Saturday, July 11, 2009

Luke 19:47 to 21:38

47-48. An editorial expansion of a single verse in Mark serves as an introduction to 20:1-8. The three groups named constituted the membership of the Sanhedrin. In addition to their functions as the court of final appeal in matters of religion, they had jurisdiction over the temple and its ritual, and no doubt regarded Jesus' act of cleansing the temple courts as a challenge to their authority and prestige. The chief priests: Heads of the leading priestly families. Daily: Luke ignores Mark's apparent chronological scheme of six days from the date of the Entry to that of the Crucifixion. There are indications also in Mark that the earliest evangelist has telescoped his material (Mark 14:49).

No doubt the Sanhedrin had heard of Jesus' activities in Galilee and had been watching him for some time with suspicion. As long as he remained in the northern province he was under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas and they could take no direct action against him, but as soon as he entered Judea he came into the sphere of their authority. As a religious teacher he would appear to them of little consequence, but as one whose ministry might cause a political disturbance, or lead to a messianic uprising, he would be an object of concern and distrust. This story is the first of a series that describes attempts by members of the Sanhedrin, or by Sadducees who controlled that body, to trap Jesus into an admission that could be framed as a charge warranting the death penalty and laid before the Roman procurator.
20:1-2. According to Mark's version, the incident took place on the day after the cleansing of the temple, and it was that act which was challenged. Luke's one day is vague, and according to the Third Evangelist it was Jesus' teaching the people in the temple, and preaching the gospel for which the deputation from the Sanhedrin demanded his authority. The purpose of the double-barreled question was to wrest from Jesus some explicit messianic claim.
3-4. Rabbinical debates were often conducted in the form of question and counter-question, the latter framed in some measure to convey the answer to the former. It is probable therefore that Jesus intended to do more than impale his opponents on the horns of a dilemma. He wished to suggest that there was a close connection between his ministry and John's and that his own authority also came from heaven. This in itself does not necessarily imply a messianic consciousness on his part.
5-8. The questioners found the counter-question embarrassing, and their refusal to answer it freed Jesus from any need of replying to their initial challenge. Mark declares that the deputation hesitated to say that John's authority was "from men" because "they were afraid of the people." Luke makes them anticipate violent consequences: All the people will stone us.
C. H. Dodd interprets this story as a parable that Jesus used to illustrate his message of the kingdom of God, but his case is not impressive (The Parables of the Kingdom [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936], pp. 124-32). It is possible that vss. 9-12 were once part of a true parable, but the additional matter appears to make the whole an allegory that reflects the theological beliefs of the early church. The owner of the vineyard is God; the vineyard itself is Israel; the tenants are the hierarchs of Judaism; the servants are the prophets of O.T. times; the beloved son is Jesus Christ; the murder of the heir is the crucifixion of the Son of God; the dispossession and destruction of the wicked tenants are God's plan of history; and the new tenants are probably to be understood as the apostles.
9. To the people for Mark's "to them"--the deputation from the Sanhedrin. This parable for Mark's generalized "in parables." Israel as God's vineyard is a metaphorical equation at least as ancient as the parable in Isa. 5:1-7. The opening verse of Mark's account has been obviously modeled on the wording of that O.T. passage, but this dependence is scarcely noticeable in Luke's abbreviated version. Farm land was frequently owned by absentee landlords in biblical times and tenants were often sharecroppers. For a long while: A Lukan addition, possibly to emphasize the antiquity of God's covenant with Moses.
10-12. When the time came: According to Lev. 19:23-25, in the fifth year. In Mark's version a long series of servants attempted to collect the master's share of the fruit of the vineyard. Luke limits the number to three.
13-15a. Details that lack verisimilitude if the story is a parable based on real life, but pregnant with meaning if it is a Christian allegory. In Mark's account the wicked tenants killed the owner's son and cast him out of the vineyard. It is possible that Luke has altered the order of these events to make the narrative correspond to the Christian tradition that Jesus was crucified "outside the gate" (Heb. 13:12; cf. John 19:17).
15b-16. As in Isa. 5:4-6 a rhetorical question provided with an answer. The reference is clearly to God and his judgment. In real life an owner of a vineyard could scarcely take the law into his own hands after such a fashion. To others: Probably the Christian apostles are meant--with the implication that the church is the true Israel. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and his allocation of Palestinian lands to Roman veterans of the Jewish war are not implied. Luke adds to his source the protest of Jesus' listeners against the fate he prophesies: God forbid!
17. A quotation from Ps. 118:22 that was messianically interpreted both in late Judaism and in early Christianity (Acts 4:11; I Pet. 2:4-7)
18. Substituted by Luke for the quotation from Ps. 118:23 in Mark. Apparently a combination of phrases from Isa. 8:14 and Dan. 2:34. Luke may have found them already conjoined in some early Christian collection of proof texts (testimonia).
19-20. Luke rewrites his Marcan source. Spies for Mark's "some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians." Luke refers to the Pharisees in the phrase who pretended to be sincere, but never mentions the Herodians in his Gospel. He may not have known who they were or may have thought that reference to them would have little meaning for his Gentile readers. So as to deliver him up to ... the governor states a purpose implicit in Mark's account.
21-22. Tribute: An annual poll tax collected by the Romans from every adult male in Judea after the deposition of Archelaus in A.D. 6. The levy was very unpopular, for it was interpreted as a mark of Jewish subjugation to a foreign power. The question was cleverly framed. If Jesus were to give an affirmative answer, he would alienate all fervent nationalists. If he were to answer "No," he would lay himself open to the charge of treason (cf. 23:2).
23-24. Craftiness: An apt substitution by Luke for Mark's "hypocrisyú" A coin: A denarius, a silver coin (of sixty grains) worth about twenty cents, minted by the Romans, and in Jesus' day bearing the likeness and inscription of Augustus or Tiberius. The reproduction of the head of the deified emperor violated the Jewish law against images and irritated Jewish sensibilities. The coinage issued in Judea by the procurators was made of bronze or copper and carried only such inoffensive emblems as olive branches or palms.
25. A celebrated saying often interpreted as wholly noncommittal. Jesus' answer to his enemies was a clever evasion of the trap they had set for him. But this can hardly be correct. Jesus clearly asserts that the tax is to be paid. He repudiated the position of those extremists who held that a loyal and patriotic Jew could not obey the Roman state and still serve God or regard him as King. If coins were circulating with Caesar's image on them, they belonged to the emperor and he had a perfect right to demand them. But at the same time there were duties and debts that men owed to God. The two loyalties were not incompatible. It should be unnecessary for the interpreter to point out that this saying does not support any social theory that would put our secular responsibilities in one compartment of living and our religious duties in another. Nor does it provide us with a theoretical discussion of the relationships of church and state such as Paul develops in Rom. 13:1-7.
26. An editorial elaboration of Mark's comment on the impression Jesus' answer had made on his interlocutors.
5. QUESTION ABOUT THE RESURRECTION (20:27-40; Cf. Mark 12:18-28a, 32b, 34b)
27. The Sadducees accepted only the written tradition as authoritative. Because the doctrine of a life to come, based on belief in a physical resurrection, arose after the Pentateuch was compiled and is not reflected in it, they were justified by their premises when they declared that there is no resurrection (cf. Acts 28:8).
28. The reference is to the so-called "levirate" marriage law in Deut. 25:5-6. A survival in ancient Hebrew legislation of ideas once associated with ancestor worship, the regulation appears to have been largely in abeyance in Jesus' day.
29-33. Not an attempt at cheap humor, but an effort to show that Moses could not have contemplated any resurrection. His legislation demonstrates that the doctrine leads to absurdity.
34-35. Luke rewrites his Marcan source. Some interpreters believe he is collating it with an independent tradition. Read this age and that age with the RSV. For marry and are given in marriage (vs. 34) some ancient MSS have "procreate" and "are born," and these readings are preferred by some modern editors as a better introduction to vs. 36. Those who are accounted worthy: Luke's version makes Jesus anticipate only "a resurrection of the just" (cf. 14:14).
36. An expansion of Mark's "but are like angels in heaven." In this age marriage is an institution necessary for the propagation of the race, but its necessity disappears when men and women become equal to angels and do not die any more. Some ancient authorities omit and are sons. Sons of the resurrection: A Semitism comparable to "the sons of this age" (vs. 34).
37-38. In the passage about the bush: Exod. 3:2-6. Jesus' deduction of the doctrine of the resurrection from this O.T. passage is less direct in Luke's version than in Mark's, but in both instances its verbal exegesis is typically rabbinical. It would be nonsense for Moses to speak of the Lord as God of the patriarchs if they were only men who had lived and died long ago. The argument may have been adapted from Jewish sources. Interesting parallels have been cited from IV Macc. 7:19 and 16:25 (first century B.C.). For all live to him, i.e., "all the just" (23:43) rather than "all the patriarchs."
39-40. A conclusion constructed out of Marcan phrases (Mark 12:28a, 32b, 34b). Luke omits the story of the question about the greatest commandment because he has already used a variant of it (10:25-28).
The Jewish hope of a Messiah arose out of an idealization of Israel under the rule of David and the longing of the nation for the return of its former glories as a united kingdom under some member of the Davidic line. Perhaps its earliest articulation in O.T. literature is in Nathan's speech to David (II Sam. 7:12-16). Micah, Isaiah, and some of the psalmists took over the popular hope, purged it of its more nationalistic and materialistic traits, and spoke of the religious, spiritual, and ethical qualities that the "son of David" would display. In postexilic times the idea of the new age came to be formulated in terms of a theocracy, and the hope of a Davidic Messiah gradually fell into the background. After the Maccabean revolt of 168 B.C. the hope was largely displaced by the expectation of a supernatural being--the "Son of man"--who would be God's vicegerent in the miraculous inauguration of the new age. But Pss. Sol. 17-18, written about the middle of the first century B.C., show that the older category of thought continued to be popular in some quarters of Judaism. They speak of a descendant of the Davidic house whom God will raise up to overthrow the rule of the Gentiles, to gather the dispersed tribes of Israel, and to establish God's kingdom with its capital at Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 21:9, 15; Mark 10:47-48; John 7:42).
The early church undertook to demonstrate that Jesus had fulfilled Jewish messianic expectations by his birth at Bethlehem and his lineal descent from David, but there is little trace of this early Christology except in the opening chapters of Matthew and Luke. It was quickly discarded in favor of more adequate ways of thinking such as "Son of man," "Son of God," "Lord," and "Word of God." There are references to the earlier belief in the opening sentence of Paul's Epistle to the Romans (1:3), and in two liturgical passages in the book of Revelation (5:5; 22:16), but nowhere else in the N.T.
The passage under consideration is a forthright repudiation of the theory that the Messiah must be "David's son," and a hint that he is more properly described as "Lord," a title used in the LXX for God and in liturgical formulas of the mystery cults for various pagan deities. If the verses are based on genuine utterances of Jesus, the question remains: Was he speaking "of himself, or of some other"? More probably they reflect some early christological controversy and were intended to demonstrate from Scripture that Jesus Christ was entitled to a more adequate appellation than "son of David."
41. To them: To the scribes of vs. 39; in Mark to an audience in the temple courts. They for Mark's "the scribes."
42-43. The Book of Psalms was popularly ascribed to David long before N.T. times. The quotation is from Ps. 110:1. It is interpreted as prophetic of the Ascension in Acts 2:34-35 and of Christ's work as heavenly high priest in Heb. 1:13 and 10:12-13. In the present instance only the opening words are important for the argument.
44. How can the Messiah be David's son when David refers to him as Lord? It has been argued that these words do not deny Jesus' descent from David; they only assert that the title "son of David," with its political associations, does not by itself do justice to Jesus' sense of mission.
7. JESUS WARNS AGAINST THE SCRIBES (20:45-47=Mark 12:38-40)
Mark's preamble implies that this material is only an excerpt--"And in his teaching he said ..." Since the substance of 20:46 has already been used by Luke in 11:43 as part of a discourse abstracted from Q, it is possible that Mark also knew some version of this collection of Jesus' teaching.
45. Virtually a new introduction to Marcan matter.
46-47. The scribes are said to be guilty of ostentation, greed, and hypocrisy (see on 11:37-54). Long robes: The distinctive dress of Jewish scholars. Best seats: See on 11:43. Who devour widows' houses: Exploitation of widows (forbidden by the regulation in Exod. 22:22) is censured by Isaiah as a particularly offensive social sin (Isa. 10:2). Greater condemnation, i.e., than ordinary sinners. Their calling as interpreters of the law made their behavior all the more reprehensible.

Attached by Mark to his collection of accounts of controversies between Jesus and opponents in Jerusalem, perhaps because of the reference to "widows' houses" in the condemnation of scribes with which it ends. The chapter division imposed on Luke's Gospel is an unhappy one at this point, for the story is in no sense an introduction to the subsequent apocalyptic section. The passage is an excellent illustration of Luke's practice of abbreviating Mark, omitting his Semitisms, and improving his style. Stories with a similar moral were commonplace in Jewish, Greek, and Indian (Buddhist) literature.
21:1-2. Treasury: Probably a room in one of the porticoes of the Court of Women. Thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles were provided, supervised by priests, and the donor had to declare the sum he was offering and the special ritual purpose for which it was intended. Two copper coins: A lepton, worth less than half a cent, was the smallest Jewish coin in circulation.
3-4. It is not the size of the gift that gives it value in the sight of God but the sacrificial generosity with which it is given. All the living that she had: All the money she possessed for the purchase of her next meal.
5-6. This passage is taken over by Luke substantially as it stood in Mark. The temple was burned in A.D. 70 (Josephus Jewish War VI. 4. 5) and later its walls were leveled in the course of a systematic demolition of the city (ibid., VII. 1). It is by no means clear that the words ascribed to Jesus were originally a "prediction after the event." It is quite possible that Jesus shared the pessimism that had led Micah (3:12) and Jeremiah (26:6; cf. also Jer. 26:18) to envisage the destruction of the first temple as a consequence of the refusal of the people to repent. This prediction may have been the basis of the charge brought by "false witnesses" against Jesus at the hearing before the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:57-58; cf. John 2:18-19; Acts 6:13-14).
2. PRELIMINARY SIGNS OF THE APPROACHING END (21:7-19=Mark 13:3-9, 11-13)
To Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the temple Mark had appended a discourse on the end of the present age and the signs that would herald it. It is clear that the connection is artificial, for the discourse anticipates a defilement of the temple, not its actual destruction. There is very general agreement among interpreters that Mark's Little Apocalypse was originally a Jewish document which had been related by Christian preachers to the circumstances of the Christian mission and then lodged by the earliest evangelist in the gospel tradition. It may incorporate some genuine utterances of Jesus but they can no longer be isolated.
Luke's version differs in its detail from Mark's, but the variations are explicable as editorial and do not warrant the postulation of an independent source. They are due in the main to (a) the later date at which Luke was writing, and (b) Luke's more mature Christology. In Luke the scene is still the temple courts; in Mark, the Mount of Olives (Mark 13: 3).
7. They: The "some" of vs. 5. Substituted for Mark's "Peter and James and John and Andrew."
8-9. A warning against false messiahs and all assumptions about the imminence of the end. Luke strengthens the warning by ascribing the proclamation The time is at hand to pseudo-Christs.
10-11. Wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and various other evidences of cosmic disorder were part of the paraphernalia of apocalyptic and prophetic prediction (II Esdras 9:3; 13:30-32; Rev. 6:1-8; etc.); and attempts to interpret them as references to specific events in the first century A.D. are a waste of time.
12-13. Probably a Christian gloss on the original apocalypse, reflecting the actual experiences of such men as Stephen, Peter, and Paul. But before all this: A Lukan prefix which dissociates the sufferings that the disciples would have to endure from the eschatological portents. A similar interest impelled Luke to omit Mark's prediction (Mark 13:10) that the proclamation of the gospel to "all the nations" would be a necessary prelude to the end. This will be a time for you to bear testimony, i.e., "to the gospel." An interpretation of a phrase in Mark, possibly with such incidents in mind as Paul's appearances before Felix (Acts 24:1) and before Festus and Agrippa II (Acts 26:1).
14-15. A paraphrase of Mark 13:11 (cf. the Q variant in Luke 12:11-12). Meditate beforehand: A technical term in Attic Greek to describe the preparation of a speech for oral delivery. Despite his characteristic interest in the work of the Holy Spirit, Luke in this instance declares that it will be Christ himself who will provide the necessary inspiration. A mouth: Power of speech (Exod. 4:11-12). Luke illustrates the redemption of this promise in Acts 6:10.
16. The loyalty of individuals to the Christian faith in the impending crisis will result in the dissolution of family ties and the betrayal of Christians by their kindred. Predictions in various O.T. eschatological passages (Isa. 19:2; Mic. 7:6) influenced the phrasing of Mark's version, but this is scarcely noticeable in Luke's. And friends is a Lukan addition.
17. Note the exhortation in I Pet. 4:16: "If one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God."
18. A Lukan addition which recurs in Paul's speech to the ship's company (Acts 27:34b). A proverbial form has already been used in 12:7a (Matthew 10:30) and has O.T. prototypes (I Sam. 14:45; II Sam. 14:11; I Kings 1:52). In view of vs. 16 Luke can scarcely have meant the promise to imply immunity from martyrdom. Perhaps he had preservation from eternal destruction in mind. The alternative is to regard vss. 16-17 as addressed to a select group of martyrs, and vss. 18-19 to the Christian community as a whole.
19. A paraphrase of Mark 13:13b. The future tense of the RSV has somewhat better support in the MSS than the imperative of the KJV. But we must translate souls (KJV) instead of lives (RSV) if Luke meant the saying (as in vs. 18) to be interpreted spiritually.
3. FATE OF JERUSALEM (21:20-24=Mark 13:14, 17, 19a)
Marcan material dissociated from the immediate "signs of the end," and revised and expanded in light of the siege of Jerusalem (A.D. 70).
20-21a. Mark's version reads: "But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be ..., then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Mark 13:14). The "desolating sacrilege" in the book of Daniel (9:27 [LXX]; 11:31; 12:11) was the altar to Zeus that the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes had erected in the temple at Jerusalem in 168 B.C. In Mark it is a cryptic description of some antichrist whose appearance is to be a prelude to the coming of the Son of man (cf. II Thessú 2:3-4). For this enigmatic term Luke substitutes Jerusalem surrounded by armies.
21b-22. No Marcan base. The verses may betray a familiarity on Luke's part with events in Jerusalem just before the siege. According to Eusebius (Church History III. 5. 3), the Christian community in the city withdrew at that time to Pella in Perea in response to a warning given to their leaders "by revelation." All that is written: Cf. Hos. 9:7; Jerú 5:29; 46:10; etc.
23. Pregnant women and nursing mothers will be least able to flee. In the land: Palestine. This people: Israelú
24. Editorial elaboration of the fate of Jerusalem. According to Josephus--whose numerical estimates are not always trustworthy--1,100,000 Jews were slain by the Romans during the siege and 97,000 were taken prisoner throughout the course of the war (Jewish War VI. 9. 3). The times of the Gentiles: Sometimes interpreted as the equivalent of Mark 13:10 (omitted by Luke)--i.e., the period during which non-Jews have the opportunity for repentance and conversion (cf. Rom. 11:25). More probably the period God has fixed for the punishment of Israel (cf. Dan. 8:13-14; 12:7, 11-12).
4. COMING OF THE SON OF MAN (21:25-28=Mark 13:24-26)
25a. An abbreviation of the conventional apocalyptic description in Mark of solar, lunar, and astral irregularities.
25b-26a. An editorial expansion of the Marcan source to depict the perplexity, fear, and foreboding of men in the face of cosmic disaster. Upon the earth: A universal judgment as distinct from the earlier judgment on Jerusalem. Probably we should translate "distress of the Gentiles" to correspond to "the times of the Gentiles" of vs. 24 (cf. Goodspeed). The roaring of the sea and the waves: The sea threatens to spill over its shores and engulf the world. For the phraseology cf. Ps. 65:7-8a.
26b. The Marcan source is resumed. The powers of the heavens: Not some demonic hierarchy but the celestial bodies referred to in vs. 25a.
27. The end of the present age will be marked by the dramatic and triumphant appearance of the supernatural Son of man of whom Daniel (7:13) and Enoch (chs. 37-71 passim) had spoken. Both Mark and Luke identify him with Jesus as the risen Christ.
28. In contrast to "the heathen" of vss. 25b-26a Christians may anticipate these last events with hope and confidence. Luke substitutes this word of encouragement for Mark's description of the harvest of God's elect by angels (Mark 13:27). Redemption: the only occurrence of the word in the Gospels. Associated here with the second coming of Christ, not, as in Paul, with his death.
5. PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE IN LEAF (21:29-31=Mark 13:28-29)
In Mark's Gospel the parable introduces a new and anticlimactic series of sayings about the Second Advent. It is probable that they are of the nature of an appendix, attached by the evangelist to the discourse as he found it among his sources. In particular it is probable that the parable had no original relationship to its present Synoptic context. No doubt when Jesus uttered it he had the immediate rather than some distant crisis in mind.
29-30. Luke provides his own introduction. And all the trees: A rather pedantic generalization. Only the fig tree had been mentioned by Mark. The commonest deciduous tree in Palestine, its budding was a joyful harbinger of summer. These things: Mark and Luke have the "signs of the end" in mind, but originally Jesus may have meant the events of his own ministry. The kingdom of God for "he" (or "it") in Mark. Luke correctly recognized the illustration as a "kingdom" parable.
6. A PREDICTION AND A CERTIFICATION (21:32-33=Mark 13:30-31)
32. A solemn assurance that the apocalyptic events will take place in the near future. Many interpreters suspect that this formed the conclusion of the original Jewish apocalypse. But the saying is essentially the same as that credited to Jesus in 9:27 (Mark 9:1). When the later church adjusted its thinking to an indefinite continuance of the historical order, this generation was interpreted to mean either "the race of mankind" or "the company of the faithful."
33. Serves to authenticate the apocalyptic discourse. Jesus' prediction is reliable. Possibly a Christian revision of the saying in 16:17 (Matthew 5:18). At this point Luke omits the declaration in Mark 13:32 that the exact time is known neither to the angels nor to the Son but only to the Father. It may have offended his more advanced christological beliefs. Nevertheless he reproduces it in a modified form in Acts 1:7.
Mark's version of the apocalyptic discourse ends with the parable of the doorkeeper (Mark 13:33-37). Luke omits this, possibly because he considered it a variant to the allegory of the waiting servants (12:35-38), and composes material of similar tenor as a substitute.
34-35. Reminiscent of Pauline terminology (I Thess. 5:1-10). Isa. 24:17 may have served Luke as a model. That day, the Parousia. The judgment will not be localized to Judea, as the earlier one described in vss. 20-24, but will affect the whole earth (cf. vs. 25).
36. You may have strength has much better support in the MSS than ye may be accounted worthy. Christians will not be exempted from the woes of the last days, but prayer will enable them to endure, and in the end to stand before the Son of man.
37-38. Note 19:47a. According to Mark 11:11-12, Jesus and his disciples spent the first night after their arrival at Jerusalem in Bethany, and presumably the earliest evangelist wished to imply that they continued to lodge in that village. Mark 11:19 is indefinite, but Jesus is again at Bethany in Mark 14:3-9--a scene that Luke omits because he has already used a variant in 7:36-50. Jerusalem was overcrowded at festival seasons and many pilgrims were compelled to find accommodation outside the city. It is improbable that Luke was deliberately correcting the Marcan tradition. Bethany was situated on the slopes of Olivet (see on 19:29). Perhaps Luke omitted the place name because it would be of little interest to the Gentile readers of his Gospel. Lodged in the Greek text does not necessarily mean "camped."
The similarity between the situation described in these verses and that in the introduction to the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) probably accounts for the incorporation of the latter incident at this point by the important Ferrar group of minuscules. Other MSS omit it altogether or include it following John 7:52; 7:36; or 21:24.

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