Monday, June 11, 2007


I recently read Jenny Read-Heimerdinger's "Where is Emmaus? Clues in the Text of Luke 24 in Codex Bazae" (Studies in the Early Text of the Gospels and Acts, ed. D. G. K. Taylor. Atlanta: SBL, 1999, pp. 229-244). Basically, Read-Heimerdinger suggests that in Luke 24.13, Bazae's reading of Oulammaous is to be preferred over Vaticanus' Emmaous. Oulammaous was the former name of Bethel (Gen28.19). Jacob was responsible for the name change. Genesis 28.10-20 tells of Jacob's marking of the spot where God dwelt on earth (thus the change to "Bethel"). Jacob dreams of a ladder, conneting heaven and earth, upon which angels descend and ascend.

I agree with Read-Heimerdinger's assessment. But I'd like to add something to her notion. I have suggested before that Luke is perhaps rewriting John's history in symbolic or parabolic form (cf. my post on
the rich man and Lazarus). (I am also working on the possibility of Luke's "Cleopas" [Lk24.18] being John's "Clopas" [Jn9.25]). If the preferred reading of Luke 24.13 is Bazae's Oulammaous in place of Vaticanus' Emmaous, and if Luke is perhaps rewriting John's history, I am compelled to believe that John 1.45-51 is rewritten in Luke 24. John 1.45-51 reads:

45: Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
46: Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
47: Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"
48: Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
49: Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
50: Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these."
51: And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

Notice a two important parallels between John's text and Luke 24.13-35:

1. Both speak of Jesus' fulfillment of the "Moses and the prophets" (Jn1.45 // Lk24.27).

2. Both speak of visions of the angels (Jn1.51 // Lk24.23). Moreover, Luke's mention of Oulammaous (24.13) directly links his story to Jacob's dream (Gen28), in which angels were descending and ascending, representing God's provision for mediation between heaven and earth (cf. Jn1.51).

Copyright 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sceva: Initial Thoughts

I am working on the pericope in Acts 19 about the seven sons of the "Jewish high priest" (RSV) Sceva. The name "Sceva" is nowhere attested of any Jewish priestly figure, which has caused many commentators to suggest that he is a Jew who became a "chief priest" in an Imperial pagan cult. Others make much of the variant reading involving arxierewn ("high priest", RSV), suggesting the more general "chief priest" is to be preferred.

Perhaps a more interesting suggestion is offered by Luke Timothy Johnson (Luke, Sacra Pagina Commentary), that the latin equivalent of the greek Skeua is in view. In Latin it means "untrustworthy". Perhaps Luke is meaning to indicate that the priesthood known first-hand to Theophilusis from "untrustworthy" stock. The "seven sons" would then represent Theophilus' and his four brothers, Annas his father, and Caiaphas his brother-in-law - all of whom have been implicated, either specifically or generally, in Luke's previous volume (for example, see
here, and here).

I understand that The Anchor Bible Dictionary (5:1004) claims that "Sceva" may mean "left-handed". I'm not yet sure if there's something to this. I will be checking this next trip to the library.

Copyright 2007