Rob Bradshaw has collected John Pitman’s 13-volume set of John Lightfoot’s works. Among other things, Lightfoot’s works include a series of “Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations” on Matthew–1 Corinthians (i.e., discussions of texts in light of select Talmudic and other Jewish literary parallels). Via a convenient master table of contents page, the set is available in one PDF file per printed volume.
In Matt 4:5–7; Luke 4:9–12, Jesus cites Deut 6:16 in response to his temptation at the temple. The full text there runs “you shall not test Yahweh, your God, as you tested him at Massah” (Deut 6:16; לא תנסו את־יהוה אלהיכם כאשר נסיתם במסה) and refers to Israel’s grumbling about their lack of water in Exod 17:1–7. In this narrative, Exodus reports that Moses “ called the name of the place ‘Massah’ and ‘Meribah’ on account of the dispute of the sons of Israel and of their testing Yahweh, saying, ‘Is Yahweh in our midst or not?’” (Exod 17:7; ויקרא שם המקום מסה ומריבה על־ריב בני ישראל ועל נסתם את־יהוה לאמר היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין; cf. Num 20:2–13). Although this interpretation is Exodus’s own, Exodus does not directly narrate the people’s posing this question (Exod 17:1–6). Instead, they demand water from Moses and inquire whether lacking it indicates that they have been brought into the wilderness to die of thirst (Exod 17:2–3). Thus, the pericope’s interpretive conclusion seems to represent the recorded speech as tantamount to having asked the question “Is Yahweh in our midst or not?” (Exod 17:7; היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין).
When Jesus quotes Deut 6:16 to the devil, he quotes only the first part of the text about the inappropriateness of testing God and omits the direct reference to Massah (Matt 4:7; Luke 4:12). Yet, the connection with Massah apparently helps make Deut 6:16 an apt retort to the temptation in which the devil has taken Jesus to “the pinnacle of the temple” (Matt 4:5; Luke 4:9; τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ). Once there, the devil urges Jesus to jump and trust Yahweh’s angels to catch him, in the words of Ps 91:11–12, “lest you should strike your foot on a stone” (Matt 4:6; Luke 4:11; μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου).
Yahweh “will [indeed] command his angels” (τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται), and they will indeed minister to Jesus (Matt 4:7, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:10). Yet, Yahweh is himself one who does touch foot to stone: when Israel was at Massah, Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb” (Exod 17:6; הנני עמד לפניך שם על־הצור בחרב).
Thus, even as Jesus enacts what should have been Israel’s proper response of trusting Yahweh, so he also enacts Yahweh’s faithful care over his people. In Ps 91:4, somewhat earlier than the devil’s quotation, the psalmist says Yahweh “will cover you with his pinion, and under his wings you will seek refuge” (באברתו יסך לך ותחת־כנפיו תחסה). In one respect, though much differently than the devil now suggests, Jesus is the properly trusting recipient of his Father’s care (Matt 4:6, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:11). In another, Jesus is the hen that would gather her chicks to protect them—even at the cost of his own life—if they would but come under his “wings” (Matt 23:29–39; Luke 13:31–35; πτέρυγες).
 Perhaps also in the background of this interchange is an exegetical tradition about Massah like that represented in Tg. Ps.-J. Exod 17:6: “Behold, I will stand before you there at the place where you saw the mark of the foot on the rock at Horeb” (Kaufman, Pseudo-Jonathan; האנא קאים קדמך תמן באתרא דתיחמי רושם ריגלא על טינרא בחורב). Thus, on the targumist’s reading, “the foot” (ריגלא) had apparently come into contact with “the rock at Horeb” (טינרא בחורב) with sufficient force to leave a “mark” (רושם).
The latest reviews from the Review of Biblical Literature include:
New Testament and Cognate Studies
- Jo-Ann A. Brant, John, reviewed by Matthew Gordley
- Bart B. Bruehler, A Public and Political Christ: The Social-Spatial Characteristics of Luke 18:35–19:43 and the Gospel as a Whole in Its Ancient Context, reviewed by John Cowan
- Jaime Clark-Soles, Engaging the Word: The New Testament and the Christian Believer, reviewed by Ronald Witherup
- Gerald J. Donker, The Text of the Apostolos in Athanasius of Alexandria, reviewed by Justin A. Mihoc
- Craig A. Evans, Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence, reviewed by Panayotis Coutsoumpos
- Charles W. Hedrick, Unlocking the Secrets of the Gospel according to Thomas: A Radical Faith for a New Age, reviewed by William Arnal
- Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition, Volume 4: Acts 18.24–28.31: Rome, reviewed by Vaughn CroweTipton
- Christopher D. Stanley, ed., The Colonized Apostle: Paul in Postcolonial Eyes, reviewed by Steed Davidson
Second Temple Judaism
- Heinz-Josef Fabry and Ulrich Dahmen, eds., Theologisches Wörterbuch zu den Qumrantexten, reviewed by Johann Cook
- Gard Granerød, Abraham and Melchizedek: Scribal Activity of Second Temple Times in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110, reviewed by Albert Hogeterp
Steven Runge has the latest article in Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics: “Relative Saliency and Information Structure in Mark’s Parable of the Sower.” According to the abstract:
This study applies the cognitive model of Chafe and Givón, and the information-structure model of Lambrecht as applied by Levinsohn and Runge to the Markan explanation of the Parable of the Sower (4:14–20). The primary objective is to identify and analyze other linguistic devices, besides demonstratives, which might clarify the apparent prominence given to the unfruitful scatterings in Mark’s account. This study provides the necessary framework for comparing Mark’s pragmatic weighting of saliency to that found in Matthew and Luke’s accounts in order to determine whether Mark’s version is consistent with or divergent from the other traditions.
For the full text of the article in PDF format, see here.
The latest issue of the Journal of Theological Studies includes:
- Max Rogland, ” ‘Moses Used to Take a Tent’?: Reconsidering the Function and Significance of the Verb Forms in Exodus 33:7–11″
- C. A. Strine, “The Role of Repentance in the Book of Ezekiel: A Second Chance for the Second Generation”
- Benjamin Schliesser, ” ‘Abraham Did not “Doubt” in Unbelief’ (Rom. 4:20): Faith, Doubt, and Dispute in Paul’s Letter to the Romans”
- Harry Tolley, “Clement of Alexandria’s Reference to Luke the Evangelist as Author of Jason and Papiscus”
Runar M. Thorsteinsson, “Justin and Stoic Cosmo-Theology”
- Alison Bonner, “Was Patrick Influenced by the Teaching of Pelagius?”
- Stephen Hampton, ” ‘Welcome Dear Feast of Lent’: Rival Understandings of The Forty-Day Fast in Early Stuart England”
In Luke 24:1, αἱ γυναῖκες, αἵτινες ἦσαν συνεληλυθυῖαι ἐκ τῆς Γαλιλαίας αὐτῷ (Luke 23:55; the women who had come with him from Galilee; cf. Matt 28:1–8; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 8:2–3; 23:49; 24:10; John 20:1–13) go to Jesus’ tomb φέρουσαι ἃ ἡτοίμασαν ἀρώματα (Luke 24:1; carrying spices that they had prepared). Instead of finding Jesus, however, the women are met with an empty tomb and two shining figures (Luke 24:2–5a). To these women, the resplendent individuals then address the question τί ζητεῖτε τὸν ζῶντα μετὰ τῶν νεκρῶν; (Luke 24:5b; Why do you seek the living one among the dead?).
From the women’s perspective, of course, seeking someone who was alive among the dead was precisely not what they were doing. They had, after all, come φέρουσαι ἃ ἡτοίμασαν ἀρώματα (Luke 24:1; carrying spices that they had prepared), which they had not had with them previously when they were at the tomb (Luke 23:55–56). Among those who were dead, they were seeking one who was dead. The figures’ point is, then, not that the women were confused about where dead or living people might normally be found but that the individual the women were seeking had a different status than they had supposed. The object of their search was alive rather than dead—and those who sought him should have known better than to think otherwise (Luke 24:6–7).1
Although Peter at least goes to see the tomb for himself and comes away θαυμάζων τὸ γεγονός (Luke 24:12; marveling at what had happened), the apostles generally fare still worse. Even on hearing the women’s report, they think it nonsense (Luke 24:10–11).2 Cleopas and his fellow traveler also know the women’s report, but neither do they have any firm convictions about its veracity (Luke 24:13, 18–24).3 Meeting Jesus, whom they do not recognize, Cleopas and his original traveling companion are also told they should have known better (Luke 24:25–26).4 They should have known to have expected Jesus’ resurrection, but they didn’t. Apparently, the unrecognized Jesus spends the rest of the trip teaching the two other travelers. Yet, seemingly nowhere along the balance of this journey are Cleopas and his companion stopped in their tracks by the realization that, of course, Jesus must have risen from the dead (Luke 24:13–15, 25–28). Normal experience was quite to the contrary, hence the two travelers’ inability to fit their experiences into another mold besides that of unrealized hopes for Israel’s redemption (Luke 24:20–24).5 Then again, their own experience of Jesus was, self-confessedly, far from “normal” (Luke 24:19).
When confronted with the fact that they ought to have known better, the women at the tomb had at least ἐμνήσθησαν τῶν ῥημάτων αὐτοῦ (Luke 24:8; remembered his words; cf. Luke 24:6). Yet, even after having new words added to those they had already heard, Cleopas and his companion come only to “burning hearts” until ἐγνώσθη αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου (Luke 24:35; he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread; see Luke 24:28–34). To be sure, the group of disciples hears the reports of Jesus’ appearance to Simon and the two travelers, but they are still joyfully incredulous when Jesus appears among them (Luke 24:33–43).6
Respecting “normal” experience, there was nothing “natural” about Jesus’ resurrection. “Normally,” dead people stay dead. “Normally,” unless the grave is disturbed, a dead body will be in the same place a few days after that body is laid to rest, and spices can be brought back for the body at a later time if such needs to happen. On the other hand, respecting the creator God’s faithfulness to his promises to his people, nothing is more supremely “natural” than that the crucified messiah should be found alive three days after he had died (Luke 24:5–7; 25–27; 44–49; cf. Rom 4:17).7 In the end—not least, in the climax of all things—neither the grave, nor indeed death itself, is a very good container for such a person, in whom all the fullness of the creator’s mighty power and purposes for his people were seen to have been at work (cf. Luke 24:19, 21; Acts 2:24; Heb 7:15–16).
Hand place a bullet into a plain paper bag, and the bag will hold the bullet well enough. Shoot the bullet into the bag with a gun, and the bag hasn’t got a chance.
7. Augustine, Enarrat. Ps., 64.15 (NPNF1 8:266); C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 25–37; Tertullian, Marc., 4.43 (ANF 3:422); Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 649, 651–52.
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–35) is unique to Luke and contributes to the third Gospel’s general emphasis on socially marginalized characters and groups.1 Introducing the parable proper is an exchange between Jesus and a νομικός (lawyer), which the lawyer begins by inquiring τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω; (Luke 10:25b; what shall I do to inherit eternal life?). Both this question and the exchange that follows resemble some later rabbinic texts, not least in the lawyer’s concern to define proper Torah obedience.2
Following on their mutual agreement that loving יהוה with all one’s being and one’s neighbor as oneself (Luke 10:27–28) is key to gaining eternal life,3 the lawyer’s next inquiry is τίς ἐστίν μου πλησίον; (Luke 10:29; who is my neighbor?). Although asked to vindicate the lawyer’s own thoughts about the matter (Luke 10:29a), this question follows naturally enough on the preceding discussion: it seeks Jesus’ opinion on the definition of the category of other people toward whom the key command(s) demands love to be exercised.4
Jesus’ answer to this inquiry is to tell a parable in which the main characters include two Jews, one Samaritan, and one ἄνθρωπός τις [ὃς] κατέβαινεν ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλὴμ εἰς Ἰεριχὼ καὶ λῃσταῖς περιέπεσεν (Luke 10:30; certain person [who] was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among bandits). Provocatively, Jesus proceeds to make out the Samaritan to be the hero of the story and inquires: τίς τούτων τῶν τριῶν πλησίον δοκεῖ σοι γεγονέναι τοῦ ἐμπεσόντος εἰς τοὺς λῃστάς; (Luke 10:36; who of these three [passers by] seems to you to have become the neighbor of the one who had fallen among the bandits?; cf. John 4:9b).5 Within Jesus’ narrative, the answer is clear: ὁ ποιήσας τὸ ἔλεος μετʼ αὐτοῦ (Luke 10:37; the one who acted compassionately with him)—that is, the Samaritan.6
There is, then, likely a bit of a double sense to Jesus’ πορεύου καὶ σὺ ποίει ὁμοίως (Luke 10:37; go and do likewise).7 In the first place, the lawyer should imitate the Samaritan in Jesus’ story and act compassionately.8 To say only this much, however, leaves the discussion quite at the place where the lawyer originally inquired τίς ἐστίν μου πλησίον; (Luke 10:29; who is my neighbor?). So, in the second place, the lawyer should consider as neighbors even those who stand beyond traditional boundary lines of neighborliness (Luke 10:36), even to the extent of removing such boundary lines altogether.9
2. Joachim Jeremias, Rediscovering the Parables (New York: Scribner and Sons, 1966), 159; E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1977), 76–81, 112–14, 129; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God 2; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 306.
7. Blomberg, Parables, 231–32; Chrysostom, Hom. Heb., 10.8 (NPNF1, 14:417); cf. Augustine, Doctr. chr. , 1.30.31 (NPNF1, 2:530–31); Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo., 43.2 (NPNF1, 7:240); Jeremias, Rediscovering the Parables, 161.
8. Kenneth E. Bailey, Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Combined ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 2:55; cf. Ambrose, Paen., 1.11.52 (NPNF2, 10:338).
Luke 11:1–4 recounts Jesus’ teaching his disciples how to pray. The substance of the prayer much resembles the parallel account in Matt 6:9–13. Yet, Luke’s version is considerably shorter than Matthew’s at a couple points. Also, rather than coming in the context of a longer discourse, Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:2–4 responds to a specific request from one of the disciples that he teach them to pray, just as John had done with his own disciples (Luke 11:1).1
To some extent, the prayer’s final three petitions may evoke Prov 30:7–8,2 but whether in this connection or when compared with Matthew’s fuller version of the prayer itself, Luke’s retention of καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν (Luke 11:4b; for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us) is a striking explanatory expansion within his otherwise terse report.3 The verb ἀφίομεν could be performative (we forgive as we pray), but given the larger context of Luke’s Gospel, a broader, customary sense is still more probable (we regularly forgive; e.g., Luke 6:37; 11:5–13; 17:3–4).4 Even when they are not praying per se, Jesus summons his disciples to forgive others in such a way that does not immediately give the lie to their own requests for forgiveness when they ask it of their Father (cf. Luke 4:16–21; 10:21–37; 11:5–13; 18:9–14; see also Matt 6:14–15; 18:21–35).5 Although Jesus frames his instruction with ὅταν προσεύχησθε λέγετε (Luke 11:2a; when you pray, say), the content of the prayer itself makes demands on Jesus’ disciples that extend far beyond their speech in prayer to their Father.6
1. Darrell L. Bock, Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 141.
4. Clement of Alexandria, Strom., 7.13 (ANF, 2:546). Nearly quoting Matthew’s version of this prayer verbatim, Didache 8:3 prescribes that it be prayed three times a day. In such a context, even if the community’s confession of its own forgiveness toward its debtors within the prayer itself is purely performative, it certainly also happens with a frequency and regularity that would, in itself, put the community in a fairly consistent state of forgiveness toward such people.
5. Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo., 7.11 (NPNF1, 7:51–52). Cf. Augustine, Pecc. merit., 2.21 (NPNF1, 5:53); Tertullian, Marc., 4.26 (ANF, 3:391–93); Tertullian, Pud., 2 (ANF, 4:76–77). See also Kenneth E. Bailey, Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Combined ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 1:119–41; Craig Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1990), 276; Bock, Jesus according to Scripture, 141–42; James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered (Christianity in the Making 1; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 411, 589–92; Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 292–95.
Although the calling of Simon Peter appears in all three synoptic Gospels (Matt 4:18–20; Mark 1:16–18; Luke 5:1–11; cf. John 1:35–51; 21:1–11), Luke’s narrative develops the pericope in much greater detail than Matthew’s or Mark’s. Luke 5:3 indicates that Jesus did some teaching from Simon’s boat. After concluding, Jesus instructs Simon to take the boat into the λίμνη (lake), and set out the nets for a catch (Luke 5:4). Although incredulous, Simon acquiesces (Luke 5:5–6a, 8–10a).1 Then, to his surprise, not only do they catch fish, but their catch is of such quantity that it nearly nearly tears the nets and sinks both their boat and another called to help (Luke 5:6b–7). Observing this situation, Simon προσέπεσεν τοῖς γόνασιν Ἰησοῦ λέγων· ἔξελθε ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλός εἰμι, κύριε. θάμβος γὰρ περιέσχεν αὐτὸν καὶ πάντας τοὺς σὺν αὐτῷ ἐπὶ τῇ ἄγρᾳ τῶν ἰχθύων ὧν συνέλαβον (Luke 5:8–9; fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord.” For, astonishment at the catch of fish that they had enclosed had come upon him and all those who were with him).2
To Simon, Jesus then addresses the words μὴ φοβοῦ· ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶν (Luke 5:10b; Do not fear; from now on, you will be catching people). For, the huge catch of fish has sufficiently demonstrated to Simon that Jesus is one to whom he should have listened from the first (Luke 5:5, 8).3 The others’ θάμβος (Luke 5:9; astonishment) may have been more simply “not knowing what to say,” but Simon’s is apparently mixed with fear so that he has ready on his tongue a judgment that he is ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλός (a sinful man) and a petition that Jesus leave (Luke 5:8, 10). Simon has found himself to have grumbled against someone who can apparently even command fish and who, therefore, bears authority from Israel’s God.4 Having been at such odds with this person, Simon might well have cause for fear (cf. Jer 16:16–18). Consequently, Jesus’ admonition that Simon not fear and his assertion about Simon’s new vocation of ἀνθρώπους . . . ζωγρῶν (Luke 5:10; catching people) are tantamount to forgiveness and a welcoming of Simon into Jesus’ closest body of followers.5 Under the ban of ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλός (a sinful man), Simon had wished Jesus to depart (cf. Luke 4:35), but Jesus extends to Simon forgiveness and welcome as an agent in welcoming others into his community.6
2. Or, if Ἰησοῦ is a dative, προσέπεσεν τοῖς γόνασιν Ἰησοῦ may be “he fell on [his own] knees before Jesus” (I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke [New International Greek Testament Commentary; Exeter: Paternoster, 1995], 204).
3. H. J. Flower, “The Calling of Peter and the Restoration of Peter,” ATR 5, no. 3 (1922): 239.
4. Berquist, “Luke 5:1–11,” 62; Fred B. Craddock, Luke (Interpretation; Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2009), 70; Flower, “The Calling of Peter and the Restoration of Peter,” 238–39; Green, Luke, 232; Marshall, Luke, 204–5; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God 2; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 193–95, 297–301. Although other understandings of this part of the narrative have been proposed, this reading seems at least very reasonable in view of (1) the narrative’s specific focus on Peter (Luke 5:5, 8, 10) and (2) Peter’s reaction to the catch by describing himself as ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλός (a sinful man) rather than, perhaps, simply as someone who was unworthy of Jesus’ presence (cf. Luke 1:8–80; 7:6–8; 9:28–36; 15:18–19).
6. Berquist, “Luke 5:1–11,” 62, 64; Green, Luke, 234–35. Instead of Luke’s ἀνθρώπους . . . ζωγρῶν (catching people) addressed particularly to Simon Peter, Matt 4:18–19; Mark 1:16–17 have ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων (fishers for people) addressed to Simon Peter and Andrew. Between Luke’s greater focus on Peter in this pericope and his selection of the more general ζωγρεῖν (to catch), therefore, one wonders whether Luke might perhaps here have a view toward at least some of Peter’s later activity (cf. Acts 10:9–16; LSJ, s.v. “ζωγρέω”; Augustine, Enarrat. Ps., 68.23 [NPNF1 8:294]; see also Chrysostom, Hom. Matt., 3.8 [NPNF1 10:19]).