The wisdom of God (Lk 11:49-11:49)

“Therefore,

The Wisdom of God said.

‘I will send them

Prophets

And apostles.

They will kill

And persecute

Some of them.’”

 

διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡ σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶπεν Ἀποστελῶ εἰς αὐτοὺς προφήτας καὶ ἀποστόλους, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀποκτενοῦσιν καὶ διώξουσιν,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the Wisdom of God (διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡ σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶπεν) said that he would send them prophets (Ἀποστελῶ εἰς αὐτοὺς προφήτας) and apostles (καὶ ἀποστόλους).  However, they would kill (ἀποκτενοῦσιν) and persecute (καὶ διώξουσιν) some of them (καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν).  There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 23:34, perhaps a Q source, about the killing of prophets.  Jesus said, via Matthew, that he was going to send them prophets, sages or wise men, and scribes, the heroes of the Hebrew Scripture and the Mosaic Law.  However, instead of respecting them, they were going to kill some, crucify some, and flog or scourge some in their synagogues.  They were going to go from town to town persecuting some also.  Jesus had mentioned the possibility of death or crucifixion for his followers earlier.  Luke had Jesus slightly more restrained here.  He mentioned the Wisdom of God (ἡ σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ) as he had done earlier in chapter 7:35, either indicating Holy Scripture or the personification of wisdom.  What do you know about the wisdom of God?

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One of the risen prophets (Lk 9:19-9:19)

“The disciples answered.

‘John the Baptist!’

But others say.

‘Elijah!’

While others say.

‘One of the ancient prophets

Has risen!’”

 

οἱ δὲ ἀποκριθέντες εἶπαν Ἰωάνην τὸν Βαπτιστήν, ἄλλοι δὲ Ἡλείαν, ἄλλοι δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη.

 

Luke said that his disciples answered him by saying (οἱ δὲ ἀποκριθέντες εἶπαν) that people thought that he was John the Baptist (Ἰωάνην τὸν Βαπτιστήν), Elijah (ἄλλοι δὲ Ἡλείαν), or one of the ancient prophets (ἄλλοι δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων) that has risen (ἀνέστη).  A similar response can be found in Matthew, chapter 16:14, and Mark, chapter 9:19, but there are differences.  Matthew is the only one who explicitly mentioned Jeremiah, while Mark and Luke had the more generic term of one of the prophets, rather than any individual prophet.  Mark said that the disciples responded to him that some people said he was John the Baptist, while others said Elijah.  This Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  Finally, other people said that he was one of the many prophets.  No one called him the Messiah or Christ.  Matthew indicated that the disciples responded that some people said that John the Baptist was the Son of Man.  Others said that Elijah was the Son of Man.  Still others said that the Son of Man was Jeremiah, a Judean prophet active from 626 BCE to 587 BCE, around the time of the destruction of the Temple, .  The Book of Jeremiah was one of the 3 major prophetic books of Hebrew Scripture. Finally, other people said that one of the many other ancient prophets was the Son of Man.  Matthew and Mark did not mention that Jesus was the resurrected form of these people like Luke did.  Would you consider Jesus the Son of Man?

Elijah or ancient prophets (Lk 9:8-9:8)

“Some others said

That Elijah had appeared.

Others said

That one of the ancient prophets

Had risen.”

 

ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη, ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη.

 

Luke said that some people said Jesus was the appearance of Elijah (ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη).  Others said that Jesus was one of the ancient prophets who had risen (ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη).  There was nothing about this speculation in Matthew.  However, Mark, chapter 6:15, had something similar, almost word for word.  Some people said that Jesus was Elijah.  Still others said that he was a prophet, like the former ancient prophets.  Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israelite prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  There was no doubt that the role of Elijah dominated late Jewish thought at the time of Jesus, with his name appearing around John the Baptist, the transfiguration, and the death of Jesus.  The prophets were the holy men of Hebrew scripture who brought the word of Yahweh to his people.  Who would you compare Jesus to?

Title

“The Gospel according to Mathew”

 

Τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον

 

What is a gospel?  Who is Matthew?  The English term gospel comes from the Old English ‘godspel.’  There was a musical play with the name “Godspell” that opened on Broadway in 1971.  Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel means good news or good tidings.  This term originally meant the Christian message itself.  However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books where this message was set out.  Thus, the gospels became known as written accounts of the career and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  This Gospel of Matthew is anonymous, since there is no explicit mention of a named author within the text itself.  This title (Τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον), however was added some time in the second century, perhaps with Papias of Hierapolis (100–140 CE), an early bishop and apostolic father.  The apostle Matthew was among the early followers and apostles of Jesus.  He was a first century Galilean, the son of Alpheus.  As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek.  His fellow Jews would have despised him because he was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force.  What we do know for certain is that the author of this gospel was probably a traditional male Jew, familiar with the technical and legal aspects of Hebrew Scripture.  He wrote in a polished Semitic synagogue Greek style.  Most scholars hold that the Gospel of Matthew was a product of the last quarter of the 1st century, a work of the second generation of Christians, probably sometime between 70-110 CE, or more precisely between 80-90 CE.  The defining event for this community was the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, during the Jewish–Roman War of 66–73 CE.  The author of this Gospel of Matthew wrote for a community of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians probably located in Syria, just north of Galilee.  Antioch was the largest city in Roman Syria and the third-largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria.  This is where the term “Christian” was first used.  Thus, it would seem like an appropriate place for Jewish Christians in the second half of the first century.   For practical traditional purposes, I will use the name Matthew as the author of this gospel.

Why are there two testaments?

The Bible is the record of the Hebrew people and the early Christians.  Thus, we have two kinds of testaments or covenants.  The historically older belief system of the people of Israel, was written from around 1,000 BCE to around 150 BCE.  On the other hand, the newer testament or covenant was written between 50 CE and 125 CE.  However, both testaments or covenants have a common base in the Hebrew Scripture.

The address of the second letter (2 Macc 1:10-1:10)

“The people of Jerusalem

And of Judea

And the senate

And Judas,

To Aristobulus,

Who is of the family of the anointed priests,

Teacher of King Ptolemy,

And to the Jews in Egypt,

Greetings!

Good health!”

Once again, it is the people of Jerusalem and Judea who are sending this letter. However, here there is a mention of a Jewish senate, perhaps modeled after the Roman Senate that was also mentioned by Jonathan in chapter 12 of 1 Maccabees. Judas, mentioned here in this letter, is Judas Maccabeus. Thus this letter actually preceded the first letter since it about 40 years earlier, around 164 BCE. Once again we are not sure of the author. The recipient, however, is Aristobulus, who was an Alexandrian Jew, who somehow was a teacher to King Ptolemy VII in Egypt who died in 144 BCE. This may be Aristobulus of Paneas, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who attempted to combine Hebrew Scripture with Greek philosophical thought who lived in the 2nd century BCE. He argued that the essentials of Greek philosophy and metaphysics were derived from Jewish sources. He may have been the author of the Book or Sirach. Somehow he was related to a family of anointed priests that came with King Ptolemy I (367-283 BCE) to Egypt. This greeting is for all the Jews in Egypt. So this is a Greek letter to the Greek speaking Jews in Egypt from the Jews in Judea and Jerusalem who were against the Greek influence in their life.