jump to navigation

Preface August 7, 2009

Posted by Lee in 0a: Preface.
add a comment

To Richard H. Anderson

This blog serves as a living commentary on Luke-Acts. It is living, in that it will most probably be edited and modified time and again. (Please visit the How to Use and Edit Log pages regarding the processes of entries and edits.)

Several years ago, I came across the work of Richard Anderson on the Gospel of Luke. Intrigued by his proposal regarding Luke’s recipient, “Most Excellent Theophilus”, I began working with Richard as a research assistant of sorts, logging my work at Most Excellent Theophilus. While Richard and I have not always agreed these several years on all things Luke-Acts, he and I continue a wonderful relationship to this day. I am indebted to him. We are two laymen striving to remain relevant in the academic field of New Testament studies.

With Richard, I believe that Luke wrote to Theophilus the high priest of 37-41CE. His father was Annas, high priest of 6-15CE (mentioned variously in Luke, John, and Acts). Annas had five sons, all of whom served as high priest: Eleazar, Jonathan (serving twice), Theophilus, Matthias, and Ananus. Theophilus was brother-in-law to Caiaphas, the high priest from 18-36CE. This family filled the office for 35 of 37 years, between 6 and 43CE. Theophilus’ son, Matthias, served as the second-to-last high priest before the fall of the temple in 70CE. He had a granddaughter named Johanna, evidenced in an ossuary. Luke alone mentions a Johanna, twice (8.4; 24.10). (These historical facts are taken up in detail in addenda, “The Family of Annas” [soon to come].)

While this may imply an early date for Luke’s Gospel, this commentary will not address issues regarding the synoptic problem proper. Such issues certainly deserve attention, and may eventually be given their due, perhaps in a series of addenda. But, at present, there is no plan for them.

This commentary seeks to address each pericope of Luke’s two volumes. Admittedly, it is sometimes assumed that Luke’s recipient is Theophilus ben Annas,  though the hope is that such an assumption is demonstrated throughout. However, one need not adopt the Theophilus Proposal, as Richard and I have come to call it, in order to find value in this work.

This is not a critical commentary proper. It does not delve into the inner-workings of Luke’s Greek and the various textual traditions at every turn. It does not make comparisons with other Gospels at each pericope. It does not consider the various methodological approaches offered in scholarship proper. Nor does it reference all known secondary literature previous to it. Rather, it takes up the narrative elements and content of Luke’s work, attempting to present a cohesive two-volume story. In that sense, this commentary attempts to address Luke’s text on its own terms, with historical, social, geographic, onomastic, rhetorical issues in view. (I recall that Joel Green’s NICNT volume on Luke also claims to take Luke’s Gospel on its own terms. Green’s work is much more critical than the present work, and surely more valuable on various matters. This commentary is not offered as a corrective to Green’s volume. They just happen to share a similar starting point.) The entries here are more like short essays than commentary notes. Were this commentary to be printed on paper, the volume would most likely be of modest length in comparison to others.

I am indebted to several others for their insights over the years. Richard Fellows has demonstrated the utmost care and grace in critiquing my work. His work in protective anonymity and the phenomenon of name change in the ancient world have proven most helpful time and again. John Lupia has provided fascinating, often rogue insights that have stimulated me to explore various avenues, for good and bad, I would have otherwise ignored. Those on the Synoptic-L e-list have likewise been influential. I have not and do not often participate in the discussions, but am a devoted lurker. Thank you all.

I hope you enjoy reading.

Lee T. Dahn

Friendswood, Tx