Thursday, July 31, 2008

Malachi and Luke

I have argued here that Luke is writing to Theophilus the high priest of 37-41CE. Because Luke seems to have priestly interests, I gave the book of Malachi a once-over last night, for it was written against the priests. There seems to be good evidence that Luke uses Malachi at times (aside from the citation of Mal4.6 in Lk1.17).

Luke 18 particularly is shot through with allusions of Malachi 3.5, which reads thus:

"Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness

against the sorcerers,

against the adulterers,

against those who swear falsely,

against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the orphan,

against those who thrust aside the sojourner,

and those do not fear me,

says the Lord of hosts."

In Luke 18.1-8, we find a defense of WIDOWS and the condemnation of those who NEITHER FEARED GOD nor regarded man. In 18.9-14, we find an implicit denouncement of the Pharisaic haughtiness regarding ADULTERY and EXTORTION. In 18.18-30, we find Jesus reciting the Laws regarding ADULTERY, STEALING, and BEARING FALSE WITNESS.

One cannot help but wonder why Jesus only names the five Laws he names in 18.20. Malachi 1.6 reads, "A son honors his father...." I wonder if this is perhaps why Jesus is including the Law to honor father and mother. (Of course, there is no mention of murder in Malachi, yet Jesus includes the prohibition to kill.) The other Laws mentioned by Jesus find root in Malachi 3.5. I believe Luke's Jesus has Malachi in mind here.

Additionally, the issue of the SOJOURNER is taken up in Luke 10.29-37, the story of the good Samaritan. Defenses of WIDOWS appear in Luke 20.46-47; 21.1-4. SORCERY might be addresed by Jesus in Luke 11.14-26. And the issue of ADULTERY also emerges in Luke 16.18.

Further allusions may be included:

Mal1.6 // Lk6.46
Mal3.1 // Lk7.27 (citation)
Mal4.2 // Lk1.78 (so Marshall, Luke, 94)

Finally, I read somewhere that the Jewish Targum identifies Ezra as the author of Malachi. I must find the reference. Jewish tradition apparently recognized Malachi's relation to Ezra and Nehemiah.


Joe said...

Lee, I agree that Luke is addressing a high priest but I believe you have the wrong one. IMHO, he addresses Mattathias ben Theophilus (65-66 ce). See last section of this article. Remember that Luke refers to Joseph Caiaphas (18-36 CE) as "Caiaphas". I believe the same pattern holds true in his reference to Theophilus (and to Ananus for that matter).

LTD said...


As I see it, we cannot conclude that by "Theophilus" Luke means to refer to Mattathias ben Theophilus on the (lone?) evidence that Luke uses "Caiaphas" to refer to Joseph Caiaphas. First, Luke is not the only one who refers to Joseph Caiaphas as simply "Caiaphas" (cf. Jn 11.49; 18.13-24). Second, it would have to be demonstrated that this was a normal way to identify a priest who, in such an instance, could easily have been mistaken for his brother or father. I have researched this enough to know it cannot be demonstrated. Nor does Josephus practice this kind of naming of individuals. Your case rests on arbitrary identifications of individuals.

If "Theophilus" does not mean Theophilus ben Ananus, then which son of Theophilus could Luke have meant to refer? John ben Theophilus, father to Johanna (evidenced in an ossuary)? Or Matthias ben Theophilus, grandson to Ananus?

Also, I believe there is a difference between Mattathias and Matthias, the latter being the name of Theophilus' son, high priest of 65CE.