“After those days,
For five months,
Μετὰ δὲ ταύτας τὰς ἡμέρας συνέλαβεν Ἐλεισάβετ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ περιέκρυβεν ἑαυτὴν μῆνας πέντε,
Luke indicated that sometimes afterwards (Μετὰ δὲ ταύτας τὰς ἡμέρας), Elisabeth (Ἐλεισάβετ), the wife of Zechariah (ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ), conceived a child or became pregnant (συνέλαβεν). There is no indication whether this was a supernatural event or a natural event. Zechariah would have had to tell Elisabeth about his encounter with the angel Gabriel in the Temple sanctuary. Perhaps, he was able to write. However, Elizabeth remained in seclusion for 5 months, as she hid or concealed herself (καὶ περιέκρυβεν ἑαυτὴν μῆνας πέντε,). There was no great announcement about this future birth.
From the very first,
An orderly account
Most excellent Theophilus!”
ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι, κράτιστε Θεόφιλε,
Luke got personal. He said that after he had investigated or became acquainted with everything from the very first (παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν). In other words, Luke had studied these issues. He, or as he wrote, it seemed good to him (ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ), decided to write an orderly careful account (ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι) to the most excellent Theophilus (κράτιστε Θεόφιλε). Luke used the second personal singular to address Theophilus as “you”. Who was this Theophilus? The name means literally, lover or friend of God. This may be a name to include all people who love or are friendly with God. However, it may also be a highly literate Christian Roman official, since he is called most excellent (κράτιστε), which is a title of honor. In any case, the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1:1, was also addressed to him. Most of the educated Romans were fluent in Greek.
“A certain young man
Was following Jesus.
He was wearing
But a linen cloth.
They caught hold
But he left
The linen cloth.
He ran off naked.”
Καὶ νεανίσκος τις συνηκολούθει αὐτῷ περιβεβλημένος σινδόνα ἐπὶ γυμνοῦ, καὶ κρατοῦσιν αὐτόν·
ὁ δὲ καταλιπὼν τὴν σινδόνα γυμνὸς ἔφυγεν.
This story is unique to Mark, so that much speculation has centered around whether this was Mark himself of someone he knew. Anyway, the other gospel writers never mentioned this naked man. Was he a follower of Jesus from nearby Bethany or a vagrant? We do no not know. Mark thought it was important enough to write about it. He said that a certain young man was following Jesus (αὶ νεανίσκος τις συνηκολούθει αὐτῷ), perhaps indicating a follower of Jesus. He was wearing nothing but a linen cloth on his naked body (περιβεβλημένος σινδόνα ἐπὶ γυμνοῦ). They, the crowd that came to arrest Jesus, caught hold of him or seized him just like Jesus (καὶ κρατοῦσιν αὐτόν). However, he left his linen cloth behind (ὁ δὲ καταλιπὼν τὴν σινδόνα), as he ran off naked into the night (γυμνὸς ἔφυγεν). Apparently, no one followed him.
οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· Ἐπέτρεψεν Μωϋσῆς βιβλίον ἀποστασίου γράψαι καὶ ἀπολῦσαι.
This answer of the Pharisees about Moses and divorce can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:7, with some minor changes. The Pharisees are here responding to the question of Jesus, rather than the other way around, as in Matthew. Mark indicated that the Pharisees said (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν) that Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce or dismissal (Ἐπέτρεψεν Μωϋσῆς βιβλίον ἀποστασίου γράψαι). Thus, the man could then divorce her or send her away (καὶ ἀπολῦσαι). The reference to Moses is from Deuteronomy, chapter 24:1-4, where there was talk about a certificate of divorce, and the possibility of many marriages. This certificate was called in Hebrew a “get.” Clearly divorce for a man was okay. However, after the second marriage there was a defilement.
Do all their deeds
To be seen by other men.
Their phylacteries broad.
πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα,
This is unique to Matthew. Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes did all their deeds to be seen by other men (πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις). They broadened their phylacteries (πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν) and enlarged their long fringes or tassels (καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα) on their clothes. Thus, they had distinctive garments that they wore. These phylacteries were leather boxes that contained scriptural passages. They would wear them on their forearms or head as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:9-16. and Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-9, that was closely tied to the “Shema.” They were to write these biblical sayings of the law on their hands and forehead. On the other hand, the fringes or tassels on the bottom of their clothing was based on Numbers, chapter 15:37-41. They made the tassels on the four corners of their garments, with a blue chord on the fringe of each corner. This was to remember all the commandments of Yahweh, a nice little reminder about their obligations. Ever today, some Jewish groups wear these tassels called the tzitzit. The same command about tassels can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 22:12. Apparently, the Pharisees may have been the only ones wearing these larger tassels and large prayer boxes.
Fundamentalists interpret Scripture with certitude, guidance, and peace. The Bible is God’s direct, divine word to humanity. 39% of Americans believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, that the authors were inspired to write the specific exact words. The literal, plain meaning is the primary meaning of a word, the simple intention of the author. However, there are spiritual or deeper meanings in an allegorical or moral sense. There is no need for critical history and literary analysis, since it is plain and clear already.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, his followers expected him to return at any moment, certainly within their own lifetime. There was little motivation to write anything down for future generations. However, as the various eyewitnesses began to die, there was more concern. The missionary needs of the church grew, so that there was a demand for written versions of the founder’s life and teachings. The stages of this process included this first oral tradition stage. Then the stories and sayings of Jesus were passed on largely as separate self-contained units, but not in any order. There were some written collections of miracle stories, parables, and sayings, with the oral tradition continuing alongside these. Finally, there were the written proto-gospels that served as the sources for the canonical gospels. The final gospels were formed by combining proto-gospels, written collections and still-current oral tradition. All four gospels use the Hebrew Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages. They interpreted texts or alluded to various biblical themes. Their source was the Greek version of the scriptures, called the Septuagint, since they did not seem familiar with the original Hebrew.
Jesus did not write anything because he lived in a predominant oral society. The apostles of Jesus followed suit and transmitted the living oral tradition to their disciples and the new followers of Jesus the Christ. The apostles did not need to write anything, since they could explain everything. However, once Christianity moved out of Jerusalem there was a need to write things down in a more permanent form. The early Pauline letters to the new Christian Churches show how Christianity spread. Increasing time and distance from the place of Jerusalem and the time of Jesus led to a decision to write things down. In order to prevent heresy or diverse views, while at the same time encouraging the early Christians, the need for a written record became evident.
The New Testament references the Hebrew Bible that came to be known as the Old Testament. The New Testament books were not referred to until the second century of the common era. Consensus on its contents did not occur until the late fourth century. There is nothing wrong with different points of view or inconsistencies. The first two chapters of Genesis are not contradictory. The synoptic gospels give different versions of the Baptism of Jesus. Most of us just say “so what?” We understand different points of view. The Bible had different authors over a considerable amount of time. The Old Testament took hundreds of years to complete. The New Testament took thirty to sixty years to finish. Very few could write, so that oral tradition dominated in that society. The texts themselves were rewritten, so that we say that the texts we have, with all its corrections, is the one that God wants us to have.