The voice from heaven (Lk 3:22-3:22)

“A voice

Came from heaven.

‘You are my Son!

The Beloved!

I am well pleased

With you!’”

 

καὶ φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενέσθαι Σὺ εἶ ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα.

 

As in Mark, chapter 1:11, Luke, had a voice from heaven address Jesus directly.  In Matthew, chapter 3:17, this voice from the heavens did not address Jesus personally, while John, chapter 1, did not have any mention of a voice from heaven at all after the baptism of Jesus.  The idea of a heavenly voice had a very strong tradition in the Hebrew Bible, especially among the prophets.  Luke said that this voice came from heaven (καὶ φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενέσθαι).  It said that Jesus was his beloved son (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός).  He, the heavenly Father was well pleased with him (ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα).  All this was in the second person singular.  God the Father said that Jesus was his most beloved son in whom he was well pleased.  The gospel writers did not clarify whether others saw and heard these things.  In fact, this saying and incident after the baptism of Jesus might have been the basis for a Subordinationschristologie that Jesus the Son was somehow subordinate to the Father.  According to this adoption theory, God the Father had to send his Spirit to anoint and empower Jesus in this concrete event, before he could begin his public ministry.  This adoptionism theory, and the Christological disputes of the later 4th century CE, led to the diminution of this baptismal event within later patristic and medieval theological circles.  Nevertheless, the baptism of Jesus has become the starting point for any theological reflection about early Christian initiation practices.  It is not clear whether all the primitive Christian communities linked the baptism of Jesus with the baptism of the new followers of Christ, despite the fact that many post-apostolic Christians did so.

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The gospel preaching of John (Lk 3:18-3:18)

“Thus,

With many other exhortations,

John proclaimed

The good news gospel

To the people.”

 

Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν·

 

Only Luke has this explanation that John the Baptist with many other exhortations (Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν), other than those recounted here, proclaimed the good news to the people (εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν).  Was this the same good news or gospel (εὐηγγελίζετο) that Jesus would later preach?  Luke was the only one among the other gospel writers who linked John and Jesus as relatives in chapter 1:36.  John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, were relatives of some sort, thus making their children relatives or cousins also.  They could be compared in some ways to Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One was superior to the other, but the other played an indispensable role.  John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE.  He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement.  Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist.  This John certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic.  They may have originally been co-workers.  However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route.  However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles.  Some believe that Jesus may have been an early follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as clearly subservient to Jesus.  Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, such as the apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon, in John, chapter 1:40, and in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6.  There may have been also some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while.  Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

The voice from heaven (Mk 1:11-1:11)

“A voice

Came from heaven.

‘You are my Son!

The Beloved one!

With you

I am well pleased.’”

 

καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν Σὺ εἶ ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα.

 

This voice from the heavens addressed Jesus personally, as in Luke, chapter 3:22.  However, in Matthew, chapter 3:17, the voice was not directed at Jesus, while John had no mention of a voice from heaven.  Mark said that a voice came from the heavens (καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν) that said that Jesus was his beloved son (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός) with whom he was well pleased (ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα).  The idea of a heavenly voice had a very strong tradition in the Jewish writings of the Hebrew Bible, especially among the prophets.  The gospel writers did not clarify whether others saw or heard these things.  In fact, this saying and incident after the baptism of Jesus might have been the basis for a Subordinationschristologie that Jesus the Son was somehow subordinate to the Father.  According to this adoption theory, God the Father had to send his Spirit to anoint and empower Jesus in this concrete event, before he could begin his public ministry.  This adoptionist theory, and the Christological disputes of the later 4th century CE, led to the diminution of this baptismal event within later patristic and medieval theological circles.  Nevertheless, the baptism of Jesus has become the starting point for any theological reflection about early Christian initiation practices.  It is not clear whether all the primitive Christian communities linked the baptism of Jesus with the baptism of the new followers of Christ, despite the fact that many post-apostolic Christians did so.

 

John the Baptizer (Mk 1:4-1:4)

“John the Baptizer

Appeared

In the wilderness.

He was proclaiming

A baptism

Of repentance

For the forgiveness of sins.”

 

ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν

 

There is something similar, but not quite the same in all 4 gospel stories.  Matthew, chapter 3:1-2, called John the Baptist (βαπτιστὴς) not the Baptizer (ὁ βαπτίζων), but John was in the wilderness, like here, calling for repentance.  In Matthew, John also warned the people that the kingdom of heaven was near.  Luke, chapter 3:2:3, is actually closer to Mark, since he used the exact same words about John in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  John, chapter l:19-29, had a long dialogue with John and the priests and Levites about what he was doing.  Mark has this simple statement that John the Baptizer, or the one baptizing, appeared (ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων) in the wilderness or desert (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ).  How and what he did before or after did not matter.  He was there proclaiming or preaching a baptism of repentance, a life change, or metanoia (κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας) to have sins or faults forgiven or wiped away (ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).  John tied this repentant change of life style baptism with the forgiving of sins or wiping away of past faults, since he was calling for repentance.  John and Jesus are linked in some ways like Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One is superior to the other but the other plays an indispensable role.

Redaction criticism

The study of how the manuscript editions of the texts have changed is called redaction criticism.  This is the examination of these literary biblical document to discover how the biblical authors have formed and linked the materials together.  How did they edit these texts to establish their meaning and significance?

Fear of the Lord (Sir 32:14-32:17)

“Whoever seeks God

Will accept his discipline.

Whoever rises early

To seek him

Will find his favor.

Whoever seeks the law

Will be filled with it.

But the hypocrite

Will stumble at it.

Whoever fears the Lord

Will form true judgments.

They will kindle righteous deeds

Like a light.

The sinner

Will shun reproof.

He will find a decision

According to his liking.”

Once again, Sirach has linked everything to the fear of God. Anyone who is seeking God must accept God’s discipline. You have to get up early to seek God. You should seek the law and be filled with it. The law, of course, means the commandments of God. You should not be a hypocrite who stumbles around. If you fear the Lord, you will make true judgments that will end up with righteous deeds that kindle a light like a fire. The sinner does not like to be reprimanded. The sinner likes only the decisions that fit his way of thinking.