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SIDIC Periodical XVII - 1984/3
The Word of God in Church and Synagogue (Pages 04 - 10)

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Jesus' Preaching in the Synagogue nn the Sabbath (Luke 4:16-28)
Asher Finkel


I. Synagogue and Scriptural Reading on the Sabbath

The oldest witness to synagogue worship with its focus on the liturgy of the Word, i.e. prayer and scriptural reading, occurs in Neh. 8. This biblical account from the Second Temple period describes a public gathering for worship on the holy day of the New Year. Strikingly, the assembly (qahal) gathers in the city square of Jerusalem and not in the Temple area. It participates in a Torah reading, for which purpose a wooden pulpit was especially erected (v. 8). The people did not gather at a sacrificial service conducted by priests at the altar, as it is usually depicted in similar biblical accounts, for the scribal work of Nehemiah wishes to describe a parallel development in the religious life of the Judean community of the Second Temple time. He is presenting the synagogal model of worship that in all probability emerged during the exilic period.(1)"Synagoge” in Greek renders the Aramaic "Kenista" for "qahal" and "keneset" becomes the Mishnaic equivalent in the post biblical development of the Hebrew language. It denotes a formal assembly gathered for worship or convened to deliberate on critical issues. (2)

Such religious gatherings originally met in the town square or in the market place. Eventually, they gathered in a house (bet hakeneset) specifically built for collective worship. Unquestionably, such buildings existed in addition to the Jerusalem Temple throughout the world of Jewry, as the archaeological and literary evidence clearly establishes at least for the first century.(3)

Luke 4:16 relates that Jesus "went to the synagogue as his custom was on the Sabbath day." In the first century this practice was already seen as an old established custom, which the rabbinic traditions attribute to the oral legislation of Moses' and Ezra's special enactments.(4) Similarly, Luke transmits in the name of James, the head of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:21) that "Moses had from early generations in every town those who preach his [book]; for it is read every Sabbath in the Synagogue." Nehemiah of the Persian period portrays a Torah reading in connection with the festivals, whereas Luke of the Roman period points to a Sabbath's Torah reading followed by a prophetic lection (the Haftarah — the concluding reading). Apparently, two forms of lectionary have evolved in the synagogue of the Hasmonean period that paralleled the liturgical side of the Temple service.

One lectionary form developed out of the practice to complete the reading of the Pentateuch on successive Sabbaths. The cycle of readings conformed to the Sabbatical calendar of the agrarian society. At the end of the septennial cycle, the deuteronomic text was read by the head of the state to a large gathering of pilgrims in the Temple area during the Tabernacle festival.(5) In this manner the synagogue readings culminated in a Temple pilgrimage service (Deut 31:10-13, "Haqbel").

Similarly, the Temple daily service was presided over by a representative group of the Israelite community. Such a group (called "Ma amad") gathered in different towns on the weekdays to read selections from the story of Creation. This early practice was a parallel development of Torah reading in connection with the Temple. It was not the prototype of synagogal service but rather a corresponding development effected by the established Torah reading practice outside the Temple.(6)
The other lectionary form existed as an early practice to relate the ritualistic aspect of the annual festivals to selected readings drawn from the pentateuchal text. They detail the laws of the particular holiday with its sacrificial service or they present a narrative on the religio-historical significance of the sacred time.(7) Such a development is already indicated by the account of Nehemiah and indeed serves as the exegetical background to the cycle of festivals appearing in the gospel of John.(8)

The septennial cycle of scriptural readings on the Sabbaths was determined by two triads of tithe years culminating in a Sabbatical year. Thus, the Torah readings for succesive Sabbaths were greater in number than those of the post Destruction Palestinian triennial cycle. The early division of pentateuchal pericopes was the work of Scribes, who apparently transmitted the biblical texts for lectionary usage. From the days of Ezra, the Torah was carefully transcribed for the sake of study and reading, thus leading to the development of Rabbinic Massorah. The synagogue gave rise to an authoritatively transmitted text and eventully produced an official translation. It also provided the natural setting for preaching. The pedagogical and paranoetic sides of Torah reading necessitated a public address on the biblical selection in order to move the congregation to a deeper commitment to God's words.

During the Hasmonean time, a further extension of the synagogal reading emerged in the form of Ha)(torah, the concluding selection from the Prophets. It has come to establish the canonicity and unity of Torah and Prophets, the two parts of the Hebrew Bible, for the worshipping community. The prophetic selection, most probably, was determined by a correlative principle, similar words or themes(9) The authoritative word and the theological link between the two bodies of scriptures was made publicly through reading followed by preaching. The Mosaic law proclaimed God's teaching, revealed in the past, that comes to guide the present community in thought and in practice. Hearing the Torah selection read in the synagogue represents the communal acceptance of the Sinaitic covenant. The Prophetic words were read in acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Mosaic law. It extended to the community a comforting hope in the future that holds the divine promise of final judgment and reward.

The Scribes appended a canonical statement (Mal 3:22-24) to the closing verse of the Prophets. Malachi ends with the characteristic prophetic signature, "thus saith the Lord of Hosts." To this is added an exhortation to "remember the law of my servant Moses." Remembrance denotes not only obedience to the covenant in a general sense but also a liturgical commemorative reading in particular.(10) The Law of Moses is to enter the mind and heart of the community through a proper hearing. The time for reception of Torah appropriately coincided with the Sabbaths and festivals, times set apart for public religious assembly (miqra qodes). These sacred times provided the pedagogical opportunity that Neh 8:8 so eloquently describes. "They read from the book, from the Law of God, with translation giving the sense so that the people understood the reading? The rabbis (Bab. Talmud Megillah 3a) see in this description the seminal development of scribal rules for transmitting the written text with its authoritative Targum.

Malachi's canonical ending concludes with reference to the coming of Elijah that will usher in the final awesome Day of the Lord. This statement maintains that prophecy has terminated but it will be restored through a future advent of Elijah.(11) It expresses a hope in a future return of the people as prelude to universal peace. This formulates an eschatological teaching that can be embraced by the present biblically oriented community. Thus, the canonical ending of Malachi presents a coalescence of the eschatological hope with the covenantal obedience in the present hearing of scriptures. The emergence of a worshipping community in the Second Temple period is related directly to the introduction of canonical scriptures for reading and instruction.

The gathering of the worshipping community on the New Year, as described in Neh 8, has resulted in enthusiastic celebration of the festival of Tabernacles, in accordance with the reading and the explanatory instruction. This custom prevailed in the Jewish community to introduce the people to a proper understanding of the laws and meaning of the holidays through special reading and instructive preaching. The community of Ezra and Nehemiah enjoyed a deepened awareness of providential care and God's presence in the celebration of Tabernacles.(12) Thus, this sacred period resulted in a climactic event of communal acceptance of the Torah covenant (Neh 10). The heads of this theocratic state, representing the three classes of Jewry (Kohen, Levi and Israel), affix their signatures to a covenantal document (ketav'amanah). This decisive religious act for the Second Temple period suggests that the very experience of Torah reading was rooted in a liturgical reenactment of the Sinaitic covenantal event. Coming together an the Sabbaths and the festivals offered the spiritual opportunity for the biblically oriented community to engage seriously in a covenantal reception of God's words. These days designated sacred time of affective remembrance and closeness to God's presence in history, for they were especially set apart as days of rest. The community abstained from all secular work and instead was involved in spiritual activities of collective prayer, scriptural readings and familial table fellowship.(13)

II. The Liturgical Experience of Scriptural Readings

Torah reading provided a dramatic religious setting of a liturgical reenactment of the Sinaitic covenantal event. Through a meticulous reading of God's words and a reverential hearing by the congregants, the very sense of God's presence is deepened. The community expresses its response in the act of doxological prayer. Nehemiah (8:6) describes blessing God's name and collective response of Amen, accompanied by reverential prostration. The words of the Sinaitic covenant, namely the Torah of God, enjoy an affective reception by the community in compliance with the deuteronomic exhortation: "Take heed lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen . . and make them known to your descendants how on that day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb (i.e. Sinai)" (Deut 4:9-10). Furthermore, the Mosaic covenant is made "not with our fathers but with us who are all of us here alive today° (5:3). The purpose of such a sacred gathering is to instill in the congregants a reverential experiencing of standing in God's presence and hearing his words as well as the pedagogical willingness to trasmit this to their children (9:10).

The Sabbath morning, therefore, offered the community a spiritual opportunity to hear God's words in awe within a liturgical setting. From early days, the rabbis have formulated specific benedictions in connection with public reading of scriptures.(14) They reflect the theological meaning of this very act. It opens with a doxological invocation, "Let us bless the Lord who is blessed." The community responds, "Blessed be the Lord, who is blessed for ever and ever." This doxological antiphony can only be said in a sacred gathering,(15) and Torah reading requires at least ten male adults in attendance (the basic quorum of the synagogue). Moreover, at least seven members representing the three classes of Jewry are to be called up on the Sabbath to read from the Scriptures. This act of "going up" (aliyah) to the bema remains even today an honorific act of religious participation of a young adult in the worshipping community, the historical background to "Bar Miswah" celebration on the Sabbath.

Nehemiah's model of worship points to reverential determinants during a Torah reading event. The scroll is lifted in the view of the congregation while it is standing in awe. Ezra the scribe offers a doxological invocation and the people respond with "Amen", while raising their hands as sign of acceptance and commitment. Then the congregants bow and fall on the ground in a reverential posture. Lifting the scroll (Hagbahah) is a cultic act that points to the holy presence of God. The scroll itself, therefore, becomes a sacred object to be revered. Accordingly, the rabbis declare that biblical writings contaminate the hands upon contact, a concrete sign of its canonical worth.(16) The contemporary Sephardic custom of lifting the Torah in its case before the scroll is read appears to evolve from this ancient practice. "Hagbahah" was viewed by the rabbis as a high point during the Torah reading event.(17)

Special benedictions were recited before and after the readings. They reflect a particular consciousness of God as the giver of the Torah (the benedictory signature). The opening benediction speaks of the covenant made with Israel "who is chosen from all the people." At Mount Sinai the same relationship is expressed in a reciprocal formulation of the covenant. Israel is "God's own treasure among all people" and it accepts to "be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exod 19:5,6). This very condition for Israel to become a theocratic nation serves as the guiding principle of Pharisaic teachings.(18) The benediction following the reading speaks of the very nature of Torah as God's words. They are "true, planting in our midst everlasting life." This is a formal recognition by the congregants that accepting the covenant is a free human act in choosing life. "Behold I place before you today life and good, death and evil . . . choose life," through loving God, hearing his voice and cleaving to him" (Deut 30:15,19,20). Through proper hearing of the pentateuchal text, the community acknowledges in the "Amen" response to the blessings that God's voice will be obeyed and his presence embraced. This appears to be the liturgical intention for a Torah reading as a reverential experience in accepting God's law.

The rabbis eventually introduced another set of benedictions to accompany the Haftarah, the additional reading at the end of the Torah reading. It proclaimed the theological unity of Torah and Prophets. God "has chosen the Torah and his servant Moses", as he also has "chosen his people Israel and the true and righteous prophets." Thus, all words heard in the reading are equally true, including the Prophetic promises that will be historically fulfilled. This theme is elaborated in the concluding benediction, a prayer that originally was meant to be recited responsively while standing. "You are faithful and your words are faithful, for not one of your words spoken in the past shall remain unfulfilled." The following relates effectively what the prophetic promise holds for the present covenantal community. On the Sabbath morning the faith of the worshipping community was expressed eschatologically in its acceptance of scriptural fulfilment. The Haftarah came to shape their sense of historical movement towards final redemption. In light of this, the rabbinic liturgists later appended their eschatological vision for Israel in petitionary form after the Hafttarah's concluding benediction. First, it appeals to God's mercy on Zion "who is so painfully grieved for her exiled inhabitants" and is in need "for a speedy redemption in our own days." Then, it calls for the coming of Elijah and the establishment of the Davidic kingdom. "For no 'stranger' shall sit upon his throne nor let 'others' any longer inherit his glory. For you did swear unto him by your holy name that his 'light' shall not be quenched forever."

The Prophetic promises of the past determine the eschatological expectation for Israel. The first theme explores the present condition of Jewish exile with its dispersed people. The Prophets promise the ingathering of Israel in its homeland Zion.(19) The second theme points to the new redemptive time in the future to he ushered in by prophetic restoration through Elijah redivivus and the establishment of the Davidic rule under the Messiah. It is the promise that was made to David as formulated in Ps 132:11. "God promises to David in truth . . . that also his descendants will sit upon his throne . . in Zion, which God chose as his abode." Thus, the rabbinic references for the Haftarah prayer to 'stranger' or -others' suggest particular false types, who claimed kingship and messiahship in Israel.(20) The "stranger" may point even to Herod of the end of the First Century B.C.E. or Bar Kochba in the beginning of the second Century C.E. "Others" connote "minim", heretical followers of a gnostic redeemer. Thus, in the post Destruction time, the rabbinic liturgists have formulated an eschatological vision in their interpretative view of scriptural fulfilment. Furthermore, it came to reject other claims to messiahship or heretical views of eschatology.

It appears then that the liturgical reading of Torah and Haftarah on the Sabbath provided the religious forum for public response to teaching authority and eschatological claims. The biblically oriented community, whose covenantal consciousness was deepened by an eschatological orientation, was open to effective preaching. Similar liturgical determinants affected the Sabbath reading in the days of Jesus, even though the prayer formulations and the lectionary system were not fixed yet by the rabbinic authority. Preaching following the Haftarah offered the opportunity to move the worshipping community dramatically to obedient acceptance of God's demands and to an acknowledged commitment to an eschatological realization. This is the phenomenological background to Jesus' preaching or fulfilment of scriptures on the Sabbath in the synagogue of Nazareth.

III. Luke's Account of Jesus' Preaching Fulfilment in the Synagogue

Only Luke offers the liturgical setting of reading and preaching in the synagogue for the initial proclamation of the Kingdom by Jesus on the Sabbath. The other synoptic Gospels (Matt 4:7 and Mk 1:15) simply relate succinctly the message of Jesus without any particular setting for its delivery. Keeping in mind that this was the historical way Jesus first disclosed his redemptive presence in a biblically oriented and eschatologically directed community, they refer generally to Jesus teaching in the synagogues (Matt 4:23,25; Mk 1:39). It seems, therefore, that Luke intended also to present "vorgeschichtlich" (historical prefiguration) account for the later development of missionary preaching that he is describing in the second part of his work, the Acts of the Apostles. Peter preaches on the Festival Haftarah (Joel 3:1-5) for the Pentecostal gathering of pilgrims in the Temple area(21), at the time for synagogal reading (Acts 2:14-37, note the third hour in the morning). Paul preaches in Antioch of Pisidia on the Sabbath, following the reading of Torah and Haftarah (13:14-41), for the apostles pursued the way of Jesus in proclaiming their message of Good News, especially in their appeal to synagogal Jews on the Sabbaths or Festivals.

The dual composition of Luke offers parallel accounts of preaching in the synagogue within the historical frame of the time of Jesus and the time of his apostles, for the Jewish world with its Sabbath reading in the synagogue provided the natural affective setting for the initial proclamation of scriptural fulfilment in their days. The eschatological meaning of Jesus' coming can only be disclosed in the biblically oriented community and the similar liturgical setting of reading and preaching was presented by the early church in connection with the eucharistic service revealing his presence, for Luke wishes to transmit the early experiential setting that actually moves the worshipping community to relate the person of Jesus to scriptural fulfilment. In his historiographical manner, Luke relates eschatological and "Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth" in Abraham Unser Vater (0. Michel Festschrift) Leiden: Brill, 1963, pp. 106-115.fulfilment to both scriptures of the past and to actual events of the present.

The appearance of John ushers in a new redemptive era with the coming of Jesus. Most significantly, Luke offers a detailed synchronized date for the preaching activity of John the Baptist, who ushers in the messianic ministry of Jesus (3:1-3), for that year, the fifteenth of Tiberius' reign (27-28 CZ.) was a Sabbatical year, a year of national redemption. The actual dating of the "year of release" (Semitah) in the Jewish calendar is linked in Luke with a scriptural fulfilment of Is. 40:3-5. This text is cited in full only here in the Gospel (3:4-6). John the Baptist is the promised "voice" that prepares the way for the manifestation of "God's salvation." Luke changes the Hebrew text to read this paronomastic phrase "yesù at Elobim", signifying Jesus,(22) for in the appearance of John a new era has dawned; the promise of Elijah's coming has been realized. "He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah `and he will preach' to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children" (1:17 as fulfilment of Mal. 3:23-24). The new era will be the promised "great awesome year of the Lord," which is proclaimed in Jesus inaugural preaching at Nazareth as the "acceptable year of the Lord."

The historical linkage of John and Jesus is presented as the eschatological fulfilment in Luke. Moreover, the heavenly voice in the hearing of John-Elijah recalls the coming of the Servant of God. "with whom God is well pleased," as promised in Is. 42:1. The verse continues to explain his very nature for "I have placed my spirit upon him." Luke, however, relates the actual "descent of the Holy Spirit upon him in bodily form as a dove" (3:22). Thus, the sign of °Yon? (11:29 without "the prophet') infers the initial testimony by the "dove" (in Hebrew Yonah), as well as the scriptural example of Jonah the prophet in Luke. This is characteristic of Lukan duality in presenting both the symbolic and typological aspects of "Yana," for Lukan redaction stresses the significance of the Holy Spirit in the Acts of Apostles. Therefore, he depicts its actual manifestation in Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. His Gospel refers to "Jesus full of the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan" (4:1) and "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee" (4:14). The inaugural preaching at Nazareth offers the occasion on which Jesus proclaimed "the spirit of the Lord is upon me" and, therefore, the promise of "scriptures has been fulfilled in your heating today". Moreover, Jesus appeals also to the eschatological restoration of prophecy as an historical fulfilment in his proverbial comment, "no prophet is acceptable in his own country,(23) for the synagogal setting in Luke relates both to Jesus' authority in teaching the Torah and his eschatological fulfilment in pointing to the Haftarah. Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah 61:1,2 with an interpolated comment, which reflects the very teaching of Jesus.
Jesus proclaims "the acceptable year of the Lord" with the preceding explanation, ''to set at liberty those who are oppressed". This interpolated comment assumes practical meaning in the Jewish community of Nazareth. It announced a sabbatical time (24) with its pentateuchal demands to convert the feudal society to a community sharing with the poor. The "acceptable year of the Lord" comes "to proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants", as Leviticus 25:10 prescribes. During the Sabbatical period people are released from their subjugation to land ownership (Lev 25) and from bodily and monetary enslavement to other human beings (Deut 15). In this manner, the entire community enters a new experience in living under providential care and with a deep sense of altruistic concern. "The Land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the Land is mine" (Lev 25:23). "The silver is mine and the gold is mine, says the Lord of Hosts" (Hag 2:8). "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?" (Mal 2:10). A closeness to God's presence in awe and love can be experienced by people who have released themselves from an egoistic attachment to land properties and from oppressive control of others through slavery and debt. Such a community is open to an invitation to God's reign, and Jesus' initial proclamation that the "time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand" is directed toward a Sabbatical life in the community of the poor.

The Sabbatical demands assumed redemptive meaning on socio-economic, national and cosmic levels. Messianic stirrings were associated with the Sabbatical year. The zealotic movement, that led to the war against Rome, began on a Sabbatical year, when Quirinius imposed a census on the Jewish people (6 C.E.). It proclaimed God's rule in rejection of imperial Rome's authority. The Temple itself was destroyed on a post Sabbatical year,(25) which prompted Jewish circles to raise the question of divine retribution. Luke is clearly aware of these messianic movements in Judaism (Acts 5:36,37: Judah the Galilean during the census) and especially the catastrophic event of the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20). Luke's "heilsgeschichtlich" (salvific history) work offers the Christian response to Sabbatical time.

According to Luke, the early church emerged as the realization of the kingdom that was announced by Jesus. The beginning of Acts (1:3, 6-8) clearly indicates that the Jewish hope in the coming of the kingdom is not to be realized through the establishment of the Davidic monarchy and the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem.

These expectations were uppermost in the mind of the synagogue Jews as reflected in their prayer.(26) The Christian response was directed towards a universal redemption through the gradual emergence of apostolic communities in different lands, beginning with "Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth° (Acts 1:8). This development is depicted in the Acts of the Apostles. A new socioreligious reality in redemptive time is coming into being as the translation of God's Kingdom into a Sabbatical context for the world. Accordingly, Luke(27) presents teachings of Jesus on the Kingdom with reference to selling properties, sharing with the poor, renewal and release of both men and women from Mammon and abhorence of arrogance. All these points converge on a Sabbatical reality for the Lukan community that promotes the interpersonal acts of love and maintains diligent participation in the transpersonal act of prayer (Luke 11:37 and 18: lff).

IV. Jesus' Inaugural Proclamation on the Sabbath

The Sabbath day of rest provided Jesus an interpretative link with the Sabbatical year of release. In Jesus' teachings particular to Luke (13:10-17; 14:1-6), rest on the Sabbath is conditioned by the release from Satanic bondage or from a pit. The dramatic events of healing during his ministry come to demonstrate the messianic reality of his initial proclamation, "to release the captives." Such becomes the reply to John the Baptist (7:22) that Jesus' activities openly fulfil the scriptural program of his synagogue reading on the Sabbath. In this manner, Jesus proclaimed his Sabbatical intention at the outset of his ministry with a manifest program of healing and redemptive acts by God's anointed. He effectively linked his ministry of release with the Sabbatical demands directed to those invited into the Kingdom.

Jesus announces also that he is "anointed to preach the good news to the poor ('ebyon)." The concern for "the poor" is indeed the explicit concern of the deuteronomic legislation for the Sabbatical community. "Take heed lest there be an evil thought in your heart, and you say, 'The seventh year, the year of release is near', and your eye be hostile to your poor ('ebyon) brother . . . you shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him; because for this the Lord your God will bless you... For the poor ('ebyon) will never cease to exist in your country" (Deut 15:9-11). The Sabbatical demand comes to evoke an unhypocritical response in the altruistic pursuance of charity and interpersonal acts of love. The realization of the love commandment(28) is effectively translated in the Sabbatical act to "open your hand widely to your brother, to the needy and to the poor ('ebyon) in your country" (15:12).

According to Luke (6:20), Jesus too offered the Beatitude of entry into the Kingdom to the poor (ptochos = 'ebyon). He coupled them with those who are hungry and weep now. These groups are also referred to in the Isaiah lection (61:2,3). The Sabbatical year became a year of divine blessing, "I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, so that it will bring forth fruit (on the seventh year) for three years" (Lev 25:21). The blessing of plenty parallels the multiplication of manna for the Sabbath (Exod 16:22). Thus, the redemptive time is dramatically blessed by Jesus' multiplication of one loaf for a thousand in Luke 9:13-17. This sole pericope on multiplication in Luke suggests a "vorgeschichte" to the apostolic time. Seven deacons are appointed for the distribution of food in the community (Acts 6:3) and there were five loaves and two fish. In a brilliant redactional arrangement of his dual composition, Luke eliminates the other pericope on feeding the four thousand (Matt 15:32-39; Mk 8: 1- 10), for the community of the five thousand is clearly identified in Acts 4:4. Thus, the twelve baskets represent the twelve apostles, who were originally responsible for food distribution.

At Jesus' inaugural address of "gracious words" in the synagogue, the Nazareth community is said to have questioned Jesus' role, "Is not this Joseph's son?" (Luke 4:22). In contrast to Mark's reference to "son of Mary", the rejection is based on the Lucan special tradition that Joseph left for Bethlehem to be enrolled (2:1-5). Joseph is compelled to leave for his Davidic ancestral town to be assessed for property tax by the Romans. Joseph was the landowner, as the apocryphal sources corroberate.(29) Thus, the Galilean community of Nazareth, with whom Jesus and his family live, questioned Jesus' intent in his inaugural proclamation. His Sabbatical demand was faced with a challenge to his own family in the release of their land. Thus, Jesus replies, "Doubtless you will quote to me the proverb, 'physician heal thyself”. (A similar challenge regarding properties faces Jesus later in Galilee, according to Luke only (12:13-21). Jesus refuses to act as a judge and arbiter in a property dispute due to inheritance. He admonishes them, "Take heed and beware of all covetousness, for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.") This Lucan special tradition indirectly provides the historical circumstance that resulted in a rift between Jesus and his own country people. Thus, Luke concludes his remark on the proverbial physician with reference to Jesus' work in Capernaum where his teaching authority was challenged. Their only desire remains a demonstration by Jesus of his prophetic healing, since Jesus' preaching presented originally both the pentateuchal demand of Sabbatical life and the prophetic fulfilment of Jesus' redemptive nature.

Luke, therefore, places the logion, "a prophet is not acceptable in his own country," at the initial event of preaching in Nazareth. In contrast to Matt 13:54-58 and Mark 6:1-6, Luke presents it at the outset of his ministry, for this oblique identity of Jesus' person is viewed christologically (30) in Acts 3:23; 7:37. Jesus is the "prophet like Moses", whose coming is an epiphanic event like the revelation at Mount Sinai (Deut 18:16). The eschatological Moses does not supply a sign but his ministry of the word becomes his testimony (contrast 11:2). In the Lucan style of duality, Jesus supplies two examples of the prophet who came in the past, Elijah and Elisha. Initially, they too were not acknowledged by Israel.

The widow of Zarephath declares: "Now I know that you are a man of God and the word of the Lord in your mouth is true" (2 Kgs 17:24). Similarly, all who were present at the resurrection of the widow's son in Nain declare: "a great prophet has arisen among us" (Luke 7:16). Naaman the Syrian centurion was healed so he "will acknowledge that there is a prophet in Israel" (2 Kgs 5:8). Similarly, the Roman centurion's slave is to be healed at the request of the Jewish elder (Luke 7:4,5). All these parallels are to be found in Luke only. Jesus' reply can only suggest vorgeschicbtlich guidelines for apostolic mission, to be directed towards the poor and the oppressed (like the widows of Zarephath and Blain) as well as towards the ruling class (like the Syrian or Roman centurion). These apostolic efforts are depicted in Acts with a mission directed both to Israel and other people. The apostles proclaim Jesus' redemptive presence and the Sabbatical invitation to the Kingdom. The initial act of preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth with its dual aspects of the coming of Jesus and the demands of the Kingdom has been pursued fully by his followers after his death.

The Lucan religio-experiential setting is first to be located in the event of synagogal reading and preaching. It provides the religious dynamics for the proper understanding of Jesus' person and his teaching. Thus, the eschatologically oriented church has translated this understanding for its own, according to the Lucan presentation of the Apostolic life in Acts. The worshipping Christian community has entered the sacred time of the Kingdom through a Sabbatical realization of its socio-economic existence.

* Rabbi Asher Finkel, a native of Jerusalem, received his doctorate from the University of Tuebingen and his rabbinical degree from Yeshiva University. He has held several academic positions in various universities and is presently Chairperson of the Department of Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. He has contributed to several scholarly journals and has written more than once for the SIDIC Review. His book The Pharisees and the Teacher of Nazareth was reprinted by Brill in 1974.
1See "Synagoge" by W. Schrage in "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament" ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich, English Translation, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972.
2 "Keneset Hagedolah" refers to a deliberating body of the Persian and early Greek periods, so Mishnah Aboth 1, 1. See L. Finkelstein, 'The Pharisees and the Men of the Great Synagogue", New York 1950. "Kenista" renders the Hebrew "qahal", Targum to Ps 107:32; 109:6.
3 See H. Shanks, Judaism in Stone, New York: Harper, 1979 and Ancient Synagogue Revealed (ed. Lee I. Levine) Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1981.
4 Mishnah Megillah 4:6; Palestinian Talmud Megillah 75a; Babylonian Talmud Baba Qama 82a and compare Mekhilta Ismael and Simeon to Exod 15:22.
5 Mishnah Sotah 7:8 in view of Deut 31:10-13. See A. Finkel, The Pharisees and the Teacher of Nazareth, Leiden: Brill, 1974, pp. 143-149.
6. The Ma amad model of worship described in Mishnah Ta'anith 4, 2-3, is not the historical background to synagogue service as claimed by J. Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmudic Period, Jerusalem, 1966, but a parallel development effected by the synagogue reading service. Similarly, J. Heinemann's claim that the lectionary was not determined by a fixed cycle ("The Triennial Lectionary Cycle," Journal of Jewish Studies, vol. 19, 1968) is based on the erroneous observation of the Piyyutim's material on the Sabbath portions, which refer to the seasonal petition for rain or dew. These Palestinian texts included their mention throughout the year as part of the daily second praise formulation of God's powers.
7. Mishnah Megillah 4:5,6; Babylonian Talmud 31a, 32b.
8. See A. Guilding, The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship, Oxford, 1960.
9. See J. Mann, The Bible as Read and Preached in the Old Synagogue, Vol. I, Cincinnati 1940 and Vol. II, ed. I Sonne, Cincinnati, 1966. Refer also to "Contributions to the Scientific Study of Jewish Liturgy", ed.
Petuchowski, New York: Ktav, 1970, part 2.
10. "Zakhor" indicates the liturgical practice of commemorative recitation, Sifra to Lev 26:3; Babylonian Talmud Pesahim 106a and Maimonides Yad, Hilkhoth Sabbath 29, I.
11. See L. Frizzell, "Elijah the Peacemaker: Jewish and Early Christian Interpretations of Malachi 3 23-24," SIDIC 17 (# 2-1984) pp. 19-25.
12. This theme is offered in Lev 23:43 as reason for celebration of Sukkoth, which the rabbis explain in light of the providential manifestation of divine clouds (Exod 14:20f). See Sifra and Mekhilta on the above texts.
13. See Abraham J. Heschel, The Sabbath, New York: Meridian, 1952
14. They are recorded in the Geonic work of Sopherim (ed. M. Rigger, ch. 13). Refer to its early development in view of Sifre to Deut 32:3.
15. Babylonian Talmud Berakhoth 21b.
16. Mishnah Yadayim 4.6 (a Pharisaic decision).
17. Babylonian Talmud Megillah 32a, compare Sopherim 14,14.
18. Refer to A. Finkel, Pharisees p. 42 and J. Neusner, "From Politics to Piety", Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1973. The latter examination fails to see the distinction between the Pharisaic "association" as an exclusive body and the Pharisaic teachings that relate to the entire nation. The former emulated the priestly community and the latter aspired for the establishment of a holy (Pharisee in Aramaic) nation.
19. Isa 56:8, Jet 23:3, Mich 2:12. The former formulates the tenth petition of the Jewish daily prayer that begins with this eschatological expectation.
20. See J. Hen ed. Daily Prayer Book (New York: Bloch, 1957) p. 497.
21 The Prophetic lection correlates to Exod 19. On the structure and homiletic forms of ancient synagogue see A. Finkel, Pharisees, pp. 143-172
22. This is a pesheric key of interpretation that Jesus and his disciples employed. Consult R. Longnecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.
23. Compare Matt 13:57 and Mk 6:4 with John 4:44 and Thomas, logion 31.
24. See J.H. Yoder, "The Politics of Jesus", Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972.
25. See B.Z. Wachholder, "Sabbatical", in the Supplementary volume to Interpreters' Dictionary of the Bible, Nashville: Abingdon 1976.
26 Compare the eschatological petitions of the daily prayer with the themes in the Pharisaic Psalms of Solomon 11, 17, 18 and the Hasmonean prayer in 2 Mace 2: 27-29.
27 See 12:33; 13:6; 14:5,13; 16:13,15; 18:22.
28. "Open your hand" is the Torah formulation for the act of charity, which comes to express altruistic love. The commandment to love the neighbor guides the Sabbatical society and becomes appropriately the principal teaching of Jesus.
29. Refer to the Second Century Proto-evangelium of James 9, 15. Joseph of Bethlehem is a carpenter builder, who may have been connected with the Temple renovation under Herod.
30. See 0. Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963, ch. 2.


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