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9386[Synoptic-L] Re: Luke to Theophilus

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  • Karel Hanhart
    Nov 2, 2003
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       > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: Richard Anderson <randerson58@...>
      > To: <Synoptic-L@...>
      > Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2003 11:47 AM
      > Subject: [Synoptic-L] re: Luke to Theophilus
      >
      >
      > Karel:
      > Richard,
      > Your interest in the names of the undoubtedly historical women in the
      > open(ed) tomb narratives is commendable and your conclusion  that Luke calls
      > attention to Johanna through the chiastic structure is interesting.  My
      > question refers to the link to the high priest, Theophilus (37-41) and your
      > hypothesis of two different "letters",.written by Luke, to this Theophilus.

       

      Q What did this proposed first 'letter' contain? Do you mean an original

      > draft of the Gospel?. Surely not canonical Luke?

       

      Richard:

      Yes, the first letter is the what we know as the Gospel of Luke; the letter did not contain this heading.

       

      Karel

      > Isn't the end date of the high  priest Theophilus uncertain, more likely 40

      > than 41 CE?

       

      Richard:

      The end date is not essential to the proposal.  I do accept the dating assigned by Jeremais and Mason, both of whom state 41 C.E. as the end date.

       

      Karel:

      Josephus indeed is unclear concerning the dates when Agrippa I deposed and appointed various high priests during his short reign. But research into Herod Agrippa's possible reasons for appointing these high priests ├áre essential as well as his motivation for the persecution of the apostles(Acts 12). If we knew for sure, the interpretation of difficult and key texts  such as Mark 3,6, 1 Cor 15,5 and Acts 1,26; 2,1ff and 12,1ff would be much easier. Upon his accession to the throne of Judea. Agrippa deposed your Theophilus, who belonged to the house of Annas and appointed Simon Cantheras of the house of Boethus as high priest, thus following the example of Herod the Great who favored Simon Boethus. But then, strangely enough, in quick succession: he again deposed the Boethusian Cantheras and offered the post to Jonathan of the house of Annas. Why, we wonder? And why did this Jonathan decline to accept the high office in a personal letter and why did he suggest to appoint his brother Matthias in stead? (Josephus was privy to the content of the letter). Sometime later Agrippa appointed again a Boethusian, named Elionaios, son of Cantheras. These highly ambiguous actions are probably related to his persecution of the Christian community in Jerusalem viewed in the light of the well known Boethusian / Pharisaic dispute concerning the dating of Pentecost on the festval calendar, discussed in the Mishna.

          We know for a fact that some time before the destruction of the temple the dating of the First Day of the harvest feast

      (Pentecost) was officially altered. The Boethusians followed the ancient priestly calendar date, namely, the first Sunday after Passover, while the Pharisees held to a fixed date, Nisan 16, the day after Pesach.

          We also know that the Jesus' community in Jerusalem kept on celebrating the Sunday after Passover thus following the ancient priestly calendar (Lc 23,11, 1 Cor 16,1.8). They celebrated the resurrection of Jesus on that day, and proclaimed his resurrection on the fiftieth day, again a Sunday (Acts 2). We are touching here on the origins of the much later annual celebration of the Sunday replacing in the end the Sabbath. 

          Thus the Sabbath, Nisan 16, that followed Good Friday was the First Day of the Pentecostal harvest according to the new Pharisaic calendar. The most likely date for the institution of this Pharisaic dating of Shabuoth (Pentecost) appears to be during the reign of Herod Agrippa I. In that case Jonathan's declining to accept the high office may well be due to his reluctance of carrying out Agrippa's plans to persecute the first apostolic community. He would have known his brother Matthias' readiness of  carrying out Herod's wishes. Matthias and Theophilus were, like Caiaphas, of the house of Annas. If we take into account that according to Acts 1,23 a certain Matthias was to replace Judas Iscariot for the apostolic period (he would thus walk walk in Iscariot's footsteps) we have a reasonable solution to the problems posed by these puzzling passages. For in the Synoptic Gospels the burial occurs the very moment that the day of Passover (Good Friday) turned to Silent Saturday (that is Nisan 15 turned to Nisan 16, i.e. the new Pharisaic date for the First Day of the harvest). Combining these two data we may have found an answer to the motivations behind Agrippa's strange behavior in deposing and appointing high priests from the two rival houses - the Boethusians and the Pharisees - in quick succession. We know Herod had James Zebedee decapitated and he put Peter into prison at that time. These may well have been, it seems to me, the historical facts hinted at in Mark 3,6.  

       

       

      Karel's second question:

      Q. At the time of the 'second letter'(in your hypothesis trhe book of Acts) Theophilus, > however, was no longer high priest

       

      Richard:

      Admitted

       

      Karel:

      > and therefore could no longer exercise his authority. Logically, this                > "second letter" should have been addressed to Matthias, high

      > priest in 65-67 CE. or at least to both father and son, should not it?

       

      Richard:

      No, not true. People seeking relief from those in power write the letter to the person whom they believe can provide that relief.  Annas was the power beyond the throne even though his son-in-law was the named High Priest....

       Jonathan succeeded to this role and was the leader of one or more missions to Rome. After the murder of Jonathan, the Proposal states that Theophilus succeeded to this role. Theophilus was a member of the wealthiest Jewish family of his day and a ranking member of the Temple establishment. Even after removal from office the high priest kept his title and retained his authority (Jeremias, 157).  His death still had its atoning power (Jeremias, 158; Num. 35:25). Thus even the former High Priest could be addressed as 'Most Excellent.'  Both Luke and Paul probably knew Theophilus.  Paul received his letters (Acts 9:1) from Jonathan or perhaps Theophilus and probably knew Theophilus.

       

      Karel:

      I fail to see the logic here.  Perhaps Paul received his letters to persecute the Judean Christians from Jonathan or Theophilus (Acts 8:1), but that certainly does not make Theophilus the large hearted high priest to whom one could make an appeal. Luke too states emophatically, like Mark and Matthew that "the high priests" were to reject the Son of Man.

       

      Johanna may well have been a highly placed lady, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, who became a follower of Jesus (Lk. 8:3). . . . Based on information from his sources Luke may have had good reasons to mention Johanna especially among Jesus' women followers.

       

      Richard: 

      You deny the validity of my proposal and the claims I have asserted yet you fail to address the evidence presented by the existence of the ossuary with the inscription

       

      Karel:

      The ossuary is a weak argument. The name Johanna, the feminine counterpart of the common Hebrew name Johanan (John) was certainly not unusual.  

       

      Richard:

       or the double chiasmus centered on Johanna. 

       

      Karel:

       

      The chiasmus construction is indeed interesting and important, as I wrote before. However, the difficulties of equating Luke's Theophilus (a honorific title), and your very early dating of his Gospel and of his Acts are enormous, turning synoptic scholarship upside down. One would need IMHO better literary and historical proof than merely a suggestion that the Johanna in Luke's resurrection story might be the same as the granddaughter of a high priest from the house of Annas, that bitterly persecuted the ecclesia.

        

      cordially,

       

      Karel

       

       

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