Sunday, April 03, 2005

Luke, Jesus and Samuel

I previously wrote about the relationship between Luke 2.40-52 and 1 Samuel 2.26-3.19. (See my earlier post on this.) Richard has asked an important question about that relationship: "Why then, if we accept Lee Dahn’s original and insightful observation, is Luke being subtle in comparing Jesus to Samuel, one of the greatest prophets, who resided in the temple at Shiloh from the age of two and according to 1 Samuel 2:35 is the fulfillment of God’s promise to “raise up for myself a faithful high priest”?"

I am not sure how to take the question - as directed to me personally calling for further clarification, or as a general query. I will nonetheless try making a few clarifications and modifications to my original comments. (I thought for a moment to go back and make these modifications in the original post, but then quickly realized how irresponsible and compromising that would be. I am embarrassed for some of the errors.)

First, I may have been hasty in asserting that "from 3.1-18, we get the idea that Samuel fits the requirements God had established for the priests, thus seemingly fulfilling the promise to 'raise up for myself a faithful high priest' (2.35)." I was putting some small details (e.g., the linen ephod of 2.18-19, 28) together which may or may not bear any weight in linking Samuel to the fulfillment of 2.35. Perhaps to say that Samuel particularly is God's "faithful priest" is to read too much into Luke's Jesus story. (Please note that I incorrectly wrote "faithful high priest" in my previous post. Apologies for the lack of faithfulness to the text - an obvious indicator that I was too strongly attempting to import some implication into Luke's story.) Perhaps it is not. I am just not sure.

Second, and certainly more in line with Richard's thesis, I believe that Luke is comparing Jesus to Samuel, however subtle, because the story of Eli's sons (1Sam2.12-17, 27-36) represents perhaps the best-known tale of the corruption of the Israel's priesthood. Richard has brought to light other instances in Luke's Gospel where the priesthood is subtly exposed as corrupt (e.g., the story of the rich man and Lazarus). Those subtle movements by Luke would have been, I presume, fairly easy for Theophilus to recognize, being high priest himself and familiar with his own familiy's handling of the office. And the fact that the stories of both Eli's sons and young Samuel's calling (at the age of twelve? [so Josephus]) are found between the "growth" comments of 1 Samuel 2.26 and 3.19 seems, in my mind, to indicate that Luke is trying to tie what lies between his own "growth" comments about the twelve-year-old Jesus (Lk2.40, 52) with the two stories about Eli's sons and Samuel.

I will admit that the evidence in Luke's Gospel suggesting that Jesus is the new eschatological high priest is scarce and cryptic at best. But that does not mean it is not present.

May I ask a few counter-questions? If Luke is consistently showing the corruption of the priesthood and not attmepting to say that Jesus is the new eschatological high priest, what is his resolution to the problem of the priesthood? Is there one? What are the reasons for exposing the priesthood's corruption? Is the motivation merely to show that Jesus was condemned unjustly, by an unjust establishment, by Romans influenced by corrupt priests? (I find this hard to believe, considering that everything Jesus was condemned for he is recorded to have claimed himself, explicitly and implicitly.) If the motivation is not merely political, then why is the corruption of the priesthood important for Luke's Jesus story?

Lastly, could it be that Luke 19.47-48 and texts like it are meant by Luke to fulfill 1 Samuel 2.36, where the people implore the faithful priest? (I notice that 1 Kings 2.27 claims to fulfill the promise as well.)

copyrighted 2005


joshua said...

I tend to follow the Jesus/Samuel connection in regard to the divine rights of kings.

Really short version:

Samuel, a judge, had the authority to anoint a king and thus legitimize monarchical rule. This subordinates the monarchy to the judiciary, as the judges had the power to anoint (appoint) kings.

Subsequently, Jesus as the second Samuel claims the monarchy is corrupt (see. murder of John, likely a judge,etc,); as well as, the temple judiciary is corrupt because it refuses to prosecute the monarchy for violations of Jewish law. The refusal of the temple judges to prosecute the monarchy subordinates the judges to the monarchy, which is not allowed under the doctrine of Samuel, thus illegal.

Therefore, Jesus as the second Samuel withdraws the anointing from the kings by declaring the temple judicial authority is/was subordinate to the king and thus illegal. Jesus thereby declared monarchical rule which is above or outside of the judiciary ("law") to be illegal, and thus the era of divine-right-to-rule by kings,started by Samuel, was ended.

Jesus was subsequently killed for this. (demanding equality of law,and ending the subordination of judges to kings)

Unfortunately the divine right of kings is later resurrected in a different form. But that is a story for another time. (1600 years later the same realization occurs in Europe; see. William and Mary, and Locke; and in 1776 in the U.S. see. Dec. of Ind.).

LTD said...


Thanks for the comment. I haven't explored such a relationship between Jesus as the second Samuel and judicial expectations/obligations. I'll have to consider this further.

Incidentally, I've moved my blog from Blogger to Wordpress: I haven't kept up with it lately, but intend to continue these studies. Thanks again.