Zacchaeus welcomes Jesus (Lk 19:6-19:6)

“Thus,

Zacchaeus

Hurried down.

He was happy

To welcome Jesus.”

 

καὶ σπεύσας κατέβη, καὶ ὑπεδέξατο αὐτὸν χαίρων.

 

Luke said that Zacchaeus hurried down (καὶ σπεύσας κατέβη) from the tree.  He was happy to welcome Jesus (καὶ ὑπεδέξατο αὐτὸν χαίρων).  Instead of Zacchaeus seeking Jesus, Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus, so that he must have been well pleased at this turn of events.  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  Did you realize that when you are seeking God, he is seeking you?

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The decree of Caesar Augustus (Lk 2:1-2:1)

“In those days,

A decree went out

From the Emperor

Caesar Augustus

That all the world

Should be registered.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην.

 

Luke tried to put these events within a historical perspective.  He said that in those days (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις), a decree or dogma went out (ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα) from the Emperor, Caesar Augustus (παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου), that all the world should be registered (ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην).  Could all the world be registered in a census?  Luke referred to the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who ruled the Roman empire with his famous Pax Romana, or peace everywhere, from 27 BCE to 14 CE, precisely the time of these events.  Augustus was born in 63 BCE so that he would have been 77 years old when he died.  He was sometimes called god, son of god, savior, or father.  As the adopted son of Julius Caesar, he defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra to gain sole control of the empire.  He set up an intricate set of taxes for the empire, so that there was a consent source of income.  Thus, the local tax collectors or publicans became rich, but disliked, official people in the empire.  The month of August was named after him, just as July was named after Julius Caesar.  However, there is no evidence of any call to register the whole world.  However, this would not have been inconsistent with his taxing plans, since the main reason for any registration or census would be for tax purposes.  Thus, this is possible, but unlikely.

The sources (Lk 1:2-1:2)

“These events

Were handed down

To us

By those

Who from the beginning

Were eyewitnesses

And servants

Of the word.”

 

καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν οἱ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ λόγου,

 

Luke clearly says where his sources are coming from, unlike the other gospel writers.  He said that these things or events were handed down to him (καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν) by people who were with Jesus from the beginning (οἱ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς).  These were the eyewitnesses (αὐτόπται) and those being the servants or ministers (καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι) of the word (τοῦ λόγου), the early disciples and apostles of Jesus.  Luke was a second-generation Christian, since many of these events would have taken place before he was born.  Therefore, he was going to rely on those who were with Jesus from the beginning.  These early ministers or Jesus followers would be an important source for Luke.

Historical Criticism

Historical bible criticism attempts to establish the historical milieu of a document.  This involves many things and various disciplines, such as linguistics, sociology, anthropology, and comparative literature studies of various kinds.  Certainly, it is important to establish the time, place, events, persons, general milieu, and sources.  All of this is necessary in order to help the reader understand this literary document.  The contemporary experience of reality should help to establish the meaning and significance of ancient texts, even though these ancient texts had a worldview different from that of the modern world.

Are the gospels biographies?

The gospels belong to the ancient genre of biography.  These ancient biographies were concerned with providing examples for readers to emulate, while preserving and promoting the subject’s reputation and memory.  Thus, they were about kerygma or preaching.  They were not biographies in the modern sense.  The biographies of Jesus are more like apocalyptic history, depicting Jesus as caught up in events near the end of time.  Despite this, scholars are confident that the gospels do provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus.  There is no guarantee that the gospels are precisely historical in our modern sense of history.  These are faith documents, not eyewitness accounts.  Modern scholars are cautious of relying on the gospels uncritically, but nevertheless they do provide a good idea of the public life of Jesus.

Yahweh recalls his saving action in Canaan (Mic 6:5-6:5)

“O my people!

Remember now

What King Balak

Of Moab devised!

Remember now

What Balaam,

The son of Beor,

Answered him!

Remember now

What happened

From Shittim

To Gilgal!

Thus,

You may know

The saving acts

Of Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Micah, wanted his people to remember his saving acts when they first came to Canaan.  They were to remember King Balak of Moab and his interaction with the prophet Balaam, as in Numbers, chapters 22-24, when they were first approaching Canaan.  Then they were also to remember what happened between Shittim and Gilgal.  Gilgal was the first camp in Canaan, while Shittim was the last camp in their invasion of this country, as outlined in Numbers, chapter 25.  Remembering these events was very important.