jesus on the cross. In his second letter written in early sixties, Luke continues in the next step of progression to designate Jesus as “the Righteous One” and “the righteous one” as “the son of man” and eschatological agent of God. The designation in Acts appears only speeches delivered to Jewish audiences in Jerusalem.

Zechariah and Elizabeth live in a city of Judah in the hill county (Lk 1:39). According to Joshua 20:7, Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), located in hill country of Judah, is a city of refuge. Thus Zechariah is a priest with a ministry to persons who have fled to the levitical place of refuge in Hebron, whose “guests” living in a self imposed exile as captives, receive “atonement” upon the death of the high priest. The last “righteous” priest of the old levitical order is a special kind of priest. 

This new series of blog postings will explain how “righteous” as a adjective used originally as a term of piety for a simple rural priest and his wife became a term, used interchangeably, to designate Jesus as the eschatological high priest.

This new series of blog postings will also attempt to establish that the messianic hopes are fulfilled in Jesus as the eschatological high priest.

This is a work in progress.

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