Quirinius of Syria (Lk 2:2-2:2)

“This was the first registration.

It was taken

When Quirinius was

Governor of Syria.”

 

αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου.

 

Luke noted that this first registration was taken (αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο) when Quirinius was governing Syria (ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου).  Quirinius was the legate of Syria from 6 CE-12 CE.  He was born 51 BCE and died at the age of 72 in 21 CE.  He did take a census or registration for tax purposes in 6 CE when he took over.  This led to the revolt of Judas the Galilean and the formation of the Jewish Zealots, who opposed Roman rule.  They opposed this census for the purposes of taxation by Quirinius, the Governor of Syria.  The one problem is that this census took place 10 years after Herod had died.  However, the birth of Jesus and John was placed during the reign of Herod.  Thus, there is a problem with this dating by Luke, who may have been confused about these historical details.

 

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Zechariah was terrified (Lk 1:12-1:12)

“When Zechariah

Saw the angel,

He was terrified.

Fear overwhelmed him.”

 

καὶ ἐταράχθη Ζαχαρίας ἰδών, καὶ φόβος ἐπέπεσεν ἐπ’ αὐτόν.

 

Luke noted that when Zechariah saw this angel (Ζαχαρίας ἰδών), he was terrified, troubled, or disturbed (καὶ ἐταράχθη).  Fear or reverential terror (καὶ φόβος) came over him or overwhelmed him (ἐπέπεσεν ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  A supernatural presence or an extra-terrestrial non-human would scare most people.  Luke often emphasized this religious fear or awesomeness for God and his messengers.

Male and female become one flesh (Mk 10:6-10:8)

“But from the beginning

Of creation,

‘God made them

Male

And female.

For this reason,

A man shall leave

His father

And his mother.

He shall be joined

To his wife.

The two shall become

One flesh.’

Thus,

They are no longer two,

But one flesh.”

 

ἀπὸ δὲ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς·

ἕνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα,

καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν· ὥστε οὐκέτι εἰσὶν δύο ἀλλὰ μία σάρξ.

 

This saying of Jesus that points to the importance and indissolubility of marriage can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:4-6.  Mark indicates that Jesus used the creation story of Genesis, chapters 1:27 and 2:24, to emphasize his point.  He noted that from the beginning of creation (ἀπὸ δὲ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως) God had made humans male and female (ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτοὺς).  At the pinnacle of creation, God created humans in his image, as both men and women were created equal in God’s image.  Jesus continued that a man leaves his father and mother (ἕνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα).  Some Orthodox texts have the phrase about being joined to his wife (καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ).  The two of them then will become one flesh (καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν), so that they are no longer two but one flesh (ὥστε οὐκέτι εἰσὶν δύο ἀλλὰ μία σὰρξ).  Obviously, this has become part of many marriage ceremonial rituals.

The apostles would scatter (Mt 26:31-26:31)

“Then Jesus said

To them.

‘You will all

Become deserters

Because of me

This night.

It is written.

‘I will strike

The shepherd.

Then the sheep

Of the flock

Will be scattered.’”

 

Τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Πάντες ὑμεῖς σκανδαλισθήσεσθε ἐν ἐμοὶ ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ταύτῃ· γέγραπται γάρ Πατάξω τὸν ποιμένα, καὶ διασκορπισθήσονται τὰ πρόβατα τῆς ποίμνης·

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:27.  Jesus told his 12 disciple apostolic leaders (Τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) that all of them were going to be shocked, offended, and stumble because of Jesus (Πάντες ὑμεῖς σκανδαλισθήσεσθε ἐν ἐμοὶ).  They were going to desert him this very night (ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ταύτῃ).  Jesus noted that it was written (γέγραπται γάρ) in the prophet Zechariah, chapter 13:7, that because the shepherd was struck (γάρ Πατάξω τὸν ποιμένα), the sheep in the flock would be scattered or dispersed (καὶ διασκορπισθήσονται τὰ πρόβατα τῆς ποίμνης).  Thus, the same would happen to them.  As something was going to happen to Jesus, they would all stumble and scatter, while deserting or leaving Jesus.

 

The crowd was astonished (Mt 22:33-22:33)

“When the crowd

Heard this,

They were astonished

At his teaching.”

 

καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ὄχλοι ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ.

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:27, and Luke, chapter 20:39-40, but Luke has the scribes so astonished that they never asked him another question.  Once again, Matthew noted that when the crowds heard this (καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ὄχλοι), they were astonished or amazed (ἐξεπλήσσοντο) at his teaching (ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ).

Wisdom and incarnation (Bar 3:35-3:37)

“This is our God!

No other can be

Compared to him!

He found the whole way

To knowledge.

He gave her

To his servant

Jacob.

He gave her

To Israel

Whom he loved.

Afterward she appeared

On earth.

She lived

With humans.”

This section of Baruch indicates that wisdom became human in some sense, like an incarnation. Surely God, and not Yahweh, was the creator of the world. Thus no other god or person could compare with him. He had full knowledge of everything. He was omniscient. Thus he gave wisdom to his servant Jacob. He also gave wisdom to Israel, whom he loved. The use of both Jacob and Israel is interesting, since it implies that Jacob was a person and Israel was a name of all his descendants. Then there is the final intriguing comment about how she, wisdom, appeared on earth and lived with humans. Some Christians see this as a hint about the incarnation of Jesus. However, it should be noted that the reference is to a she, a female. Wisdom was generally seen as feminine, not masculine like Jesus. Finally, she has already appeared, so that this is not a future aspirational comment. Wisdom is already living among humans. You just have to find this personification of wisdom here on earth.