Sunday, June 15, 2008

Johanna and Spirit-infirmities

In Lk8.1-3, we are told that Johanna was one of the women supporting Jesus' ministry who had been healed of "evil spirits and infirmities", pneumaton poneron kai astheneion. It has been posited on this blog that Luke's recipient is Theophilus the high priest of 37-41CE, that his granddaughter Johanna is the same as mentioned by Luke (Lk8.3; 24.10). I wonder if in Luke's story he included the episode in which Johanna was healed, though not naming her. Two episodes strike me as possibilities:

1) The story of Jairus' daughter, a twelve-year-old dying girl (Lk8.40-42, 49ff.). This story comes in close proximity to the first mention of Johanna. I realize the biggest problem with this assertion is that the evidence linking Theophilus with Johanna (an ossuary) mentions Johanna's father, John/Johnathan (Yehohanan). But Luke might perhaps be using a different name, Jairus, for Johanna's protection (a common enough practice in this period, as can be demonstrated elsewhere in the NT), which would also account for Luke's keeping this daughter anonymous. (Protective anonymity in such an instance would have been necessary, given that "Jairus" was a ruler of the synagogue, archon tes synagoges; 8.41.) Further, as best as I can tell, Luke's Johanna, if she were the granddaughter of Theophilus the high priest of 37-41CE, could not have been much older that 12 or 15 or 18, which brings up the second possibility:

2) The woman with a crippling spirit of 18 years (Lk13.1ff.). Again we find Jesus in and around a synagogue healing an infirmity. And again we find a ruler of the synagogue present, though this time indignant that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath (13.14). This episode is interesting because the woman's affliction is said to be "a spirit of infirmity", pneuma astheneias (13.11) - the very same description as that of the women of 8.1-3: pneumaton poneron kai astheneion, "evil spirits and infirmities".

These episodes are striking to me because Luke has given them a kind of place of prominence, with rich details (even names, or pseudonymns, and ages of individuals) absent in other similar healing pericopes. They are high-profile episodes in Luke's story. These episodes are significant in some way for Luke's account for Theophilus, as though they mean to be more than mere proofs that Jesus was legitimate.

I also wonder if perhaps the woman with an issue of blood (Lk8.43ff.) represents Suzanna, another woman said to be healed among Jesus' supporters (8.3). She must have been much older, having been afflicted with the issue of blood for 12 years. But, of course, given the data, this is impossible to demonstrate. I only thought it worth mentioning because this episode is likewise in close proximity to the intitial mention of these women.

I intend to look further into this "Jairus", as to whether or not his name is significant for Luke's story (meaning "God will enlighten/arouse"), or whether or not Luke is pointing to an individual possibly known to Theophilus. Because Luke rarely names individual players in his various episodes (e.g., Cleopas as the only named one of the two on the road to Emmaus), it is most probably significant (to Theophilus) when he does name someone.

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